Menu Planning Monday

We were VERY successful eating up the junk food Sunday left-overs this past week. I did not post a menu plan but did talk about some of them over here.   The focus of this week is to try out some new recipes. I found a bunch of new to me crockpot recipes that include a shopping list. After looking at most of it, I realized that I would only have to buy the meat for most of these. I did want to do a taste test before stocking the freezer with these items. I also realized that some are just as easy to prepare the morning of or the night before. So far all three have been good but I will most likely only repeat two, the Mexican chill and Honey Sesame Chicken.

Breakfast- Saturday– Pancakes- with leftovers for several additional mornings this week. Sunday-I made an egg frittata with lots of veggies for me and biscuits for the kids and Matt. . Monday- Left-over egg frittata (the kids tasted mine on Sunday and wanted to finish it on Monday). Tuesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles.  Wednesday- baked oatmeal of some form.

Lunch–Saturday-Olive Garden (special treat) Sunday-Cranberry Roast with mixed veggies.  Monday– Potato soup for kids and a can of soup for me.  Tuesday– hummus and dip for me , Kendall and Zach had egg salad sandwiches , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- uncrustables for the kids. I have a salad for one day and left-overs.

Dinner – Saturday-Mexican Chill with cornbread topping. Sunday–Oddles of noodles soup (yeap it was that good of a day) Monday-Honey Sesame chicken with egg rolls and rice. Tuesday– Taco pasta   Wednesday– Baked Ziti Thursday– Hamburgers and FF. Friday – left-overs or rice kielbasa depending on what the fridge looks like.

 

Do you have a favorite crockpot recipe for me to try?

January in Review

This January has turned into a quite expensive month. I did some reading of old post and realize that I usually have a successful clean out the pantry month and stay way below spending in grocery spending. This was not the case for this January. I did clean out the pantry for all but the last week. After some debate, it was physically less demanding and stressful for me to do a huge grocery shopping trip to Costco in January instead of trying to squeeze it into February.  I also ended buying food for junk food Sunday as well. Total spend in Groceries $800 YIKES!

I was able to keep a running total on our gas usage for the month. We are spending $93 a week to fill all three vehicles, for January that meant $465.  I know that both vans need oil changes in the month of February so I expect this amount to be closer to $600 next month.

Given the numbers above, I am not at all surprised that our overall debt increased by $481. YIKES! One of the other unexpected expenses for the month of January was the purchase of new phones and an apple watch for myself. Feel free to check out the details here 

Personally, I have been able to complete a devotional 3 times a week. This is a huge increase from zero!

I did use the treadmill several time this month. I also realize that I am walking quite a bit for work. I am averaging 2.5 miles just at work. I am going to set a goal for walking at least 3 miles a day for February.

Blogging: I have posted only 9 times this month. No real reason other than I am tired. Guess it is time to start doing instead of thinking.

PLANS: A couple of plans for February include not increasing our overall debit, staying under $200 for groceries and increasing both devotional time and treadmill time!

 

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.

Saving Money

Things have returned to normal around here. At least as normal as they will ever get!

I am  very happy to report that we have been sticking to our grocery budget so far and I can even see a difference in our pantry.  I also noticed this week, we are starting to run out of the preferred snacks and lunch for the kids. I have started a list on the refrigerator in order to determine if we need a Costco trip for February and unfortunately the answer half way through January is yes! My goal is to keep the list going for another two weeks and try to stretch things as far as I can.  So far, I have spent a total of $48.57 cent on groceries with a goal of $60 or less for the month. 

One of my favorite website to read these days is http://theprudenthomemaker.com/ each week she list all the ways she has saved money and then encourages others to provide their list as well.  Most weeks we do the same things so I will definitely not make a list each week but maybe once a month or so would be fun.  Here are the ways we have been saving money lately.

  • Stopped at CVS this morning for free toothpaste. The CVS app has a $1 off any toothpaste coupon. I bought Crest, which was on sale for $3.00 used the coupon and $2ECB. Paid tax of fourteen cent and earn 2 ECB back.
  • Used water from the kids water bottles to water all the plants
  • Purchased 2 dinner plates at the local Chinese restaurant and brought them home to eat. Total of $23 to feed all 5 of us plus a left-over meal for someone for lunch.
  • Used Nail polish already purchased to paint my nails on Sunday night instead of getting a manicure once a month or more.
  • Menu planning and prepping the crock pot at night. We have eaten out only twice since Christmas. Once we used a gift card and the Chinese from above.
  • Made pizza dough in the bread maker instead of ordering pizza for lunch on Saturday.
  • Used gift cards earned from Swagbucks to purchase a Roku Stick and picture frame that I wanted.
  • Stocking up on items on sale such as shampoo and toothpaste instead of buying when we are in need.
  • Repurposing left-overs like tonight used rice from Saturday evening and from Chinese instead of making a new batch. This way, we have less food waste. Saturday night, I made a batch of rice and then gave everyone a choice of pulled pork, pepper steak or beef and broccoli that were left-overs.
  • Adding layers of clothing, instead of turning up the heat in the house. The temperature is currently set at 69 but we all have been cold. I ended up adding a sweatshirt and socks to stay warm.

