Five Things Friday

1. I officially have 3 weeks left of work. However, this is my last 5-day week as I have other things happening that require time away from work during these last three weeks.
2. Every Bit Counts- as school winds down, I am starting to work toward a total restock of our pantries and freezer.  This week, I decided to attempt one item a day.  Tuesday- gallon of Strawberries, Wednesday- 10# of mashed potatoes Thursday- 3 # of bananas frozen for smoothies.
3. We are planning to pick up our cow tomorrow.  It is 350# of meat. I am hoping to get around 100# processed this weekend.  I will keep you posted.
4. May is the most expensive month for us. We have car insurance, pool fees on top of end of the year expenses.  We also added Kendall’s birthday party to this year. I am happy to say. We have survived the month and covered all the expenses.
5. Chicken Drama- Wednesday this week, the door did not open. Lily was going to feed at 2pm and let them out.  We have been monitoring and it has not missed again so who knows what is up.   Then on Thursday evening, a dog that we have not seen before was at the chicken coop and growling at the back corner. “Lucky” the rooster managed to get all the hens in the coop before anything went wrong.  We are also struggling with keeping the coop dry with all the excess rain we have been having.

 

Saving on Saturday!

Sometimes to save money you have to spend money. This is the case for today!  Lily, Kendall and I were at a women’s conference this morning. Matt and Zach worked on my canning closet!  Matt has added three more shelves to make room for lots of spaghetti sauce and other canning projects that I want to do this summer!  I am so excited to  have everything labelled and put in place.  The total cost was approximately $80. But I found several items I had forgot about and this will save lots of time and money this summer!  I was also able to confirm that I do not need to purchase jar!  I have around 6 dozen unused ones!  Goal for the summer will be to use up all the available jars!

The second way I am saving money this week is by shopping a sale. My mom text me last Thursday to let me know that Food Lion, would have 2 Liter Diet Cokes on Sale for ninety nine cents.  This is the best deal I have seen in almost a year!  So I sent Matt and Zach for the first round. They were able to grab a total of 8 between the two of them. Matt used some “reward points” for his four!  The second stop was all 5 of us for 20 more bottles and the third stop was another 20 bottles. We were surprised to learn that we had earned another $3 in reward points. So I ended up paying 81 cent a bottle and saving over $105 by purchasing all of these on the same day!

 

Saving on Saturday

This weekend we are focusing on saving by using what we have!

One of the projects that I wanted to complete prior to the summer is to empty and clean our large chest freezer that is in the building. This freezer is probably 25-30 years old and was purchased used for $75.  It needs to be de-iced and given a break.  Matt and I have emptied it out except for ice that we need for our upcoming trip. In the process, I needed to do with the two gallon size bags of frozen tomatoes that I have.  I decided to toss them in the crockpot along with a couple of other items and make some more pasta sauce. I typically freeze the sauce but decided to try water bath canning this time.  We ended up with four quarts after dinner so we will try one and see how it taste. I am hoping to be able to can my sauce this year in order to be less dependent on the freezer in the future. It is much easier to store and transport jars than frozen foods.

After taking out my electric canner, I thought I should go ahead and get some beans canned for future use. I ended up running 4 loads of 8 quarts each of beans. This did allow me to use up all the empty pint jars along with all my canning lids that are not on new jars. I had to place an order for more lids.  I also cleaned and organized the canning closet. I am very happy with the contents and have big plans for the summer.

For breakfast this morning, I made French toast using up the last of the sour dough bread that I made this summer along with the remaining heavy whipping cream.   I had about half of the egg mixture left so instead of throwing away, I added hash browns and bacon. It was a hit at lunch with little work and no waste.

For dinner, I made nachos with taco rice that is left-over. The best compliment was from Lily “This is better than I expected.”

I ended up spending a lot of time this afternoon, transplanting tomatoes. More on this tomorrow!

Five Things Friday

  1. Two years ago, Facebook reminded me that I had COVID for the second time. Today, I hope I am at the end of a stomach virus.
  2. We are in the single digit until our Disney trip. I actually have a long list of items that need to be accomplished before we leave. The goal is to get everything completed this week.
  3. Our grocery budget is currently still under $200 which makes me very happy!
  4. We gathered 7 chicken eggs after getting 4 yesterday which means that all the chicken laid an egg today! This is a first!  One that I hope at least for a week or so continues.
  5. We will be spending some time tommorow up potting our tomato plants.  Another first that I am excited about and can’t wait to share on Sunday with a garden update!.

