Friday, December 11, 2015
This Week In My Home, I Saved Money...
Saturday: John and I enjoyed our spaghetti dinner today. I had only to add a bit of lettuce to leftover salad from Thursday, make a piece of garlic toast and boil the pasta. No big deal for making quite a good dinner.
Noted the '1 pound' sized box of whole wheat pasta contains 13.5 ounces....No savings in that for me now is there? Just another example of paying attention a bit too late to the incredible shrinking packaging of items...Make sure I'll be on my toes next purchase and be sure I buy the pound package no matter what brand it is.
I put away leftovers. There was enough pasta and sauce to make dinner for tomorrow following church (easy to heat in the microwave) and enough extra to make up a spaghetti pie for a meal at a much later date. I topped the pie with waxed paper then reused the same sheet of foil I'd lined my garlic bread pan with to cover all. I slipped it into a zippered freezer bag, made sure to label and date it. Nice to know we've a ready meal for one of those days when projects or crisis creates the need of an easy meal.
I mixed up pudding for dessert cups. I poured the remaining into pre-measured serving portions.
When we determined that leftovers for after church tomorrow was the order of the day, I broke up that package of marked down cubed steaks I'd bought yesterday and planned for Sunday's dinner into two packages. I hadn't much paid attention to price yesterday but I saved $2.18 over the original price. There were four large pieces of cubed steak and a smaller steak which will do fine for a 'second' piece for the man of the house. I packaged the meat in 2 previously used (well washed) zippered bags. These I will throw away after use. I try to never package meat in new zippered bags but well used ones.
I washed a full load of dishes following dinner.
Our favorite Saturday afternoon snack just lately is home made popped corn. It is so easy, takes barely any more time than microwave popcorn and tastes awesome. I can make just enough for the two of us or make a big pot full.
Sunday: I fried the two pieces of cubed steak this morning to put into the leftover biscuits from yesterday's breakfast.
Poured some water into the pan I fried the meat in and when it was cool, poured over food for the pets. I might also have poured that into the soup bucket...nice after thought. I love when inspiration finally hits. I mean, this was basically de-glazing the pan and we all know that is a coveted bit of flavoring as far as pro chefs are concerned.
We took off trash and picked up mail on our way to church this morning.
On our way home we filled up with gasoline. We save $.30 a gallon over our local station prices by filling up nearer the interstate just 30 miles away. That's $3 savings over what we'd spend here at home for ten gallons.
We bought the Sunday paper while we were at the station.
Came home and reheated a casserole of spaghetti sauce and pasta. I made a salad during the time the pasta heated in the microwave. I was hungry and had been semi-tempted to ask John to buy dinner out. Well I lasted the thirty miles home and the five minutes more it took to heat up dinner. I guess I didn't need that meal right away.
Went through the newspaper and looked over ads and gathered coupons that were included in sales sheets that I might use in the coming week. Set aside the ads I mean to go over with a fine tooth comb.
Cleaned out the toy box and disinfected the toys. Hopefully this will keep the babies from catching any illnesses. Peace of mind is worth something for this Gramma! I found a bag that John didn't want and had given to the children to play with. It's a nice travel bag or carry on type for flights. I'll ask the two visiting boys if either of them could use it.
Feeling energetic enough this afternoon I went ahead and worked on the bill box. Everything is ready to finalize tomorrow when we go pick up John's check.
We briefly discussed what we'd purchase for our family gathering meal and where the funds would come from. John has requested several extras and I had to make it clear that I couldn't take it from my grocery budget, especially after having noted how many outages I have at present in the pantry. Best to plan ahead and not have a nasty surprise when the purchases are made.
To that end, I checked to see what I had on hand that I could contribute and not purchase. We have plenty of disposable cups and plates, have all the beef we'll need and several other items that we'd normally have with the meal. There will be a savings there. Still, the needed items rightly will come from a separate source than the grocery budget. I'm really pleased that John has agreed to cull a few extras he thought we should have.
Noted that the past three years I've put Christmas items in my booth I've sold only one item...I decided to let Katie and Bess go through the box to see if they want any of those items for their own homes. I'm cutting my losses on those items.
Made my first batch of Christmas cookies today. I used what I had instead of waiting to purchase an 'exact' item. Substituting what I have on hand is always a savings. Sat frozen butter out to thaw so I can make more cookies tomorrow.
