Tuesday Thoughts

  • As you have probably realized, we were out of town this weekend. Lily, Matt and I went on a campus tour of UNC-W on Friday. We drove down on Thursday and stayed until Sunday.
  • I spent an hour on the beach, we all enjoyed the lazy river, kids played in the pool. Putt Putt was enjoyed as well as a campfire and a couple of card games.
  • We also went to the outlets and enjoyed several hours of shopping
  • We have cleaned and winterized the camper. This includes using it as storage for coolers and plastic totes.
  • I started a batch of pear sauce and have plans to use the new electric canner this week.
  • We are staying very busy. I am still overwhelmed at work. Hopefully this will improve in October.
  • My health is improving, and I am hopeful to avoid a second surgery this year.
  • We have finally turned off the air conditioning which is very late for us. I would love to go any entire month with needing heat or air but the chances are very slim at this point.
  • After returning we have opened the rest of the chicken coop. The chickens are enjoying the extra space and practice flying from one end of the other. We have a automatic door to install but that is down the list.
  • My goal for the remaining three month include reducing the grocery budget and working our way through the freezer and pantry. I would love to do a no shopping challenge but not sure I am ready for that additional stress.
  • The garden is changing as well. We have added the rotating bottoms to the green stocks, we need to dig out sweet potatoes and plant that with carrots. The green beans are finishing and I need to purchase worms to add for the end of summer as well.

Sunday Catch-Up

Another busy weekend has come and gone so I wanted to share what we were able to get accomplished this weekend!   I am still overwhelmed so I am hoping that by being positive I can tackle the rest of the list tommorow!

This is the first Sunday that I have not had to work because the Guam school year has ended.  I really LOVE working with the students, but I do need a break.  This afternoon Mom and I headed to the grocery store, we both had list!  I was so excited to come home and say that I have finally caught up with the list until Zach announced, “We are out of mustard.”  Yeap the story of my life. In other food related news, we schedule to receive our cow this weekend. We are going to purchase a whole cow. It should be ready for pick up the first week of August.  I am going to plan and not purchase any cow related meat for the next two months in order to finish cleaning out the freezer and make room and also to make sure we don’t have something get buried at the back and wasted.   I have stocked up on 2-Liter drinks with a total of 60 purchased this week. If I chose to go to the store again tomorrow to pick up mustard, I will plan to grab another 10. n I did manage to make pickled radish this weekend to use in salads in the next month.  Food Things I have left to get done-  Menu plan, make French toast for breakfast (bread is cut and drying out tonight), make banana muffins to use the remaining bananas from last week, cut up watermelon and cantaloupe so that it will get eaten this week and freeze more Kale from garden.  I should also prepare myself lunch for several days this week as we are not having alot of left-overs currently.

On Saturday, Matt, Zach and I managed to replace the roof of the greenhouse. This should be a permanent fix.  I purchased and planted 7 additional pepper plants from the farmers market and transplanted 4 tomatoes from a bed that was really reallly crowded.  This should finish my planting until July when I will find space hopefully for pumpkin seeds that I already have.   Now the next several weeks should involve watering and weeding while we wait for the harvest to begin.   Garden things left to accomplish-  Get pictures of the veggies growing and post as well as compare to the last couple of years!

I have not touched the budgeting stuff so that is an good chunk of time but hopefully I can get to it this week

