Showing posts from March, 2013

A Year of Savings: 2013

Mar 22:  My kids are coming in for the weekend.  I made a few things ahead for meals so that I could spend more time with them and less time cooking.  I could have bought take out or even frozen entrees but homemade is just so much better.  Two meals prepared ahead of time netted me a savings of at least $20.

Mar 23:  The little wagon full of alphabet blocks wasn't expensive at Ross for Less.  I paid just $10 for it, compared to the $21 we spent for a similar item at Toys R Us a few years ago for another grandchild.  The kids loved it just as I thought they would.  Savings $11.  What they also enjoyed: empty plastic buckets (which became hats, were filled with toys), canning jar rings (bracelets), an empty oatmeal box (used as a drum and as a container to drop things into).  Toys are fun, but honestly, no money is required when you have children.  Imagination is a great thing.

Mar 24: No expenses associated with this day.  We didn't buy the Sunday paper, didn't go into town,…

Weekly Menu Plan And An April Challenge

Officially, April marks the start of a new quarter.  Unofficially, I spent last month rehauling our budget after we discovered the tax increase took our raise.  Back to square one...And that led to the great revelation this weekend as I surveyed the dismal outlook on my goals list.  I had done very little towards my goals both in the house and in my life.  Ouch.  Fail. Fail. Struggling with the budget made me feel pretty much that I'd lost the battle on three fronts.

So this month, I'm going back to basics.  Basic home keeping routines, basic goals and basic budget.  Back 2 Basics is my challenge for this month and in the spirit of basics, I thought I'd return to basic grocery shopping as well.  What better place than to shop pretty much exclusively at Aldi for our groceries?  I will buy beef at the meat market (usually enough for 2-3 months when I go).  I will allow myself the occasional shop at the local market, the drug and dollar store, but we'll just make do with…

Shabbat Thoughts

This week, as we entered a week deemed Holy by both Jews and Christians, I prepared my home for Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread.  I thought a lot as I cleared yeast from my home. 

It was just about this time last year when we decided to step away from our synagogue for a time and go on sabbatical.  I've shared briefly about that time with you all. At the end of what turned out to be 70 days of time spent in deep prayer, study and continual seeking,  we were asked to step away permanently.  We were hurt and shocked and angry at the time.   We didn't see how on earth something that could be so hurtful could be an answer to earnest and heartfelt prayer.  Hurt, after praying as deeply as we'd done, is always a time of testing.  We had to grow up fast, beyond our hurt and repeat several times daily : "I don't understand, but I will trust You."  And it meant we had to stop being emotional and look rationally at what had taken place and why.


Meal Plan: Pantry Freezer Challenge Week IV

Wow what a Week End!  Grandbabies and their parents arrived Friday afternoon.  Dear DIL made dinner.  I don't know how she does it, drive 5 hours to our house and then make dinner, but then again she'd been in close confines with the kiddos for 5 hours so maybe that was a huge break for her!  She spoils us a bit, always has a new item or recipe she wants to try.  Friday evening was a fancied up meal of Artisan tomato soup and Panini style Grilled Cheese that was grown-up sandwiches: Havarti and Gouda on three cheese Italian bread.  Campbell's tomato soup suddenly seems so...I don't even have words.  Let's just say that I'd much much rather have the Artisan soup, but I'll probably have another can or two of Campbells soup before I give it up and admit that I've been turned into the worse tomato soup snob ever born. 

It was a rollicking weekend.  It was stormy outside with rain and thunder and lightning and inside it was just as noisy and loud.  Sleepy …

A Year of Savings: 2013

Mar 15:  Received in today's mail: 1 Worship Cd.  It was an unexpected courtesy gift for a gift we made.  We never expected that!  The Cd is top rate and we enjoyed it greatly.  Savings $15, the retail value of the item.

Clipped coupons from the ALL YOU magazine issue I'd finished reading.  I clipped enough usable coupons today to pay for the subscription...if I'd paid for it myself!  As it is, I got my subscription using Coke Reward points.  Savings $22.

