Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Monthly Menu Planner - April

Over the weekend I got our menu plan finalized and posted on the side of our refrigerator.  As usual the plan is based on the items I already have in our pantry and freezer.  Once again there were quite a few meals I had planned to make and didn’t due to having plenty of leftovers that needed to be eaten.  I went ahead and put them on this month's plan so if some of these sound like repeats that is why.

This is what we have planned for our culinary future:

Breakfast Burritos, Fruit
Macaroni & Cheese, Peas & Carrots
Grilled Hotdogs, Tater Tots, Veggies & Dip
Split Pea Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Spanish Rice, Tossed Green Salad
Creamy Tuna & Biscuits, Buttered Peas
Patty Melts, Steak Fries, Veggies & Dip
Chicken Enchiladas, Garden Salad
Meat Loaf, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Sweet & Sour Pork, Steamed Rice, Stir Fry Veggies
Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Tomato Soup
Pepperoni Pizza, Tossed Green Salad
Tortellini Soup, French Bread, Garden Salad
Swedish Meatballs, Egg Noodles, Steamed Broccoli
Chinese Chicken & Cabbage
Cheese Omelets, Toast, Fruit
Pesto Pasta, Tossed Green Salad
Tuna Melts, Potato Chips, Veggies & Dip
Grilled Steak, Baked Potatoes, Garden Salad
Sopa Seca, Corn
Lemon Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Peas & Carrots
Pancakes & Sausage, Fruit Salad
Clam Chowder, Garden Salad
Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Mushroom Fettucine Alfredo, Spinach Cranberry Salad

Our Easter Dinner:

Glazed Ham, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Cabbage Salad, Deviled Eggs

It all sounds pretty delicious to me.  What great meals do you have planned in April?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

For Sunday breakfast I made pumpkin waffles with bacon and homemade syrup.  I saved the rendered bacon fat in a pesto jar I had washed out and saved.  Mmmmm. Liquid gold.

I took a Fred Meyer survey and earned an extra 50 fuel points to use on my next gas purchase.

To use up the rest of the can of pumpkin and some leftover cream cheese I had I baked a big sheet pan of pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.  I sent some over to our neighbors and took a plate to work.

We gave the chickies their first taste of homemade bread.  They love it!

I bottled up nineteen 16oz. bottles of my latest batch of home brew.  After washing out the keg I went ahead and cooked up a new batch and refilled it.  I put the filled bottles into our hall closet to carbonate.  Because our hot water heater is in there the temperature is consistent and the perfect environment for this part of the process.

I restocked my produce drawer in the refrigerator super duper cheap by using a bunch of the coupons Fred Meyer sent me and buying items on sale.

Lettuce (88¢ - 45¢ coupon) 43¢, coleslaw mix (98¢ - 45¢ coupon) 53¢, one pound baby carrots (on sale 99¢ - 40¢ coupon) 59¢, green onions 59¢, broccoli 70¢ ($1.29/lb.), three yellow onions (39¢/lb.) 49¢, mushrooms ($1.99 - 50¢ coupon) $1.49 and tomatoes (99¢/lb.) 51¢.  Totaling $4.74 less another coupon for $1 OFF a $4 produce purchase for a grand total of $3.74!!  Pretty dang good don't you think?

I watched a couple TV shows online.  I listened to music on YouTube.

I worked some more overtime this week.

The seeds my daughter saved from a Roma tomato and I planted using the bottom of a half gallon milk jug and soil from the garden are up.  They sprouted in just a week so I decided to compost the other plantings and replant using the garden soil instead of what is in the planters.  Hopefully I'll do better this time around.

Scratching around by the pond
After work I stopped by and picked up a new 3 cubic foot bale of pine shavings at the feed store as we had run out.  Not only will this be used in the chicken coop, and currently the brooder, but I plan to use some of it to mulch the garden too.  The bales run $9.99 each and they last a really long time.

