Friday, June 29, 2018

My Grocery Budget 2018 - June Update


I have a confession.  I totally bagged on tracking my grocery spending this month.  I got busy, misplaced a couple receipts and it was downhill from there.  What I can tell you is this.  I did a really good job making sure I spent as little as possible for everything I bought this month.  I used a GOB of digital and paper coupons to shave even more off of the totals and there were two weeks out of the four that I didn't do any shopping at all.

Winco haul

But as far as the running total goes.  I have no clue.  This month I paid the bills, blasted my savings goals (Yay!) and used what was leftover to spend on groceries and the non food items we needed like toilet paper, tissues, quart sized food storage bags, trashcan liners, cat food, cat litter, shampoo and dish soap.

Trader Joes

Fred Meyer haul

While I really like knowing, to the penny, everything I spend and on what I spend it on, I had to cut myself some slack this month and not be too hard on myself.  I'm okay with the fact that I did my best and knowing I'll do better next month.

Cash & Carry and Dollar Tree

Lots of good markdown items from Fred's!

So that's where I'm at.  I hope you aren't too disappointed that the usual post isn't going to happen this month.  I know a lot of you really enjoy these posts.  I hope my grocery post earlier this week will make up for it.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

It Has Been A Touch Nuts Around Here

A lot has been going on around here.  And a few things are going to change.  Once the girls were out of school my work schedule ramped up and recently it was looking like my overtime schedule was easily going to carry over into July.  I was fine with it as I could put the overtime pay to good use, but the reality is that by the time we were done my summer would basically be over.  And I haven't had a vacation yet this year.  The girls have band and cheer camp starting in August plus the school district has changed the school schedule for next year in order for the first semester to end before the Christmas break.  This means school is starting a week earlier this year.  The chances of us taking a vacation in August?  Nil.

Earlier this year I shared with you some struggles I was having at work.  I love my job and what I do.  In fact, I'm really good at it.  And I love the company I work for.  There are many, many benefits I have to working there and if I can hang in there I will be able to retire early and retire well.  I know I can hang in there, however when you have to work closely with a miserable human being it takes its toll on a person and I'm exhausted from it.  I am to the point now where I despise this person and that is just not me.  I don't despise people and that is not a healthy way to spend my day.  She isn't going to change, but I can.  So I applied for a transfer and although I will no longer be doing what I enjoyed and was good at I'm going to be doing something else that I know I am good at and I'm quite certain will enjoy as well.  I'm also the only woman on the team and I am really looking forward to that.  I have to admit, I don't do female dramatics well, I lack the patience for it.  It makes me crazy.

My new boss is super excited to have me join his team and we get on great.  He and I have worked a lot together on various projects and have a good rapport.  I also enjoy the guys on his team and they are excited to have me join them too.  I think it is going to be a good transition for me and much less stressful and far less effort than my futile attempts to make things work out at my old position.  I'm willing to bet it will make a really big difference with my overall health situation as well.

In addition to my new position I won't have to work the crazy overtime schedule any longer and will be able to spend that time with my friends and my family.  That to me is worth far more than the overtime pay.  I'd much rather be with my girls, my kitties, my chickens and my home.

So that is the good news that my girls and I went out to dinner to celebrate last Friday evening.  I'm very happy about my new job and my new hours which are 8:00 to 4:30.  Still able to get my girls to their activities plus I'll get a bit more time in the mornings to get my day started and home early enough not to feel rushed to get dinner on the table.  I think I'm really going to love it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Our Latest Grocery Haul - A Week Of Great Deals!

If you've hung around here much you probably already know that my favorite type of shopping is grocery shopping.  For some reason I just love to go to the grocery store, but not to just buy anything.  It has to be good food and a good deal.  And I like to challenge myself by doing this on a really tight budget.  What most families spend in a week I spend in a month.  No joke!

Can you eat well and eat healthy on a budget?  Yes indeed!

