Friday, October 30, 2015

Monthly Menu Planner - November

Another month is coming to a close already and another month of planned meals is ready to be posted on the side of our refrigerator.  Sometimes I find myself caught in a rut when it comes to our meals but a plan definitely makes it easier for us, especially when our schedule gets hectic.  And lately it really has been busy around our house.

Homemade bread sticks

This is what we have planned for our meals next month:

Italian Sausages, Pasta, Caesar Salad
Chicken Quesadillas, Salsa, Sour Cream, Lettuce & Tomatoes
Egg Scramble, Toast, Fruit
Minestrone Soup, Bread Sticks, Garden Salad
Pork Verde, Steamed Rice, Cheese, Sour Cream
Macaroni & Cheese, Smoked Sausage, Peas & Carrots
Eggs Benedict, Pineapple Slices
Italian Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Herb Roasted Chicken, Potatoes, Baby Carrots
Tomato Basil Pasta, Tossed Green Salad
Waffles, Sausage Patties, Fruit Salad
Beef Enchiladas, Lettuce Wedges, Corn
Egg Sandwiches, Sliced Peaches
Sausage Pesto Pizza, Caesar Salad
Lentil Soup, French Bread, Garden Salad
Broccoli Beef, Steamed Rice

Minestrone soup

I incorporated a lot of use of leftovers again this time.  Not only will we make sure to minimize food waste but it will also mean I will have fewer meals to cook and extra time to focus in other areas.  We also have a couple birthdays to celebrate as both girls are November babies.  So there will be a couple special meals to prepare for them.

And we've opted to go non-traditional this year with our Thanksgiving Day menu:

Spinach Salad & Asian Vinaigrette
Olives & Assorted Pickles

Are you a crazy meal planner like me?  What wonderful things do you have planned to eat?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

This spicy Asian soup is delicious and warms you through and through.  We love it, especially on a cold fall day.  Gets your blood pumping.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

2 cups chicken broth
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup water
3 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. fish sauce
2 Tbs. red curry paste
6 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 green onions, sliced
2 cups cole slaw mix or shredded cabbage
1 small can sliced water chestnuts

In a large pot combine broth, coconut milk, water, soy sauce, fish sauce, curry paste, onions and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil.  Add coleslaw mix and water chestnuts.  Stir well cooking until cabbage is just tender.

If you aren't so much into the spicy stuff you can leave out the curry and still enjoy a flavorful soup.  You can also add sliced chicken to make it extra hearty.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Grocery Budget Update - October

After last month's big stock up I didn't need to do too much grocery shopping and therefore my spending was dramatically lower.  I concentrated the dollars I spent on fresh produce, some dairy and a handful of loss leader items.  My deficit at the beginning of the month was $254.99 and is now sitting at $204.97.

Our nonfood items came in a at $20.85.  I bought a case of canned cat food, two bags of cat litter, some deodorant and stocked up on tissues.

Dollar store finds

Here is the list of all the food items I bought last month.  The items highlighted in red are my stock up items:

Orange juice - 1/2 gal.
Store Coupon
Sour cream
Store Coupon
Cream cheese (3)
Store Coupon
Spaghetti (2)
Brownie mix (2)
Store Coupon
Pasta (6)
Store Coupon
Pasta (8)
Store Coupon
Margarine (2)
Store Coupon
Flour - 5# (2)
Sugar - 4# (2)
Baking chips (2)
Bagels (3)
Cole slaw mix
Green onions
Milk - 1 gal.
Clam chower (2)
Frosting (2)
Tortillas (2)
Customer Appreciation
Store Coupon
Pie crust (3)
Dollar Store
Pumpkin (4)
Dollar Store
Molasses (2)
Dollar Store
Ginger (2)
Dollar Store
Pie filling (2)
Dollar Store
Butter - 1# (2)
Store Coupon
 $         74.98

$74.98 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $.81 per person per day!

Were you able to find some good sales and stock up on anything?

