My Frugal Week: Jan 25 - Jan 31

Jan 25:  My youngest son called last night to say he and his fiancee were coming down to spend the day.  I couldn't decide what to do about dinner.  I really wanted to honor my Shabat but really didn't have a wide range of choices to feed three.  I remembered the Chicken Stew I'd made Wednesday.  I added Noodles to the stew, and made a Grape and Apple salad. Molten Lava cakes were an inexpensive dessert. I had plenty of cookies in the cookie jar and 3 pounds of Clementines. That is enough food for dinner and snack.

Supper was  Grilled Cheese sandwiches.

My Home Keeping Journal

Debbie asked how I set up my Home Keeping journal.  I think these are about as individual as the homemaker who puts one together because they are a tool and we all need different tools.   What you put in one, how you use it, is strictly up to you and your family needs.

Coffee Chat - Winter Weather A Non-Event

Hello dears...Hurry in, it's quite cold once more!  There's coffee and cookies and hot cocoa if you'd like.  I meant to mae up a fresh batch of chocolate syrup this week, using the recipe from The Tightwad Gazette which tastes so very good to me.  I thought once upon a time that no chocolate syrup but Hershey's  could ever taste just right, but the Tightwad recipe wowed me the first time I made it and I still think it's the best.  I used to make it for the kids...and yes, I put it in a Hershey's bottle I'd saved, so they didn't know it wasn't Hershey's.  I let them believe it was Hershey's and they came to no harm because of it.  Put it in a glass jar and they snubbed it. Pour  it in the old Hershey bottle and they drank it right up.  I stopped making it for the longest time, then realized I really missed having the occasional chocolate milk and in winter I missed having hot cocoa that tasted like hot chocolate and not like grainy weird stuff the way packets sometimes do.  The dry powder in my jar is a simple mix of confectioner's sugar and cocoa and does very well for a substitute, but I mean to make time to make that syrup again shortly.

Shabat Thoughts - He Calls Me Friend

One of the songs John loves to play in worship here at home is "I Am  A Friend Of God".  The song, taken in part from Psalms 8:3-4 poignantly wonders how God, Creator of All, can be focused upon something so finite and small as  a single soul when the heavens are so vast:
Who am I that You are mindful of me
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me
How You love me
It's amazing

Weekly Meal Plan and To Do List - Waste No More

I have just posted last week's Frugal Week post. I had a good bit of waste last week.  I think every day but the last two I tossed at least one item into the trash that had spoiled or was way beyond the expiration date.  Not good!  This week I plan to use what I have before anything more can spoil.  I'm over the consequences of not checking the fridge daily to see what needs to be used up!

I didn't make as many meals as planned last week.  I was gone more than I'd thought I might be, used leftovers a couple more times than I thought I would, so there are a couple of repeats from recent weeks in this week's menu.

I need to start quickly with today's meal because honestly, I must use up a half pound of hamburger TODAY.

Chicken Noodle Soup, Waldorf Salad, Molten Lava Cakes
I served this meal yesterday.  Sam contacted me late Friday night and said he and Bess were coming down to spend the day.  I had leftover Chicken Stew with Dumplings that I'd made last week.  I smashed the fluffy dumplings to thicken the stew, cooked egg noodles and dumped them in to make a nice chicken soup.  I used 1 apple and 1 small stem of halved red grapes to make the salad, dressed with a bit of sour cream and orange juice concentrate.

Frugal Week: Jan 18-24

I can't get my usual photo to load for some reason...Oh well, this will do, because we all know that little savings add up to bigger ones!

Jan 18:  The soup I made yesterday afternoon was just a tad too salty.  I think it was the bouillon cubes.  I added a diced potato.  That made it more palatable.

I made muffins this morning for breakfast using blueberries from the freezer and the streusel left from my Banana Bread Cobbler recipe last week.  

We attended synagogue today.  On our way we went through a small town.  A church was selling donuts for a ministry fundraiser at one of the intersections.  We always support the prom committees, seniors and churches that sell donuts. They cost $5, just about what they cost at the store.  John and I each had one.  We decided this afternoon to send them with him to work tomorrow.  We don't need the extra calories and the guys and girls at the shop will appreciate having a quick snack to grab if they don't have time to eat a meal.

