September in Review

Financial- We are doing ok. Matt has accepted a new position which should come with an significant increase in income! We have spent several hours talking about priorities and goals. I will hope to have a finalized new budget by the end of October. I do think that this may be a temporary budget for November and December with a more established budget starting in January. We did manage to have to have 7 no spend day in September which is the same as July.

Grocery Spending-$550.31 This does include our $120 Costco membership. We needed things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, fabric softener and dishwasher tabs along with food for lunches!

Earned $155- We continue to use Swagbucks on a regular basis but this amount continues to decrease and becomes increasingly hard to reach even $1 a day. I did receive a $100 gift card for applying for a personal loan. All the money this money has been used to work on our bathroom floor. I will have details and pictures once it is fixed.

Personal-
Blogging- post number 8 for the month. Returning to work full-time has been rough along with all the kids activities.

Exercise- 0. After my knee injury, I am finally walking without pain and will try to start adding in some steady exercise.

Looking ahead to October- Maintain spending and adjust the budget according to the income level we are at. Continue to control spending and debit. I know that this month will truly be a month of adjustments so I just want to maintain even ground and make a plan that works for our family.

Saving on Sunday

We have definitely started one of the busy season of our lives. We have a minimum of three ball games a week in addition to scheduled practices and other events. During the month of September, I have two established goals first keep grocery spending to a minimum and second eliminate going out to eat. Today, I want to share how we are able to accomplish both of these goals.

I have a snack bag that I carry in my van all the time. I periodically refill it with snacks, typically you will find granola/fruit bar, rice krispy treats, fruit snacks and packs of applesauce in it. I have a huge purse and simply throw the snack bag in my purse before heading into a ballgame. If we have packs of chips, I let each of the kids add a bag of chips to my purse as well. This eliminates the need/ desire to purchase snacks at the game. Snack usually cost around $1 each for five people that is $5 a game or $15 a week that we are saving by bring in our own snacks.

The second way we save is by bring our drinks. The child that is participating in the game always needs a Gatorade or a water bottle. Each game I see at least one if not three parent buying a drink from the concession stand because they “forget” to bring one. I usually also pack a water per person or can of soda in our small cooler. I have never seen a sign at a school event that says “no outside food or drinks” so I usually just carry the cooler or I can always send the kids back to the car to grab a drink. At competition events, I will bring at least a water bottle in my bag and we do go back to the car to snack and even eat. Most Gatorades are $2 each. I can buy a 6 pack not on sale for less than $4 so I am saving a minimum of $4 a week. This does not include the $1 water for the rest of us or at least $12 a week.

Finally, we always plan ahead for the games. We always try to eat prior to the games. At worse, we have planned a portable meal such as hamburgers, sloppy joes, chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets or burritos. This way, we can eat in the car prior to the game starting or even during the game. Now I do want to say that my whole family REALLY like ball game food. I have not seen nachos or chill cheese fries that don’t look delicious and usually smell even better. However, if we chose to eat even at one game at week, we spend at least $20 a week or $80 a month. Eighty dollars will buy us a nice meal even better than ball game food. One way we enjoy the ball game food is that if we all have eaten dinner prior to the game we can share an order of nachos for $3 or even a couple orders of fries. This way we are still saving at least $15 a week!


Menu Planning Monday

I have definitely up my meal planning game this week. We actually chose the meals we wanted for the week on Saturday prior to my grocery shopping. I did end up spending $80 at Walmart for groceries which puts me at $111 for the month. On Sunday, we spent about 2 hours getting everything prepared for the week. I realized last week that I need to go ahead and get my lunches all prepped as well. I am not a morning person and even grabbing left-overs add an additional 5 minutes to my mornings.

Breakfast- Saturday,-Egg sandwhiches. Sunday,-Toast with either peanutt butter or nuttella and grapes or banana. Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, pop tarts cereal, French toast or toast.  This is the easiest meal of the day!

Lunch–Saturday-Chicken wraps , Sunday-Seasame chicken in the crockpot. This is a new recipe and EVERYONE enjoyed it! Zach is taking lunchables for 4 days and pasta salad. Kendall is doing a mix of dipping days, sushi, uncrustable and a sandwich. My plan is to take pasta salad, salad and chicken salad wrap and one day of leftovers. I made egg salad, chicken salad and pasta salad for lunches this week.

