Thursday, September 8, 2011
Friday: woke up with a plan...A great grocery sale in another small town. This particular little grocery has a great produce counter, wonderful tender Black Angus beef at prices that vie other stores 'plain old generic' beef prices, and a good sale on a couple of favorite snack items. Since the sale ended on Saturday I decided Friday was a good day for my weekly shopping trip. I am tending to shop more weekly and yes, it does save money. I'm averaging about $70/week. Since this falls directly in line with what my budget will now allow, I'm all for continuing the weekly trip!
Thinking in terms of one week instead of two it's surprising how often I'll scratch an item off the list because I simply don't need it that particular week, especially items that aren't on sale. The savings more than covered the gasoline required to drive that extra distance and truly it was not as far away as the place I normally do my bi-weekly grocery shopping.
You know me...while out I must combine errands. I stopped at the car wash to vacuum out the car. I meant to wash it too, but I realized that getting soaking wet with the humidity and spray from the car wash prior to shopping wasn't ideal. I settled for cleaning up the inside only. Judging by the billowing dust on our dirt road, I'm glad I didn't wash! I also carried off trash and filled up the car ($.12/gal cheaper in the next town over even though it's a big name brand).
I skipped eating lunch out that day and came home to make a meal for myself.
Could NOT make up my mind about what to carry for dinner after service on Saturday. I thawed a pound of ground buffalo and thought about this recipe and that and then another. I decided to follow my husband's advice which has proven to be winning advice in the past. When in doubt, skip fancy and make something simply, homey and just plain good. Kid's Favorite Casserole (a sort of take off on Shepherd's Pie) proved to be the perfect recipe. As usual there were no leftovers.
Saturday: There's a man who runs a yard sale the first week of every month. He always has nice furniture pieces and this week was no exception. I saw a chair I really wanted. Budget minded I was not. I wanted that chair and meant to have it! But I was on my way to synagogue, and time was a factor. I promised myself as I bypassed the yard sale that if the chair was there when I came back through town then it was mine. Well it wasn't there, sigh. Not a bad thing mind you. The new budget is snug and there's no room for little extras like lovely chairs no matter how cheap they might be. Budget saved and I'll just wait. Next time we have a little extra cash on hand, I mean to set aside a small amount to put towards yard sale/Goodwill treasures.
Sunday: Lots of work got done this day. I had a 'man for hire' aka Samuel here for the morning. He did quite a few jobs about the place, working steadily for four full hours. When he left he had pretty much demolished my list except for 3 items. Worth every penny of the gasoline money for the trip down to the house.
Dinner is always welcome by the young man. I used just one chicken breast to make enough food for four. How so? By adding vegetables and making Almond Chicken which I served over rice. It was so easy and inexpensive to make. Two stalks celery, 1/2 of a large onion chopped, 2 diced carrots, 1 chicken breast cubed. For a sauce to go over the dish: 1 1/2 cups water, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 3 tbsps sherry, 3 tbsps soy sauce. 1 2ounce pkg of slivered almonds. Samuel and I amused ourselves by naming all the meals we might make from the basic ingredients of chicken, carrots, celery and onions. We came up with Chicken and Rice soup (adding the rice in to the ingredients list) and chicken pot pie (not using the rice) and a Spanish chicken soup that I had in our favorite Mexican restaurant (served with salsa fresca spooned in before serving) and a couple of other dishes. It's good to 'exercise' the brain and think of good inexpensive dishes you can make from basic ingredients. We never got around to chicken stew or chicken and dumplings...
Paint. Paint is the greatest thing for giving a fresh look to items you think you don't like. I spent a lot of time painting on Thursday, painted an item today and plan to paint a few more in the coming days! Every fresh looking surface makes me smile...and keeps at bay that 'I wish I could afford a new ____," feeling.
Monday: Had enough food scraps to feed Trudy...Maddie is less interested in people food, beyond having just a taste. The cat really only likes grits, lol, so none for her either.
Worked on grocery list for several hours. Yes, hours. It was important to make sure I got the very best possible buys for my money. I pulled coupons to match sales and then carefully figured out what items on my list were great buys, and which were just good buys. If I didn't need it right away, I'd mark that item off my list.
Another savings this pay period, we got paid on Friday. I could have shopped Saturday but that would mean 17 days worth of food instead of just 14. Knowing my budget was going to be stretched already, I opted to wait until my usual shopping day.
Tuesday: I prayed before leaving for shopping. Once in the car, I carefully looked over my list and marked off still more items that I felt sure we could get by without having. At each store, when I'd put an item in the cart for which I had a coupon, I'd move the coupon to my wallet right in front of my cash. No forgetting those high value coupons that way!
Just because I'd already marked items off my list didn't mean I had to buy everything left on that list. I marked off a few items while in each store that didn't appear to be as good a buy, had too limited selection to suit our needs or which I determined we just didn't need. I guess you could say when I make out my list I like to have all possibilities on it but I don't lock myself into any items except the necessities.
Wednesday: Made a big pot of Two Rivers Chili. We had plenty for our meal and leftovers enough for two more meals. And to think I halved the recipe! Plans are to can the leftovers using my pressure cooker...but if I fail to do that I'll be sure to freeze.
I discovered I was completely out of chili powder and because I'd promised John chili I had to make good on it. A trip into town was absolutely necessary but I went to the dollar store, not the grocery. Chili powder at the dollar store runs about $.50/jar. I also bought dog food while I was there (it's $2 less per bag there). My dollar store also carries Maybelline, Cover Girl and LOreal makeup lines. It's a good place to buy eye liner if you happen to be out, and I was. I made sure to take my coupons with me and saved several dollars over the great dollar store prices. And yes, I remembered my chili powder while I was in the store.
We dropped off a couple of local bills at the offices in town, avoiding using a stamp to mail them out. I asked permission at one office to pinch a leaf or two off of the coleus outside the door. I was told to go ahead. I brought the piece home and put into water to root.
John wanted macaroni salad. He mentioned it several times saying each time that we'd buy some when we were out..I told him I could make a great salad in minutes and we'd have it for supper last night. I got it made and chilled in under an hour.
I chopped too many onions, celery and bell pepper when I was making the macaroni salad. I put the extra in a jar in the fridge.
I haven't bought sweet treats in over a month. Each week I bake cookies or cake and we have that for our dessert/snacks. No complaints here. Homemade goodies taste so much better than store bought items and we're saving money. It seems the homemade items last longer, because less is more satisfying.
Thursday: Bananas were $.39/pound this week at one grocery. That is the lowest price I've seen in years on bananas. The produce man did say they typically go on sale about every other week for that price. I'll be sure to keep my eye on that store's sales more often. I bought two bunches, choosing one bunch that was a good bit greener than the other. My intention was to make banana pudding (which I did earlier this morning) and to have bananas last us all week long. Looks like my plan is going to work just fine.
I used up 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk making the pudding base for the banana pudding. I decreased the sugar called for by 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup less milk. And yes, I made pudding from scratch. It's easy as can be and tastes so good.
Put two chicken breasts (1 package) on to boil for chicken salad. Discovered after I began to shred the meat that one breast was more than enough for several servings of salad. I set one breast aside to make chicken enchiladas with over the weekend. I also have a quart of flavorful fresh chicken broth to put in the freezer or can.
We've had open windows here for the past three days. Lovely to have cool fresh air breezes blowing through the house. Lovelier still to have no need of more than an hour or two of air conditioning each afternoon.
I am well and truly tired. But the house is looking clean and lovely, there are good things to eat and the rest of the week is going to be a breeze. And that is the thrifty week in my home.