Tuesday Thoughts

  1. I was unable to find strawberry plants on Saturday in town but did find that Stark Brothers has an awesome sale currently. I am likely going to go ahead and order 25 and plant most in the vertical planter and the remaining ones can be planted in containers. As Matt said then if they all live you can transplant next year!
  2. SInce I am ordering the strawberry plants,, I am also debating trying to grow raspberries in the very shady part of my yard. I seriously have a hard time finding information about growing raspberries but I do know that my kids absolutely love them!
  1. Matt and the kids are planning on joining Haley and David for a day on the lake on Saturday. I am excited because this will leave me with lots of time to work on budgeting and bills as well as heading to the grocery store with Mom without pressure to hurry.
  2. We are attempting to leave our air conditioner off as long as possible! I was disappointed that after returning from Disney we had to run the heat for 3 days. So now the goal is to see how long we can go without using the air. With everyone out during the day and baseball games at least 2 nights a week. We should be able to last until May 15th. This would be an excellent way to save on our electric bill as that is the end of the billing cycle!.
  3. I did not share but on Thursday we made an impromptu trip to Costco which blew our grocery budget out of the water! Ugghhhh

5 Things Friday

  1. North Carolina weather in March…last Sunday 80 and this Sunday expected low of 18*
  2. The greenhouse is currently empty. We have moved all the plants outside, one of the reasons is that it was getting over 100* during the day in the greenhouse and that would cause most of the colder plants I had planted to bolt.  We have been enjoying both lettuce and spinach. The best part is walking by the lettuce and picking some to eat.  We have started both tomatoes and green peppers inside. It is easier to start inside for the first few weeks.  They will be moved outside about 4 weeks prior to plants to continue to grow in the greenhouse and for protection against our final freeze that usually occurs sometime in April.  We also turned off the heater to save a bit on electricity.
  3. This week for the first time in history, we paid over $4 a gallon for gas. $4.11 to be exact. But the knowledge that it took 16 years for gas to go from $3 a gallon to $4 should bring us all comfort.
  4. We are doing excellent on the grocery budget for the year. We have currently spent $2.82 for groceries this month.  For the sake of transparency, we did make a trip to Costco yesterday and used our credit card earnings to purchase sugar, dog food and some other items that we were out of.
  5. Our busy season is starting. Lily’s play is next week, Zach is managing the middle school baseball team while enjoying playing his last year at the booster club. I am now working 2.5 nights a week in Guam. And best of all our Disney countdown is shrinking!

Tuesday Thoughts

  • On Saturday, we spent most of the morning working in and around the camper. We also practice setting up and taking down the tent.  We have started to add some drinks and food along with electrical cords and fans that we are anticipating needing on our Disney trip.
  • Saturday afternoon we ended up going to Costco which totally blew our grocery budget for the month. I also found 2 pairs of shoes and Matt found one.  We purchased all the drinks except for individual milks that we plan to use in April along with some drinks for my lunch and for Zach. Total spent was $207.  This amount seems large but I decided to figure out what we would “likely” spend at Disney. We will be there for 8 days, I think 2 additional drinks a day is good with 6 people going. That starts at $60 a day just for drinks multiplied by 8 days is $480 which is double the amount I spent at Costco.  Guess that turns it into a huge saving.
  • We are experiencing Spring-like weather which really has me thinking and anticipating our garden.  I am planning to plant lettuce and broccoli in the front beds and cover them with glass jars along with some broccoli seeds which I will cover when they begin to grow. I will be starting a packet of peppers in the house.  I have a packet that was purchased last year so if they don’t grow I will not be too concerned.
  • We are continuing to eat from the freezers and pantry.  I am looking forward to repeating some of our favorite meals in March as I wanted to give us a lot of variety during February. We actually had no repeated meals this month.
  • I have taken on several additional schools in Guam which should bring me to around 10 hours a week or double what I am currently doing. I decided that the extra money would be a nice boost to keep us on track with lots of planned spending happening this summer.

