Friday, January 15, 2016
Assigning Value to our Days/Frugal Fridays
January 9: I was surprised today as I cleaned out the vase/salt cellar on the shelf above the kitchen sink. I was pulling out the dead flowers and one of the ones I pulled out was the hydrangea stem...which apparently has taken a notion to put out roots. I put it right back in that vase and will let it continue to devlop. Then I'm going to plant it! A free plant from a former bouquet is a pretty good thing in my opinion.
We had a very nice dinner today of spaghetti and meat balls. The ground turkey (a clearance item)and the spinach I used in the meatballs have both been lanquishing in the freezer for months and I'm happy to have used them up. However, I couldn't help but note that the flavor of my sauce was 'off'. I'd opted to leave out bell peppers and remedied that by pulling some from the freezer and adding in, but the other thing missing was elusive...I finally decided that it was the beef flavoring we're most accustomed to, since we typically use that meat when making spaghetti sauce. I added my last two bouillion cubes and when they'd simmered in the sauce a bit I found it was 'just right.'
My bargain meal netted me two extra portions of meatballs and sauce and though I'd cooked just half a box of the whole wheat pasta, I still had two extra servings of that as well. Those leftovers were packed up in individual serving portions and put in the freezer. Nice to know I've a ready meal to eat on hand, which brings my total up to something like six meals now. Always handy and convenient to have something frozen and ready prepared.
I had about 2/3 cup of the sauce sans meatballs leftover as well. I will puree this sauce and use atop pizza dough, taking a note from Samuel's book. I froze it in the meantime though. It thaws easily enough in the microwave, even in my saved pickled jar, means I won't find it back of fridge shelf at the end of the month, forgotten and spoiled.
Made a cheesecake today. I've been just longing for a cheesecake for several weeks and have priced them in stores and contemplated single slices in bakery and each time came away determined to make my own. I finally looked up the recipe online. I like the Easy recipe from kraftrecipes.com. I made it more diabetic friendly in several ways. First let me say that I formerly made this with Splenda but had none on hand so I made some alternative changes to the recipe. I left out the sugar in the graham crust and decreased the butter. The crust is a little less 'formed' than when made properly but it does no harm to the overall taste of the cheesecake. I also decreased the sugar in the filling, used Neufchatel cheese instead of full fat cream cheese and added in 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. It turned out beautifully. Instead of cutting into 8 servings pieces, I cut into 10, which is a litle smaller but decreases the carbs/fats consumed still further. Don't ask me for an exact count as I didn't really figure it but I'd make a hard guess that it went from 36carbs per slice to something like 23...maybe. I've never frozen this but am curious to see how it holds up. I'll try dividing individual slices with a piece of waxed or parchement paper as they do in the fancy frozen ones at the grocer and we'll see how well it does.
Technically I'm NOT working today as it's Shabat and I try hard not to do any real labor. But...I just couldn't stand a minute longer having those lovely new sheers hung with my blue curtains and that old quilt on the bed. I swapped quilts and put back on the one I used in summer which has a light background on one side and folded the new teal colored quilt across the foot of the bed. It's far too cool at present and John far too much of a cover thief on cold nights to try and sleep under the new quilt which is smaller (it's actually queen sized and we typically use king sized quilts due to his always pulling cover from the left over to the right). I'm glad I did it because John walked in and said, "Oh I don't care for white covers on beds..." Well that put paid to the idea I might use a white quilt under the teal one! It will do for now while I look at other options, like maybe making a duvet cover for that nice fluffy comforter in the closet that I won't use as I don't care for the colors. And by the way, has anyone else noted that duvet covers for comforters cost as much as a comforter? Isn't that ridiculous?
Tonight's supper: a Whole Grain tortilla chip with a low fat homemade queso cheese dip. I used up the last of some cheese sauce I made a week ago and added in some salsa, browned sausage and a little more shredded cheese. It was pretty good!
January 10: Packed John's lunch, made him breakfast. Ever wonder how much money this little task twice a week saves? Well I can tell you that John's local options are burger places or a pancake house. I pack enough food in his lunch bag to suffice for two snacks and two meals each day. I am pretty sure he can't get a proper meal anywhere in town for less than $7. That would be $14 just for the two meals and he hasn't even had his usual snacks. So a soda, a bottle of water, a piece of fruit and a yogurt, and a pack of crackers. Let's say that comes up to $5. That $19 total. That works out to $126 for his usual 7 days of work.
