Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My Grocery Budget - November Update

This month I used the bulk of my grocery dollars to stock up on ground beef and grated cheese on sale at Cash & Carry.  Then I filled in with a few other items I found on sale as well as fresh produce and milk.

My best bargains this month was lean ground beef for $1.85 a pound and four quarts of Kraft mayonnaise for $1 each.

Our non-food items included the usual cat food and litter.  I stocked up on Ziploc bags in assorted sizes at the dollar store.  While there I also picked up a few other toiletry items.   I spent a total of $26.68 of my $25.00 budget so I was slightly over budget this month on non food items.

Dollar store haul

I came in under budget and our freezer is quite full now.  I feel pretty confident we have plenty of meat to last us quite awhile.  Here is the list of food I bought.  The items highlighted in red are my stock up items:

Ground beef - 10#
Cash & Carry
Ground beef - 10#
Cash & Carry
Cheddar - 5#
Cash & Carry
Mozzarella - 5#
Cash & Carry
Parmesan - 2#
Cash & Carry
Red potatoes - 15 #
Cash & Carry
Yellow onions - 10#
Cash & Carry
Flour tortillas - 40ct
Cash & Carry
Pineapple slices (4)
Dollar Store
Applesauce (2)
Dollar Store
Pumpkin (4)
Dollar Store
Molasses (2)
Dollar Store
Almonds (2)
Dollar Store
Candied cherries
Dollar Store
Baked beans
Dollar Store
Rice - 2# (2)
Dollar Store
Black beans - 1# (5)
Dollar Store
Gravy mix - 3ct
Dollar Store
Cream chicken soup (4)
Store Coupon/Coupon
Store Coupon
Cole slaw mix
Lettuce mix
Hot dog buns
Fried chicken
Oranges - 12#
Butter (2)
Store Coupon
Mayonnaise (4)
Dollar Store
 $     139.12

$139.12 ÷ 30 days ÷3 people = $1.55 per person per day!

Did you stock up on anything this month?  Any super deals?  Are you getting ready for the Christmas holiday?

This budget month runs from November 1 through November 30.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Big Horn Sheep & Other Stuff

Vacations are the best thing ever.  And you know it is road trip time when mom brings home a can of cheese from the grocery store.  Ha, ha!

It has been a really long time since we have been on a family vacation.  Not even for an extended weekend really.  But finally we got to go on one and I am awfully glad we did.

It is hard for me to spend the money on vacations and extras when I have debt I am trying to pay off.  But, sometimes you just have to take a break and get away.  Especially when you have family you haven't seen for a long time.

We headed down to Phoenix for the week of Thanksgiving and broke it up a bit by staying at a hotel on the way down and again on the way back.  It makes it nicer for us when we don't have to drive it all in one day.  Plus, by doing so, sometimes you get some nice surprises.

After breakfast Sunday morning I told the girls I wanted to stop by the park near our hotel and take a picture of Lake Mead.  I wasn’t expecting to see a herd of Big Horn Sheep when I got there…

 …let along a second herd right smack in the middle of the park. 

Lake Mead

The lake was pretty too. 

We went to the visitor's center and my oldest, who turned sixteen that day had a nice time doing a crayon rubbing of a turtle proving you are never too old to play with crayons.

It was beginning to rain so we didn't stay too long and headed off to our destination.  We took our time, ate cheese and crackers en route and tried not to get run off the road by the big Walmart truck who ran out of lane and had know where to go.  After my heart attack we continued on and managed to get there in one piece.

Wednesday we all had lunch at Cooperstown (Alice Cooper's restaurant) and it was a lot of fun.  The food was really good and I was happy to discover they have a really nice porter.  Alice wasn’t there and I think my aunt was a bit disappointed.  My girls thought it was pretty neat too and enjoyed looking at all the memorabilia up on the walls.  It is even in the bathrooms.

My youngest had her thirteenth birthday that day and she got a complimentary sundae.

My aunt doesn't cook anymore (and she means it) so we all went to Black Angus for Thanksgiving dinner and had prime rib.  It was delicious and, since I'm not one who has to have a big turkey dinner or its not Thanksgiving, this worked out just fine.

