1. The garden is not producing as much as I had anticipated but it is producing just enough for us to eat! For example on Wednesday, I picked 2 cucumbers, a squash, a zucchini and couple of tomatoes. For dinner on Thursday, I combined the zucchini, squash and grilled chicken packs from the school for dinner. For lunch on Friday, four of us ate tomato sandwich! I think this is the right size garden for the future as well!
  2. We are heading to the beach in one week! I am so excited to have some really downtime with minimal expectation of effort from me! The ocean is my favorite place so there is no bad time there.
  3. We have washed 10 loads of clothes today. This includes everyone sheets and comforters! I am most excited because everything but Lily’s was hung out to dry so that we did not waste money! Bonus the sunshine smell should last a few days.
  4. Zach has had 4 baseball games this week and three are scheduled for next week. This makes for some very busy evenings! So far we have tolerated the heat ok!
  5. Sad news- I have exactly 4 weeks or one month left of my summer break! I am really enjoying sleeping late, reading books and keeping ahead of my task! I do look forward to going back to work and getting a normal routine in place if this is even possible.

Saving on Saturday

I finally feel like I have a couple of ways we saved to share this week!
1. We turned off the air conditioning for 4 days. Saving approximately $20 for the week. Our electric bill came for this week and the only difference is use of the air conditioning. It jumped $80 from last month. I am going to use that figure of $20 a week as what it cost to run our air conditioning.
2. Buying conditioner and body wash at the Dollar Tree. The girls were out of conditioner (which neither Matt nor I use). So I made a stop at a Dollar Tree. I was able to purchase 3 bottles of conditioner for $3 as opposed to $3.99 a bottle anywhere else. I also picked up Zach and Matt a bottle each of body wash. Again saving at least $3 each on these purchases. On a side note, I usually buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash at CVS when I can purchase for less than $1. We have used all of our stockpile so instead of spending even $2, the Dollar Tree is a great option.
3. Ate at home for all except one meal this week. We have gotten into a habit of grabbing breakfast out on Saturday mornings. We keep the cost low at around $15 but this week, I made a plan for Saturday breakfast and saved that money. I also have been very focused on using up left-overs instead of cooking anything. We received lunches and breakfast from the school in addition to a few items from the garden. It is important that we use these items instead of letting them go to waste. I am excited to say that this week, we have eaten at home and eaten out of the refrigerator.
4. Order glass for Lily from Zenni. I was able to get a pair of glasses with transitional lens for $108. Lily has a stronger prescription and most places will not make her glasses for this reason so to be able to order for around $100 is a huge money saver. In comparison, I also purchased glasses for Zach this week as well. I used a BOGO deal at vision works and spent $410 for two pair of glasses or $205 each. This puts me at saving at least $100 on Lily’s glasses.
5. Purchased for $1 a 30 day supply of contacts for Kendall. We are going to try these out. My vision insurance starts again on July 1st and I will be able to order more regular contact for her but these should help us bridge the gap of what I can order and a true year’s supply.
6. Moved both Lily and Kendall’s braces payment from our regular account to my Medflex account, which renews on July 1st. This money is tax free! We saved $267 a month by moving these payments.
7. Purchased polo shirts for Matt at Costco for $9.99 for 2 shirts. We purchased a total of 6 shirts for a savings of at least $50 even finding items on sale.

Recipe Challenge

I mentioned on Monday that we were going to try something different this week with meals. I had received a free menu plan from Family Freezer so after printing it twice decided I need to give it a try. I will point out that this was a free plan so I am not sure if the plans you pay for would have similar issues. I did a quick shop in my pantry and freezer and made the list of items we would need for the weeks meals.

Sausage and Peppers were on the plan. Zach had picked this as his choice for the week. However once he read it and I read it. We decided it was not something we would eat or try. The problem we saw was that it had not sausage and not real suggestion for eating. This might work out great if you wanted to add to bread but we did not have the buns to try it on.

It was easier and less confusion if we at least assembled all the meals on the plans. On Sunday. I put together and froze both the Spinach Enchiladas and Chicken Noodle Soup. I will report on these once we actually eat them.

Interestingly enough this meal plan contained 3 meatless meals. I will be the first to admit that we are meat eaters so I was very skeptical about both Lily and Kendall’s choice.

#18- Tuscan Tortellini Soup- Lily chose to prepare this meal on Monday. It was very filling without meat and even with beans both Kendall and I enjoyed. Everyone agreed that this was a repeat meal!

#19 Chicken Philly Cheesesteak sloppy joes. Zach was in charge of this meal. On the menu plan this is listed as two separate recipes but both copies of the recipes it was actually one meal. I did buy the ground chicken. I read this recipe several times and just did not get a good feel of how it should work with ground peppers and the onions and peppers. I decided to have Zach put the onions and peppers in the food processors prior to cooking. This worked out great! This meal was ok. Zach has eaten left-overs for two meals but it was really bland. Zach and Matt added hot sauce so that is what made it better for them. Not a repeat.

#20 Honey Garlic Chicken- I was in charge of this meal so it went straight in the crockpot. I ended up shredding the chicken and we ate it over rice. It was a tad bit spicy for me. But everyone seemed to enjoy. The one downside to this recipe is that it made a TON of food. I suspect it will be an entire second meal if needed. Don’t think I will repeat this one either.

#21 No Bake Lasagna with Spinach- Kendall was in charge and this was very cool for her because she really does not like a lot of meat. This recipe did take around 45 minute to prepare so it was a bit more time consuming than I like but for lasagna it was a very simple recipe. This was the best meal of the week. Everyone finished and it was awesome! Definitely a winner and a repeat.

So we are ahead! I am so excited but also have some other new recipes already picked out to try in the next several weeks. At least Coronavirus is helping me to reach one of my goals for the year!

Saturday Activities

Today has been a really awesome day, the reason why because I am still in my pajamas and have no plan to leave the house all day! Lily and Kendall are on a youth retreat. Zach is at a birthday party for a friend. Another parent offered to pick him up and drop him off so of course I could not refuse.

I have managed to wash both the sheets on our bed and Zach’s bed. I was not able to hang out to dry but instead ran the dryer during the day to add some heat in the house. The weather is cold with a high of 40* another good reason for me to stay inside.

I made a stop by the grocery store last night. I found whole chicken on sale for $0.99 a pound which is a good price for my area. I prefer to get the already roasted chicken at Costco but we don’t have a trip planned to Costco in the near future. So this morning, I placed the chicken in the instapot. When it finished cooking, I removed the meat and shredded it. I made a huge batch of chicken stew. I have already froze one meal. It will probably work for at least one other full meal. The second half of the chicken, I am going to use in a new recipe this week called Burrito Bowl Soup. Look for a post about it on Monday hopefully.

This coming week is a lot different as everyone is out of school on Monday. Kendall and Zach only go to school on Thursday and Friday. I went ahead and put up the schedule for the week along with meals. I actually went ahead and prepared everything thing I could so that it will be a heat and eat week.

Quiet Christmas Budget

I have finally managed to do it! This year, I successfully reduced both the number of gifts and the amount of money that we spent on Christmas. The result has been even better than I anticipated! We have spent the entire Christmas day, enjoying some quiet time and new activities. The kids are not fighting and even more surprising is the fact that I have not heard one single time “I’m bored or Is this all we are getting for Christmas.”

The big girls got 6 presents under the tree!

The little kids got 5 gifts under the tree and one big gift from Santa