July in Review

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
Mileup: $100

Thursday Thoughts – Electric Pressure Cooker

I was so excited and pleased when Amanda purchased me a electric pressure cooker for my birthday and even let me start playing with it early.  I have been watching for about a year and it was on my list of things I wanted but could not justify.  I was planning to LOVE it!  But I have waited a full two weeks before writing this post because I really don’t love it.  I am not even sure I like it.  I am also thinking that once I learn this appliance and find the right uses for it I will LOVE it.  For the present here are some things I have learned.

  • When reading a recipe I really wish that it would say, Allow 30 minutes to pressurize.  This is major reason that I am not in love with it. I have been searching out recipes and reading where it says Cook for 15 minutes. So my brain says ok I can make this in less than an hour. Nope hold up, I need to add 30 minutes to my time in order for the pot to pressurize.
  • BBQ Chicken legs  will be the bomb. I even cooked chicken wings today without unthawing so this will be a great thing to remember when I have not laid out meat to unthaw and need a good meal in an hour.
  • Cheesecake is the bomb in the pressure cooker. I can’t wait to try this desert again.
  • Sunday Soups are going to be much easier especially beef stew. I made a trial run on Sunday and it was easy and really good!
  • Frozen ground beef is easier to unthaw and fry in large batches or even small batches and makes less of a mess than trying to use the electric pressure cooker.

I guess in the end, I prefer my Crock pot for the ease, clean up and convenience.

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.

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.

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

 

Saving on Saturday 6/17/2017

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!