We left dark and early Friday morning to start heading home.  The black Friday shoppers were at the mall and we managed to get out of Phoenix ahead of the rush hour traffic.  We stopped in Wikieup for breakfast and the girls ended up in jail.  It happens every time.

The traffic remained light as we made our way to Ely, Nevada and spent the night at the hotel.  We were pretty tuckered out (and vacationed out) by this stage.  After checking in we headed straight for the grocery store to pick up stuff for dinner than back to the hotel to shower and crash.

Our drive home was uneventful and we were thrilled to cross the Idaho border headed for home.  Even the blackened skies were somehow welcoming.  It is always nice to get away, but even better when you make it back home.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

We finally got to go on a real vacation!  I'll be talking about that more tomorrow, and although we weren’t at home we still managed to be thrifty.

For instance, Sunday morning, at the hotel, I trimmed my bangs.  I've needed to trim them for several weeks, however finding the time to squeeze this little chore in just didn't seem to happen.  While packing for our trip I grabbed my scissors and tossed them in my toiletry bag.  Having them trimmed is a great relief.  I look much better and they aren't in my eyes anymore.

I had booked our hotel stays back in August and made sure they were ones that included breakfast in the morning.  Our first stay was at a Quality Inn and they provide a nice breakfast for their guests.  It was surprisingly good too.

I took our small slow cooker with us and reheated spaghetti I brought along for our supper the night before.  I'm not one that can handle a steady diet of eating out so I needed to sprinkle in a few home cooked meals wherever I could.

These mess kits from our Go Bags were so awesome to have with us

I also packed a box full of snacks, most of them purchased at the dollar store, for the trip down.  We put a frozen fruit juice bottle in the cooler to chill drinks we brought from home as well.

Monday evening we used coupons my aunt had to go out for hamburgers.

Tuesday we dined in.  My aunt made frozen pizzas and a big salad.  She doesn't cook, she heats up frozen things in the oven.  Now that she is retired she has no desire to cook anymore.  I think I will always enjoy cooking.  That is my hope, anyway.

Wednesday I treated all of us to lunch out.  Not so thrifty but much less expensive than dinner would have been.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and we were treated to dinner out at Black Angus.  The prime rib was fantastic.

We went to the public library twice to use their free WiFi while we were gone so I could pay a couple bills, check my bank statement and answer emails.  My oldest needed to do homework on her laptop also so that worked out pretty well since the library is close to my aunt's house.

We went to the dollar store to re-stock snacks for the drive home.

Friday we stayed in another hotel on the way home.  It too included breakfast in the morning, which we took full advantage of Saturday before we packed up to make the rest of our drive home.

After checking into the hotel on Friday we went to the grocery store and I picked up a sandwich at the deli, a couple cans of soup, and some fresh watermelon for our supper.  I heated the soup in our slow cooker while we all took turns showering.  By the time we were ready to eat the soup was hot and dinner was served.

Whenever we drove anywhere I used the Eco mode on our car which allowed us to get some pretty decent gas mileage on the car.  38 mpg is nothing to sneeze at and it really helped us keep the fuel expense low.  I spent just over half what I had budgeted on fuel.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Only One More Month Until Christmas!!!

Holy guacamole folks!  Can you believe this!  Are you ready?!

For the last two months I have felt like I am ready.  Up until then I wasn't so sure.  But the gifts are all bought or made and wrapped.  Meals and holiday baking are planned and a lot of the food has already been shopped for.  I've taken my girls out to shop for each other and grandma will be taking them out one day to finish up.  We have plenty of gift wrap and supplies in the hall closet.

Our annual holiday letter has been written and once I put some finishing touches on it, it will be ready to print off.  Christmas cards are signed and addressed.  I picked up a book of Christmas stamps at the post office just before Halloween while dropping off a package to be mailed.

I don't plan to purchase new lights or ornaments this year as we have plenty of that stuff, I think.  Should we have a bum set of lights, however, I've got some funds set aside to get new ones if we need them.  A few decorations here and there will do nicely.  I would like to get some more candles to have around and an extra bottle of kerosene for the oil lamps.  I'll probably go to Walmart (eek) and get some of that.

