Monday/Tuesday Menu Planning

I am continuing to try and find ways to love my instant pot. On Friday, I read that you could brown ground beef using frozen meat, so I gave it a try. I will have to say that honestly it was more work than it was worth. I did have success with beef stew on Sunday so at least I can make a new delicious Sunday lunch now.

Our other really good food news of the week is that our garden is continuing to produce, not huge amounts but just enough. I have already frozen what I hope is enough diced tomatoes for the winter. My goal over the next couple of weeks is to collect enough tomatoes to make a batch of spaghetti sauce a week, this means I need to collect 8 pounds of tomatoes. We are also eating tomatoes on a daily basis, if I cant collect the 8 pounds I will continue to freeze half cup packages for the winter. Matt harvest pimentos and made an awesome homemade pimento cheese but my favorite still remains the watermelon we are getting.

Finally in food news, we are continue to plan and eat out of the pantry and freezer, I currently have a meal plan until September but with school starting we may have to make some small changes to this.

Breakfast–   Saturday-Biscuit King-treat before the swim meet.   Sunday- French toast with a freezer stash made as well. Monday-Choice  Tuesday-  Sausage biscuits and gravy  Wednesday- Choices . Thursday- Pancakes .   Friday- Baked Oatmeal with blueberries?.  Choices include : eggs, grits, left-overs , toast or cereal, pop-tarts

Lunch- This week sandwiches and left overs make the list for lunch. No special plans at all.

Dinner-  Saturday-Lunch-Pasta salad . Dinner- -Pizza from gift card
Sunday- Lunch-Beef stew in instapot . Dinner- left-overs
Monday- Hamburger helper and fresh green beans
Tuesday- Taco Tuesday
Wednesday-  Breakfast casserole
Thursday-  Coconut shrimp if I am home.
Friday- Pulled pork and glazed carrots.

Sunday Savings 7/23/2017

This month, my focus has been not only saving money but specifically using up items in our pantry and freezers. Our stockpile runs over and I am starting to find some food that I know would not get used if I don’t force the issue or I had completely forgotten we have.  It sounds strange to say that I am trying to use food we have on hand in addition to freezing items from our garden but this is definitely the case. I have a menu plan in place until the first Thursday of September. This has a lot of wiggle room as I don’t plan until the week of for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. We are starting to run low or completely out of some items that need to be replaced. I am trying to buy only what we are out of. After my purchased today, I am hopeful that we can avoid shopping all together till at least Mid August for even the basics.  Today, I specifically used “free money” to purchase most of the items. I did end of spending a total of $3.50 between CVS and Walmart.

CVS will occasionally send me a survey to complete with the promise of 10 ECB. I was able to complete one of these surveys for the first time in at least six months last week. I checked the sales last week and decide to wait for a better sale. The better sale occurred this week. Today, I picked up: 2-24 packs of water, 2 small tins of Altoids, a can of hair spray, a can of mouse, Irish Spring body wash and Dial hand soap. My total out of pocket was $3.33 with $4.50 in ECB back.  Because the reward was in ECB it does not cover tax so $.43 was actually sales tax. The only “need” on this list was for the waters and body wash.

I earned a $25 Walmart gift card by submitting my driving record on line. Matt used most of this card last week to purchase items that Lily needed to pack for her missions trip. I started the trip with $8.34 left on the card. Last night we discovered that we were completely out of several items, mayonnaise, Worchester sauce and cream cheese.  I did a little bit of research and discovered that I could also purchase a large box of cereal for less than $1.50. I needed to add $1.08 to my gift card in order to purchase all four items however I claimed $1.00 worth of rebates from Ibotta.

I am very excited and proud to be able to purchase the needed item for less than $4.

5 Things Friday 7/21/2017

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  1. I am so excited that our garden has finally started to produce some tomatoes. I have been able to harvest enough to get a basic level of diced tomatoes in the freezer and have made 3 batches of spaghetti sauce. The diced tomatoes are no where near what I consider enough but we are enjoying sandwiches and freezing some for now.
  2. Lily is on her first mission trip. She has been spending the week in Mami Florida. I am so proud of her, even if we all miss her.
  3. Our county swim meet starts today and goes through tomorrow. Kendall and Zach are both excited to finish up this season.
  4. Amanda is moving into a house close by. We have been spending a lot of time helping with this.
  5. I have not been to the grocery store in 2 weeks. I really want to focus on cleaning out the food we have here in addition to saving money. My prediction is that this week is one of the hardest as we begin to run out of our normal easy foods and need to look for things to enjoy. I do have a menu plan that does not require a grocery store trip until after our beach trip. I seriously wonder if we will be able to make it that long?

