Eating from the Pantry

January is always a favorite month of mine because everyone is trying to save money and I can find lots of place to read for eating out of the pantry and freezer.  This year I have joined in.   Today, I am going to share some of the history of the whys and hows of this challenge in addition to what this is actually looking like at our house.

Let me give you a little background first. I dislike shopping most of the time. A trip to Costco is fun but otherwise I prefer not to go to the grocery store.  I live a busy life so I actually have to plan most of my shopping trips these days. Unfortunately, during the months of November and December, my life was a whirlwind. In fact, I do not have an accurate amount for my grocery spending in either of these months. Looking even a little bit further back and I spent $700 in October and $500 in September. So I have a variety of foods and had stocked up on lots of items so January is a good time for us to try and not spend and use up the items we have on hand. A huge plus for us is that we purchased an entire cow last April and still have a freezer of meat to pull out of.

So now the good news, as of today, I have spent $65.35 in groceries for the month. I am also at the point that I don’t anticipate going shopping again this month unless it is to purchase butter which I am down to my last 3 sticks of. Otherwise we are eating from what we have.

Next up the challenge and the reality of what our pantry and freezers currently look like.

The biggest challenge for the next two weeks is providing/finding snacks for the kids to take to school each day. One of the reasons I like to shop at Costco is the ability to purchase a large size of snack foods and not have to open 17 boxes each week.  After starting the pantry challenge I realized I had not purchased snack foods since October. Currently, we are REALLY REALLY low!  In fact, I just raided the snack bag in the van to provide enough of a variety of snacks to get us through the next 10 days of school. I am also planning to offer to pop some popcorn tomorrow as well.

We are also starting to run low on our preferred lunch foods such as soups, ravioli and chicken nuggets. Kendall really enjoys a ham and cheese wrap but we are limited to exactly one for the next two weeks.  I actually found 2 more packages of lunch meat in the freezer so if I can convince the kids to eat regular bread, sandwiches are not a problem.

Another noticeable area that we are running low on is breakfast foods. We have cereal but no pop-tarts. We also have some waffles left and some oatmeal. Currently in the refrigerator is one package of bacon and one package of sausage. We have around 2 dozen eggs left. I did buy a package of frozen biscuits today but they will only last a couple of weeks.

Other “changes” include the ability to see open areas in the pantry in the laundry room which holds extra condiments and cans. We also are able to close both freezers easily. Finally I have less than one half of a shelf of food in the laundry room.

As you can tell this has not been nearly as emptying as it could have been but I am also making a list for our shopping in February. I know that we will likely spend at least $300 but I hope to keep it less than $400.

Stock Up Prices and Saving at Harris Teeter

Unfortunately, we do not have a Harris Teeter in Lexington. I LOVE the deal they offer but usually miss several due to the travel that is involved in getting to the store. So one of the adventures we had this week during our snow break was a trip to Harris Teeter. I was excited to see that several items they offered on sale this week were at or below my stock up price.

#1- Flour- Stock up price is $1 or less per 4 lb. bag. Gold Medal flour was on sale for $1.47 a bag with Ibotta coupon of 50 cent per bag. The Ibotta limit was two so that is what I purchased. This is also my stock up price for sugar. Sugar was also on sale but did not have a rebate.

#2 Yogurt- Stock up price is 25 cent per container. Yoplait yogurt was on sale for $0.37 a container with a coupon for fifty cent off 5 containers which doubled to $1 off 5 containers.  Finally price seventeen cent per container. We purchased 10 containers at this price since we only had enough coupons for 10.

#3 Canned Vegetables- Stock up price is thirty seven cents per can.  We can purchase at Aldi for forty cent a can on a regular bases. The limit was 18 cans so I purchased 18 cans and my mother purchased an additional 18 cans.  Soups are usually way more expensive.

#4 Canned milk- Stock up price seventy seven cent a can. I usually do not buy this but I have found several  recipes that we want to find that use this so I went ahead and purchased the limit of four.

#5 Frozen vegetables- Stock up prices is less than $1 a bag. Green giant were on sale for seventy-seven cent a box. I am estimating that it will take 2 boxes for us to use as a meal. I purchased my limit of 10 and 8 on Mom’s card because she wanted the other two.

