Monday, August 31, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I suck at sleeping in so at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning I cleaned out and reorganized the freezer and the chest freezer in our garage so I know what I have.  I rotated older items to get used up before they freezer burn and took a good inventory.  Now I know what we have and what we need to restock.

We have been saving gallon ice cream pails all summer to use for food storage.  Luckily for me my girls were very happy to help me empty the ice cream out of the pails.  I filled them with oatmeal, rice and flour I had purchased in bulk at Cash & Carry awhile back.  The flour is in the freezer while the oatmeal and rice is in our pantry.  No longer do we need to store the big bags in our hall closet.

I made salsa and canned 6 pints to put up in our pantry.  I hope to make another batch in the coming weeks to put up as well.  We have plenty of jalapenos in the garden, that's for sure.  My girls insist it is the best batch I've ever made.

Albertson's had boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.66 a pound.  I splurged and bought 25 pounds since the price of chicken is likely to rise before too long.  I laid out the pieces on a baking sheet and pre-froze them before placing them into bags.  I filled up two of my two gallon bags and put them in the chest freezer for lots of delicious future meals.

I hemmed two pair of pants my daughter had received from a friend last year.  They were too big to wear so we put them up for awhile.  Now that they fit her she can wear them to school this year.

First day of school is hard on a girl.
The new school year began on Monday.  The week prior to school beginning I received a letter in the mail from the school district notifying us that both of the girls schools were providing breakfast and lunch free of charge as part of a new program for students.  While I had reservations about it my girls were super excited.  While I worry about nutrition and food quality, not to mention there are 18 dozen mini muffins in my refrigerator, I agreed to let them give it a try.  It definitely shortened my "to do" list Sunday not having to prep for a week's worth of lunches.  It also means that I have to make other plans for all the lunch food I had already purchased.  I'm curious to see if we notice a big savings on our grocery bill or not.

On the way home from work Monday I stopped at the "Free Wood" bin at the millwork company near my office and picked up several good pieces to use on some craft projects I want to make.

I made another jar of pickled jalapeƱo peppers to give to some friends of ours.  It's fun to be able to share our bounty with others.

Tuesday I used a $10 OFF $10 Purchase coupon at ShopKo to purchase a 16# bag of cat food on sale for $9.99 which made it FREE!  Whooo hoooo!

After work on Friday the youngest and I headed off for a trip to Cash & Carry.  She loves to go there with me and I love having her along.  I bought ten pounds of lean ground beef, ten pounds of lean ground pork sausage and five pounds of grated cheddar along with several bottles of seasoning sauces we enjoy, a bottle of sesame oil, ten pounds of onions and two huge bags of frozen veggies.

Saturday I was up early again.  I got all the meats and cheeses divided up and put away in our chest freezer in the garage.

I baked two loaves of bread.  One whole wheat and one Italian loaf.

My oldest made cupcakes using one of the 50¢ cake mixes and the tub of frosting we bought at the Grocery Outlet Market.  She also made a fruit and gelatin salad for our dinner.

I gave a couple dozen of our smaller eggs to some friends of ours.  We'll be selling our larger ones soon.  Feed money!

I used a $10 OFF $10 Purchase coupon at JC Penney to buy a new pair of knit pajamas from the clearance rack.  Final price was 7.99 plus tax.  I also went online and bought some more shirts for from the clearance rack.  I used an online coupon to save me an extra 20% and had my order shipped to the store for free.  My total cost for five tops came in at $39.42.  I shouldn't need any more tops for a very long time.

I harvested peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden.  We gave our kitchen scraps to the chickens and composted the inedible parts like onion skins, garlic skins and a lettuce core.  I also composted coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells.

Look at that huge green one in the center.  Its Jumbo sized.

The chickens blessed us with 22 eggs.

How thrifty were you last week.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Monthly Menu Planner - September & It's My 1000th Post!!!

I can't believe I have written and put up 1000 posts already.  I have loved doing each and every one.  This blog is most definitely a labor of love.  And the people I have met along the way are fantastic.  I so enjoy hearing what other people are up to and how this blog has helped them in their own lives.  I look forward to continuing this journey and watching it grow.  Thank you everyone for being a part of it.  You are all true treasures!

I have been rather bored lately with meal planning and the repetition of some of our meals.  My girls love these meals and don't mind the repetition but I need a little variety from time to time.  I dug into my recipe books and came up with a handful of meals I haven't made in a long time.  I added these in the with usual cuisine on my children love this month.  Now we will all be happy.

