Monday, February 8, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I printed 6 coupons from the internet for cat food, mustard and dish soap.  The cat food coupon couldn't have come at a better time as it is for the more expensive special diet food Old Man kitty needs.  I used scrap paper to print them on.

Over the weekend I repaired our kitchen backsplash.  I had all the supplies already on hand and with a little ingenuity managed to get it done.  It looks so much nicer now. J

Not a bad haul for $46!

Monday, while youngest was at Honor Orchestra rehearsal, the oldest and I went to a nearby Fred Meyer to fuel up the car and get our grocery shopping done as it looked like pretty much our only open window of opportunity last week.  Use my rewards card fuel points and save an extra 10¢ a gallon.  Then we went inside and primarily loaded up on produce and dairy.

On the way home we stopped off at the high school for orientation night and then home for a quick supper of leftovers.  Thank goodness for leftovers.

Tuesday it was another quick supper of leftovers and then back to the university to drop the oldest off at her robotics team workshop.  Youngest and I went to Cash & Carry for a 25# bag of all purpose flour.  Then to the library to until it was time to pick up the oldest.  We dropped off and checked out more books to read.

Wednesday was an evening spent out to dinner with my girlfriends.  Finally some me time!

Thursday we were back at the high school for my oldest's band concert.  We always enjoy an evening of music and look forward to the girl's concerts and performances.  It was a lot of fun.

I ordered new ink cartridges, one tri-color and one black XL, for our printer from eBay.  Including shipping they both came in under $36!  I was pretty dang happy about that.

I did a Fred Meyer store survey to earn 50 bonus rewards points towards fuel discounts.

Saturday evening we enjoyed Family Movie Nite with bowls of homemade vanilla ice cream.  We watched Grease and Radio.

I washed out several gallon and quart size Ziploc bags to reuse.

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, onion and garlic skins.  I was pretty thrifty last week with kitchen scraps.  The only thing the chickens got were apple cores.  Poor girls.  They still managed to bless us with 14 beautiful brown eggs.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Goals For February

Last month I shared with you how I think making lists and having goals is very important because it helps me to be more efficient and productive.  This year I've decided to scale down the size of those lists and leave more time for family and fun.

This is what I have planned for this month:

1.         Collect items for Easter baskets
2.         Send a card or letter to someone
3.         Family Nite Out or Outing
4.         Be creative - sew or craft something
5.         Do some investment cooking
6.         Complete another small home improvement project
7.         Spring clean our kitchen
8.         Wash all the doors and doorknobs
9.         Create a new menu plan for March
10.       Make or bake something to share
11.        Sell something on eBay, Etsy or Craigslist
12.        Enjoy a Family Movie Nite or Family Game Nite!
13.        Plan a mini road trip adventure
14.        Organize and update important paperwork 
15.        Invite guests over for a visit or dinner

Although this list is much smaller I'm sure I will still be productive and manage to accomplish quite a bit each month.  I do find lists to be a great tool to spur me on and get things done when I'd just rather be a slacker. J


This is how I did last month:

1.         Purge, organize & put away Christmas d├ęcor & wrapping supplies
2.         Send a card or letter to someone  I gave a friend a card
3.         Family Nite Out or Outing
4.         Be creative - sew or craft something  sewed a table square & a pillow
5.         Do some investment cooking  beanless chili, split pea soup, black bean soup
6.         Complete a small home improvement project  fixed & caulked the kitchen backsplash
7.         Spring clean both bathrooms
8.         Wash all the mirrors
9.         Create a new menu plan for February
10.       Make or bake something to share
11.        Purchase a small Valentines gift for my girls  Ghiradelli chocolates!!
12.        Enjoy a Family Movie Nite or Family Game Nite!
13.        Organize and update important paperwork  work in progress
14.        Begin compiling information for filing 2015 tax return  Done and filed!!!!
15.        Invite guests over for a visit or dinner

We had lots of company last month, which was wonderful.  I love it when our friends and neighbors visit.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Uber Thrifty Month In Review - January

I decided to continue with my Uber Thrifty monthly reviews in 2016 because these posts rank amongst my highest each month.  Comments and emails I receive suggest my readers, all of you darling people, seem to really enjoy them.  So I will continue to post these articles for you each month again this year.

Our first month of 2016 is in the books already!  It was a wonderful month for us and I am super excited.  Once again I was blessed to be able to pay all of our bills - electric, water, sewer & trash, internet and  orthodontist -  well ahead of their due dates.  I love how empowered I feel when I do this.  I just think I am so on top of things. J


I paid the mortgage two weeks early as I have done for quite some time now.  2015 was the first full year I've done this and when I received my tax form 1098INT (year end mortgage interest statement) and compared it to 2014 I was amazed at how much interest I did not pay last year.  Just a little tweak and wow.  It really does make a big difference.