Saving on Saturday

  1. This week both Matt and I realized that we are in need of new shoes. Both of us have tennis shoes that did not have any trend on the bottom. We decided to check out Belk’s last night as well had some time without any kids. We did hit the jack pot!  Stechers were buy one get one 50% off. With that discount, we purchased a pair of tennis shoes for $63.50 each.   Matt also found himself a pair of dress shoes!
  2. Part of using what is in pantry is not allowing things to go to waste, I am very proud of myself for this!  I used two boxes of Chex cereal to make “muddy buddies” and a ranch Chex mix.   I will not admit how long those boxes have been in my pantry. I also noticed that the Hawaiin rolls had not been openned that I purchased several weeks ago.  Matt suggested that we make a smash burger with them.  I used a pound of ground beef and fed five of us with that one pound!  The burgers were delicious!
  3. I did end up at the grocery store today to purchase some fruits and veggies that we have been completely out of for a couple of weeks.
  4. I am continuing to shred up junk mail and unusable paper to make the grounding and bedding for the chicken coop!  So far it is a win win!
  5. We have spent time cleaning and organizing and cooking ahead again this weekend so I will call it a success!
  6. Gardening update to come tomorrow!

5 Things Friday

  1. Last weekend we spent some time shopping to fulfill some summer needs.  I did not realize that both Kendall and Zach needed new shoes.  I still have a small list of items that are needed but I hope to finish those up this weekend as well. This was expensive but we spent time at Goodwill and Bargains by the Bin before heading to the other stores.  Zach was able to find T-shirts at Belks for around $10 each!
  2. Another good deal last weekend was Shutterfly offered 8×8 books starting at $10.  This is an awesome deal, actually one of my favorites.  I ended up spending a great deal of time, really too much time, finishing up several projects. I ordered a total of 6 books and ended up spending $130 including shipping.  The extra cost came from using Disney themes and extra pages (anything over 20). I do have one additional book I would like to get made and printed. This week Shutterfly is offering unlimited pages so I may see what that cost would be. But this depends on my time.
  3. We are headed to Disney in a short time.  I have set a couple of goals for myself in order not to be the fat mom that slows everyone down. The first is that I spend at least 12 hours on the treadmill at the YMCA.   I did my first hour last night so 11 more to go. I also want Braxton to get used to walking as we are not planning to use a stroller on this trip.  The hope is that we can start family walks on Sundays and Lily would like to do at least one other walk during the week. The problem again is time at home.
  4. I have officially lost weight. In fact, I received a compliment on it last week!   I have lost 16 pounds since December!   I am also down one jean size which is super fun!
  5. We did not even remotely stick to the pantry challenge this month. So I have decided that we will do a strict pantry challenge with the exception of milk and water and soda until our Costco trip prior to leaving.  The challenge will begin March 1st.  We will be going to Costco before then but no other trips will be made unless something is a necessity by my standards.

Saving on Saturday!

This winter has been extremely mild and wet.  Last weekend, the temperature was around 60 degrees. We took the opportunity to get outside and started working on some areas to grow foods.  I am hoping to be able to can more than I have in the past and I also want to grow more than I have in the past.  I decided that I needed to make a couple of changes for this year.

We removed the large and tall, wire that was on the back of the building. Last year, I attempted to grow cucumbers and had limited success, even with using starts that I had purchased. I decided that I would try something different. We decreased the size to just about my height and moved the wire to a 12 foot bed. The ideas is that I should be able to grow at least 24 cucumber plants along this trellis!   I am going to try to plant one side and then about four weeks later plant along the other side. My goal is to can a years supply of cucumbers and make cucumber relish as well.  Time will tell.

I want to try and grow lufas this year and needed a space so we attached another section of wire to both of the beds. The lufas should grow down and feel the space.

Today 2/17/2024, I planted 50 seeds for spinach. It would be nice to start getting some fresh spinach but also grow enough to freeze for use next winter.  I started 12 broccoli plants inside as well.   I have attempted to overwinter some green pepper plants in the greenhouse but decided to go ahead and order seeds as well. I would love to grow enough peppers not only for fresh eating but to stock the freezer as well. We will be attempting to grow bell peppers, wax peppers (these worked really really well in salsa and some lunchbox peppers as well.

This is totally Matt’s idea but it is a great idea so I wanted to share. This is the bike rake that fits in the Tahoe trailer hitch.  Matt drilled a couple of precise holes in the frame of the trailer and put the hitch in the side. This way it keeps everything off the ground and also prevents the straps from getting broken off.

This week we also headed to Goodwill to try and find some clothes that were needed. We ended up with 7 shirts for $22.   Next stop was Belk’s by shopping the clearance racks we found 4 shirts for Zach for $42.00.

Remember every little bit counts!

Saving on Saturday

Our grocery bill is one of the highest expenses each month. This has been true since I started blogging many years ago.  I am continuing to gain knowledge and skills that I hope in the future will continue to control our spending.

We are currently in a busy season.  I am struggling to keep our eating out to a manageable level. Manageable meaning paying in cash and not adding to our credit card debit.   Hopefully, the things I am sharing will help this as well.

