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.

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.

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

 

5 Things Friday

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  1. June is a very promising month with lots of fun planned. The little kids are all on the swim team. We will participate in swim meets on Tuesday afternoons starting the second week in June.
  2. June is also a three paycheck month for me. I get two of these a year. Because I base my budget on two paychecks a month this become extra money. This extra money will be used to help fund our beach trip and other travel plans for the summer.
  3. We will be traveling to Michigan this month with plans to spend a couple of days on Mackinac Island. I really enjoy this trip with Amanda, Haley and Lily (at 9 months) and look forward for the younger guys to experience something totally new and different. Other plans include time spent with Matt’s family and of course Bronner’s.
  4. The Square Foot Garden is slowly starting to produce. This week I was able to harvest snap peas and squash. I am trying something new and “pre-breading” squash for frying. I would like to have 12 packets of frying squash and 12 packs of squash casserole for the freezer.
  5. Matt discovered a major leak in our main water line late last night. We will be repairing it ourselves not so much fun but necessary.

Saturday Savings /Square Foot Gardening

Today was a really exciting day for me… we harvest our first items from our garden, broccoli!

They don’t look very large but they make excellent Mickey ears and we harvest two of our four plants. Just two gave us enough for 2 meals.

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I stockpile for a couple of different reasons, first is savings, second is convenience and third is nutritional. Today, we used up our loaf of sour dough bread that I made on Thursday so I decided to make another batch. I have been putting dates on the items I buy in bulk to determine if I really am saving money. I used the last 6 cups of bread flour that was purchased in March 2016. The savings is broken down this way, $15 for a 25 pound bag which lasted fourteen months. That is $1 a month for not only bread but also pizza dough. Even if the cost of the other ingredients is $1 a week, I am still saving at least $5 a month on bread by making our own.

Today was also the day that we chose to go strawberry picking this year. The kids LOVE this and it actually saves us $3 a gallon to pick our own. We have enjoyed lots and lots of strawberries today in addition to make strawberry jam that will be enjoyed for the next year. We also have frozen a gallon for use in smoothies.

Square Foot Garden 4/29/2017

Spent most of the morning planting. We are trying so different strategies and techniques this year. First I have switched the cucumbers and the watermelon. We reduced the number of tomato plants. Next on the list of changes is to increase the number of pepper plants in addition to adding 2 new varieties.  By mistake I picked up zucchini squash this morning so I just planted. Finally, in the corn bed we are trying planting multiple corn in addition to adding a green bean plant.  I have been spacing out the planting so that hopefully our harvest will be easier to manage and a lot longer as well.

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I found a blueberry bush on clearance for $3 at Walmart this morning so I figured it was worth a shot to see if it would grow. I know it will be at least two year before it should produce anyway. Lily is most excited because she does have blueberries growing on one of the bushes we planted 18 months ago. It is a small harvest but the excitement is that we actually can eat something.

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I purchased a very small mint plant last year. Not only did it survive the winter but it has grown and grown and grown. This section I planted in the cement blocks that are surrounding out compost bin. I also have another section out front that I am trying to thin out and control.

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Lastly for now I wanted to include a picture of our future orchard. This morning as I was going to hang sheets on the line, I saw a “weed” growing in the rubber mulch of the playground. I pulled it up to discover it was actually a pecan tree. We decided to plant to watch it grow. All except one of the trees we planted in November has leaves. The easiest way to count the trees is by the red mulch surrounding, 7 small circles of mulch.

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Random Thoughts

The weather in North Carolina is just about as random as my thoughts and updates. Yesterday, it was 83 degrees and sunny, today 52 degree with rain and wind.

