- Beef Tacos
- Spicy Romano Chicken
- Cobb Salad
- Roast Chicken (from the deli)
- Vegetarian Quiche
- Pot Roast & Vegetables
- Tomato Basil Soup & Bell Pepper Quesadillas
- Pasta Bolognese
- Veggie Stir Fry & Rice
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Pesto Pizza
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Meat Loaf
- Chinese Chicken & Cabbage
- Creamed Tuna & Biscuits
- Breakfast Hash
- Burgers & Fries
- Beef Barley Soup
- Swedish Meatballs
- Enchilada Stack
- Wiener Wraps & Tater Tots
- Eggs Benedict
- Pork Fried Rice
- Italian Black Bean Soup
- Chicken Broccoli w/ Rice
- Mushroom Pasta Alfredo
- Beef & Bean Burritos
Friday, August 29, 2014
I made my menu plan for the month of September. Because I had nothing in the pantry and freezer to base my plan from after clearing everything out this month I decided to go with things we hadn't had for awhile as well as some of our favorites.
This is what I came up with:
I am planning to make big batches of the soups as well as extra burritos so I can freeze some. The roasted chicken carcass will be simmered with celery, onion and carrot to make broth. When I make pizza I also plan to make extra dough to freeze.
Hopefully I will have the time to get back to baking bread again. I really enjoy doing it and you just can't beat the taste of fresh bread right out of the oven.
It all sounds pretty delicious to me. What great things are on your menu for the month of September? I'm always looking for new ideas so please share.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I love to burn candles especially at Christmas time so candles are usually something I give as gifts. Last year I found some wonderful candles at the dollar store. I am hoping to have the same luck this year too.
Sometimes inexpensive or discount candles aren't very good. Either the fragrance isn't really fragrant or they won't burn right because the wick isn't inserted straight up and down or the wax burns too hot and the wick lays over and then gets buried. To make sure I buy a couple to try out and if they are good then I go back and get more.
I find that vanilla scented candles are a good safe bet, unless I know for sure that someone enjoys a particular scent like cinnamon. I myself can't burn cinnamon candles because it bothers the inside of my nose and makes it sting so I like to be sure before I buy someone a strongly scented candle.
I will usually tie a pretty ribbon around the glass jar the candle comes in to dress it up a little. I saw on Pinterest once that someone had added some artificial holly leaves and berries which looked really nice. I may have to try that sometime.
Do you enjoy candles at the holidays? Do you give them as gifts?
Monday, August 25, 2014
I have embarked on a whirlwind crazy week this week that started quite early so I wasn't able to get my usual post up on the blog this morning. But, better late than never. Right?
Last week I watched a TV show on Hulu and a BBC mini serious Lady Chatterley on YouTube. Both programs were free. I also listened to music on YouTube.
We continued to eat primarily from our pantry and freezer. I shopped for lettuce, spinach, a package of tortillas and a half gallon of milk to round out what we had in our pantry and freezer. I also bought a package of hotdogs to use up the last of our hot dog buns.
We gave our kitchen scraps to the neighbor's chickens.
Pantry meals this week included stroganoff by using up a package of ground beef, half an onion, a large can of cream of mushroom soup, some sour milk and rice for Sunday dinner. Monday I used up the last ball of dough in the freezer, the mozzarella and the rest of the sauce I had set aside to make a cheese pizza. Tuesday we polished off the last of the stroganoff. Wednesday we had hot dogs for supper. Thursday I used up a package of ground turkey, a package of fideo pasta and a can of diced tomatoes and made up a batch of Sopa Seca. Friday we thawed out a bowl of beanless chili and made nachos. Saturday we finished up the leftover Sopa Seca.
Not much going on last week in the thrifty department. How was your thrifty week?
Friday, August 22, 2014
My favorite thing about back-to-school when I was young, and even now, is the school supplies. I don't know why it is but I love to shop for school supplies and I love to do it for as little money as I can get away with. This year I think I may have topped myself.
For junior high aged children it is pretty easy. Pens, pencils and notebook paper are the basic requirements. Last year we needed a special calculator and it still works for this year. A couple weeks ago I did buy her a new backpack as her old one was shot.
For the little one she still has the standard issue grade school list and fortunately we have everything we need in the School Supplies box in the bottom of their closet. All we had to do was to assemble it in her backpack.
