A Year of Savings: 2013

Nov 1:  A long day.  Or so it felt with the early rising and early morning, as well.  We moved our usual grocery day since John had a meeting at work.  It was a bigger circle than usual that we made today!  However, combining errands is always the way to go.  We carried off trash, bagged up the aluminum cans I save for a man in John's work area (his granddaughter gets the cash earned from the aluminum as her college money!).  John got a haircut and I shopped for groceries.  We filled up the car with gasoline.  It's my goal to keep usage to about 1 tank per month for my car and even with the extra ride over to the mountain this past week, we still managed to keep to that goal.

I used a gift card to buy a Gingerbread Latte at the coffee shop.  Savings $3.48.

We have had an alarm clock radio/Cd player in our room for years.  About three years or so ago the Cd player decided to quick working.  The radio had gotten a bit iffy now and then, too.  We kept it because it was handy to have the second alarm in the room since John and I used to get up at two different times.  Today as I strolled around the grocery we found a new alarm clock radio/Cd player for $20...and it was half that cost if you had the store card.  I had the store card!  Savings $10.

Saved an extra $35 on items we purchased using that store card.

John has been telling me for months how much he enjoys chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  I've made two different cake recipes and neither one measured up to his idea.  He mentioned that cake again this past week.  Twice.  I decided to just buy one at the grocery store.  I found one in the bakery department for $10.  He suggested it was too big, suggested we buy a frozen one instead.  Horrors!  I was already compromising mightily to buy one from the bakery!  Frozen!  At Aldi I bought a chocolate cake mix, came home and baked it right away.  I made homemade frosting.  He's HAPPY with it.  Says it tastes great!  Personally I'd rather have a homemade cake but if he's happy that's all right by me.  Savings $8.

I was a little over my grocery budget.  No using debit card this week.  I used my allowance.  I'll be getting some of that back, since the radio also came from grocery money and by rights will be coming out of the house fund.

We did not buy dinner out today.  We came home and I reheated the leftover Shepherd's Pie.  Savings $14.

Made cinnamon rolls this afternoon, too.  John and I discussed what we'd like as a breakfast sweet.  He wanted to buy the bakery cinnamon rolls at Aldi.  I suggested I make the homemade ones.  I'd just pulled my recipe from my notebook this week. Savings $1.  We'll have cinnamon rolls for breakfast in the morning.

John washed a full load of clothes this afternoon.

Nov 2:  I planned to buy dinner out today and that's just what we did.  My reason was because we were going to be later than usual heading home.  John didn't have time to eat anything at Oneg (a time to eat fruit and bagels and cheese and socialize with others who attend service) and he was hungry after his practice.  The money did not come from our allowances.  It was set aside earlier this week when I got our weekly cash.

Nov 3:  I set out chicken to thaw last night.  I put it in the sink in a bowl, covered that with a towel and then with a big pot.  The chicken was thawed but icy this morning.

I made more chicken than we could eat today.  I planned menus around the leftovers.

Washed a full load of dishes.

Used baking soda and a bleach cleaning solution (it's a 10% mix that I bought for $.50 with a sale/coupon combo) to clean the sink and counters.

When I couldn't buy turkey sausage last week I bought two packages of ground turkey for $3.98 each, about what I pay for a package of sausage patties (8 to the package).  I mixed up my own sausage this morning. I used rendered chicken fat to add much needed moisture to the turkey meat, and reading through a few recipes determined about how much seasoning I needed, using what I had on hand. I formed golf ball sized bits of meat into small patties and flattened them.  I got 27 sausage patties from two pounds of meat.  Had I measured the meat instead of eyeballing it I could have made an even number.  However, for the same price I'd have paid for 16 patties, I now have 27.  My cost shrank from $.50 each to just under $.30 each.  I did a test run this morning and other than adding just a little more salt, they were quite good. Savings $5.40.

Nov 4:  Spent the day doing my kitchen prep work.  I put some hot peppers in the freezer (saving $3.00).

I used leftovers to make a Brunswick stew.  I had corn, potatoes and butter beans in the freezer, used leftover fried chicken as the meat.

I chopped vegetables (mushrooms, onions, cabbage, celery) for meals this week.  I decided the rest of the mushrooms would be nice to stuff to go with our steak dinner this week.  It wasn't planned into my menu but seemed right.  Adding side dish to the menu,  I am assured the last of the mushrooms don't spoil.  Savings $.80.

