Thursday Thoughts Food and Finance! 12/14/2017

This has been an extremely busy day but I have a huge feeling of accomplishment!

The first exciting announcement of the day….Kendall will get her braces off February 1st! She has already counted the days until her next  appointment! Along the same line, Lily has an appointment that same day and I anticipate that we will begin with braces for her.

Next a little background. In December of last year, we purchased a 800 pound cow.  We have been enjoying this meat, and have already placed an order for a second cow. Unfortunately, it will most likely be March before we can claim our cow.   Another piece of information is that since September, I have been limiting our food budget and trying to get a good handle and use out of the food we have in storage, this also has been a huge saving for our budget. My initial plan was for a huge grocery trip the first week of December after we returned from Disney.   Then life/ Disney happened, I remembered to pay our Verizon bill during out trip and even told Matt that I had paid it.  But I forgot to record it in our bank account.  So in preparation for the huge trip, I was checking out our account and found the mistake. The good news is that we were not complete broke nor did it cause anything to be over drafted.  So we decided to put our major trip on hold.

Fast forward to today, Matt has significantly increased his hours at Dollar General and he also is designing a new site, so we began the process of restocking our freezer and panty.  Part of our day was spent at the local meat market and we also made a fun trip to Food Lion. I will admit, we still are planning a huge Costco trip this weekend as well. I found frozen turkeys at the meat market at my buy price, so I purchased one for Christmas and a second one for the freezer. We also purchased 20 pounds of ground beef, which has been fried and divided into one pound bags. We also purchased several hens to cook later and chicken wings for our planned Super Bowl Party.

The next stop we will call “Our Christmas trip to Food Lion.” Because of the extra income and the fact that we have been lean for so long, we spent time buying some items that we normal do not purchase or enjoy. Zach was with us and we let him pick out several items.  Even at 8, he is aware of what a sale is and that we usually don’t purchase things unless they are on sale. This is honestly the least plan shopping trip I have made in a long time. I did print and use several coupons from the coupon machine, found some sales that I knew were at or below my price point and then we splurged. We ended up spending $137 at Food Lion and saving $45. I think this is awesome for an unplanned trip.

To end the day, we decided to go to Sonic for the BOGO boneless wings. I was really unsure of how many to buy so I ended up with 48 boneless wings which fed us dinner with Haley. I have lunch for tomorrow at least and Matt has several meal. We will definitely participate again with this deal but spend $10 instead of $20.

Monday Menu Planning 12/11/2017

Menu Planning has taken on a new level and meaning this week. I “forgot” to record the paying of a bill last week. This mistake meant that we were not able to make our huge restocking trip to Costco on Thursday as we had originally planned. Instead, we scaled way back and spent less than $100 to purchase meat and several other items that we were completely out of.  This week, the plan is to shop on Saturday. I know this is not the smartest thing we could do but it will be easier this Saturday as opposed to next Thursday prior to Christmas. This weeks menu plan is simple and uses what we have or were able to purchase last week.

Breakfast- Saturday- Cereal and milk. Sunday-Big Breakfast ( eggs, bacon, grits and toast), Monday thru Thursday Choices or cereal and milk, . Friday- Baked oatmeal-Choices of eggs, fried bologna, grits, French toast or toast.

Saturday- Kids ate at Amanda’s, Matt had Burger King and I had Biscuit King (both Matt and I ended up working) Sunday- Baked Potato Soup in Instapot. I am so excited that this worked and turned out awesome!  Lunch are planned out with a special treat on Thursday of IHOP since everyone has doctor appointments and we have a gift card left over from our trip!

Dinner- Saturday- Chili from crock-pot. Sunday- Burger King (total of $5 after gift card), Monday- Pork Chops with stuffing and green beans. Tuesday- Spaghetti Wednesday- Salisbury Steak, rice and fruit. Thursday- not sure yet but it may just be left-overs. Friday- Church dinner!

Saving on Sunday 11/19/2017

I am so excited for the items I have been able to purchase on sale this week.