Are any of these new or different to you?

Monday Menu Planning 01/07/2019

I have mentioned that my plan for 2019 is to get back on a budget with spending and to reduce my overall grocery budget. I really do have a stockpile and my goal is to go through and use ALOT of it up during the months of January and February. Another way to reduce expenses is for us to not eat out. This is a hard one!

Breakfast- Saturday– Toast and Eggs  Sunday-Sausage cresant casserole . Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, poptarts, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles. I had purchased a couple of boxes of Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios, this have been a huge hit so far and probably will only last until Wednesday.
LunchSaturday-Chic-A-Filet (My mother treated Lily and I) Zach and Kendall had school so that took grilled cheese sandwiches. Sunday-Baked Potato bar. Monday– Salad for me, soup for Kendall and Zach, Lily and Matt had burritos. Tuesday– Ham salad for me, Kendall and Zach had grilled Cheese sandwiches, Lily a salad, Wednesday-Soup for me, chicken nuggets for Zach and Lily, Kendall-vegetables to dip, Thursday– leftovers for me, Zach has chicken nuggets and Kendall a roll up. Friday- I eat out, Zach, Lily and Kendall have soup.
DinnerSaturday-Leftovers, Sunday– Turkey Cheddar Soup- used a soup pack mix and added in our left-over turkey , Monday-Hamburger Helper  Tuesday– soft tacos . Wednesday– Salisbury Steak with left over stuffing and carrots, Thursday– Chicken fried Rice .  Friday -Grilled Chicken if the weather permits.

Food!

If you have been at our house or read a couple of blog posts you realize that food is our biggest expense except for the mortgage. It also requires the most time and effort. I honestly don’t mind cooking if and when I have the time. But here is the real confusion, I enjoy and prefer to eat out. Life and our budget tell me that this is not a reality so back to cooking I go.  The balance of having enough easy simple meals for school days and cooking ahead is hard to achieve.

During the recent snow, I cooked only two meals a day and we enjoyed left-overs the third meal and even had some for the next week. Last week, we enjoyed quick simple meals Monday- Thursday.  I decided on Friday two separate very different things, first- I wanted Seafood, specifically flounder and shrimp for dinner and second- I need to stretch and make a plan for food so we did not waste  any food over the Christmas break. The good news is that so far it has been working! I thought I would share a recap and part of the current plan.

Friday night- Flounder and shrimp. The local seafood place has a special for 24 pieces of flounder, 6 baked potatoes and cole slaw for $22.95, I also added 2 plates of popcorn shrimp to bring my total to $45.00.  This was ALOT of food especially for the cost and actually around the same as we spend for Chinese. I knew I wanted to save the baked potatoes for a second meal, so I split one for the kids that wanted it. On Saturday, I used the baked potatoes for twice baked potatoes, which became our Sunday lunch. We also had left-overs on Saturday at dinner as well. I know we have at least a fourth meal from this so I am very pleased to stretch $45 into four meals at around $10 each!

Saturday- For breakfast- I used some cinnamon raisin bread that Amanda had brought over to make French toast this was a HUGE hit with only 1 piece left.  Lunch was a special treat of McDonalds.  I used the app and we brought it home for drinks. Total spent was $15.  Dinner was left-overs see above.

Sunday-  I really try to make this as much of a day of rest as possible. This week to avoid going out after church, I placed the twice baked potatoes in the oven and they cooked while we were at church.  I actually planned ahead for dinner as well. Saturday night we cooked up 2 pounds of ground beef and chopped up the ingredients for Pasta Faggioli soup. Everything was placed in the crock pot in the fridge so we move it out and turned on before heading to church for our special breakfast. The soup ended up much better than anticipated, we made up 4 lunch containers and froze for January in addition to a small container of left-overs for this week.

