I have added a new category $5 meals. I want to first explain my rationale for adding this so late in the game. I enjoy reading lots of blogs. It often helps me with saving money and it also gives me so great ideas. One of the consistent themes that I have been reading for several month is that the cost of food is rising. I have read on some sites that the expectations is that all food prices would increase by 10% plus percent by the end of the year. I am definitely starting to see this in my area. For example, a 10 pack of water flavors has been priced at $1.00 for at least 2 years. This is my buy price and I can always find at Walmart. Yesterday, the price had increased to $1.23 for the box. Fortunately, I have worked really hard to stock both the freezer and pantries with enough supplies to last at least until December if not longer. I decided that I also wanted to start a list of these $5 meals so that in the future, I can come back and rotate through them again!
Spaghetti sauce- this is definitely a family favorite. In fact, most everyone prefers this over jarred sauce. I did not know if we would have enough tomatoes to restock this summer but it appears we do. I did not try and make any salsa or diced tomatoes but hopefully in the future we will be able to stock both the spaghettis sauce and other items. The tomatoes are from the garden, I purchased around 40 plants for $36 this spring so I am averaging $1 per crockpot as my cost. $1 green pepper, $0.50 onion (from freezer), basil and oregano were from the freezer from past years. Garlic =$0.50 and 1 tablespoon of sugar. $3 for the sauce and $1.00 for the pasta makes a hearty meal for all of us less than $5.
Pasta Salad for lunch- We all are taking lunch most days. The kids really don’t like sandwiches and I try to avoid bread whenever convent so that leaves a lot of decisions and lunch making. We have found an easy solution- dressing up pasta salad.
I always purchase when I find for $1 a box. We actually used 2 boxes to make 7 lunches. I added Deli Ham that was purchased on clearance for $1.84, a half a block of colby jack cheese, purchased for something else, 2 boiled eggs, (ten cent each) and of course tomatoes from the garden. Less than $5 for lunch for everyone that is filling and good!
Do you have $5 meal ideas to share?
I wanted to share a meal that cost us a total of $4.75 plus tax and made 7 meals. All five of us ate dinner. Kendall does not like meat so we placed her brat and some left-over corn in a lunch container. I added some pepperoni from the fridge and a tomato to the remaining pasta salad for my lunch tomorrow.
Brats, these were found on sale for $2.75 for a pack of 5. Each time I stop at the grocery store to grab milk or veggies, I always walk down the meat section just to see if I can find anything reduced. I think these were purchased last April or May. They were in the freezer until yesterday.
Suddenly Salad- I usually stock up on these when I find them priced at $1 each. We often make 2 boxes for a meal or use for our lunches. I still have around 8 boxes in my pantry for future use. Kendall made this while I went to the store for produce.
Corn on the cob! I have been watching prices this summer in hopes of stocking up on these but since this is the cheapest I have found all year and the freezer is full. Guess we can enjoy now! We placed these in the shucks on the grill and man did everyone enjoy!
The project for this weekend is to upcycle the old playhouse into a greenhouse. The playhouse is at least 30 years old if not older. The kids are all to big for it. It is very small inside so I wanted to make the most use of space available.
First thing was to remove the roof….
Stage One complete…
Next we added planters and shelves to the inside…
A shelf for new plants and for storage was also needed…
Finally we added plastic to cover the top..
We have spent $0 at this point on the green house. The plastic and wood to secure the plastic were purchased with swagbucks gift cards that we earned. Matt and I decided that we we go ahead and purchase a watering system to use. We already have the rain barrel and by using rain water only we will basically save the cost of the system within a couple of year!
Can you tell how excited I am?
It feels like forever since I have been focused on saving money! I looked back on the blog and realized that in May we started survival mood which meet cooking without an oven. Our new oven did not arrive until after vacation in July. Exactly 2 weeks later our air conditioning went out. This was honestly one of the hardest times for me. But I am very thankful to say that we have both a working stove and working air conditioning. I also want to get a good handle and feel for our budget but this will also be changing in the next month. I will post details once we have things finalized and money in hand!
Now to our ways of saving:
- Using items already on hand to help improve the square foot garden. Today we placed the contents of my shredder on one of the garden beds. We also added the coffee grounds from the week and topped with a good dose of water from our rain barrels. We have also placed banana peels in water before pouring on the garden as well. Hopefully we will be able to improve the soil for the next year.
- Ordering from Amazon- I continue to shop for deals on subscribe and save! We are expecting to be stocked up on soups by our next delivery date. I am also watching for “deals” on any item that we use on a regular basis. This week I found “magic erasers” for fifteen cent each. My goal is to eliminate the need to purchase items not on sale.
- Making meals at home- We have eaten at home every day since Tuesday with two exceptions, Matt purchased Bagel on Saturday morning and we enjoyed Sunday lunch with friends. We are currently in the best financial position we have been in for many years so these small treats will remain part of our regular budget. Just not eating out every day and some times 2 times a day!
- Packing lunches and making sure we have some convenient items on hand for lunches. The kids can eat lunch at school but for Zach this usually means more stomach issues and Kendall simply does not like most of the food.
