Monday, November 30, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Our Thanksgiving Day table

I had lunch and played pinochle with my girlfriends Sunday afternoon.  We usually each bring something so this time I made a fresh tossed green salad to take.  We had a wonderful time visiting and playing cards.

I did our grocery shopping on Tuesday and fortunately I didn’t need much.  I waited to go until quite late as the stores were crowded with shoppers getting their Thanksgiving Day groceries.  I picked up two packages of cream cheese, a tub of sour cream and a tub of cottage cheese for 99¢ each with a store coupon.  I also picked up lettuce, 2 cans of olives and three bags of chips.  I had a coupon for the chips.  Total spent $12.19!

I polished my work shoes and sprayed them with leather spray to protect them from the elements now that the snowy weather has arrived.

A friend gave us a loaf of pumpkin bread for the chickens she had made that was doughy in the center.  They really enjoyed their Thanksgiving day treat.  We also gave them a special salad I made up for them and some stale tortilla chips.  They had quite a feast.


I baked a loaf of homemade French bread and a loaf of whole wheat bread.

Friday we went to our friends house to watch the Boise State /San Jose State football game.  I took ingredients to make egg rolls and some home brewed beer to share.

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving Day leftovers on Saturday.

I put on a big pot of beans to cook so I could make a batch of delicious homemade refried beans.  I put up four containers to freeze and then set aside enough to make up some beef and bean burritos to keep in the freezer for quick meals on days when our schedule gets tight.

These are the beans I purchased at the dollar store

I washed out a one gallon Ziploc bag to reuse.  I rinsed out an empty dish soap bottle and the residue that had accumulated on the cap giving me plenty of soapy water to wash a large load of dishes.  I also rinsed out the laundry detergent bottle adding that to the little bit of soap left which was enough to do a load of laundry.

I took my old computer, which is almost six years old, and desk upstairs to my youngest's bedroom and set it up for her.  I ran updates (it took forever) and got the internet on it so she now has full access to everything she needs to get her school work done.  Now she doesn't have to borrow her sister's or my laptop to do her homework.  She can also play her favorite games.

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, onion skins and trimmings, garlic skins and egg shells.

I sold one dozen eggs.  Despite the recent cold snap the chickens still blessed us with 11 eggs.  We currently have 2 1/2 dozen eggs in the fridge.  Not too shabby.

How thrifty were you last week?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Grocery Budget Update - October

Once again  I concentrated my grocery dollars on fresh produce, some dairy and a few loss leader items which I stocked up on.  My deficit at the beginning of the month was $204.97 and is now sitting at $177.51.  Little bit, by little bit I keep chipping away at it.

Our nonfood items came in a at $40.25.  I try to keep this under $25 and most months I'm well under so I don't mind going over this time.  I bought two 16# bags of cat food on sale for $8.99 each and I didn't want to miss out on that great buy.  I also bought fabric softener, face wash for the girls, shampoo and conditioner for all of us and 36 rolls of toilet paper on sale for $10.

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

Milk - 1 gal
Store Coupon
Sunny D
Weiners (3)
Egg roll wrappers
Bell pepper
Spaghetti (2)
Cole slaw mix
Spinach (2)
Green onions (2)
Clam chowder (4)
Canned fruit
Tortilla chips
Hot Mustard
Beef roast
Customer Appreciation
Store Coupon
Customer Appreciation
Store Coupon
Ice cream (3)
Cole slaw mix (2)
Lettuce (2)
Peanut butter (4)
Store Coupon
Yogurt (20)
Baking chips (2)
Tortillas (2)
Ice cream (3)
Chocolate stars
Milk - 1 gal
Vegetable tray
 $         97.54

$97.54 ÷ 30 days ÷3 people = $1.08 per person per day!

How did you do preparing for Thanksgiving?  Were you able to find some good sales and stock up on anything?

This budget month runs from 10/20/15 through 11/20/15.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you a day filled with good food, family & friends
and many blessings to be counted.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Only One More Month Until Christmas

I cannot believe Christmas is seriously only one month away and tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I am really ready for the holidays this year.  Probably more so than ever before.  My goals is to have my shopping and gifts done by Thanksgiving.  Well, I'm close.  I should be done by the end of the long weekend.  I have a few more things to order and one more gift to make.

Over the coming weekend I plan to put the final touches on our annual letter and print the out and my Christmas cards.  I've already designed them on my computer and there is an extra color cartridge for the printer just in case.  Last month I even bought the stamps.  Once the cards and letters are printed I'll fold them and address the envelopes.  I'll make some return address labels to put on the envelopes too.  They'll be ready for mailing in no time.