I doubled the Red Beans and Rice I made for dinner.  I always do when I make this dish, so I have an easy meal in the freezer.

No need of AC and only minimal heat in the mornings. I love these autumn days of saving electricity.

Nov 5:  A day of thrifting combined with errands.  We went to a different area than we normally shop and I did well.  I spent my budget exactly for thrift items.

We didn't eat out even though we were out past lunch.  John and I came home.  I left the Brunswick Stew heating in the crock pot.  Quite good and much appreciated since we'd driven home with the windows down.  We were chilly and the stew was hot.  

I had a long list of wants from the store where John needed to go.  I decided to stay in the car and wait on him.  Our budget was not open for 'want' at the moment.

Nov 6:  As I stepped out of the door this morning my shoe split at the seam.  Sigh.  I guess that money saved yesterday when I skipped the 'want' shopping paid off. I found two pairs of shoes on sale, spent about what I might have spent yesterday.  Note here too that I paid less for the two pair than I normally spend on one.  I'm not familiar with these brands so I don't know how they will hold up, but feel sure I can make do until I find the really good brands I normally buy on sale.

Mama gave me a big stack of magazines that were gently read.  She also blessed me with a stack of coupon inserts from her newspapers.

Noted a coupon code for a substantial savings $10 off $25 at JCP.  I don't normally pay attention to these but I need new nightgowns badly.  I not only found the gowns I like best, they were on sale.  I used the coupon code too.  I saved the cost of one of the gowns. Savings $42.

Mama and I were in Walmart for some of her shopping.  It's an easy place to just 'see' things and put them in the buggy isn't it?   I was very careful about impulse buys today.  I generally will spend about $20 when in that store.  Today I spent about $8.  I bought some smaller foil pans with lids to store my 'second half' portion of recipes instead of having my casseroles and pie pans in the freezer.  These were about 3/$1.38.  The only other purchase I made was ground cloves which I cannot purchase at Aldi.  I looked for whole nutmeg but no luck on that one.  I was pleased to stay inline with my budget.  Savings $12.

We went out to eat.  It was my turn to pay.  Mama suggested Cracker Barrel.  We didn't look about the gift shop this time (though I did spy some 50% Halloween things through the window from outside...) at all.  Again money stayed in my pocket.

Nov 7:  Homemade sausage and pumpkin cornmeal pancakes for breakfast.  The pumpkin cornmeal mixture was leftover from our pan of cornbread earlier this week.  Fed the first two pancakes to the dogs after they stuck and failed to rise...I switched from my stainless frying pan to a non-stick skillet and the pancakes didn't stick and rose beautifully.  Glad the dogs could eat my mistakes and happier that I found a way to make our breakfast pancakes work out.

Steak dinner for two for under $7.  I used a portion of that good beef sirloin we bought at meat market and that was my 'big' expense for the meal.  The rest was leftovers made up into tasty side dishes: fried potato pancakes (leftover mashed potatoes), Stuffed mushrooms (stuffed with a mixture of their own stems, onions, garlic and a bit of parmesan and cream cheese (less than 2 tbsps of each).  I made a salad and salad dressing.  The salad dressing will last us all week long.  Savings: homemade salad dressing $3.99.

Made cookies this afternoon while John slept.  I chose to make Magic Cookie Bars.  Normally a pricey cookie but I made my own Graham cracker crumbs from Aldi crackers (savings $1) and used items already on hand for the toppings.  Walnuts (instead of pricier pecans), shredded coconut, a mix of leftover chocolate chips, caramel nibs and peanut butter chips.  About the most expensive item in this recipe was the Aldi brand condensed milk for $1.39.  I have three dozen cookie bars.  Savings $2.59 (cost of packaged cookies on sale).

Made up a batch of egg salad for sandwiches. Savings $3.99 (not buying sandwich meat).

A few pecans have fallen but not many yet.  I picked up all I could find this afternoon.  Here's hoping I make a portion of our Christmas budget from the crop this year.

The house got very stuffy and warm this afternoon, but I could see the breeze blowing outdoors, so I went out on the porch to 'test' the air.  It was cool!  I came indoors, opened a couple of windows.  The house cooled off in a hurry and we didn't have to expend lots of electricity to do it.

