the weekend I posted our monthly meal plan on the side of our refrigerator
giving our family a glimpse into their culinary future.I thought I would go ahead and share it with
you as a source of inspiration, if nothing else.I enjoy checking out other’s meal plans to
give me ideas too.
not get everything made depending on how the leftovers work out.Here is a list of what we will be enjoying
& Rice Pilaf
Salad & Bread – soup from freezer
Burritos & Spanish Rice
Tuna & Biscuits - aka SOS
Cheese Sandwich & Tomato Soup
Dogs & Tater tots
posting some of the recipes later on.It
all sounds pretty good to me.What are
you having this month?
been exactly that.A very busy week and
an extremely productive one too!
Monday and Tuesday I got a lot of
yard work done.The weather was perfect
and I was able to get the lawn mowed, trimmed and re-seeded, more weeds pulled,
the pond cleaned out, the raised garden beds amended and turned, flowerbeds
cleaned out, start the set up of our hoses and above ground sprinkler system,
seeds started in peat pots, the clothes lines put up and a lot of laundry done and
hung out on the line to dry.I also
managed a job interview and a trip to the thrift store for two pair of summer
shorts for my oldest.
started out early when I cleared out our upstairs second bedroom, took the
girls to school, then headed to Lowes for paint and a new roller.I then came home to paint the bedroom all
before noon.This is the last room in
our house that needed painting – thank goodness!I hate to paint.
quick clean up and change of clothes I headed to the store for a set of bunk
beds on sale plus I had a $10 store coupon. I decided to use the proceeds from our yard
sale for this purchase.I knew how
disappointed my girls were that we weren’t moving and I had promised them bunk
beds once we did.I thought this might
help ease their disappointment.
headed home to shampoo the bedroom carpet and put the bed together.I almost had it done by 3:00 but had to stop
and pick the girls up at school.I made
them stay downstairs until the bed was done.After vacuuming the carpet I let them upstairs for their surprise.They were so surprised and thrilled!My oldest nearly cried.I’m glad she didn’t or else I would have too.
past year they have had their room in our converted family room because it is
bigger.Now that they have the bunk beds
they are going to be more comfortable in their bedroom and we all get our
family room back.
glad to have their help hauling up their mattresses and bedding.They moved their clothes and things in and I
set up their computer for them.I helped
them remake their beds and they helped me haul my things downstairs.Although I was pretty pooped out, I somehow
managed to keep going until midnight!
spent the rest of the week putting our family room back together, unpacking and
putting things away that I had packed up for our move, super cleaning
everything, re-organizing and purging additional items (it’s amazing what you find)
to take to the thrift store.
I even got to go on a school field trip with youngest Thursday morning. It is the first time I have ever gone on one with her. She was so happy to have me along.
have both bathrooms and the laundry room to do.My bedroom will be last as it has been my dumping ground and sorting
station this week.Once those rooms are
done our entire house will have been completely gone through and I will be
ready to start life anew.I am excited
about it too.It feels really good.
expect to be finished by the end of the weekend, hopefully.I’m not entirely sure where all my energy and
motivation is coming from but, I’m sure happy for it.
other day we started some seeds as an after school project with my girls.We are lucky this year as this project didn’t
cost us a dime.My mother cleaned out
her greenhouse last fall and we were the recipients of her overflow items.Including a drip irrigation system – For
Dummies!I am pretty excited about
that.When it comes to growing things I
fall right in that category.
purging the garage this year I came across a shoe box full of seed
packets.I’m hoping they are still
good.We’ll find out.Most of the seed packets only cost about a
dollar, originally.So if I need to buy
new ones in a week or so it won’t be too expensive.
started out by writing on the outside of each pot with a Sharpie marker so we
would know what was planted.Then we
filled them about 2/3 with soil, added the seeds, topped off the soil and gave
them a good drink of water.I used an
old baking pan and a drip plate from a flower pot to put them on for the time
we have planted:
keep them outside on the porch as long as the warm weather holds and bring them
inside if it gets colder.The key for me
will be to keep them watered without drowning them.
am getting a late start this year I plan to purchase Roma tomato and bell
pepper plants at the store with one of my gift cards.We will also be planting lettuce, corn,
carrots, beets and green onions directly into the ground.
gave me one of those strawberry pots for my front porch.I’m turning it into an herb garden.I put some broken bricks in the bottom for
drainage and filled it up with Miracle Gro Potting Mix.Once the herbs we planted in the peat pots
are ready I’ll be planting them in there.I am excited about having a pretty and also very useful pot of plants on
my front porch this summer.
usually do my planting the weekend of Mother’s Day.By then the frost risk is usually past and
the weather is warm enough.In the
meantime I am going to get my beds ready and figure out my drip system.It appears pretty straight forward.
