Thursday, January 29, 2009
bookshelf - $19
oops paint - $5
shelf brackets - $2
cupboard - $3
Total - $29 for a great new addition to our living room.
Proof of enjoyment:
Monday, January 26, 2009
So, here's the oh-so-exciting rundown of the last couple weeks of grocery spending.
2 steaks (These were a splurge for a good Friday night meal. Does anyone else feel like weekend meals should be better than weekday meals?)
Total cost after markdown: $3.45
2 lbs. cheese
1/2 gallon organic chocolate milk (marked down = m.d.) - treat for kids
2 gallons milk
1.25 lb. bananas
4 pints organic heavy cream (drastically m.d. to $.49 each - for making ice cream or some such thing)
16 oz. organic sour cream - m.d.
2 jumbo cookies - 1 for a treat, 1 for a friend having a rough week
Total after discounts and coupons, and with about $2 overcharge for them missing some of the markdown stickers...grrr: $14.10
Side note: I hardly want to seem like a problem customer, but I have had this problem many times at this store and am growing tired of it, but really 75 cents here and 75 cents there does add up.
4 pints blueberries
Total after sales: $8.00
big bag of tortilla chips
big pack of tortillas (My attempts at making these have failed and I was taking a burrito meal to a family.)
2 gallons organic milk - m.d.
2 pints milk - m.d.
8 oz. sour cream - m.d.
3 lb. baby carrots
7.65 lb bananas
16 gala apples
12 navel oranges
3 red bell peppers
2 cans diced tomatoes
Total after sales, markdowns and coupon: $24.59
Expenses as of January 13 = 103.49
+ these expenses = $160.63
Observations & Activities:
- We are now running low on lots of things, but will make it through the month without further purchases.
- We are running low on diapers, which has led me to using our cloth diapers once again while at home. I'm not sure why I just haven't used them more because they are perfectly good and we have never had a leak. I would like to use them a lot more now until Smiley is potty trained.
- For frugal cooking this week I cooked up a big pot of dried black beans and I made yogurt which is much cheaper than buying it. The kids still prefer store-bought yogurt, but will eat this. My most successful method is this: 1. cook milk on stove until bubbles form on top 2. transfer to corningware and cool to 120 degrees 3. add about 1 cup yogurt (the starter), 2 tsp. vanilla and maybe 1/2 cup honey 4. stir well and cover with plastic lid 5. carefully transfer to tight-fitting cooler bag, zip it up and leave it all day 6. transfer to fridge and enjoy the next morning and beyond.
- I'm very thankful for the cheaply acquired stockpile of personal care items as buying those as they have been needed this month would have significantly raised our total for the month.
- Also, if we would have needed to purchase much meat this month, our total would have been higher.
- All our cold cereal is gone so I'm going to have to use the other breakfast options from the original menu I planned. I'll need to allow a bit more time to do this.
To finish up the month, here is the menu for this week.
Breakfast: oatmeal, fruit, yogurt
Lunch: leftovers of beef split pea soup and/or baked rigatoni, bread, baby carrots
Dinner: Homemade macaroni and cheese (using up bits of Velveeta, shredded cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream & frozen buns for the breadcrumb topping), mixed vegetables, lime jello
B: oatmeal, bananas & blueberries, yogurt
D: black beans cooked with red pepper and onion, brown rice, sour cream & cheese, cinnamon ice cream (homemade)
B: cooked millet, applesauce, yogurt
L: canned soup, crackers or biscuits, carrots
D: sloppy joe casserole with biscuit topping, green and yellow beans
B: apple/carrot/squash muffins (make a big batch on Wed.),
L: snack lunch: meat, crackers, fruit, carrots
D: pork chops, mashed sweet potatoes, vegetable
B: fruit & milk/yogurt smoothies, muffins
L: I'm drawing a blank...we'll eat something :)
D: company? large turkey pot pie, dutch apple pie, maybe they can bring a salad or veggie?