Worked towards goal on Swagbucks. I didn't make it but I figure anything I do towards goal daily is that many more points than I'd have had if I did nothing.
Monday: I spent the morning clearing out the guest room of Christmas decorations and got he house straightened up. I was mixing up my first batch of cookies when I got a text from family...Mistaken in day they were arriving. They are not arriving tomorrow...they'll be here today. Gracious I'm glad I made that guest room priority number one this morning! I almost didn't, thinking I had tomorrow to tend to it, too.
Mixed up two batches of cookie dough. Took time to freeze 3 dozen dollops of chocolate chip cookie dough. I set the sugar cookie dough in the refrigerator to chill.
About the time I got the text from the kids, I realized I had nothing out for dinner and no plans for supper. I had a small piece of chuck roast in the fridge that I'd meant to make sandwiches for John and I out of. I had decided to make a Shepherd's Pie (rather than the planned roast beef hash) because there was less meat than I'd thought. Well...a supper for four is needed right away and I can make a very decent Shepherd's pie from a little meat and the broth I'd saved. I used frozen mixed vegetables and onion, and made broth into gravy. I added the meat and spooned into a pastry crust, mixed up instant potatoes to top and shredded cheese over all. I made a big deep ten-inch pie dish of Shepherd's Pie and realized that was a mighty nice supper right there. All I needed was salad, and I had just enough heart of romaine to make a green salad. With clementines and cookies we had a nice meal this evening.
John and I had tuna salad sandwiches. I won't be making his requested pasta salad after all this week but I'll be sure to watch the forecast for some warmer days coming up. I stretch tuna salad with shredded apple which extends the tuna and cuts the acidity of it.
Found a loaf of bread in the freezer. Happy days. I couldn't see it but it was there all along, just as I ran out of bread.
John and I welcomed in the kids then took off to go pick up his check. We carried off trash with us and yes, we did take off trash yesterday. The 'extra' came from the toy box and my candle drawer which I'd cleared out this morning.
This morning John washed a full load of clothes and hung most of them to dry.
While in his work town picking up his check, we did our banking, went by the post office to drop off bills to be mailed, and then stopped at the local hardware store. I mentioned I'd broken my rocking chair arm back at end of summer (right after getting painted so pretty), but I'd had an idea of how to fix it. When I told John he agreed it might work. At the hardware store we found chair braces and bought that. It won't be a proper furniture fix but it will keep it usable for a while longer. Cost to fix my rocker will come in at $2.76.
I found a soft long handled brush, the sort you use to wash cars. I plan to use it to wash windows, but you know I can use it to wash the cars, too.
When we got back to our town, we stopped to drop off the electric bill at the payment office.
John went into the grocery and bought a dozen eggs. I admit I gasped a bit at the price ($3.68 dozen), but breakfast will be wanted and I had exactly one egg at home.
Fun fun fun to light Hanukkah candles with family tonight. The baby boy liked the glow of the candles. Glad he can't climb up to the table...yet.
I washed a full load of dishes.
Took the frozen dough balls from the freezer and packaged into small batches for us. I found that I control myself fairly well with the homemade cookies and am easily satisfied with one...but cookie dough is a sore temptation. Go figure.
John and I had a discussion after the kids went off to bed last night. We talked about what he wanted for Christmas dinner (Smoked Brisket, Coleslaw and Corn on the Cob) and we discussed another savings idea I'd had. John prefers bottled sodas but the 12 pack cans are way less expensive per drink. Just as with the snack crackers, we agreed he'd have bottled drinks for work (so he can cap and save if called away) and drink cans here at home. I'm finding it helps a lot if I can give him some of what he wants. He's very reasonable about meeting me 3/4 of the way.
Tuesday: Saw family off to visit other family further north of us. John and I whipped the house back into shape.
John washed a full load of clothes which included the family's laundry. He hung most of it to dry.
I cleared up kitchen, and house and then we got ready to go out to buy groceries.
No Aldi shopping this week. We needed several items from Walmart and the store we like best doesn't have an Aldi in that town. I had a shorter list for grocery needs but I had two other lists: one for family day and one for other household needs. Walmart was our best option for getting it all done and not having to run ourselves ragged.
