Saturday, September 19, 2015

Last Post

I have officially launched my new blog, Frugal Stepping Stones, and will no longer be posting on this site. Please join me at my new blog for continued frugal adventures!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Shopping Trips/Menu Plan

I have pictures, but my camera is acting crazy, so no uploading today.

I do have good news, and it's that I am very close to my relaunch. Hopefully just one more week! The site is looking fantastic.

Kroger:

Trip #1: $32.58, but that was using a gift card, no $0 out of pocket. (Quite a few $1 cottage cheese, soy milk, bags of lentils, canned chickpeas, spaghetti sauce, and some fruit and veg.)

Trip #2: Soy milk for husband: $15

Aldi: $30.66 (Cereal, OJ, eggs, veggies, crackers, apple juice, tomato paste, yogurt, hot dogs, cheese, bacon, cookies.)

Total overall $78.24, or $45.66 out of pocket

Menu Plan:

Monday: Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Syrup

Tuesday: Spaghetti with Zucchini and Onions

Wednesday: Lentil and Onion Spread over Rice

Thursday: Veggie Infused Meatloaf, Corn on the Cob

Friday: Cast Iron Skillet Cheese Pizza

Saturday: Date night! The kids get hot dogs and tots.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) We have been battling our insurance over dental visits that took place a year ago. They paid for one child, but not the other. We paid to avoid issues with our children being seen, and the insurance finally paid. The dentist sent us the overpayment for $159.

2) I worked one and a half shifts this week. I worked from 4 am-8 am one day to avoid paying a sitter (ugh!), and my mom babysat the other day, so no child care fees this week.

3) I baked bread once this week for a cost of $0.75.

4) I added quite a few more albums to my Amazon Prime music playlist for free.

5) I picked up a half gallon of buttermilk at Kroger than was on clearance for $1.25. I found a few recipes on Pinterest that I want to try, including Buttermilk Biscuits, Buttermilk Blueberry Cake, Buttermilk Pancakes, and Buttermilk White Bread.

6) Today I am seeing a Broadway Series show using the season tickets I bought by selling things on Ebay. My mom is babysitting the kids for free.

7) I filled my gas tank at Kroger, getting 20 cents off per gallon using fuel points. The last time I filled my gas tank was 3 weeks ago!


Fail:

1) We threw out a couple bad avocados, one bad banana, and a few peaches.

2) Pizza again last night!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Menu Plan- 2nd Week of September


Huevos!


Sunday: Summer Veggie Tacos, Cream Corn from Scratch with Bacon Garnish

Monday: Roasted Sweet Potato Huevos Rancheros

Tuesday: Lentil and Onion Spread over Rice

Wednesday: Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese, Tangerines

Thursday: Hunt and Peck

Friday: Homemade Cheese Pizza

Saturday: Seeing a Show- family hunts and pecks




Sunday, September 6, 2015

Shopping Trips- 2nd Week of September



Aldi:

$50.83

We've been hit with a bit of a bug this week, and no one is eating much. I still have a ton of veggies and bacon that I will use to make cream corn and veggies tacos.



Kroger:

$40 for Clif Bars to last the next month (good news though, the boy is gaining weight slowly). Will probably hit there and spend $9 on soy milk too in a few days.

Tentative total: $99.83 to feed 5.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail:

1) I sold another lot of baby clothes for $45 to someone I know.

2) I transferred an extra $105 into my savings  above my automatic $250/month. This is thanks to a combination of rebates, selling books, and selling my son's old clothes.

3) I spent $72 of my $125 gift card for my grocery haul this week.

4) I read about a half dozen magazines on the Ohio Digital Library. I read Shape, Country Living, OK, Star, Backpacker, Smithsonian, and Good Housekeeping, and I borrowed the book Blogging For Dummies. I borrowed a Dragonbreath book, Lego Ninjago,  and a Magic Treehouse book for my son.

5) I may have qualified for another research study. If they invite me, it will mean another $75 gift card. (*edited- did not get in this time :()

6) I picked up two shifts to work. My mother babysat for one, so I only had to pay a sitter for one of them.