B: waffles (from freezer), fruit
L: pork roast, mashed potatoes (from freezer), glazed carrots
D: shepherd's pie, whole wheat rolls
B: cinnamon rolls (prepared on Saturday, baked in the morning), fruit
L: BBQ pork (crockpot) on rolls
D: caramelized garlic chicken, mashed potatoes (if there are any left) or fries, fruit or vegetable
Then we will have one more week of sort of slim pickings before a big stock-up again. It is funny when you start to think of going to Costco or grocery stores and buying all the groceries you want as a real luxury or extravagance, but such is the case for us right now.
For some real menu planning inspiration, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
So I read up on the qualifying expenses for this account and headed out to Target on New Year's Eve to see if I could make use of these funds. Most over-the-counter medications and vitamins are surprisingly not covered. As I was checking out I had the cashier confirm that each item was noted on the receipt as a health item. I ended up with $82 of first aid items (perfect for restocking our first aid kits), a night guard and some orthotics for my bad feet. Since I still wasn't sure if these purchases would qualify, I put the bags away in the closet and had my husband submit the receipts by fax. Then in the event it didn't go through, I could still return the merchandise since the items were not urgent needs. Thankfully these purchases did qualify under our plan so we were able to use up most of what was left in our account for the year. I know I could have gotten closer to the exact dollar amount if I would have added it up more carefully and gotten more for my money if I would have had coupons, chosen the Target brand, etc., but at that point, on the last possible purchase day, in a very busy store with three young children in tow, I was more than satisified with my effort and the outcome.
Monday, January 19, 2009
More of Him, less of me
- being in the Word and praying daily
- memorizing the book of James
More connection, less isolation
- getting together with other women at least once a week for a simple playdate, coffee, etc.
- setting up a schedule and following through with calling friends and family who are far off
More thanksgiving, less comparison
- making a written list that we add to daily of things we give thanks for
More order, less clutter & chaos
- clean and organize one shelf, cupboard or drawer per day
- sell one item or donate one bag of excess stuff each week
- think long and hard before bringing more stuff into the house, and follow the one-in-one-out principle
More moving, less sedentary living
- 300 workouts this year will push me to move more, so far, so good. I'm charting it and have columns for 20, 30, and 45 minute and 1 hour workouts. I've already become good friends with our new treadmill and will use varying incline and speed, and hand and ankle weights to change it up. I also plan on 2 workouts per week in water aerobics classes and getting out for walks or hikes when the weather and schedule allow.
More nutrition, less junk food
- We are a work in process.
More early mornings, less late nights
- to better meet the needs of my family and move in the right direction with these goals
More time spent creating, less time spent in front of this computer screen
- limiting computer time each day
- spending more time each week to do creative things I enjoy like sewing, gardening, etc.
More time engaging with my children, less time chasing deals
- Even though I want to be a great manager of our financial resources, shopping at multiple stores for groceries and personal goods is taking a toll on me so I need to cut back. I hope to choose, based on the sales available, just one grocery store to shop at each week.
- Shopping without my children whenever possible.
- I want to be intentional to spend time reading to and with my kids each week and also spending time snuggling with them on the couch, playing on the floor, baking with them and having fun training them to be contributors to our household.
Here's to a happy, healthy and whole 2009!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Sister having fun showing us her giraffe tongue at the zoo.
With almost 3 weeks of seeing our kids with both sets of grandparents, we see what we are missing by not living near either set of parents. But it makes the times together all the sweeter.
2 weeks + undisclosed # of hours spend on Craigs List + 12 trips to thrift stores + $10 more than the budget + 2 minutes spent cleaning item (no refinishing time!) = 1 dresser and 1 happy mama
What can I say? I am easily pleased and I love order.
Before = chaos
After = order
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
We had a beautiful morning out with the family, a memory that will be long-remembered!
Every year we travel for Christmas as we alternate years with both of our families. So we have taken to making our own celebration here at home before we leave. We try to make this just a time to slow down, hang out together, open gifts and keep it simple. This year, as we looked at the schedule, our best shot was the first weekend of December so we went with that. We also put up our tree and a few other decorations that weekend. With the number of gifts the children receive, it is probably best to spread out the fun to avoid being overwhelmed. I don't think we went overboard, but we did give the kids more from us than I think we ever have, just because we wanted them each to have a big gift this year. These big gifts were sourced online, through Craig's List and at Goodwill, but appealed to what would be fun and meaningful to each one. I was happy to see the excitement over the hand-knit gifts I made for the kids, too. For the other gifts, I had been shopping throughout the whole year and adding to the stash as I found things they would enjoy at excellent clearance prices.