Last week I started my Sunday morning off by heading to Cash & Carry, which is a restaurant supply grocery store.  I check their deals online at their website and when I happen upon what I'm looking for at the price I want to pay I head on over and get it.  This time it was lean ground beef on special for $18.88 for a ten pound package.  I've found quite often that those packages usually weigh in closer to eleven pounds than ten too.  I picked up two of those and a 5# bag of grated cheddar cheese for $10.52.  It's just cheese too, no additives or preservatives.  We picked up some sugar free pancake syrup, five heads of Romaine lettuce, Asian seasoning sauces, an aerosol can of whipped cream, a big box of trash can liners (we use those in our litter box), and a big box of quart size freezer bags.

By Saturday I had combed through both the Fred Meyer and Albertson's ads quite thoroughly.  I had gone through all of the digital coupons and offers available and downloaded several to go with items on sale.  I also downloaded the Friday Freebies Fred Meyer offers each week and redeemed some of the rewards points I'd earned at Albertson's to shave $7 OFF any meat I purchased and to receive a free dozen eggs as well.  I had a $5 OFF $50 purchase paper coupon for Albertsons and another paper coupon for a free bag of tortilla chips from Fred Meyer as well as one for 60¢ OFF a bag of cole slaw mix.  Once I had printed out my lists for each store and was all organized my oldest daughter and I were off and running.  She loves to accompany me on these grocery trips and is always amazed and excited at how much we get for as little as we pay.

First stop was Fred Meyer to pick up our Friday Freebies and the items on our list.  I went through the produce section first to pick up the items I wanted that were on sale or markdown.  This trip I found plenty of good salad options from what they had just marked down that morning.  My girls love their chopped salad kits and they are a great way for them to get their veggies and fiber into their diet.

Next was the meat department to pick up a package of ground turkey that was on sale for $2.50 and since I had a digital coupon for $1.50 OFF it made it only $1!  

They had marked down some fairly large packages of pepperoni slices and salami slices for $2.99.  Knowing we'll get plenty of meals out of those I picked up one of each.  Pizza anyone?  And the salami slices with some sliced cheese and crackers will make a nice packed lunch option for the girls.

Two packages of spicy pork sausage for $1.99.

It has been a long time since I bought any breakfast cereal and at least two years I'd guess since I bought the sugary stuff but I treated the girls this trip to some of their old favorites at 99¢ box.  Their Saturday special was five boxes of  cereal and five packages of grated cheese for only 99¢  each.  I picked up the cheese too.

In another markdown bin in the store we came across salad dressing and frosting.  We use this dressing all the time for our salads and my girls use it as a dip.  I picked up four of those and two containers of the frosting so the girls can frost some cupcakes.

After Fred Meyer we were on to Albertson's to pick up some produce on sale there as well as sirloin steaks for $2.77 a pound and boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.68 a pound.

We love their asparagus so I picked up two packages of those for $5.99 (buy one get one free) and grapes for 98¢ a pound.  My youngest loves grapes so she was pretty excited to see those.  I also picked up tomatoes 98¢ a pound, fresh cilantro for 40¢, a cucumber for 40¢, a pound of baby carrots for 95¢ and two bell peppers for 70¢ each.  They also had uncured hotdogs for $1.49 a package, green olives for 69¢ each and seasoning packets for 25¢ each.

They had crackers and these Oreo Thins on sale so I picked up some to put aside for the girl's school lunches.  The Nips and Oreos were 99¢ each and the Club crackers were $1.79 each.

My free items I picked up at both stores included the tortilla chips, a bottle of cranberry juice, a loaf of bread and even a can opener at Fred Meyer.  I got a dozen eggs for free at Albertson's.

It was nice to have all of the coupons too when we checked out at both stores.  At Albertson's they took off an additional $12 ($7 OFF meat purchase & $5 OFF $50 purchase) from the sales prices and other coupons which lowered the total even more.  Plus I earned extra rewards points in addition to the regular points I earned because I spent more than $40.  That means I can redeem those points to shave off more from our next shopping trip.