We stopped and bought chicken on the way home, since John didn't want to eat soup again today.  I wasn't surprised.  He said it was good last night and I believe he thought it was.  Soup is one of the few items I make that he seldom wants leftovers of and so I'd already planned for that possibility and  provided my allowance to purchase the chicken.   We had cereal for supper.  I'll eat soup tomorrow for my meal and then will portion out soup in individual containers for me to have for supper or lunch on my alone days.

What we normally do on our way home: stop and by a soda.  Today we skipped that. This usually comes from John's pocket money so it doesn't really affect the household funds, but it is still a savings, which stretches his allowance to last a little closer to pay day.

Portioned leftover chicken into two separate servings.  I'll send one in John's work lunch tomorrow and likely eat the other for my supper.

Mama gifted me her gently read magazines before I left her home Wednesday.  I read two of them this afternoon.

Mama also gave me her coupon fliers from the past couple of weeks.  That included  the five inserts that came out two weekends ago.

Went 12 hours without an over the counter pain reliever.  I've been using them pretty steadily since my back first hurt, but have been gradually stretching out the time between doses.  I'd made it as much as 6-7 hours until today when I went a full 12 without.  Healing in steps.  I'll be glad to cut back and save the added expense this has brought.

Packed John's work lunch. 

Washed a full load of dishes.

Got cold on the ride up to synagogue, got colder in synagogue.  Seemed like once we came home I just couldn't get warm.  I checked the thermostat and the thing was right smack on 68F.  I turned on the tea kettle in the hope the steam would warm the house.  It didn't really help much but I covered up with a fleece throw and that did help.

Received the last Amazon card ordered with Swagbucks.

Waste:  Opened the jar of roasted red peppers in the fridge to make peppers and cheese (less expensive version of pimento cheese), only my peppers were moldy.  Yuck!  Tossed that in the trash.  Now I knew full well that I needed to divide that bigger jar between smaller ones and freeze them or I'd lose that product.  I guess I just plain let myself get distracted over the past few weeks.  My failure cost me a small amount of money loss.  Phooey.  AND I've noted that I always date the products I'm putting in the freezer, so I know how long they've been there, but I seldom do such for things like roasted red peppers in the fridge.  I'm adding that to my 'To Be Done' list in order to help avoid future losses.  Lesson learned.

Jan. 19:  There wasn't really enough coffee for a second cup this morning, since I was using a larger mug. I made a fresh pot, which I forgot to put on the bold setting.  So so coffee.  Oh well.  It was hot and caffeinated so I drank it anyway.  I'll pay closer attention next time I make coffee.

Made John a hot breakfast before he left for work.  Packed the meal I made up for him last night.

My breakfast used up a lonely piece of turkey sausage.  I chopped it up and put atop cheese toast.  I enjoy that simple and tasty combination for breakfast.

Have piddled about house all morning and into the afternoon.  Cleaned the bathroom,using the homemade cleanser in the shower.  Time to mix up more once again.  Equal parts of vinegar and dish detergent (NOT dishwasher detergent).  I never labor over my shower anymore since I started using that homemade cleanser.

Fed Maddie and Misu. When they were obviously done, I picked up the food pans and put them in a plastic bucket with a lid so the ants would not be drawn to them.

Picked up clothes and straightened the bedroom, made the bed and cleared the desk.  Amazing!  I'm always pleased at how a simple tidying can transform a room.  Proceeded to do the same in the living and dining areas.

Sat down and worked on the 2014 budget sheet for our household. If it seems I'm dragging my feet on this, I'm really not.  I haven't got all my figures in yet for income as there are several changes with the new schedule.  Until we actually see how pay periods work out I can't put hard figures down on paper.  What I can do is figure out what we're paying out and noting those few items where payments may vary depending upon income.  The rest demand to be paid regardless of how much income there is or isn't.  This allows me to see where I can adjust if needed and to figure our what my 'bottom line' amounts must be in those categories which will see the hardest tightening.