I stuck to my list. I didn't realize John had his own list. We were careful to separate items. I used a shopping basket inside the shopping cart and we put items in our personal grocery section, in the party section or in the basket (personal or house maintenance items). I paid for each of these separately and marked receipts so I'd know how to allocate the monies.
I confess I was in a state of shock over cost of groceries when pricing items but I had a few nice surprises. For one thing, Walmart offered a nice selection of whole grain pastas for $1 a pound. They also had whole wheat lasagna noodles in the same brand which were less than $2. I'd planned to pick up Turkey Spam here locally while it was on sale. Walmart didn't have it on sale but it was $.35 a can less expensive than the local sale price. These are items I will happily consider ordering in the future from Walmart. com.
I have grocery money leftover from this week's budgeted amount. My plan is to hold on to that cash. I am out of many things in my pantry and there are areas that I'd like to stock heavily. This money will be used towards that task this month.
Part of what John and I discussed last night was the fact that I need to stick hard to my grocery budget and not continually be $20 or $50 over. What John hears when I say I need to cut down on groceries is that I don't have enough money to purchase groceries. Once I realized this last night, I was better able to explain that the amount I've budgeted is sufficient but making a few changes so we can stick more closely to that amount will allow us a bit more wiggle room in our budget overall. Understanding one another's point of view is key to budgeting success.
John paid for lunch out today. He suggested we get something sweet at our stop at the grocery store (good bread was my goal there). I suggested we wait until we were home and have coffee and homemade cookie instead. If I'm going to have something sweet I'd rather have good homemade food than anything store bought.
Wednesday: John made pancakes for breakfast.
He washed a full load of sheets and towels and hung to dry.
I got busy after breakfast and baked cookies. I did three batches and then stalled. I didn't have enough graham crackers to make crust for the last batch of cookies. Instead I broke up a box of salted matzoh crackers to make the base. I was making Magic cookie bars. I layered on the chips and nuts and coconut and realized I had no sweetened condensed milk. I debated making some but time-wise it was not in my plans for today. Instead I covered the pan and walked away, planning to buy the milk later this week and finishing off the cookies at that time.
I made a 'quick' lunch of Polska Kielbasa, potatoes and cabbage. It took a whole 20 minutes to steam together and make a very good, very quick meal.
After lunch I made a cover for a cushion to go on a chair that has seen better days. It's not in our budget to replace the chair just now but I could make it more comfortable by making the seat a little higher. The foam was from my sewing supplies. I was given a big roll of it and I've used it to repair many cushions and chair seats in the house. It came in really handy. I used fabric from my stash. I didn't have quite enough of the faux suede material so I backed it with a piece of a sheet, a reasonable cost fabric substitute I often use.
We went over to the next town thinking I was going to find an item I saw last summer...It was gone of course. While there we went to the grocery and picked up a can of sweetened condensed milk. I asked to stop and pick up a Subway sandwich for our supper, my treat.
Baked the last batch of cookies when we got home.
Thursday: Made English muffin breakfast sandwiches for every one this morning.
We had a lovely family day out. First a visit to the air museum where we walked about the hangars looking at the planes and replicas of service quarters etc. That was a free for small donation thing. Then we went out to dinner. Our son treated us to that meal. Off to Bass Pro for a free picture with Santa. Little boy cried over that.
Over to a shopping center where Bess and I shopped for much needed bras while the guys went to the guitar store. I found the style and size I liked as a buy one get one 50% off. I was able to get two. I used money that John gave me as a gift.
We came home to light our Hanukkah candles and then had Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for supper. It was a lovely day out and not a pricey one overall, at least as far as unplanned for expenses went.
Friday: It's been a crazy sort of weather week. We've run both the AC and the heat sometimes in the same day. Fortunately neither have run non-stop at any point but only a few times.
John and I made appointments for eye exams. We figured we might as well get those expenses tagged on to all the medical costs for this year instead of waiting until January when we must start a new deductible year.
We made a trip into town, taking off trash along the way and picking up the mail along the way.
John washed a full load of clothes. He dried some in the dryer and hung the rest to dry on the rack here in the house. The weather is so overcast and heavy that it seemed best.
I washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.
I shopped the pantry/freezer and brought out vanilla, bell peppers, milk, and baked beans.