of you know by now I am passionate about recycling, reducing waste and reduced consumption.Composting is a perfect example of waste
management and recycling.
years ago the city of Boise decided to switch all curbside trash pickup to
designated bins.I was excited about
this because instead of a recycle bin the size of a laundry basket I could
order one the same size as the trash bin I was going to be assigned.That is exactly what I did.
wasn’t excited about was the thought of all those trash cans that we had been
using heading for our city landfill.I
had four of my own to contribute if I chose to.I kept mine and decided I’d find other uses for them.
first thing we did was turn one into a compost bin.I drilled five holes in the bottom for drainage
and several on the sides along the top for ventilation.We began throwing our food scraps, lawn
clippings, leaves, garden waste, dryer lint (yes, very compostable!), and all
approved items on the list.
one year we dumped it out on the ground and used the rich black part to amend
our flower beds and pots.What hadn’t
quite composted down completely, the stuff at the top went back in the can and
we started again.
year our can is full all the way to the top.I shoveled out the top third into another can and the remainder will be
added to our new raised garden beds this year.I think what excites me most is that composting really works just like
they say it does.
looks like over the next year we’ll have two compost bins going as we are adding more
yard waste to ours than we have in the past.By next year we should end up with a full 32 gallons of compost to add
throughout our garden and bedding spaces.
are several types of compost bins available at home improvement stores and
online.Or you can do what I did and
make your own.You can also search
online for directions to build your own out of wood.It can be as simple or elaborate as you like.
a small compost collection bin lined with a plastic produce bag under my
kitchen sink to collect the kitchen waste.When it is full, out it goes to the big bin in the backyard.
started put a 2 inch layer of dirt in the bottom of your compost bin, add 4
inches of leaves and lawn clippings.Pour in 1 gallon of water.Begin
adding additional organic items such as:
grounds & filters, tea bags
cereal, crackers, pretzels, bread, pasta
and vegetables, peelings
ashes – make sure they are cold
trimmings, leaves, pine needles
couple of weeks add a little of water and use a shovel to toss and mix.If your compost is nice and moist don’t add
water.You don’t want a soggy mess, just
damp.Keep your compost loose so it can
breathe and do its thing.
me feel really good to know that I am giving back to the earth instead of
always taking from it.Do you compost or
have you ever thought of starting?
meat is the most expensive item one can buy when it comes to grocery
shopping.I am constantly looking for
bargains when it comes to that particular item.
always scanning the grocery ads for really great prices and I get very excited
when I can score a really good deal like I did on chicken last week at $1.59/lb
for boneless skinless breasts.I am
regularly checking the markdown bin at our grocery store too.
all I needed this week in the way of groceries was a bunch of green
onions.I could have totally done
without them but I also wanted to peruse the markdown bin at the meat
department.It has been awhile since
I’ve gone “trolling for meat”.
scored a huge meaty 4 lb. pot roast for $11.69 and two corned beef briskets on
sale for $1.59/lb.I really wanted a corned
beef last month for St. Patrick’s Day but the prices weren’t low enough to suit
me so I decided to pass on it.Mostly I
was dreaming of a Reuben sandwich.Well
now I will get my sandwich and several other great meals to boot.
that pot roast is going to make a lot of meals for us as well.I can hardly wait.Along with a nice roast with veggies, I love
to use a pot roast for shredded beef tacos or enchiladas, Bolognese sauce for
pasta, beef barley soup, all kinds of things.
you can stock up your freezer with a good buy on meat you’ve done good.Needless to say I am really excited about my
pot of soup, a fresh tossed salad and homemade bread is one of our family’s
favorite meals. Over the years we have
amassed quite a collection of delicious soup recipes.Since I usually only serve soup once or twice
a month we don’t get to eat our favorites very often so we decided to have a
Soup Week.My girls helped me make a
list and picked out their favorites.
hardly touches our list of favorites but it’s a start.I am planning to freeze some of the leftovers
for future meals down the road. So not
only are we going to have some great meals but I’ll be able to stock up my
freezer too.We should have plenty for
lunches this week as well.
my recipe book.It holds all my favorite
recipes that I found in magazines, online or received from my friends and
co-workers.It is my go-to book whenever
I need a menu planning idea or a quick dessert or side dish for a potluck or a
family dinner.I would be lost without
recipe book began nearly twenty years ago as a way to organize a lot of little
pieces of paper.I had an old binder and
some magnetic photo sheets in a box so I decided to put them to good use. I have it divided into two sections – savory
the years I have added additional pages to it.I now glue my recipes to card stock and slip them into sheet
protectors.I love that I can wipe off
the pages with a damp cloth whenever I splatter on them.
