Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My February Meal Plan

It's the last day of January!  Already!

Our January meal plan started and ended great, but was pretty much hit and miss there the rest of the time.  Not to worry.  A new plan has been drawn up and the girls have given it their seal of approval.  We have some pretty good stuff planned:

Veggie pizza with whole wheat crust

Fish & Chips, Coleslaw
Breakfast Burritos, Pineapple
Veggie Pizza, Garden Salad
Clam Chowder, Biscuits, Coleslaw
Garlic Chicken, Pasta, Caesar Salad
Stir Fry, Steamed Rice
Cheese Omelets, English Muffins, Fruit
Navy Bean Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad
Beef Enchiladas, Garden Salad
Split Pea Soup, Garden Salad
Veggie Quiche, Toast, Fruit
Sausage Pizza, Caesar Salad
Vegetarian Chili, Cornbread
Spicy Romano Chicken & Pasta, Garden Salad
Fried Rice, Cabbage Salad
Denver Scramble, English Muffins, Fruit
Quesadillas, Garden Salad
Vegetable Lasagna, Caesar Salad

Vegetable lasagna

You will notice there are a lot of meat less meals here.  The girls and I talked about it and decided we'd like to add more meat less meals this month and see how we like it.  Some are actual vegetarian dishes while others are just meat less.  It will be fun to try new recipes.

I will be posting more recipes in February for meals that cost us less than $5 so be sure to watch for those.

What kinds of delicious meals are you planning to make your family?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday morning I chopped up some veggies and put on a pot of lentil soup to cook all day in my slow cooker.  I used a container of frozen ham broth as the base.  When it was done we had supper and I made up a few containers to take in my lunch.  The rest went into two larger containers for the freezer.

I used up a very ripe banana and made a nice loaf of banana walnut bread.

After cooking the bacon for Sunday brunch I added the rendered fat in the pan to a jar I keep in the refrigerator.

The remainder of the week we kept to our meal plan.  We ate up our leftovers and made sure nothing went to waste.  We fed our kitchen scraps to the chickens.

I worked a couple hours of overtime.

I found a gray pajama top on sale online at JC Penney for $11.99 to go with a pair of pajama pants I got for Christmas.  I used a coupon code to save an additional $25% OFF and I'm having it shipped to the store to pick up which saved me shipping fees.

You can see the "piles" in the background on the corner of my desk.  😊

Friday evening I prepared and filed my 2016 federal and state tax returns.  Not only am I getting a refund but I was able to clear off a sizeable stack of papers I'd assembled on my desk, which funny enough, seemed to attract some attention from a couple of astute readers who noticed "piles" in the background of a picture I posted last week.  I'll have you know those are not just "piles" but "efficiently prepared mounds of work in progress".  Ha, ha, ha.

Fun pajama fabrics!

Saturday morning I ran a few errands on the way home from dropping my oldest off at BSU for the day.  After swinging by and dropping off the library books I had finished at the public library I headed up to JoAnn Fabrics.  They had flannel on sale for $2.79 a yard and I had a coupon for an additional 20% OFF.  I am super excited about the plans I have for this fabric!

I love free stuff!

Next I went to the Fred Meyer to pick up the Friday freebies I had downloaded to my rewards card.  I also grabbed a loaf of bread while I was at it for lunches next week.  Since I'm currently not in bread baking mode yet I'm buying it.  Our freezer is full so we don't have room to store a Franz bakery run right now.  In the meantime I'll be buying a loaf at a time until I get back in full swing and start baking again.

I finished the granny square afghan and began working on another project to go with it.  I'll be sharing those finished items with you very soon in a future post.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Grocery Budget 2017 - January Update

So, right out of the gate for 2017, I am over my monthly grocery budget!  In order to make up the difference the girls and I decided to give up dining out and entertainment this month and put that money into the pot for groceries.  I think it was a wise decision for a number of reasons.

At the beginning of the month Cash & Carry had a fantastic deal on their ground meats and boneless skinless chicken breast.  I felt compelled to take advantage of that and made the decision to put a large chunk of our budget toward making that purchase.  As a result we probably have enough chicken to last the year and enough ground meat for several months.

40 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
With the winter storm warning and possibility of power outages I made an extra trip to the store to pick up items we were running low on as well as a few easier to prepare items to have on hand, just in case.

We also had to make an extra shopping trip so the girls could pick up some items they needed to prepare meals when they took over while I was recuperating.  They had a fabulous job with their shopping and sticking to a $25 budget.

I was able to stock up on household supplies for FREE by using Amazon Prime Pantry and the rewards points on my credit card to pay for it.  I also bought a 16# bag of cat food ($10.20) and a large box of Pop Tarts ($3.67) while I was at it.  I picked up toilet paper, tissues, feminine hygiene supplies  and cat litter.  Once all was said and done I spent a total of $25.26 on non food items.  Just a skidge over my $25.00 budget.