I spend $.22 a packet for peanut butter crackers, make peanut butter jelly sandwiches (his request), include a yogurt ($.39), a soda ($.26 bought on sale), a bottle of water (free), an instant mac and cheese ($.70 this is the high priced item in his lunch bag!) and a shelf stable pudding cup ($.50). Today I also included a banana ($.20) and a slice of homemade cheese cake (no clue). $2.27 for the items I know the prices of, so let's assume I put $3 into that lunch bag. $3 times 7 days a month is $21...Do you see the huge amount of money I've saved? I barely spent more than he might spend in ONE day! Savings in a year's time: $1260. It doesn't even take me a long while to pack his lunch. I usually make his sandwiches while I'm preparing our supper sandwiches. I have everything handy in one spot so I can put it together quickly. I try to corral it all in a basket in the fridge (except the shelf stable stuff which I put directly into his lunch bag) and I pack it all up in the morning while I'm making toast and frying eggs.
That's lunch...Now let's look at breakfast. He gets coffee, three eggs and two pieces of toast. I might spend $.75 on this meal. Sure he could buy a biscuit for his breakfast and not spend more than $1...but he hasn't had coffee with it. That's another $1.50. And honestly? He's not going to just eat one biscuit, he's going to want two. His breakfast must carry him through about four hours, until 9:30 or 10 when he is able to stop to have his yogurt and fruit. So $3.50 compared to my $.75. That's a savings of $2.25 a day. In a year's time we save another $189. It takes me 5 minutes to put a meal in front of him, courtesy the toaster and the timer on the coffee pot.
I stayed busy most all the day but when I sat down tonight to write about my savings, it suddenly as though I'd done nothing at all. I needed to remember that sometimes it's the everyday things I do which sometimes add up to a substantial savings over a year's time.
I was a busy woman today. I colored my hair. I spend about $3 a box on coloring by combining sales with coupons and store coupons. I get three colorings from each box since my hair is both short and fine. $1. That's what it costs me to color my hair. Last time I looked at a salon, it cost $65 for the coloring alone. Styling after the color was done was additional $20. I saved $64 this morning by coloring my hair at home. Now truth time: I've only ever had my hair colored in a salon once and it didn't turn out a whole lot different from what I do at home. No highlights and low lights or streaks, just a plain coloring. But choosing to do this at home saves me a substantial amount of money that I can use to spend elsewhere. I color my hair about every two months. It takes a whole 30 minutes and then it's done.
I defrosted the back freezer. I pulled out a jar of corn chowder to thaw for supper one night this week.
My lunch was a gift from Katie back in September. It was her Chicken Chili and it tasted just great. I had enough leftover to serve for supper one night.
I took bananas from the freezer to thaw. I made two banana nut breads. I put one in the freezer and put one out for snacks.
I hung two quilts, three pairs of pants and four shirts to dry. I also hung placemats and napkins to dry. I put the rest in the dryer.
I made a bed skirt for my bed. I used the material left over from making my kitchen sitting curtains. The fabric is a perfect match to my new quilt.
There's not a lot of extra stuff in the house but I am decluttering anyway. It's always nice to go over a drawer or cabinet or dresser and really look at things and determine if it's necessary or beautiful and if it is neither to remove it. This morning while I was waiting for m hair color to set, I went through the bathroom cabinets. I removed a shower shaving mirror that has never been used (the shower proved to be too dark) and a soap dispenser and soap dish. I moved the soap dispenser and dish to the guest bath. The shaving mirror went into the donate box. The new dishes made the guest bath look a little more finished. That's what makes it nice to switch things about.
January 11: It was colder last night than it's been yet. I left the kitchen and bath sink cabinet doors open. Both those sinks are on an outside wall.
When we came in from dropping the car off at the body shop, I made a quick breakfast of butterscotch oatmeal. It was really cold and a heavy frost on the ground. Perfect oatmeal eating weather in my opinion. I find I get a lot more excited about it when the weather is cold.
Made meat loaf for dinner today. I don't know why but it seemed to take forever to chop and grate my vegetables (I add onion, carrot and mushrooms to my meat loaf). I didn't have time to bake a full sized meat loaf so I put some of the meat in a muffin tin and made up an uncooked loaf from the leftover meat and popped it in the freezer. I put a label on the loaf stating how to cook. Just in case someone other than myself needs to cook, you know. Ha.
I had some slim carrots and so I cut them up for snacks. I also added some celery sticks. John really loves celery sticks. He's eaten them all today. There's no excuse for my ever having celery go bad with that man liking celery sticks the way he does.
I had some onions that were sprouting. I cut off the tops and put them into water to continue sprouting. I put the root end of the celery into an ice cream sundae container and added a little water to it. We'll see if I can make celery sprout roots.
I made a salad using the good parts of an older bit of ice berg. I had to toss about 1/3 of that head of lettuce but I did salvage enough for one serving of salad from it. I sliced a roasted beet into the salad and topped it with some feta cheese that has just passed it's sell by date. I checked it over good and put the rest in the freezer, so I won't risk losing it.
