Month in Review

May has come to a flying finish. I went in to the month knowing that it would most likely be one of our busiest as a family. May did not disappoint in this for sure. We should be finishing up baseball next week after a 2 week break. Swim team has started with a goal of attending at least three practices a week. We have birthday parties, graduation parties and end of the year activities that all seem to be keeping our calendar full.

 As you can tell from the pictures yesterday, the garden is looking awesome, we have been able to harvest some green peppers, two very small zucchini, basil, dill and of course mint. We have blossoms on the tomato plants and the corn is over knee high. 

With all the scheduled activities for the month, menu planning has been important however we have been making changes to accommodate evening when we have literally an hour or less at home to get not only homework finished but some sort of dinner. We ended up eating out Chinese once and ordered pizza once. It feels like I am going to the grocery store every other day. However, I am starting to realize that the reason for this is that I am only buying what we are out of or what things I find on manager special. I am planning to write a post this weekend about the deals I have been able to find at Food Lion.  I have been able to keep a total of grocery spending. We are currently at $325 including the $75 trip I made on Thursday of this week. I am very pleased with this amount and plan to continue to monitor and reduce the overall spending for the summer months.  

We ended up spending around $400 for gas this month. I am not keeping a running total for this because we have to have gas to work and for most of our everyday activities. After much thought and consideration, this is really not a budget item that I can control.

In the area of finances we are holding our ground right now. I made the decision this week to sell the little red car. I was pleasantly surprised that it only took two day for it to sell. This will probably mean an increase in our gas spending but it did mean a $70 decrease in insurance for the short term. Today is the last paycheck for the school year and it was less than anticipated. I am going to have to sit down this summer and redo our budget once I actually figure out what I can anticipate for my salary next year. The good news is that I have scheduled two deposit, one in June and one in July, that will serve as my paychecks for the summer.

The area that has seen the greatest improvement during the month of May is with my weight loss and exercise. I have walked a total of 8 days with one of those being in the water. I have lost 2# this month.

I was able to increase my number of post for May to 13! I am only two away from goal.

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $80. This is again going down but free money is free money.

PLANS:  9 day of work left till Summer! I am going to focus on using our money wisely this month! I want to keep the grocery budget less than $300 again. The cost of gas should also decrease significantly this summer as well due to me not going to work. We are planning to replace the tires on the old van. This money will come from profits of selling the car.  Lots of things to think about and consider during the summer! I plan to update regularly so get ready to enjoy some summer fun and gardening.  Spending should be minimal as we have already paid pool dues, all summer camps and our Wet and Wild membership is also paid.  f

Monday Musings

The end of school is fast approaching. Lily finishes up 8th grade this week with End of Grade test on Wednesday and Thursday. Zach and Kendall have two weeks left. They also have testing this week with the following week being a lot of celebrating and other activities. I have 3 weeks left. My weeks will be full of meeting and paperwork. But I am counting days can’t wait to start my summer break.

I am usually pretty good at looking at the schedule and determining just how busy we will be. However, I underestimated the last couple of weeks. We are staying supper busy with end of school activities and swim team practice. I am hoping to make it through the next 2 weeks without breaking the budget grabbing food on the run. But I am beginning to wonder how we will get it all done.

My grocery goal for the summer is to keep the grocery bill as low as possible for at least the months of June and July. I know that August will be a huge shopping trip as we stock up for the beginning of the school year. So far for the month of May we have spent $215 which includes lots of sodas to get us through the summer. We are running low on lots of quick and convenient meals but I am trying to stretch them at least the last two weeks of the school year.

My square foot garden is growing the best that I have ever seen, I am very hopeful that we will be able to not only use it for lots of food this summer but also that we can restock the freezer with yummy veggies for the winter.

I checked the freezer yesterday and estimate that we have about six month of beef left. I need to seriously start to work on a plan to use what we have but also to pay for another cow. This one has lasted about 18 months so that is a great way to stretch our budget!

We should not be spending any money on clothing for the next two months so that will make things a little bit easier as well.

Menu Planning Monday

 The countdown until the end of school is on! We have 3 more weeks and I have one additional week of workdays.  One of the ways I want to save money this month is by limiting our grocery budget. If I don’t go to Costco that significantly reduces my spending. I currently have spent $145 on groceries. My goal is to make it the rest of the month with spending less than $50. I know we need to buy both paper towels and toilet paper with that money.  I do hope to use Swagbucks to earn at least one $25 gift cards to help with the cost of these needed items.  The homemade uncrustables were a huge hit, in fact, I made 16 more for the next couple of week.  I even made a breakfast quiche for myself

Breakfast- Saturday Sausage biscuit – Sunday-biscuits and gravy.   Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.  Wednesday- baked oatmeal- peanut butter/chocolate chip

Lunch–Saturday-breakfast burritos from Sonic     Sunday- Stuffed green peppers.    Monday– salad and veggie day.  Tuesday–Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- uncrustables for the kids, I will take a combination of left-overs and salad items. I even made homemade chicken salad to use this week.

