- Zach and Kendall have Meet the Teacher night today. They will start school on Monday so it will be back to a crazy busy regular routine again. Zach is planning to play baseball and Kendall wants to try a couple of new things at school.
- Lily is almost finished with her first week of school. She has been working for several hours each day this week. She is very excited to continue in the online charter school and even more excited that she is planning to join several clubs this year. Another big thing in her life right now is that she is planning to audition for the youth theater.
- Our garden is nearing the end as well. We ended up pulling up two huge carts of dead plants this week with. We do have several watermelons that are left and peppers but otherwise there is not much happening. I spoke with my neighbor this evening and at least she made me feel much better that her garden did not do very well either especially the tomatoes.
- We completed our back to school shopping trip tonight. I had not been looking forward to the trip so at least it will be easier to start packing lunches and snack now that we are stocked back up.
- Matt and I had a date night Monday. The not so little kids went over and spent the night with Amanda for pizza and a movie. We used an Applebee’s gift card for dinner. After the experience, we had it has solidified our decision not to purchase any more gift cards to Applebee and therefore not returning to that restaurant chain for a very long if ever again. We ended our date night by going to Walmart where we used 2 gift cards from MPlaces and finished earning and use 2 additional gift cards from Shopkicks to buy some cereal.
July- Where did it go….
Debit Reduction: Failure
We broke even for the month. This is an improvement from last month but still not where I want to be.
Blog Post: Fail
I had 12 total blog post for the month. Again an improvement from last month but still not where I want to be.
Days on Treadmill: Zero
Water walking days-7 Getting better……
Groceries- Goal Met! We spent a total of $306.92 for the month of July in groceries! Second month in a row under budget with this and it did include our snack box for the beach trip.
Gas: $450 for the month. This is about $170 over budget which is the cost of annual inspection, tag and taxes on my van.
Earnings: July was an awesome month for earning. Total $285
Swagbucks: $100 for Me, $75 for Matt
MPlaces/Cricket Rewards: $10
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Our county swim meet starts today and goes through tomorrow. Kendall and Zach are both excited to finish up this season.
- Amanda is moving into a house close by. We have been spending a lot of time helping with this.
- 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?
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 money often takes a little time. This Saturday, we spent time doing some things at home that will save us big money later in the week.
First, we spent about 3 hours this morning cleaning and detailing our vans, in addition to my Mother’s car. This was a family project because we all get to enjoy the benefit of a clean better smelling car to ride in. My mother paid the kids for helping with hers so it was definitely a winning situation. I am basing my prices from my local full service car wash. A comparable package is $37 plus tax. I am subtracting $7 that we will spend at a car wash for the exterior wash, total saving of $30 a car times two cars is $60.
Next, our trip to Michigan is coming up very quickly so I did some extra cooking today. The items I cooked will each reduce our need to purchase meals by 2 meals so that is a total saving of $100. Matt has a list of other items that we will be bringing with us that will make this trip even more affordable. I plan to post detail descriptions in addition to total spending and savings once we return.
Matt is working at the coliseum this evening so the kids and I decided to go to a local church which was sponsoring a community day. The kids had lots of fun in the bounce houses and even a horse back ride. They provided a meal of hot dogs and hamburgers. The kids enjoyed 2 snow cones each for desert! Total savings $40.
Savings for today =$200!
As we continue with our busy lives and race into the Summer, meal planning becomes even more important for us. We enjoy spending time at the pool. In fact we spent close to 18 hours at the pool just this 3 day weekend. If we are not diligent about making and sticking to a menu plan, we often end up ordering pizza, picking up fast food or Chinese on the way home. Today was our anniversary, so as a treat we had planned to order pizza, we spent $33 for pizza for our dinner. Even at once a week, that adds an extra $120 a month to our budget, over the course of the summer that is half the cost of the condo we rent at Myrtle Beach, so 4 days at the beach vs. pizza once a week. We have built in a little bit more flexibility this summer as we are beginning to start some harvesting from our garden. I want to use and maximize as much of this food as possible.
Breakfast– Saturday-Pancakes. Matt ended up making a super double patch, which means they will be a choice for breakfast over the next couple of weeks. Sunday- Gray biscuits. (I made extra gravy, to use as dinner or as a choice as well.) Monday-Banana/chocolate chip muffins. Tuesday- Choices Wednesday- French toast in crockpot . Thursday- choices . Friday- Choices. Choices include : fried bologna, eggs, grits, left-overs , toast or cereal.
Lunch- Zach and Kendall have sandwiches, grab and go, and salads. I have a salad packed for Tuesday, chicken salad wrap for Wednesday and leftovers for Friday.
Dinner- Saturday-Lunch- Hot Dog with chili and slaw Dinner- -Pasta salad with chicken
Sunday- Lunch- Roast and sauté squash. Dinner- Leftovers (Zach-hot dog with cheese grits, Kendall-broccoli cheese soup, Lily pancake, Matt- sausage ball, and me egg over grits and gravy.)
Monday- Pizza to celebrate our anniversary
Wednesday- Pork chops with squash and/or carrots
Thursday- ?? Beef and broccoli
Friday- Grilled chicken salad.
After starting this post I realized that I have not posted this since mid March. Opps. So I thought I would give a food update as well. We have used approximately 1/2 of our whole cow. One of the biggest problems right now is not eating beef 5x a week. We are actually starting to run out of vegetables which works out well. I did purchase and freeze 2 gallons of strawberries earlier this month in addition to make jam. We have to finish up out sweet potatoes from last year before September. A final food challenge of the month is our planned trip to Michigan at the end of the month. I need to sit down and make a plan, at least for our travel days, we have already been gathering gift cards that will make it much easier and decrease the overall expense.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!