This is a lot of meat and a lot of produce for us to prepare many healthy and delicious meals in the next couple of weeks.  The meat alone will last us for several months and I won't need to purchase much more of that in the coming months.  It is shopping trips like this that I use to stock us up so we don't have to pay higher prices later on.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Christmas Project #6 - Snowflakes & Stars

Our month has just been crazy enough that the one project I really wanted to do didn't get done yet.  I even have all of my supplies already.  Shameful!

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't get to do this project that I found on Youtube:

 And I this one too:

Check out these two videos and see if this is something you would like to make.  I plan to make these with my girls and as soon as we do I'll be sure and let you all know how they turned out.  I would be interested to see how yours turn out too.  Let me know!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I woke up to rain on Sunday morning and was very happy about it too.  It meant I didn't need to get outside and water the lawn and the garden beds.  Yes!  Instead I climbed into my recliner with a hot cup of coffee and greeted my morning slowly.  I had a big work week ahead of me and I needed to gear myself up for it.  So one less chore to do and a little downtime was much appreciated.

Instead the oldest one and I headed off to Cash & Carry once they were open and picked up a few things we were low on as well as two 10# packages of their 80% lean ground beef that was on for $18.88 each!  At a $1.89 a pound that is a steal!  Plus, their 10# packages usually weigh closer to 11#s so you essentially end up with an extra pound for free.

Our haul after a trip to Cash & Carry and Dollar Tree

My girls are amazing.  They insist we celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day as I perform both of those jobs on a daily basis.  They got me a T-shirt for Father's Day that says "Warning.  Don't touch my tools or my daughter."  Ha, ha!

Monday evening after work I took one of the packages of ground beef and cut it in two.  I put half of it into a big pot and browned it up with a chopped onion and then made beanless chili out of it.  My youngest doesn't care for beans and right now I'm not supposed to eat them so this works really well for both of us.  I keep cooked beans in the freezer so my oldest can add them to her chili anytime she wants.  I put half of the chili into containers and into the freezer for future meals and the remainder was eaten throughout the week.

Big meatballs for the freezer

With the other half of the ground beef I grated up a zucchini, chopped up an onion and added some shredded carrots I had leftover from our salad bar on Saturday.  I mixed it all together with herbs, spices, eggs and Worcestershire and made a bunch of meatballs and a nice sized meat loaf.  I put the meatballs on plates and stuck them in the freezer.  I then placed the meatloaf into a gallon Ziploc bag and put it into the freezer as well.

Tuesday morning I got up and put all of the meatballs into a gallon sized Ziploc bag and then back into the freezer.  I love having these meatballs and a meat loaf already done up and ready for future meals.  Yay!

I worked another extra long day (7am - 8pm) putting in more overtime.  I'm pretty happy about that although I was starting to get pretty tired from all of the long hours.  That being said I am also truly grateful for the change in my health situation as I honestly don't think I would have been able to keep up otherwise.  I was definitely able to pull my own weight.  I am so very thankful for how well I am feeling and doing.

Wednesday after work I got out the other 10# package of ground beef and divided it up into smaller meal sized packages.  I put all of the smaller packages into a two gallon Ziploc bag to keep them contained and better protected from freezer burn.  Then into the freezer they went.

At the beginning of the week our refrigerator was packed
Loads of leftovers sitting on the bottom shelf

We did a little refrigerator clean up and had leftovers for supper that evening and again the next day as well.  Nice to get things used up and not have any food waste.  Plus!  No extra cooking required.

On Friday the girls and I went out to dinner to celebrate a big change in our life, mostly mine, but one that affects us all.  I'll be sharing that news with all of you later in the week so stay tuned for that update.  It is really good news.

I use this app a lot!

When we got home I spent some time carefully planning my next grocery shopping trip and crafting a good list of what I wanted to buy.  I'd been working on it throughout the week and needed to get my plans firmed up and print off my list and make sure I'd downloaded all of my digital coupons.

Saturday proved to be our busiest day of the week.  We got up plenty early and got our day started, first with grocery shopping.  Not that we needed anything, but there were some super sales that I just didn't want to pass up.