Monday Menu Plan 7/17/2017

This week is starting out to be a little different than expected. Amanda purchased an electric pressure cooker for my birthday (August 10) and it arrived on Friday. I was so excited to try it out! I started with a “New York ” style cheesecake which was a success and then attempted a roasted chicken on Sunday which was a failure. Hopeful we will be able to use for a second meal this week. I currently have 4 crock pot full of bones and water from the above chicken. My goal is 60 cups of chicken stock in the freezer. Our garden is continuing to provide a small harvest. So far I have been able to freeze 10 1 cup container of tomato sauce and make a batch of spaghetti sauce as well. I also have frozen green peppers!  Finally we are continuing to eat from pantry and freezer. It will start to get interesting as our go to favorite food are starting to run out.

Breakfast–   Saturday-BLT.   Sunday- Biscuit King Monday-Choice  Tuesday-  Sausage omelet  Wednesday- Choices . Thursday- Pancakes .   Friday- Choices.  Choices include : eggs, grits, left-overs , toast or cereal, pop-tarts

Lunch- Zachary is attending a Summer Reading camp that provides daily lunches, Lily is on a mission trip so the rest of us will have sandwiches, salads or left-overs.

Dinner-  Saturday-Lunch-chili. Dinner- -Steaks, baked sweet potato, cheesecake for desert- this meal was just Matt and I.
Sunday- Lunch-Sandwiches for Matt and I, . Dinner- , Deviled eggs, 7-layer salad, ranch potatoes, watermelon and cucumber salad- this meal was suppose to included roasted chicken but it did not cook in the pressure cooker so we ate the sides and call it a night after helping Amanda move.
Monday- Roasted chicken with all the left over sides and glazed carrots.
Tuesday- Spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes
Wednesday-  Chicken enchiladas from remaining roast chicken
Thursday-  I may attempt a beef stew in the crock pot or Pasta salad at the pool after picking Zach up from school.
Friday- Salisbury steak and gravy, rice, watermelon and cucumber salad.

What does your menu plan look like

Saving on Saturday 7/15/2017

I am sitting in a really quiet house, except for the occasional dog bark, it should stay this way for at least the next twelve hours or so. Lily left this morning for a missions trip to Mami Florida, she will not be returning until next Sunday.  This afternoon, Amanda, Haley, Lily and Zach left to camp overnight and play at Sliding Rock NC. We do have an Amanda dog but that is really not a big deal. In the past, we would have taken advantage of the kidless night to go out for dinner most likely a very expensive dinner just because it was two of us instead of five. But not tonight!! We have definitely tighten the budget this month as we enjoyed Michigan in June and have plans for  Myrtle Beach in August and Disney in November.

Tonight, Matt and I saved money by eating at home. Our menu was T-bone steaks (from freezer), baked sweet potatoes (last year’s) and a strawberry cheesecake. I made the cheesecake in my new Instapot that Amanda bought me for my birthday.  We even chilled a bottle of wine from the wine rack to make the meal complete.  The meal cost us zero out of pocket and was honestly one of the best I have eaten in a while.

Monday Menu Planning

Menu Planning for this week looks a little bit different than normal for a couple of reasons. First Zachary and Kendall are attending  Vacation Bible School at a local church that provides dinner each day they attend. Zach is also attending a reading camp where lunch is provided.  The next reason, however, will effect our menu planning for the entire month if not next 3 months. I want to clean out our freezers and pantry.  I will continue to freeze any vegetables we get from the garden that we can not use but at the same time I am going to not buy additional items from the store unless absolutely necessary. For us that looks like milk and eggs with occasional other items thrown in for fun.  We did purchase a whole cow in December which provides beef and we are looking at the idea of purchasing a second one again this year.  On Saturday, Matt and I did some researching into the pantry. I even made a list of what was available in addition to adding some items to the plan for August. I will try and update on how the clean out is going.

Breakfast–   Saturday-French Toast.   Sunday- Sausage Biscuits   Monday-Choice Tuesday-  Fried eggs and Bacon Wednesday- Choices . Thursday- Pancakes .   Friday- Choices.  Choices include : eggs, grits, left-overs , toast or cereal.

Lunch- Matt and the girls will use quick meals, sandwiches or leftovers for this week.   I have a salad packed for Monday, Tuesday- tomato sandwich, Wednesday  and Friday will be leftovers.