Thursday Thoughts

  •  I was able to see our electric bill for the month of February on the app this week. $301.49.  This is definitely the highest bill in recent memory, but I am also thinking all time high as well. It is also $40 over what I budget each month to cover the electricity.
  • I made a trip to the grocery store to mainly pick up salad supplies and fruits for the kids to use for lunches next week.  I also grab to loaves of French bread at $1.00 each. My plan is to make a batch of French toast on Saturday with adding some in the freezer for quick breakfast. Total spent 21.47 which brings our monthly grocery total to $127 before Amazon. I will add in Amazon at the end of the month when it is billed.  I will need to stop at Aldi or Food Lion to pick up eggs tomorrow as we are down to 18 eggs and with plans for French toast those will be gone quickly!
  • We ended up ordering Zach an electric toothbrush this week, which was totally unplanned, but the hope is that he will use this regularly!
  • I found a single steak in our black freezer and had put on the menu to make steak fried rice today. It turned out AMAZING!   We had enough for all 6 of us (Mom provided desert) both Zach and Matt have already been back for seconds, and we still have one serving left for leftovers.
  • I have a list on the side of the whiteboard of items that I want to put on the menu in the next week or so in order for us to continue to eat out of our freezer.  I am trying to use at least one item a week that is not a preferred items in order to make things go easier.
  • I decided to go ahead and put some eggs in the insta pot so I could use those on salads next week.   I ended up making egg salad for Zach as he wants to take it for lunch tomorrow. I may have to have an egg salad sandwich for breakfast.
  • When we first went into COVID lockdown, I was able to purchase air filters for ninety-seven cent each. I purchased six or seven case. We usually change at least 2 a month. Sadly, we only have 6 filters left. I am not at all hopeful to find this type of deal again.
  • After months of turning down extra work in Guam, I have agreed to take on four more schools.  I am hopefully to maintain only working 2 nights a week, but this will be a significant boast in income that should allow us to continue to live comfortably the remainder of the year and cover some unexpected medical expenses as well as tax payment that is needed.

Freezer and Pantry Food

Recently I have been spending/ wasting a considerable amount of time watching Youtube videos of grocery hauls, pantries and freezers along with the traditional January- Eat out of the  Pantry challenge.    It actually has brought several things to light for me and I decided that I would share a couple of those things with you.

First a couple of facts that I know I have said but wanted to make sure these are obvious when I am reading this 3-5 years from now.
1. Matt lost his job in November 2021. This was a sudden and unexpected change.
2.  We had budgeted $650 a month of groceries in 2021. We overspent this budget 3 months of the year but stayed under budget in November.  We were over budget in December due to some stocking up.
3. I set our grocery budget for January until June at $200 a month or $50 a year.
4. Once Matt returns to steady full-time employment, I plan to use the difference of $450 a month to save in order to purchase a cow this summer and re-stock our meat.
5. If Matt’s unemployment would end prior to him having a full-time job, I am planning to then switch my grocery shopping to only things that we are completely out of and NEED!

After reviewing that list, I can make the following statements:

1. We could likely exist on $25 a week if we needed to by only purchasing things we are completely out of.
2. I am keeping a rolling grocery list of items that we are currently low on. I am restocking to the level that I normally would. For example, we have 2 cans of corn left, I will be purchasing 8 cans on one of my next few trips. I really could get by with purchasing 2 more but instead, I want to keep a doable level for me. This will allow me to switch to number 5 above for several months in not longer if the need arises.
3.  I am continuing to purchase items I know we will use in the next couple of months when I see them on sale. For example, 2 Liter Diet Cokes are on sale this week. I will be purchasing my normal amount of 20 bottle plus an additional 10 bottles of regular Coke for the kids. I also plan to purchase 10 non-caffeinate soda to restock as well.
4. In order to use the items that we have in the freezer, I have to meal plan. And I am also trying to add one meatless meal a week and at least one meal a week to use items that we have in the freezer but normally would not choose like chicken legs or meatloaf muffins.
5. We are in a very blessed position that allows us to wait on God’s timing for Matt’s new job. Currently you would not be able to tell from our lifestyle that we are basically a one income family at this point.
6. I need to remember that we need to keep the budget at $200 a month including Amazon in order to enjoy things like our planned trips without it becoming a financial strain or hardship.
7. I am not the only person in the world who has enough food for 6 months to a year on hand!