My freebies!  The eggs came from Albertson's and the rest was from Fred Meyer

First to Fred Meyer to pick up some sales items there, including cheese for 99¢ per package, and all of the Friday Freebies I'd collected in the last few weeks.

Then to Albertsons to stock up on chicken and steaks that were on sale plus use some digital and paper coupons I had to shave even more off of our bill.  I'm going to go over how I did this a little more in another post so you can get a better idea of how this girl shops.

After I got all of my groceries put away the girls and I hopped in the car to go over and help some friends of ours give their kitchen cabinets the same treatment I did to the cabinets in the motorhome.

This is what we used and they were super happy with how
the cabinets turned out.  They look great!

I picked some milk weeds from my neighbor's yard for my hens.  We fed our kitchen scraps to them last week as well.

We composted onion skins, a banana peel, egg shells and coffee grounds.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, June 22, 2018

An Update On The New Girls (& An Old One)

In the past couple of weeks we've been working on integrating the new chicks with the old hens.  It has been a bit of a bumpy ride as Miss Matilda hasn't been as welcoming as we had hoped.  In fact, she has been downright ornery about it.

We put the two older girls into the big crate in the pen area and allowed the newbies to run around and get used to the new space.  Once they were acclimated and were able to find their way into the coop each night and sleep we let Edith out of the crate and she did fine with them.  she let them know who is boss and then all was well.

The youngsters were wary of the older hen, but after a few days everyone seemed to be pretty much settled in.  Then we let out Matilda and she proved to be a bit of a bully.  Little brat.  So she is now in chicken jail until she can get a better attitude.

She hates it and makes quite a bit of ruckus.  We have moved her away from the coop and out of sight of the others which irritates her to no end.  And, when she gets really worked up she crows like a rooster.  I'm sure my neighbors are thrilled.  This is a new thing she started doing a couple weeks ago.  She is such a brat!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dollar Store Cuisine - Challenge #2

As you may recall, this summer I gave my girls a challenge to create a meal from items purchased at the dollar store for $5 or less.  It has to feed at least two people and be as nutritious as possible.  Spices, oil and salt & pepper are the only things excluded from the $5.  Everything else they use has to be an item you could purchase at Dollar Tree.  They both eagerly accepted.

My youngest was more than ready for the dollar store challenge and came up with a great meal.  She even took her own blog post photos.  She loves pork fried rice and managed to find everything she needed to make this meal at our local Dollar Tree.

First thing she did was to cook up a cup and a half of the rice to make three cups of cooked rice.  She scrambled up four eggs in a bowl and set them aside.  

Then browned up the sausages breaking them into smaller pieces.

Using the rendered fat she added in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and the rice, seasoned it with soy sauce (also available at the dollar store) and stirred it until it was all mixed together and heated through.

Making a well in the center she poured in the eggs and began to scramble them.  One final stir got it all combined and she was ready to serve.  The girls proclaimed this meal not only met the requirements of the challenge, but it was also very tasty. 

This made four good sized servings

They will continue the challenge next month and I will be sure to let you know what they come up with.  I'm excited to find out myself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Four Month Keto Update

I thought I'd give you all a quick update as to where I am at since starting my ketogenic diet back in February.  In a nutshell, I am doing great!

So far I have had only one migraine.  It was a nasty one, lasted for five days and then it was over.  Compared to before when I'd have them every couple of weeks, easily, I am okay with this.  As time goes on I'm told they should be fewer and farther between.  And hopefully not as bad.  Looking forward to that.

My blood work came back and it is perfect!  Glucose levels, cholesterol, hormones, everything!  I'm healthy!  Yipeeee!

My energy level, strength and overall feeling of wellbeing is much improved.  I told my daughter the other day I feel like I did when I was 40.  I'm 53 and I feel ten years younger than I am.  And it shows in so many ways.  I find it easier to get stuff done and run the marathon that is our lives sometimes.  Plus, I'm back in project mode.  I'm not only able, but eager to work on things around here.

I sleep much better.  I've battled insomnia my whole life and I haven't been having issues with that lately.  Also, much to my surprise, it really is helping with my anxiety.  With so much upheaval at work lately, I am truly grateful not to be feeling quite so anxious.  I'm able to employ my coping techniques with much better results.  I can tell I feel calmer and so can my girls.