#6 12 packs of Soda- Stock up prices is $2.50 a case for name brand meaning coke or Pepsi.

#7 2 liter soda bottles- Stock up price for name brand $1 or less a bottle and for store brands seventy-five cent a bottle.

#8 Cereal- Stock up price $1 or less a box.

#9 Soup- Stock up prices is seventy cent a can for Campbells Tomato soup and fifty cent or less a can for other varieties of tomato, chicken noodle or cream of soups. Stock up price for Progresso or Chunky soups are $1 a can. These cans will make a hearty meal with little trouble so the expense is worth it.

#10 Ketchup or Mustard- Stock up price is fifty cent a container. I usually purchase 10-12 of these at a time at this price.

 

This trip to Harris Teeter ended up with 50% saving which I am very happy with. I also found it very interesting that I have saved $1070.78 this year!

Thursday Thoughts

  • Fall has officially arrived in North Carolina. Monday, the kids wore shorts and t-shirts to school. That afternoon, I heard complaints of how hot it was!  The house temperature was 78.  Today, the kids both are wearing long pants and long sleeves. The house temperature is currently and I am hopefully to avoid the heat til at least Saturday.
  • We will have to dig up sweet potatoes and grab the last of viable veggies from the garden as we are predicted to get our first frost Sunday night.
  • I planted some lettuce bottoms in May and after we ate some they ended up self seeding.  We have really been enjoying this lettuce during September and October. I walked out this afternoon and grabbed enough lettuce for 6 salads! This is probably the third full meal we have gotten and I grab usually a salad a week for my lunch.
  • I am coming to the realization that my job in Guam may never come about. I have already received notice that I need to renew my Guam license by Oct 26th for next year. I have yet to use this license so I am thinking that I will not renew and mark it up to a learning experience. The biggest issue is that I will need to re-do our budget in December and eliminate the need for that income.
  • Dinner this week has been a challenge, as I have had after school meetings 4 out of 5 days.  I am hoping to get a better/easier plan for next Monday and Tuesday. I also have a meeting on Monday evening so we may be ordering pizza after all.
  • I have spent my grocery budget for the month so I am forced to say No to a really good sale at Harris Teeter.
  • Going to end on a positive note, we currently are 1/3 of the way to have our Christmas completely paid for via Swagbucks. I am hopefully that by December we can purchase all large items using this free money!

5 Things Friday

  1. This is the first night we have been home this week with no practice or events. I think this should occur at least 2 more times during the month of October 2018.
  2. My job in Guam is “suppose” to be starting in the next 2 weeks.   I also have received notice that I need to “reapply” for licensure by the end of October. I am so reluctant to even think about this but am leaving an open mind. I do have a call schedule to speak with someone on Tuesday and I am very hopeful that I can get an idea of the scope of the time commitment including when it will start on this call.
  3. My favorite sale of the year is the Food Lion “quarter back” sale. Last week, I even took my mother shopping. We ended up shopping two different Food Lion stores and realized that each store has different prices and sales. The stores are less than a 10 minute drive apart. My favorite deal of the week was free yogurt. The Food Lion brand yogurt was on sale at 4 for $1. Each still qualified for $0.25 back so free yogurt. I still have approximately $40 in my grocery budget remaining but may honestly skip shopping the rest of the month.
  4. Gas and other auto related expenses are continuing to be above the budget amount. My initial plan was that all “mileage expense” money would be “fun money” may have to be rethought.
  5. We are celebrating Amanda’s birthday this weekend!

Favorite Sale of the Year

I am so excited but I almost missed it. Food Lion, our local grocery store, is having my favorite sale of the year. The quarter back sale! Basically for every “store brand” item you buy you receive a quarter back for your next order/ trip.   I usually watch for this sale and plan ahead making sure I stock up on things like ketchup and mustard.  Opps missed that whole sale announcement.  I went to the store last night to purchase a few groceries needed to make baked ziti.  As I am walking around the store, I see the sale sign and know I need to take advantage of it. I quickly  start thing and start exchanging items in my cart for store brands in addition to trying to find the best deals.    I grabbed muffin mix, pasta mix, rice mixes and some breakfast items that we always need!  Matt was excited to see hot sauce (6 bottles).   I also found some items on clearance that increased my total but overall I am so excited. My overall goal was to purchase the needed items with “quarter back”,

By the numbers:
Original items on the list   $25.45
Summer clearance Items (skewers)  $ 2.79
Total Spent  $54.90
Total Saved $30.18
Saving Percentage is 54.97%

Food Lion is the only local grocery store and to save 55% on store brand items is AWESOME!

