Friday, January 6, 2017
Frugal Friday: Use It Up...
Saturday: John worked last night. I wanted to make him a big breakfast due to that, rather than our usual light Saturday morning fare. I had half a steak left from Christmas Day dinner and made hash browns, fried eggs and toast. He seemed to really enjoy it and said he'd just skip dinner or at least wait until later to eat.
I took a frozen entrée of Turkey and Dressing with gravy from the freezer intending to have that for today's dinner. Then Mama called saying she'd like to stop by here around noon. She then texted to say she was bringing pizza. I made a salad using the last of the tomatoes and lettuce and took that half carrot cake from the freezer to thaw. It made a pretty good impromptu dinner and yes, John did eat, lol. We just had a very light supper for tonight and did eat it a bit later than usual.
There were two slices of pizza left. That will be part of our supper one night in the early part of this week.
Mama took home the rest of the carrot cake with her. I was glad to send it with her.
Sunday: We had eggs and toast for breakfast. I did this because John planned to go one of the DIY stores following church and this meal holds me longer than bagels and cream cheese will.
John decided after church he'd rather run by Publix and then go home. I took advantage of this decision to purchase bread for the week ahead and buy the few items I know I cannot get at Aldi: waxed paper, tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce. John wanted microwaveable soup for his work lunch now that it's cold. I walked up the soup aisle with him (he has carte blanch for choices like this as it is his work lunch). I priced the bouillon pastes, which I prefer over bouillon cubes. The first item I found was $6.99 a tub (about 1 cup total). I was a bit put off by the price so I walked further up to price the bouillon cubes. They too were $6.99 a bottle and not oversized containers of it either. I glanced a little further down the aisle and noticed the Hispanic section of soup and bouillon items. Just before that started I found Publix store brand bouillon pastes for $4.99 a jar. I bought beef, chicken and vegetable. Those three items went onto my pantry shelf for now.
John decided he needed to purchase water to take to work. We have such good water here but the water at his workplace is city water and just tastes off. He was going to buy a couple of 1 liter bottles which are much less expensive than standard soda sized bottles. Then he spied a real bargain of 3L bottles of water for $1 each. He got one for himself. I suggested we get four more and put those on the pantry shelf as well. I invested $20 in my pantry yesterday (with an extra box of waxed paper) and was glad to be busy stocking it with things we most certainly can use for real emergencies.
After we returned home, I put some sweet potatoes into the microwave and reheated the turkey dressing we were going to have for yesterday's dinner. It was very good. I was reminded that I really should return to prepping a crock pot meal to cook while we were gone to church now the weather is cooler.
I made 2 banana pound cakes this afternoon using ripe bananas. I let them both cool them wrapped well. I wrapped each loaf sized cake with waxed paper and then foil and placed in a clean bread sack which I sealed with tape. These cakes hold up very well in the freezer and now I have something ahead.
I still had leftover bananas. I haven't had a whole bunch of bananas all ripen at once in a long time the way that these did. I'll figure out what to do with those tomorrow.
John went about the kitchen touching up spots where paint peeled.
Monday: Started out with oatmeal for breakfast and peanut butter toast. This was per the menu plans posted for a tight budget week. I was not spot on the course with this as I did use an egg in the oatmeal and I had not planned to have peanut butter toasts with this dish.
For our dinner I cooked black beans and rice. I am torn between my need to be super thrifty and my desire to use things up. I tried to stick a little closer to plan than I had at breakfast but I didn't. I used some of the onion in the black beans. I was digging in the fridge for onion when I spied the old container of chicken bouillon paste. There was just enough to pour hot water in and swish about. I added that to my rice water. I opened a can of tomatoes and dipped out 1/3 cup and added some raw chopped onion to it. I must say this was far better atop the beans and rice than I'd expected. There was just enough acid in the tomatoes to make it seem like pico de Gallo and it added a lot of flavor to the meal. John pronounced that a very good meal indeed which pleased me.
I used the last two bananas to make up a banana nut bread batter. I really did alter this recipe as I worked today. I subbed half the sugar for Splenda (I have nearly a half gallon jar that has been in my cupboard for a year or more), and subbed half the flour with whole wheat flour. Remembering that I needed to add extra moisture with the whole wheat flour swap, I didn't reduce the amount of milk as the recipe stated I should when making banana bread and I skipped the nuts altogether. Instead of baking as a loaf I'd thought I'd make muffins but when I reached for the muffin pan, my hand touched the donut pan and I thought "Why not? It's something I seldom use and while I won't use it up, I should certainly use it." So I made banana doughnuts. I drizzled them with a bit of butter nut flavored glaze using some of a bottle of flavoring I have had in the cupboard for a LONG time. John said the house smelt like a bakery. The recipe for the banana bread made 1 dozen baked doughnuts. I'll put those in the freezer (and yes, we had to sample. They are quite good, a little nutty with the whole wheat flour, tender and delicious.) I was pleased to incorporate so many things into my banana bread that I mightn't normally use.
