Thrifty Thursday - Preparing for Pantry/Freezer Challenge

 Homemade cookies fill the cookie jars at our house.  I made two different batches this week.  I'll need to make more Sunday...John's liked these cookies very well.

Friday:  We had a terrific time at the EMS dinner last night.  Won a very nice door prize, a gift card we'll be putting to good use.  It means we'll have a nice windfall amount left in each of our personal savings accounts...I think mine might be used to buy slipcovers for two of the living room chairs.

Ever have one of those days when you really just don't want to cook?  I knew when I woke this  morning I was having such a day and you all know how much I love to cook.  Never mind.  I made an easy breakfast (sausage and waffles) then pulled a prepared entree from the freezer to thaw.  My 'cooking' today involved heating up that casserole and making croutons from bread I'd stored in the freezer.

AC turned up as soon as John got up this morning (well before I did, we were out very late last night).

For reasons known only to Maddie she felt possessed to tear my cilantro out of the pot it was planted in last night and half dig up one of those palms I was debating possibly maybe getting rid of as well.  Sigh...I didn't sweep that soil off the porch into the yard, but am 'recycling' it adding in fresh dirt and using it to repot other plants. 

Boy does it pay to open junk mail.  I found a 20% off coupon for a restaurant in one I almost threw away after removing my name from the envelope. 

And it pays to open those little courtesy gift bags, too.  We each received one last night at the EMS dinner.  Four coupons each for free dessert/appetizer and two for a free sandwich at another restaurant.  And four new ink pens to add to our diminished stash.

Saturday:  I planned ahead for the longer than usual day and took along crackers and more water than I normally pack.  It's a good idea to have a snack when you're not sure when you'll have dinner.

We all went out for dinner, business meeting to follow.  Fortunately I had a nice chunk of grocery money in my purse, enough to cover our meal.

Supper was vegetable soup from the freezer, bagels with cream cheese and apples.  A nice meal for end of the day and that soup is even better now than when I made it.

Added $3 to our vacation fund.

Sunday:  Washed one large load of clothes, then divided in half to dry.  Two loads dried for 40 minutes each, the second load being towels which are heavier, so they started out in a hot dryer. 

Put on a full load of dishes to wash once the first load had dried.

Washed my hair over the sink this morning, skipping the use of water for the shower.  We didn't do anything strenuous yesterday so I felt a sponge bath would suffice this morning. 

The house was quite chilly this morning.  I decided to use the whole house fan to keep the house cooler and prevent the AC coming on early.  Here it is now at 3pm and we've yet to reach 77F indoors.  And yes, I've managed to clean house very thoroughly this morning and not needed AC to cool down either.

Lunch for me: Taco stuffed potato.  I had a bit of taco meat leftover but didn't really want tacos again.  I baked a potato in the microwave and then stuffed with taco meat, salsa, a bit of grated cheese and sour cream.  Very tasty and filling.

John working an extra shift today.

Firm decision made today to sell my Victoria magazines.  It's time to let them go bless someone else with hours of daydreams.

A no cost 'fix': a good thorough cleaning!  The kitchen looks better and brighter and far more cheerful now that I've taken time to wipe down all the surfaces, straighten up the messy little spots and put away some of the decor items that cluttered surfaces.  It's amazing that elbow grease and editing can do so much for a room.

Put away the dog food this morning when the dogs didn't eat.  I think I can safely assume they'll do best with a once a day feeding from now on, it seems to be what they want.

Monday:  Cookie jars empty.  Cookie jars refilled.  I made two batches of cookies today to refill the cookie jars.  I figure it costs about as much as buying a package of cookies, but boy do they taste better when I make them, and I get a lot more than any package will deliver.

One of the cookie recipes calls for wheat flake cereal.  Never have wheat flake cereal on hand, never have had.  I always use cornflakes which works just as well.

Plans for dinner was a two serving dish.  Chicken breasts I'd thawed proved to be far larger than they looked in the package.  I cut them in half and ended putting half the entree in the freezer for a future meal.  Would have been better still if I'd proceeded as I'd first planned when I saw the breasts and used one to boil for salad for sandwiches.

Opened a can of beet slices. I slivered a few for our salad, put the rest in the fridge.  I'll make Harvard beets for John next time he's off.

Boiled eggs today for salad.  I put four into the pot I was boiling pasta water in, after washing the eggs well.  I scooped them out to cool when the water came up to a full rolling boil, then put in the noodles to cook.

Watered the plants on the front porch with water that I'd caught up during the last hard freeze we'd had at the end of January.

Went into town with John to get mower gasoline.  We carried off trash, picked up the mail, too.

Turned the AC higher still when it came on and kept running and running.  I'd rather have it a tad warm and give the electric a break than try to cool the house to a temperature that means the AC doesn't stop running for hours.

Worked on 2nd quarter budget sheet.  I had to increase several of the outgoing areas and decrease the income (fewer holidays, less overtime hours overall).  Better to be prepared than shocked at the end of the quarter I think.

John thought our midday dinner a heavy meal.  We had a light supper of sliced fruit, crackers and cheese.  Just right to balance out the day.

Tuesday:  Didn't feel well today but persevered in getting housework attended to.

Dinner  was steak.  It was quite large so I cut into thirds, putting aside one portion.

Cooked twice as many potatoes as needed, dicing some and slicing others.  I wanted mashed potatoes for lunch, diced potatoes for potato salad.  Cooked them all in one pot.  I used a small Dutch oven, put the diced potatoes into a steamer basket and set them atop the sliced potatoes then filled the pot with water.  Worked perfectly.

