Tuesday Thoughts

I have decided that this week is officially my “staycation week” In reality it is the only week this summer that we have only swim team practice and piano. We started off the week strong, by spending six hours on Saturday and another four hours on Sunday at the pool. I really enjoy just hanging out talking with friends or simply reading a book! We ended up spending $5 for ice cream at the pool on Saturday. I also headed to Food Lion to pick up a couple of items. Spent a total of $1.45 out of pocket and received two $2 off my next shopping order coupons.

Monday, we headed to Emerald Pointe, the local water park. We decided to do things a little differently and take a slower pace this time. The kids spent a lot of time in the splash area just having fun. No spending this day as the kids all took their own money to pay for ice cream. We had a pasta salad with grilled chicken for lunch.

Monday night after coming home, I decided to make another batch of spaghetti sauce. I am enjoying using my insta pot to cook ground beef in because it has little mess and does not heat up the house. I also fixed a batch of chill using my small 3 pot crock pot. Both items cooked all night. This morning, I froze some chill for the beach and placed another 2 bags of sauce in the freezer. I ended up cooking meatball to add to the sauce for our dinner tonight.

Today, Tuesday, was a laundry day. I washed a total of 11 loads of laundry most of which was bedding. I was able to save electricity by hanging out the 10 loads of sheets and bedding. I have been slowing catching up on paperwork and trying to schedule the last few appointments for this summer.

Looking ahead, we have swim team practice Wednesday morning and Thursday night. Our county swim meet is Friday evening and Saturday morning so I need to get some food prepared for both of these events.

I have started a list of the items I want to add to our freezer stash prior to school starting. I think it is doable but may take a couple of days. Tonight, we tried a new recipe, “hot pepper jelly.” I will not be trying this myself at all!

Here is to another 2-3 days of staying at home mostly!

5 Things Friday

  1. I have been trying several new recipes this week and also attempting to use my instapot for a couple of different things. So far, the recipes have not been 50%, ranch pork chops were a no, but garlic parmesan wings were a hit. I attempted to use the instapot for potatoes and that was a no, not all the potatoes were done. I am going to try and cook a bunch of ground beef today without using the frying pan.
  2. I headed to Walmart today to try and earn some extra money with Swagbucks. Again, 50% success rate. I purchased 8 bottles of cream, this deal worked perfectly with out of pocket cost of $13.00 and 1800 Swagbucks credited within 5 minutes. I also attempted an Amour All deal that was basically free if purchased four products. Unfortunately, this deal did not work and I will be returning all the products to Walmart. I also spent a little extra time doing Shopkicks while in the store.
  3. We spent some extra time in the garden this week. Cleaning out weeds and removing some dead plants. My plan is to replant some items such as squash and green beans again next week in hopes to get even more for our bulk. We are finally starting to get some tomatoes in and they are really really good!
  4. I am staying much busier that I want to be on my summer break. This was suppose to be an slower week but I have ended up on the go most days. Next week, Lily heads to Orlando for a national youth conference, she leave early Sunday morning. Zach will be attending a baseball camp from 9 to 3 each day. The only down side is that this camp is a 45 minute drive each way. Kendall has a swim meet on Tuesday and is scheduled to get her braces on Wednesday.
  5. I am anticipating starting a second job next school year to add to our income.

Saving on Saturday

This been a very different week, Amanda had an emergency C-section on Tuesday night and I did not work on Wednesday. Tropical Storm Michael came through on Thursday, we lost power around 8:30pm and I did not work on Friday.  I have always said it is the small things that add up, and this week is the proof. Here are the ways I know we saved money this week:

  1. Using the McDonald’s app. I ate lunch on Wednesday and we all had breakfast on Friday. We saved at least $5 with each use.
  2. Ate lunch at Costco on Friday.  3 slices of pizza, 2 hot dogs and 3 drinks for $11.  At least a savings of $10.
  3. Grilled Hamburgers and ate a huge salad out of the fridge for dinner on Friday. By eating at home and using things we were afraid that would spoil we saved at least $35.
  4. Used my Target debit card to save 5% on baby items.
  5. Purchased new “winter jackets” for both Matt and I at Costco for $19.99 each. I am estimating a saving of $50 each or $100.
  6. Purchased Kendall’s Christmas dress for $18.99. I am going to estimate a saving of $25 but probably more.
  7. Purchased a set of new tires at Costco saving $70.
  8. Washed and hung out to dry all the sheets and comforters today. Saving at least 8 hours of dryer time. Estimate of $2-4 on electricity.
  9. Repurposed some hooks and a basket in the laundry room to hold lunch boxes. Saving $14.95 on the purchase of a crate for this purpose.
  10. Built shelfs out of materials we already have for my she- shed. Estimate a minimum of $50 savings. I plan to share more on this soon!