John had to go purchase a battery for my car. When we were leaving for church yesterday the car refused to start. Glad we have a second care! The expense of the battery was covered by our car maintenance fund. He took off trash while he was going out today which I really appreciated.
Went over sales sheets with a sharp eye. There's a deal at Target that seems more than worth spending upon. Buy $50 worth of household (laundry, food storage, cleaning) items and you will get $15 off. Since I also have a $5 gift card to use, I'm thinking this would be a good time to stock up on zippered bags (even using as few as I do they are nice to have on hand, foil pans to cook some meals ahead for Bess during her late pregnancy, early post partum days, stock up on bath tissue etc. We all know it won't take long to work up to $50 purchasing all of that and you aren't limited to name brand items either. To get $50 worth of household goods for $30 would be a big savings! I've made out my list and mean to go by there tomorrow.
Tuesday: Up early to make John breakfast and pack his lunch. At his request, I also filled a bottle with water for him.
Washed the sheets I'd put to soak yesterday morning in hot, hot water. I used a bit of borax, some bleach and was pleased to see how gray the water turned as the sheets soaked. They were noticeably whiter this morning when the laundry was done. Not completely white but much whiter. I'll definitely go further and use the powdered dishwashing detergent next time as well.
It was raining when we got up and the weather said it would keep up all morning. I wish I'd known that 'all morning' meant by 8 am the sun would be shining and the skies clear blue. I'd have waited and hung the sheets to dry outdoors. Oh weather man! Dare I truly trust you about NO SNOW next week if you can't get the rain time right?
Turned off the fans and the heat/AC too when I left home. I knew the day wasn't meant to warm up too much nor would the temperatures indoors drop too low while I was gone. Might as well save, right?
Went to Target and did stock up on cleaning, household and laundry supplies as I had hoped to do. I saved more than I spent when all was totaled up.
I bought 4 $5 Merona t-shirts for myself to wear around the house. I have purchased these shirts in the past, often on clearance. They wear very well. I paid $4 for the ones I bought last spring at Walmart and they have all been trashed since due to pinholes etc. I've never had that problem with this brand from Target so I felt it was worthwhile.
Went through Aldi and picked up the needed items to carry us through the next two weeks. I was very pleased with my final total.
I broke the number one rule in going into Publix: Never shop while hungry. Well I was careful, honestly I was but I was so hungry I was feeling wobbly! I bought a rotisserie chicken and had a chicken leg and slice of bread as soon as I got in the car. This held me until I got home and could fix myself lunch.
I have mentioned my love of the bakery bread at Publix many times. One of my favorites is called Homestyle White. I've been unable to buy a loaf of that for several weeks now. I asked about it Sunday and was told they only made 1 loaf each day. The manager told me to call ahead and order for the next day and they'd have it ready for me. Well I called yesterday and placed my order. I picked up enough to see us through two weeks today.
Stopped and filled up with gasoline on my way home.
Wednesday: We washed two small loads of clothes this morning. I didn't want John's work shirt (black) covered with lint from the towels. We hung both loads to dry on the line.
I made dinner preparations early this morning and left things set up to finish off. Then I headed out to the shed. I meant to be there just a half hour or so but I seriously under estimated the amount of work needed. I spent 2 and 1/2 hours out there and for all my work managed to get just 6 feet of wall space sorted out. I was so weary after all that but the Christmas stuff is put away once more, there's a big bag filled with stuff to toss and a box filled for donation. Next time I go out I'll sort out another area but I'm too tired think of it today!
I had planned to buy more storage boxes for the shed, but I emptied two out today, consolidating items in a third box. This left me two storage totes to put wreaths and seasonal floral picks in. I am glad to have a better solution for storage for those items.
I emptied out a plastic nuts container with a screw on lid. I'd stored some rather dingy looking rock salt in it and decided I'd rather not reuse that as Christmas Décor. John is collecting containers to store odds and ends of small items in his shop. I was happy to pass him that container and he was mighty pleased to take it.
I chose two wreaths and put them on the front and back doors. They are simple grapevine wreaths and have forsythia on them which isn't a far stretch for this time of year in the South.