  • We are currently working on fourth week with no heat or air.  I am doubtful that we will make it a full six weeks because of the forecasted temperatures for the end of the week.
  • Our electric and water bill for the month of April are both significantly lower than budget. Our water bill is most likely due to fixing the leak that has been present in the front yard for six month or so. We are also utilizing our rain barrels for planting.The electric bill is from lack of heat or air and diligence in turning off things.
  • The weather has been helpful in some ways. Because it has been so warm, I was able to begin planting a full 3 weeks soon than I expected this year. I have been very cautious but our last possible frost date is April 30th. I currently have planted 14 cucumbers, 5 yellow squash, 15 sweet peppers, 2 banana peppers, 2 jalapeno peppers, 4 broccoli, 2 cabbage. I also have planted 5 asparagus plants for the future. My oregano, mint  and rosemary all survived the winter.  The plant is to finish planting the square foot garden this coming weekend.
  • I seriously did not think our schedule could get more full, but we were unable to attend piano last week because we did not have an hour of spare time.
  • I am spending part of the day cooking ahead for the week. I am scheduled to attend a continuing education class on Friday. The following week, I am working only 2 days as Kendall has field day on Monday and Zach has one of Tuesday.
  • Summer plans are starting to come together. Currently, we are planning a trip to Michigan in June and a trip to the beach in August. Swim team and lots of pool time will also be on the schedule.
  • We are planning a yard sale in mid May. The kids are actually sorting through toys and clothes today to add to the sell pile.
  • Lily has decided to continue in charter school for the next year!  We all agree that this is the right decision!

5 Things Friday 4/7/2017

  1. I have done lots of shopping this week. We did our monthly trip to Costco, I headed into CVS for an awesome deal on shampoo. And so far I have made four trips to Food Lion.  I actually convinced my mother to head to Food Lion tonight and helped her get a great deal on our Easter Ham and drinks.
  2. Spring is here, I am so excited to say that all my plants have survived the winter except for the mosquito bush. I will definitely be replacing it! The trees I planted in the fall have started to bloom as well.  On my kitchen sink, I have sweet potato slits growing in addition to 6 pear tomato plants!
  3. We have been officially without heat or air for the past 14 days. The temperature is suppose to drop in the thirties today. I hope this is the last cold spell and my goal is to keep the heat off as long as possible. It would help the budget if we could lower electric cost to $150 for April and $200 for May.
  4. All three of the little kids are on Spring Break next week.  Lily has decided that she is going to continue with charter school next year. So we have 7 more weeks until the summer.
  5. Kendall and Zach brought home their report cards today. Kendall has straight A and Zach has 3 in all areas except for spelling. Lily received her report card last week and has all A’s as well.  I am so proud of these kiddos!

5 Things Friday 3/17/2017

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  1. We are managing to stay under budget for groceries this month. So far we have spent $86 after our Costco check. My goal is to spend $150 or less for the month.
  2. We have managed to reduce our credit card debt for the third month in a row! The reduction is VERY slow but the fact that we are able to achieve this goal for three month in a row is awesome!
  3. I ordered 16 bags of dirt that arrived last week. The goal for the weekend is to get the dirt spread in the square foot garden and make a planting plan for the year.
  4. We don’t have a cheer competition this week which means I am planning to spend 3 nights at home and going to bed on a regular schedule.
  5. I am definitely ready for Spring, during the past week, the temperature has turn cold again and I am not liking that at all. Give me 60 degree days PLEASE!

 

5 Things Friday 3/3/17

  1. We are all so tired. I thought it was just me until both Zach and Kendall fell asleep on the way home last night. I am hoping that we can all catch  up with a less busy than usual weekend.
  2. I have reduced my hours at work, in hope to achieve that work/life balance that everyone is talking about. So far so good as I was able to work just half a day today!  It is amazing how much better I feel!
  3. I am starting to feel as normal as I think I ever will. We have slowly worked on getting things back on a schedule. I was even able to ask and got approval for my days off through next November at work. I still need to locate a place to stay on part of our trip to Michigan but at least we are definitely going.
  4. The weather has been really warm and I definitely can feel the spring fever starting for me this means starting to plan for my garden. I am really excited that mint, rosemary and oregano survived and will not need to be purchased. I am really hopeful that the dill will return as well. Beside purchasing plants the only expense we will have this year is the purchase of dirt.
  5. Zach face seems to be healing. We will really be able to tell on Monday night when we remove the glue.  I am working to prevent infection and so far it has not appeared.