Planned meals, baking, and errands for the week

Found a Crock Pot brand crock pot on sale at JCP this morning as I was looking through their sales ad.  It had great reviews,  not one complaint that it 'ran hot'.  I ordered it via online and am having it delivered to the nearest JCP store which happens to be the town where we normally buy grocery.  I'll be headed in that direction at least twice this next week and will be sure to make one of those trips coincide with the delivery.  The crock pot was reduced by $20.00 so was almost half price.  I saved $8 in shipping costs by planning to be in town within a day or two of being delivered at the store.  It's a bare savings over gasoline costs but a savings.

Made cookies, using some cereal that we didn't like the taste of for cold cereal.  These were two Aldi brands that John was just unhappy with overall, rice krisps and corn flakes.  I used some of both in the cookie recipe which called for 1 cup of cereal.  I plan to crush the rest of the corn flakes and put in the freezer to use as breading on oven fried chicken nuggets. There's enough rice krisp cereal to make a pan of cookie bars (my next batch of cookies I think).

As I worked today, I thought long and hard about my pantry and freezer storage.  It's looking a little slim just now and I know why.  I'm deciding how to proceed.  I had been stocking up every pay period but I soon realized that I am prone to stock items that we would need in an emergency for power outage...and less prone to stock up for things like a term of being out of work, or having need of eliminating grocery purchases almost entirely.  This area needs to be examined hard at the moment.

If we were to have a power outage it is unlikely it would last months or even a month.  So fewer of those items might be kept on hand.  However, for a period of unemployment what would I need?  What foods would we most miss eating? If we found ourselves strapped financially, what grocery items would we wish we'd stocked up?  I'm going to try and answer these questions and then purchase accordingly.  I mean to start this week with an item that goes on sale only occasionally and is listed at our local store this week. Like pimentos it is one of those items I often wish I had on hand and only do have very occasionally. 

My dinner today was leftover chicken pieces (leg and wing), a container of the frozen rutabaga,  frozen stuffing, all heated in the oven while cookies baked. I also thawed a small container of cranberry relish and had that with my meal.  Yum! I had soup for my supper.

Made a single serve cup of coffee for the afternoon instead of a 1/4 pot.

Cleaned the kitchen well and as a last step, scrubbed the sinks with baking soda, scraping excess into drain and pouring vinegar in behind it and hot water a bit later.

Waste:  Peanut butter chips.  I bought them some time ago and hadn't checked the jar I had them stored in but just before I dumped them in the cookies (as an additional ingredient because I felt they needed to be used up).  I decided to do the smell/taste test, having found that a few items bought at the Mennonite store in bulk must have been older stock...and these were rancid.  The bigger waste?  Putting them in the cookie dough and discovering it after they were in!  I tossed about 1 cup of mini peanut butter chips.

Gee I do hope I don't end up having a daily waste report!

Jan 20:  In past weeks I've noted we seldom finish a loaf of homemade Challah.  To offset that I've been trying to incorporate it into more meals.  Today I used a half loaf to make French toast for our breakfast.  I saved the egg/milk mixture.  That will go into pancakes later this week for another morning's meal.

I did a good bit of housework before John came in this morning from work.  He'd had a late call so had to stay later at work.  I got nearly all the housework done, except vacuuming.  After breakfast this morning we had Harvest (when we get paid we call it Harvest because it is a harvest rendered from John's labor) and paid bills.  We paid extra on the car loan, noted we had enough money to purchase car tags next pay period, discussed how we'd handle another matter.   

I couldn't run errands as we'd normally do due to the holiday.  So I vacuumed...and after I'd finished I realized how very late it was, 11:30!  Here I'd planned to make meatloaf and it was very late for starting that. But I wanted meat loaf!   I found that half my meat was nearly as solidly frozen as it was yesterday when I took it from the freezer.  Phooey!  Meal plan changed to Tacos.  You'll see why that didn't happen when you see my waste, so plan C: Homemade Hamburgers.  At this point it was noon and high time I had a meal plan and got started.

I made homemade French Fried onion rings.  I don't have a deep fryer but you really don't need a deep fryer.  All you need is a deep saucepan.  I usually pour oil in to a depth of about 2 inches which is a lot less oil than most fryers will use.  I sliced one onion, made up a simple batter (1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup milk, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt) and dropped in my onion rings. When the oil was hot, I dropped in a few rings at a time and flipped them when they turned brown.  This same method will do just fine for most deep fried foods (doughnuts, fish, etc.).