I used coupons combined with good sales prices in order to spend a lot less on our groceries and non food items.  Although I went over the grocery portion of my budget, I was under in the non food portion so it worked out alright.  I stocked our pantry and freezer quite well and we are set with plenty of dish soap and laundry detergent for quite some time.

I did store surveys to gain extra bonus points on my Fred Meyer rewards card and saved an extra 10¢ a gallon when I filled up the gas tank on the car at their station.  I did not need to put fuel in my truck again this month.

I made a sizeable payment on my big business debt.  My goal is to have it paid off this summer.  I'm pretty sure I shared with you that I worked New Year's Day.  The extra money I earned that day was enough to make an extra payment on my big business debt payment.  Doing this has moved up the timeline for payoff a whole month now.  I think if I'm careful with my spending I'll be able to do it again in February.  I also made my savings goal.

All of my yearend tax statements arrived rather early this year.  My employer sent out our W-2s mid month and I was able to get my taxes filed on the 18th.  This is, by far, the earliest I have ever filed my income tax returns.  Yippeeeee!

I was able to purchase two pair of warm comfortable socks on clearance to add to my work wardrobe.  I replaced my well worn workout pants by finding a nice pair on the clearance rack too.  Additionally, I managed to get a few things on clearance to put aside for Christmas and Easter gifts and Valentine's Day.  By using coupons on items that were on sale I bought a few things for Easter baskets.  I also bought a few plants and a couple pots for our house and a friend of mine.  My personal spending last month was very little coming just under $55.  I'm pretty happy about that and how far I was able to make that money go.

I sold a dozen eggs to our next door neighbor.  The hens are now back to earning their keep once again.  We just opened the second 50# bag of lay pellets they bought last fall so they are still very much self sustaining other than the labor we exert to get them food, water, collect the eggs and keep the coop tidy.  However, we are more than compensated for our efforts with the fresh eggs we get to eat, not to mention the joy we get just in having them.  These ladies are pretty awesome.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Anatomy Of A Ham

Buying a ham can be a wonderful investment.  I find I can get a lot of mileage out one single ham.  Depending on the price I buy both bone-in or boneless hams.  This last time I bought a bone-in shank ham.  After heating it through in the oven I served it for one of our Sunday dinners.  Then it was time to get work and carve it up for many more meals to come.

I like to thinly slice a fair amount for sandwiches and wraps.  Then dice up another good sized portion to put in soups, casseroles, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, pork fried rice, quiche or omelets.  Thicker slices make great ham steaks for dinners or for breakfast with eggs and toast.

Upper L - R  Chunks for ham salad, soup bone
Lower L - R  ham steaks, diced, sliced for sandwiches, sliced for sandwiches

I also like to take a chunk or two and run it through the meat grinder.  Add a little mayonnaise and some sweet pickle relish and you can make a terrific sandwich spread.  It is also nice served on crackers.

Grinding ham for ham salad

Once I get everything sliced up and diced I put it in Ziploc bags and mark it with the date and of course what is in it.  Then into the freezer until I am ready to use it for a meal or in a recipe.

I save the juices in the bottom of the pan to add to soup or baked beans.  It is like a concentrated ham broth and has a wonderful flavor to add in with beans, lentils or split peas.

I used chopped up ham in my Pork Fried Rice

I also like to leave a little meat on the bone, quite a bit actually, and put it in a with a big pot of navy beans.  There is nothing more enjoyable than a hot bowl of navy bean soup with a nice piece of cornbread.  Or a lovely, silky pea soup is also quite nice.

As you can see there is a lot one can do here.  The possibilities are endless.  One can easily feed a family several tasty meals with just a single ham.

You may also enjoy revisiting Anatomy Of A Turkey or Anatomy Of A Pot Roast.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

My February Meal Plan

Not entirely sure where January went but I do know we enjoyed some fabulous meals last month.  Once again, I designed this month's plan based on the items I already have in our freezer and pantry.  I will probably shop a few times throughout the month for fresh produce and dairy to finish off and round out each meal.

Sausage I bought at Cash & Carry last summer

As the budget allows I will plan to purchase loss leader items and take advantage of any good sales to further add to our pantry and freezer.  I have a couple things in mind such as all-purpose flour and pork sausage.  Whenever possible I hope to pair coupons with sales items too.  My continuing goal this year is to spend as little as I can on each item I buy.

