Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Grocery Budget Update - April

I did beyond excellent with our grocery budget this month in that I hardly bought anything.  We ate quite well from items we already had squirreled away in our pantry on freezers.  We still have plenty left too. 

My non-food budget came in at $24.94 for one bag of cat food and two of litter, 40# sack of chicken feed and a 20# sack of scratch grains.  I had $17 in egg sales to put against the feed costs. 

Although there isn’t much this is what I bought this month: 

Cereal (5)
Double coupons
Store Coupon
Sugar 4#
Store Coupon
Deli chicken
Garden salad
Bread (6)
Store Coupon
Broccoli slaw
Cole slaw
Ice cream (2)
Cranberry juice (2)
Crackers (3)
 $     51.87

I have $73.13 left to spend on groceries, 67¢ leftover from March and $73.80 leftover from this month.  Not a bad way to start off in May! 

How did you do with your grocery shopping this month?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Yes, I really do let my children eat this stuff.
Not a lot of thrifty stuff went on in this house with all of us sick.  We did manage to treat ourselves with over the counter medications we already had on hand as well as lots of hot tea and soup from the freezer.  Believe it or not, we also had enough tissues. 

We ate predominately from the freezer and pantry last week.

I didn’t really do any grocery shopping.  I did stop at the store Monday for a deli chicken and a pre-made salad.  Total cost for that was $9.48.  On Saturday I stopped for two bags of pre-cut slaw to make a salad.  Each bag was $1.00.  I also bought 4 boxes of cereal -  on sale $1.68 each.

Throughout the week we watched several DVDs from our own collection.  I sold five DVDs to a friend. 

I sold three dozen eggs this week. 

We purged the girl’s clothes.  After my oldest handed down to my youngest we put the rest in a bag to donate.  I now have a bag of holey jeans to turn into summer shorts. 

After last week’s bounty the chickens only laid 12 eggs this week.  I think they were worn out.

Friday, April 26, 2013

We’re Alive… I Think.

A nasty virus has swept through our household, I’m afraid.  It started with my oldest daughter who passed it onto her sister who then passed it onto me.  While they seemed affected mostly with sinus stuff my illness went right to my chest.  As an asthmatic that tends to get a good case of bronchitis every year I wasn’t thrilled. 

Luckily, we are on the mend and so far, knock on wood, I show no signs of bronchitis.  My hyperactive immune system seems to be working overtime.  We also were fortunate there were no sinus infections.  I was wondering at one point with my girls.  A couple of our friends also came down with it and we think they fared worse than we did. 

It started out with one mother bear of a headache and a sore throat.  We all agree the worst part has to be how completely exhausted we have been.  It feels like we just can’t get enough sleep.  

Needless to say, I have been incredibly grateful for the frozen meal components I had stashed in the freezer.  I had an assortment of soups, spaghetti and meat sauce and burrito filling to pull out and thaw so it made meal preparation much easier for us. 

One night, I have to confess, I did stop at the store and pick up a deli chicken and an already prepared salad.  I don’t mean a sack of prepared lettuce but an actual salad already made up in a plastic bowl.  Just serve and add salad dressing.  When I told my Mom about it she said she knew we were really sick. 

Our house is a complete disaster.  It has been all we could do to keep up on dishes and laundry and even that has been hit and miss.  At this point I really could care less.  The important thing is we are on the mend.  This other stuff will wait for us… unfortunately.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pardon Us While We Recover

We've all got the creepin' crud around here.  Give us a few days and we'll back!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

On Sunday my father showed me how to change the belts on my truck myself.  It saved me almost $200 from having it done professionally.  I was also able to get the parts for less money at a parts store than what a garage would have charged.  Thanks Dad!! 

I repainted the wiper arms on the truck with flat black paint I already had on hand and then replaced the wiper blades.  They look like new!  I also filled the washer fluid reservoir.  Total cost to upgrade the wipers and fill the reservoir was under $12. 

Monday night I trimmed the last of the ham off the bone and got it ready for a batch of bean soup.  I ditched the regular planned meal and diced up some of the ham and we scrambled it up with a half dozen fresh eggs for a delicious, cheap and fast supper. 

I purged all my greeting cards and home office supplies.  I have enough extra stuff that I plan to put it into a couple of bags and price it for a yard sale. 

I purged the pantry and filled up the camp box to restock our RV.  To be fully stocked I won’t have to buy anything extra except a jar of peanut butter and maybe some honey. 

I used three coupon doublers at Albertsons on Tuesday.  I matched up sales items with coupons I had: 

·         Two bottles of lite salad dressing 2/$5, less $2 in coupons = $1.50 each

·         Four boxes of crackers $1.99 each, less $2 in coupons = $1.49 each

·         Four packages of pudding cups 10/$10, less $1 in coupons = 75¢ each 

I filled the gas tank on the truck for the first time since January! 