Prepping

My mother has always said that “in order to get to church on Sunday, you have to start on Saturday night.”   This is really the case for us and even more so when it comes to living with our crazy busy schedule right now.  Throw in the fact, that today, Sunday was also Matt and I only day off together this week and it has been really busy but productive. We did decided on Saturday night, that we would eat out for lunch today.  Instead of rushing home from church, grabbing some lunch, changing clothes and then heading to Winston, I warned everyone to wear comfortable shoes for walking to church.  We ended up eating lunch at Red Robbin. It is always a fun treat for us to eat out.

After picking up an on-line order at JCPennys and finding  a new glove for Zach at PlayItAgainSports the real preparation for the week began.  Our menu plan is already made for the week but I realized that we have fallen behind on meal preparation.  I used the instapot to cook chicken breast and threw in the Kitchen Aid mixer to shred. We ended up making 2 complete batches of Chicken Enchiladas, one for dinner and a second for March.  I also made a chicken pie for later in the week. On plan has a Shepherd’s Pie for Monday. As I started to gather up the ingredients , I discovered  5lbs of potatoes that had started to spout. These were peeled, diced and became mashed potatoes. I used some to top the Shepherd’s Pie and the rest is in the freezer to grab for some quick easy meals. In a span of about 2 hours, we made a total of four meals that need just to go in the oven.

One of the things that is a given on Sunday afternoon is the kids picking out clothes and lunches for the week. I usually check the weather and decide what type of clothing they need to pick out. The clothes are placed outside of there rooms so no changing around is done. We also decide what is going to be taken for lunch and prepare as much of it ahead of time as possible. Matt and I also made our lunches for Monday as well. This saves us so much time that I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Saving on Saturday

Today, I am saving time and money by cooking ahead! I am also sticking to items that I have in the pantry or freezer as I have a very small grocery budget this month. Today, I focused on using frozen chicken breast.  I  was very pleasantly surprised when my instapot was able to cook 10 breast from frozen to done in less than an hour (30 minutes actually pressure time).  I shredded those in my kitchen aid and used for a Chicken Taco Casserole and Chicken Enchiladas. I also froze 2 packs of shredded chicken. The casserole is one of our quick easy items to use on a busy day. Chicken Enchiladas will be lunch tomorrow. While the instapot was working, I started dinner for tonight, which was Creamy Italian Chicken. This is a recipe that Amanda has made before so I knew that it was good. That is a total of 5 meals in less than 2 hours of total time.

Matt made a batch of homemade pimento cheese that we will use for breakfast in the morning . I also pulled out the ingredients for a beef stew for dinner tomorrow night. This recipe is from Zach’s calendar so he is excited to try it.

The best part of all these meals is cost today is $0!   We used all the ingredients from the pantry and freezer. First week of January behind us with a  total of $20 spent in groceries!

How We Use Left-overs

This week has been filled with food. Starting last Sunday(Christmas Eve), my family has a huge dinner with BBQ shoulder. Left-overs are divided up, because we don’t like food waste. Christmas morning, I made country ham biscuits and orange cinnamon rolls, because only the five of us at home ate, we had left-overs. We also had a huge meal for Christmas dinner, again left-overs.  As you can guess my refrigerators were full to the brim.  I am proud to say that we have managed to use most of these left-overs up this week with a little creativity.

Tuesday and Wednesday we ate straight left-overs, one evening we all ate pork and the second evening it was turkey.  Lunch were a combination of left-overs or make a left-over sandwich/wrap.

Thursday, the little kids, Mom and myself spent the day shopping. We treated ourselves to lunch at Chick A Filet.  I grabbed a rotisserie chicken, I add the “cold/salad” left-overs and it was an awesome meal.

Friday was my Mom’s birthday and she requested hamburger steaks, sweet potatoes and  salad. I was very glad that we used our  fresh salad, cucumbers and tomatoes.  Matt decided to venture out and made “bbq pizza” using crescent rolls and pork. He again realized that we need to eat up our food.

Saturday morning, I cooked the remaining piece of country ham, some eggs and toast.  For lunch, I used the remaining turkey to make Turkey corn chowder, this was a huge hit and I will use for lunch at least one day. For dinner, we make chicken and cheese quesadillas from our left-over chicken.

Sunday, I made baked potato soup, this included the remaining pre-cooked bacon that we purchased for Christmas dinner. Again, I planned to use for at least one lunch this week. Dinner – sandwiches using left-over buns, chicken, pork or pepperoni. The pepperoni was in the top of my closet so I needed to use as well.

Today, we had sandwiches again for lunch. For dinner, I used the remaining BBQ dip with our last pack of Beef ribs and pulled out all the remaining leftover sides.

We are down to left over stuffing, macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole. I plan to use soups at work a couple of days! I will definitely call this a win!

