Friday, January 31, 2014

Grocery Budget Update - January


I don't know about you but the first month of 2014 has gone by pretty dang fast!  This past month I bought A LOT of groceries and A LOT of stock up items.  We ate really well too.  Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious homemade soups, a few casseroles and delicious pasta dishes.  It was a scrumptious start to 2014.

I began our month with $125.oo plus $8.11 left from last month for a grand total of $133.11.  I spent $145.13 and will rollover the negative balance of $-12.02 into next month's budget.  Because this last week in January I got a jump start on my February shopping our starting total will be $112.98

Our non-food spending came in at $20.97 (of our allotted $25 budget) for a 16 lb bag of cat food, two boxes of facial tissues and two bottles of laundry detergent (loss leader at Walgreens for $1.49 each), a bottle of fabric softener, a bottle of dish soap and a lint roller.  Sales, coupons and a stop at the dollar store helped keep these expenses to a minimum.

This is what I bought for groceries this month:



 $$$

Spinach

           1.48
Sale
Sour cream - 16 oz. (2)

           1.56
Sale
Chile dip

           0.68
Store Promotion
Scallions

           0.50
Sale
Tomatoes

           0.91

Orange juice - 1/2 gal

           1.25
Store Coupon
Milk - 1/2 gal (2)

           2.50
Store Coupon
Parmesan

           2.09

Mushrooms

           1.55

Tortilla chips (2)

           1.50
Store Coupon
Soy sauce

           1.88

Bacon

           2.88

Cheddar cheese - 2#

           5.89
Sale
Ground beef - 3#

           5.99
Sale
Pasta (2)

           1.03
Store Coupon/Coupon
Canned tomatoes (4)

           2.00
Store Coupon
Oranges

           2.01
Sale
Eggs - doz (2)

           1.98
Sale
Soup (2)

 FREE
Gift Card
Clam chowder (5)

           3.95
Sale/Coupon
French bread (2)

           1.00
Sale
Milk - 1gal

           1.77
Store Promotion
Scallions

           0.54

Bagels

           1.27
Sale/Coupon
Bread (3)

           4.00
Store Coupon
Tortilla chips

           1.00
Sale
Cheese soup

           1.50

Tortillas

           1.39

Chili paste

           2.49

Olives (2)

           1.98

Lettuce

           0.88

Cole slaw mix

           0.98

Mixed veggies

           3.49

Butter (2)

           4.00
Store Coupon
Orange juice - 1/2 gal (2)

           2.50
Store Coupon
Tomatoes

           0.94

Onions

           0.57

Chuck roast - 3.5#

           9.45
Sale
Peas & carrots

           0.79

Broccoli cuts

           0.79

Pudding cups - 3 pkgs.

           2.24
Sale/Coupon
Mini  Donuts - 2 pkgs

           2.00
Sale
Sour cream - 16oz. (3)

           3.00
Sale
Cream - pint

           1.99

Oranges - 10#

           2.50
Store Promotion
Tuna (2)

           1.00
Store Promotion
Garlic bulb

           0.34

Bell pepper

           0.58
Sale
Green onions

           0.44
Sale
Tortillas (2)

           2.00
Sale
Cheese - 2#

           4.99
Store Coupon
Tea bags

           1.19

Cereal

           2.32
Store Coupon/Coupon
Sugar - 4#

           1.99

Apple juice (2)

           1.96
Sale
Lettuce

           0.26
Sale/Coupon
Peanut butter

           2.99
Store Promotion
Honey

 FREE
Store Promotion
Mixed veggies (2)

           3.00
Sale
Bananas

           0.76
Sale
Oranges

           2.50
Sale
Milk - gal

           1.77
Store Promotion
Ham - whole boneless

           6.21
Markdown
Ramen (10)

           1.25

Potatoes-  10#

           1.48

Sirloin steaks (5)

           7.45

Eggs - doz

           0.98

Weiners (2)

           1.00

Ice cream (2)

           3.98





Total

 $   145.13


I marked all my "stock up" items in red.  I am pretty pleased with the purchases I made and the fact that we enjoyed some really great meals this month. 

How were some ways you saved money on groceries this month?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Homemade Laundry Soap - It's A Bust


Almost a year ago I gave in and made a batch of homemade laundry detergent.  After reading so much about it and my own mother's rave reviews, how could I not?  A trip to the store for supplies was made - borax, washing soda and bars of Fels Naptha soap.

Once home I grated the soap, which I found was surprisingly easy, added the appropriate amounts of borax and soda and mixed it well.  Actually I snapped the lid on the container and shook the heck out of it.

Then I tried it.  Seemed fine.

Over the course of the year I had made up two batches of the stuff and used it exclusively to do our laundry.  But then I started to notice our stuff started to smell a little funky.  Especially the sheets, towels and bathrobes.  I washed everything all over again and still funky.  Plus our whites weren't really all that white.