We ate predominately from the freezer, fridge and pantry this week.  The only fresh produce I bought was bananas.
Our chickens blessed us with 20 eggs this week!  New record!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kids In The Kitchen

From an early age I have always involved my children in our daily kitchen duties.  By the age of two my children were dumping the trash, helping to set the table and put things away.  As they grow up their responsibilities increase along with their capabilities.  Now they are learning to cook and boy are we having fun! 

For the past two years or so I have been teaching my girls about nutrition, meal planning and grocery shopping.  We discuss watching prices and what constitutes a good buy as well as using coupons and sales fliers to save even more and allow us to stay within our strict budget. 

Food waste is another area we have discussed in relation to the fact that for one thing it just isn’t okay to be wasteful and secondly that it costs money to throw away our food.  So we learn ways to be careful and avoid waste as we shop, cook and prepare our meals. 

My girls, just as their brother did, actively participate in the preparation for shopping as well as the meal preparation itself.  What used to be a solitary chore for me on Sunday mornings with the newspaper as now grown into a family event.  I have helpers going through the ads and coupon circulars and making suggestions. 

Meal planning is a fun family project now too as they offer good suggestions.  It is a big help to have their input so it isn’t always up to me to figure out what to fix all the time.  Plus it helps us to stay out of a rut. 

We all enjoy looking for new recipes to try too.  I love it when they find something and want to give it a whirl.  They get so excited.  Especially, when it turns out delicious and tasty. 

Finally, I am teaching them how to properly use knives and other kitchen utensils.  Gladly, they are my chief cheese graters.  They are also learning to read recipes and follow directions, measure ingredients and clean up after themselves in the process.  The clean up part is still a work in progress. 

Happily, as my children grow up and leave the nest they will possess the skills to effectively grocery shop and prepare meals for themselves and their families.  It is an essential skill to have and the sooner they learn the better off they are.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bathroom Purge

I got busy and started going through all the items in the drawers and cupboards of our two bathrooms.  It hasn’t been that long since I did it last, but nonetheless I had still managed to hang onto a bunch of stuff we don’t need or no longer use.  I bagged it up and got it out, passing some of the items on to a friend of mine. 

I took an inventory of our towels and wash cloths inspecting them for wear and tear.  I was happy to find everything is still in good condition and I won’t need to send anything to the rag bag.  I also have plenty so I won’t need to add anything additional either. 

I noted we are low on band-aids and aspirin so I got those items on a shopping list for replacement.  I also noted I have accumulated enough toothpaste for two families so I plan to share. 

Whenever you purge a room it is the perfect time to give it a good spring clean too, so that is what I did.  Once done it sure feels good to go in and enjoy a super clean well organized bathroom. 

What have you purged and spring cleaned so far?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April – 30 Things to Do This Month

Every day this month I am going to pick one thing from the list to do and then mark it off.  Some I can do quickly and some I will need to schedule time for. 
  1. Purge greeting cards
  2. Make or buy birthday cards
  3. Make or buy Mother’s day card
  4. Make a gift
  5. Have someone over for dinner
  6. Family Movie Nite
  7. Sew something
  8. List something to sell on eBay and/or Etsy
  9. Try a new recipe
  10. Purge the bathrooms
  11. Go through and reorganize the girls clothing
  12. Clean, vacuum and dust entire upstairs
  13. Clean, vacuum and dust entire downstairs
  14. Detail car
  15. Detail truck
  16. Family Game Nite
  17. Do the spring maintenance on truck
  18. May meal planner
  19. Start organizing trailer for travel
  20. Take the girls out for a date night
  21. Go on a bike ride
  22. Finish cleaning up the back yard
  23. Finish cleaning up the front yard
  24. Sort and organize items for a yard sale
  25. Send a letter to someone
  26. Organize our manicure/pedicure stuff
  27. Purge our DVDs and CDs
  28. Replace the belts on the truck
  29. Replace the light in the girl’s bedroom
  30. Prep the garden soil 

March – 30 Things To Do This Month 
  1. Make Easter cards
  2. Send Easter cards
  3. Have someone over for dinner
  4. Family Movie Nite
  5. Sew something I mended stuff
  6. Make a gift
  7. List something to sell on eBay and/or Etsy
  8. Try a new recipe
  9. April meal planner
  10. Prune apple and pear trees Still need to do the pear tree
  11. Clean, vacuum and dust entire upstairs
  12. Super clean and reorganize pantry
  13. Make four birthday cards I decided to buy some
  14. Send a letter to someone
  15. Bake two loaves of bread I bought it – eek!
  16. Start seeds for the garden
  17. Wash all the mirrors
  18. Wash interior windows
  19. Decorate Easter eggs with the girls
  20. Family Game Nite
  21. Go on a bike ride (weather permitting)
  22. Build a new brooder for new peeps on hold for the time being
  23. Go on a weekend adventure or family field trip
  24. Take the girls out for a date night
  25. Do something unexpected for someone
  26. Clean up the backyard 50% complete
  27. Clean up the front yard 50% complete
  28. Clean inside of vehicles I got one done
  29. Wash vehicles
  30. Sweep out the garage 
Again last month’s list was a bit of a hit and miss but I feel I still got the most important items crossed off.  Time just seems to be getting away from me. 