Waste:  A very large pack of corn tortillas, sigh. Another of those items that slipped through the cracks during my back problem.  Long expired.

It got a little warm today.  I opened the kitchen window and one in the living room just a bit.  It cooled the house off to a nice 70F which was just about right.

Making do with what I have.  I've wanted a second bedside table for the guest room.  As I sat here Sunday night I made up a mental list of furnishings that needed to leave the house.  I noted the table we'd set the Christmas tree up on  and had left in place in front of the living room my brain went on ticking I suddenly saw that table with a coat of paint and at bedside.  Click!  Today I dragged out a can of latex paint.  I found it was very thick, but since the table was a stained wood, I determined it would do as well as Kilz to cover the stain.   I checked with John and he agreed it would work fine.  I'll need to buy paint to put a finish coat on the table but I think it's going to look just great.

John washed a full load of clothes and hung nearly all to dry.

Put the soup I made Friday into 3 separate containers and froze it for future meal portions.

Jan 21:  Since John is off today, we decided to make it grocery day.  We combined several errands: taking off trash, posting bills, doing the banking, filling up car with gasoline with the grocery trip.

Reheated muffins made earlier this week for our breakfast.  I split them and buttered then toasted for our bread.

I stocked up on Turkey Spam at the local grocery. I like this for breakfast meat and sandwiches. Normally Turkey Spam sells for about $3.79 a can.  Typically it goes on sale every 3 months or so for 2/$5.  I have been just purchasing 2 cans usually but it occurred to me this past week that if I bought more I'd be less likely to run out before it goes on sale again.  I checked expiration dates today and it was well within a time frame I'd use.  I bought 8 cans, saving $10 over all.

This stocking up on Spam is part of my pantry revamp.   The other night, John and I made our supper off a not very tasty canned stew.  Why was I buying items meant to see us through physical disasters?  The truth is they can occur and  have before.. but we're far more likely to be hit with a financial crisis of a short or long duration.  My goal is to purchase the sorts of items we' normally eat on sale and never purchase them when they aren't on sale, in other words, never pay full price.  Personal care items, paper products, the few cleaning products we buy, all those sorts of things are included.

I took just half my grocery money from the bank this week.  I've spent quite a bit of money and technically had only $25 of this  month's budget left, but I knew that would never cover the items we had to have to make it through next pay period.  Sooo...I drew up a very short list and we managed to get all items for the amount I pulled from the bank, including the stocking up on Spam.  I'm over, but I know I did my best in stretching my dollars today. I'm cutting myself slack because I came in under budget in December due to my not feeling well, even with our extravagant holiday meal.

John bought a submarine sandwich at the grocery.  We were given a discount because we asked they not put ham on the combo sandwich we purchased.  The final price was right at what Subway charged, but the meats were far higher quality.

John called my attention to the Sunday papers still on the store shelves.  "Coupons?" he asked.  We had to pay for the paper but it was half price.  We have the fun of crossword, the sales sheets to use to plan any further purchases, and coupons.  Nice!  

John asked for a splurge item.  I could have said "No way!"...I decided that we could splurge within reason.  Rather than buy a pound of the pricey cheese he wanted, we opted for 1/4 pound.  Under $3 splurge.

I made a pizza for our supper.  I used what I had for cheeses even though I didn't think it would be enough.  Well it was.  I cooked a full pound of Italian turkey sausage but I put half of the sausage in the freezer for pizza another day.  I made the dough from scratch, used bell peppers from the freezer, leftover tomato sauce.  The house smelled so good!  The oven's heat was welcome, too, with heavy duty winds blowing chilly air our way.

waste:  I swear I normally don't have as much waste as I've had this week...Onion dip, made the weekend before the New Year and pushed to the back of the fridge.  It wasn't a full tub, only about 1/2 cup but still waste.

I usually keep these items corralled in a basket but  sometimes things spoil because I fail to notice the passage of time.  So now I have a second method of helping me track my leftover items in the fridge.  I've been labeling things for the freezer for almost a year now and it's been very helpful.  I use standard address labels, 100 to a package, about $3.49.  I cut them in half.