I went to the store and bought a small bottle of cheap liquid laundry soap and washed the laundry again.  No more odor and the whites are amazingly white once again.  Now I am back to using commercial brand detergent.

I was hopeful for a thrifty and environmentally friendly laundry soap alternative but for me this one just wasn't it.  Bummer. 

How about you?  Do you make your own laundry soap?  Do you like the way it cleans your clothes?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thrilled About My Thrifty Purchase


I'm a nut about canning jars, especially vintage ones.  I love to check out thrift stores and antique shops looking for old mason jars.  A couple years ago while out antiquing with my parents we found a shelf full of vintage half gallon mason jars for only $2 a piece.  I think we bought them all.

I use my canning jars year round.  Not only do I can fruit, jams and salsa in them but I use them to store my homemade dressings and sauces as well as items in my pantry.  The vintage canning jars from the antique mall store my beans and pastas.

A couple of weeks ago I told you I bought some wide mouth half gallon canning jars.  They were a box of six, regularly priced at $13.97.  I had a little bit left on a $50 gift card so I used it and my final price out of pocket rang in at $6.43.  I was pretty happy about that.

I love these jars!

I love the cute little design printed on the side of the jar.  More importantly, I love that I now have glass containers to store our milk in that I am able to get my hand inside so I can easily clean them.  Keeping milk containers clean is often difficult because of the residue left behind.

I love how the size of the jar is perfect to fit in the door of our refrigerator.  The milk jugs from the store never quite fit.  They always stuck out a bit so I couldn't put things near the edge of the middle shelf or the door wouldn't close.  With refrigerator space at a premium that was a pain.

A couple years ago I bought a box of white plastic lids for everyday use for my jars.  I put the lids and rings that came with them away to use when I can next.



In addition to milk there are a lot of things I plan to use these jars for:

·         Sun tea, obviously J
·         Lemonade
·         Making a small batch of pickles
·         Flour canister
·         Sugar canister

If I'm not careful I may find myself in need of another box of these jars. 

Do you have any half gallon mason jars?  What do you use yours for?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pizza!!


It has been suggested by several of my followers lately that I do a post on inexpensive options for pizza.  If your family is anything like mine, pizza is a pretty big deal and you probably have it quite often too.

We rarely go out for pizzaand never order it delivered.  Right after we moved into our tiny house we dabbled with a few take and bakes, picked up a couple of pizzas from a nearby restaurant and went through a frozen pizza phase when it was on sale and coupons were plentiful making it ridiculously cheap.  Even still, we all agree the best pizza we ever eat is our own homemade.

I start with the dough.


I use my bread machine but you can totally make this in your mixer with dough hooks or even by hand.  This recipe easily makes two medium pizza crusts.

Pizza Dough

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cups whole wheat flour
2½ tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
1¼ cups hot water

Select dough cycle.  Place dry ingredients in pan and select start.  Add oil and then water.  Once dough forms a smooth ball (you may have to add a little flour or water depending on humidity) stop machine and allow dough to rest ten minutes.  Divide dough in half and form two pizza crusts.

I like to oil my hands and smooth oil over my dough and then shape the crust.

You need some sauce.

Easy Quick Pizza Sauce

1 8 oz. cup tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried basil

In a microwavable bowl combine ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine.  Cover bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute, stir, and repeat.  Spoon 1/4 cup of sauce onto your freshly made pizza crust.

Sprinkle with your favorite grated cheese: 
  • Mozzarella
  • Monterey jack
  • Cheddar
  • Parmesan
  • Provolone
  • Swiss
  • Colby 


Top with your favorite toppings: 
  • Crumbled cooked ground sausage, beef, pork, turkey, etc.
  • Diced cooked ham or chicken
  • Leftover taco meat
  • Bacon bits, pepperoni slices, sliced ham or sausage, chorizo, etc. 

Don't forget the veggies: 
  • Peppers
  • Onions, scallions, chives
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Pineapple (I know, it’s a fruit)
  • Sliced olives
  • Zucchini, thinly sliced 
And bake at 450° 12 to 14 minutes until it is done and the cheese is bubbly.



Here is a tip a friend of mine found out the hard way.  Don't overload your pizza with toppings or your crust will always be soft and doughy.  Lightening it up allows the crust to bake evenly along the bottom.

As the year progresses I will be doing additional posts of the "gourmet pizzas" my family enjoys.  And you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that gourmet doesn’t mean expensive.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

Another great tip is whenever you brown meat like hamburger or sausage take out about 1/4 to 1/2 cup and put into a small container to freeze and use as a pizza topping.

Do you regularly make homemade pizza?  What is your favorite pizza?
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