Weekly Menu and Jobs Planning

Gracious we've had a weekend!  Lovely weekend filled with family once again.  I enjoyed every single bit of it.  Grandbabies have changed in just the two weeks since we last saw them and We've finished off today with a period of relaxing after a few very basic chores got done.  I needed it.  John needed it, too.  He's had some pretty busy days between shifts of late. I don't expect much of him tomorrow either, since he has to work Tuesday.

I've taken a long look at the meat in the freezer this weekend.  We can manage all right I think until end of April and then it's time for a trip to the Meat Market.  After church services today we stopped by the grocery to pick up a handful of grocery items.  I still stuck hard to my low spending but I did get a chicken that was carageenan free for $.99/pound.  Not a bad price for a whole chicken these days.  I intend to cut and split into parts.  Mama taught me how to cut up a whole bird years ago when she was teaching me to cook.  A cut up chicken cost more than a whole chicken back then.  Nowadays, too.  Knowing that I intend to go to the meat market towards the end of the April makes me want to trim back my budget a bit these next two pay periods.  I won't save all I need to purchase meat but I can save some of it.

My Frugal Week: March 22-28

Saturday:  We didn't do a thing all morning long, nor much of the afternoon either.  It was bagels with cream cheese for breakfast, and reheated leftovers of chili mac and cornbread with salad for our lunch.  We watched a wonderful movie with John Lithgow and Bob Hoskins, "The Man from La Mancha"...well mostly watched it.  John and I both took naps but the parts of the movie we saw were beautiful and wonderful and funny.  I'll look for that one on Dvd.

Went to church this evening.  It is so good to hear a sermon.  There's one more Saturday evening service and then we'll be back to mandatory Sunday services, which means just twice a month for us.

We stopped at Burger King on the way home.  Plain hamburgers and small shakes make a nice supper, isn't too expensive.

We did some chores when we got home this evening.  The purpose was to clear up so we could leave especially early tomorrow morning.

Coffee Chat - Marching Out

Hello dears...Do come in.  I have cookies and fresh coffee.  Sit down and let's chat awhile...

Spring seems to be slow this year.  I don't mind.  Two years ago we had about two minutes of spring and 19 months of hot dry weather in 9 months time. I get quite a thrill these days when I drive over the creek up the road or cross the river bridges and see the water has risen to flood levels,  staying within the banks which are quite steep.  It's a good sign in our parts and most welcome to see. 

I had to run into town the other afternoon and as always I combined as many errands as I could.  Coming home there were no errands so I took a little street into an old neighborhood.  There's a group of some rather old homes in that little spot and I love to look at them, one in particular that has a very 'creative' type living there.  It's a small house, looks like it might have a bedroom, living room, eat in kitchen and a bath (designated by the 'bump out' on the back, a sign there was no such luxury once upon a time).  She has decorated the porch on the front of the house in such a cozy way with tables and chairs and rockers.  There are wagon wheels and a metal star hanging on the porch walls, and flowers in season.  There's a deck around back that runs the length of the house and it's decorated in a cozy way, too.  That little house has personality and I love to just go by and gaze at it.

Weekly Menu and Job Plans

I've been on a streak of spring cleaning...and in the oddest places!  Like my photo albums online.  I took more hours than I'll admit  to delete thousands (!) of photos and organize hundreds of more.  I told John I want to buy a few flash drives or discs to save these photos to in the next couple of weeks.  I've lost more family photos on crashed computers than I care to own up to.  I am not having computer troubles, nor do I expect to, but I'd like to have my photos safe, just the same.

Well that hardly took me all last week to do, so no excuse for lack of posting other than a bit of under the weather feeling that had no root in any one ailment or another.  Spring fever maybe?  Humph, spring has not yet exactly sprung here in the deep south for all that we're seeing peach trees blooming.  The pollen season is only just getting started, there's little blooming beyond the very early blooms of spring and we're still having frosty mornings!  John said his wind shield  was covered in ice Friday morning when he was ready to head home from work.  There's TWO nights of frost predicted for our area this week.

