Menu Planning

I mentioned in yesterday post that I am attempting to participate in two separate but very related challenges this month, No Spend January and Eat from the Pantry. Today I want to share the most important thing that will help us achieve both of these planning. This is actually a two part process, first is making food ahead of time and the second is planning and using the meals.

Part of the time I spent for my three day weekend is cooking ahead. On Saturday, we made 6 batches of pork fried rice using left over BBQ from Christmas.  We ate one of these for dinner on Saturday. On Sunday, we made taco rice and cheeseburger pies. On Monday, we made Salisbury steaks and mashed potatoes. We were able to use pull out raw hamburger from our freezer. Which was very helpful due to the fact we are receiving the cow I purchased in December this week.

The final step in this process is Menu Planning. There is a slight increase in the need for this with attempting to eat out of our pantry.  Here is our plan…

Breakfast–   Saturday- grits, eggs and  bacon . Sunday- Donuts  Monday-Baked Oatmeal  Tuesday-  fried bologna and eggs Wednesday- choices. Thursday-  Choices Friday- Choices.  Saturday- Pancakes Choices include : leftovers, eggs, grits, French toast,, toast or cereal.

Lunch- Zach and Kendall have chicken and stars soup, chicken nuggets, ham and cheese roll up, homemade lunchable and chips w/salsa. I am taking left-overs this week.

Dinner-  Saturday- Lunch- left overs  Dinner- Pork Fried Rice and egg roll.
Sunday- Lunch- Shrimp Gumbo in crockpot (kielbasa and shrimp, both from freezer) Dinner-  left-overs
Monday- Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and fruit
Tuesday- Steaks and salad
Wednesday-  Chicken cacciatore (found in freezer) and pasta
Thursday- Broccoli and cheese soup in crockpot
Friday- Leftovers or pizza.

I did have to make a quick trip to CVS this week for a total of $14.45 out of our grocery budget.

 

Final 5 Things Friday for 2016

  1. Today was my final paycheck of the year. It was nice to sit down and pay out the bills. I also spent some time looking at the budget in addition to trying to get a good idea of where we are financially and where we need to head in the next year.  I am planning to share more on this later this weekend.
  2. We have been able to “earn” around $325 this month between apps on our phone and swagbucks. I realize that December is probably a big month but hope to earn at least $200 a month between Matt and myself.
  3. I get to enjoy a 3 day weekend, for me this is rare, in fact I think that this will not occur again until next Christmas.  We also don’t have any plans to travel, so I have made a list of things I want to accomplish this weekend.
    1. Put away all the Christmas decorations- snow village will stay up until MLK day in January.
    2. Help to build platform for trampoline and get it bolted in place. We also need to come up with a plan to get rid of the old one.
    3. Move the small refrigerator to the building and help remove the cabinets hang above it. This is in anticipation of beginning the next stage in our kitchen remodel which is to build a new buffet and officially make a dining room.
    4. Re-organize the closet in the shower room in hope of starting my “major project of the year.”
  4. I have decided that I need to sort through and get an organizational system going for all the kids pictures, art work and certificates. I have books for pictures of Haley and Amanda but realized yesterday that I have over 10 years of pictures in drawers and cabinets that really need to be addressed. I honestly know this will be a MAJOR undertaking but am going to set it as a goal for the year so I will at least need to address it once a month.
  5. We spent the entire day shopping yesterday, it was loads of fun but exhausting. I really am having a hard time staying focus today so hopefully some extra sleep will help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things Friday

  1. I have just completed the busiest work week all year. I worked eight hours over this week. I am very grateful for this extra income but really do miss seeing my kids each night during the week!
  2. The cow we purchased is currently hanging. It did turn out to be larger than expected but I budgeted enough excess that we still should cover the cost without touching our monthly budget. After much thought and discussion, the way to account for this purchase is by dividing the amount over the first 6 months of 2017.  I will take that amount out of each month’s grocery budget and pay toward our credit card debit.  December provides an extra check for me, initially I planned to use to pay down our debit but this was a deal we could not pass up so instead we purchased meat.  Once the final cost for the cow including processing is paid. I will share what amount will be deducted each month from our budget.
  3. I am planning on doing holiday baking tomorrow. I checked out my baking list and hopefully have purchased everything we need for this fun day. We will make another batch of cookies on Christmas Eve for Santa.
  4. I am finished shopping for the month of December. I will continue to watch sales but unless the item is a need and at the lowest available price, I am going to avoid shopping the rest of the month.
  5. All three of the younger kids will be performing this weekend in our church’s Christmas musical. This should make the weekend go by really really quickly.

 

Saving

This is an awesome time of year to be shopping and I really do enjoy getting some great deals. I am going to share a few of these deals and other suggestions to help you save today as well.