This budget month runs from 9/20/15 through 10/20/15.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I made a loaf of whole wheat bread.  We've been living bread free for awhile so it was nice to have a hot fresh loaf to enjoy.

I used a $10 coupon at ShopKo to buy myself a new pair of cross trainer tennis shoes.  They were on sale for $34.99 and after the coupon they were even more affordable.  I also picked up two 16# bags of our favorite dry cat food on sale for only $8.99 each. 

I did a little bit of grocery shopping.  Mostly loss leader items and some produce.  I also found a nice beef roast that was in the markdown bin at Fred Meyer.  I had a $2 OFF meat coupon which saved me another $2 on the roast.  Nice!

I sold a dozen eggs.

I picked a half dozen tomatoes from the garden.  I can't believe we are still getting veggies this late in the season.

I stopped at the dollar store for shampoo, conditioner, face wash for the girls and night light bulbs.  One of our plug in jack-o-lanterns had a bulb burn out so I needed to replace it. J  I was glad the dollar store had the bulbs.  There were three in the package.

I washed out 2 one gallon sized Ziploc bags to reuse.

I composted eggs shells, banana peels, coffee grounds and tea bags.

I checked out three books from the library.

Our chickens blessed us with 20 eggs.

How thrifty were you last week?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Only Two More Months Until Christmas!

Unbelievable!  Right?!

This past month I've managed to order most of the items on my gift giving list online and with free shipping.  I have shopping lists on both eBay and Amazon and as time allows I've made my purchases trying to get the lowest prices and free shipping as much as feasibly possible.  So far, so good.

Right now I have a closet full of gifts that I need to get wrapped and tagged.  I have two sewing projects on my work table that I have yet to start, but I have all of my supplies gathered.  One good day in November and I should be able to get those knocked out.  That's my hope anyway.

I've worked on the computer to make our Christmas cards and started a draft of our annual letter.  I have plenty of envelopes but I still need to make some return mail labels and some address labels for those I will be sending cards to.  This week I stopped at the post office for stamps and while I was there I bought a book of Christmas stamps.  I have four left from last year and now I should have plenty to send out my cards, letters and any other mail during the holidays.

I do not plan on buying anything in the way of Christmas d├ęcor.  Although, that could change.  Our exterior lights and most of our interior lights were shot last year so I may have to give in and buy at least one set this year.  We'll see.  I'm hoping we can get by with what we have.

I have yet to nail down my baking and goodie list but there is still plenty of time for that.  I've acquired quite a lot of ingredients for holiday baking so I'll be able to make pretty much anything I decide on.  We are also planning our Christmas menu and should have that wrapped up soon as well.  Then I can start working on accumulating what we need while I'm out grocery shopping.  Hopefully I'll be able to get everything on sale too.  That is always the goal anyway.

That pretty much brings you up to speed on how things are going in the Christmas department around here.  How are you doing?  Have you started getting ready yet?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

You May Notice Something

In the coming weeks you may notice I might not be posting every day.  I am working on a HUGE project and my deadline is looming just ahead.  I am hoping to make it with room to spare.  Once complete, of course, I will be sharing this with all of you.  Until then I will try to post as often as possible.

Right now I am trying to devote every spare moment I can to see this project through.  Some days finding that time is next to impossible with everything else that is going on but, I persevere.

So bear with me and once this project is finally wrapped up we can rejoice, celebrate and get back to some regular blogging.  You guys are all awesome and I love my blot.  A LOT!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Super Simple Shepherd's Pie

Happen to have two cups of leftover mashed potatoes lying around?  Then it's time to make a shepherd's pie and this is an easy one.  Thrifty too.

Shepherd's Pie

1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup brown gravy
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (optional)

In a large heavy skillet brown beef and drain any fat.  Add gravy and vegetables and simmer ten minutes.  Pour mixture into a deep dish pie pan.  Cover with mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake in 350° oven for 30 minutes or microwave on high for 5 to 10 minutes.