Jan 22:  Let's just get this over with shall we?  waste: three stalks of yellowed celery.  Celery can be overwhelming when green if you use too much.  As it ages and yellows, it intensifies in flavor.  I can see this bunch is on the verge of going bad.  Trouble is I've got plenty of celery in the freezer for making broth.  I don't need more in the freezer.  Must.Use.Up.  The yellow stalks however went into the trash and there's another waste for you. I  need to start a compost heap.

Made pancakes for breakfast.  Used the egg/milk mixture from French Toast morning as my egg/milk in the pancakes.

Made chicken and dumplings for dinner.  Lots of leftovers despite cutting down on the ingredients.  I put in the fridge to reheat later in the weekend.  I'll likely give Mattie the dumplings that were left and will add noodles to the broth, meat, veg so it at least is a different meal.  I made the fluffy dumplings the way John likes them by the way.  I was busy playing with a project and forgot I was going to make flat dumplings which takes a bit more time than the stir and drop dumplings.

It was cold outdoors. I wanted a hot supper, too.  I made a toasted sandwich for our evening meal.

Went out to plug in the pump house light.  Discovered the protection was off the back outdoors faucet.  I checked with John to make sure he hadn't removed it (he hadn't) and covered it back up.

Jan 23:  NO waste!  That's partly due to not cooking anything today since breakfast, lol.

Cold morning.  John has to work. I made that good, stick to your ribs Oatmeal.  We're both liking that little recipe a lot these days.  I think it's a bonus that oatmeal is so good for us.

I cleaned house this morning, then mopped floors.  I needed to clean a tight spot between stove and cabinet and fridge and cabinet.  I used my Swiffer duster.  Worked like a dream both dry and wet to clean the floor well.

Decided to go off thrifting this afternoon.  I didn't mean to skip lunch.  I had plans.  The trouble was that the plan fell through and I ended up driving further than planned.  I had a late dinner, so no supper for me.

In one of the stores I visited today, the owner told me I could have my pick of FREE books.  You know I took advantage of that!  I didn't see anything especially rare or old but I did find about four books I wanted for myself.

I found an old fashioned glass orange juicer (it's bigger than a lemon juicer, so I assume it's for oranges) at the first store but I felt it was a little pricey.  I decided against it.  So glad because the next store had the same exact piece for about 1/3 the price.  Now that I can price to sale in my booth.

As I drove today I plotted out how I could manage a new venture.

Got electric bill today.  Zowie!  John and I talked about it.   It's due to increases everyone is seeing.  I also told him I'd rather use our alternate heat source more, and lower the electric heat to offset costs now.  Come summer, I don't have an alternate.  I'll try to save the difference now (and that means actually setting some money aside to use during those hot months.

Jan 25:  John had plans so I hurried and got up this morning.  We had time to get laundry done and hung to dry.

I had another day out planned.  John  was going away to a men's conference.  I was driving him over to the town where the group was leaving from.  We gathered up trash to take off with us.  I planned out a circuitous route that allowed me both stops at two more thrift stores and the opportunity to go by and pick up my crock pot at JCPenney.  I called the store first to be sure it was in.

I had a good day treasure hunting and acquired some lovely things.  I feel much as Amy in the movie "Little Women" when feeding the Hummel children popovers, "One for you, one for me, one for you, one for me..." lol.  Yes, a few things for me.  I'll share them in Coffee Chat but many things were for the booth.

I bargained a little at the second thrift store.  I'm not a big time haggler.  Now and then I see a price discrepancy in similar items or I am buying a boxed lot of things and because I'm buying I'll ask for a price change, or offer up my own price.  I did that today on some things I purchased.  I didn't save tons or lots or even a good bit.  I save a little.  I don't mind saving a little.  Little savings add up to BIG savings.

I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted for supper thought I had given myself permission to have whatever I wanted. I figured if I couldn't make up my mind I must not want anything too badly, so I headed back home.

Stopped in at flea market.  I dusted and rearranged things in what I hoped was an eye appealing arrangement that would make things more visible or look different enough that even if someone had checked the booth out two or three times, something different would catch their eye.  I was pretty pleased with how it looked.  I was gratified when the shop owner stopped by my booth to tell me that a picker from Atlanta had been in and liked my things, even buying a few of them.  To be told it was said I had a 'good eye' was gratifying.   