First, if you are shopping on-line be sure you check and use the places that offer cash back. We needed to purchase some new sheet last weekend, so I check out the sales at JCPenny’s. I ended up going through Swagbucks to make the purchase so I was able to grab 3 sets of sheets and 4 shirts for around $115 including shipping. I will also be receiving over 800 swagbucks with no real extra work.

I made some last minute trips out Friday night to Dollar General and even texted Amanda to make a stop for me. The reason a sale on Hot Wheel and Matchbox cars. The sale was Buy 1 and Get 2 free. Which made each of the cars thirty three cent. This is an AMAZING deal that I have scored one time before. I was able to grab 100 cars in three different stores. We hide some of the cars and placed the others in a gift drawer. Zach decided he needed some new cars and offered to purchase them from the gift drawer. I am so glad we got extras. I do have plans to use some of the cars as gifts for my church group in addition to they make cool birthday gifts.

I have also taken advantage of sales online at Bath and Body Works, The Children’s Place and JCPenny’s again this weekend. JCPenny is currently running their black Friday deals on-line which is a huge sale.

Finally, I am using my CVS card to purchase items. Here is a picture of my trip today.
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I used $14 on the gift card leaving me with another $10. I saved $45 or 76% prior to using the gift card. I am so happy to be able to use free money to buy things we all need!

Saving on Saturday-10/08/2016

I did not have a chance to share my Food Lion trip from last week, it was a needed trip but not a fun and exciting trip. It also ended up being my large trip during this sale. I spent a total of $104 and saved $43 or 30%. What I did accomplish on this trip was to grab soups for cooking, such as Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom, in addition to canned beans and fruits. I also grab Kendall’s favorite tomato soup as it was on sale.

Now on to more fun savings.  I did return to CVS this week to grab deodorant and Diet Coke. A nice surprise to start my trip was 2 ECB from quarterly savings. I was able to grab 4 deodorants for Matt and 3 12 packs of Diet Coke for a total of $10.34 saving 74%.

A final trip to Food Lion happened on Thursday night as well. A friend told us about the frozen burritos that are part of the quarter back sale. The original price on the burritos is 2 for$1.  I did not go to my normal store but instead left Lily at cheerleading and went to the store in Welcome. I was only able to find 15 burrito but I grabbed all of these. To get my total up to 40 items, I grabbed 2L sodas, cans of beans and corn.  I  honestly did not have any of this transaction planned but am certain we are stocked up for in our pantry now. The second transaction was much more fun, the reason why it was FREE!

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Food Lion has an additional promotion this week, where if you buy 5 items on there list you automatically receive $5 off. Kelloggs Poptart 12 count boxes are on the list. I purchased 5 boxes for zero.

This has again been a bigger than normal shopping week so I hope the rest of October goes smoothly.

5 Things Friday 10/07/2016-

5thingsfriday-logoREDMost if not all this weeks event are financial!

  1. Several of our monthly bills are lower than expected this month including cable (refund on over tax), water and electric bill.
  2. I purchased an Orchard In A Box. We will be planting when it arrives in November. I am super excited!  We should be harvesting fruit in 3-5 years. This is long range planning for sure but in 5 years we will have 3 teenagers including a boy so I am fairly certain that our food bill will go up instead of down! I did take this expense out of our normal grocery fund.
  3. Zach is growing! I really this morning that we are going to NEED to purchase at least 5 new pair of pants for him. He and I will be heading to the local goodwill tomorrow. If we are not able to find things there it will be a major trip to Winston on Sunday.
  4. I have finished the majority of my Christmas shopping!  I still need to buy my nieces gifts and we will be purchasing pictures for my parents. I am so excited to have this expense out of the way.
  5. In addition to the orchard, we are going to add pavers around the square foot garden in order to make it easier to maintain!  We are using gift cards earned from Lowes and Swagbucks to cover this expense.

5 Things Friday-9/23/2016

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  1. The weather is finally starting to cool off here. This week we went from highs in the 90s to Highs in the low 80s and even some 70s. We decided to turn off our air conditioning on Tuesday night. If we can survive tomorrow, with predicted temps around 85 then we should be good for the rest of the month and hopefully all of October.
  2. I knew this week would be crazy busy but I am exhausted. Monday night we all arrived home around 9pm. Wednesday night is was 8:30pm and Thursday night 9:30pm. Zach’s ball games are an hour earlier this coming week so hopefully that will help.
  3. I am over budget in both groceries and gas but neither are a surprise.
  4. Zach loves baseball. He is actually starting to hit the ball. I am so proud of him for trying his hardest.
  5. My plans for the weekend include getting the October schedule put together and watching television, sounds industrious to me!

Saving On Saturday 9/17/2016

sos We have been taking advantage of some really good deals this week. On Thursday, Moes Southwest Grill  offered a free cup of queso with any purchase. Zach decided that he wanted to share everyone food so we purchased lunch for five of us for $19.65. We even had enough queso left over that I have it warming in my dipper slow cooker to enjoy as part of lunch.

