Friday, October 25, 2013

A Year of Savings: 2013





Oct. 19:  Synagogue for us this day.  We took a slight shortcut on our way to and shaved off about 8 minutes of time.  It won't save us bundles of money but all those 'little' sums add up to sizable portions.

On our way home, John wanted to stop at a music center to pick up some necessary items. He paid for these out of his pocket.  I'd told him our funds were 'done' for this pay period.  That's how we work things.  Necessities we'll purchase from our household accounts but only if we're out of allowance.

Came home to make dinner: savings $10.  I'm excluding the cost of the frozen pizza I purchased.  I 'dressed up' the pizza with leftover hamburger meat, some cooked onion and mushrooms.  

Got a call from the flea market in late afternoon.  I had a higher priced album in my booth and an offer was made for about half the price. I made a counter offer which was accepted and sold that item and one other.  It was welcome news after my disappointment Friday to find I'd sold nothing in three weeks time.  I didn't get full asking price for the item but I will have rent money paid for November and a bit over.  


Oct 20:  Made pancakes from scratch.  I made a half recipe but still had more batter than I needed.  I put the leftover batter in the fridge.  I'll add apples or pumpkin to it later in the week and have pancakes again.  Savings: $1.

Made a very nice dinner.  The Cornish Hens were larger than I realized.  We ate only 1/2 each, so I had a whole hen leftover. I packed up the leftover bird, pilaf and broccoli in a covered container and froze it for a future thaw and heat meal.  Savings $3.

After dinner, I decided the five oranges we had left just weren't going to get eaten.  I've been looking at them for a full week.  I  decided to pare, section and freeze.  There was enough orange segments for a family sized portion of Ambrosia.  I froze them in a quart yogurt container.  Savings $2.

No air conditioner all day long. Just wide open windows.  Lovely!  

Oct. 21:  One of 'those' days when nothing seems to suit me.  I realized a lot of what displeases me is well within my realm of control.

Clearing up is the best way to make things look better even if you haven't the money to do all you'd like to improve a space.  Clutter robs a space of beauty, whether it's indoors or out.  I cleared the front porch of a bunch of junk and gave it a good sweeping.  I straightened out a messy drawer that was frustrating me because it was too full, and for good measure I tackled a few other tasks I've postponed for too long.  Apparently the cure for one of 'those' days for me is productivity!  Costs me nothing and generates a feeling of well being.

While in the kitchen this morning, I made our dinner, cooked the chicken for sandwiches and a casserole, shredded cabbage for slaw, washed lettuce for salads,  and got a beef stew assembled for dinner for the week ahead.  I didn't spend a bit more time in the kitchen than I would have to prepare and clean up behind ONE meal, but I now have a savings of time.  That's like money in the bank, too when you're busy whether you work at home, in your home or outside your home!

Put a portion of the main dish in the freezer for a solitary supper serving one night.

Made a cake for desserts this week and caramel popcorn for snacks.  The caramel corn used up a jar of peanuts (Aldi brand, again the nuts had a raw taste, no more salted roasted nuts from Aldi for us!) we didn't feel like eating.  I halved the cake recipe and made just a single layer and after it was frosted and cooled cut that into twelve servings, enough for six days for the two of us.  The cake cost about $.75 to make from scratch.  A package of cookies that mightn't last half as long costs $2.75 at the dollar store.  I saved $2.00.  The caramel corn makes up a big 2 quart jar full.  A small box at the store runs about $1.59 for 4 ounces or less.  I saved $3.18, plus the cost of that jar of nuts $1.99 we weren't eating.

Oct. 22:  Today we decided to go on a day trip.  The weather didn't look cooperative in the least but we went on anyway.  I packed a picnic lunch: bottles of water, a big apple cut in half, 2 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, chicken and lettuce sandwiches, and slices of the Applesauce Cake I made yesterday.  I'm so glad we went ahead to the mountains because the weather did clear off nicely, the air was just cool enough to really be enjoyable and the picnic delightful at a lookout where a bunch of horseback riders stopped to rest their horses.  There's something rather nice about enjoying good views, cool air and the soft sounds of horses flapping their tails or knickering as they munch grass.  NOT eating out today saved $24.  And what a lovely time we'd have missed outdoors!

We explored a bit on the mountain this time and came across a beautiful two story stone lodge, which hosts the reservations center for FDR state park.  John sat on the front veranda while I went indoors to find a map.  I had the option of buying a map for $4.50 but the free handout had the information I wanted so why buy?  Savings $4.50.

That picnic at the lookout area was a compromise.  There were plenty of places to park with lovely picnic areas but they came with a fee of $5.  I don't mind paying that for an extended length of time, but to eat for 15-20 minutes at most?  I'd rather keep my money in my purse.   The lookout area had even better views, and those lovely horses, too.  Those were bonuses.  Savings $5.