I have actually been to CVS twice to grab small gift sets. The set are $4.99 each with $4 in ECB.  I also grabbed some Christmas candy. Total spent this morning $9.29 and total saved was $29.45 or 69%. I also have 8 in ECB to use in the next couple of weeks.

Food Lion is running the best sale on 2 Liters that I have seen in a year. Currently, Coke 2-L are $.89 each with a limit of 10 per transaction.  A total of $9.34 for 10.

I was able to purchase Bath and Body works body wash on Friday for $3.16 a bottle. There was a limit of 15 and I add a coupon to the sale as well. Some of these will be for gifts but most are just mine.

I found earrings on sale at JCPENNY for 75% off and purchase 2 sets for gifts. After that purchase, I received $20 in rewards so Matt shopped to find himself a new work uniform (black pants and black shirt) for $6.32.

Lots of shopping but lots of saving as well.

Monday Menu Planning- 11/13/2017

Aghh  I am so frustrated today because we have been to the grocery store twice today. We are still doing really well on budget but I hate going to the Grocery store. My goal from this point forward until vacation is NOT to visit the store. It may means some interesting meals but twice in one day is the limit.

Breakfast-  Saturday- Breakfast Burrito bowls. Sunday- Cereal and milk, Monday and Tuesday – Cereal and milk, Wednesday- Choices of eggs, fried bologna, grits, French toast or toast. Thursday- Cereal and milk if there is any left.  Friday- Baked oatmeal-probably pumpkin

Lunch-  Saturday- instant Mac and Cheese.  Sunday- Beef stew. The kids have a full week at school and I am eating at work at least once if not twice because they have my favorite sandwich on special.  Kids are eating 2 sandwiches, soup on one day and 2 grab and go days.  I will also take left-overs at least one day this week.

Dinner- Saturday- Pizza using a gift card and 65 cent. Sunday- Oyster Stew, Monday- Hamburger Helper- this use all our ground beef. Tuesday- Chicken soft tacos- using left-over salsa chicken. Wednesday- Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and fruit. Thursday- Steak and baked sweet potatoes. Friday- Spaghetti.

 

Monday Menu Planning 11/06

I have to admit I did not stick to the grocery shopping plan last week. Harris Teeter was running an awesome sale on items that we use and can be store for a long time. I decided it was worth the trip to grab the items. I took my mother for her first trip of couponing with me. I was able to purchase cases (12 packs) of soda for $2.67 each, Hamburger helper (87 cent each) can vegetables (34 cent each) and pasta (67 cent a box).  I can say that I am not over my goal of $150 this month and fully expect to stay on track the rest of the time. You will notice a lot of left-overs on the menu. I don’t want to waste food and I also don’t plan to leave any left-overs in the fridge during our trip.  You will also start to see some “more creative” meal on the list as we are focused on using the food we have here.

Breakfast-Our standard choices now are toast, French toast, eggs/omelets and fried Bologna. Saturday-Omelets Sunday- Big breakfast including eggs, sausage. gravy and grits.  Monday- choices , Tuesday and Wednesday- choices  Thursday- baked oatmeal  and Friday choices.

Lunch- I actually picked up 5 bags of chips during my shopping. We are planning to open these one bag at a time to use for school lunches.   Saturday- sandwiches , Sunday- Taco soup or Stuffed green pepper soup, both left-overs. Kids are having sandwiches, grab and go. I have a salad for Monday Chicken Salad wrap on Wednesday and left-over  on Friday.

Dinner- Saturday- pizza-dills Sunday- chicken nugget biscuits  Monday- Meatloaf muffins, mashed potatoes, green beans and fruit. Tuesday-Chicken nugget parmesan , Wednesday- Breakfast casserole Thursday-cube steak nachos . Friday- steak and baked sweet potatoes.

 

 

Monday Menu Planning 10/30/2017

For the next month, menu planning is one of the most if not the most important thing that I will be doing.  The goal for the month of November is to use what we have, buy only what we need for this month. I do plan a huge Costco trip after we return from our trip. I did make some changes to the plan last week but it actually saved us food! Left-overs instead of steak, so of course I just moved the steak to this week. This weeks plans look different because I am off today (Monday) but will be work on Saturday.