Friday, after dinner, we had Family Movie Nite complete with ice cream cones.  We watched X Men on YouTube through our Roku.  The girls had never seen it and they really liked it.  It had been quite awhile for me as well.

Dust bath in the strawberry bed.
Enjoy it ladies before this area is off limits.
We got quite a bit of rain last week which helped tremendously to water the lawn and as a result the grass seed has begun to sprout.  We only had to hand water twice.  I was very excited to see the new grass poking up through the old pine shavings we used to mulch it in.  I am hopeful our little patch of lawn will regain its former glory this year.

How thrifty were you last week?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Girls Are One Month Old Already

I wasn’t quite sure how it would be to raise baby chicks inside the house this time of year but so far it is working out fantastically.  It is too chilly to have them in our garage like I did last time.  I can't believe it has been a month already and our girls are doing really well.  They are growing up and are healthy and happy in their dog crate turned chick brooder.

Surprisingly the layer of pine bedding has been tremendous in providing the girls a comfortable floor in the brooder and absorbing odors.  We keep it fairly tidy throughout the week and I do a complete clean out once a week.  The used bedding goes into our compost bin.

During the daytime I keep the light on so they have faux daylight and then when the sun starts to go down I turn the light off and let them settle down and prepare for sleep.  I have an old throw that I cover the brooder with to make it dark inside and they are off to dreamland.

Matilda helping me shop for chicken feeders
We wash their feeders often as they tend to mess them up on a regular basis and as they grow they are eating and drinking more too.  I the past two weeks, as the weather has permitted, we take them outside onto the lawn to play around and stretch their legs.  They have a ball.  After about an hour they are all tuckered out and let us know they are ready to head back in by jumping into our laps and hunkering down.

Edith and Penelope
I love how they get so excited to see me when I come home from work every night.  They rush to the door of their brooder and hop up and down until I come and say hello.  Most people don't really think of chickens as affectionate creatures but I beg to differ.  Our girls love to be held and cuddled.

Nothing quite like being mauled by a bunch of sweet
little chickies.  A little bit crazy aren't I?
This week I gave them some of my homemade bread and they absolutely loved it.  I've given them lettuce leaves and they aren't as excited about those yet but when I gave them a slice of tomato they went nuts.  One grabbed it and the chase was on.  I ended up getting them another one so they would settle down and share.

Rosemary and her sisters.  Pretty happy group of girls.
Now that they are getting bigger and doing so well I am far less nervous about them getting ill and passing away.  With the rough start we had in the beginning I'm afraid I was a bit of an anxious chicken mommy there for awhile.

They are so sweet and I just love them to pieces.  And spoiled.  Oh my gosh.

Just a little bit. J

Thursday, March 26, 2015

KIS - Using Up Leftovers

One of the easiest ways to save money and control waste is to be diligent about using our leftover food.  Most of our leftovers get consumed in our weekday lunches.  Others are eaten for supper saving me from having to make an entirely new meal and giving me a little break.

I save leftover veggies and broth in a plastic container in the freezer to add to soup.  Whenever I brown meat I like to remove a little to freeze and use later to top a pizza.  Stale bread becomes bread crumbs or croutons.

Freezing things we can't eat up right away makes for a quick grab for someone's lunch later down the road.  

In the rare instance we have sour milk it is used in recipes and baked goods.  Especially pancakes and waffles.

We compost our kitchen scraps.  Soon a lot of that will be going to our chickens to supplement their feed and give them variety.  I love to spoil my girls and give them lots of bread and produce.

I've written a couple of other posts on using up leftovers.  You can read them here, here and here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Am I A Cheapskate Or Just Thrifty? Is There a Difference?

I recently came across this article by The Organic Prepper that was shared on facebook.  I had to read it to see how I compared:

Do you enjoy saving a buck more than most people? Do you have a black belt in frugality? Here are 20 surefire signs that you are embracing your cheap side.  How many things on this list apply to you?