Quick and easy batter idea: I use pancake mix to batter onion rings.  I just add a little salt to store brand pancake mix, just enough water for a fairly thick batter (1/2 cup pancake mix, 1/3 cup water) and  then dip and fry.  It makes a light crispy batter for the onion rings.  Should do just as well for chicken or fish. It reminds me of a tempura type coating.

Made a piece of artwork for my living room using materials I had on hand.

Cheapest makeover yet: move things around! Our eyes get so used to seeing certain items in certain places that we stop seeing them.  Move them to a new location, from one side of room to another, or even to another room.  The items will look new and fresh without any added cost.

I was so very weary today.  Naps cost nothing!  I gave up thirty minutes to a much needed nap, woke feeling far better than I'd felt all day long.  Attitude was considerably improved as well.  Amazing what a little TLC can do for you.

Followed the pattern.  John has been bringing home about half the lunches I've prepared for him for at least three or four months now.  I took the hint and put in half as much.  He wants a bite when he gets home, I'll have a light supper (sandwich, fruit and coffee) for him when he arrives home.

No one terribly hungry come suppertime.  Bagels with cream cheese and fresh pineapple hit the spot nicely.

Wednesday:  Washed a full load of dishes first thing this morning.

Had to go to Mama's today.  Gathered trash from all around the house and took by dumpster on my way to town.

I looked over sales ad for the store I knew we'd go into today.  Extended sales period on everything, and my needs were very few.  I spent only $5 today while out.

Realized today that I still have $30 of this pay period's grocery money in my purse.  I separate grocery money from allowance and vacation money to avoid confusion.

Added $4 to the vacation fund.

Happily accepted the 'thin' bagels Mama disliked to use as sandwich bread for burgers this week.

Light supper of cereal and fruit after a big noontime dinner. Dinner was Mama's treat today.

Remembered to ask for coupons while at the grocery this afternoon. This store no longer puts them out for the general public to pick up as wanted.  They are doled out 1 set per customer.

Brought home a magazine and coupons Mama set aside for me.

Thursday:  In anticipation of the Pantry Freezer challenge I thought a fresh pantry/freezer inventory was in order.  Whoowee!  That was quite a job and I have to confess I am not quite finished.  I still have one small cupboard and two shelves of the craft room closet pantry to finish up.  I worked hard all day long on that job and it took more time than I'd thought it would.

Talked it over with John and decided to move all the fruits and ice I'm gathering up for next week's Passover feast in the little freezer in the craft room closet.  Plugged it in first to be sure that it was working properly.  It was.  Now it's about half full and I've room to put more foods in the big freezer.

Found two or three items to use right away on the shelves of the pantry.  I've put these items in a basket on the counter so I will know to use them in the next month.

Sorted out that crowded refrigerator, too, today.  Decided to use the green onions in the potato salad, as well as some red bell pepper.  I didn't have a boiled egg to put in this potato salad and I confess it's one of the few times I skipped it.  I found it just as tasty as ever.
Chopped two bell peppers and put into the freezer.  Discovered I do this a great deal.  I really need to use up all the frozen bell peppers rather than buying anymore fresh ones!

I found a half dozen sandwich rolls in the big freezer that I'd forgotten I had.  When thawed they proved as fresh as when they went into the freezer.  I'd seriously been planning to toss them out for the birds and dogs, but as fresh as they were I felt it was far better to use them.  I had also come across sliced cooked chicken breast meat, in the refrigerator had some of the savory butter to make marinated sandwiches...Well hey!  I made a half dozen marinated sandwiches instead which pretty much takes care of work lunch and supper for two days.

Used some diced leftover fruit from our cheese/fruit/crackers plate the other night to make up a little fruit hash for side dish for supper/lunch.

Wish I could say I found no waste at all today but it isn't so.  I did find three or four cans of food that had long since expired.  I was rather shocked to find my raisins were long out of date and I might have been tempted to keep them a bit longer but they'd gone sugary and hard.  I also found a bit of bell pepper and a jar or two of jelly that had gotten lost and grown too old to safely use.  Thank goodness I cleaned this week because it's no telling how much more might have spoiled if I hadn't seen just what I had.

While I was working at this job, I found myself thinking "Oh!  I could make..." with one item or another.  Well I took a sheet of paper and started jotting down these ideas.  What a bonus to have meal ideas 'stocked up' for the coming pantry challenge.

Decided to rearrange my baking cupboard while I was doing the inventory on it.  Now that I've used it awhile I know about what works and what doesn't.  I needed the measuring cups and extra mixing bowls down lower where I could easily reach them, and I moved the seldom used colored sugars, food food coloring and cookie cutters up to the top shelf.  It will save me a bit of time and I consider that a savings, too.

 One small step of progress made towards that living room makeover. I was putting away an item in my table linens drawer when I spied some place mats I'd forgotten I just the colors needed to complement the colors.  I use these on my two tables that sit next to our chairs.  This keeps the tabletops from getting scratched or marred with wet cups.

Mended a pocket on one of John's work shirts. Some of his work shirts have been in use for several years but mending little things has kept them looking nice for all this time.

Kept AC set at 78F today.  When I found it a bit warm while working I turned on the fans.  Of course, I pulled shades and curtains closed on the sunny side of the house. 

Noticed this morning that the New Dawn rose I had Samuel move and plant for me last autumn didn't make it.  I walked over to the flower bed we'd moved it from and found FOUR new bushes coming up.  I'll move those out to better spots where they can climb to their hearts content.

And that wraps up the savings in the past week.


Rhonda said...

Lots of good doings

Carol said...

I'm enjoying reading your blog. I just found you today and look forward to visiting more in the future.

Grandma D said...

What time is tea? Those cookies look delicious!! Hope I have enough time to get there. Grandma D.

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