Menu Planning/ Preparation Work 12/19/2016

The week before Christmas, we are staying busy in addition to trying to get some things planned ahead. This year, we will have Christmas breakfast (baked oatmeal) head to church and then home for a huge meal with my parents.  Christmas night we are going to have friends over for an snack/leftover festival. I like the idea of having lots of food but really don’t want to spend my entire day in the kitchen either on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, so I am trying to plan and get some preparation work done early in the week. Here is what our schedule for cooking ahead looks like so far, you will notice that I don’t have plan to do anything on Tuesday or Wednesday.  The explanation for this is my work schedule, if I have extra time great but otherwise I am still prepared.

Sunday- Pull all recipes and finalize plans for food.  Lunch will be Turkey and Ham, both in crockpots, squash casserole, pineapple casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and cream corn.  Desert will be pumpkin and sweet potato pie.  Appetizers for dinner including cheese/meat ball, veggies and dip, chips with dip and 2 types of Mexican dip.

Monday- Cut up veggies including celery and onions for all dishes. Fry sausage for breakfast on Saturday morning and Mexician Dip.

Thursday- Sweet potatoes pies and pumpkin pie. Make cheese ball

Saturday- Assemble all casseroles and get everything in crock pots to start on Sunday morning- make sugar cookies for Santa. Cook cranberry sauce.

Of course we still need to eat this week and with all the planning and work for Christmas day it will be really easy to eat out without a plan. My goal for this week is no eating out!

Breakfast–   Saturday- Big Breakfast- grits, eggs, bacon and biscuits.. Sunday- choices  Monday-Fruit. Tuesday-  fried bologna and eggs Wednesday- choices. Thursday-  Choices Friday- Choices.  Saturday (Christmas Eve) Sausage croissants and hashbrown casserole. Choices include : leftovers, eggs, grits, French toast,, toast or cereal.

Lunch- Zach and Kendall have chicken and stars soup,  uncrustables  and homemade lunchable. They are out of school on Thursday and Friday, Zach has already requested pizza Quesada . I have salad, and leftovers.

Dinner-  Saturday- Lunch- chill  Dinner- cowboy beans/chilli
Sunday- Lunch- Baked Potato bar. Dinner- Chicken cresant rolls
Monday- Hamburger Helper
Wednesday-  Pork Chops
Thursday- Leftovers or Sandwhiches
Friday- Pigs in a blanket and movie

Lots of food and fun scheduled for this week.

Interesting Weekend and Other Random Things

  • I was heading home from work on Friday, when I was rear ended at a stoplight.  I ended up with a massive headache and a few paint scratches on the back of the van. Saturday morning my headache was gone. I did start the process of filing a claim to have my van fixed but I have a feeling this may take a long time and more paperwork than I want to complete.
  • Matt and I are continuing to work on earning money using several different apps. This month, we have been cashing out points for gift cards to use for food. One of the biggest expenses associated with our cheer trips is food. We have to eat at least one meal if not two or three each weekend. So far this month, we have use free money to purchase the following:  $15 Taco Bell, $10 Burger King, $25 Papa Johns, $10 Dominos, $25 IHOP and $50 Chills. One of the main reason we have been so successful this month is taking advantage of special sales.
  • Zach and Kendall have three days of school while Lily has four this week. I am working all week but we will start celebrating next Friday night when I get off work.

5 Things Friday

  1. I have just completed the busiest work week all year. I worked eight hours over this week. I am very grateful for this extra income but really do miss seeing my kids each night during the week!
  2. The cow we purchased is currently hanging. It did turn out to be larger than expected but I budgeted enough excess that we still should cover the cost without touching our monthly budget. After much thought and discussion, the way to account for this purchase is by dividing the amount over the first 6 months of 2017.  I will take that amount out of each month’s grocery budget and pay toward our credit card debit.  December provides an extra check for me, initially I planned to use to pay down our debit but this was a deal we could not pass up so instead we purchased meat.  Once the final cost for the cow including processing is paid. I will share what amount will be deducted each month from our budget.
  3. I am planning on doing holiday baking tomorrow. I checked out my baking list and hopefully have purchased everything we need for this fun day. We will make another batch of cookies on Christmas Eve for Santa.
  4. I am finished shopping for the month of December. I will continue to watch sales but unless the item is a need and at the lowest available price, I am going to avoid shopping the rest of the month.
  5. All three of the younger kids will be performing this weekend in our church’s Christmas musical. This should make the weekend go by really really quickly.


Saving on Saturday 11/19/2016


I will admit that I have been doing quite a bit of shopping both online and some in person the past week. Last weekend, I ordered the girls some new boots. Kendall needed a new brown pair and both needed black boots to wear to cheer competitions. I found a decent sale at The Children’s Place.  This weekend OLD NAVY has a good sale on jeans, Kendall does not have enough jeans to wear for a week so I ordered both girls a couple of new pair. The best part of both of these is that I shopped online and order through a link on Swagbucks so should receive back money on both. I did not pay shipping on either.

I went to Harris Teeter on Thursday and spent $90, I was able to save $160. This was a very planned trip that included 10 cases of diet coke and 3 6 packs of bottles. Everything I purchased was on sale or a rain check and my saving average was right at 60% so I count it a win.

I have been finishing up my Christmas shopping. Today on Shutterfly I order a calendar and a couple of other small gifts. I also used a cartwheel at Target for 30% off toys which was in addition to 5% off and free shipping for using my Target card.