1.     You take it as a personal challenge to see how long you can go without spending money. The game is even better if you have a spouse or friend with whom you can compete.

Okay yes, I have had a few "No Spend Months" here and there.

2.        You don’t let food go to waste. You have an ice cream tub in your freezer nearly full of odd bits of leftovers, awaiting their reincarnation into “leftover casserole” or “leftover soup”.

I will save leftover veggies in a small plastic container, but that's usually about it.

3.          It’s physically impossible for you to drive past an interesting-looking garbage pile at the curb during somebody else’s spring cleaning frenzy, much to the dismay of your children. (Although there’s always that one kid who’s excited to dig through the pile with you!)

Nope.  I'm not interested in that activity whatsoever as it leads to clutter and I don't do clutter well.  I have no problem however, with those who do.  In fact, I'm a bit envious of those that find stuff and give it a fabulous makeover.

4.     Your first stop at the grocery store is the “last day of sale” rack in each department. When you get home with your stash, you immediately set to freezing, dehydrating, or canning your inexpensive score.

You know this is true about me.  I am always checking out the markdown bins and racks for rock bottom prices.  My freezer is pretty much filled with meats that were "Reduced For Quick Sale".

5.        Your kid looks at a necklace or pair of earrings at the “cool” store and scoffs, “We could make this.”  Then she puts it back and asks you to take her to the thrift store for items to disassemble for the supplies to make her own accessories.

Guilty.  Both of my girls have said this on more than one occasion.  We have an entire storage tote filled with beads and jewelry making supplies.

6.        You don’t have cable. Your viewing, if you watch television at all, is done via an internet subscription service or even a rabbit ear antenna  on top of the TV.

We don't have cable and we do have an Amazon Prime membership which includes a vast selection of streaming movies and television shows.  We also watch Hulu and PBS online which is free.  Our Roku allows us to watch online programming with our TV.

7.        A day of yard-saling is planned out like a military invasion: you have a Mapquest route of at least a half dozen sales, a thermos full of coffee, a wallet full of small bills, and a list including measurements of all empty spaces in your home that need to be filled, kitchen items you are seeking, books your daughter wants to read, and upcoming birthdays.  Your alarm is set the night before, a blueberry muffin is wrapped up and ready to go on the counter, and your comfy clothes are laid out.

I rarely yard sale but I do look for items on Craigslist and eBay.  I also enjoy shopping thrift stores and antique shops.  I sometimes think I should be better about yard saleing.  Maybe this year?

8.        Before throwing anything in the garbage you take a few seconds to ponder how it might be reused. Then, you either compost it, put it aside for a re-purpose, or you turn it into homemade “log” for your fire.

Yep, I must admit to this one.  I'm an avid composter and recycler.  My goal is to send as little to the landfill as I possibly can.  Haven't made any fire logs, however. J

9.        If something breaks, you try to fix it. If it must be replaced or purchased, you always look for a used version first before doling out the money for a new one.

Of course.  I try to fix it first, if not then I replace it.  I do shop around to find the best quality I can for as little as possible.  Sometimes it's used, sometimes it's new.

10.      You know how to darn socks….and you do it.

Yes.  Moving on.

11.      You have a special super-skinny rubber spatula earmarked just for getting the very last bit of whatever out of jars and bottles in the kitchen.

Doesn't everybody?

12.      You wash and re-use sandwich baggies, and you’ve even rigged up a little drying rack for them beside your sink.

Don't be silly.  It's quart and gallon size and I use a hanger and clothespins and hang them to drip dry over my laundry basket.

13.   You are outraged at the idea of spending $18 on a jug of laundry detergent because you could make a year’s supply for that amount of money.

I wouldn't spend that much on laundry detergent to be sure and I've tried the homemade stuff and didn't care for it.  I just buy it on sale and use coupons to save even more.

14.      You have recently advised your child to cut off that teeny bit of mold on the brick of cheese because the other side is just fine.