with all the great recipes inside my book I have a ton of memories of the
people who have shared their favorites with me.That is a bonus I wasn’t really expecting when I decided it was time to
recipe book is stuffed with pages and I most likely will need to upgrade to a
wider binder in the not too distant future.That is just fine with me.
our yard sale this past weekend and it was a fabulous success.The weather was perfect, we couldn’t have
asked for better!We ran it on Friday
and Saturday from 8am to 2pm which was the right amount of time.Today I will attempt to recover.Yard sales are a lot of work!
plans for our yard sale began when we were purging and preparing to move.Even though we are no longer moving we
decided we definitely wanted to go ahead with the yard sale anyway.My parents took a queue from me and decided
to do some purging of their own and cleared out a lot of stuff as if they were
planning to move themselves.They said
it helped them a lot with the decision making.
are planning a yard sale in the not too distant future I have some tips for you
to make it a great one.I did a little
research and found these tips are right on the money – no pun intended.
Price Your Items while You Purge – this tip I found extremely helpful
because I wasn’t overwhelmed with pricing items for the sale.
Price Your Items To Sell/Be Willing To
Accept Offers – this was
a great tip too.It helped us to set low
prices when we decided whatever didn’t sell was going to be donated to the
thrift store.We were definitely willing
to wheel and deal in the final hours.
Be Organized – this is a really good tip.We set up “stations” on our drive way.We had one for toys, one for books, one
housewares, one for tools, one for Christmas stuff, one for home décor, and one
Set Clear Dates And Hours – be open when you say you will be
open.Don’t close up early if you posted
specific hours.I watched my neighbors close
up early on theirs a couple weeks ago and there were a few unhappy
customers.Some were pretty vocal about
Advertise – I posted our yard sale on Craigslist
on Thursday.I also highlighted some of
the items in the ad that would draw customers like furniture, tools, a stereo,
houseware items, etc.I add a line about our excellent prices.Also, I
put in directions so they could find us easily.
Post Signs That Point The Way – especially if you are a little off the
beaten path like we are.I put up signs
at the entrance of our subdivision facing both directions of traffic and then
additional signs pointing the way to our house within our subdivision.
Consider A Free Box – we set up one of these and people
really seemed to like it.We stuck all
kinds of odds and ends inside of it.Kids really liked it too.
Be Able To Make Change – apparently this is something a lot of
people forget about and I almost did too.I was so wrapped up in all the other details I almost overlooked this
one.We managed to scrounge up enough
loose change and dollar bills to set one up in a plastic divided container with
Accept Cash Only & Keep It Secure – we didn’t accept checks at ours and we
kept ours tucked out of the way inside the garage.
Engage Your Customers & Say Thank You – saying thank you seemed obvious to me
but it was a tip I read over and over so apparently it is worth stating.I did welcome people that came by and asked
how they were doing when they arrived and I hope I thanked everyone.I certainly intended to.
all was said and done we loaded up the leftovers after inviting one of my
neighbors to come over and pick through and take whatever she wanted for
free.Then we headed to the thrift store
and gave them all of our remaining treasures.They were really happy to get what we had left and we made sure we didn’t
give them any junk.No point in donating
something they would just have to throw away.
a lot of work and a lot of fun.We met a
lot of neat people and some real characters too.
personal tip is to Stay Hydrated.You don’t realize how much you are moving
around and on a warm day you forget to stop and drink water until all of a sudden
you don’t feel so great.Drink lots and
lots of water.
are planning a yard sale this summer I hope it is a great success and that you
have a lot of fun with it as well.
I bought the ingredients to make yogurt.I had never done it before but I found the recipe and technique over at thefrugalgirl.com and it looked like a simple straightforward process.I was very excited to give it a try.Yogurt has become so expensive and we eat it nearly every day.As a result yogurt consumes a large portion of my grocery budget every month.I try to take advantage of coupons and markdowns to help offset some of the expense but if I can make it myself it will really save me a ton.
Well guess what?It worked!I am thrilled and I think it rivals any Yoplait vanilla yogurt you can buy.My girls were really impressed and loved having it for their after school snack.My oldest put some of our home canned peaches on it and said it was fantastic.I plan to try that myself soon.
My mother wants me to make her a quart as well as a batch of my homemade granola to take on her big month long trip they are going on next month.I definitely need to make some granola to go with this yogurt.
I made a half recipe because I wanted to make sure it worked and I wasn’t sure how fast we would eat it before it went bad.Well, I plan to make another batch soon.A half batch made 4 pints plus a half pint to use as my starter for the next batch.Not bad!I’m just really impressed with the flavor.It is delicious.
I did the math and this half recipe made the equivalent of 10½ containers (6oz.) of yogurt.Right now regular price on Yoplait is 60¢ each so $6.00.I spent $1.75 for the ingredients I used.I’d say that is a significant savings.