Monday- I had left-over gravy in the fridge and decided to make breakfast bowls. We used a pound of sausage, 12 eggs, green peppers that were frozen from the garden and onions. I fried 6 hash browns to complete breakfast. The remaining egg mixture will be rolled into burritos and frozen for a quick breakfast during school. We should have an addition 6 breakfast burritos. Lunch is left-overs, I plan on a flounder-cheese sandwich. Dinner is BBQ at my mothers!

Monday Menu Plan

This is most likely my last menu post for 2018. I will be home on school break from December 23rd until January 2nd. I am hoping for a lot of less stressful/ busy days. I also want to continue the word of the week LEFTOVERS!  I will adjust each day to maximize the food we have and also not overwhelm with the same food items each day.

Did I mention left-overs? We will have BBQ on Christmas Eve at my mother’s and a huge meal on December 30th.

Left-overs- During the snow last week, my compromise was that I would cook only two meals a day. This seemed to work well but also has left my refrigerator full. I ended up only cooking one meal a day on Saturday and Sunday but still we have left-overs.

The plan for this week is really simple and easy.

Breakfast- Saturday- Grits and Bacon Sunday-Sausage cresant casserole left-overs or bagels. Monday- Sausage and egg on bread (some had croissants, some biscuits) Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday- Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, poptarts, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles.
Lunch-Saturday-Left-overs  Sunday-Left-overs. Lunches are packed for the week and included salad, soup and chicken nuggets.
Dinner – Saturday-Leftovers, Sunday- Chinese  , Monday-Sloppy Joes and French Fries Tuesday-  soft tacos and or nachos. Wednesday- Chicken Fried Rice, Thursday- Salisbury Steak, rice and vegetable.  Friday- Famous Left-overs.

Shutterfly Success

To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Shutterfly. I LOVE pictures and I LOVE products made out of pictures. Shipping cost is the problem with Shutterfly. I should not have to paid $7.99 shipping  for a book that cost me $15.99 to make.  I knew I wanted to get a couple of books made, a couple of calendars and of course some prints made from our family photo session last week.  So off to Shutterfly I go. I am so excited and pleased that I was able to get free shipping! The code is SHIP49.  I also had a “free” book code from Coke rewards that I had stored on the account.  Their current sale of half off books also made this a much better deal.  I was able to purchase a total of 3 books, 8×8 size, and 2 11×14 prints and 1 8×10 print for a total including shipping of $53! Two of the books were of this handsome guy!And the third was a book of the best pictures of our family session. Including this one

I am hopeful to be able to get a couple of calendars made in the next couple of weeks!

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!

Traveling on a Budget

Our family tends to travel a lot. Some of this travel is by choice and some is by necessity. Most of our travels are planned well in advance which allows us plenty of time to save. However this was not the case for our Thanksgiving trip to Michigan. We decided that this was an important trip on November 3rd, two week before we needed to travel. Here are the ways we used to save money on this short notice trip.

1. I spent around 4 hours or more trying to find a hotel on priceline and the other “cheap hotel sites”. I had two huge things working against me, first we were two weeks away from the trip and the second was this is a holiday weekend. I finally decided to call the hotel we usually stay at. I was able to get a room for all five of us and the dog and breakfast for less than $100 a night which is our good price. After having success calling the first hotel, I called the second with the same results. The average price per night was $100! Tip#1- Call the hotel direct and ask for pricing.

2. Gift Cards- We continue to attempt to use Swagbucks on a regular basis. Each month the first gift card is discounted to 2200 or $22 for a $25 card. Starbucks is always a favorite so we try and keep around $50 loaded to it at all times. I also took advantage of some promotions, and this helped our budget a great deal. We had around $150 in gift cards for this trip and even managed to combine with sales to stretch it a bit further. My suggestion is to purchase gift cards ahead of time an keep a stash for trips and other surprises.

3. Pack a Cooler- The average price of a soda is between $1.50 and $2.00. Just by packing drinks and water, we saved at least $100. I also packed sandwich items and frozen burritos in our cooler. We were able to eat breakfast in the hotels and then ate one meal from the cooler or even left-overs so we ended up eating an average of one meal a day out while traveling. Even if we would have eaten fast food for each meal we saved at least $40 a day by bring a cooler.

4. Pack snacks- We like to eat while driving and crunchy snacks help keep you awake. I have a snack bag that stays in each vehicle but for a trip we ended up making individual size bags of chips and popcorn. This worked well and was much easier than trying to carry large bags and eat from them.

5. Check gas prices and make a plan. We discovered that it was cheaper to buy gas ahead of time then waiting to fill when we had to.