August in Review

August really went out with a bang…. 4 day trip to Disney! It was awesome and hopefully I can share some pictures this week.

Gardening- 1 watermelon from the garden and I thought we were pretty much done with extreme heat and lack of rain for the two weeks of August but I ended up with fresh salsa, a cup of green peppers frozen, along with several salads made from cucumbers. I even have another pot of spaghetti sauce going! I will probably let the sweet potatoes go until the end of September. The goal this month is to clean up and preserve anything that is left.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $250. I was able to continue to fill some small holes in the pantry but am just buying things as we need them. I do need to restock on quick easy lunches during September as the kids will likely be home 2-3 days a week the entire month. I am going to anticipate another low month but if that changes then we are still ok.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $174.65 the total for the month. Another low month on gas. The price has been all over the place but I have been driving to and from work for the last three weeks so gas around $200 a month should be the normal until the end of the year. I am most excited that this should allow us to pay off the gas credit car which has a set of tires on it as well!

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. We are getting better at this. I am going to continue working on this. One issue I am having is that Aldi, one of the stores I shop almost weekly is only excepting exact change or debit cards. This makes it harder for me to remember to keep extra change on my at all time.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 14 for the month! I am actually proud of this goal especially going back to work on both of my jobs. I hope to continue in September.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. Did not come close but did manage a 7 mile day at Disney!

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Yikes!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  I only need 2 more recipes to mark this goal off of my list.

Earnings_ $65. This is a small improvement so we will continue to hope for the best. This covered our breakfast at Magic Kingdom on Saturday and even some cold drinks at the airport.

Things are slowly returning back to normal. We survived and enjoyed August so now to settle in to a new school year and continue to focus on enjoying each moment!

Recipe Challenge 49 & 50

I usually have a reason for trying most recipes and these two are no different. I am including most of this rationale so in the future I can have a good read and occasional laugh.

I am always on the look out for quick and easy or anything that can be made ahead of time. Chocolate Chip Sheet Pan Pancakes. I actually followed the recipe exactly but they came out a little dry for our taste. Everyone ate them and it was a simple way to make pancakes but just not good enough to try again.

I am not even positive if this counts as a recipe but today (Saturday) we are trying to use items on hand and avoid the grocery store in order to stay under the grocery budget for the month. If we are successful then it will be the first time this entire crazy year! We had been given a baked spaghetti and several containers of what I thought was pasta sauce. My plan was to make a homemade pizza and use the sauce on it along with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. After the dough was made and placed on our pizza pan we discovered the sauce were actually containers of spaghetti noodles and sauce. Zach suggested we just go ahead and add the whole thing to the pizza. We did and it was a HUGE hit. Matt even talked about making this the regular way we make pizza with spaghetti noodles. Double win, no need to purchase or even use our sauce and EVERYONE LOVED the pizza!

The official count is
Repeating 25
Maybe 8
No 17

I am so excited that we should actually finish this challenge with just two more recipes!

Monday Menu Plan

This week is another slower week for us. I have not heard of a plan for starting church related activities yet. Lily started school full time but Zach and Kendall had one day of orientation and have the rest of the week off. I am still trying to get in the swing of things so we are again keeping it simple. I was very excited to come up with this plan with no repeats for dinner from last week! Second most exciting news… no eating out this week!!!!

Breakfast– Saturday-waffles Sunday- Chocolate chip pancakes Monday- grilled cheese sandwiches . Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, bagels or omelets or tomato sandwich

Lunch-  Saturday- homemade salsa and chips Sunday-homemade personal pan pizza I have tuna salad, chicken salad, pasta salad and left-overs for lunch this week.

Dinner-  Saturday-left-overs Sunday- Buffalo Chicken wings Monday- Pork fried rice using pork chops from last week Tuesday- Chicken sandwiches and sweet potato fries. Wednesday- Matt’s breakfast casserole Thursday- Cowboy beans in the crockpot Friday- Spaghetti pie from freezer.

Recipe Challenge 47 and 48

I did return to work this week so I was attempting to find some different crock pot recipes to use and this sounded really good. Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops . The plan was to assembly the night before and simple put in the crockpot and cook on Friday. I also used fresh basil and dill from the garden to make this a little easier. First thing Friday morning, I moved the container from the fridge to the crockpot. Opps forgot to plug it up and start it. Luckily Matt was still home and he was able to start before he left for work. The pork chops were really tender but the flavor really stopped at the top layer. We all ate the pork chops and we actually have enough to make pork fried rice on Monday. This is not a repeat unfortunately.

Saturday morning after picking tomatoes we needed something to do with them so I decided to try and make salsa. This was also a good thing because I can control what goes in the salsa so Lily does not have an reaction. Decided to try the Pioneer Woman’s version! I am really pleasantly surprised. I did not add the additional jalapeno pepper and we used two cans of rotel and no cilantro. It was awesome and a definite repeat.

The official count is
Repeating 24
Maybe 8
No 16

Five things Friday

  1. I survived my first full week back at work full-time (in office) and working my second job (GUAM). Guam is slowly starting to pick up and I am beginning to realize that it may be Christmas before I return to a full schedule there. I am exhausted as expected but no worse for the wear. All three kids begin some form of school next week as well. This Sunday will look alot different as we get things prepared for the week. I am so glad to have a sense of normal returning if only for 1-2 days a week.
  2. The garden is continuing to surprise me with a few tomatoes, cucumbers, and even green peppers. I honestly expected it to stop all together so this is a nice surprise and treat.
  3. In less than two weeks we will be at DISNEY!!!!! After many emails and phone calls, we were given back all the money that was stolen from our gift cards. I am super excited!!! But fully anticipate that the next two weeks will be the slowest two weeks of my life.
  4. I had anticipated spending most of tomorrow and Sunday at the pool however the weather appears to be rain rain and more rain so it may be a quiet weekend at home instead.
  5. We enjoyed a meal at home every night this week and I am enjoying the fruits of my labor from the past couple of months!

