5 Things Friday- A Day Late

  1. We decided to go strawberry picking with the kids this morning. The local nursery offered BOGO on pick your own strawberries. We picked 4 gallons of strawberries for $18.  I did share some of these with both my mom and Amanda.
  2. After getting home and trying to decide where to put the strawberries, we discovered that our stand up freezer had stopped working. I was able to save milk and about a fourth of what was in the freezer.
  3. I found 3 gallons of half thawed strawberries so I decided to cook with these instead of the fresh one. I did end up flash freezing at least 2 gallons for future use.
  4. I made strawberry lemonade muffins, strawberry cream cheese coffee cake, and a double batch of strawberry jam. They all turned out awesome but my favorite is the strawberry jam.
  5. We will be having a yard sale hopefully next Saturday so this coming week is incredibly busy.

Saving on Saturday-04/09/2016


Today has definitely been a day about saving, really more about saving time than money but they both are pretty important around here. First a little of the background, one of the ways that I have been trying to control our budget and spending this year is with grocery purchases.  We have only spent $1250 for the first three months of the year,   I focused on using the items that we had on hand and we were able to clean out and reorganize a lot of our freezer space.  In March, we used up all of our ground beef, so we need to start replenishing our supplies. On Thursday, Matt and I managed to make a huge grocery trip which included our local “meat market”.  Now back to today, we need to “process” the thirty pounds of ground beef we have purchased. I decided that since the weather outside was cold and windy, I would prefer to spend the day in the kitchen. I am very pleased with the results. Total time spent was approximately 7 hours, but this includes lunch and snacks for the kids as well as clean up and a couple of breaks. We were able to make the following:

3- cheeseburger pies (This are a quick and easy dinner to reheat)
4- Baked Ziti- We are sharing one with our friends for lunch tomorrow and another is already on our summer beach list. The other two will be easy Sunday lunches for this summer.
4 sets of Salisbury steaks- (a little bit more work than the cheeseburger pies but can turn out a dinner in 30 minutes).
20 one pound bags of pre-cooked ground beef. This is one of the easy ways to plan ahead and can be used in everything from spaghetti to Hamburger Helper.
Breakfast casserole for Sunday morning
Mexican rice and sausage dip for snacks and dinner today.

We will need to purchase chicken for delivery in June but otherwise we should be stocked up for the summer.

Did you save today?

Monday Menu Post 3/21/2016

I can’t decide if I was excited or fearful when started pulling out food of the freezers for the next couple of weeks.  We did realize, we only have 1pound of uncooked ground beef.  Fortunately, we still have plenty of pork and quite a bit of chicken left. April will mean that we will need to buy meat to give us a good variety again. We did have to make a couple of changes in our monthly plan for this week but we should still be able to maintain the lower than normal grocery budget for March. I was excited to have time yesterday to re-stock some of our breakfast foods in addition to continuing to use items out of the freezers.

Breakfast–  Saturday-Matt was in charge, bacon biscuits, Sunday- Breakfast burritos with leftovers for the week. Monday- Apple muffins or Banana oatmeal cookies, these will also be leftovers. Thursday morning- Strawberries and cream baked oatmeal.  Other days choices will include toast, grits, leftovers French toast pop-tarts or grits,

Lunch-I was able to get the kids lunches packed for the three days they will be attending school this week. I have some soup that will be my main lunch meal this week.

Dinner-  Saturday- Lunch- Matt was in charge again.   Dinner- Shrimp Alfredo
Sunday- Lunch- Taco Soup.  Dinner- Grilled cheese sandwiches
Monday- Rice Creole
Tuesday-Grilled Chicken, green beans and squash casserole
Wednesday- Eating out for Haley’s Birthday
Thursday- Slow cooker beef and broccoli
Friday- Left-overs

The kids are out of school starting on Friday for an entire weeks so meals should get interesting!