Set aside for the dogs meal in the morning:  the broth from the steak pan, which I added a little more water to and scraped the browned bits up for them; a baked potato skin from my supper; the last portion of Challah from last week's Shabat crumbled, and scrapings from our dinner plates.  I had enough food to warrant halving their usual portion of dry food.  Savings $.50

Stain treated new (to me) place mats we'd used this week.  I still think Dawn detergent is the best at removing oil stains.  I generally buy a small bottle just for the laundry area. With a sale and coupon, it seldom costs more than $.70.  The laundry bottle lasts a year at least.  That's a lot of stain removal and a lot of savings over a year's time for that small expense!  I feel safe saying we save $200 annually just in treating stains promptly.
Nov 8:  Cleaned shower using homemade cleanser...and wrenched my back.  Owie.  We had heat rub to put on my sore back and plenty of over the counter pain relievers. I am uncomfortable but not in deep pain.  I must note here that just this week I used the very last bit of the last tube of heat rub we had on hand.  It was the tube John referred to as the $650 tube of Icy Hot...and why?  Because I had to make a special trip to a distant town to buy the stuff, as none was to be had in our area or the next county (isn't that ridiculous?), and I had a flat tire...We ended up having to buy 4 new tires because the guy from AAA who came to fix my flat said that all the tires were showing radial wire, hence the $645 'added fee' to the cost of the tube of heat rub, lol.  Mind you this last tube I purchased locally for under $4.  I could say I 'saved' $646 I suppose but that does seem a stretch.  However, note that the tube of heat rub lasted us well over a year.  I think it had something to do with John referring to the cost whenever we had to use it, lol.  It's amazing how little things can help you stretch an item out isn't it?

Headed out to a yard sale this morning.  I picked up a few items for the booth, but my happy find was a side table for my guest room. It's a quaint little table.  Too dark now to share a good photo of it, but promise I will as soon as it's nice and sunny.  Cost $10.  No savings perhaps but it's solid wood, cute and cottage-y.  You can't buy character or solid wood anymore unless you buy used furniture.

Went by Mama's for coffee and to pick up two shoeboxes of old family photos.  Here I'd been looking online hoping to find more family photos by accident and she had shoe boxes full!  I'll be making some copies of these and attaching to my family sheets.  Joy!

Made a quick dinner when I returned using up leftover chicken and gravy to make a quick chicken fricassee type dish.  I baked biscuits to go along with that meal and saved leftovers for Saturday morning breakfast.  Homemade biscuits equal a savings of $1.59.  

Total:   $347.34


Louise said...

Please forgive me for laughing but I found it amusing that you used walnuts because pecans were too costly and yet you have them at your disposal in your yard. LOL I know you sell them but why don't you keep some for baking??? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Were you putting your casserole dishes into the freezer and keeping them there? You can line them first with foil then freeze the casserole in them then pop them out once frozen and reuse the casserole or another time. When you want to use the frozen casserole for dinner take it out pop it back into the same casserole you used as a form to freeze it and heat your dinner. I doubt though this is new news to you. I am hoping to make some cookie rolls to put in the freezer for baking later and make extra for our daughter's freezer as a treat. It has been years since I made cookies with this method. Thanks for reminding me of them. Mom used to make them in November then bake them up right before the holidays when things got extra busy. She made the best walnut cookies too. I think she used the black walnuts which we can't seem to find here. They were sooooo good!! She also made a nut bread that even when sliced very thin never fell apart and made the nicest little snack sandwiches with Philadelphia cream cheese as the middle. :) Nothing like the thought of goodies to make you look forward to the holidays!!!! :-)
When you freeze dishes like the red beans and rice do you keep the one you are freezing under cooked so it won't get gummy when reheated? I always wondered about dishes like the macaroni and cheese and such and wondered if they would be over cooked tasting later if fully cooked first then frozen. Sarah

Rhonda said...

I think you had quite a profitable week.
I've used one of those JCP coupons and hope to use another one.
Thanks for the reminder about the malice cookie bars, I have all the ingredients except graham crackers, they will be easy to make appreciated by our thanksgiving week guests.

Lena said...

Oh, I'm sorry about your back! I hope you feel better soon. And it's so awesome that you have your own pecan tree growing in your yard! Lucky you :)

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