I love to do Sudoku puzzles.  I have several books on hand here at home.  Lately I've been systematically working the puzzles. I began at the beginning and worked them in order of difficulty.  I confess that the HARD puzzles are still a bit beyond my thinking skills at this point but using the whole book instead of just those puzzles I think might be my skill level or a challenge means I'm getting full enjoyment from the books.  I have about six books on hand averaging $5 each.  Fully enjoying them nets me a savin…

Random Thoughts, I Wonder...

Spring is here...Not a sign of it anywhere over the weekend except for the slight growth of the grass in one spot of the lawn, a circular shape.  John and I noticed it earlier last week.  I pointed it out as we went down the driveway.  John nodded and said he'd noticed it before.  We joked about crop circles and alien spacecraft landing pads.  And then one morning this weekend, I called out to him to come look.  I'd been watching the sun rise that morning and moved away from the window for a few minutes and when I came back there it was.  A perfect round circle of sunlight that shone between the trees on the hill like a spotlight on that one spot.  Mystery solved?  Maybe.  Certainly it's no less curious than that sun shaped circle on my lawn.

I did notice that finally a bit of show started just yesterday.  An old oak tree on each side of the original property lines displayed a flush of faint greenery.  They knew it was time to do that.  Which made me think of seasons in g…

Weekly Menu Plan - Pantry Freezer Challenge Week III

I've decided that I'll probably sail through next week without a care as my pantry/freezer are holding up very well to this challenge.  Even the meat that I had on hand has gone further than I thought it might.  I think this is wonderful and am really pleased.  I was fortunate last week that Mama shared some fresh produce items with me.  This meant I could extend our produce items by choosing the ones less likely to keep well and those that would keep longer.  No need to use up all of the broccoli right away, since it will keep well for another week.  Apples will keep, but the grapes won't, so we've had grapes this weekend and will have apples for the beginning of this week.

Baked Ruebens, Creamy Potato Soup
I put the rye bread in the freezer when we got home from the grocery almost two weeks ago.  I couldn't get another corned beef as the store was out and I thought this menu would do nicely for a St. Patrick Day meal. We should have leftover corned beef and bread…

A Year of Savings: 2013

March 8 (cont'd):  John washed a mixed load of clothes today.  That consisted of colors, whites, towels, etc.  We seldom separate our clothes preferring instead to wash a full load two or three times per week.  John hung clothes to dry today, forgoing the use of the dryer.  When he came indoors later with the towels he did something I've done many times myself: he held them to his nose and inhaled deeply, "GOOD!"  That's one thing the dryer is not going to give us, that lovely line dried aroma of clean laundry.  Fresh air and sunshine are FREE and no artificial perfume will ever duplicate that aroma try though candle and freshener manufacturers do.

Peaches to Beaches yard sale  stretches for about 250 miles from the start of the peach growing district to the coastline of Georgia.  I've attended this yard sale regularly for the past few years but this year I'm skipping it, as much as I've enjoyed it in the past (and the weather is lovely today!).  In y…

Weekly Menu - Pantry Freezer Week II

The week has gone along swimmingly.  As long as we don't discuss my mood.  Oy.  Other than myself, things have gone very well.  I didn't save as much money this grocery shop as I'd thought I might, but I did save some. Now the holes in my pantry are filled, save a few spices I am out of, but I want to go to a slightly out of the way store to pick those up.

Which reminds me...I was asked how much we spend.  I have a budget of $400 per month which includes any paper, personal care, household (cleaners, minor equipment), pet products we require, as well as planning to stock up on items on sale that we'd normally use.  It also includes a small cushion of about $10 for impulse items.  I sometimes use that for further stocking up, sometimes for flowers or herbs or plants or a magazine though I confess even this is rare these days.  I'd say on average we spend about $170 on actual food items each pay period.  In our area we get plentiful fresh seasonal produce, dairy it…

A Year of Savings: 2013

A new month and a new opportunity to save.  I'm ready for this!

Mar 1:  I started the pantry inventory yesterday and today, I decided I needed to use some of the surprise ingredients I found: frozen chili, a can of pineapple (one of several that will expire come May), a box of just expired macaroni.  Determination to salvage was strong after tossing those two long expired items the last day of February.