Monday Menu Planning 12/11/2017

Menu Planning has taken on a new level and meaning this week. I “forgot” to record the paying of a bill last week. This mistake meant that we were not able to make our huge restocking trip to Costco on Thursday as we had originally planned. Instead, we scaled way back and spent less than $100 to purchase meat and several other items that we were completely out of.  This week, the plan is to shop on Saturday. I know this is not the smartest thing we could do but it will be easier this Saturday as opposed to next Thursday prior to Christmas. This weeks menu plan is simple and uses what we have or were able to purchase last week.

Breakfast- Saturday- Cereal and milk. Sunday-Big Breakfast ( eggs, bacon, grits and toast), Monday thru Thursday Choices or cereal and milk, . Friday- Baked oatmeal-Choices of eggs, fried bologna, grits, French toast or toast.

Saturday- Kids ate at Amanda’s, Matt had Burger King and I had Biscuit King (both Matt and I ended up working) Sunday- Baked Potato Soup in Instapot. I am so excited that this worked and turned out awesome!  Lunch are planned out with a special treat on Thursday of IHOP since everyone has doctor appointments and we have a gift card left over from our trip!

Dinner- Saturday- Chili from crock-pot. Sunday- Burger King (total of $5 after gift card), Monday- Pork Chops with stuffing and green beans. Tuesday- Spaghetti Wednesday- Salisbury Steak, rice and fruit. Thursday- not sure yet but it may just be left-overs. Friday- Church dinner!

Tuesday Thoughts 9/05/2017

  • My computer died on Saturday. I was thankfully able to get a replacement but I am still trying to re favorite and find all the things that I had carefully arranged on my monitor.
  • We ended up celebrating Zach’s birthday Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He had a great time. Thursday evening his friend came over and they played with Nerf Guns inside because it was raining. Friday night was cake and family. Saturday was a trip to ToyRUS and eating out at Red Robin. I am hopefully to get some picture up soon.
  • The weather here in North Carolina is much cooler than normal. We were able to turn off our air conditioning last week for a total of 4 days, have been running for 4 days and again turned off the air. I am very grateful for the stretches of time that we are able to not turn on the air. This is definitely the earliest I can remember not running air constantly.
  • September is going to be a no spend month for us.  Zach is playing Baseball so we will have the expense of games but unless it is broken and or empty then I really want and need to tighten down on our spending for September, October and November.
  • This weekend along with some major food preparation, I took a good inventory of what meats and other items that we have. Currently our plan is to purchase another cow in January and purchase chicken breast in February.
  • Lily auditioned for and received a part in the Lexington Youth Theatre production of Annie. She does not have a solo but we are all very excited for her to be part of this.
  • I have been successful at using my Electric Pressure cooker for 3 things this weekend. I am actually really surprised but glad that I have been able to use this and hopefully will get more use as the winter comes.

Sunday Savings

This Sunday, I spent a lot of time to save time and money.  After church, lunch and school preparation. I decided to tackle some cooking. I had several reasons that factored into this decision including the NEED to save on groceries for the next 3 months in addition to our schedule returning to it’s normal amount of busy.  I asked the kids at lunch what foods they really wanted to have, they all three came up with the same answer…twice baked potatoes.

I decided to go ahead and prepare 20  potatoes. One thing that I did learn is that next time I will most likely stick to 10 at a time, my hand was really tired by the end.  The kids came in and out of the kitchen to help with some of the recipes. Matt helped before he headed out to do a couple of errands.

By the numbers..
4-5 total hours spent
4 meals completed, 40 twice baked potatoes, 6 boiled eggs and 2 dozen banana chocolate chip bites.

After completing all 4 meals which were chicken, we have decided to wait to order chicken breast until the spring. This is a HUGE money saver and probably worth the entire afternoon.

Thursday Thoughts – Electric Pressure Cooker

I was so excited and pleased when Amanda purchased me a electric pressure cooker for my birthday and even let me start playing with it early.  I have been watching for about a year and it was on my list of things I wanted but could not justify.  I was planning to LOVE it!  But I have waited a full two weeks before writing this post because I really don’t love it.  I am not even sure I like it.  I am also thinking that once I learn this appliance and find the right uses for it I will LOVE it.  For the present here are some things I have learned.

  • When reading a recipe I really wish that it would say, Allow 30 minutes to pressurize.  This is major reason that I am not in love with it. I have been searching out recipes and reading where it says Cook for 15 minutes. So my brain says ok I can make this in less than an hour. Nope hold up, I need to add 30 minutes to my time in order for the pot to pressurize.
  • BBQ Chicken legs  will be the bomb. I even cooked chicken wings today without unthawing so this will be a great thing to remember when I have not laid out meat to unthaw and need a good meal in an hour.
  • Cheesecake is the bomb in the pressure cooker. I can’t wait to try this desert again.
  • Sunday Soups are going to be much easier especially beef stew. I made a trial run on Sunday and it was easy and really good!
  • Frozen ground beef is easier to unthaw and fry in large batches or even small batches and makes less of a mess than trying to use the electric pressure cooker.

I guess in the end, I prefer my Crock pot for the ease, clean up and convenience.