Last Friday night I stopped at Fred Meyer to pick up ten spiral bound notebooks for 19¢ each. So far I have spent a whopping $1.90 on school supplies to get them started in school this year. Who hoooo!
How are you doing with school supplies? How do you save money this time of year?
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Yesterday guest poster Sophie Miller shared with you her great ideas for planning an end of summer Labor Day Party. Now she is back to discuss the food. My favorite part!
What to Make?
Too many times have I gone to a party with the same old food; fried chicken, spaghetti, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. Why not try a little something different. Something that requires a little more effort.
While there is nothing wrong with pasta salad, fried chicken, baked beans, or rolls, people know when you put forth the time and energy to make a party memorable or when you’re just taking the easiest route out.
Dishing up with Delish Appetizers:
Buffalo Potato Skins
Tater skin filled with cheese, green onions, chicken, with Frank’s Buffalo Sauce drizzled over the top
Tomato slices topped with fresh mozzarella and a single basil leaf
"Tacos Gone Walkin’’
From bottom to top, layer ground beef, black olives, sour cream, guacamole, refried beans, and cheese all in a casserole pan. Bake in the oven. Once the cheese melts, it should be finished!
Spinach and Ricotta Eggrolls
Just roll and bake! Here is the recipe, courtesy of Food.com
Supplying the essentials:
Don’t forget about your disposable cutlery, napkins, and Red Solo cups! It may be a good idea to get bulk when it comes to party supplies, since summer is coming there is no telling how many times you’ll have people over, sitting outside, and enjoying the sun. Washing dishes just becomes cumbersome and a hassle, so go with disposable. Eco-friendly isn’t a bad idea either!
A Labor Day party will be a huge hit with all the invitees. While many have events scheduled for the weekend, there are also plenty of people who will not be doing anything. If you don’t have any plans yourself, this is the perfect opportunity to throw a modest bash and make this Labor Day one to remember! God Bless the USA!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Sophie Miller contacted me to post on the blog some of her terrific ideas for celebrating Labor Day. Her post is so wonderful I am going to share it with you over the next two days.
Thank you so much Sophie!
Ah yes, the end of August is approaching. September is almost here and that means the kiddos are almost back in school and summer is winding down. Why not celebrate another great summer with a friendly neighborhood get-together? Labor Day is a national holiday – meaning most of us should be offered a paid holiday by our employers or at very least a day off. Instead of spending this time sulking indoors and watching television episodes for 8 hours straight, throw a celebratory Labor Day barbecue! Nothing feels like summer more than sitting out in the backyard with a lite breeze tickling your hair and the smell of something delectable cooking over a grill. Invite your co-workers, friends, and neighbors to join in and bring a dish – it doesn’t have to be a huge event, but a modest social occasion.
Here are some ideas!
So – we’ve got this idea to throw a Labor Day party. Now what?
Should we do decorations? How about streamers?
Cake, ice cream, drinks - alcoholic or non-alcoholic?
How many should I invite?
Take a deep breath and let’s deal with one question at a time.
First let’s consider your target audience and define your party size. Will this include 7-8 of your closest friends or are we going big with 10-12 or more people? Once you have that figured out, time to send out some fun party invitations to those lucky party invitees. Send those out a week or so in advance to allow people enough time to plan for it.
Next, let’s decide on the theme of the party.
Is this going to be one to decorate the house and outside of the house for? Are you going to go with the red, white, and blue traditional for celebrating Labor Day? One interesting idea that I am super excited about is a Hawaiian-style party; pineapples, pork over a fire, and fun games! Who wouldn’t want to experience that?!
What to eat?
Then, of course, is the food. Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about one of the most important elements of your party.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Friday night I braved the mall and six stores later I was able to come up with three burgundy polo shirts and two pair of black cotton twill pants for my oldest. The new school she will be attending this year requires uniforms. Although she isn't so thrilled about this, I have to admit I am. It makes it easy. Once you find the items you need anyway.
At JC Penney I was able to find the shirts for $9.99 each. Finding the pants was the hardest but finally we found her two pair, the last two pair in her size, at Sears for $11.49 each. A couple weeks ago we got her shoes on sale at ShopKo for $29.99 and I had a $10 store coupon so essentially they were only $19.99. I still plan to get her some black socks to go with her uniforms. She already has three pair so I don't have to no rush.