Came home and took two frozen Bbq wings from the freezer ( put up as leftovers a couple weeks ago) and put them in the oven to thaw with a potato to bake alongside.  I wasn't sure the potato would keep in the same time as the wings would thaw, so I slid a skewer through the middle of the potato.  This conducted heat to the center of the potato and cooked it more quickly.

I am sending this out late and I do apologize to you all.  I've had a rather busy weekend.  I was tired Friday evening and meant to finish this out then but thought I'd do it Saturday.  Well Saturday brought with it a whole rash of other activities that weren't planned, so here we are.  What did you do this week to save money in your home?



Weekly Meal Plan

I am feeling better.  I think the good sleep on that new mattress and pillow has been a huge help.  Now I can finally get my head into my pantry freezer challenge. 

I made a big pot of soup Friday afternoon when we came in from running errands.  We had soup for supper that night.  I'd sort of halfway planned it for Shabbat dinner but it's one of the rare things John doesn't care to have leftovers of right away, no matter how good it is, and it was really good.  That soup cost me only the hamburger I used to make it.  Every single other thing in it was in the fridge or the freezer already.  I'll put the soup in the freezer in individual containers.  It might appear 'at a later date' when it won't look like leftovers, lol.

Every meal on this week's menu uses what is already in the freezer, not the meat most recently purchased (it's dated so I know just which packages to use) or in our pantry.  I plan to keep my grocery list very short this pay period and buy only the items I am out of.  I need to purchase fruit, milk, cheese, eggs, and bread. Oh yes and dishwasher detergent.  I hope to stock up on Turkey Spam and any other good sales items but definitely not purchasing for current usage.

Frugal Week - Jan 11-17

Linking to Rebecca at Renaissance and Brandy at Prudent Homemaker

Jan 11:  Not the day planned.  I woke in pain again this morning.  John made breakfast and decided I was in no shape to attempt the long ride to synagogue nor to be left alone.  Sigh. I hate having my day spoiled.  Hate even more when it spoils the day for someone else.

Blessings come in all forms.  We had quite a bit of rain and later a real hard thunderstorm with some heavy winds.  I looked at and the wind was driving the rain almost horizontal.  The yard filled up with puddles in a big hurry and then the puddles turned into lakes and the lakes ran into one another.  It took about an hour to get from us to Macon, just about the time we'd have been driving home from synagogue.  I'm not at all sorry we were at home. Savings gasoline and a lot of tension.

Coffee Chat - 24 Hour Special

Well hello and come on in.  The coffee's hot, the cookies are fresh, too.  Have a seat and let's talk a bit, okay?

Boy did we go through a cold spell last week, but nothing like what was had up North, that's for sure.  We managed to stay warm, didn't have any pipes burst or freeze.  John rigged up the pump house light so the pump pipes wouldn't freeze.  We gave our propane heater a workout inside the house to offset the heat pump from working so hard.  I fixed Maddie and Misu a spot to stay warm and cozy each.  Maddie undid hers the moment my back was turned and lay on the blanket out in the yard...sigh.   I just can't teach that girl a thing about cold and comfort. 

Shabat Thoughts - A Gentle Rebuttal or How to Discourage Your Church Body

I read an article this week that was earnest and heartfelt.  It was from a pastor who had face discouragement and wanted to share  five ways to discourage your pastor.  I agreed with him...and I didn't.  Because I had a viewpoint from the parishioner's side. Here's my thoughts on how to discourage your church body.

1.  Missing church.  We were very faithful in our former churches.  Due to John's work schedule he was already missing two Sundays a month; he had no control over that.  We made every effort to attend church or synagogue on his weekends off.   But between his work schedule and going to church there was no wiggle room for other things.  When it came to family gatherings, special occasions, etc. on the weekends when he didn't work,  we went to church.  And I went even when he did work.   Frankly, I wish we HAD missed church occasionally.  Weddings, showers, family birthdays of now deceased family members, special holiday meals that fell on the weekend...We can't get those days back.  I missed a lot of special moments with family and I regret it.