Day in the Life 12/17/2015-Cooking

My unscheduled time at home ends tomorrow, so I decided to spend the day by getting ahead. I have actually enjoyed cooking most of the week, probably because I had the time and energy to do it. With this in mind,  I wanted to go ahead and get ahead start of Christmas preparations as we will have family over for several meals in the next couple of weeks. I had a plan in mind and was able to actually finish everything on my updated list. However before cooking, I clean both the vacuum cleaner and did a quick clean of the floors.

On the  menu plan for today was cowboy beans, so I started by frying a pound of bacon and then browning a pound of hamburger for this. I realized as I was browning the hamburger that I should go ahead and make a pot of chill for baked potatoes next week. I ended up letting the second pound of hamburger sit in the pan to defrost. I also need to cut up onions for the beans. I love my pamper chef dicer but it is hard to clean so I went ahead and chopped up 6 cups of onions instead of the 2 cups I needed for the beans.  I decided to try bacon wrapped appetizers that we saw on Saturday morning. This was definitely a good call as Matt froze a bag so we would have some next weekend as well. They are awesome but time consuming. Next was a corned beef ball that will work as an appetizer for several times.

After checking our supplies, Matt and I decided to head to the local meat shop to make a purchase that should last till at least March. We  have ordered pork from Zaycon but want to add hamburger, cube steak and beef stew to the freezer. We also purchased chicken wings for our annual super bowl party. I was very impressed with our total of $113, which is 18 meals of meat.

I came back home to work on browning and freezing the 20# of ground beef. While this was cooking, I was able to finish up my day with candid pecans which will be a gift and desert on Sunday. I am very proud of the hard work that I put in today but also realize this gets me ahead for the next couple of weeks.

Cooking accomplished:
Cowboy beans ( 4 total meals including today)
14 bags of ground beef
2 appetizers
Candid pecans.

Are you cooking for Christmas?


Monday Menu Plan

We are trying a little something different with our meal planning this week. Instead of assigning a meal to every night and moving things around as needed. I have made a list of 15 meals that we plan to eat prior to our Disney trip. We brought all the ingredients up to make these meals and everything is currently store in the house. This way we can decided the day of what sounds good for dinner as well as use only ingredients we have on hand. In addition to trying this new menu plan approach, I want to really reduce the amount of food we have in our older refrigerators and freezers while we travel.

Breakfast–Pancakes and sausage ball on Saturday, left-over pancakes all week. Sunday- Orange glazed Cinnamon rolls, Monday- Baked oatmeal. Other choices include eggs, sausage, poptarts, grits and toast.

Lunch- We were able to pack all the kids lunches on Sunday. Each chose chicken nuggets for several days, sandwiches are on the menu another day as well. I am planning to make some chicken salad for my lunch as well.

Cheeseburger Pie times 2. We actually ate this for dinner today.
Chicken Enchiladas (planned for Tuesday)
Stuffed Green Pepper soup
Ham bone soup
Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Mexican Rice and cheese Quesada
BBQ Chicken Pizza (lunch on Saturday)
Egg roll in a bowl
Taco Soup (lunch on Sunday and for church dinner on Sunday)
Rice Creole



Monday Menu Plan

We are half way through the month and actually on budget in all areas, as you read yesterday!  This is really the most challenging part of the month for me. We are out of a couple of breakfast foods that are a frequent easy fix and with money left in the budget, I want to just go pick up. But instead we are going to try and use what we have and make sure we stay in budget.  I was out of town last Friday and most of the day Saturday, so things were a little bit different. This week it is back to the usually with an activity every night of the week except Tuesday and our yard sale next Saturday.

Breakfast– French toast, toast with new jelly, yogurt,  cereal, poptarts or grits. Zach has been grabbing applesauce or canned fruit for breakfast as well. Keeping it simple this week!  , Sunday morning- Sausage crescent rolls

Lunch- We are down to our last 3 days of Lunchable this week. Kendall was excited to be able to take chicken nugget two days, Zach decided on a sandwich one day and chicken nuggets one day and Lily has a grab lunch (crackers, fruit, gummies and cheese) with a sandwich the second day.

Dinner– I am trying to stick to my goal of leaving work by 5:30 daily so I can eat with the family most nights.