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

Minestrone soup, bread sticks, garden salad
Grilled steak, shrimp, baked potatoes, Caesar salad
Fish & chips, steamed broccoli
Pepperoni pizza, spinach salad
Chicken sour cream enchiladas, lettuce wedges
Spicy Romano Chicken & Pasta, garden salad
Thai Coconut Soup
Chili dogs, coleslaw
Beef & bean burritos, lettuce, tomatoes
Chicken pot pie
Sopa Seca, garden salad
Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, veggies & dip
Waffles, scrambled eggs
Cream of broccoli soup, biscuits
Hawaiian pizza, Caesar salad
Quesadilla casserole, lettuce wedges
Beef stroganoff, egg noodles, steamed broccoli
Pork fried rice, stir fry vegetables
Ham & cheese quiche, fruit
Creamy tuna & biscuits, peas & carrots
Taco salad
Pesto pasta, Caesar salad
Beef barley soup, French bread, garden salad
Salsa chicken & rice, corn
Mac & cheese, smoked sausage, spinach salad
Cheese quesadilla, tomato soup

I swear my youngest would eat Sopa Seca every week if I'd let her.  I am very much looking forward to the steak & shrimp (my birthday dinner), Spicy Romano Chicken, broccoli soup and the sour cream enchiladas.  The enchiladas is a new recipe I haven’t tried before.  It sure sounds delicious.

Do you do any type of meal planning?  What are some of your favorite meals?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

KIS - Have Some Down Time

The need for down time is crucial.  Just like our bodies need rest so do our minds.  Down time refreshes the mind and spirit.

Quite often we do not take the time to power down and replenish ourselves.  We are busy and have a lot to do every day.  As a result we tend to push ourselves further than we should by skimping on sleep and attempting to fill all of our waking hours with tasks and responsibilities.

Work and additional part-time jobs, schooling, sports and other activities, chores and other responsibilities can easily fill our days from morning until night.  The thought that we need to stop and take a break from all of this may seem unthinkable.  Even lazy or a waste of time.  But if you don't you set yourself up for burnout.

It is easier to simply take a time out than one might think.  Even if you have to actually write it into your schedule take a moment out of your day.  Meditate, go for a walk, soak in a bubble bath, watch the sun go down or simply sit for awhile and be still.  Clearing our minds and just breathing can do a lot to recharge us and make us feel better emotionally.

Down time will help us to be better parents, friends, employees and co-workers.  It will also make us better people.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Grocery Outlet - My Latest Haul

After being introduced to our new grocery outlet store two weeks ago I was eager to see what epicurean delights they had to tempt us and hopeful they still had some of the items we had picked up last time at such great prices.  Last Friday we stopped in on our way back from the orthodontist.

We were pleased once again with the items we found to stock up our pantry.  I made quite a haul and for not a lot of money.  It is fun to have fun culinary items on hand that we normally wouldn't buy because they don't quite fit in our budget.

These cheeses are really expensive but I got them for 2/98¢.

The cheeses were obviously marked down because the date had expired but I'm not too concerned about that.  Plus they'll take back anything substandard.  These olives are delicious at 98¢ and the hummus is fantastic at $1.49 each.  Pop tarts $1.59.

The crackers were $1.49 a box, the breakfast bars only 98¢.  Tortilla chips $1.59.

Chocolate chips for $2.49 and coconut $1.99.

I've never seen this cake mix before but at 50¢ each I am willing to give them a try.  I bought two.  The frosting was only 99¢. 

These big cans of oranges were 98¢ each.  I bought two but now I wish I'd bought a few more.  My girls and I love them.

A 10 pound bag of spuds for $2.99.  All #1 and good size.  No little taters or funky misshappen ones.

I think I got quite a bit and I filled in a lot of the gaps in our pantry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mini Muffins - One Batter, Three Kinds

Last week I used my favorite banana bread recipe and doubled it with a few minor adjustments to make a big batch of mini muffins to put in the freezer.  I wanted to have something quick for the girls to grab on school days whenever they are feeling rushed.  They tried several of them to make sure they were good so I ended up freezing less than I had originally intended.  But, that's okay.

Mini Muffin Batter

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 400°.  In a large mixing bowl stir oil, sugar, vanilla, milk and eggs into bananas with a whisk until full combined and smooth.  In a separate bowl mix flours, salt and baking powder together.  Slowly stir dry mixture into wet.  Do not over mix.

Lightly spray muffin pans with pan spray.  Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full and bake for approximately 10 min.

After baking 3 dozen muffins divide remaining batter in half.  In one half stir in 1/4 cup baking cocoa.  In the other half stir in 1/3 cup mini semi-sweet baking chips.  Finish baking muffins.

Makes approximately 9 dozen muffins.  Three muffins equal one serving.