The little one is in really great shape as she has inherited a ton of great clothing from big sister. That along with the handful of things we bought throughout the summer means she has been ready to go in the clothing department for quite awhile. We bought her new shoes at the beginning of summer, on sale and a little larger than needed at the time, so she is all set there too.
I have to admit, this is the cheapest back-to-school preparation I have managed so far. Thankfully!
How is it going for you? How are some ways you are saving money this year getting your children ready?
Monday, August 18, 2014
My oldest went to a friend's house for a pool party so the youngest and I went out for frozen yogurt at the corner convenience store. We had root beer swirled with vanilla for only $1.79 a cup.
I went through the pantry and freezer to "shop" for this week's meals. I went to the corner market and picked up a half gallon of whole milk and a package of hot Italian sausage. We were kind of craving it. I turned it in a huge pot of sauce that we had with spaghetti. With enough sauce to freeze a couple of containers for later in the month and plenty of leftovers for the week as well.
I bought two small bottles of Tru Moo chocolate milk for 58¢ each so the girls would have two new drink bottles for their lunchboxes.
I turned our half gallon of milk into a gallon
I used up some ground pork and made a good sized pot of sausage gravy and a batch of whole wheat biscuits for our Sunday breakfast. We had plenty left over for another meal and enjoyed it reheated on Monday evening for our supper along with some scrambled eggs.
My friend gave me a huge stack of coupons and the weekly ads she had saved for me. I went through them all and clipped several coupons to use at the grocery store.
We gave our kitchen scraps to the neighbor's chickens.
We made wise use of all of our leftovers.
I made a pint of salad dressing using items I already had on hand.
This week the only groceries I bought was a bag of lettuce, a bag of spinach, three 8 oz. packages of shredded cheese on sale for $5 and a half gallon of whole milk on sale for $1.25. I also bought a box of raisin bran on sale for $1.69. I've been craving it for some reason.
Pantry meals this week included Spaghetti and Meat Sauce on Sunday, Leftover Biscuits & Gravy on Monday (the girls finished the biscuits for breakfast), Leftover Spaghetti on Tuesday (plus two lunches), Bean Burritos on Wednesday (beans were in the freezer), Macaroni & Cheese with sliced wienies on Thursday (we had four left in the fridge), I took the girls out to dinner on Friday, Homemade Pizza on Saturday.
We also used up all of the veggies in our crisper drawers for salads throughout the week to go with our main course and in my lunches.
We used up every last bit of a bottle of shower gel, trial sized bottle of shampoo and I used a toothpick to scoop out the last of a tube of chapstick. We continue to work to use up all the little bits of stuff we have lying around.
I took the girls to dinner on Friday. We used a free kid's meal with the purchase of an adult meal coupon to save on the cost.
I watched a TV show on Hulu and a movie on Amazon.
I finally received payment for the handicap ramp I sold to Make A Wish. I plan to use every dime of that check to its fullest potential.
What thrifty things did you do last week to save money?
Friday, August 15, 2014
I tend to run my household like a business. Complete with spreadsheets, financial statements, projections, and plans for the future. I'm a bit of a nerd that way. In a business you hold staff meetings and in our house we hold family meetings. Do you hold family meetings?
Family meetings in our house are held usually once a month, more often if needed. They are informal affairs where we sit down at the dining table and someone is appointed to take notes. We discuss what is going on now and what is going in the near future.
Some of the things we talk about may include:
Chores and responsibilities
School activities, assignments, and upcoming events
Extracurricular activities such as band concerts, sports, time with friends, etc.
Appointments that are coming up or need to be made
Our latest great ideas
Major life decisions such as moving, any job changes, etc.
Future goals and planning
Christmas, birthday and other holiday planning
It is the perfect time for us to discuss any problems or concerns that have come up as well. Ask for advice or suggestions with certain things. It is also the perfect time to ask for help with something that is coming up. These meetings help us all come together and discuss our lives. We keep them fun, motivating, upbeat and positive.
The one thing that is never discussed in a family meeting is behavior or discipline issues. I handle that differently.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
|This is what I had in grade school.|
Yep, it's that time again. Can you believe it?!