So I made up TWO entrees from the box of macaroni, with a bonus single serve entree.  Chili Mac for dinner today, along with Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a single serve casserole of chili mac for the freezer was the first meal.  Entree Two: a freezer main dish of Macaroni and Cheese with a lovely homemade cheese sauce.  A frozen entree of mac and cheese at the grocery goes for $9.  I know because I have bought them on occasion, gasp...  I used 1/2 and 1/2 that had just reached the expiration date to make my cheese sauce, saving half a bottle from spoiling  which increased my sav…

Coffee Chat - Oh March!

Well Hello!  Come on in and forgive the lack of sweets in the house.  I thought I had a roll of chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer but I didn't and I've not bothered to take time to make anything at all.  I meant to, but I've been busy all day long.  One of those terribly frustrating sorts of busy too, because aside from a clean kitchen and a grocery list...well there's not a lot to show for all that busyness!  However, there's coffee, as always.  There's things to chat over, too, so come sit a while.

March rolled in on Friday with the coldest weather we've had to date.  You hear the heater is running now.  Well we kept the little propane heater going all day long Saturday and Sunday and the electric heat would still come on regularly.  It never crept much over 38F which I realize isn't real cold as far as some more Northern folks are concerned but it was such a damp, sink into your bones sort of cold that it felt even colder here.  That's …

Q & A II

Karla wrote:  Everything sounds delicious! Your menu plans are always very inspiring and mouth-watering. I do have a question - do you have any tried and true resources for knowing what will freeze well and how you rewarm it all back up to taste good? Or is it just from experience and know-how? on Weekly Menu Plan - Pantry/Freezer version

Jillee compiled this list of things that you can freeze.  I thought it rather interesting. 

University of Georgia offers this guideline for freezing basic foods.

But I think what you're asking me, Karla, is how do I freeze things like mac n cheese and some of the other entrees that I will make ahead.  It's really been a matter of trial and error and reading suggestions on blogs.


Not to criticize your meals, because they do sound delicious... but I am not sure how adding a rice dessert to a meal with baked beans makes a "complete protein"? There's a lot of carbohydrates and sugar in that meal, but I don't think the "complete protein" theory applies here... although, the meal sounds amazing and I would eat it in a second, protein or not! :)  Anonymous

Good question! I'd love to address you personally but since you didn't leave your name and chose to remain anonymous that's impossible.  However you know who you are...

My posted menu:  Baked Beans, Coleslaw, Corn Muffins,  Orange Wedges, Rice Pudding

I looked this up to be sure of straight facts, because I've always 'known' it and can't remember where I learned it.   I believe my knowledge came from reading a magazine article back in the early 80s when the U.S. was in another recession.  Or it might even have come from an older cookbook or WWII era m…

Weekly Menu Plan - Pantry/Freezer version

I'm a little late this week.  One of my March goals was to be cyber free during Monday DAYS...but I just didn't have time to do all I wanted to do online last night.  I'll plan better next week.  For now, here's the menus, some meals already eaten and some to be prepared still.

I haven't finished my inventory of foods quite yet, but what an eye opener!  The little freezer in the closet?  I found a whole chicken and a pint of homemade chili in there I didn't even realize I had.  I won't tell you how many packets of chocolate chips I have either, but it's enough to last me a little while, lol.  That's the good part of inventorying your foods.  The bad: finding that foods have expired, sigh.  And discovering that the little freezer is roughly half full of fruit that I have been storing for far far too long in the hopes of making jelly or jam.  Apparently it's not going to happen and if it does, I'll definitely want fresher fruit than the freez…

A Year of Savings: 2013

Feb. 25:  We spent the day watching it rain...and doing very little else.  I read that Sunday paper that we bought the day before, made dinner and watched it rain.  There doesn't seem to be any savings in a day like this but there was.  We RESTED.  Rest is very underrated.  It boosts the immune system, it relieves stress, and it allows the body to go into deep sleep at night.  I could buy vitamins and supplements and energy drinks and take them day and night but nothing restores energy like rest.

Feb. 26:  I doubled up today and planned two meals from one.  I had a corned beef in the freezer that I put in the crockpot and then I doubled the amount of potatoes.  That's one corned beef dinner and one meal later in the week of Reubens and Potato Soup for the weekend ahead.  I'm willing to wager that we get two meals off the second meal.  The corned beef dinner cost us about $10 which some non-frugal sorts might think is pretty good, since it's still less than take-out for …