March in Review

March was a different kind of month. I have really enjoyed the last week off for my spring break. I realized today that I would for 14 days(3 weeks) and have a long weekend at Easter. This should also work out timing wise so we can plant most of the square foot garden. This past week, I have spent a lot of time cooking and shopping!

We were able to stick to our menu planning for the majority of the month! Yesterday, Saturday the 30th was a total fail as we ate out breakfast and lunch. Dinner was a find your own meal, which meant lots of starch was consumed. I did not stick to the grocery budget in any shape form or fashion, in fact I spent $1100 for groceries this month. Check out this post if you want to see my rationale.

Driving is a way of life for use but I am just trying to get a firm idea of what we are spending each month in order to budget better, $565 is the number for March.

Unfortunately, we did not reduce our overall debt in the month of March.  I did keep track of spending. We ended up with 6 days of NO spending for the month. This appears to be a really low number to me. I would like to track April and hopefully will achieve at least 50% or 15 days of no spending for the month.

I have continued with completing either Bible study or reading at least 3 times a week!
I did not use the treadmill this month. I did have a doctor’s visit this past week and have lost 2 pounds in 3 months but am `5 pounds heavier than I was a year ago.  I am hopefully with the warmer weather and longer days to start walking on a more regular basis. The goal for April will be once a week or a total of 5 times during the month.

This is post number 15 for the month!  After two years, I have finally met this goal. Now to continue with the success!

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month but are at our lowest point of $80 for the month. We have used this entire amount for working on things outside. The good news is that this means we have not spent anything on the square foot garden so we are eating free food at this point.

PLANS: One of the downfalls of my new job is that in both April and May my paycheck will be reduced by $500. I am going to track our spending very closely for now to try and maintain some balance. We will have 2 or more Baseball games a week but this should be less than $10 each week.  I plan to keep grocery shopping to a minimal of less than $100 as well. The countdown to summer is on; 12 weeks till I have an 8 week vacation!

What I did on Spring Break!

I have waited years to be able to post this! Actually, this was only a possibility starting in August of last year when I accepted the position with the Davie County school system. I had a couple of goals that I really wanted to accomplish while out and I am very excited to say that I was able to meet them all!

First I planned to make several trips to several different grocery stores in order to take advantage of sales and really stock up. I shopped at Shuler’s Meat Store,  Food Lion 4 times, Costco, Harris Teeter twice, Aldi at least three times, Walmart  and at 3 different Dollar Generals.  I talked at length about my grocery spending in this post. I was able to grab some winter clearance deals at Dollar General including gloves and fleece blankets for $1.50 each. Braxton got several new outfits.

Next on my to do list was cooking ahead. We are entering a busy season with baseball, art, church and end of school activities.  I can finally say that our freezer is full with easy to prepare and things we enjoy meals. I decided that instead of spending an entire day or two cooking, I would attempt to cook one extra meal each day.  On Monday, I purchased boneless chicken thighs and place them in two crockpots to cook while we did the bulk of our shopping. Dinner on Monday was a chicken from Costco with potato salad and cauliflower.  I did take the remaining chicken, sautéed some onions and carrots to use as a quick soup starter in the next couple of weeks.  Tuesday- I grounded up 3 roast from the freezer and made a 10# batch of taco meat (7 meals). I also shredded the chicken thighs and assembled 2 broccoli and chicken  casseroles for the freezer. We tried a new recipe for cube steak and loved it. Wednesday- I used the shredded chicken to assemble 2 chicken pies and 2 chicken pot pies for the freezer. Thursday- I grounded up 4 additional roast from the freezer to make sloppy joes out of 5 pounds (5 meals) and another 4 bags of browned hamburger meat to use as meal starters. Friday- We had grilled chicken for dinner, using up most of the salad ingredients in the refrigerator. I also assembled with some help 2 baked ziti.  We have a total of 23 prepped meals in the freezer!  On Saturday, Matt and I came up with a menu plan for the month of April. I will be adding to the freezer stash with hamburgers this week but otherwise cooking should really be assembling and heating for most of the month.

The final item on my to do list for Spring Break was cleaning out and organizing my closet.  I am wearing “real clothes” aka not scrubs to work everyday.  I needed to finish sorting through my clothes and getting rid of anything stained or out dated. I even managed to sort my pajama, underwear and socks.  I am very pleased with how neat and organized my closet is currently.