Weekly Menu Plan - Tightening Up

We had a better than usual Harvest Day last week.  I don't expect we'll see another as good as that one this month or next but we did decide that now was the time to stock up on beef.  That good meat market we go to had meat as beautiful as ever and I do think every single bit of it was at $.50/pound higher than it was in October.  I altered my list considerably as I gazed upon the prices.  Once upon a time I never bought meat that was over $1/pound and then I altered it a few years ago and refused to pay over $2/pound.  Well these days it's looking more and more as though I shall have to strive to pay no more than $3.75 a pound.  That doesn't mean we'll eat as much beef as ever.  No, it means we'll eat less and opt for more poultry and meatless options.  It means when we have meat there will be more vegetables and less meat.  No big deal.  I've lived these days before and we survived quite nicely.

I didn't price any of the pork items since we don't eat it, but my husband tells me that pork prices are due to rise considerably this year.  He did tell me why, but I don't recall the reason.  Suffice it to say that those of you who do buy pork may find yourselves adjusting to a 'new low' on those purchases as well.  I expect Bacon, which is already dear in cost due to being very popular at the moment, will become even more dear.

My Frugal Week: January 4-10

Jan 4:  An easy and economical breakfast that tastes like something special: Creamy Butterscotch Oatmeal.  I lost this recipe years ago but recently found it on a blog (whose name escapes me).  John likes things plain and simple but he thinks this oatmeal is the best and asks for it at least once a week.  It's especially satisfying on a deeply cold morning.  For two:  1 cup oatmeal, 1 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 well beaten egg.  Combine all in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.  This takes about 8-10 minutes.  I did try it in the microwave and it didn't take any less time and came out grainy, so opt for the stove top method.

When I made the oatmeal this morning I had planned to incorporate the leftover cooked apples from yesterday's lunch. I also found a half apple in the fridge and chopped that into the oatmeal as well.

Washed a full load of dishes and a filled sink besides.  I caught water to hand-wash with while rinsing the dishes for the dishwasher.

Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My!

Oh my, I do hope I can keep my trigger happy finger off the SEND button and save this post for a day or two, lol. I've just snapped off the menu for next week and off it went!  I didn't mean to do it but there you are.  Thinking ahead and sent ahead.  Ah well.

It's cold and I'm lonely, so I'm going to 'talk' back at you all for a little bit, commenting, answering, replying to last month's comments and questions.

My first money saving post of last month Pam commented on how cashing a check seems to give her mind license to spend.  That's exactly how I feel, too, so when I was given a nice check for a Christmas gift, I put it straight away into savings.  I seem to still be carrying around a little bit of the cash I allowed myself then...I am sure it's due entirely to the fact that I was feeling too bad to leave the house.  So it's all safely tucked away and I've only just begun my list of things I want to buy for the house.  I'm being super cautious because I want to have this money make a big bang for me, the way it did last year.

Shabat Thoughts: Lover of My Soul

This is a post I wrote on my old Blue House On the Hill blog in January, 2011.  I was reading through old posts this evening and this one clarified something I've been tangling with these past few weeks.  I've been so distracted by pain and lack of sleep and discomfort that I've pretty much been skimming along.  I need to return, to spend a lavish amount of time with Him...

You Never Cry Like A Lover Should...

If you are a fan of the band The Eagles you might well recognize that title. I fell in love with their song of the same title in my teens and it stuck with me though I had little knowledge of what the song truly meant then. Now, as a grown woman who has been married, the impact of the song is even harder. Experience brought meaning.

I am, by my own account, a fairly reserved person. I'm not lavish in touch, or words of love, or even that good at expressing myself verbally. I am more show and less tell. If I can feed you, give you a clean home, give you a warm blanket, a quiet place to rest, make you feel at home, I've shown you my love. But more than that takes a lot of effort, and feels awkward, and self-consciousness sets in and I start to do these mental acrobatics that ruin it all. Essentially I drive myself into a corner and set up barricades.

