I wanted to update and blog what we are doing and continue to do in an effort to save money. I am watching lots of news stories talking about inflation and how the country is not going into a recession. Sorry the more you say it does not make it true. Anyway, here are a couple ways we have found to save money and I will talk a little more about food saving and waste at the end.
- Running our dishwasher and washer/dryer in the middle of the night. This also helps to keep the heat out of the house so it is easier to cool.
- Turning off the stove just before food is cooked. For example, I usually cook pasta for 8 minutes to use in dishes. I will turn the stove off after 6 minutes to save just a tiny bit.
- Using the rain barrels to water the gardens. This week we have been watering at least every other day so this is a huge saving.
- Hanging swim suits and towels up to dry only washing one time per week.
Now on to the food, one of the best ways to save money on groceries is to eliminate as much food waste as possible. Today, I hope to have gotten at least one step closer to that. We have a really busy week ahead so I was able to eliminate and use up some different foods this week and prepare ahead. I have a jar on my cabinet that collects the half containers or less of pasta that does not get used in one meal. It was full of pente, small elbows and medium size elbows. So today, I cooked it up instead of opening new boxes of pasta. I used the taco meet from last week, added pasta, the Mexican cheese that had been left open, and couple of other ingredients to make taco pasta. I also cooked a package of Italian sausage I purchased last Sunday to try a new recipe called “Pumpkin Pasta” The recipe made a large batch so I placed half in the pan and froze a bag for later use. I ended up removing the meat from chicken legs that had sat in the fridge to make a Alfredo chicken bake we ate for dinner. This also used up mozzarella cheese that had been sitting in the fridge. We also pulled out watermelon for desert instead of opening a package of cookies. We froze the remaining grapes in the refrigerator along with the 2 bananas that have been left this week. Unfortunately, I did have to throw out a container of strawberries that were shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten.
Small things do add 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
- Overwhelmed yeap that is currently how I am feeling! Today is the last day of school for Kendall and Zach. This means that for the short run 2 weeks or so we will have less to none things happening at night so maybe I can get caught up on the things that need doing.
- Garden- I am amazed at how much and how well things seem to be growing. We have baby tomatoes, squash and snap peas. We are currently harvesting Kale, radish, dill and chives.. I want to get some pictures up soon! One of the goals for the weekend is to finish planting. Amanda brought over a 8 container garden she built several years ago, I need to fill it along with one more container I found under the house. I have planted additional squash and zucchini this week so hopefully they will grow and produce as well.
- Summer project list- I have started working on the list of summer projects. First up is finding someone to clear the area of land at the back of our house. We will be getting chickens in the near future so this area needs to be cleared in order to build a coop and run. I also need to schedule our septic tank to be pumped. After these two items are completed, we would like to get the bathroom floor re-titled and maybe get some vinyl in the kitchen. That is the short list.
- Saturday goal- Replace the greenhouse roof that was destroyed by hail last week. We are going to convert it to hard plastic in order to extend the life and reduce maintenance.
- Financial goal- I need to do some serious bill pay and establish the new budget for June this weekend as well.
Did I mention I am overwhelmed?
- My initial thought that things should get a little tiny bit easier this week was WRONG! This week has been crazy full and busy. We did add swim team practice 4 nights just for 2 weeks until the kids are finished with school.
- My Guam schools end this week. I have a few loose ends to catch up on but that is a huge portion off of my plate starting next Wednesday.
3.. I am so happy and excited about the way that my plants are taking off.. I would love to harvest several hundred pounds of veggies this summer. I have only purchased flowers and 2 cherry tomato plants. I have replanted basil and I directly planted 7 green pepper seeds this week. I am hoping that with a long hot summer and fall these green peppers will have enough time to produce at least during the month of September. We also purchased a lemon and lime tree that will leave on our back deck until the fall and hopefully survive the winter in the greenhouse.
- This weekend is busy with a baseball game tonight, graduation party tomorrow and Graduation Sunday at church on Sunday.
5. I officially have 3 weeks or 15 school days standing between me and summer break. I really want it to hurry up and come but I also need things to slow down so I can finish up on everything I need to before summer break
Today has been a very busy but productive day!