Dinner – Saturday-Pizza   Sunday–Grilled spam, sweet potatoes and creamed spinach. Monday-Hamburger helper Tuesday– soft tacos   Wednesday–Grilled pork chops  Thursday–Chicken pot pie . Friday- Hamburgers and FF

Saving on Saturday

This Saturday, we did more saving than we spent, which of course is the overall goal!  We decided to go to several yard sales that had been advertised in our neighborhood, in addition to our church yard sale.  I was very excited to find a Vera Bradley laptop bag in perfect condition for $2 and a separate Vera Bradley purse for $2. Another excellent find was a pair of converse tennis shoes for Kendall for $3. I picked up several tuppperware plastic cups for ten cent each.

The other way that we saved money this weekend was by eating out. I know that sounds very strange but we were able to eat out for all three meals for less than $30.  First, at one of the yard sales we all grabbled sausage biscuits for $1 each. I had already packed a cooler with drinks. For lunch, I stopped by Sonic and grabbed 5 breakfast burritos for $5.35. I received this deal via a text on Friday.  It was well work the effort of reading the text and pulling it up for the cashier to see. Finally, we ordered a pizza from a local restaurant and used a discount card from the school for a total of $15.35 for a 14 inch pizza.  We always take food with us to the pool so this made a huge impact of our budget! hidden1 \

Food Hacks that Work!

Our schedule for this week includes swim team practice on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and baseball games on Wednesday and Friday.   As you can imagine this means that we are extremely busy. I anticipated this season of busy enough to try a couple of new quick and easy food tricks this week.  I am so excited to report that they worked!

Breakfast is always a big deal at our house. We all enjoy eating breakfast but also like a lot of variety. I saw that Harris Teeter had “egg in a cup” on sale for $1.67 each this week. That gave me an idea and after a little bit of research on the internet, I made my own “breakfast bags” Zach fried up a pound of sausage while I diced green peppers and onions. I placed 1/8 cup of peppers, 1/8 cup of onions and ¼ cup in a snack bag, in the freezer they went.  My plan was to stir a couple of eggs in a cup drop in the bag contents. This week we have decided that you need at least 2 and usually 3 eggs if you chose to add cheese to the mixture.  In the microwave for 1.5 minutes or you can also add the bag to a frying pan and stir. Zach was unable to eat 2 eggs for breakfast so we decided to separate his bag in half and that seems to work well for one egg.  We also have some breakfast burritos in the freezer.  These simple omelets are a huge hit.   HUGE win for quick and cheap breakfast on the run.

Kendall and Zach take their lunches to school every day, at this point in the school year, we are tired and really want something new and fun for lunch.  Both Kendall and Zach love uncrustables and we have been able to purchase on sale several times this school year, however at fifty cent each on sale this is an expensive lunch.  I had heard of several folks making homemade ones and again after some research decided to try it. I was a little worried at first about needing some special way to seal the outside, however after using one of our glasses to make the circle I was pleasantly surprised to learn that by using the glass it sealed the sandwich. Kendall says that these taste better than the store bought ones.  I spent sixty-cent on a loaf of bread for these but otherwise have the peanut butter and grape jelly already in my pantry from sales.   I was able to make 8 sandwiches at the average cost of ten cent or less each!   I am planning to make another batch of these this weekend!   

5 Things Friday

1. Summer is officially here in North Carolina for two very distinct reasons. First, I caved and turned on our central air on Wednesday this week. The house temperature at 6 pm was 83* so you really can’t blame me. The second reason is that our community pool opens this weekend and swim team practice will start next week!

2. The square foot garden is doing really well so far. I am excited to be harvesting lettuce several times a week. I also will soon be able to enjoy green peppers and jalapeño pepper. I notice this morning that we have our first zucchini squash is showing.

3. I have 5 weeks of working left before I get to enjoy a long summer break.

4. We are managing to stay well under budget for groceries this month as so far we have spent $12. I am planning to purchase some 2-Liter sodas for our Mother’s Day celebration.

5. We only have 3 baseball game left this season. Zach is still LOVING baseball. He has moved to the first of the batting order and is planning to attend a baseball camp at a local university to improve his skills this summer. 

Monday Menu Planning 5/6

May is an exciting month for me this year. I am counting down the weeks and days until my long summer break. I have also decided that I will only be shopping in town this month, which means no Harris Teeter or Costco. I will be picking up items as we totally run out or that are need for a specific meal, like buns.  I plan to cook from the freezers and hopefully start to get some good garden items by the end of the month. We don’t have any more lunchables so the kids are back to packing lunches on Sunday with lots of sandwiches.  This week of course is busy with baseball and piano. Swim team practice should start next week as well. Quick easy and summer time favorites are on the menu.

Breakfast- Saturday– bagels – Sunday-biscuits and gravy for the girls, boys had a men’s breakfast.   Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.  Wednesday- baked oatmeal- peanut butter/chocolate chip

Lunch–Saturday-steak fajita using left-overs     Sunday-Seafood restaurant for Mother’s Day a week early.    Monday– salad and veggie day.  Tuesday– hummus and dip for me, Kendall and Zach had egg salad sandwiches, Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- soup, wraps and sandwiches for kids. I have a salad for one day and left-overs.

Dinner – Saturday-left-overs  Sunday–Left-overs Monday-Mini chicken tacos  Tuesday– spaghetti and garlic bread   Wednesday–Steak and ranch potatoes Thursday– Chicken sandwhich and FF. Friday- pizza roll ups.