Breakfast-  Our standard choices now are toast, French toast, eggs/omelets and fried Bologna. Saturday-Bacon and pimento cheese biscuits Sunday- cheese grits. Monday- gravy biscuits, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday and Friday choices.

Lunch- Snacks are our biggest concern at this point but at least the kids like popcorn and with Halloween it gave us a couple of extra days.   Saturday- left-overs, Sunday- Taco soup. Kids are having sandwiches, grab and go, chicken and stars soup and wraps. I have a salad for Tuesday, Chicken Salad wrap on Wednesday and left-over  on Friday.

Dinner- Saturday- left-overs Sunday- hot dogs at the church trunk or treat Monday- Country style steak with left-over sides Tuesday- IHOP (gift card and kids get a free pancake) , Wednesday- Chicken stuffing (new recipe in crock-pot), Thursday- left-overs are my bet but I may add something . Friday- steak and baked sweet potatoes.

Definitely need to keep a good handle on using up the left-overs so I may plan on this at least once a week for the next several weeks.

 

Thankful Tuesday Thoughts 10/24/2017

I am reminded today that we start in November next week, so I need to be thankful for even the small things.

First Matt was able to design and create some really cool shirts for our Disney Trip. The best part is that we purchased both the shirts and the vinyl using gift cards earned from Swagbucks so total out of pocket equals ZERO.   IMG_0459 IMG_0460

Next the weather has finally started to feel like fall. In fact we are suppose to receive our first official frost this week. Because I was able to get off work earlier today, we picked the rest of the pepper and pimentos from the garden. I froze 4 cups of green peppers and saved enough for several omelets in the next week. 03AD7F7F-9B54-4174-8399-0994E8BD1729We have been searching for ways to save money. I am thankful to have discovered two. First Matt has been able to arrange Roku boxes in the house so that we have turned in 3 of our cable bill. I am thinking that this should reduce our total cable bill by around $30 a month. The best part is that it will not affect any of our viewing! Next, because we are attempting to eat out of  our freezers and pantry for the last couple months of the year, we are able to clean out and unplug one of our freezers. This will also allow it to be clean really well prior to our purchase of a cow next year.  I am also thinking that after our trip we should be able to turn off a refrigerator as well.  Finally, by watching the weather and opening and closing windows we are currently in our second full week of no heat or air.

Monday Menu Post

To be honest, I am starting to get a little freaked out over here, the pantry and especially the freezers are starting to look empty. Don’t get me wrong, we are not out of food. In fact I sat down today and planned out our meals through the month of November and we have enough to cover that many meals if we use what we have and don’t just give up. So I am trying to make myself more accountable by posting a meal plan in addition to any failures (going out to eat) that occur.

Breakfast- sadly all the cereal has been eating. Our standard choices now are toast, French toast, eggs/omelets and fried Bologna.  Saturday- Omelet with green peppers, onions and cheese. Sunday- Sausage,egg and cheese biscuits. I will say that keeping chopped onions and green peppers make life much easier and quicker in the morning. Monday and Tuesday – choices, Wednesday- Baked oatmeal, Thursday and Friday choices.

Lunch-  I did buy a couple of items to use for lunch this week.  Saturday- McDonalds, Sunday- Wraps and left-overs. Kids are having sandwiches, grab and go, tomato soup and wraps.  I have a salad for Monday, Orange Beef for Tuesday, Chicken Salad wrap on Wednesday and soup on Friday.

Dinner- Saturday- Chicken from Costco, potato salad and slaw from the party Amanda gave last week. Sunday- twice backed potatoes and more left-overs (yes we need to clean out that many) Monday- Steak Fajitas (using beef stew) Tuesday- Taco, Wednesday- Chicken and Broccoli, Thursday- debating between left-overs soup or Breakfast. Friday- steak and baked sweet potatoes.

Now to just stick to the plan!