Fortunately cheese never lasts long enough in our house to grow mold.  So no on this one.

15.      You don’t carve the Jack-o-Lanterns until the day before Halloween so that you can cook, puree, and can the pumpkin the day after Halloween.

I admit I've thought about it but I don't like to carve jack-o-lanterns and I prefer the little sugar pumpkins.

16.      You know how to repair a plastic clothes hamper by “welding it” with a bread tag and a hot glue gun.

I can neither confirm nor deny…

17.      The dish soap beside your sink is actually 50% dish soap and 50% water.

Not quite but I do rinse out every last bit with warm water before I toss the empty bottle into the recycle bin.

18.  You can’t really understand how other moms spend hundreds of dollars on scrapbooking supplies, when your scrapbooks filled with reclaimed do-dads look just as awesome for mere pennies .

I do buy scrapbooking supplies but I keep the expenses to a minimum.  I am pretty particular about my stuff being archive safe.

19.      The concept of spending $25 dollars or more to get your nails done is as foreign to you as the concept of riding an ostrich around your yard.

True, true, true.  I did it briefly before I had my girls but couldn't quite justify the expense. Especially after figuring out the total annual cost.  I went to the beauty supply store and bought the stuff to do them myself and then it was the realization that I was spending a tremendous amount of time on this little project and it all just seemed too wasteful so I stopped.  Plus I thought the chemical exposure probably wasn’t a good idea either.

Does the list above make you say, “It’s like Daisy knows me!!!”? What are some other signs that you might be a cheapskate? We’ll do a reader’s choice version soon! 

So, how would you rate?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grocery Budget Update - March

Flexibility ruled this month.  My stock up meat item this month was supposed to be ground pork but I stumbled across a couple of nice tavern hams in the markdown bin and decided to go in that direction.  I still had stock up money left so I bought four packages of bacon on sale.  We didn't have any ham or bacon so this was perfect timing.  I also spent a lot of this month's budget to stock up on a lot of pantry staples and some frozen items.

My non food budget came in perfectly at $24.06.  I was thrilled with that.  I bought cat food, cat litter, facial tissues and sandwich bags.  I used coupons and purchased everything on sale so I was spending as little as possible on each item.  The sandwich bags I bought at the dollar store.

This is the food breakdown for the month.  The items I highlighted are the stock up items:



Whole wheat flour - 50#

Cash & Carry

Cash & Carry
Orange juice (2)

Store Coupon
Butter (2)

Store Coupon
Pot roast

Salad dressing (2)


Oyster crackers (2)

Store Coupon
Spaghetti sauce (10)

Canned veggies (8)

Store Coupon
Frozen dinners (10)

Frozen sausage (10)

Bacon (4)

Store Coupon
Ham (2)

Ground beef (2)





Tortillas (4)

Snapple - 6pk

Bottled water



Store Promotion Coupon

Store Coupon
Spaghetti (3)

M&Ms (2)

Store Coupon/Coupon

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

Store Coupon

Baking cocoa

Whipped topping mix (2)

Cheese (2)

Store Coupon
Blue corn chips

Tortilla chips (3)

Store Coupon
Tuna (4)

Store Coupon
Customer Appreciation Rebate



Dollar Store
Cheese slices (2)

Dollar Store
Sundried tomatoes

Dollar Store
Eggs - 1 doz (2)

Store Coupon

Store Coupon
Milk - 1/2 gal.

Store Coupon


Sour cream



 $    128.74

It looks like I went over a little bit but I actually didn't go over as much as you think.  I had change leftover from my January and February budget to use.  I will, however, be starting March out with a 31¢ deficit, which I can comfortably live with.

You'll notice the $5 OFF $50 purchase coupon from Albertsons and my $7.55 rebate from Fred Meyer gave me an extra $12.55 in buying power this month.  Free money!  I'll take it!

$128.74 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $1.38 per person per day!

How did you save money on groceries this month?  Were you able to find some good sales and stock up on anything?

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