This was a super easy way to make a nice variety of muffins.  They freeze nicely and I think these would be great to serve at a brunch too.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

In preparation of back-to-school coming up soon I made 18 dozen mini muffins to put away in the freezer for quick breakfasts.

The cooler weather allowed me to plant the three azalea bushes I bought a couple weeks ago on clearance at ShopKo for $1.69 each.  When I brought them home they were a little spindly but I watered them a lot and they have filled in and leafed out nicely.  I think they might just make it.

My oldest and I cleaned up the yard.  All those wind storms we had last week had really littered the yard with sticks and debris.  We burned it all in the fire pot and I added our shreddables to the fire as well.  Everything looks neat and tidy once again.  We plan to compost the ashes.

Tuesday I took the girls and one of their friends to dollar movie night.  We saw The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet.  It was pretty good.  On the way home I treated them to a hamburger at one of our favorite diners.

The young one and I sliced up a handful of jalapeno peppers and filled up a half pint jar.  I covered them with pickle brine and put them in the refrigerator.

Thursday evening I took the two sets of plastic drawers that used to hold sewing supplies out of the garage and gave them a new purpose.  I was really glad I had put them in there and didn’t hurry up and get rid of them because now they are being used to hold all of our school supplies, colored paper, cardstock, construction paper and craft supplies.  One drawer holds all of my candles and Scentsy stuff.  I was able to eliminate several plastic bins in the hall closet and the big copy paper box that used to store our extra school supplies in our linen closet.

All of these bins are now empty

I am so glad I did this because it seemed like every time I needed something in one of the bins it was always the one on the bottom of the stack.  This new way makes it a lot less cluttered and much more streamlined and organized  So much nicer to get to the things I need and it also saves us on storage space.

I checked out two books from the library since my thrift store books have dwindled down to the final two.  I was having trouble getting into my current book and the other is written by the same other so for now I have set them aside and will read the library books.

Matilda and I appear to be wearing the same shirt

I took Friday off from work so I could enjoy a little longer weekend with my girls before they go back to school on Monday.  My oldest had an orthodontist appointment in the afternoon so we enjoyed a leisurely day until then.  I grouped our errands and banking so we could get everything we needed to do done on the way home.  We went to the dollar store, the grocery outlet, the bank and Albertsons.  No gas wasted as all of these places were en route for home.

My oldest ran out of facial astringent from the dollar store and they no longer have it in stock.  We looked up recipes for homemade astringents and she made a batch using items we already have on hand using distilled water, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.  It actually smells pretty good and it also doesn’t taste too bad either.  We joked that if it doesn't work she can just drink it.  I think it will work just fine.

I sliced up a bunch of cucumbers and an onion for bread and butter pickles.  Since I am the only one who eats them I am making myself a small batch.  I ended up with 3 pints.

Saturday we packed a picnic lunch and headed to the state park for a fun afternoon.

We harvested jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and one lone beet from the garden.  I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, banana peels, garlic skins, tomato stems and onion peels.

The chickens blessed us with 25 eggs.

How thrifty were you last week?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Grocery Budget Update - August

This month I stayed on budget without too much trouble. I began the month with a $43.33 deficit.  Now I have a deficit to carryover of $40.03.  Little bit, by little bit I'm whittling away at it.

Our nonfood items came in a at $22.05.  I stocked up on more laundry detergent and a bottle of dish soap because I found it at a great price on sale and I had coupons to save even more.  The laundry detergent was $2.00 for two bottles and the dish soap was 74¢.  I also bought two bags of cat litter, aspirin and some toiletries.

Here is the list of all the food items I bought last month:



Ice cream - 1 gal (2)

Pasta sauce (10)

Pasta (8)


Salsa (2)

Weiners (2)

Lunchmeat (2)

Potatoes - 5#

Salad dressing (2)

Corn tortillas



Cereal (4)


Cash & Carry
Flour - 25#

Cash & Carry
Chile paste

Cash & Carry
Olive oil

Seasoning packets (7)

Chili powder

Bulk Bin



Hamburger buns


Hot dog buns


Milk - 1 gal (3)




Tortilla Chips

Tater tots


Flour tortillas


Eggs - doz. (2)


Sour cream (2)

Hamburger buns

Hot dog buns

English muffins - 12ct.

Ramen - 12 ct.




Barbeque sauce

Milk - 1 gal (4)

Store Coupon





Tortillas (2)



 $ 121.60

$126.47 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $1.31 per person per day!

We were blessed with a trip to the new grocery outlet store and gifted $75 worth of groceries just to try it out.  We were also blessed with produce from our garden and eggs from our wonderful chickens.

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

This budget month runs from 7/20/15 through 8/20/15.

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