Saturday- Lunch: leftovers .   Dinner- Pizza Bread-Pop Up

Sunday- Lunch- Taco Soup .  Dinner-Leftovers .

Monday- Grilled Chicken salad (Leftovers make awesome wraps for me for lunch) Pasta Salad
Tuesday- Breakfast- Bacon, Eggs and Biscuits
Wednesday-Pork Chops, stove top stuffing and fruit
Thursday-  Crockpot Beef Roast
Friday- Hamburger Helper.

Sunday Menu Planning and other Random thoughts

I have really enjoy this 4 day break. One of the main things that has happened is that I am finally caught up.  This upcoming week is a relativity slow one for us. Cheerleading is on vacation, so the kids have swim team practice each day and piano on Friday. My work is also slowing down as everyone (all 3 of us) are working this week a regular schedule so I should be able to get home early most days. As I posted earlier, we are growing the stockpile which means lots to choose from when menu planning.

Breakfast-Cereal, Poptarts, grits, toast and breakfast burritos at least one day.

Lunch- Salad (lettuce is already prepared, tomato and cucumbers from garden), sandwiches, hot dogs or left-overs. I am really encouraging Matt and the kids to eat sandwiches or left overs this week so that we can not waste any food.

Dinner– The exciting news here is that I should be able to eat most night with everyone prior to swim practice! First time all summer.

Saturday- Lunch: Potato salad, Mandarin salad, pasta salad, watermelon.   Dinner- Potluck at the pool.

Sunday- Lunch- Leftovers from the week including Chinese, steak or salads from yesterday.  Dinner- Pimento cheese and bacon sandwich on sour dough bread.

Monday- Grilled chicken, sides will be leftovers from the weekend.
Tuesday- Falafel in the crockpot. The plan is to wrap these up and eat at the swim meet.
Wednesday-Salisbury steak, rice and watermelon.
Thursday-  Options include leftovers, shrimp or chicken nachos . (I will make the decision Wednesday night based on what the refrigerator is looking like and my mood.)
Friday- Pork chops, veggie and fruit.

With our garden in full production, the goal is to freeze a small amount each day, eat as much as we want for lunches and not waste any food!


Growing Our Stockpile

My primary area of focus for the month of July is going to be to grow/replenish our stockpile. The only constraint is the $700 food budget.

The rationale behind this decision has several different aspects. First, July should be the month in which our garden produces the most. Next, and more importantly is that we are running low on items that can no longer be neglected. As we made our menu list for the week, we realized that 4 of 7 meals were going to be chicken. Zaycon also notified us this week of a change in the delivery date of our ground beef order, unfortunately this is our week of vacation.

Our first stop was the “local” meat processing plant- Shuler Meats. We ended up purchasing $230 worth of meat. This may seem extremely high but in reality this meat in addition to the chicken we already have will last 3-4 months.  We purchased 30# of ground beef, chicken drumsticks, NY strip Steaks, cube steak, round roast, beef stew and sausage. Looking at the numbers we have enough meat for 47 meals, that is an average of less than $5 a meal or less than $1 a person per meal. Wondering what we did with all this, glad you asked!  We took 20# of the ground beef and fried it up, freezing it in 1# packs for use in many common recipes and for quick meals like tacos and hamburger helper. The other 10# we made into “Salisbury steaks”.

We have also made trips to Aldi, Costco and Food Lion in the last two days as well. Aldi had an awesome deal on blueberries so I have froze several pints of these for future use. I also purchased a couple of bags of dried beans that have been cooked and frozen. Throwing away food is the biggest waste of money in the US, so I ended up steaming and freezing spinach as well as a bag of apples that became fried apples/apple pie filling to prevent their waste.

Out of our garden, we are getting an abundance of cucumbers, I have made several batches of “cucumber relish” and discovered an awesome recipe for “refrigerator pickles” that the kids love so I currently have 3 gallons of these. Tomatoes are one of the easiest items for me, I simple dice and cook we use these for any recipe that calls for diced tomatoes, tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes. I have even been known to add seasoning to these for recipes that call for Italian style tomatoes. I am able to finish and freeze at least one batch ever couple of day.

