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 window...as 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?