We are using the cash method for groceries this month which makes it a bit more difficulty for me to make another trip because I want to keep my cash. I will likely wait and monitor sale and make only one trip a week for the rest of the month!

5 Things Friday 8/17/2018

  1. The past week has really flown by. I was able to accomplish almost everything on my list for this second vacation week! Including hair cuts for all of us and a nail trim for Rugar!
  2. Starting Monday, both Matt and I will be working full time. This will be the first time in our marriage (13 years) that we will both be working full-time.
  3. One of the main things I am concerned about is cooking and groceries. We will all continue to take lunches as well as eat the majority if not all of our meals at home. I have spent a considerable amount of time and money on groceries this week. I have visited Costco twice, Food Lion three times and Walmart and Harris Teeter. I have spent a total of $467 just this week. I will probably end close to $500 as I am going to stop at Food Lion for more Diet Cokes over the next several day. I am able to purchase 10 2L of Diet Coke for $9.52 until Tuesday.  After doing most of the cooking on Monday, I have continued to add simple things by cooking double most of the week.
  4. We finally got around to weeding and watering the garden today. I discovered that my lettuce had self seeded and I have a bunch of small plants. I am going to leave and see if any grow larger enough to eat. We also harvested several watermelon and two full buckets of green peppers. I am hopefully that we will continue to harvest tomatoes, pimentos and peppers for at least another month. I was also very excited to see that my sweet potatoes are starting to grow. They can stay in the ground until the first frost which is around the end of October.
  5. I was also able to complete a picture collage using pictures from our Disney 2015 trip. I have only had the collage picture for 4 months!

Did I mention how excited I am to start at Davie County Schools on Monday?

Thursday Shopping 6/21/2018

Today is the first official day of summer! The little kids are all at camp, so I spent most of the day spending and saving money.

Matt and I started last night at Walmart. This was a quick trip to buy sunscreen and tea bags. We used almost half of his $25 gift card from Swagbucks and another $2 he had earned from Shopkicks.  Total spent $0

I picked up Mom not so early this morning and we headed to Winston-Salem.

Our first stop was Ulta. Lily has extremely sensitive skin. Two years ago, we discovered a sunscreen that did not burn, sting or break her out, the only down side is that each tube cost $40 before tax and shipping. One of the other moms at the pool shared “Australian Gold Sunscreen” with us last weekend. Lily loved it. I found a sale at ULTA that was Buy One Get One Half Off. I purchased 2 containers of sunscreen for $21 or half the price I have been spending.

Next stop was Babies R Us. The  prices are currently 60% to 80% off.  I was totally shocked at the deals we found. I purchased 2 bibs, a cute outfit, a set of shoe socks,  a gift for a baby shower next week,5 birthday presents and a Christmas present. I also grabbed 4 sets of invitations.  total spent was $107.39 Total saved was $171.18

I had my rebate check from Costco so we headed over to grab my normal grocery list. After using the rebate check, I spent $44. The best deal of the day was a pair of water sandals for me for $4.97.

Our final stop was Harris Teeter. Matt won out with this trip. 12 pack of Mountain Dew cans were $2.74 each. He ended up with a total of 10 packs. I also grabbed Kraft Mac and cheese for $0.39 a box!

I am so excited to find all the summer deals today!

Happenings-5/20/2018

Things around here are always busy and usually pretty interesting. May has been a really busy and expensive month. Lily’s strange “episodes” have added both and of course cause lots of worrying and frustration. I thought I would try to update on the happenings and upcoming plans for the last week and half left in May.

I am going to start a new part time job soon. It is a very unique experience, providing Occupational Therapy via skype.  I am still wading through the process of learning the ropes and applying for licensure. I am so excited.