Dinner – Saturday- Lemon Basil Chicken salad  Sunday–Left-overs or sandwhich (The fridges are over-flowing). Monday- Hamburger and French Frie. Tuesday– Sandwhiches or left-overs.  Wednesday–KFC bowls (to prep for this day, I have already made mashed potatos and got all the ingredients together for gravy). Thursday– Pork Chops Friday- Meatloaf muffins and some veggies.

Saving on Saturday- Chicken Thighs

We are doing well with sticking to our weekly menu plan and I have been really focus on keeping out grocery spending as low as possible for the next couple of months. One of the things that I am focusing on is to use things in the freezer and pantry before going out to buy things. I noticed last week that I had two remaining packs of chicken thighs in the freezer. I found these on sale for $0.95 cent a pound in June. Read about the other deals I scored that day as well. Each of the packets had been reduced to $2.10. This weekend, I knew I needed to add some lunch items and also wanted to give some variety to our weekend. The OT at work shared an awesome recipe for Basil Lemon Chicken Salad and I decided I definitely wanted to make some this weekend. So yesterday (Friday) I went down and pull out the two packs of chicken. I was feeling lazy so I threw both packs in the crockpot added some salt and pepper and turned it on low for 12 hours. I did wake up last night at least once and think…”that smells good”.
After the ballgame, we were hungry. Matt, Kendall and I made a chicken and tzatziki sauce wraps. Zach decided plan chicken and ranch would be better for him. For dinner, I made the Lemon Basil Chicken salad which was a huge hit. Matt is not a fan of chicken salad and is really not a fan of chicken thighs but he even said how good it was! We have been able to eat both meals today from those chicken thighs and I have made a huge container of regular chicken salad that will probably provide at least 7 lunches! I threw the skin and bones back in the crockpot and was able to get 20 cups of chicken stock in the freezer as well! I count the chicken stock as totally free! So that is a total of 13 meals for $5.20 or forty cent each for the meat portion which is always the most expensive part! I will definitely call that a win!


5 Things Friday

  1. I am tired. No other explanation need!
  2. First football game that Kendall is cheering at is tomorrow and she is beyond excited.
  3. The weather outside is still hot and muggy! We have not had any rain in over a month! Our rain barrel is half empty which is the lowest it has been all year.
  4. I am still harvesting lots of peppers and basil but the last tomato is slowly turning red. I actually have already pulled up the majority of my tomato plants because they were dead. I was hoping to get another handful but this appears to be the last one. I have planted 2 lettuce started in a cup of water, a packet of spinach and a packet of carrots. I am really hoping to harvest a few items into November and December. I am going to also try and let the basil self seed this year. We have had an abundance so I am very hopeful this works. We are anticipating a good crop of sweet potatoes. The plants are slowly starting to die but I want to stretch the growing time as much as possible especially with heat we are still experiencing.
  5. Lily is participating in youth theater this fall which is another addition to our busy schedule. She basically has practice every day from 4 to 6pm.

Aldi Shopping Trip

I am really trying to control and maintain our grocery budget to under $100 for the month of September. In theory and on paper it may sound like a fairly simple thing to accomplish for several reasons. First we have almost 90 dinner meals prepped and in the freezer. Second, we have a nicely stocked pantry and enough additional food for another month at least. And third, my mother is always really generous when she comes for dinner and brings desert. But the reality is that we are a full time family of five eating 3 meals a day with some days becoming a family of 7 or 8. Things seem to go pretty quickly in this house. This week, we are out of bread! I had already planned to stop one day this week to pick up buns for the sloppy joes that we have planned on Friday. But I also need to buy some sandwich bread and bagels as well. I ended up with some extra alone time on Wednesday as the kids and Matt were all involved in church activities. I decided to stop by Aldi. I am really pleased that I managed to limit my spending to $8.07 which included 3 dozen eggs, graham crackers, peanut butter bars and vanilla wafers in addition to bagels, buns and bread! Total grocery spending for the month $29.72

I did spend a few minutes walking around the store and realized that prices are starting to creep up! English muffins that I regularly purchased this summer for $0.95 were $1.25, the peanut butter bars that were $0.85 are not $0.92! Even my $0.65 loaf of bread was up to $0.85! Yikes I have got to keep a watch on prices because at some point we will need to increase our budget.