I am extremely happy to say that I need to order one additional calendar and purchase a gift card which will be the official end of my shopping for the year.

Snow Village 2016

I finished in one and half days! I am thinking that the ladder may have speeded up the process especially with all the electric cords. I am so excited at how it turned out this year!

Picture overload!

The ladder!

The ladder!

opposite side or I like to call it the farm!

opposite side or I like to call it the farm!

Individual shelf of the farm. Lily LOVES the flamingo house and I am really amazed at how pretty it turned out.

Now some closer pictures of the ladder. Each level represents a different scene but together they make a mountain!




5 Things Friday 10/07/2016-

5thingsfriday-logoREDMost if not all this weeks event are financial!

  1. Several of our monthly bills are lower than expected this month including cable (refund on over tax), water and electric bill.
  2. I purchased an Orchard In A Box. We will be planting when it arrives in November. I am super excited!  We should be harvesting fruit in 3-5 years. This is long range planning for sure but in 5 years we will have 3 teenagers including a boy so I am fairly certain that our food bill will go up instead of down! I did take this expense out of our normal grocery fund.
  3. Zach is growing! I really this morning that we are going to NEED to purchase at least 5 new pair of pants for him. He and I will be heading to the local goodwill tomorrow. If we are not able to find things there it will be a major trip to Winston on Sunday.
  4. I have finished the majority of my Christmas shopping!  I still need to buy my nieces gifts and we will be purchasing pictures for my parents. I am so excited to have this expense out of the way.
  5. In addition to the orchard, we are going to add pavers around the square foot garden in order to make it easier to maintain!  We are using gift cards earned from Lowes and Swagbucks to cover this expense.

Not so Wordless Wednesday-Family Craft Time

This past weekend, my sister in law, who lives in Atlanta, made a trip up to visit with us. Eric, her son, was able to come as well. My kids absolutely loved having them both for the 24 hours they were here. Saturday night was spent opening gifts eating and playing a board game that she had purchased for Lily.
Sunday after church we decided to work on some new decorations for our front sign as Christmas has passed. This turned out to be a load of fun and the results are even better!
The buckets we found in the Target $1 bin several weeks ago, I was so excited to find that the colors just about perfectly match the color of the letter. The snowflakes are hand painted and just perfect, enjoy a closer look.

Food For Thought-

Today is my Mom’s birthday, which means we are fast approaching the end of the year. I am already in the process of looking and working on a budget for 2016. I will do a final update and set new goals hopefully this week but today I want to focus on Food.

  • Menu planning is still happening although I have not been posting the last couple of weeks have been about a couple of special meals and using up leftovers. This week we have already had a meal using meatballs my sister in law brought, tonight we made a roast and used some the sides we had left-over and tomorrow the plan is to use and make pork fried rice from leftover Christmas Eve shoulder. I am also adding some “convenient” meals to the freeze with the extra time we have this week.
  • Our grocery spending for the month is close to $900 which is way over budget. I have been taking advantage of some sells and stocking up, in addition to some extra meals and appetizers.
  • Our average monthly grocery spending for the year is at $691.59. I am totally amazed and excited for this number as it is under my $700 a month that I started in July.
  • I have been looking into some “average” numbers for grocery spending for our size family a “thrifty” plan is $770 and a “Low” plan is $1028 per month.
  • After finding these numbers I am very comfortable with maintaining our grocery spending to $700 a month. I am going to continue to focus on each month but not beat myself up for spending over now that I know it averages out within the year!
  • I was also able to find that the “average” family spends about $200 a month on eating out. In the past, I have not budgeted anything for eating out but this will become a regular expense in the year 2016.
  • We are starting the year with lots of meat in the freezer. I have already paid for 80# of pork that Matt will pick up the first week of January. We also just recently purchased chicken and a large order of ground beef. I am hopefully to not purchase any additional meat until March.
  • Our garden this year did well and we have been enjoying a variety of things. We have enlarged the garden to it’s capacity and hopefully will be able to multiply our freezing stock for the year.
  • I did not even attempt to lose weight with our trip to Disney and the holidays so I will back on track with eating healthier again in January.
  • Total random thought but at least it is food related. I just received in the mail a total of 6 free 12 packs expiring March 31. I will hold on till CVS offers ECBs or I just need them.

Christmas Wrap Up 2015


Amanda was working on Christmas Day so she came over around lunch on Christmas Eve for a gift exchange before we all headed over to Paw Paw’s and Granny’s for the real fun. Amanda purchased all three of the kids’ really cool name wall hangings, a “chip cup” for me and Matt received a Starbuck’s ornament.

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We all then headed over to my parents to spend the afternoon and open more gifts. It was an awesome time and the kids played for several hours.

image imageKendall unfortunately did not want to go to sleep and with the windows open she used ever sound outside to stay awake. She finally fell asleep around 1am and of course was awake prior to 6am. Haley after getting off work came and spent the night with us so she would not miss any of the fun of Christmas morning.



Christmas morning and most of the day was quiet as the kids played with their new toys, Matt sat up the TV in the playroom that Santa brought and we just relaxed. Unfortunately, that all changed because of a fall my mom took. I ended up spending from 4pm to after midnight at the hospital with my parents till my mother shoulder could be relocated. Thankfully after prayer and waiting, her shoulder is back in place and the doctor is fairly confident that she has no other damage.