Ten Facts About Today's Frugalites

I've so enjoyed getting to know some of the bloggers who live frugal lifestyles.  When I started my newsletter twelve years ago and later my blog (seven years ago), I wanted to  share my life knowledge of how to stretch a single income in a double income world, simply because that information was rare.  Tracey McBride, Mary Hunt, and Joni McCoy were the only ones with current information besides Amy Dacyzyn.  I felt strongly that my own personal experience could be a help to others.  As the economy went downhill these past few years, I've seen more and more bloggers who are just starting out as frugalites or who suddenly realized they too had skills the blogging world at large could use to acclimate to the new normal of high costs and lowered incomes. 

I'm a huge believer in never thinking you know it all.  I learn something new nearly every single week, sometimes every single day, about how to save money, time, energy.  I've also noted that we frugalites have some common strategies, things that we all do, in order to stretch our dollars.

 #1: We create multiple savings accounts.  Many practicing frugal lives set money aside for ordinary expenses that come along routinely but not monthly.  Things like car maintenance, annual fees such as taxes or tags, insurance renewal fees, etc.  As one blogger tagged it, "pre-funding" is one way to make a manageable task out of these routine fees while leaving the emergency fund for true emergencies, like repairs for vehicles or home that arise unexpectedly. 

My Frugal Week - March 15-22

Saturday:  Earned a $5 Swagbucks gift card.

Earned 300 points (= to $3) from Pinecone research.

We decided to have synagogue at home complete with liturgy and worship and each took time to read Book of Esther in honor of Purim tomorrow.  We will go to evening services at church today, which shaves a good 40 miles off our synagogue ride.

Maddie isn't eating as much now the weather is warmer (even slightly).  I was careful to put away her and the cat's food bowls to avoid ants getting to the foo.

Dinner today leftovers of salad, pasta, chicken.  I made Molten Lava Cakes for dessert.

Menu and Job Plans Post: Marching Right Along

I am on  a mission this week:  it's a low budget pay period, so I'm doing a semi-pantry challenge to get us over the hump.  My grocery list is short and sweet: dairy, produce, bread and Decaf coffee.  That's it.  I may have to jiggle the budget a bit for salty snacks, too, but we'll make do with less than usual in that department since I have a few things set aside for the week...I planned ahead knowing this short period was coming up. I'll make our sweet snacks.  

My second mission is to start using up all the products we have on hand that contain yeast so that we are yeast free when the Feast of Unleavened Bread comes up next month.  You'd be surprised where you'll find yeast in products.  Yeast extract is a common flavoring ingredient in many foods, like dry onion soup mix, some flavored rice packets, etc.  So I'll be digging around and trying to find it now at my leisure instead of doing that usual 'Hurry, Passover starts tomorrow!' approach I've used in the past.

I was working on menus earlier today and asked John, "Anything special you'd like to have?"  Now normally he might give me a shrug and say "Not really."  Ha.  The man had a LIST this week.  "Well I'd like to have chili mac and spaghetti and that tuna pasta salad you make.  And you know Cheeseburgers would be good and grilled cheese and pancakes..."  At that point I thanked him and told him I'd use a few of his suggestions but would plan the rest of the meals on my own.  Then I wrote out my list and out of curiosity looked back at past March menus and you know, I'm a creature of habit and in a permanent rut apparently because those menus didn't look much different than this one, lol.  Every now and then I slip a new recipe into the mix and then I jog gently along right back into my former rut.

Corned Beef, Cabbage, Red Potatoes, Irish Soda Bread
My annual nod to family heritage.

Reubens, Potato Soup
I purposely planned for sandwiches.  If it's really warm I might make potato salad as a side dish instead of soup.  I haven't looked ahead at the forecast, so have no clue what we're in for this next week.

Chili Mac, Green Salad, Cornbread, Pineapple Cake
I'll double my pasta and set aside some for the tuna salad John requested.  I'll likely double the chili and put a portion in the freezer.  I'm low on ready to heat and eat dishes.

Tuna Salad, Saltines, Fresh Fruit
The salad has a load of vegetables in it, so I'm not really concerned about adding any further vegetables.  I will serve fresh fruit as our dessert.  Last week we had a really good fruit cocktail of pineapple, strawberries and bananas.  Boy that was good!  I'll see what fruit is best buys this week.

Grilled Chicken, Grilled Vegetables, Baked Potatoes
John bought me a pan meant to use to grill vegetables last year. I'd like to give it a try this year weather permitting.  Asparagus will be in my pan for sure and anything else that looks fresh and reasonable in price.