This is what I plan to feed my family this month:

Pasta & Spicy Sausage, Lettuce Wedges
Chili & Cheese Omelet, Toast, Fruit
Taco Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Coleslaw, Dinner Rolls
Mac & Cheese, Buttered Peas
Sausage Dogs, Potato Chips, Veggies & Dip
Quesadillas, Spanish Rice, Refried Beans
Asian Curry Soup w/ Pork, Mung Bean Noodles, Tossed Green Salad
Chef Salads, Breadsticks
Cheese Quiche, Fruit Salad
Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Caesar Salad
Creamy Tomato Bisque, Cheese Bread, Spinach Salad
Swedish Meatballs, Steamed Rice, Steamed Broccoli
Broccoli Beef, Steamed Rice
Baked Potato Bar
Navy Bean Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Veggie Lasagna, Caesar Salad, French Bread

A special menu for Valentine's Day

Tossed Green Salad

Again you will notice there are a lot of salads on this plan and that is because we eat a lot of salad in this house.  We use a variety of vegetables and different salad dressings to keep them interesting so we aren't eating the same salad day in and day out.

Asian Curry Soup

My meal plan also includes that I make pretty much everything from scratch.  Knowing what ingredients are in our food is important to me.  It also makes a huge difference in the cost of each meal.


I try to make all of our baked goods so I save money over buying them at the store.  Occasionally I may grab a loaf of bread if I am short on time, but I try not to do that very often.  We prefer our homemade bread over store bought.

Are you a meal planner?  Whether you are or not, what are some of your favorites dinners to prepare for your family?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday I made two loaves of homemade oat bread and a pan of brownies.  Neither one seemed to stick around very long.  They seldom do.

I sewed up a cute little table square to set my kerosene lamp on.  I had this cute scrap of fabric and it was too small to make much, but it was perfect for this.  I also used leftover black fabric and batting from another project and machine quilted it.  It was fun little project and now I want to make a couple more of them.

I had used one of the travel size pillows I had bought us for camping to make a throw pillow as a Christmas gift for a friend.  With the full intention of replacing it next time I found myself in Walmart too.  Instead I took some muslin I had and made a pillow using the same technique I used for those throw pillows I had made.  Funny thing is, I used the leftover quilt batting and polyfil from that project to make it with and now I've replaced it without spending a dime.  And saved myself a trip to Walmart to boot. J

Instead of making the lasagna I had planned for Sunday dinner I ended up boiling fresh pasta and combining it with an assortment of leftover pasta sauces I had in the fridge and freezer.  I topped it with cheese and baked it.  It turned out delicious and a great way to use up some leftovers.

It is hard to read around here without a cat or two

I ordered a book from the county library to be held for me at the main one downtown.  I picked it up Tuesday and dropped off one I'd finished.  I love that we have this service which saves me a lot of time, not to mention fuel, from having to make trips all over town to check out and return library books.

I did not shop for anything this week.  It was a lovely feeling staying out of the stores.

I signed up for a free sample of assorted teas to be sent to me.  It has been a long time since I've signed up for a freebie. J

I cleaned and reorganized the refrigerator.  I love it when it is all neat and tidy inside.

On Friday we watched a couple of movies on YouTube for free.

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells.  We fed our kitchen scraps to the chickens and they blessed us with 11 eggs this week.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Finally, I Replaced My Workout Pants

Note:  I am not the model in these pants. Ha!

A girl has to look good when doing yoga.  Even when she is by herself.  With no one around.  Right?  Of course she does!

The truth of the matter is that when I am wearing my workout pants I'm rarely alone.  And although I was well aware that my last pair, also my one and only, were shot, I had other pieces of clothing to take care of long before my workout pants became a priority.  Now after several mending jobs they were becoming a priority.

For several months now I've been looking for replacements, but man are they expensive.  And some of the styles are…  well, let's just say not mine.  I like mine plain, black and roomy.  Not sucked to my bod with bright wild colors emphasizing the stuff I don’t want emphasized.

Funny thing is I'd been looking at these for quite awhile but the lowest I'd seen them on sale for was $29.99.  Too much for my budget at the time so I kept looking.  Not seriously, but when we were out shopping I'd check and I also checked online from time to time.  Last week I found this pair on the clearance rack at ShopKo.  

Needless to say, when I found the ones I wanted were on the clearance rack I was thrilled.  Especially when I saw the price.  $8.00!  Whoooo hooooo!  Can you say happy dance in the aisle?  They are a size larger than I usually buy but in this instance I find this brand tends to run smaller so they fit pretty good.  Plus they have a drawstring inside the waistband.

When I came home with them and showed the girls they literally started cheering.  Then they started giving me a hard time about my old pair.  Apparently they are worse than I thought.  Okay, I knew they were bad.

There is no way I would pay $40.00 for these pants

Now the old ones are my project pants.  Delegated for painting, working on the truck, home improvement projects and messy jobs.  Which is good.  I need a pair of pants for that.

I'm so glad I waited and took my time.  As a result, I was able to get what I wanted at a price I was quite happy with.  I'll enjoy them much more having not overpaid for these pants.  This patience thing I've got going is really starting to pay off.

How about you?  What do you have in your closet that you are wearing past its prime?