Grocery Spending

First a look at the numbers:
March Grocery spending prior to my Spring break  $304.20
Grocery Spending this week (Spring break  $754.25
Total Grocery Spending for March $1058.45
Total Grocery Spending for February $175

Budget for Groceries $450 each month

 

One of the reasons that I continue to update and blog is that it proves accountability for me of some form. In addition, it allows me to glance back that years past and give a better perspective.
March 2018 Spending $726.27          March 2016 Spending $200

Now, let me explain at least part of the spending.  I am enjoying a week long break from my job so I wanted to make sure I got lots of things in place to help the next 9-11 weeks go smoothly.  We are entering a “busy” season for us, baseball 2-3 nights a week and then swimming for everyone starts in early May. My goal this week was to prepare ahead as many meals as possible which in the long run will save both time and money. I am actually ahead for the most part with this goal, I have already gotten 13 meals in the freezer with plans for at least 7 more before the week ends. So that is a total of 20 evening meals in addition to the 5 for this week.  Just looking at that number I am averaging $42.33 a meal to feed 6 people.  I also purchased 30 lunchables for the kids to take to school so that also reduces the amount.

Another  way to look at my March spending is that I had $275 left in my grocery budget for February.  I also purchased enough food that I don’t plan to spend much of my April budget for groceries either so if I leave $100 in the grocery budget for April then I am back to my monthly average of $450.

After looking at the numbers, overall I am very pleased with both the amount of spending and the amount of food that I have prepped ahead of time. I did way over spend this month but if I can control spending for the next couple of month I will definitely be back on track!

Saving at CVS

My goal for today at CVS was to buy hair spray and hair gel that we are running dangerously low on.  I did manage to accomplish that goal but also racked up an awesome trip for saving as well.

I spent a total of eighty-nine cents and saved #33.13 or 97%.  I included tax in my spending and also saving percentage so it does not get much better than this. Fifty-two cent was the sales tax.  CVS sent a bunch of coupons via the mail last week, which is not unusual but it included coupons for free items which is unusual. The face mask and nuts were both free items. The toothpaste was a money maker using a $2.00 manufactures coupon and getting $2ECBs.  I also had a coupon for eighty-eighty cent off a candy bar. The full size Hershey bars were on sale for eighty-eight each and the Reese eggs were 2 for $1. Other CVS coupons included $4 off $20 and 25% off regular priced items.

CVS was definitely worth the trip this week!

Saving on Saturday 3/23/2019

One of the ways that we attempt to cut out grocery budget is with the purchase of an entire cow. We purchased 890# of meat approximately one year ago.  This works well for us especially since we have the freezer space for all this meat and some to spare. We have been enjoying beef several times a week but it has become really clear that we as a family do not like roast.  I have tried several different versions and ways to make the roast with different taste and it still does not end up being all that great, with lots of left-overs. However, we like ground beef and eat it a hundred different ways with no complaint. Now here is how we are saving money today. I purchased last month on Amazon on a 60% off sale a grinder that attaches to my Kitchen Aid Mixer.

Last night, I set 3 roast out to unthaw and today, I cut the bones out of each of them and then ground them up with the grinder. I will admit it was a little bit of work to get this accomplished but less than 2 hours for the entire process.  After grinding the hunks of roast into ground beef, I fried it up and tossed in the crockpot with taco seasoning and water.  The remaining bones and meat that was attached I placed in a second crock pot  and made beef broth that I will bag and freeze tomorrow.

I was able to take 3 meals that we would eat and not enjoy and turn into at least 7 meals that will be quick and easy to prep and at least 16 cups of beef broth. I am definitely calling this a win  in the saving department!

Monday Menu Planning

The goal for this week is to make it till Friday when my Spring Break begins. We are definitely starting to see some holes in the pantry and freezers especially where our convenient foods are usually.  On a positive note, we purchased a new grill on Friday of last week so we are definitely planning to use it a lot during the next fun and warm weeks of Spring! I will not be posting a menu plan for next week, I am going to fly by the seat of my pants and try to cook ahead so that should be interesting to say the least.