And, although I did not start keto for weight loss, I have lost weight.  I was told that is a "side effect" of this lifestyle and honestly I had some extra baggage I was packing around with me.  When you don't feel well, you don't move a whole lot and you put on some weight.  It's quite easy to do.  So far I have lost 18 pounds.  Most of my clothes don't really fit anymore and I probably need to take in a few things.  Other clothes I have fit really well.  Will I continue to lose weight?  Probably about ten more pounds.  Once I'm at my ideal weight I won't lose anymore but I'll be able to easily maintain it.  I've battled my weight my entire life so if I don't have to worry about it anymore that will be super.

So in four months I've had some pretty dramatic results.  And I know it will only get better from here.  I'm so glad I decided to give this a try.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday morning was a little different for me as it was one of the rare times when I work on a weekend day.  However, sometimes that is needed and I am happy about the fact that it will be overtime pay, which is truly the only time when I get paid what I am actually worth! Ha!  Plus I was able to work from home so that too was a bonus.

I got up and got started first thing that morning and was able, while waiting for things to load and finish, to fit in my Sunday chores.  I even got the hearth and fireplace spring cleaned!  Whoo hooo!  Once work was finished up at 12:30 I had the rest of my day to myself.

I wasn't much in the mood for meal prepping last week so instead I made two large meals that we could work off most of the week.  I made a 9" X 13" pan of lemon chicken and a 9" X 13" of asparagus and broccoli florets and roasted them in the oven.  I also made up a 9" X 13" pan with a sausage, mushroom, bell pepper and onion egg casserole that I topped with some leftover cheeses I had lying around in the refrigerator.  Both meals made for loads of good leftovers and I was able to use the chicken to top salads with a couple nights as well.  Very easy meal to prepare last week.  Unfortunately I forgot to photograph any of it.

Wednesday the youngest and I picked sour cherries from our next door neighbor's tree.  We picked enough to make a pint of cherry pancake syrup.  Normally I pick more and make jelly too, but we don't need the jelly, as we still have quite a bit in our pantry, so just the syrup this time.  It turned out very nice.

One pint of cherry pancake syrup

I simmered the cherries for about 20 minutes with a little bit of water and mashed them with a potato masher to render out all of their juice.  Then I put this through a sieve to separate the liquid from the solids.  Once that was done I was left with a cup of nice red juice.  I gave the remaining solids to the chickens.  I put the cup of juice into a pan with two cups of sugar and brought it to a boil.  That was it.  Super easy.  Pretty too.

Thursday I made a pan of stuffed bell peppers for dinner.  We had plenty of leftovers for another meal and a couple lunches.

Friday I put in a long day at work and again that meant more overtime.  I worked from 7:00 in the morning until 9:00 that night.  I packed two lunches and plenty of water to take with me, but only needed one as the company provided dinner for us.

When I got home from work my oldest had a BIG surprise for me.  She had bartered cleaning services for a brand new Mr. Coffee coffeemaker.  It is pretty darned fancy and I could tell she was not only excited about it, but really proud of herself.  It has been a long time since we've had an actual coffeemaker in this house.

Isn't is pretty?

Saturday afternoon my girlfriends came over to play pinochle.  Everyone brought stuff and we were able to put together a nice little salad bar.  I had plenty of veggies in the crisper drawer to add so no needed trip to the store.

I did not do any grocery shopping last week.

I made some foaming soap solution for the hand soap dispenser in my bathroom.  I used a tablespoon of shower gel I had and mixed it into a cup of warm water, then poured it into the dispenser.

Plenty of leftovers to keep us going for a few days

We fed our kitchen scraps to the chickens.  I picked dandelion greens and milk weeds for the chickens too.

I composted dryer lint, onion skins, banana peels, avocado skins, egg shells and coffee grounds.  We set out a full recycle bin and a nearly empty trash can at the curb for the weekly pick up.

How was your thrifty week?

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