Without further ado, here is the list of food I bought.  The items highlighted in red are my stock up items:



Chicken breast - 40#

Ground beef - 10#

Pork sausage - 5#

Italian sausage - 5#

Cheddar cheese - 5#

Oranges - 10#




Store Coupon

Bread (2)





Bell pepper


Milk - 1 gal


Veggie tray


Tortilla chips (2)


Flour tortillas


Pot roast

Pot roast

Pot roast


Blueberry juice


Cran raspberry juice

Potato chips (2)

Pop Tarts - 16ct

Cottage cheese (4)

Sour cream (3)

Store Coupon
Flour - 5# (2)


Customer Appreciation

Store Coupon


Pizza (2)

Hot dog buns


Hamburger buns




Cole slaw mix



Veggie tray

Tortilla chips (2)


Potato chips



 $     185.76

$185.76 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $2.00 per person per day!

Did you stock up on anything this month?  Come across any super deals?

This budget month runs from January 1 through January 31

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thrifty Meals Around $5 Or Less - Tortellini Soup

Up next is another family favorite that I make for around the $5 mark.  It is totally meatless too which is nice as I try to prepare one or two meatless meals each week.

Quick & Easy Tortellini Soup

1 pkg. frozen cheese tortellini
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 can green beans
1 can corn
1 can Italian style diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs oil
Grated parmesan, optional

In a large soup pot heat oil and saute onions, carrot, celery and crushed garlic.  Add canned vegetables, do not drain them first.  Fill each can with water and pour in with vegetables.  Add spices, stir well and allow to come to a boil.  Add tortellini.  Once soup comes back to the boil allow to simmer 2 to 3 minutes until pasta is tender.  Remove from heat.  Serve with a little parmesan sprinkled on top, if desired.  Makes 8 servings.

Easily a one pot meal with all of the great veggies in it, but you could certainly serve a nice salad alongside.  I often will do that.  There is enough soup here for two meals for the three of us and I usually get a lunch or two for myself as well.  Here is the breakdown:

Frozen cheese tortellini - $2.68
Green beans - 59¢
Corn - 59¢
Tomatoes - 59¢
Onion - 12¢
Carrot, celery 12¢

Grand Total = $4.69

This particular meal I used leftover green beans I had in the refrigerator from another meal so I was able to put the can of beans back in the cupboard.  You could also use frozen vegetables too and just add more water to the pot which would shave off a little bit more if you are looking to be super thrifty.

Good, healthy food doesn't really have to cost a lot.

There was more than enough here for four people or in our case a mom and her two ravenous teenage girls.  In fact everyone had seconds and I still had plenty left over for another meal.

In some cases costs are approximated.  Groceries prices vary depending on where you live.  I don't include condiments, oils, herbs and spices when I figure the cost of a meal as it would be incredibly tedious to do so.  Plus condiments are subjective as each person uses more or less.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Christmas Prep 2017 - Only 11 Months To Go!

It is hard to believe it is already 2017, let alone a whole month now since Christmas!  Time has a tendency to get away from me, I'm afraid, so I try to get right back into the swing of things almost immediately.  What is really nice about doing so is that things are still fresh in my mind.

The first thing I did was to take an inventory of what was left in the gift wrap bin.  This year we ran low on tissue paper and gift wrap.  We completely ran out of tape and only had a few gift tags left.  I waited until Christmas clearance was marked down to 80% OFF and picked up a four roll package of gift wrap and a large package of white tissue paper.  I grabbed a twin pack of Scotch tape at the dollar store.

I printed new gift tags off of my computer using a sheet of address labels I already had in my home office supplies.  One sheet of labels will be plenty and last us for quite awhile. 

I have a list of gift ideas made up already.  Because I make most of my gifts I like to have a plan to work from and organize the tasks I'll need to get everything done.

While shopping for gift wrap I picked up one of those wax warmers and some scented wax that was on clearance for 75% OFF.  It is a darling snowman and will make a lovely gift for a friend of mine.  It feels pretty good to have a gift purchased and someone marked off my list already.

This year I am trying to spend next to nothing on Christmas gifts in order to meet my financial goals.  It will be a bit of a challenge to be sure, but I'm up for it.  I received a coupon in the mail for a free item at Bath & Body Works, no purchase required.  I plan to stop in and pick it up next time I'm in the area and will keep it for a stocking stuffer.

Have you started planning for Christmas already?  When do you get started?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When The Kids Take Over

As most of you know I am recuperating from a lower back strain injury.  For those who suffer with chronic back pain my heart goes out to you.  I can only imagine what living with that kind of discomfort day in and day out must be like.  For me, I know this is only temporary and if I behave myself I'll get past this and be good as new.  I say behave because I am a very impatient patient. 