Smiley on his new Radio Flyer, complete with bell.
Sister by her new dollhouse, found unfinished at Goodwill
for a mere $7.99 and painted by mom with love.
And Sportster ready to assemble his new table hockey game which has already yielded hours of fun with dad, and more than a few lessons in sportsmanship.
And a couple weeks later, Sportster and Sister had the opportunity to be part of a Christmas pageant at our church. They really enjoyed being part of the choir and seeing the production unfold. Their choir was supposed to be dressed as animals from the Friendly Beasts song, so Sportster chose to be a camel and Sister chose to be a dove. I don't feel very gifted in the costume department, but was pleased how these came together as the deadline for costumes approached, and I even had 20 minutes to spare after finishing before walking out the door to their rehearsal with costumes in hand! :)
We really enjoyed our "family Christmas" at home with our kids and enjoyed taking it easy, taking time to open their gifts and giving them time to fully open their gifts and play with them as we went along. We definitely need to remember to allow lots of time for that activity next year.
How do you celebrate Christmas at your house and manage gifts and travel and Christmastime celebrations in your church and community?
Smiley enjoying a new book with Nana.
One of the shots I took of my sister's family. I really had fun with my niece and liked this grain bin background.
The continuation of an annual tradition, all the sons, whether by blood or by marriage, peeling potatoes for the big meal. One set of hands arrived later.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Alberstons - 2 transactions to get the best deals
8 boxes Quaker cereal - We go through Life really quickly!
3 boxes oatmeal packets
1 canister old-fashioned rolled oats
4 boxes granola bars
1 box breakfast bars
2 cheese sticks (the kids were hungry for a snack and I grow tired of telling them no)
4 packages pepperoni
4 packages Canadian bacon
Grand Total after promotions, sales, coupons & bag refund were deducted= $27.11
King Soopers - went there because we needed to kill some time before going somewhere else
1 package whole grain hoagie buns - marked down (m.d.)
4 packages turkey sausage links - m.d.
1 package turkey bacon - m.d.
1 large package pepperoni
1 jar of our all-time favorite dressing/pizza dip that we haven't had in a really long time
1 package chicken thighs - m.d.
Grand total after coupon, sales and bag credit = $13.26
2 gallons milk
3 bottles of cranberry juice
2 boxes of Capri Sun
2 boxes of packaged cookie/cracker snacks - purchased because they were part of a deal with the juices and drinks and some will be kept in the van to help us avoid stopping somewhere for a meal to tide us over until we get home
2 small containers sour cream - m.d.
5 - 4pks. of Activa yogurt - m.d.
1 quart organic half & half - m.d.
2 cottage cheese - m.d.
1 organic cottage cheese - m.d.
3 lbs. bananas
2 lbs. organic whole wheat macaroni
6 - 4pks. of fruit cups, bought because they were marked down to $.70/pack
3 boxes yogurt fruit snacks, bought because they were marked down to $.50/box
Grand total after sales, coupons, and bag credit = $36.02, though it should have been $4 lower (coupons I forgot to give them when I checked out...argh! And I only bought some of those items because of the high value coupons I had.) and $2 lower ($1 off per gallon of milk based on a mailing I had received which is linked to my loyalty card) and $.75 lower due to a dairy markdown sticker they skipped. I may or may not go back to customer service for these savings. It was not worth it that day, a busy Saturday morning with a customer service line 6 people deep at a store that has not always treated me very kindly.