Breakfast- Saturday–  bagels, Sunday-bagels (we slept late) Monday-bagels, breakfast burritos found in the bottom of the freezer. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday- Hamburgers and French Fries  Sunday-Mexican with friends  Monday– soup  for everyone, Tuesday– Chicken salad lettuce wraps  , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- soup or sandwiches.
Dinner – Saturday- KFC bowls, these were planned for Friday but we ate Raman Noodles instead. Sunday- Gifted left over pizza Monday-Spaghetti and Meatballs  Tuesday– Hot Dogs and Tator tots  Wednesday–Pulled pork with corn and broccoli  Thursday– Grilled Chicken and pasta salad  Friday- Eating out for Haley’s Birthday

Sunday CVS Shopping 3/17/2019

I am starting to see a cycle with CVS shopping.  The best sales are usually January and February with a huge slack off after that, It has been true again this year. I have gotten in the swing of checking out the CVS sales every week. I have skipped a few weeks of shopping just because they had little to nothing that I need or use in the stock pile to grab.

Last week, I was able to score both cans of Diet Coke and 2L on sale for my stock up price. I only buy 2L at or below $1 each and I stock up at seventy-nine cent each.  I was able to purchase a total of 6 case and 16 2L this past week. Even better is the rain check I got for 16 more 2 litters.

This week was a great week to shop CVS. I spent a total of $6.83 and saved $37.60 or 85%. I purchased 4 bottles of body wash and a bottle of mouthwash in addition to most of the candy I will use at Easter.  I used only 1 coupon for $1 off Irish Spring Body Wash.  The other savings came from using ECB and coupons from the red machine. I started the trip with $10 in ECB and ended with $7.45 in ECB.  They have changed the rules for earning ECB with beauty products but I am anticipating getting another $6 in rewards when I shop next week.  This makes grocery shopping so much cheaper in the long run!

Saving on Saturday 3/16/20199

The sun is finally shining in North Carolina on a Saturday. What does that mean? Time to wash all the sheets and bed covers so they can air dry. I am so excited. I was able to get 7 loads of sheets and comforters on the line. I did have to throw my mattress pad in the dryer for an hour  but overall saved at least 6 hours of dryer use! The best part is how amazing the sheets all smell!

Food Lion and Aldi are the only choices except for Walmart for grocery shopping so I rarely get excited about sales or clearance items. This week was the exception.  I found bags of flavored popcorn and cheese puffs on clearance for seventy-five cent each. I was able to grab 15 bags at this price!  Yes, I grabbed all the I could find!  Food Lion also had Lance crackers BOGO for $3.09 which works out to be twenty-six cent a pack. They are a great snack for the kids especially at ball games and for the pool. I was able to grab 12 packs at this price. CVS ran a sale last week for Coke products.  I am good for at least two months.  I now have spent exactly half of our grocery budget for March so I need to be careful with my future purchases.

I am hoping to reduce our out of pocket to less than $20 for the square foot garden this year. One way is to use seeds instead of purchasing plants for many of the items I plant. I have been collect packs of seeds for fifty cent over the past several weeks and also looked at what I have purchased in years past and plan to use as much as that as possible.  Lowes ran a sale this weekend on plants for 1.50 each which is a little less than half off. I grabbed 2 containers of broccoli and planted them as they need to be in the ground and produce before the heat arrives with summer. I also purchased 10 green pepper plants, these will take ALOT more work as I have to move inside at night and remember to set in the sun during the day.  If I am able to keep these alive until the last Spring frost usually mid to late April this will be a huge savings.  I am collecting gift cards from Swagbucks to help cover the other expenses of the garden. Free Food will taste awesome this summer!

Menu Planning on Tuesday

I am only one day late with this post and because the reason was the pictures from our kitchen, I don’t feel at all bad.  Last week turned out to be very interesting as Kendall was sick, my mom was sick and I ended up spending a lot of time not feeling great.  I did break down on Saturday and make a quick grocery store trip which push our grocery spending to $215 this month.  Thankfully, I have also been able to organize and re-arrange the freezers and I feel much better about the amount of food we have on hand these days.  We should easily make it until the end of the month before needing to grocery shop and we also have enough ground beef to last the rest of the year!  We are continuing to use items on hand and even try some new ideas!

Breakfast- Saturday– BLT biscuits, Sunday-Bagels  Monday Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday-  Pizza Sunday-Meatball vegetable soup (new and something we will repeat) Monday– Sandwich for kids and left-overs for me Tuesday– Soup , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- Chicken nuggets and chicken salad wrap with leftover soup at least one day. We are out of uncrustables so the kids are having to think about lunches a little bit more. 
Dinner – Saturday-Gravy and biscuits and grits Sunday–Left-overs  Monday-Salisbury steak  Tuesday– Soft Tacos  Wednesday–Sweet Hawaiian beef (new)  Thursday– Spaghetti and meatballs Friday- KFC bowls