Corned Beef Hash with Fried Egg, Toasted Soda Bread, Fresh Fruit Salad
I know John likes corned beef hash with eggs, so I thought I'd include it in menu this week.

Chicken Tacos, Mexican Corn, Green Salad
I should have some leftover chicken from our grilled chicken dinner.  I'll season it for tacos as I'm reheating.

Week of Mar 8-14

Home:  Sewing valance and shade for my bath. Nope.  I didn't have the sewing notions, had plenty of time to shop but stayed home all week long and found a pair of curtains to cover the window. 

Yard:  Pick up Maddie's 'stuff' again and put some of it away for next winter.  She doesn't need every rug and old sheet/blanket she has laying about the place.  Mind you I hung several items on the clothes line to air before putting away and we came home to find them on ground, with her pulling on one that remained.  Never does that to our laundry, just hers.  Silly red dog.  Nope on this one too.  I was too busy INdoors to do OUTdoors stuff.  And besides I need to wash it and put it away rather than just keep hoping she'll leave it alone stacked somewhere.

Booth:  Peaches to Beaches this weekend on Friday and Saturday.  Would like to ride the length of the thing but won't.  Will visit some portions of it, most likely on Friday and try to find a bit of stuff for the booth.  Lowered my original planned budget for this considerably.  I have a good bit of new stock on hand at present.We went on Friday morning, drove about 30 miles of the route, I spent about $20 and found some good stuff for the booth, ONE book for myself. 

Week of March 15-22

Home:  Sew Valances for bathroom.
Sort out kitchen appliances/pots/pans

Yard:  Seriously get Maddie's things gathered.
Spend at least 1 hour in the shed setting it in order.

Booth: Must tag new items and restock booth.
Will set aside next items to go into booth.

Extra:  We have determined what dates we might go on vacation.  Must find a place to go/stay.

My Frugal Week: March 8-14

Saturday:  I didn't make a fuss of breakfast for my visiting family.  I am assured each time they visit that they don't really eat a meal that time of day.  I set out a variety of cold boxed cereal, peanut butter, loaf bread, cream cheese and bagels, Pop Tarts (my guilty secret.  I buy pop tarts for ME, eat just one a week.  I will share with the grandchildren, lol).  Everyone was satisfied and happy and I was far more relaxed.

The parents took Daniel on a special museum visit and out to lunch. That left John, the twins and I for a meal here.  I had taken 2 pounds of hamburger from the freezer to thaw.  I used one pound to make burgers for the four of us.  I got three regular sized burgers and two toddler sized burgers from that.  The third burger was put into John's work lunch for tomorrow.

I bought burger buns, but the toddlers hardly need a big bun for a tiny burger. I used a biscuit cutter to cut loaf bread rounds that were just the size of their burger.

Coffee Chat - March In Like A Lamb

Come in, come in!  Time for coffee.  I don't know what weather is like where you are, but this past week has been  lovely for us.  I couldn't resist this outdoor coffee illustration, it's so like our own weather at present.  I'm not bragging but it couldn't possibly have been a better week to have a brand new porch to sit on.  There's a marble cake in the cake holder.  A recipe straight from a 1946 magazine and it's tasty.  I added a chocolate glaze to the top, but original recipe calls for it to be served plain.

Lovely weather was with us nearly a week and I enjoyed every minute of it. Then we plunged back down into cold which seemed three times as cold as it was also very damp misty rain wind sort of cold.  Then it all dried up this Friday and warmed up a lot.  A light sprinkling of pollen showed up on the cars, but it was nothing to sneeze at yet.  It will surely be something major in a couple of weeks but we enjoy open windows in the meantime.  I say enjoy but it's truly a necessity. I have only turned on the AC for about an hour towards evening when the heat indoors peaked what was outdoors.  As soon as we were level once more, it went off and stayed off.

The Modern Home Economist: Budget Home Decor

This week as I've been doing work on my own home, I thought it might be fun to not only show you my photos but share a few from vintage magazines.  Home is the essential ingredient in home economics and making home a cozy, inviting place to be while on a budget takes real skill.  That's why I intend to share so many things that would naturally be included in a home economics course.