Time to get geared up to start making those lunches again. I won't pay $2.00 per child per day for the school's hot lunch program. I've seen what they serve and it is highly processed, salty, breaded, fried nastiness that my children really don't need to be eating. So this is what I do.
Each one of my girls has an insulated lunchbox, a wide mouth thermos, two drink bottles, a set of Rubbermaid plastic containers in assorted sizes and an ice pack. Their grandma fixed them up last year with new lunchboxes and the sets of containers.
The drink bottles cost me 58¢ each and are the small 8 oz. bottles of Tru Moo you buy at the store. They work great, don't leak and I can easily keep them clean with a baby bottle brush I purchased at the dollar store.
I also keep a plastic spoons and forks on hand so I don't have to worry about them losing my silverware. I bought a box of 24 forks and a box of 24 spoons at the grocery store for 98¢ each. They bring them home to be washed and reused so these have lasted us a long time. I think it was a wise investment.
Most of their lunches are reheated leftovers from our supper the night before. When leftovers aren't available we like to make:
Sandwiches – ham, tuna, turkey, peanut butter & honey, peanut butter & banana, peanut butter & jelly, egg salad, turkey or ham tortilla wraps, etc.
Crackers with tuna, ham salad, chicken salad or egg salad.
Hard cooked eggs and sliced cheese
Granola or other cold cereal
Of course you have to have a few items on the side as well:
Chips & salsa, celery with peanut butter or cream cheese, veggies & ranch dressing, baby carrots, snow peas, tossed green salad & dressing, fresh or canned fruit and fruit cups, gelatin or gelatin with fruit, etc.
Zucchini, banana, pumpkin or applesauce bread
Bran, banana, pumpkin, cornbread or applesauce muffins
Crackers – cheese nips, wheat thins, wheatables, etc.
Biscuit or dinner roll
Cottage cheese, yogurt
Milk, chocolate milk, juice, water, flavored water, flavored teas, etc.
Desserts, although I don't always include one:
Cookie or a brownie
Cupcake (frosted or unfrosted)
Miniature candy bar
Trail mix - nuts, sunflower seeds, Cheerios or Kix, chocolate chips, gummy bears, etc.
Dum Dum sucker or a couple pieces of hard candy
I also like to tuck a little bottle of hand sanitizer and a napkin in their lunchbox. Occasionally I'll stick in a love note too. Just because.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
This is kind of a heavy piece to post but it has been on my heart for awhile so I thought I'd share. I know we have all been in situations like this, both the front side and the back, and can probably relate. I'm curious as to how you feel when you are faced with this type of scenario.
A very good friend of mine I have known for many years is going through a divorce. She married him less than three years ago and under circumstances most of us wouldn't have even considered. The fact that the marriage is not sustainable and divorce is most likely imminent probably would not be of any great surprise to anyone who knew the full story. But that isn't the greatest issue here. What is, is how she is handling it.
When she married this man, I admit, I wasn't thrilled. In all the years I had known her she had never mentioned him to me. I only learned of him a few weeks before their wedding so the fact that she was keeping him a secret until now made me more than a little wary of what she was doing. To me I couldn't see how marrying him was a good idea, but she was in love and this is what she wanted to do.
She had the right to make her own decision. I supported her in her right to do just that.
Since they became involved I have watched as she has systematically pushed aside those she is closest to. Her relationships with her family and friends have become strained to the point that she no longer has the circle of love and support she once had. I find this very sad.
As her marriage has fallen apart she has found it easier to push those that have stuck by her further away to the point that after awhile we stay away. After all, that is what she wishes and when I spoke to her the last time she actually admitted to it. She knows she is pushing us away and she feels completely justified in doing so. In her own words she is hurt, she is angry and she feels like her world is falling apart. But the reality is that she is in this situation because of the choices she has made for herself.
We are all responsible for our own choices. The decisions we make have an impact on our lives and quite often those closet to us. Most of the time our decisions benefit us in a good way, sometimes not so much, but they are our decisions and therefore we are the only ones responsible for their outcome. Stuff happens. It is how we handle ourselves that matters most.