Monday Menu Plan

I started back to work today. That means the menu plans are simple and easy for most nights. We have 18 days until we travel to Disney with a goal of no eating out as a family from today until we leave. I will be eating out at lunch the next couple of weeks just because of starting back to work.

Breakfast– Saturday-Sausage and eggs Sunday- Waffles Monday- BLT sandwiches . Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, bagels or omelets or tomato sandwich

Lunch-  Saturday- KFC ($30 fill up) Sunday-Gregg’s (local restaurant) Choices include sloppy joes, tacos, left-over chicken, sandwiches, egg rolls or corn dogs.

Dinner-  Saturday-left-over KFC Sunday- Left-overs Monday- Spaghetti and meatballs with homemade pasta sauce Tuesday- steak fajitas Wednesday- Grilled Chicken Thursday- Pasta salad or left-overs Friday- Ranch pork chops.

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is a happy and sad day. I return to work full time onsite starting Monday. I worked from home from March 13th until June 15th. Since June 15th, I have been on summer break. I am definitely ready for a normal routine to began but I really like my 5 minute commute from the dinning room to the office. I also have enjoyed not being dressed prior to work each day! The kids and I have stay busy this summer but all good things must come to an end.
  2. I have debated how much information to share during our COVID-19 but decided that hopefully ten years from now I will want to remember what we decided and how we coupe.
  3. School is going to look alot different this year especially to start with. Lily officially starts on August 17th with her online charter school NCVA. This will be her last year in high school as the plan is for dual enrollment starting next fall. Kendall and Zach both will attend an orientation day on August 17th. The rest of the week they will not have much work. Starting August 24th, they will complete 3 weeks of total remote learning. Then September 14th, they will begin attending school Monday and Tuesdays each week. This may or may not change depending on any decisions made by our state governor. Because I will be working onsite 5 days a week in my school system, the current plan is for Matt work from home 2.5 days a week until the kid return full-time to school.
  4. Our garden is dying. We are still getting a few tomato each day but otherwise I need to spend a good couple of hours out getting rid of anything dead. We had a garden of just enough this year. I am pleased with the extra tomatoes but everything else has just been enough to eat.
  5. I was saving money for our August Disney trip via gift cards. I had been storing the gift card numbers and combining so I would only need to carry one card. Unfortunately, the day after vacation July 27th, someone access my account, changed by password and moved $1140 to another gift card they have. I have spent several hours on the phone and multiple email later, it does not appear we will be able to recover that money. We are blessed that with some budget changes and cut backs we should still enjoy our trip but it just sucks!

$20 Food Lion Trip

I am very very happy with my current stockpile. I estimate we have approximately 200 meals ready to use for the first half of the school year. I am very hopefully that I will have some time during Christmas break and a good couple of snow days to replenish our stock. I did make a trip to the local meat shop on Monday. I spent $129 and purchased chicken wings, pork butts and beef. The freezers are full! I did leave additional money in our grocery budget this month in order to purchase some items as we run out or if we find a awesome sale.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a flyer from Food Lion with coupons to use on store brand items this weekend. A better surprise was the fact that 2L Diet Cokes were on sale for $0.99 each. I decided to challenge myself and see what I could purchase for $20 using the coupons that they sent.

I purchased: 10 2 L of Diet Coke, using the sell price plus the $3 off $10 coupons these were $0.69 each.
2 six packs of plastic bottles of peach flavored drink, the original price was $1.99 each, using $1 Food Lion coupon, each bottle is twenty-five cent each!
2 pack of sausage patties that had been reduced to $1.74 each
4 packs of Hazelnut M&Ms that were reduced to $0.48 each
Pack of Frozen broccoli- original price $1.20 with $0.35 off coupon making it ninety-four cent. I use this in several casserole recipes and it is one of the few vegetables everyone will eat.
Jar of Alfredo sauce originally $1.49 with coupon for $0.45 off making it $1.04
2 boxes of elbow macaroni, original price $0.79 each with coupon for $.50 off two makes each box fifty-four cent.

I spent a total of $19.46!!!!!

Recipe Challenge #46

This is a recipe that I have had printed for a long time. I found it in my recipe file and decided to give it a try. I am going to be really honest up front and say that I probably made enough changes to this recipe to just call it my own. First, of course I did not go out and buy horseradish cheddar or even white cheddar cheese for that matter. I used a cup of sharp cheddar and a cup of shredded colby jack. Another 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar was placed on top. Second change, I doubled the amount of onions the recipe called for and added a 1/2 cup of green peppers to give it more flavor. I also tripled the breadcrumbs that I used on top.

The results from this recipe are mixed as well. Gourmet mac and cheese describes the overall taste. Everyone ate the meal and some even had seconds and thirds. One suggestion was to cut the stew beef into smaller pieces, another was to add garlic and more green peppers. Personally, I actually think it tasted better after sitting for an hour. Another plus to this dish is that it stretched one pound of stew beef into a meal for 6 with enough left-overs for probably a lunch for three. A huge down side to this is the amount of effort and time it took to complete the process from start to finish. I spent over an hour in the preparation not counting any cook time and all the kids ended up helping me pull one part or another of the recipe together. Based on time (one hour for gourmet mac and cheese) I am placing this one in the no category.

The official count is
Repeating 23
Maybe 8
No 15

Now only 6 additional recipes to meet my goal!