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner menus are planned out and I'll be making a final list of items to pick up at the store.  I plan to get those things when I do my regular grocery shopping.  Praying for a good buy on rib eyes or a rib roast.

Our goodie list is also complete and I've done very well in filling our pantry with plenty of baking essentials.  Thanks to a number of great finds at the dollar store I was able to get a lot of what I needed for a fraction of the cost.

I'll be finishing up wrapping gifts in the next couple of weeks and then it will be time to put up the tree.  I'll poke around for a few more stocking stuffers as the date draws near.

Mostly I am looking forward to a lot of quality time spent with family and friends.  Baking, watching Christmas movies, visiting, playing games, listening to music and enjoying the season to its fullest  Of course there will be Horse Doover Night to look forward to.

Are you ready for Christmas or are you just getting started?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Dollar Store Finds

Because I've been a bit lacking in my postings lately you are getting two today!  How about that?!

After our big yard clean up Saturday morning we cleaned ourselves up and headed out to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  Since both girls birthdays are three days apart they get to take turns each year and pick a restaurant to go out to for a nice birthday lunch with Mom.  It was really nice.  On the way home we stopped at the dollar store to pick up a few things we were running low on.

I was super excited to see they had two pound bags of pinto beans.  Usually they only have one pound bags.  I bought four of those and a one pound bag of black beans.  I also saw they had a small bottle of corn syrup.  About the only thing I really use it in is 7 Minute Frosting and since I'm out of it this was the perfect size to add to the pantry.  Now I can make that frosting.

I also bought more coconut milk for Thai Soup, cute birthday candles for the youngest's ice cream cake, tea lights and candles, as well as a tube of toothpaste and some more bath soap.  A huge bottle of their cheapy dish soap is what I use to refill all of our hand soap dispensers and I grabbed one of those to replace the one I emptied last week.  We like the way it smells and it doesn't dry out our hands, so why not?

While shopping we came across these darling paintable Christmas ornaments.  I thought they would be a nice project for the girls to work on one day this week while they are home from school.  The youngest found these Christmas socks too.

There was a handful of other things that got put away before I got out the camera like three boxes of food storage bags, a 72 ct. package of bobby pins, a tube of mascara, and some facial cleanser.

My vintage half gallon canning jars refilled.

Not a bad haul, I think.

Garden Clean Up & Winter Prep

Frost bitten pepper plants

Normally by now we have already done the big garden clean up and prepped everything for winter.  But until a week ago our garden was still going strong and the leaves were still on the trees.  Now the leaves are falling to the ground and a couple good frosty mornings have finished off the garden for the year.

The chickies were so helpful in getting the tomato plants pulled.

In anticipation of the coming frost we had already come out and picked all the green tomatoes as well as any peppers that were ready.  Then it was time to get busy and put the garden beds to rest for the winter.

After removing the spent plants and tomato cages we raked up a nice pile of leaves to mulch the beds with.

The yard debris we used in the fire pot to help us stay warm while we worked.

The chickens were really happy to get some yard time with us.  While they roamed I raked out the pen area and fresh bedding went into the nests too while the old stuff went under the roost to collect droppings.

Over the next few weeks we'll continue to tackle the leaves as they fall from the trees and get them loaded into the trash bin each week for pickup.  Hopefully before the snow comes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I started out on Sunday completely exhausted.  Too much activity the week before wore me out so rather than push myself to the point of making myself sick I gave in (not something I do well) and took some time for myself.  I stayed in my pajamas, read a book and even took a nap in the afternoon.  It was exactly what I needed to rejuvenate me for another full week ahead.

Monday I took the youngest to Honor Orchestra, the oldest to a meeting at the university and then stopped at the library to return books and check out new ones.  Then the grocery store on the way home for bread and milk.  I ended up eating a tuna sandwich for supper in the truck on the way to the meeting.

Tuesday it was back to the university for my oldest to attend her engineering workshop.  The youngest and I hung out at the Student Union Building and waited for her.  We watched a couple shows on my laptop for free.

A friend of mine was kind enough to give me a really nice 9" X 13" Pyrex baking dish.  She is thinning down her kitchen and decided to pass it along.  I was thrilled because after our big purge I was actually thinking I really missed our extra pan and wished I still had it.  Sometimes I could really use two.

I shopped for bread, milk, lettuce and a half gallon of ice cream (oldest's birthday) this week.  We are still enjoying tomatoes from the garden as the green ones we picked have been ripening.

I washed out a two gallon Ziploc bag to reuse and a cute jar that had hot fudge sauce in it.