- Eating items from our pantry and freezer. Although I have spent $234 this month for groceries we are starting to look at and plan ahead for most meals. I have also added some treats that the kids enjoy!
- Saving electric by turning off lights, using both the dishwasher and dryer at night so as not to add heat to the house.
What have you been doing lately to save money?
I have mentioned before that I feel like we have a well stocked freezers. So now I am trying to stock up the freezers with easy to prepare meals in addition to adding some needed items to the pantry.
I have been doing ALOT of shopping on Amazon this summer, in addition to it being the most convenient option for me, I have been able to find some great deals. I am using scribe and save- the subscription service. I am finding that some deals offer some additional amounts off for your first shipment. I am setting reminders all over the place to go back and check prices to make sure that the second and future shipment are still at the great deal. If not it is not difficult to cancel but the trick waiting till around a week before your shipment closes and then doing the math. I have purchased snacks (30 cent or less per pack), hand soap, school supplies, rice and all vitamins. This week I have found soup for around 80 cent a cup this is a HUGE convivence item for us!
Today I ventured out to Harris Teeter. I have not shopped this grocery store in over 18 months. I LOVE their sales but with COVID and the distance to get to the store I just have not had a chance. Today I was getting some work on the van so I was within a mile of a store. I spent $33.45 and saved 53% according to the receipt! There was only one small catch, none of the items purchased were a need. They all were to add to the pantry. I grabbed 4 boxes of pasta at $0.79 cent each. Canned beans, green beans and corn at thirty seven cent each and Hamburger helper at ninety-eight cent each. I admit that we use 2 boxes of Hamburger helper to one pound of ground beef but this is a quick and easy meal.
I am actually thinking that I have stocked up on most pantry items as well. My plan is to only shop sales for the rest of the summer! This months groceries will be a regular month but hopefully I will be able to reduce the grocery budget by half for the rest of the year! $300 a month sounds very doable starting in August.
Back to reality and now to enjoy a few more weeks of summer break. Our freezers are now officially full. My goal over the next few weeks is to transform raw ingredients into easy to complete meals for the fall and winter. On Thursday, I will make 2 Taco casseroles with one placed in the freezer ( I have pulled out taco meat and frozen tomatoes to make these). We are focusing on making 12 bags of pizza dough. On Saturday, I plan to make a cheeseburger pizza for lunch. I will mix up 2 batches and freeze the second in place of the 2 pack of raw hamburger meat we pulled out!
We are currently on week 8 of no stove. I have an delivery date of this Wednesday so lets hope it starts to get back to normal around here!
Breakfast– Saturday-Old Bridge Restaurant Sunday- Biscuit King Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, pop-tarts, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, or omelets. We have lots of options that don’t require the oven!
Lunch- Saturday–Cook out Sunday- Spaghetti Matt took a beef and cheddar for Monday and will have hamburgers two days. I want the kids to focus on eating the rest of quick school foods or sandwiches this week as left-overs are not available.
Dinner- Saturday- Arby’s Sunday- fried shrimp and watermelon Monday- hamburgers and French fries Tuesday- Pepper steak in the crock pot . Wednesday- Grilled Chicken and pasta salad . Thursday- Taco Pasta Friday-Broiled fish?
I have plans for tomorrow to share some things that we are spending money on this week but first I wanted to share some ways that we are saving money this week.
First up shopping at Dollar Tree. I have discovered that for the boys and Lily, I can purchase body wash for $1 a bottle. This bottle last around 2 weeks so $2 for a month is much cheaper than $4 a bottle at most other places. I also buy conditioner just to change things up. This trip I was able to grab sandwich bags and snack bags for $1. I am not anti-plastic but it does bother me to spend 5 or more cent on a bag that ends up in the trash after one use. I found fold top sandwich bags as less than a penny each so I am good with tossing each day. I did also purchase sandwich bags with a zip top to use for other things. Snack bags will be used for freezing small serving such as 1/2 cups.
Ordering vitamins and supplements via Amazon. Both Lily and Kendall are on a daily iron supplement. I ended up saving 50% simply by ordering it on scribe and save on Amazon plus this allows me to order and forget about it!
I purchased a good bit of extra fruits and vegetables last week. Things have been slightly more hectic than I anticipated so we have not used up as much. Today, I made a new crockpot meal with sweet peppers. I also cut up and froze two bags of peppers and onions to be used in spaghetti sauce when our tomatoes start to come in. 3 cups of chopped celery was frozen. I discovered that I have purchased 3 bags of onions recently. So Kendall and I chopped up two bags to freeze. We ended up freezing 7 cups of diced onions. This way it will not go bad and they will be super convenient to use as well.
I was also able to use 5 small containers of vegetables that were sent to us from the school lunch program. This cleared up space in our freezer and also made an awesome pork fried rice meal.
Sheets were washed and hung on the line to dry in order to save electricity.
We have eaten all dinners at home this week which is a huge savings. I have eaten a couple of lunches out and one breakfast but these are much less expensive than even one dinner meal.
What have you been doing to save money?