After meeting with my friend the last time she has since gone on facebook, of all things, and lashed out at all of the people who have "abandoned her when she needed them most." I'm sure she includes me in her list of rotten friends, but honestly you can't have it both ways. You can't push us away and then expect us to still be there.
That being said, when faced with this type of situation I think it is important to conduct ourselves, in the right manner as well. There but for the grace of God go I.
We've all had our times of crisis and I think it is often easy to be so consumed by our own situation and get so mired down in it that we forget that there is other stuff going on in other people's lives. Tunnel vision can set in and we can't seem to see past our own problems. Sometimes our worst behavior comes out and we take aim at the people who love us most and want to help. Quite often the person offering to help is someone who may need a little help themselves, but they are willing to set aside their own needs to help you instead.
No matter what we are going through, we are not the only ones going through something. Someone very close to you may in trouble or having a difficult time and you may not even be aware of it.
If you push people away from you enough, eventually they will stay away. It is important not to slap a helping hand. Don't reject an act of kindness. Don't hurt others because you are hurting. Our opinions and suggestions are not always welcomed or what is needed.
It is also important to remember to try your best not to sit in judgment of other's failings. We all have our own set. We've all made mistakes and done things we are not proud of. My beloved grandmother used to say "we all have our own box of rocks to pack" and she was right.
So whether we are in crisis or faced with helping someone who is we need to be fully aware of what is going on and how we are handling it. We need to be careful.
Monday, August 11, 2014
I completely went through my freezer to the very bottom to see exactly what we had. I pulled out a partial bag of hot dog buns and a loaf of banana bread. The girls used the banana bread for their breakfasts.
I went to dinner with one of my girlfriends Monday night. We usually go to Sizzler (it's our hangout) and have the salad bar so it didn't cost too much. Plus I'm not much of a soda drinker and I always drink water so I didn’t have to shell out the extra for a beverage.
I was able to buy a used tire at the tire store to replace the one that blew out on us last summer. Now our RV has all her shoes in good shape. They only charged me $25 for the tire and mounted it free and disposed of the old one for free. I love Les Schwab Tire Center.
Tuesday the girls babysat for a neighbor so I didn't have to cook supper. I made myself a salad and called it good.
I bought gas this week and used my rewards card to save 10¢ a gallon. Still it was over $40!
My oldest made a Wacky Cake so we could try it out and use up some leftover frosting in the refrigerator. That cake was wonderful!
My grocery shopping this week included one dozen eggs, lettuce, cabbage, a loaf of bread and a package of tortillas.
I used a $1 coupon to buy a 16 pound bag of cat food that was on sale. My final price was $8.99.
We watched Ever After: A Cinderella Story and enjoyed a family movie night on Friday. I streamed the movie online from Amazon.
Pantry challenge meals we made last week included pork chops with pesto orzo and canned green beans, hot dogs using up a partial package of buns from the freezer and the wieners were already in the fridge. I used leftover taco meat to top a salad for the one lone diner on Tuesday. Wednesday I cooked some rice and made a big veggie and chicken stir fry. There was more than enough left for lunches. I thawed out taco soup from the freezer to eat for lunches too. Thursday night we had breakfast burritos - scrambled eggs, cheese, salsa wrapped in a tortilla. Friday we ate leftover stir fry for supper. Saturday we used up the last of the hamburger buns and cooked up the last of the hamburger patties. We also baked some frozen steak fries to go with our burgers.
How was your thrifty week last week?
Friday, August 8, 2014
I found a link to this fun little recipe on facebook yesterday. I had the girls make it while I was at work, thinking they would have a lot of fun with it. They did too. But even better than that, it tastes great!
Give this one a try and let me know what you think. You can always was it down with a big cold glass of "half milk". ;)
Thursday, August 7, 2014
A funny thing happened a couple weeks ago. I bought a gallon of 2% milk and brought it home and my girls didn't like it. They used to drink it all the time. Not anymore.
A couple years ago, after seeing an interview on TV, I tried an experiment. A family of six had found out they were saving a bundle of money every year by purchasing a gallon of whole milk and cutting it 50/50 with water instead of buying the 1% gallons they used to. I was buying 2% for the girls and skim for myself at the time and decided to try the 50/50, or "Half Milk" as we've come to call it, out on the girls. If it could pass muster with them then I knew I was good to go.