We are also planning to make some homemade ice cream this week.We love ice cream.It is my favorite dessert, hands down.Several years ago I bought an ice cream maker with the base that you put in the freezer.I love it!
I love to make a nice hearty breakfast to really get us started, especially on the weekends.One of our favorites is oatmeal, in particular, flavored oatmeal.Here is a recipe for one I make quite often.
Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal
Bring to a boil:
1¾ c. water
⅛ tsp. salt
1 c. quick cooking oats
Bring back to the boil, turn off burner and stir for 1 minute.Remove from hot burner, add:
2 Tbs. raisins
¼ c. loose packed brown sugar
Do not stir.Cover pan with lid and let sit 5 minutes.Add:
½ tsp. cinnamon
Stir and serve.
The raisins plump right up and it is the perfect blend of sweet and spice.Top with a little whole milk or half & half to make it a little more decadent if you’d like.Serves 3.To serve more people simply double the recipe.
One of the keys to the success of my minimal grocery budget is that I am constantly replenishing the items that I use.Despite the fact that there is a lot of food in my house I know that I need to replenish the items I am running low on or use a lot of to make sure I’m not stuck running out and at risk of going over budget later down the road, either to replace those items or make an unplanned purchase.
My current budget is $100 + $25 to stockpile sale items.I also budget $25 for non-food items such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, pet food and litter, etc.It will be more important now than ever to make sure I am successful every month at staying on budget and keeping my pantry full.
As we all know planning is key to success so I got busy with a meal plan, did a food inventory and created a subsequent shopping list.I dropped the kiddos off at school and hit the grocery store for my “big monthly grocery trip”.I know I may be weird but I love to shop for groceries.
After all was said and done I was able to get most of the items on my list plus an extra pantry item.Canned chicken that was on sale and I had a coupon for $1.00 off.Final price for 2 cans came in at $1.72.
I also got my frozen skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.59 per pound so I bought two packages.That was my ? mark item.I was only going to buy them if I found them for a really good price.And I did!That will make a lot of meals for us.
Funny thing. I’ve noticed at this particular grocery store is that the 5# bags of flour are less expensive than the larger 10# bag.If I buy 2 of the 5# bags at $1.54 each or $3.08 for both it is much less than the $3.54 they charge for a 10# bag.It pays to do the math!
Name brand spaghetti was on sale this week and I found I could get 2 of the 2# packages for $3.56 where a 3# package of store brand pasta was $3.18.I got an extra pound of pasta for 38¢.Love it!
Food = $77.13Non Food = $22.41
This week’s meal plan is as follows:
Sunday – Tuna casserole, green beans & tossed salad
Monday – Egg salad sandwiches (have to use up those Easter eggs) & tossed salad
Tuesday – Tacos, lettuce & tomato, cheese, salsa
Wednesday – Soup, salad & bread
Thursday – Spanish rice, corn, tossed salad
Friday – Pizza, spinach salad
Saturday – Lasagna, garlic bread, tossed salad
Leftovers will get used up for lunches and breakfasts will be cereal, fruit, eggs, toast or pancakes.
I’m going to do weekly menu plans and then I’ll get back on track with my monthly meal planning again in May.In fact, I am already working on it.
My week is ending far better than it began and I think I’m gaining a whole new perspective.I know things happen for a reason and I know the path I was traveling was not the path I am supposed to be on.
The enormity of what I was prepared to do in order to improve my work life and alleviate some of the stress I was experiencing is mind blowing.With the encouragement of my employers I was going to completely uproot my life and move closer to work.Take my children out of the only school they have ever attended, sell the only home they have ever known, bear the enormous expense of the move itself….
What was I thinking?!
The only stress I would have eliminated would be that long commute in heavy traffic and the stress at the gas pump every week.The stress at work wouldn’t have changed at all.Truth is I don’t think moving would have improved a my quality of life much at all. I think I was just desperate to do something.
So this week:
·I have gained a new perspective
·Slept at night
·Attended two of my daughter’s school programs
·Got a much needed haircut (hadn’t had one since October) and some highlights to conceal my grays
·Got my resume ready and checked out the job boards
·Completely went over my finances.We are good!
·Went to the grocery store – during the day!
·Had a date night with my girls – out to dinner with a gift card and then home for games
·Cooked and cleaned
·Learned who my friends are.They always show up when you are down. J
·Worked on getting ready for a Yard Sale
Probably not as productive as I could have been but in all honesty I literally stumbled around for a couple of days trying to figure out how to get started.
I am truly comfortable with where I am at right now and the number one reason for this is because I am sleeping at night.That alone speaks volumes.