Friday, September 19, 2014
My Frugal Week Living Well : September 13 -19
Saturday: John worked last night so this morning I made a bigger breakfast. I'm trying to change up how I do things, both to save money and time. Big breakfasts on mornings following a 24 hour shift, lighter but still filling meals on the other mornings. I've found I'm spending far more of my day in the kitchen preparing the three steady meals a day and too little time at other tasks which call me. This morning we had eggs, grits, sausage and toast.
I didn't have time to prep food for today yesterday...and I planned my week badly so there was not much at hand. I had some cubed steaks I'd picked up at the local market when marked down and knew they would thaw quickly. I planned the rest of my meal from the freezer and fridge: John brought back home his bag of salad unopened. I decided we'd eat that for our raw side and I pulled a small pan of macaroni and cheese from the freezer as our starchy side dish. I found the banana pound cake I'd made and thawed that too. It was a pretty good meal to be pulled up from nothing that morning and I was pleased my freezer had provided the prep work I'd failed to make earlier in the week.
John did a small load of clothes. He hung them to dry on the line.
The rest of the day was quiet and nothing much to report. Again, we went nowhere and we spent no money, we didn't use lights during the bulk of the day. The freezer provided meal inspiration and so no need of going to town to buy a thing.
Sunday: We planned to make a trip to see our grandchildren today. I prepared a thermal glass with ice and water. John packed a bag with sodas and water. I poured a bottle of milk to drink before bed. I also packed a separate bag of snack foods. It's a 5 hour drive and overnight stay at hotel when we go visit, so necessary to carry things along to avoid stops.
We cut off all the ceiling fans prior to leaving home.
And you know we made the trip to town with a purpose other than just leaving home. We took off trash, picked up mail, dropped off a bill that was coming due, filled up the car before we left town.
For all our care, there are sometimes fails. We had a light breakfast before we left home. Two hours into the trip and John was hungry for 'second breakfast'...and didn't want anything from the snack bag. So we stopped at a fast food restaurant to order a 'steak' biscuit...Apparently this item is sold only with egg and cheese and when we asked to have just a plain steak biscuit, we found it cost no less. In fact, those two biscuits and two coffees cost us more than a single meal in a regular restaurant would...and when we finally got the food it wasn't even good. Ugh! We were so disappointed. The coffee was excellent but yucky food and a high price? Made us feel like we'd been the ultimate hayseeds coming to town and got two cups of coffee for more than Starbucks... And just to play up how bad we felt, we stopped in another hour and half for a restroom break and bought 2 burgers for $2 which were excellent...Making us wish we'd done that earlier and not wasted that good hard earned money!
My grandchildren have toys aplenty to play with but they also have the lovely ability to play with imagination. I wore an infinity scarf and they wore it tied about their heads in various ways so that they had on a turban, a head covering, a pirates' head scarf...And around their waists as aprons and skirts. They took turns playing with that scarf for well over an hour. I love that they do use their minds to truly play.
Monday: We took advantage of the hotel complimentary breakfast bar to have a meal before heading home. No playing about with poor quality foods and wasting money today.
I filled my thermal cup with ice before we left the hotel. We had enough water for the trip home.
John stopped to top off the gas tank. He bought us a sandwich which we ate on the patio at the travel center where we stopped.
Though we were plenty tired after our return drive, we headed to John's work place to pick up his check, then to the bank to make the deposit. It took us about 35 minutes more to get home but saved us many miles extra driving.
I used my brain Saturday. When I took the cubed steak out of the freezer I took out a piece of sirloin and left it in the fridge to thaw. I was glad I did when we passed the road to the meat market and John mentioned how much he wished it was open on Mondays. I was pleased to tell him he was going to have steak anyway for his late meal. He was pleased. It took just a few minutes to put a meal on the table.
Tuesday: A day of errands and grocery shopping for us. I bought the two shades I had money set aside for. I have already started saving for the next two.
We shopped only the perimeter of the store. Aldi is smart, they put the snacks first. I was smarter. I noted what we had at home and told John as we came in the store what we had. Passed through that area with only a single purchase, the planned one. Dairy and produce were our next two stops, then bread and out we went. I was very pleased with our total today.
Washed a full load of clothes and hung them to dry. It was so humid they never fully dryed but they were less wet. I ended up hanging them in the house this evening to finish drying.
Made a quick meal when we got home. We did stop at the diner in town to get some chicken, but the sides were from our grocery purchases, corn and grapes. We have plenty of chicken for another meal and a supper.
Wednesday: Mixed all the dry ingredients and cut in shortening last night, so that I just added milk and mixed biscuits this morning. I rolled out just enough for breakfast and put the remaining dough in the fridge to use to make pigs in blankets for supper.
I used baking soda as a 'soft scrub' to clean the bathroom cabinets.
Not feeling well physically (knee), so after doing light housework and pick-up, I decided an easy dinner was on the menu. Leftover spaghetti sauce from freezer, some hamburger which I thawed in the pan over low heat, pasta, salad. Good meal but little effort. There was enough pasta and sauce leftover to make a single serving for a future solo meal.
Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher and left to air dry.
Opened junk mail this morning to shred. Found free quilt patterns in one, an offer for one free issue of a magazine in a second one and in the last, free greeting cards. Oh and one more: a free recipe printed on a card. It was a pretty good morning for opening junk mail.
Folded all the clothes that we'd hung to dry last night in the house. Everything was nicely dry and smelled fresh from the open air partial drying.
Washed a full load of dishes.
Ran water to fill water bottles. Realized I didn't have a lid for one of the bottles...I didn't pour the water out to waste, I watered plants with it.