plastic wrap - cheapest kind, we've been out for weeks
dishwasher tabs - had a great coupon
Grand Total = approx. $5.00
25 lbs. flour
huge can of tomato sauce
huge can of crushed tomatoes
big bag of tortilla chips
5 cheese take-and-bake pizza - purchased because there was a coupon and I had nothing else at home which could be fixed quickly for lunch that day, but still $7.00 could buy a whole lot more if I would have been more prepared
Grand total after pizza coupon = $22.10
So, I am just over $100 for January and am not planning any more purchases unless they are absolutely necessary, like milk and fruit and vegetables. I do have to be honest and say that I did stop at King Soopers to get some free-with-coupon deodorant today and ended up spending $3.50 from my allowance on 6 organic apples and a bag of marked down cherry chips...random, I know. But I thought they would be fun for Valentine's cookies. Although I didn't mind spending my allowance on this today, I don't plan to make a habit of that, since we have determined that our allowance is for each of us to spend as we please and not on goods for the family unless we REALLY want to.
Observations & Activities:
- I could do far better with this month's goal if I just stayed out of stores or sent my husband for the few essential items we needed. I think I am just so used to grocery shopping that it has become a (bad) habit to buy more than we need.
- I need to avoid grocery shopping to fill time. Even if I find good deals, I'll still be going over my budget.
- So far our meals have been fine and I anticipate that through the end of the month, though I wouldn't want to have this grocery budget long-term.
- The items listed above seem like a lot more junk than we usually buy. Keep in mind that this is not representative of our whole diet. The more balanced menu plan is here, which uses up other ingredients we had on hand at the start of the month.
- I did cook 1 of the 4 turkeys that was in our freezer, and divided the meat into meal-sized portions, cooked the carcass down to get all the little bits of meat off the bones and made wonderfully rich bone broth which was the base of a good turkey soup with homemade noodles. Yum! And we will still get at least 3 more meals from that one bird. I don't love turkey, but if I space out those meals, it should be okay.
- As I review my menu plan, it seems that very few of the dinner entrees are quick and easy, but convenience comes at a cost I'm not willing to pay right now.
- The more time-consuming the meal is, the more I feel I lose when my kids are picky and whine about or simply choose not to eat the meal I have made. We have never catered to our children at dinnertime at home, but somehow they don't mind holding out until breakfast, a meal they all enjoy.
- My husband supports me in this challenge, but has also given my complete freedom to up the budget if I need to buy more. I still hope to carry on with this month's plan as long as possible, though.
- It would be easier to carry through with the plan if we kept our dining out budget at its normal level instead of drastically reducing that, too. But this kind of plan does make you much more purposeful in planning dinners at home and anticipating the few times we'll eat out this month. True to form, we've already consumed our free Chick-Fil-A meal. We never seem to tire of that place! This leaves us with only 1 more dining out experience this month. Yikes!
- Meal sequence has been determined mostly by what needs to be used first so it doesn't go bad, reducing overall waste.
- I still have a balance on Walgreens gift card if I need something essential like milk.
- Our cupboards and freezer are still full!
Overall, this challenge is going okay for me. What goals have you set for yourself this month in your budget, the kitchen, or elsewhere?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Goal – use what we have on hand, mostly only dairy & produce purchases
navy bean & ham soup, focacia bread
vegetable beef stew, cheddar biscuits
spinach tortilla (homemade) quesadillas, fruit salad
beef & yellow split pea soup, crackers, jello
black beans & rice, queso or cheese, apple slices
homemade pizza, fruit
turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, veggies
sloppy joe casserole w/ biscuit topping, mixed vegetables
turkey soup w/homemade noodles, fresh bread
turkey pot pie
broccoli cheese soup(w/ frozen grated squash), fresh bread
frozen pizza, steamed veggies
spaghetti & meat sauce
free meal with receipt at Chick-Fil-A
meal at Red Robin with remaining gift card and coupon
carmelized onion pork chops, mashed sweet potatoes, green vegetable
meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots
Lunches – served w/ fruit or vegetable
fried egg & cheese sandwiches
snack lunch: meat, cheese, crackers
macaroni & cheese
grapefruit, bananas, oranges, apples
cold cereal & milk
ham/turkey/cheese egg cups
apple carrot WW muffins
Snacks & Baking
homemade WW bread for meals
brown sugar shortbread
caramel dutch apple pie
rice krispie squares
lemon poppyseed muffins
potato chips & dip
crackers & herb cheese
homemade bread & jam