Saving on Saturday 09/07

Today, I am going to list a couple of the ways we have been saving money over the past week.

Hung out 8 loads of sheets and bedding to line dry on Monday (Labor Day)
Packed lunch all week.
Planned ahead with dinners and stuck to the plan even after some very long days. Including using left-overs for one full meal this week.
Re-using water bottles at least once while at home.
Keeping the temperature at 74 during the day and 72 at night even if that meant someone was hot.
Used a gift card from Swagbucks to pick up “needed” items from Walmart.
Purchased lunchables on a one day sale at Food Lion for forty nine cent each. The regular price is $2.49 each.
Reduced the amount of Diet Coke and replacing with water on a daily basis.
Saving energy by running the dishwasher, washer and dryer at night without adding heat to the house.

How did you save money this week?

Monday Menu Planning

Last week went really smoothly except for the day, Matt forgot to put the pork roast in the crockpot. We decided to have left overs for that meal which worked out fine. I was able to find and purchase chicken breast for $0.99 a pound this week. We purchased a total of 25 pounds. 3 of the 5 pound packs were combined with a bottle of Italian dressing for grilled chicken. The remaining two packs I split into 4 bags to be used for crockpot meals. This week our schedule is starting to pick up with something on every night except for Thursday. I guess that balances out with Monday being Labor Day and everyone home.

Breakfast- Saturday,- Eggs, sausage toast and grits. Sunday, Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, pop tarts cereal, Lunchable brunch French toast or toast.  I purchased some everything bagels this week to add to the mix.

Lunch–Saturday-left-over pizza , Sunday-Pulled pork sandwiches. Monday- Sandwiches. Zach is taking lunchables and Kendall is doing a mix of dipping days, sushi, uncrustable and a sandwich. My plan is to take pasta salad, salad and maybe a couple of days of left-overs or wraps depending on what is available. Matt purchased a bag of chicken nuggets to use in his lunch this week. Everyone is enjoying the extra junk food that is available because of left-overs from Zach’s birthday party.

Dinner – Saturday- Pasta salad- I added fresh tomatoes and green peppers, carrots from the fridge and cut up chicken breast that were left over.  Sunday–Shrimp Scampi- packet in my closet and used left-over spaghetti pasta from the refrigerator. Monday- Grilled chicken- I am hoping for leftovers but this depends on the number of people that come for dinner.  Tuesday– Taco Pasta  Wednesday–Baked potatoes in crockpot. All three kids have a orthodontist appointment so I wanted something soft. Thursday– Cheeseburger Pizza- from the freezer. Friday- Leftovers or sandwiches because I have a meeting.

August in Review

Financial- We are doing ok. Spending at the beach is always expected and fun. This year with school starting we have had a ton of extra expenses including school fees, baseball sign up, cheer uniform and Lexington Youth Theater sign up fees. I have been anticipating starting a second job again to increase our income but this has not materialized yet either. I am waiting and praying for God’s will and provision. We did manage to have 4 no spend days in August or one per week. This is a decrease from July. I am going to set a goal of 15 for September.

Grocery Spending-$425.53. This is actually less than last year and more than my previous two months. I am going back to a cash only or in this case (earned gift card only) system. One of the big purchases this month was 25 pounds of chicken breast. I discovered a sale at Food Lion and was able to stock up. We currently have approximately 80 dinner meals in our freezers. Zach’s birthday party was also included in this months expenses. My goal for September is to limit spending as much as possible.

Earned $105- We continue to use Swagbucks on a regular basis but this amount continues to decrease and becomes increasingly hard to reach even $1 a day. I did cash in Ibbotta for $20 and a couple of Shopkicks $2 cards.

Personal-
Blogging- post number 10 for the month. I decided to not post as much from the beach as I was enjoying some much needed down time.

Exercise- 6 days this month. I have managed to sprain my knee and have been pretty much only able to walk short distances for the past 2 weeks. I am pretty sure it will be at least another 2 weeks before I can try to get into a regular exercise routine.

Looking ahead to September- Decrease spending, increase income. Enjoy a month full of activities!