Washed a handful of zippered baggies.
Thursday: I baked both a boneless turkey breast and a roast beef in the oven this morning. I made two aluminum foil pans in a larger baking pan and seasoned each piece of meat. They weighed about teh same and were both cooked in the same amount of time.
We had turkey breast for dinner. I am all over the place, off my menu plan, this week. I sliced the turkey breast and the roast beef and after setting a small amount of the turkey for our dinner and two smaller amounts of both meats aside for sandwiches over the next couple of days, I put the rest into containers and put in freezer for future sandwich meals. I've read recently that pouring a bit of the broth or meat juices over the cooked meat will help keep it moist and hold flavors, so I poured the pan juices over each container. I put two each of turkey and roast beef in the freezer, enough for at least two sandwiches each or for a dinner entree.
Washed a full load of clothes. John hung them to dry on the line. Golly but they smelled good when I brought them in to fold!
Still having a time with my knee. John insisted on wrapping it even though I wanted to shower first. I took a sponge bath, washed my hair in the sink and called that good enough.
I have some old church hymnals here. I was trying to play piano with them but was having a hard time because they soft cover books wouldn't stay open nor could I read the fine print very well. It occurred to me I could enlarge the print by copying on the printer. Worked beautifully and I've practiced a few songs daily. I'm not quite as rusty as I was but I still squeak a lot, lol.
Boiled a half dozen eggs this afternoon. I was making potato salad to go with leftover chicken for supper and I figured I might as well boil enough to make egg salad. It takes just as much water to boil 1 egg as it does to boil 6.
A few weeks ago, a pot of African violets met with disaster and the tops were completely broken off the root stems. John laughed when I set the tops to root in water, but also kept the root stems and watered them each week as normal. He told me I should just throw them away. Well the tops have tiny new roots and one of the root stems has a tiny green leaf on it. That accident may well just have doubled my African violets! I'm glad I trusted my green thumb instincts.
Drained the peas at dinnertime. I made sure not to salt them while steaming. That nutrient rich water watered the blooming violet and the root stems.
When boiling potatoes for the salad, I doubled the amount I needed. I let the potatoes parboil briefly then removed half and put in the fridge. I want to use that portion to make hashed brown casserole for a side dish for another meal.
Friday: Wasn't in the mood for a big breakfast this morning but we did have sweet rolls that needed to finished up. I don't like to just eat a sweet for breakfast, so added scrambled eggs to the menu.
I did light housework this morning which was enough to bring the house back up to par. I made out a shopping list and we went to town. Of course, we took off trash and checked mail...
I shopped at the dollar store today. I buy a good brand of vitamins there and I was out of many of the supplements I take. Typically I try to buy one or two a pay period but I haven't done so in nearly 6 weeks. I had to restock quite a few. I've promised myself I'll go back to stocking 1 or 2 at a time because that proved to be a bit more expensive today.
I bought baskets for the freezers while I was at the store to organize the back freezer. I was unsure of how many I might fit in the smaller freezer so bought two different sizes.
I've used an old wire freezer basket from the small freezer in the fridge freezer to corral small things. Today I replaced that with one of the new smaller baskets. I'll put the wire basket back into the smaller freezer.
In the dollar store I found a basket of half priced items: Crisco shortening, muffin mixes, nut bread mix. I don't use a lot of these items but I do use them occasionally, so I bought three or four of them. For a small investment of $6 I added a few things to my pantry.
We spent so little on groceries this week that I was able to pay for the vitamins, baskets, mixes and a take out pizza with the remainder of my funds. The pizza was a real treat. I wanted one that tasted like pizzeria not homemade nor frozen and doctored, but real pizzeria. We enjoyed it but laughed because in the three years since we bought one the Large is now the size of a Medium. Teach us to not buy a pizzeria pizza for three years. Add that to the list of the incredible shrinking products...
We've had slightly cooler temperatures and the Ac has been cutting off all through the afternoon. Occasionally it feels a bit stuffy. Temptation to turn it down 'just a degree or two' is staunched. Instead we'll turn on the osciallating fan in the room. Why cool down a whole house when we're in one room anyway? And why use 220V when you can use 110V?
And so ends another week of savings.
Come September I get anxious for cooler air. It doesn't matter if we have had a milder summer, the last days of summer can be pretty intense with humidity. You step outdoors and your skin feels damp. You take in a deep breath and it's a little bit like drinking in water. There's a heaviness that can't be described, but which must be experienced to truly be appreciated, which is hardly the right word because believe me there is nothing to appreciate!
Yesterday I walked into our bedroom along about 5pm and watched the shadow play of leaves on the floor and across the furniture and I felt a real pang. Outside I know the leaves are already thick upon the ground under that tree. "I'll miss you..." I said to the shadows...And this morning when I went out on the porch to test the weather, the air was dryer and cooler. Fleeting days, these last few summer days.
I've been watching the clouds. Yesterday they piled up on the east horizon and turned cotton candy pink in the evening light. Clouds in fall and winter are much different than these big puffy mounds of cloud. I will miss these as well.
Here we are in that lovely place between two seasons. Summer fruits and vegetables are already being replaced by autumns' produce. Sunrise and sunset is a gala performance each day which isn't always the case in summer months. Fog rises mistily on the fields as day and night temperatures are nearer the same. Goldenrod dances in the fields and along ditch banks where morning glory tangles bloom.
I want to gather up this time in my arms, the way I did laundry yesterday, and draw in deep breaths of its unique perfume, this heady wonderful time of year.