We came home still a bit hungry.  We certainly had plenty of food.  I think it must have been the good fresh air.  I made a quick meal of canned soup and sandwiches.  We had coffee as well.  That was nice and warming.  I bought the soup last pay period at Aldi, a German brand that is ready to heat and eat.  It was good, not homemade good, but tasty enough.  I will keep a couple of cans on my pantry shelf I think for impromptu meals and light suppers.

Oct. 23:  Simmered stew all morning long on stove top.  I only had to add  sliced carrots and seasonings to the prepped foods today.  I put a quart of cooked stew in the freezer.  I'll either serve as stew a second time or, more likely, use as a base for vegetable soup.  The added warmth from the stove top didn't hurt at all.

John and I both cleaned out dresser drawers this week.  It was time to move out the clothes that were too stained and tatty to wear (kept one set for painting since I am paint magnet), or were not wearing.  

Oct. 24:  Chilly!  The quilt surely felt good last night.  There were no complaints when the heat went on this morning either.  I made oatmeal, Butterscotch oatmeal to be exact, for breakfast.  This is an especially creamy oatmeal, made with milk, an egg, and brown sugar.  You could really add a touch of vanilla if you wanted because it has a pudding type base really, just not as sweet.  It costs so much less than cold cereal even adding in the cost of the egg and milk.  I estimate it runs about $1 for two generous servings.  That's milk and everything.  Cold cereal runs that and milk runs about $1.25 per serving, so a savings of $.75.

I thought I'd be making a new recipe today but I found I lacked two of the very key ingredients.  Substitutions would have completely altered the casserole and since this is my first time making it, I hate to 'judge' a recipe based on iffy substitutions.  I will move it to my menu for a couple of weeks from now.  The cooked chicken I made will be great sandwich filler.  Savings $3.59 for luncheon meat.

Picked enough lettuce and spinach from my potted garden to make a big salad for tomorrow's dinner.  I estimate it was about a head's worth of lettuce.  Savings $1.69 for lettuce.

Oct. 25:  The shed is clean!  Yes, really it is decently cleared up.  I still need to finish sweeping and I could no doubt sort out a few more of those plastic plant pots I've held on to for who knows what reason, but it's 95% improved.  I know where things are and what's in them.  I really should write on each container what it is just for the sake of ease.  I found a few items I can put in my booth, as well.  That was a shopping trip without leaving home!  savings $20.

Typically in a two week period I eat out at least 3-4 times.  Mostly takeout  or fast food, and perhaps one restaurant meal.  I have not been out to eat at all in nearly 3 weeks.  I can't believe it myself.  The reason why I enjoy eating out is simple: I cook 38 meals on the weeks when I do eat out.  38.  That's a lot of planning, preparing, serving, clearing up after.  I have no shame in saying that I LOVE to cook, I like planning meals that have real interest to them, but I do get weary of something that is repeated that many times each week, even just for the two of us.  NOT eating out these three weeks has saved roughly $50.  About half that amount comes from our allowance.  The rest is truly savings!  I went out today and bought chicken at the local diner.  We'll get at least three meals from that usually.  It translates to about $1.50 per person, which isn't unreasonable.  I paid for it from my allowance, which was possible since I didn't have to make a thrift shop stop this week courtesy clearing the shed. Real savings: $25.
Mama stopped by briefly today and had coffee and cake with us.  That finished off the Applesauce cake.  And it means I will have to bake something which is fine.  I have cookie dough thawing now.  I've already counted that cookie dough as savings but for the record, I figure I'm saving about $2.25 making cookies at home.  I get to choose what goes into them, I am pleased to note no artificial ingredients or additives, high fructose corn syrup or strange unmentionable items are in my cookies.  Peanut butter, butter, flour, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Salt and baking soda.  That's it.  I like that.

Cleared the fridge of a few items that got lost or missed this past week.  All were perfectly edible but I honestly had no clue what to do with them.  Not enough to translate into a leftover makeover or just not appealing (soggy sandwich anyone? Nope, not me either).  The dogs are not nearly so picky as I.  They ate the foodstuffs, saving a portion of their usual dog food for future meals. Savings:  $1

This morning for breakfast, I used frozen waffles and french toast as our main course.  All I had to do was fry some turkey bacon to go alongside.  Notice the cook is attempting a vacation today?  Yep.  And liking it, too.  And I'm going to do the same tomorrow.  I have meal plans all worked out for the Sabbath.  Biscuits ready to bake for breakfast, an entree from the freezer, salad already prepared and awaiting dressing, sandwiches (non-soggy variety) set aside for tomorrow's work supper for John.  Savings: labor...priceless.




 Total Savings:  $105 

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