Eating out of our Pantry

I enjoying reading about the lives of others and often wonder if I could learn something to make life easier or better. This, my friends, is the reason for this post. One of major goals for this Summer, is to spend less than $150 a month for June and July on groceries. To achieve this goal we must start to use up items that we already have on hand.

I will first share why we have so much in our pantry and freezers. We purchased a whole cow of 800 pounds in March 2017. We have been enjoying it since then, we currently probably have about 1/4 of the meat left. I like to shop sales, I usually will buy the limit of items on sale at the grocery store. At Costco I often grab one extra of things on sale. I do shop smartly and usually only buy items that I know my family will eat and . However, it is much easier to purchase and use items that are more convenient and often I buy items that we really don’t need just because they are on sale. I will be the first to admit that I should not have purchased 25 cans of Spam at the same time. We have lots of food around this house. Eating out of the pantry will not be difficulty but it will mean trying some different things and using things up until they are finished before replacing if and only if it is something we NEED in order to cook or prepare a lot of different items such as sour cream. I have spent some time making list of food in the freezers and other pantry items I need to use.

Now, here is what eating from our pantry looks like around here. I am going to try and add ideas or things we do to this list for the next couple of weeks.
1. BLT sandwiches on buns instead of bread.
2. Making pizza dough and bread to slice instead of purchasing. (I found an entire food storage container, large bucket of bread flour and 10 packs of yeast.)
3. Using link sausage in sausage gravy instead of bulk sausage.
4. Breakfast for dinner, even breakfast for lunch.
5. Adding tuna and/or Salmon to noodles/pasta packs to increase the amount of protein.
6. Trying different recipes to use only the ingredients on hand.
7. Grinding up the remaining “roast” into hamburger meat for taco meat. For some reason, my family does not like roast. I have tried different recipes and always end up with left-overs that usually go bad or have to be repurposed to get eaten. This way we have at least 3 meals out of the roast that we really enjoy.

Do you have any secrets to using food? Ideas for Spam?


Kendall’s Camp Pictures

Kendall really enjoyed church camp this year. She was fortunate enough to have two counselors from our church. Both of these awesome ladies also sent me lots of pictures.


Kendall with her cabin and one of the speakers!

5 Things Friday 6/21

Today is the official first day of summer and it marks the end of my first week of summer break! Lily and Kendall left for church camp early Monday morning. I have some really cool pictures to post from Kendall including rock climbing and archery. Lily did mange to sprain her thumb but still sounds like she is having a great time.

2. The square foot garden is continuing to grow the best I can remember. This week we have picked green beans and peppers. My cucumber plants finally look like they are growing! I did break down and buy both cucumbers and peaches from the farmers market this week.

3. Several years ago, I decided to attempt to create an edible landscape. This year both the apple and pear trees are large enough to produce fruit. We added 2 pecan trees that grew in my mother’s flower beads that are thriving as well. My third attempt at a peach tree has 3 leaves. I decided to try something new and planted 5 pits from the peaches I bought this week. I will be thrilled to grow even one as they are very expensive from the nursery. I also have started a blueberry blind. Yesterday, we planted another plant to replace several that died this year. The exciting news is that we also managed to find and tie up two other plants that I assumed were dead! The kids really enjoying picking and eating the blueberries and I am hopefully that 3 years from now some may actually make it inside.

4. I have spent $30 on groceries this week, including items from the farmers market and bagels on sale at Alidi. We also have not spent any money on gas which is exciting decrease from 3 tanks a week.

5. I feel like I am achieving a good balance, keeping things caught up and extra cleaning at home while enjoying time at the pool, reading and relaxing as week. I wonder if this will change next week when the girls return?

Menu Planning Monday

You will probably notice a different feel to this weeks menu plan. There are two specific reasons for this change. First, both Lily and Kendall are away at camp from Monday until Saturday. Secondly, I am trying to start using up some of the more less desirable things in our pantry. My thought is by eating one “different” thing a week, he are less likely to end up with a week of food that no one wants to eat so we head to the store or worst even, out to eat several nights in a row. We always want to use up as many left-overs as possible as well.

Breakfast- Saturday– Sausage cresant rolls – Sunday-bagels, Monday- Biscuit King (special treat for Zach.)Tuesday- egg salad and bacon sandwich.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast. 

Lunch–Saturday-Costco, the kids all shared a rotisserie chicken.     Sunday-hamburgers with friends    Monday– nachos(using taco meat from last week).  Tuesday–butter noodles (I added a pack of salmon to mine) Wednesday- sandwiches Thursday- left-overs from the fridge or sandwiches and Friday- pizza (another treat for Zach)

Dinner – Saturday-left-overs choice of sausage rolls or rotisserie chicken and grapes  Sunday–Left-overs Monday-veggie plate with choices of left-over meat  Tuesday– Hawaii sandwiches at swim meet.    Wednesday–Fried chicken sandwiches Thursday– Eggroll in bowl- new instant pot recipe . Friday- maybe breakfast? or the single container of hamburger helper.