 

Our Savings Today- 10/21/2017

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In preparation for our trip, we have been taking inventory and making a list of needed items. The goal is that once we start packing, I don’t have to run out in a panic to grab items. A unique challenge is that this trip is actually longer than our normal ones by 3 days. I also have absolute no plans for doing laundry on vacation.  The girls , Kendall and I spent most of the day in Winston- Salem shopping but we manage to maintain some decent savings as well.

But first, I am going to start with Matt’s savings, one of the blogs I regular follow Couponing to Disney, posted yesterday about combining Dollar General digital coupons and Ibotta. Matt was able to purchase 8 20 oz drinks for $10.17 in the store. He came home and submitted the items to Ibotta and with a $5 bonus received back $8 in rebates.  This puts his total out of pocket to $2.17 for 8 drinks or 27 cent each. Total Savings $9.50

The girls and I stopped for lunch between piano and shopping. I used my McDonald’s app to grab 10 chicken nuggets for $2. Because we always carry drinks, our total was $7.91 to feed all three of us. For the sake of fairness I am only count the saving from the app in my grand total.  App savings $1.98

Last week, I received a “rebate/coupon” from a “settlement ” with the Justice company for $30.  I vaguely remember filling out a form online. Lily was able to find 2 bras she liked for a total out of pocket of $1.92 cent. Total Savings 30.00

Our next stop was JC Penny. I will admit to splurging on several items that were not on my “need” list but I am so glad I did. We ended up purchasing 4 bras, 2 dresses (that matched) and a pink pair of converses for Kendall. I saw the person in front of me use a coupon and asked. The sales associate had a coupon for 15% off. I was also able to use a $10 reward coupon that was sent with my new credit card. Total Savings $42.11

During the inventory I realized that I was in need of some items as well. I headed to Lane Bryant where I asked to ring up 2 separate purchases to use a coupon that was sent via text twice.  Total Savings $93.

Kendall requested to go to Walmart to check out the Christmas Ornaments, she has a $25 gift card from her birthday to use for this purpose. I did purchase 5 2-liter Diet Coke.  Total Savings $2.50

Grand total for saving today $179.   Not bad for a Saturday in my book!

Saving on Sunday- 10/15/2017

We are approximately six weeks from our Disney vacation. As you can guess, I am in fully saving mood.  Here are the ways that I have been saving money and or time this weekend.

  • Coupons- I found and printed rare coupons for sodas this weekend, saving a total of $1.50 on the sale price which was a .75 cent savings from the regular price.  I also found coupons for $1 kids meals at Olive Garden. We were able to save $15 dollars just on Amanda’s birthday meal by using these.
  • Apps- I don’t always talk about this but free money is saving money in my book. On Saturday, we headed to Walmart, I was able to earn a $2 gift card while in the store and used it to reduce our total expense.  This month alone with money made from different apps we have purchased 5 T-shirts and 3 Christmas presents. Total saved $60
  • Planning ahead- yes we have another busy week scheduled. In order to save time and money, by not eating out, we plan ahead. I am taking sandwiches to church tonight for Kendall and Zach to eat instead of a quick trip to McDonalds. I have to be at work at least 2 mornings by 8am so I have muffins made in addition to green peppers and onions chopped for eggs to make things quick and simple. I will not be home to eat dinner on Monday night so Matt is bring chicken nuggets to the ball game for Lily and I to eat. I estimate each meal to be $10 so that is $40 saved right there.
  • Waste not/Want Not- It is a deliberate effort for us to use things and not be wasteful. This weekend we were gifted 5 pounds of potatoes and 3 pounds of ground beef.  I honestly was not in the mood to cook and shepherd ‘s pie which would use both of these ingredients does not sound appealing right now. Instead, I used the 5# of potatoes to make mashed potatoes which went right into our freezer for use in the future. Out of the ground beef, I made a pot of chill. This is at least 2 meals if not more for lunches and 2 meals of meatloaf muffins. Peppers of all variety were picked from the garden and cooked or chopped for later use. The three banana left on the cabinet were turned into muffins for breakfast.  I can honestly say that we waste less than 5% of the food that is brought in the house.

How are you saving money?