On Thursday, between running Zach to appointments, I was able to get three complete meals made. A turkey chill, which was eaten for dinner and then froze for a fourth meal. I also assembled two turkey casseroles. One was frozen and the other saved for use next week.

This morning everyone pitched in and we made up 30 “omelet bags”   We can simply add the bag and two eggs to the frying pan for a quick and nutritious breakfast.

I also ran two loads of kidney beans in the pressure canner. These will be used in the future for both soups and chill.

I am preparing for an extended pantry challenge during the months of January, February and March.   I decided to subscribe to Walmart plus for the month of December. This way we can continue to stock up on items that we are running low on or out of.  I will cancel before going to Florida at the end of December but this allows me to add things slower and also keeps me from overspending at the same time.   I am really liking this convivence but definitely not enough to spend $98 a year on it!

 

Menu Planning with a twist

This is officially the week after Thanksgiving.  Leftovers are still heavy in the refrigerator, and I do not want to waste any food plus we really like to eat!   One thing I did different this year is that we added several appetizers to our evening meal on Thanksgiving to get some variety going!  But in reality we also have more leftovers as well. This week has also turned out to be one of the busiest on the fall. Zach has all county band, Kendall has a swim meet. I have multiple meeting at work that will run late. Zach gets his braces off and has a physical appointment.  Did I say busy?

Breakfast are pretty standard around here.  You find it and make it. We still have some prepared items in the freezer and eggs and yogurt to spare.

Lunches will be leftovers for everyone.

Dinner are a little bit more challenging.  So after doing some planning and thinking. I decided that we would have leftovers for dinner at least Sunday, Tuesday and possibly Friday unless they are gone. Saturday evening, I made a turkey soup that was actually really good. So that is another option for Friday or I could change it up and use rice instead of potatoes. .

Here is the twist, I was able to assemble a meal for Monday and a separate meal for Wednesday in 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

Monday- Gnocchi  bake. This is a recipe that I found from watching “Acre Homestead” on Youtube. I used store bought Gnocchi, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce from this summer, frozen onions and a jar of canned ground beef.

Wednesday- Queso chill mac- This is a recipe total I made up. I used about half of the leftover queso dip, add a jar of ground beef and boiled the remaining pasta in a jar sitting on the cabinet.  So far everyone wanted to know if that was dinner.

Simple meal using what we have!

Saving On Saturday- Subscriptions

November is one of the most expensive months for us. It includes tags/ taxes on the Tahoe, and 6 months of car insurance along with regular and holiday expenses. This also happens to be when most of our yearly subscriptions renew.  This made the perfect time for me to sit down and consider each subscription and make a decision on rather to keep it or not, I am including my entire list of subscription just as a point of reference.

  1. Amazon Prime- $139 a year.  We live in the middle of nowhere with the closest grocery store not a Dollar General being a 10-minute drive.  Definitely keeping this one. Additional benefits include subscribe and save and music in the house.
  2. Microsoft Office $106 a year. We did discover that we have two accounts and are paying for both.  We will keep one of the accounts but the other has to go. This was a very expensive lesson to learn.
  3. Modwash- This is a car wash and a very recent decision to include.  We get unlimited car washes and use of vacuums and other tools.   $53.99 a month or $648 a year. This is definitely a luxury and one that we are keeping at this time.
  4. Discovery Plus- price increase of $2 a month to $9.99 a month or $119 a year.  I am the one who was watching this the most and really it has been reduced to maybe once a month.  This subscription was cancelled.
  5. Disney Plus- price increase of $60 a year or $5 a month. I did some research and found we could get Hulu, ESPN and Disney + for $14.99 a month or $179.88 a year. This is really not a savings but when you look at the two “television” subscriptions together which would equal $22 a month. We are going to get additional options and save $7 a month.
  6. Abode- This has been a must for many years as Matt used it to design and work on websites. However at $32.99 a month or $395 a year. We have not seen this benefit for at least 2 years and his current job does not require it’s us. This is a huge savings so off it went.
  7. Onstar Data in Tahoe- $15 a month. This is for unlimited data. It equals to the cost of purchasing one additional gig of data a month from Verizon.  With any trip this is very much worth it!
  8. YMCA membership- $27 a month with Lily’s discount. This is another fairly new membership.  This is a huge savings compared to any other gym membership and currently everyone but me is going on a regular basis so definitely a keeper.
  9. Apple Storage- We curently pay an additional $2.99 a month for this.  I am trying to reduce but this is a long and long process. This will stay currently.

I did make some changes to our auto insurance this time. We are dropping the collision on the Equinox as it is paid for and  I don’t like insurance so what we can get rid of I am going to.   We do have a AAA membership which will stay due to towing of the camper. This is significantly cheaper than having insurance on the camper.

Subscriptions take time to manage and really should be looked at yearly. This year we did not really save much but it helped to switch our money to things we find more important and useful.