Saving on Groceries

I have shared before that our largest expense besides our mortgage is groceries. Yes, groceries are even higher than our car payment. Included in the grocery budget is all the cleaning products and paper products that we use in the house. On a positive note, I have been able to reduce our grocery budget over the past several years. When I started tracking our grocery budget I was spending around $800 a month. I will say that this included diapers for many years. Last year we spent $620 a month on groceries. This year, the grocery budget has varied significantly from $1100 to $175. I did an average of the 5 month and that put us at $540 a month. My goal for the year is $500 a month. I think this is doable as we continue to eat off the cow purchased last year which should reduce the budget as well.

In the month of June so far, I have spent $90.30! I am super excited about this! I am planning to have the lowest spending month ever for groceries. My goal for the summer is to keep spending below $200 for June and July.

Now on to the fun stuff, how am I planning to keep this goal reachable. First, we continue to earn at least $50 to $100 a month in gift cards from Swagbucks. I am using this earning for Walmart gift cards, to purchase toilet paper, sunscreen and all the other fun stuff that we need to keep the house running. I also received my Costco reward this month. I purchased laundry detergent, dishwashing tabs and such with it. A second way, is by using Norwex products for cleaning. I purchased the window cloth and a dusting system several years ago. Yes, the cost was upfront but after a year of use then I am saving money simply by using them. One of my new favorite ways of saving is looking through clearance section at Food Lion. I have been able to grab breakfast sausage, pastries, candy, juice and much more. This is all food that I know we will eat and usually priced fifty cent or less. I have also been going to Aldi on Wednesday afternoon, this is typically when they reduce bread and pastries. Finally, I am trying specifically to use what is in the garden, freezers and pantry. I even made a list of the items that we have in addition to several ideas of ways to use these items. In addition to the list of items we have, I started a stockpile list, these items I am going to watch for a good sale and build up our supply. I am eager to save as much money as possible this summer while enjoy a more relaxed pace!

Thursday Thoughts

I must admit that I was wrong. I assumed that with school ending for all three kids last week, things would slow down. Nope, we are still moving at what feels like full speed ahead. I am off work today, using a sick day because all three kids have dentist appointments and our first swim meet is this afternoon. I return to work on Friday for my final day of the school year! I am exhausted and looking forward to spending some quality time at the pool this weekend!

Lily and Kendall will be attending our church camp next week. Zach decided he would prefer baseball camp instead. I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday and plan to spend at least part of the week, catching up on shopping. Zach and I should have some fun as well.

I am doing awesome on limiting my grocery spending for the month. So far I have spent $71.53. I do need to pick up several items at Costco so I am sure this will end up closer to $300 by the end of the month. One of my new favorite things to do is check the “clearance” sections of Food Lion. I have been able to find sausage patties and links for under $2 a package. Other finds include candy, juices and baked treats. I have also discovered that Aldi discounts baked goods on Wednesday. I am hopeful that we will be able to keep our grocery spending to a minimal by simply eating out of the pantry and shopping the sales as often as I can.

Another area that should have a huge decrease is gas. We have spent $127 so far this month. I am anticipating that with tomorrow being my last day of driving to work of the summer. I should be able to reduce the gas by one tank a week. The only problem is that we live in the middle of nowhere so any trips involve gas.

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is the last day of school. This week has been a whirlwind of activities and events to mark the end. Today, Kendall has her 5th grade graduation! Zach’s awards day was on Thursday. He has maintained an A average for the year. My mother is correct in her statement that I really deserve the awards as much as we struggle each week in spelling. Zach was also voted “Future President”. I hope this means he has a charismatic personality!
  2. We are starting to harvest several items from the garden, We have several LARGE zucchini, a couple of handfuls of snap beads, a random pepper about once a week and of course dill and basil. I am really excited to see some blossoms on our cucumber plants!
  3. Kendall has decide that she wants to cheer next year. I signed her up at the booster club. They will be cheering for football and basketball. The season runs from July to February. I am excited that she wants to cheer but also know it will mean some juggling of our schedule.
  4. The kids are planning to attend several camps this summer. Lily is going both to camp and a national youth event. Zach has baseball camp, and arts discovery camp. Kendall is going to church camp and already has several other days planned around middle school chorus. We, as a family, are planning a 5 day missions trip in addition to our annual beach trip.
  5. I have four and half days of work left! 9 weeks of summer vacation is starting to sound shorter and shorter! But I am so excited!

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