Saving on Saturday including More Recipes!

I have spent the entire day inside… yeap that makes it a good day!  We have spent a lot of extra time today working on food prep and on making some new and different things to try out!

We started this morning or actually last night working on “burrito bowls” that Matt and Zach could eat for an easy lunch. We actually used a bag of black beans from the pantry to make the re-fried beans, rice from the pantry and made taco meat from already cooked ground beef. Zach had one for lunch that he actually shared with Matt. Both agree that it is a definite repeat.  We made 8 original bowls, but Zach thinks he would be fine with just half of one!

We tried “Keto Pickles”

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These did not turn out what they looked like here and actually Matt thought they were also too salty.  We will not be repeating this.

I saw these cucumbers on Facebook today

They were an all-around hit!  Cucumbers with cream cheese, bacon and Everything bagel seasoning!

And finally, the crockpot in the back is full of this deliciousness which we all enjoyed for dinner!

bowl of cheesy sausage potato soupCheesy Sausage Potatoes   

A couple of changes or things we did differently- I used breakfast sausage, frozen hashbrowns (small strips) canned corn, diced tomatoes, beef broth and left off the cilantro. I am so thankful that we were able to freeze a container of this to use for a future meal. The thing that made this soup even better was the homemade bread that looks perfect

The plan is to end the night by backing some 3 ingredient bagels for tomorrow morning.  No spending at all because everything was from the pantry or freezer!


5 Things Friday

  1.  We are expecting our third snow in three weeks tonight. I have no plans to go outside the house before church on Sunday!
  2. The greenhouse continues to work really well. I am already beginning to think about what we could possibly grow next year…a lemon tree is high on the list.
  3. I have officially been able to complete my grocery challenge of $50 a week or $200 for the month of January. I even included my Amazon order which in the past I would have not!
  4. Our lives are on the uptick with events and practices, so it is really nice to have another weekend at home with most practices and events being cancelled due to weather.
  5. We can finally start to see a reduction in our freezers which is nice. I am currently making plans to start slowing adding more convivence meals back to the freezers using only the ingredients that we have!

Five Things Friday- Food Edition

  1. Food Waste- I am actually excited and pleased with the way we have been able to reduce our food waste this week. For dinner on Monday, we used the remaining hot dogs from our camping trip and I used the single remaining bun for a bacon and egg sub on Thursday morning.  We all ate leftover PF Changs for Tuesday lunch with Matt finishing the leftovers on Wednesday at lunch. Thursday night I used the finally 2 remaining apples from December along with 2 applesauce cups to make Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal for breakfast on Friday!
  2. Eating Out- We have managed to eat at home exclusively since we returned on Monday. I will be eating out lunch today since I am at work but with the weather so cold our only restaurant meal will be Sunday at lunch!  This is a huge accomplishment for us especially since we are eating out of freezer and pantry.
  3. Grocery Budget-We currently have spent $90.72 including the additional camping treats that we purchased.   I do have an Amazon subscribe and save order that will arrive next week which will increase the spending to $184.75. I also have $121 left in our grocery budget envelope. We are on track to spend less than $200 for groceries for January.  Currently, my plan is to keep as much of the grocery budget as possible even at $50 a week so that we will have the cash this summer to purchase meat, chicken and pork in bulk!
  4. New Recipes- Since we have been spending an extended amount of time at home, we have been exploring what we can make with the items we have on-hand. I made a copycat version of Olive Garden Breadsticks  which will be a definite repeat. Matt made a cheeseburger pie for dinner on Thursday from a new recipe, unfortunately it will not be a repeat as it was just eatable.
  5. The greenhouse is working great!  We actually were able to eat a salad from the lettuce we have been currently growing!  The kids were so excited and we hope to enjoy more of the garden soon.  We have been pleased to learn that first the heater is working well even on extremely cold day! And to Matt’s surprise the plastic roof is holding strong and providing the protection and heat that is needed!