We have a couple get-togethers planned.  I'm keeping the menus simple and the goodie list short.  Mostly I want time to spend with my family and friends, visiting, listening to music and really enjoying the holiday and their company.

We have a long weekend this year and I added an extra vacation day to it too.  I'm looking forward to a slow and quiet pace for us to relax and take advantage of the time we have to spend together away from the everyday rat race that we sometimes find ourselves in.

How are your preparations coming along?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Simple Roasted Carrots

The other day I was clearing out the crisper drawer where I had somehow managed to accumulate quite a few baby carrots.  I decided to make a pan of roasted carrots to go with our supper that night since the oven was on while I baked bread.  Boy were they good.

Roasted Carrots

Preheat oven to 400°.  Lightly coat a 9" X 13" baking pan with pan spray.

Rinse one pound of baby carrots and pat dry.  Lay carrots in a single layer in the baking dish.  Salt and pepper the carrots.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and toss the carrots with 2 Tbs. butter.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley and toss again.  Return to oven to bake an additional 15 minutes or until carrots are fork tender.

A friend gave these her seal of approval saying they were delicious and she loved that I hadn't over seasoned them so she could really taste the carrots.  I appreciated that.  Simple always seems to work.

Need a super quick and easy side dish for your dinner table?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

And Another Thrifty Christmas Gift

This gift is super quick, super easy and super thrifty so plug in your glue gun.  If you think you've seen this before you are right!  Back in our RV days I made these for my girls and a few extras because they are perfect for your kids to give to their friends.


You will need a hot glue gun, a glue stick, a pair of wire cutters.  Then go to the dollar store and grab a package of hair clips and a poinsettia spray from the floral area.

First cut off the heads of the flowers.  If you pull them off they tend to fall apart.  Then hold the clip open by clipping it on a pencil so you don't have to worry about gluing it shut.  Put a dab of hot glue on the bottom of the poinsettia bloom and affix it to the clip.  Hold it for a bit so the glue has a chance to set.

Once the glue has set carefully peel the pencil off of the clip and you are done.  Literally in minutes.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

It was a quiet week for us with no after school activities of any kind which was a great relief to me.  I was ready for a bit of a break, to be honest.

After a solid week of clearing out the fridge I began the week still clearing things out.  I'm amazed at how much "clutter" had accumulated in our refrigerator and freezer.  Sunday we picked up right where we left off on Saturday and just kept on going.  We cleared out the crisper drawer and used up all kinds of odds and ends including a jar of caramel ice cream topping I warmed up and served with a couple of sliced apples for dessert.

Used up the pepperoni and a dough ball in the freezer

I baked two loaves of bread and a pan of dinner rolls.

I stopped in at Albertson's after work on Tuesday to pick up oranges on sale for 49¢ a pound.  I bought twelve pounds and boy are they good.  I also picked up a few bananas and 8 pieces of fried chicken to supplement what was already at home.  That pretty much carried us through the remainder of the week.

The first part of the week I worked some long hours and accumulated a fair amount of overtime.  I've earmarked it for my debt elimination goal.  That makes it easier to work those hours when I'd rather be at home.  I have another opportunity to work overtime at the end of the month too.

I started watching The Crown on Netflix.  It is a pretty interesting series.  Have any of you been watching it?

I cashed in my credit card rewards points and redeemed them for two gift cards.

I needed a simple little birthday gift for a friend so I popped into Fred Meyer to pick up a plant.  She wanted one for her desk at work.  While I as there I grabbed milk that was on sale and four containers of Cool Whip, also on sale.  Each item, except for the plant, was only 79¢ each.

A serious change in our weather meant I finally had to turn on the main heat on.  Thursday when I got up it was only 59° inside.  I think is the latest we've ever gone before needing to turn it on.

I washed out several Ziploc bags to reuse.

I added a bit of water to rinse out the fabric softener bottle and used that for a load of clothes.  I also did the very same thing to the bottle of detergent and had enough to wash a load of laundry.

We'd like to come in

We finished cleaning out the crisper drawer and the chickens helped us out to use up everything that was in there before it could spoil.

How was your thrifty week?

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