I used Liquid Gold on my old dresser and the wooden chocolates boxes. Boy do those pieces look good now. I cleaned off the dresser and started fresh with a blank slate this morning. I edited carefully what I put back It looks very nice.
Entered Coke points into My Coke Rewards. I netted a free 16 x 20 collage photo sheet coupon for entering points today.
My new pillows arrived from Zulily. They are nice. I moved two of the bolster type pillows I'd made from the leftover kitchen sitting fabric to the bedroom and put those on the bed.
As I de-cluttered this afternoon, I pulled some things from our closet I mean to put in the shed. I was pleased and surprised to find a picture that is gorgeous and has the same teal in it that I've used in the bedroom. It needs to be reframed, but I can afford that for 'free' art. And who knows, maybe I have something I can use already on hand.
I washed out a wine bottle and cleaned off the labels. It is the same blue/green color glass as the demi john bottles I bought last year. I'll use it atop my bookcase. Honestly, it cost more than any of those other bottles, lol, but at least I drank the wine that was in it.
I sorted out several things today. There's an almost empty drawer in my dresser. The closet got a good hard plunder and there's now a box filled to go to the church thrift store. I'm not quite through in that closet but it is looking good. I really wouldn't have thought I'd have so many things to remove but there was far more than I'd realized.
January 12: Our morning didn't go quite as we'd planned. We did save ourselves an extra trip by making a phone call and asking a pertinent question. I'm glad we did. We'd already wasted the morning trip!
The afternoon went along just great and we accomplished all we'd set out to do. Happiest moment for me was getting a new library card.
Had a ready supper at home, thankfully. Hot Corn Chowder and hot dogs were an easy supper to heat when we came in.
We had the electric work done this morning. Now we can easily plug in the pump house light or use the compressor or charger under the carport rather than have to use a lengthy extension cord.
Bonus? One of the workers expressed interest in our old pick up truck which happens to for sale. Here's praying his interest is genuine and he does buy it.
Mid afternoon when I was starting to flag from our long day out, John stopped at a gas station and bought cups of coffee for us. Boy was that good! And just the thing I needed.
January 13: Packed John's lunch. Made him breakfast. I smiled the whole while, thinking of the savings I know I'm making. Today I packed a little more since John is working some extra hours.
Made sure to take a bottle of water with me while going out today.
I decided it would be prudent to keep eye glass cleaner and a cleaning cloth with my makeup kit. I also placed a pair of nail clippers and a small bottle of hand lotion there as well. This should help remind me to groom my hands and clean my glasses when I'm getting ready to go out.
Downloaded Windows 10 to my computer for free.
Reheated leftovers of Katie's soup with a bit of left over brown rice for my supper tonight. It made just the right amount.
Had the curtains open on the west side of the house this afternoon...That added warmth was appreciated.
January 14: John is working an extra half shift. This will sustantially boost what is normally the short pay period of the month, a great help with the deductible portion we need to pay.
I washed a full load of towels and sheets with a few other small clothing items tossed in.
I hung clothes to dry, both indoors and out.
Cleaned the shower this morning with the vinegar/dawn solution that works so very well at removing soap scum. Time to mix up a fresh batch.
Planned weekend meals based on leftovers and 'need to use' items in pantry/produce bins. Took out meat to thaw.
Put up dogs foods when it was obvious they were done eating.
I kept heat set to 68F and put on socks and a sweater instead of turning it up.
January 15: I made a breakfast casserole using the extra I put in the freezer a month or so ago. I mixed up three eggs and one cup of milk to pour over the stuff. We had generous servings for breakfast and there is enough for breakfast for one leftover.
Lesson number two on frozen foods...I do not like Brussels Sprouts that I personally have frozen. I might try commercially frozen ones but 'Ewwww!" on the ones I freeze myself. We choked them down but the second package went straight into compost.
John was paid early due to the holiday on Monday. We drove down to his workplace and picked up the check, paid bills and did our banking. And carried off trash and picked up mail and stopped by the body shop to check on our other car. Oh we made this trip count!
It seems like I've gotten awfully boring towards the end of this week. I washed a full load of dishes, John did two loads of laundry (one was his bed linens from work) and hung several pieces to dry but not all due to the heavy downpour outdoors. I washed baggies all week long and felt a little smug when I dropped the cereal bags in the trash that had held the chicken I cooked for dinner. I paid nothing for those cereal bags unlike the zippered baggies I've used in the past to store the meat. We switched off lights in the rooms we were no longer using and kept the heat turned lower and the kettle on the back of the stove to add humidity and increase the warmth in the house. All these things are daily things but they add up to savings in the long run.
The total savings for the week $1449. This is a yearly figure for the savings made in packing John's work meals and snacks.