They noticed immediately the milk was different but not bad different. They actually liked it. They said it tasted better. As far as nutrition goes I don't worry at all about that because my girls rarely just drink an 8 ounce glass of milk, which constitutes a serving. Almost always they drink a glass twice that size and quite often two of them.
Since switching over to Half Milk I never feel the need to tell the girls to slow down on the milk or worry that they are drinking too much and yes, it has definitely helped the grocery budget. I've had a lot of feedback from others that have tried this too and it has all been positive.
Now that we tried to go back to 2% and failed I guess we'll continue to mix our whole milk and enjoy it. I really like it on my cereal.
Would you ever consider doing this? Or do you do it already?
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
With five weekly paychecks I was able to do some real damage last month. Not only was I able to pay all of our monthly expenses and meet both my financial goals but I was also able to quadruple my savings contribution for the month which also meant I hit a pretty important milestone. I was able to fully fund my emergency savings account.
I used sales and a $10 store coupon to get a jump start on our back to school expenses and purchased shoes and a back pack for my oldest. We took an inventory of the school supply box and the girl's wardrobes and were able to determine what we have and what we still need. Fortunately the items we need to start the school year are relatively few.
We finally sold the handicap ramp from the business to the Make A Wish Foundation so we will be getting a check from them soon. I plan to put that money into savings as well.
We kept our expenses and purchases to a minimum. The majority of our purchases were for fuel, food, some toiletries and the two items I mentioned for school. We conserved electricity and ran the A/C only when necessary which reflected nicely in our electric bill.
All in all I'm quite pleased with how things went in July.
Monday, August 4, 2014
I didn’t do a whole lot of thrifty things last week really. I didn't spend much either though.
I treated myself and a friend to a movie. We went on tightwad Tuesday so it was only $5 a ticket.
I finished off a bottle of hair conditioner that had been hanging around the bathroom for quite awhile. I'm glad to get that big bottle out of there.
On Friday I stopped on the way home from work and loaded us up with fresh produce for the week ahead. I need my salad fixings.
I finished off a bottle of laundry detergent. I added water to it to get the last little bit out.
I added milk to a bottle of ranch dressing to thin it down enough to get the last of it out of the bottle. We tipped it upside down and let it all head to the neck of the bottle. There was enough for both girls to use on their salad at dinner
I used the bag of banana muffins in the freezer my daughter made as my contribution for the potluck at work. They were a hit. No leftovers.
We ate from our pantry and freezer to start off our pantry month beginning on Friday. Friday we had leftovers so that was easy. Saturday I thawed frozen turkey meat and seasoned it with a half a packet of taco seasoning I found leftover in the pantry. The girls finished off a box of crisp taco shells while I made myself a taco salad.
I watched a show on Hulu and one on Amazon.
I listened to a lot of music on YouTube while I was writing.
What thrifty things did you do to save money last week?
Friday, August 1, 2014
I find it truly hard to believe that exactly one year ago we moved into our RV and made it our home. It has certainly been an experience, no doubt about that. So after a year what have I learned from this?
I know for a fact I can truly live in this world with far less stuff. I could actually do it with less than what I currently have too. Sometimes I still feel like I have too much. We also definitely think more before we buy things.
My relationship with my children and their relationship with each other has grown. We didn't think it possible but we are much closer, kinder and more considerate. We work together as a team and we all help out to more to evenly disperse the workload. Instead of it being one person's job to do something we all do the laundry or fix dinner.
Three people cooking in an RV at the same time is actually possible. We figured out how to do it and now we do it that way most of the time. We also discovered we can entertain guests and put on a full meal with no trouble at all.
When something goes wrong we figure out how to fix it or improvise and make things work another way. Case in point was our refrigerator conking out on us and the power inverter shorting out and wreaking havoc. We also discovered in a crisis our ability to remain relatively calm and handle the situation.
We talk more, laugh more, play more, read more, and enjoy each other's company more. I find I don't sweat the small stuff like I used to and I have fewer crabby days. J
I've perfected the quick shower and we now know that three girls can manage with only one bathroom and fewer toiletries. It's amazing!
It doesn't take long to clean house, heat it up or cool it down.
The oven sucks. Thankfully we have our convection toaster oven to use instead.
We've had a lot of fun too!