This week I'd like to share with you our new porch.
John and I are big fans of having our coffee outdoors on summer mornings, picnics, etc.  Last year we stopped at a restaurant that had a big covered porch and we ate our lunch there.  It sparked a conversation about how much we enjoy eating al fresco, and how much we regretted the small floor space of our front porch.  We decided to think about what we could do to improve and enhance our outdoor spaces.  I started with the purchase of a nice iron table and four chairs from a flea market that went on our front patio.  We put up a big umbrella (Aldi's for $30) and that was a start but as summer came on it was just too sunny even with the umbrella.

Weekly Menu and Jobs Plan

It was a full week last week.  I finished it off feeling a little under the weather...then company came in and my under the weather went into hiding for a bit.  Who has time for feeling unwell when there are grandchildren running about?  We've really enjoyed this visit.  Most fun of all was the time the children spent outdoors running about.  They took Grandpa for a walk. Twice. lol  He got to see almost the whole of the place, I think.

We kept the twins for a few hours while the parents and oldest grandson went off on a special field trip.  I discovered that a piece of kraft paper and a piece of chalk was great fun for the twins.  It kept them occupied for about 45 minutes which is years in a toddler's life and a tired Gramma's, too!.  The next best fun we had was blowing bubbles on the front porch with all three and watching our granddaughter do her 'Bubble dance'. Gosh but this weekend flew past!

Frugal Week March 1 - 7

Saturday:  Turned on the propane heat when I got up since it was so chilly for showering without it.  It wasn't long before the propane was off though.  It warmed up early today.

Open windows from noon until well after dark.  There's a bit of pollen outdoors but no pine trees blooming yet.  This is a good thing.  I have a slight headache but no real allergy suffering yet.  In a week or two we'll no doubt have to keep windows shut for the next two months, so I'm taking advantage of fresh air and natural heating/cooling that comes in the windows.

I did renew our Netflix account after several mentioned they still send out dvd's.  They sent me a renewal offer and I get a full month free before the fee kicks in.  We received our first movie this week and watched it this morning.  It will be sent out tomorrow so the next one can be sent out.

We opened curtains (windows later) and cut off all the lights indoors, using natural light to read by.

Yesterday I picked up two frozen entree items on sale for today's dinner: chicken wings and pizza.  It cost $10 for both and there are leftovers enough for a second meal.  We couldn't have bought takeout for less than this.

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My!

Glenda made a comment on my first post of the month and flattered me when she said she'd spent two hours reading past posts.  You are welcome to stop by just any time Glenda.  Thirty-eight years of genealogy research!  I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this work and can see many years of pleasure from it.  I have, at the moment worked on my own family and have nearly filled a notebook with notes.  I confess that sometime I just sit and read different stories/bios from other sites as I'm researching or read excerpts from hundred year old (or older) newspapers and get lost in a different time and place as I'm doing so.

Sarah comments often and there's always a little gleaning to be gotten from her comments.  Please go read how she makes good use of pork roast/boneless chops...

The first frugal post of the month brought a number of comments, too.  Rebecca and Rhonda noted they don't strictly follow expiration dates.  Normally I'm not nearly so keen on them myself. I tend to go by smell and appearance first and second and taste, third.  I'm not inclined to throw foods away simply because they are expired by some unknown manufacturer's dating system.   However, since the baby foods were not being used in my household (I'd tried putting some in muffin batter and again in pancake batter and it didn't turn out well at all), I decided to toss the food that was expired and sent the unexpired food to my niece to use for her baby.  None of my grandbabies will be baby food eating age until those two jars are nearly a year past expiration.

Mar 2-8 Meal Plan and Job List

Italian Pepper Steak, Rice, Tossed Salad
I bought bell peppers last time we grocery shopped and they really need to be processed.  While I'm prepping them for the freezer, I'll just go ahead and use one for today's dinner.  This is a recipe Mama made up using breakfast steaks when I was young.  She made sandwiches, attempting to replicate a sandwich Daddy bought from a food vendor on base.  I morphed it to a main dish entree and it's been a favorite since my first homemaking year.  Slice steak in thin strips, brown in pan.  Remove and set aside.  Cook onion and bell pepper strips until just tender.  Put all back into pan and pour over the meat and vegetable fat free Italian dressing (I use about 1/2 for us. You'll want it 'saucy' for the rice).  Cover and cook until the meat slices are heated through.  Serve over rice.

In My Home This Week: All Routine