Do you make any big “To Do” lists like this one?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Sunday started out much more productively than the prior week despite the rain that railroaded my original plans.  Instead of working outdoors I got busy in the kitchen and purged and cleaned my cupboards up over the stove and soon realized I have overbought in the spice department by purchasing things I already had.  I hate when I do that. 

I baked the 10 pound ham I bought on sale a couple of weeks ago and made a potato salad using up the last of our Easter eggs.  I made raspberry gelatin with crushed pineapple in it too.  I ended up using the leftovers to make a lot of lunches throughout the week. 

I went ahead and made the spaghetti sauce I had planned for the previous week and did a little menu juggling.  Leftovers from the sauce and pasta made for two suppers and some lunches too. 

I purged and reorganized the pantry so I now have a better idea of what we have on hand – A LOT! 

Wednesday I filled my gas tank on the car.  I got a 10¢ per gallon discount using my Fred Meyers rewards card. 

I sat down and re-evaluated our grocery list for this month and was able to eliminate nearly everything on it.  I also re-evaluated next month’s list and have pared it down quite a bit as well. 

I sold an 18 count carton of eggs to a friend of mine for $3. 

I won $5 at Bunco Friday night so it didn’t cost me anything to play this time.  Last month I came out $5 ahead and I still have that money for next month. 

I bought greeting cards at the $ Store for 50¢ each. 

Saturday night we watched the race and made snacks from items we already had on hand. 

Our chickens blessed us with 19 eggs last week!  I imagine I’ll have extra carton to sell.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


On the second Friday of each month, from September through May, I get together with a fine group of ladies and play Bunco.  Our group began in 2004 and I joined them, shortly after, as a substitute player to fill in when one of the regular ladies couldn’t make it.  Within a few months of joining them one of the ladies moved to Seattle and I became a regular. 

Our group consists of twelve regular players and a long list of substitutes itching for one of us to bail so they can become a full timer.  We come from all walks of life.  Most of us are in the medical industry although when I initially joined I was working for a CPA firm at the time.  We also have a hair stylist, a dog groomer, a former deputy sheriff/school teacher (now believe me, that’s a combination) and a baker just to name a few. 

Every one of us brings a different personality and style to our group and the great thing about it is that when we are together it all seems to mesh and we have such a fabulous time.  We all have something special to contribute. 

If you have never played Bunco it is a mindless and silly game that any idiot can master within just a few minutes.  If you can count, and you don’t have to count very high, you can play.  We ante in with $5 per head and at the end of the night the pot is split for various prizes. 

For the two and a half hours we are together to play we laugh, giggle, act completely stupid and goofy, holler and yell, and share the latest gossip in our lives.  To an outsider, that didn’t quite know what was going on, you would probably think we had all just escaped from the loony bin. 

I’ve known these ladies for a long time now and I love that we still look forward to getting together every month.  Some of us have formed very strong friendships as a result of our meeting at this group.  Those are friendships that will last a lifetime. 

I doubt I would have met any of them otherwise, in the normal course of things, and I can’t imagine my life had I not.  It isn’t really about the game we get together to play so much as it’s about the ladies that play it.  I wouldn’t trade that for experience anything.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Treat For Me!

I am off first thing this morning to have a new stereo installed in my truck.  It still has the original AM/FM cassette stereo from the factory. 

Every year, since I bought my truck, I have told myself I would upgrade to a nice CD stereo when I got my tax refund.  Every year I would talk myself out of it and use that money for something "more practical." 

I finally decided that sixteen years was long enough to wait and made the appointment before I could start talking myself out of it again.  I am so incredibly excited!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap Update

A few of weeks ago I mentioned I had made a batch of homemade laundry detergent.  I have been using it for the past two weeks and I have to say this – I LOVE IT!   

I was initially amazed at how quick it was to put it together.  I expected the grating of the soap to be a bit of a chore but it is soft enough that it grated very quickly on my standard kitchen grater.  The soap residue rinsed right off with no problem too. 

The first thing I noticed when I actually used it was how fresh and clean the clothes smelled as I was loading them into the dryer.  Lately I had noticed that our bath towels had a bit of a funky odor to them and was being careful not to leave them in the washer too long before I dried them too.   