To make sure I behave the girls took over.  My job has been to take care of myself and manage getting to work and working through each day and fortunately I have been able to successfully do that.  It would seriously mess with our finances if I had to be off work for a prolonged length of time.  The two days I did miss were covered by sick leave, but I didn't want to use up all of that either.  So I've had a lot of incentive to behave.

Homemade Mongolian BBQ

The girls pretty much ran the show.  I think I only washed two small loads of dishes and folded one load of clothes all week.  Other than that they did the rest.

Initially we had quite a bit of food I had prepared ahead in anticipation of a possible ice storm with power outages.  That kept us quite well through that first week.  Then after a week it was time to start preparing meals again.

Chili dogs!  Yum!

Last Monday they made a list and we went to Fred Meyer so they could pick up some stuff to prepare meals.  I pushed the cart and they did the shopping.  They did a fantastic job too.  With $25 they picked out items I would expect them to like chips and frozen pizza, but they also picked out healthy things too like a veggie tray and some mushrooms on markdown, a bunch of bananas and whole wheat hotdog and hamburger buns.  They compared prices and sought out sales.  I was so proud.

Mushroom burger & tater tots.  That was one awesome burger!

Here is what they prepared:

Sunday:  Homemade Mongolian BBQ (stir fried noodles with veggies and shrimp)
Monday:  Frozen pizza and salad
Tuesday:  Chili dogs and chips
Wednesday:  Mushroom burgers and tater tots
Thursday:  Mongolian BBQ (it was that good we needed a repeat!)
Friday:  Grilled Tuna Sandwiches, veggies and dip
Saturday:  Homemade veggie pizzas on whole wheat crust

They put everything away when we got home and I loved how they worked together as a team to decide who was going to prepare certain things.  One day my youngest made the salad and the oldest the main course and then they would switch.  They also took turns washing dishes and putting food away after we ate.  It was really good for them.

Veggie pizza ready for the oven.  My youngest did a great job chopping everything.

By Saturday I was doing much better and able to make pizza dough and help assemble the pizzas.  Everything they prepared was delicious, well rounded and pretty darn nutritious.  I was super proud of them.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

My main focus this past week has been to get myself back and forth to work, make it through work each day and then get home to rest.  Mission accomplished, but it wasn't without helpers.  And I can honestly say, without a doubt, I have the best daughters ever!  And awesome friends too!

I thought this was so sweet.  My youngest with her wounded kitty.

To start out the week we began with a house call from the vet (not so thrifty).  Our thirteen year old yellow tabby apparently slipped on the ice outside and sprained his "ankle".  Pain meds and downtime was the prescription, so he and I spent a lot of time together.

A quick trip to Fred Meyer so the girls could pick up a few things to help them with the cooking.  Unfortunately I don't have a picture of what they got and I wish I did because they did such a good job.

On the way home from work Wednesday I stopped at the bank and made a deposit into my savings account.  Yipeeeeee!

Me and Leonard working on the afghan together

Throughout the week I worked on my granny square afghan and used up quite a bit of leftovers in the zippered storage bag I keep my yarn in.  It is looking fantastic!  

I uploaded the Fred Meyer Friday Freebie to my rewards card - Annie's Mac & Cheese. 

I went to one thrift store Friday evening after dropping my oldest off at a basketball game.  I found pajama patterns for 12¢ apiece (hard to beat that!) and a package of drawer pulls for $1.95.  I thought these pulls would be nice to have for a project I've been thinking about doing.  I think these drawer pulls are rather expensive at the hardware store.  I'm also pretty excited about the patterns.  I plan to make the girls pajamas again for Christmas.

Saturday morning my oldest surprised me and took me out to breakfast.  With her tiny budget and a coupon we dined at Burger King.  It was perfect!

After our breakfast I dropped her off at her robotics workshop.  On the way home I was feeling pretty good so I popped into a thrift store to see what they had.  I found a couple of treasures.  Three brand new skeins of yarn for $3.97.  I see another project in my future.

Two vintage quart jars for 59¢ each.

A couple votive candles 39¢ and 79¢.  A striped blue pillar candle for 99¢ and a cute flower candle holder for 59¢.  I plan to save the blue pillar candle and the flower candle holder to give my oldest as a birthday gift.

I've been looking for quite awhile for a little china dish to use as a soap dish.  I found this pretty one and I think it will be perfect.  I will keep it for my future retirement house.

Ready for the oven

Later that day I played Pinochle with my girl friends.  It was a welcome distraction to be able to sit and visit and play a game we all love.  My youngest helped me make a couple veggie pizzas with whole wheat crust to contribute to our little snackfest.  They were a hit.

That was pretty much it.  How was your thrifty week?

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