Dinner-  Saturday-Lunch- Pasta salad. Dinner- -Coconut shrimp, cheddar broccoli rice and watermelon.
Sunday- Lunch-Chicken pot pie, watermelon and cucumber salad. Dinner- Leftovers
Monday- Leftovers
Tuesday- Pasta salad at Swim meet.
Wednesday-  Remaining left-overs or sandwich
Thursday-  We will most likely eat out because of eye appointments for the kids.
Friday- Salisbury steak and gravy, rice, watermelon and cucumber salad.

5 Things Friday

  1. Our square foot garden is producing just not in the manner we had hoped for. Today, we picked our first watermelon, we have pimentos and a variety of peppers. a few tomatoes and a few cucumbers. I did invest in two additional tomato plants that I hope will provide a second and third harvest of tomatoes to place in our freezer.  I have frozen green peppers so far and we have enjoy cucumbers and tomatoes.
  2. I was able to complete some summer cleaning this week and place 8 totes of yard sale items in the attic.  I also am catching up and reducing the to do list for the summer. The goal is to spend a couple of weekends just relaxing by the pool.
  3. One of the area that got a “clean up ” was our kitchen pantry. I am very determined to reduce our spending on food during the next two months. This will involve a couple of things, using the items we have on hand instead of purchasing anything new. For example, we do not have any red spaghetti sauce but do have 5 cans of Italian style tomatoes. I plan to use those to make a homemade version instead of purchasing more. Next to achieve this goal, meal planning becomes so important. I even started writing plans for August on the calendar in order to use some of the hidden items in the pantry.
  4. Because of my work schedule in addition to Tuesday being the Fourth of July, I honestly feel like I have worked three Mondays this week.
  5. Lily will be leaving on her first ever missions trip next Saturday. This should be an interesting experience to say the least.

Things I Learned This Week

  1. The amount of daylight and the time the sunset changes dramatic if you travel far enough.  In Michigan, I noticed one night that is was 9:15 and still daylight outside. I actually watched a second time to make sure I was not crazy and the sun did not set until 9:45pm.  We were on the far west side of Michigan but still crazy to me that it varies that much.
  2. Driving at night is ALWAYS the quickest and best way to travel even with kids that are “older”.  On the trip to Michigan, we left at midnight and travelled until after 5am,when  we needed gas before making the first stop. On the way, home our longest stretch of driving was from 8:30pm until 11:30pm.
  3. Check the weather prior to travelling and remember to take at least one extra change of clothes. I had everyone pack one pair of long pants and a jacket in our suitcases. The night we left North Carolina, the temperature was 75*, the same day in Michigan the high was 68*.  Our jacket needed to be in the car with us and we could have worn at least one other day of long pants if not two days with warmer clothes. It was also VERY wet in Mackinaw City. My pants were wet and I did not bring another pair to change into.
  4. Mackinaw Island is home to 17 different fudge shops, 2 Butterfly house and has a motorized fire truck and ambulance.
  5.  In Mackinaw City, where we stayed two night, most business are open from April to October only, including Starbucks.
  6. It is fun to just explore and take suggestions. One of my favorite stops this trip was the Soo Locks. We only ended up seeing this because it was raining and I asked on Facebook for suggestions.
  7. The fort on Mackinaw Island was taken by the English in the War of 1812.

June Update

June was certainly not the month I expected it to be. We did not increase our income and we ended up with two major house repairs that have definitely knocked up back a bit with our debit reduction. We still are living very comfortable but July-October are going to mean some serious belt tightening.

Debit Reduction:  Failure
Due to the things stated above we actually have increased our debit by close to $1000 at this point. Ouch

Blog Post: Fail
I had 9 total blog post for the month. I can honestly say that June was an extremely busy month, including 4 afternoons for swim meets and a week long trip to Michigan. I have some very good intentions and plan so I hope to at least hit 15 this month.

Days on Treadmill: Zero
Water walking days-7  In addition to a full day of walking on Mackinaw Island.
I am actually documenting improvement in this year!

Groceries- Goal Met!  We spent a total of $405  for the month of June in groceries! This is a huge win as the past several months have been over budget!

Gas: $355 for the month. This is about $50 over budget but does include our entire trip which was 5 tanks of gas!

Earnings:  June was a positive month in this area as well. I am expecting some changes starting in July but our earning is consistently increasing. Total $220
Swagbucks: $100 for Me, $75 for Matt
MPlaces/Cricket Rewards:  $15
Shopkicks: $5
Ibbotta: 24.75