I like to warm the potatoes in the microwave and add a little milk to loosen them up a bit so they are easier to spread.  I also like to use a gravy packet mixed with a cup of cold water if I don't happen have any left over.

I bake mine in the microwave so it is easy for me to get this meal on the table in less than 30 minutes.  My kids love it too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Joy Of Music

Music is a HUGE part of our life.  We listen to it all the time.  We sing, dance, and love to have little trivia games where we quiz each other about songs on the radio and who sings them as well as tidbits of information about our favorite bands.  We enjoy almost all genres of music too.

When my children were in elementary school I gave them the choice to join choir, band or orchestra.  It was their choice, but they had to pick at least one.  I feel very strongly that adding music to one's education is much more valuable to them than just singing or playing an instrument.  They learn so much more.

My oldest daughter plays the clarinet, my old clarinet, and has since the 5th grade.  She is totally following in Mom's footsteps and I love to see the excitement and passion she has for playing.  She has participated in music clinics and honor band in addition to her regular band classes at school.

My youngest daughter plays the violin, much to my delight.  We've never had anyone in my family be in an orchestra so she loves the fact that she is the first.  She began in the 4th grade and seems to have a natural aptitude and talent for the instrument.  She has had some private lessons and is getting ready to try out for honor orchestra next month.

Last Friday evening we attended the all-city junior high honor concert that my oldest daughter was in.  It was comprised of students in band, choir and orchestra from all of the junior high schools in Boise.  The concert was fantastic.

Borah High School

Saturday evening we went to the annual marching band competition.  My oldest will be in high school next year so she got a good look at what the marching bands do and she is extremely excited about it.  I loved watching those students march and play their hearts out.  I really loved watching the excitement in my girls as they had such a great time cheering them on and choosing their favorites.  Those kids did a phenomenal job.  Such pride and talent.

Boise High School

Along with developing a talent and gaining an appreciation for music children are exposed to so much more.  They learn how to work in a group and develop team building skills.  They learn to set goals and reach higher to attain them.  They develop spirit and camaraderie.  Not to mention they'll make memories that will last a lifetime.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I used a cup of leftover pumpkin puree to make 4 dozen mini muffins.  I served some for Sunday brunch and we ate the rest throughout the week for our breakfast and snacks.

I used our shreddables to start a fire in our firepot.  We collected sticks that had fallen in the yard after a big windstorm for kindling and some scrap wood.  We'll add the ashes to the compost bin later on.

I cut the top off a milk jug to make a new collection container for our compost bin.  I keep it under the sink and empty it into our bin when it gets full.  I added the old one to our recycle bin.

I had one and half pork chops leftover from Sunday dinner so I chopped it up to make fried rice.  There was also a small dish of peas & carrots which I added in too.  This allowed me to save the chicken breast I had originally planned to use in the rice for another meal.

Sunday Dinner

I veered from our menu plan one evening.  I had 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes from Sunday dinner and 1/2 a cup of gravy so I used up along with a few other things to make us a shepherd's pie.  By the end of the week we had used up all of our leftovers and had no food waste.

We continued to do our free online yoga classes.  We also watched a Duran Duran concert on YouTube for free and listened to music.  I started re-watching the series Covert Affairs.  Love that show.

I ordered my oldest a new winter coat from JC Penney online.  It was on sale and then I received an extra 20% OFF.  I had it sent to the store at the mall so the shipping would be free.  The original price on the coat was $125 and after the sale price and discounts it ended up being 59.99.  Not too shabby, I think.

I used the proceeds from egg sales to purchase two 50# bags of feed for them for the winter.  Good job ladies!

I collected peppers and tomatoes from the garden.  Can you believe that our garden is still producing?  We fed our kitchen scraps to the chickens.  I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, garlic skins, egg shells and potato peels.

I did not do any grocery shopping this week.

The chickens blessed us with 26 eggs!

How thrifty were you last week?

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