I also have noticed that my washing machine smells cleaner too.  Apparently the detergent I was using, which says it is great for HE machines, was leaving a residue in the machine and not rinsing out very well. 

Whether I use vinegar in the rinse cycle or a dryer sheet it doesn’t seem to matter as I don’t seem to have any static in our clothes either when they come out of the dryer.  That is good news!  I’d rather use white vinegar anyway so I imagine once I finish up with what I have on hand I’ll be switching to vinegar. 

Our clothes don’t have any particular scent like you get with store bought laundry soap or fabric softener which is fine with me.  They just smell clean and fresh. 

So yes, I think the homemade laundry soap is not only a great bargain but a great product and I am sold.  Mom was right, I’m glad I decided to finally try it.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Well Stocked Or Just Plain Cluttered?

A well stocked freezer, pantry and cupboards or a stockpile of often used items found on sale seems like a great idea and then at other times I find it more likened to a great big mess.  In theory, I can argue the “what if” scenario until the cows come home but the reality is I tend to overbuy food and it begins to take over my kitchen.  Other parts of the house too. 

Currently my kitchen is stuffed to the gills.  The pantry is completely full as are two additional cupboards over the stove.  I have canned goods stacked in my bedroom closet, mainly peaches, pears and jam.  The refrigerator and freezer is also full and I still have a sugar pumpkin waiting to be turned into puree sitting on the floor. 

I designate a significant portion of my garage to food storage as well.  We have an additional refrigerator and a small upright freezer, both fully stocked.  Mostly frozen meats, juice and dairy items in the freezers plus flour, onions, potatoes and other miscellaneous items in the refrigerator.

If I am guilty of any type of hoarding tendencies I would have to say it is with food.  I’m not entirely sure why that is because I don’t ever recall a time in my life going hungry.  Right now I have the feeling of being completely overwhelmed by, of all things, food. 

For a family of three I think we currently have way too much food in this house.  With the way I grocery shop, if I don’t do something, I am just going to keep adding more and more and eventually things are going to get wasted due to freezer burn or expiration.  I tend to focus a lot on not wasting perishable items but canned and frozen foods can easily be overlooked. 

Over the next few months we’ll be eating down the pantry, so to speak.  I plan to use up and rotate older items and pare down the grocery shopping in the interim.  Yes, I will probably have to let some of those screaming good deals go by the wayside. 

I also plan to make a complete pass through the kitchen once again to see if there are additional kitchen items I can purge and sell either online or in a yard sale, or just give away. 

Do you tend to overdo it in the grocery purchases at your house?  Is there one thing in particular you tend to overstock?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Not a lot going on in our thrifty home this week. 

I did not grocery shop this week. 

I did buy the supplies I need to do the routine spring maintenance on our truck – air filter, oil and oil filter, replacement wipers and wiper fluid, coolant and a can of engine degreaser.  I also picked up a new set of floor mats as the one on the driver’s side has a big hole worn into it. 

I called the local parts stores and also checked online for prices to get new belts for the truck. 

I used my finger to scrape out every last bit of hair conditioner out of the bottle.  The bottle then went into the recycle bin. 

I finished the baby afghan I have been working on and got it listed in my Etsy store. 

We made wise use of our leftovers and had no food waste this week.  I also made fewer meals than I had planned to because of our leftovers so we used fewer groceries. 

I am still driving on last month’s tank of gas! 

The chickens blessed us with 16 eggs this week.

Friday, April 5, 2013

This Old Truck

Last week my neighbor came over and asked me if I was ready to sell him my truck yet.  Definitely not the first time he has asked either. 
I smiled and laughed and politely told him NO WAY! 
Really, for heaven’s sake it’s my truck! 

I bought her (yes of course, she is a she) new in 1997.  It was sitting on the clearance section of the lot and the dealership was ready to get it out of there as they were already unloading their 1998 models.  I was able to get it for slightly more than a three year old truck I had been seriously interested in before.  New truck with a full warranty and that new car smell, I was pretty pleased about it. 

My truck has an extended cab for kids and groceries.  I haul all kinds of stuff in the back of her.  She pulls our 13 foot RV and takes us on many adventures.  If I’m headed to Home Depot or the feed store I take the truck.  When we visit my parents we take the truck. 

In the sixteen years I have owned my pickup I make sure that it is properly maintained and cared for and as a result it still runs great and looks brand new, inside and out.  I find it hard to believe it is as old as it is, actually. 

Last spring I put a little money into upgrading our RV and this year it is the truck’s turn.  Along with the usual spring maintenance routine, I will be giving the truck a thorough once over, bumper to bumper. 

I’ll keep you up to date on my progress as I go along.  I’m looking really looking forward to it.  Weird aren’t I?
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