Next, the local grocery store has my absolute favorite sale of the year. This particular sale is running for a month this time with different special each week. For each of the house/store/generic brand item you buy you receive a quarter back to use on your next purchase. Initially this sale ran twice a year in January and June, unfortunately for the last two years it is only running once a year. The reason I LOVE this sale is that it is a perfect chance to stock up on items that normally don’t go on sale.  I have discovered via math calculations that I can purchase bread flour, regular flour, and sugar in bulk at a better rate, so I am leaving those out.  The limits of the sale are, you must buy at least 4 house brand items in one transaction and the limit is 40 per transaction.

Here is a breakdown of how I am shopping this sale.  First I checked the pantry for items that I may need. My goal is to have 12 of most items as I “plan” to fix each dish once a month. I don’t stick to this especially if we like something but it at least gives me a plan.  After making the list, I check my price book and/or Aldi to make sure if I can just purchase regular at Aldi at or below the cost.  Next is to check the sale ad to see which if any of the items are on sale for the week. My plan is to only buy items that are on sale or a best deal to round up to even dollar. The remaining items stay on my list and I will wait till the final week of the sale to purchase unless a better price comes first.

Here are the items and transactions I used this week.
Transaction #1
20 boxes of store brank gelatin (jello)  2/$1
10 boxes of pudding                             $0.72 each
5 packets of Gravy                               2/$1  but they only had 3 so the remaining 2 were $0.72 each
5 packets of Ranch Dip                        $1.09 each
Total out of pocket $26.54 and received $10 off next order

Transaction #2
20 cans of Tuna                               $0.78 each
15 cans of can veggies ( 10 mixed vegatables)  $0.68 eacyh
5 boxes of Tea                               $1.58 each
Total out of pocket $23.97  and Received $10 off next order

Transaction #3- This was things we needed and keeping as close to no out of pocket
2 packet shredded cheese     $2.00 each
Gallon of OJ                           $3.89
Packet of Diet Coke (for IBOTTA deal)  $2.50
Packet of Gravy                  $0.50
Total out of pocket $1.25 and received $1 off next order.

 

Other items that would make good deals if you did not need as much as we do on one item include 2L soda  $0.84 each, packets of Taco and Chill seasoning, and cans of beans for soups and chill.

 

Let me know if this helped.

Best Shopping Trip EVER!

imageOur local grocery store is running a promotion that is unbelievable, especially when coupled with a 3 day only sale. Today I spent probably about an hour looking on line and printing coupons from coupons.com.   I did make two trips only because I wanted to make sure the deal work before grabbing so much. The picture above represents a total of $120.  I spent $ 72.30 cash and received $90 in visa gift cards back. I was paid $18 to bring home these items!

The promotion is worded that you must purchase 5 items in a single transaction to receive a voucher. I broke up each transaction into 5 items. I also was able to find coupons for each of the items above except for the Bagel Bites and soups. The bagel bites were $1.68 a package and the soup. $1.89. Each item was a money maker by itself.

As you can probably tell I am excited. This should definitely help keep our grocery budget in tact this month!

Saving on Saturday 08/06/2016

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This month we are approaching our grocery budget a little bit different. First, our summer is coming to an end. Next week is our final “slow” week of the summer followed by our beach trip. So after looking at our supplies and realizing that we are to back to school days and crazy nights. So the decision was made to go ahead and get things ready for our crazy busy life. We headed to Aldi on Wednesday night to buy some staples and make sure we had can goods. Next it was Costco on Thursday. Fortunately, Costco had an awesome sale on convenience foods and lots of things that make our lunches easy to pack in the mornings.  Zach and I also went to Walmart and grabbed 40 lunchables which were on sale for $1 each. These are awesome for the kids at the beach and also for a special lunch treat.   On Friday, I stopped at CVS to grab the laundry detergent that was on sale. This is a ton of shopping this week but I am vey happy with feeling confident for the first couple of month of fall.

Next is actually getting some things in the freezer for grab and go dinners. Matt picked up 80# of ground beef that we ordered from Zaycon on Friday afternoon.  This is some of the freshest meat we have ever received the date stamped on all the packages is July 23rd, so 2 weeks ago this was a live animal.  We decided to simple put in the freezer 20 pounds or 10 packages to use for things that call for raw meat.  Next we spent five hours, fry up and packaging the rest in one pound containers. These are also for pulling out for taco meat, spaghetti sauce, hamburger helper, sloppy joes, chili and stews or crock pot recipes that call for a pound of ground beef. I estimate this should last us six to nine months. This morning I made a large batch of French toast. The kids and I enjoyed some for breakfast and the rest was frozen to stick in the toaster for a quick easy breakfast.

We have a very full pantry and freezers. I plan to reduce our grocery budget to $100 in September and $300 in October. I may be able to keep it low for the rest of the year depending on how things work out with sales and how much the kids decide to eat.