Weekly Meal Plan - A Pantry Freezer Challenge Week of January 5-11

Now that January is well begun, I've determined to go back to my old January habit of giving myself a Pantry/Freezer Challenge.  This is where I try hard to shop at home for my grocery needs first, attempt to limit grocery store visits to milk/eggs and necessities we've run out of and SAVE the rest of my grocery budget.  The savings this pay period will help fund my next visit to the meat market, hopefully at the end of this month.  I've only a few packages of beef left in the freezer, but plenty of chicken and turkey and meatless proteins to help stretch it out.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Salad, Toasted Challah, Chocolate Cake
I purposely doubled up on the sauce. I want to make lasagna sometime this month and having the sauce already made streamlines the work.  The chocolate cake  (and frosting!) came from the freezer.  I put those items in back in November when John asked for a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  I just stirred the thawed frosting (butter-cream) well before spreading on the cake.

Oven Fried Chicken, Creamed Cabbage, Carrot Raisin Salad, Biscuits
The cabbage is leftover from Friday's Kielbasa meal.  I just added cream and a bread crumb topping and put in the oven alongside the chicken.  I cut the large bone in breasts in half since they were so big.  We'll have extra chicken for another meal.

Cheeseburger Mac, Tossed Salad, Oranges
I think I'm calling up a recent menu, one that I never had the opportunity to make due to leftovers.  It's a nice way to stretch a bit of ground beef into a satisfying winter meal.  I will thaw orange segments from the freezer, unless I wait and have this meal following grocery day this week when I have fresh oranges on hand. 

Chicken and Rice Soup, Fruit, Cheese and Crackers
Yes, this is a repeat menu from a couple of weeks ago!  I never did make that soup and ended up freezing the broth and chicken bits.  Well it's supposed to be super plenty cold and I guess soup is just the meal for such a day.  My recipe is Granny's way of making it, so not thin and broth-y but heavy on rice and low on chicken,  thick and substantial and super satisfying.

BBQ'd Pot Roast with Root Vegetables, Muffins, Coleslaw 
I have one last bit of roast in my freezer.  I hope to find a rutabaga to add to the pot roast but if not, the usual trio will do just fine.

Pinto Beans, Corn bread, Fruit Salad
I'm going to try and find that pinto bean recipe I stumbled across last year.  I remember it had onions...I have some smoked turkey I'll use a bit of to season the beans and give them that nice meaty flavor.  I'll make a mixed fruit salad (apples, oranges, bananas, grapes) and chill well to contrast with the smoky hot beans.

lunch out
Not with Mama nor with John but on my own.  John's new work schedule kicks in this week and he'll be gone all day long.  I'm going to take advantage of his being gone to go out and spend a good portion of my day thrifting, looking for new items for the booth.  Wish me luck!  I'll get a take out lunch while I'm out.

My Frugal Week - It's a New Year!

I was fairly happy with the total for last year.  Not as large as a few years ago, still a skewed figure since I couldn't figure all the real savings I generate, but a nice amount of savings all the same.  For 2014 I mean to go back to my previous format where I simply list all the things I do weekly to save money.  When I started this format a few years ago, I wasn't aware of any other blogger doing the same.  Now several have picked it up.  I love visiting other blogs and reading how they save each week.  There's plenty of inspiration, which is what fuels my own creative thinking for new ways to save and/or earn.  I hope this year you'll find your inspiration here, as well.

I like this image above from an old jelling agent ad.  This young housewife used her head and made MORE jelly than you'd normally get by using the product advertised.  Don't they both look proud of her economy?  Well that's how I feel each time I save money, stretch a meal to cover more than one need, manage to escape waste, figure out a new use for an old item, etc.  So I thought this image just fit my attitutde towards savings this year.  Let's make all we can of what we have and watch our savings grow!

January 1:  We have an overload of potatoes.  John loves hash browns for breakfast, so I used two to make a side to go with our morning eggs.

Keeping Warm

Keeping Warm
by Herbert Merrill

What if the laughing creek is
  In ice and night is bitter black?
The mole is snug beneath the
The mouse is warm in his

What if the pond is turned to stone
  And the fields are crusted white and
Beneath the snow the seeds are
  Patient as time and living still.

And what if winter stalks the house
  And whistles down the fireplace?
We sit here snug as mole and
    With springtime smiling on your

In My Home This Week: All Routine