After refilling the hand soap dispenser at the kitchen sink with the dollar store dish soap I like to use I rinsed out the empty bottle and used that to wash a few dishes.

I mended my youngest's bathrobe.

We fed the chickens lots of really good kitchen scraps and some stale hamburger buns.  In return they gave us two eggs every day.  I also composted coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells.

I sold two dozen eggs.  We almost have enough saved for a new bag of scratch grains.

I trimmed my bangs.

We took our glass in for recycling.

I stopped at the dollar store to get some items we were low on.

My youngest ordered a slice of this - Reese's Cheesecake
On a not so thrifty note I took my girls to Cheesecake Factory for lunch to celebrate their birthdays.  I was sooooo expensive.  We don't do it very often, but still….  Yikes!

How thrifty were you last week?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I Cleared The Paper Clutter

Papers drive me crazy!  Especially when they are in stacks all over the house.  Between work, two girls bring stuff home from school and the colossal amount of junk mail we get in the mail this time of year it was rapidly taking over the house.

Normally, I manage to take care of paper as it comes into the house.  However, lately our schedule has been so hectic I've neglected to keep up on it and it was really piling up.  On Sunday I'd had enough.

I walked through the entire house and collected every bit of paper that strewn throughout the house.  Unbelievable, to me, it was everywhere!  On top of the dryer, my desk, the bread machine, next my recliner, you name it I found it.

I piled it all on top of the dining room table then began the laborious task of ruthless sorting.  I had three piles when I was done - File Or Deal With - Trash - Shred. 

Trash was easy.  File and Deal With took a little longer but I got through it in a decent amount of time.  I celebrated by taking Shred and a match out to the fire pot and making it into ash for the compost bin.  It was the best hour I spent that day.

Now all the paperwork that needed to be filled out, signed and submitted is finished.  There are no more piles around the house, and our shreddables have been disposed of so they don't end up in the wrong hands and the clutter is gone so things look much neater.  All I have to do is stay on top of it so I don’t end up with another mess to deal with.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Internet Service

Six months ago our internet carrier, Clearwire, notified us that they had been bought out by Sprint and gave me a number to call to continue our service with them.  I contacted Sprint only to find out they do not plan to provide the same service, however they were happy to sell me a cell phone plan and then I could add data - blah, blah, blah.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

We use a lot of data, especially since we don't have any TV services, so it was important to me to find an unlimited data plan to accommodate our family's needs.  I spent a lot of time researching options only to find that those options are relatively few in our area.  We rode out the end of our time with Clearwire and switched back to Century Link last week.

It worked out well for us in that we are actually going to save a few dollars on our monthly fees even though I decided to lease the router this time.  Usually I prefer to purchase outright, but because technology changes so rapidly devices are quick to become obsolete.  I currently own a router that is of no use to us because of this.  After doing the math it ended up costing about the same and if it breaks or needs to be upgraded I'm covered.  With a purchase I'd have to pay for an replacement or upgrade.

So we are up and running once again on the worldwide web, saving a couple of dollars each month in the process.  We continue to watch TV and movies online and are still contemplating a Netflix subscription.  We also continue with our pay as we go cell phone plan.

Have any of you shopped around for internet service lately?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Another crazy busy week at our house.  I am now one of those moms that spends her time shuttling her children to their various activities and waiting for them to get done.  To make wise use of my time I took my laptop with me and a book so I could read, write, pay bills, organize, plan, shop, etc.

I am trying to conserve fuel as much as possible now that we are going places more often by combining those trips with errands.  On the way home one evening I stopped at Albertson's to pick up a few stock up items.  I bought three 12 packs of toilet paper for $10, four 16 oz. jars of peanut butter for $1.29 each, 20 containers of yogurt for 25¢ each and two bags of baking chips for $1.99 each to add to my holiday baking stash.  I also found some spicy sausage in the markdown bin for $1.  My youngest loves that stuff.

On the way home Friday I stopped at Fred Meyer for some fresh lettuce and a bottle of wine for dinner on Saturday as we had guests.  I made chicken enchiladas and a Jello Poke Cake from stuff I already had on hand.

I fed the chickens some stale hotdog buns and our kitchen scraps.  Right now they are molting and laying only one or two eggs a day.

We picked more tomatoes from the garden and a pepper.  I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells and banana peels.

I ordered more gifts from Amazon for my daughter's upcoming birthdays. 

How thrifty was your week?