- Used pavers that we had stored to make the boundary for the new Raspberry bed, used the 2 large bags of dirt and 7 small bags of dirt from the greenhouse in the raspberry bed. We decided to use some stakes and string that we already had as well so we ended up spending ZERO on the new bed.
- Purchased 3 raspberry stalks and 25 bare root strawberries from Stark Brother’s nursery for 1/4 of the cost of what I saw locally. I ended up planting all of these today!
- Purchased 3 zucchini plants for $1.50 and a 6 pack of marigolds($4.50) from the local farmer’s market and planted these today.
- Made breakfast bowls for breakfast, used left-over KFC gravy on top. We made 15 breakfast burritos and placed them in the freezer to use as a quick breakfast in the coming weeks.
- Made a batch of cowboy beans in the crockpot. We had these for dinner, froze one additional meal and have 4 lunch bowls in the fridge
- Used a pound of ground beef given to us to make stuffed green peppers for a meal this week. I will need to top with cheese before baking. This should be an quick and easy meal.
- I found 1 pound rolls of sausage priced at $1.99. I purchased 15 rolls with most going in the freezer for future use. In comparison the next cheapest option as $3.49 for a roll and this was a sale price. I will likely be stopping by Food Lion again to see if they continue to carry the sausage at this price. If so I would like to collect about 30 rolls for the freezer in anticipation of prices continuing to rise.
- Used the chicken legs from dinner this week to make chicken enchiladas that even Lily will be able to eat.
- We have made at least 10 full meals today and did not need to purchase one single item! In fact our grocery spending for the month is at $60!
- I was able to find a source to purchase a whole cow from this summer. The price per pound it $4.80 which is $1 higher than we paid 3 years ago so I am super excited to finish cleaning out the freezer so we can order the cow!
Zach discovered a water leak under the house this morning. Matt was able to fix with items already on hand. This saved us not only on the cost of calling a plumber but it will also help reduce our water bill as it was a major leak.
Matt purchased new tires for the camper from Amazon ($250 for 4). He took both the old tires and the new tires to a local shop and had the tires mounted for $40. I am going to estimate this saved over $300 on tires. He did purchase a special tool that he needed. But this will be used in the future as well.
Matt, Zach, Kendall and I spent most of the day outside planting the garden. This year we hope to harvest a ton more food than in the past. I have replaced all the horrible soil. I also purchased two vertical planters. My intention was to devote one to strawberries. However, I was unable to fine any strawberry plants last night. So I think we will try to plant some different items and then know next year, it will be devoted to strawberries with probably 3 years until it is full of strawberries and producing like I anticipate.
This year, I decided to try and save money by starting everything from seeds. I am going to have a master list below. I have decided to try a variety of items in the vertical planter just to use up some seeds. This will allow me to decide what is a good plant to grow and really since we have the seeds not a waste if it does not work out! We started tomatoes and green peppers inside the first of March. We did lose about 1/4 of out plants while we were at Disney due to a watering problem but we still have more than plenty to enjoy. After planting all that I wanted and planted to plant in the raised beds I have 2 empty squares. So I may open the Zucchini seeds I have just to plant more. Depending on how many of the pepper plants live, I may be adding Zucchini and squash seeds as the weeks go on. I would also like to grow some pumpkins this year but not sure about where. I do know to start around July 1st. IF the radish and/or carrot produce well then I will like plant a second time at the end of August as well. I did purchase several flowers from Lowes but will not purchase any more seeds or plants for vegetables until next year. I need to get these seeds used up and be diligent about what we are spending!
Now in the effort to be transparent as possible. I ended up paying the kids $20 to work outside the whole time with us so $40 and I ordered pizza for dinner $30. We decided to use paper plates but these are from our camper stash. We had frozen items for lunch. I don’t regret or feel bad about any of these as I am sore and tired. So there is no way that I could get this much done in a day without all the help that was given!
1. 35 pepper plants including the one in the tomato bed.
2. 27 tomato plants (I purchased 2 cheery tomato plants because we like to snack on these)
3. 110 bush green bean seeds
4. 5 Zucchini seeds
5. 6 yellow squash seeds
6. 20 cucumber seeds in the raised beds. I am going to try at 12 more seeds in the vertical planter to see what happens.