We should receive our cow that we purchased some time in the next week. I have spent some of my time trying to clean out the freezers and get a good idea of what food we need to eat in order to store the meat.  I anticipate that we will make a 10 or 15 pound batch of Salisbury steak next weekend. I am also planning on making around 5 lbs of taco meat and turning most of that into heat and eat burritos.

In addition to our 900 pounds of beef, we are also scheduled to receive 40 pounds of chicken breast. Hopefully everything works out so that we have approximately 2 weeks between the beef and chicken. I am planning to make packets for grilled chicken in addition to cooking and shredding some to use in dishes over the summer.

I have been able to finish my hours of continuing education that are required every year and have successfully renewed by Occupational Therapy license. I was also required to purchase malpractice insurance which was more than I anticipated.

All three kids have decided to go to church camp this year. I am excited for them but this is by far the biggest expense of the summer. Matt and I are both anticipating being able to work extra during the week they are gone.  That should help offset the expenses.

We currently have approximately three weeks of school left. Our local store “Food Lion” ran a special this week on lunchables.  Most ended up costing $1 each while others were $0.50.  I decided that this was a justifiable expense and purchased enough for the kids to use for lunch every day for the rest of the school year. Matt and I are also focusing on bring food for lunches so that we do not add to our already, over stretch food budget.

The kids are practicing for swim team in addition to Zach’s baseball games and regular church activities for the next two weeks which again means less time to do anything.

Finally a positive note, I get to look forward to a 3 day weekend starting next Friday!  My goal is to get everything caught up so that I can enjoy at least 4 hours sitting by the pool.

Trying to Save on Saturday

One of the largest expenses that we have each and every month is groceries. I spent a lot of time trying to control these numbers. If you will recall I had a HUGE grocery budget overage in the month of March ($726). I was planning to attempt to keep the April budget to less than $100.  But to be honest that is already not possible and we are in the middle of April. What I can say is that I have been able to stock up on lots of canned items and grab some quick and easy breakfasts for us as well. Harris Teeter has been having some huge sales in the past couple of weeks, for example, I grabbed 15 cases (12 packs) of soda for $1.99 today.  This alone is a saving of $50.  Cereal, grits, oatmeal and yogurt round out the list of items that I purchased today as well.  My plan for the rest of April is to only purchase things we are completely and totally out of that we can not survive without milk and eggs being the biggest things that I can thing of. Otherwise to be honest I am going to avoid all grocery shopping. I am going to allow for one exception “Suddenly Salad” Pasta that usually go on sale for approximately $1 a box. I need/ plan to purchase 25 of these to use once a week this summer as a quick easy and delicious meal.

I received the news today that we will also be purchasing a cow in the next month. This cow currently weighs 1400 pounds. This meat should last approximately 2 years. I am super excited about this meat.

The other food related good news is that within a month we should be able to start harvesting items from the garden. I am excited this year because all the plants should be purchased with gift cards earned from Swagbucks. This means that the entire garden is a profit not matter how little we may harvest.

 

Saving on Saturday

Find out the day that your local supermarket reduces the meat and that is when you shop.

I can honestly say, I have heard of this  way to  saved money  but did not believe it was true until this week.  I had planned to shop at Food Lion this weekend due to Lunchables being on sale for $1 each. These are quick and easy lunches that my kids consider a special treat. In the past, I have been able to stock up on these just prior to school starting but that was not the case this year.  My mother was with us and helped to find some of the deals. I was able to purchase over one hundred dollars worth of meat for $66. This is a 40% savings on meat!

I grabbed several packets of thin steaks for Fajitas, a pack of steaks, several pack (ok 6 packs of chicken nuggets with cheese, meatballs and both chicken and pork bites.   These are not the typically way we would eat these items but I am super excited that we have a chance to try some new and different things without breaking the bank.

This meat deal could have not come at a better time for us as we will be purchasing a whole cow in the next 2 months in addition to 80# of chicken from Zaycon. But in the meantime we still need meat and the kids insist that they have meat at least 2 of the 3 meals

What good deals have you found lately? Leave a comment to prove you read!