The final and smallest way, I am growing our stockpile this month is couponing. I am determined to stick to our budget but hope to add a couple of snack foods for future list if the right sale occurs. Do you have any plans to grow your stockpile this summer?

Celebrating Success with Ham!

Today is April 30! I am celebrating the fact that we have maintained our grocery budget at $195 for the month. I will be honest this has been a challenge especially this last two weeks while the list of things we are out of continues to grow! But we did it! I should also include as part of this celebration that $50 of that budget went to purchase plants. These will eventually provide food for us but this month they were just an expense. Today is another busy day with dentist and doctor’s appointments so I was trying to figure out a dinner that would work with the items we still have on hand. We do have food but the problem is using the ingredients that we have together. I am proud to say that not only did I come up with a dinner plan but add a choice for lunch as well.

My parent served ham this past Sunday, we were given the left over ham on the ham bone to use.  I honestly learned how to live cheaply from my mother so of course she would not simply just throw out the left overs.  First I made ham salad, which is one of Matt’s favorite and decided to use the ham bone for soup. I decided to include both these recipes with a couple of changes I made.

Ham Salad:  diced ham(ended up around 3 cups), mayonnaise, red onion( about 1/2 cup), mustard( a generous spat)  and pepper.  Simple easy but very good.

The soup I used the basic recipe from here. But used frozen kidney beans, a can of corn, frozen baby carrots and sautéed the remaining red onion, and finally sprinkled heavily with Mrs Dash.  The soup actually smells really good and I will add a verdict later today!

Sunday Catch Up and Menu Planning

We had an unexpected weekend at home due to our cheer squads not being ready for competition. I am not going to complain because I honestly think that I am more tired tonight than I was on Friday. We definitely have stayed busy this weekend.  I will share a few highlights before our Menu plan for the week.

  • I have completed our taxes for the year. We are going to receive a refund but it is less than half of what we have received in years past. I am very proud and glad of this as it means I am letting the government borrow less of my money interest free!  We are going to use this money as a down payment on a family trip to Disney in November so everyone is excited!
  • Matt finished the required repairs to our new to us van including a new heater/cooling fan in the back. And we have started to make some other repairs that just make it look and feel better. The best news is that so far we have not spent any money on the cosmetic repairs such as ripped seat covers but instead used some supplies from the house. I am pleased to say that at this point, the van looks and runs as good as or even better than we hoped. I am really really enjoying the power sliding door!
  • I have also been able to keep caught up with an online Bible course  that we are taking.

Now on to the menu plan..We were able to stick to the plan last week except for Tuesday and Thursday.   Sonic offered 50 cent corn dogs on Tuesday so we splurged for those.  Because of the cancelled cheerleading competition we did not end up eating out this weekend so actually are way ahead of our low dinning since that eliminated at least one meal out if not two. On Thursday we ended up purchasing a chicken at Costco and using it for dinner on Thursday and a chicken pot pie for lunch today.

Breakfast-  Less choices this week unless I get ambitious toward the end of the week. Choice of  toast, grits, cereal, pop-tarts or Egg/Spinach dish (left-over last Friday). The kids can also request an egg any morning they remember it is available.

Lunch- Both of the girls have picked out and we have packed school lunches for the entire week. I am planning to use my soup at work most days as well.

Dinner-  We are back to activities 4 out of 5 nights this week.
Monday- BBQ Chicken Pizza with sourdough crust.
Tuesday- Beef Stew in the Crockpot. This is one of 2 remaining meals from our bust of a cooking day!
Wednesday-Chicken Enchilada- box mix we purchased several weeks ago.
Thursday-  Cheese Tortellini Soup-new recipe attempt.
Friday- Grilled Chicken
This should allow us enough leftovers to actually only cook on Sunday next weekend.

Finally we are looking forward to our Annual Party next week. It is one of the few times in the year that I just lay food on the table and the kids are allowed to eat what and when they want.  I have purchased everything needed including wings so I hope to keep the cost as low as possible as I am already way over budget for the month.