7. 5 watermelon seeds
8. 3 cantaloupe seeds
9. 30 sugar snap peas 25 seeds and 5 plants ( I had already planted on packet with only 5 plants growing)
10. 24 radishes
11. 50 carrots
12. Basil- packet
13. Dill- pack
14. Paisley- pack
15. Chives- Pack
Now to watch it all grow!
Beside saving on gas by not going anywhere the other focus of saving lately has been with gardening. I am continuing to focus on using items in my freezer and pantry to help control my grocery bill but I also plan to do a lot of restocking this summer. One of the things that I am hearing on repeat from the channels I watch on you tube as well as with most of the blogs that I follow is that we need to grow as much of our own food as possible.
Last year was a complete bust on growing food thanks to the awful soil that I ended up purchasing. This year we have started with better soil so hopefully that is a better result. My initial plan was to purchase most of the plants to start with as I think this is easier and have had better luck in the past. But as I started looking at my current selection of seeds I realized that I had lots of seed just sitting her. I also have containers and extra soil on hand. To start plants from seed would save lots of money especially since the out of pocket cost was nothing. I decided to go ahead and try and if I failed then I just wasted my time and effort. We started the seeds inside the house so that the temperature would be more consistent. The plan is to move these to the greenhouse next weekend. Currently we have 27 pepper plants and 46 tomato plants!
In the red cups, I am trying to start our sweet potatoes! I am very hopefully that after we return from Disney we will be able to move both the green pepper and the tomato plants out of the green house and into the beds. I have WAY more tomatoes than I have need for or have dedicated room for but will just plant what we have and use every spare pot and spot I can find in the mean time.
We have ended up with just a little bit of harvest from the greenhouse with some lettuce and spinach. I am not sure it will be worth using year round but it was a fun experiment. We also continue to have kale.
This weekend I have saved money in two areas food and gas!
We knew when we purchased the Tahoe that it was not fuel efficient, but we also knew it was what we wanted to fit all the needs we had. With the significant increase in prices, some folks are talking about how they are reducing trips and changing habits to save on their fuel bill. I can honestly say that although we are seeing a bigger saving, we have not changed how we drive. First of all, we live at least 5 minutes from the closest gas station and Dollar General. At least 10 minutes from the closest store or restaurant, so not driving is just not an option. What we do is to combine trips whenever possible for example, Matt had to attend a parent meeting uptown for Lily yesterday, so I asked him to stop by the store to grab some drinks that were on sale. We also combined a trip to Costco with filling up our tank to save money as well. The other thing is that we try to use the Equinox as much as possible. I have not left the house this weekend, so the Tahoe has been sitting in the driveway with me while the Equinox is running all the errands. By doing this we are able to fill the Equinox about the same number of times as the Tahoe for $20 or more less. Every little bit helps and adds up.
Food is our 3rd largest expense. Our goal this year is to use up as much of the food in our freezers prior to the summer so that we can restock it. We currently have a stand up freezer and a chest freezer in our building. Both were completely full at the end of 2021. This week we have been able to use and move 50% of the items in the chest freezer. Our goal is to purchase a whole cow this summer and we will need every bit of room in this freezer in order to do so. My plan is once we get the freezer emptied to turn it off and defrost and clean it, then I will begin the hunt for a cow to fill it back up! Another area of savings is that we have not eaten out this week. We did enjoy Chick A Filet on Friday but we used money that was earned by selling a car box. This was a win win situation for us! We have several other items listed to sale on Facebook market place as well so hopefully we can continue to clean out and repurpose the funds. We also have been working really hard in order to use up and not waste left-overs. I decided on Saturday to use the left-over turkey we had from last week to make a Turkey Dorito casserole. I used this recipe subbing turkey for the chicken. It was a hit. I also make a turkey noddle casserole that we will eat on Wednesday for dinner. We added a box of stuffing, sauteed zucchini from the freezer, air fried some corn and that was our dinner. Matt and I made bagels on Friday night which turned out awesome! Again it is all the small things that count!