Friday, November 13, 2015

What A Week Of Meal Prep Looks Like For Our Thrifty Family

I thought I'd start doing some regular posts, not every week but often, on how I prepare meals for my family and stretch not only our food dollars but our food as well to maximize our budget.  With a little creativity I am always amazed at how much I can do with our meals and keep it tasty as well as interesting.

I like to start out the week by preparing a really nice meal for the family and I will usually include a dessert.

Sunday Dinner

Garden Salad
Chocolate Ice Cream

I bought the sausages on sale for $2.99, the pepper was 99¢ and the canned tomatoes were on sale for 48¢.  I already had the onion (15¢) and it was big so I only used half of it.  The pasta was on sale and also I used a coupon which made it only 70¢.  Total spent = $4.61.

I used half a large bag of lettuce mix ($1.69), a half can of olives (50¢) and tomatoes from our garden to make the salad.  Total spent = $1.35.

The ice cream was leftover but originally only $1.79.

After we ate I chopped up the two leftover sausages from our Sunday dinner.  I took the leftover veggies and chopped sausage, added a can of pasta sauce I bought on sale (68¢) and mixed it all together.  I did this when I cleaned up that evening after dinner.

Monday - Chicken Quesadillas & Garden Salad

I made our Monday night chicken quesadillas using up some cooked chicken I had left over in the refrigerator.  I absolutely hate when meat gets wasted so I was happy to see it get used up.  Cheese ($1) from the freezer stash and 8 tortillas from a 10 ct. package bought on sale ($1.10).  We finished the leftover salad from the night before.  Total spent = $2.20.

            Tuesday - Pasta & Meat Sauce, Spinach Salad

On Tuesday all I had to do when I got home from work was reheat the sauce (.68) and boil up some new pasta (70¢).  I used 1/3 of a bag of spinach I had bought on sale for $1.38, two mushrooms (35¢), the other half a can of olives (99¢) and some leftover dried cranberries (25¢).  Total spent = $2.93.

            Wednesday - Chinese Chicken & Cabbage

This is pretty much a one pot meal and super easy to toss together.    I begin by preparing 1 1/2 cups of rice (37¢) and defrosting two chicken breast halves (1 lb.) I bought on sale ($1.66).

I used the other half of the onion (15¢)  from Sunday and some condiments I already had on hand along with a bag of coleslaw mix ($1.29).  Total spent = $3.47.

            Thursday - Egg Scramble, Toasted Bagels & Fruit

 I like to toss in a really frugal meal about once a week or so to make things stretch a bit more.  Plus we happen to really love eggs or some kind of breakfast for supper.  Since our chickens are completely self-sufficient right now our eggs are pretty much free.  

 I prepared two eggs for each of us with some bell pepper from our garden and a thick slice of onion I chopped and sautéed with some of our rendered bacon fat.  

I prepared two eggs for each of us with some bell pepper from our garden and a thick slice of onion I chopped and sautéed with some of our rendered bacon fat.  I topped the eggs with a small handful of cheddar cheese (25¢)  I toasted three large bagel halves (25¢) to go with the eggs and also served 2/3 of a jumbo can of peaches (75¢) I had bought on sale.  Total spent = $1.25.

Friday - Leftover Chinese Chicken & Cabbage

We reheated our leftovers for a quick supper.  We also had some leftover pasta to finish up as well as some salad.  A mini buffet.  Total spent = $0.00.

Saturday - Minestrone Soup, Bread Sticks, Garden Salad

I made the soup using leftover veggies and kidney beans (25¢) I pulled from the freezer a can of tomato sauce (50¢) and diced tomatoes (48¢) I purchased on sale, a small package of pasta (33¢) and spices from the cabinet.  I used my pizza dough recipe to make homemade breadsticks to go with (50¢) and a salad using up the last of the spinach (46¢), tomatoes from our garden, and two mushrooms (35¢).  Total spent = $2.37.

This is just one week of meals, dinners only, and admittedly these are pretty inexpensive.  Some of our meals cost more and some cost less, but it all evens out over the course of the month and we manage to enjoy some delicious and healthy meals while staying within budget.  I did not include the cost of condiments, spices or beverages as it would've been tedious and overwhelming to try and track every penny on those items.  Other than milk we usually just drink water with dinner.

It is also important to note that we had plenty of leftovers to make several lunches throughout the week.  The soup was served again on Monday with a fresh salad and leftover breadsticks and there was also enough for one lunch.

Meal planning around what is already on hand in the pantry and freezer as well as managing leftovers so we don't waste food helps us immensely to reduce our overall expense.  I try to buy almost all of our groceries on sale or from the markdown bins and use coupons whenever possible to save that much more.

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