I made the Spaghetti a la Diable for our midday meal. I love this recipe and have used it for many many years, almost 40 years! It's very economical to make and flavorful. I thought, as I made it, how important seasoning is to food. In my Imaginary challenge I had no room in the budget for seasoning except salt. I think this dish would be just as good with just salt but it's definitely better with the addition of garlic and cayenne pepper!
There's enough leftovers for another meal for the two of us. I expect I'll end up eating it for my Sunday dinner this weekend.
For supper tonight we had peanut butter jelly sandwiches. John didn't have time to eat his lunch this last work day and since his food is kept cold the food stays fresh. I try to use it up over the next day or two...Hence we had the sandwiches.
Thursday: I'm making up to John for the practically meatless meals the last three days and making a favorite short rib dish. I can't typically afford short ribs but I found some on sale. That we've eaten such inexpensive meals the first part of this week is also a good bonus boost to help this meal be very affordable.
I saved the broth and vegetables to use in making vegetable soup for us this weekend when it's meant to be quite cold. I stirred the last 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes right into that broth, too.
Cooked some Brussels Sprouts that were yellowed. I found that I could peel off the outer leaves and the insides were still nice and green. I was worried they would be bitter since they were older, but they weren't at all. They tasted very nice! Glad I didn't toss them.
I went out and planted the bulbs I've put off planting. The ground is too saturated with water yet (it squishes when I go across the lawn), so I planted the bulbs in pots of soil. These at least had drained and while they were damp they weren't full of water. I can replant the bulbs in the ground after they finish blooming in the next few weeks.
I shoved two of the trimmed rose limbs into the damp ground. Maybe they will root...If not, no loss.
John will be participating in a fast for church over the next few days. He will be doing a Daniel fast. I have enough cooked meat to last me a couple of days without having to tease him with the aroma of meat cooking. I will try to prepare more on Sunday and set it aside. He will be working that day.
Hemmed my new jeans. I also added a sort of gusset to the back waist band of a pair I'd been wearing for the past year that suddenly felt a little tighter than usual. They were always snug and I could fit into them but they are a more comfortable fit for now. It was a quicker step than losing the 5 pounds I've undoubtedly added onto my frame.
I repaired a tear in a new lightweight cardigan I'd worn only once. Fortunately it's a patterned piece and the repair doesn't show up too clearly.
John wanted to head to Lowe's this afternoon. I didn't have a list of things but I did purchase 3 items: 1 cling forms that were on the Christmas clearance table at $.50c each. I think the children will enjoy playing with those next year. I also bought a glass/jar brush. I used to be able to fit my hands down inside a narrow glass or regular canning jar but the bones don't move like they used to. I was frustrated trying to clean one of the canning jars the other day. This brush will help with that. I might add though that it looks a lot like my toilet bowl brush... I wonder if one of those would be cheaper? Just curious thinking there.
Well I am a bit put out. I'd ordered three new to me books by Edward Harris Heth. One is a sort of autobiography, and the other two were cookbooks. I've so enjoyed reading his Country Kitchen Cookbook that I thought I'd like more of his cookbooks to read. Well...both the cookbooks are the same cookbook as the Country Kitchen! They just all have different titles on the cover but the contents inside are one and the same. I hope I can re-sell them for the same price as I spent purchasing them. I'm afraid I'll be out the postage on them, though, sigh. I might have researched the books before ordering but honestly, with three very different titles you'd hardly expect to be getting the same cookbook as the one you already have!
Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher this evening, on a shorter cycle and air dried.
Friday: It's raining and cold. Perfect weather for soup if you ask me, so I spent the morning making up a nice big pot of vegetable soup. We'll be eating it over the weekend (and maybe for supper tonight as well).
I have been noticing more and more items in the kitchen cupboards that have been unused. This morning, instead of coffee, I had a couple of cups of hot tea. I'm not a huge fan of hot tea and certainly not of the flavored teas I used this morning (Pumpkin Spice Chai and a Lapsang Souchong) but they were hot and they subbed well enough for coffee.
I found a small bag of barley. I added some of that to our pot of soup. I was pleased to see it had not expired but I'll definitely look for more ways to use that.
I made a big casserole of mac and cheese for John to eat over the weekend. I used the custard method rather than the cheese sauce method. We had some for dinner today with a big green salad and a pan of roasted vegetables. It was super tasty and I'd forgotten how good that simple menu could be. Again I contrast this menu, simple as it is, with the tight budget menu and I am very grateful our budget is not that stringent...and I'm aware again that this dish is a filling one and frugal and would hold us should it be necessary.
I made John's work lunch for Sunday. I have it all gathered together in the fridge (except the non-perishable stuff which is already placed in his lunch bag), so I can easily find it come those early morning hours on Sunday morning.
That's it for me this week. What did YOU do to save in your home this week?