7) We finally received our preschool supply list. I used my stockpile for 3 items and bought the other three on sale, paying only $7 out of pocket.

8) I posted our Chicco high chair on craigslist and sold it for $30.

9)  I went through my girls' clothes and switched them to 2T and 5T, or up one size from previously. The girl clothes I generally pass on to a friend, but there were a few custom 12 month and 18 month clothes I had bought on Etsy that I will try and sell on Ebay. I am also prepared when my MIL asks what clothes they need for Christmas.

10) We ate vegetarian 5 days this week.

11) I found a new to us pink dance leotard required for my daughter's dance class at a consignment store. I picked up another skirt and 2 shirts for her there as well, for $18.50 out of pocket.

12) I earned a $5 ECB from CVS after buying a few beauty items.

13) I downloaded a free Kindle First book, Pale Queen Rising.

14) I baked a loaf of bread for $0.75.

Fail:

1) Not our fault, but we couldn't get a toilet unclogged and had to call a plumber. We also had to get something repaired on the hot water tank, and altogether it was $312. We learned that our toilet keeps periodically getting clogged because it is just a cheap toilet (our original builder went cheap on everything) and we will have to replace the toilet entirely sometime this year.

2) I live in a uniform of yoga pants, T-shirts, and a pair of jeans. I am down to 4 yoga pants, and one is a maternity pair that is now dying. 3 of my 5 T-shirts are sprouting holes. I had been living in my 7 year old maternity hoodie, and it was finally so ragged and torn I had to pitch it. I sold my maternity coat, and need a winter coat in my current size. I ended up spending $400 at Land's End and LL Bean for winter boots (I have never owned a pair, can you believe it?), a winter coat whose liner can come out and serve as a light jacket, a hoodie, a pair of jeans, and three shirts. I hope the LL Bean quality means these suckers will last a long time!

3) We ate out for lunch/dinner when my sister was here for an extended visit, to the tune of $40

Monday, August 31, 2015

Menu Plan


Sunday: Hunt and Peck

Monday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Tuesday: Bacon, Homemade Bread, and Cream Corn from Scratch

Wednesday: Summer Vegetarian Tacos with Avocado Cream

Thursday: Lentil and Onion Spread over Rice, with Lettuce and Tomato

Friday: Roasted Sweet Potato Huevos Rancheros

Saturday: Baked Ratatouille, Cheese Grits


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shopping Trip- 1st Week of September



I was short on time, and only hit one store this week.

Kroger:

$71.78

I bought a few extras, including a giant container of oatmeal that was discounted to $1.69 because the box had been smashed a bit. It was more than $62.50, but I think my husband would complain if I had gotten less. As it is, $72 is great for feeding 5 people!




Saturday, August 29, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) I picked up 2 shifts to work this week. My mom babysat one day, and I worked very, very early in the morning before my husband left for work for 2 half days to avoid needing a sitter. Getting up before 4 am was very painful though.

2) I read 3 magazines on the Ohio Digital Library, and borrowed two more Magic Tree House books and a Dragonbreath book for my son.

3) I sold some of my son's 4T clothes to a friend's neighbor for $28. We had a play date at my friends while we went through the clothes. My friend Diane is graciously helping me sell the 4T clothes her neighbor didn't want at her Twin Club sale coming soon.

4) I stuck pretty close to my $60 grocery budget this week.

5) We decided to take a break from gymnastics class for our 4 year old for the time being, which will save us $55 per month.

6) I ate out Saturday afternoon using a gift card.

7) My husband took our 7 year old to his work's company picnic. It offered a free meal, play area, bounce house, and miniature golf.

8) We had to provide snacks for Robotics team this week, and we sent grapes that my mother brought to us and a box of cereal bars we had already.

9) I watched shows on Hulu and Netflix for entertainment while I walked on our treadmill desk, as well as through the PBS app on our Roku.

10) My mother brought 2 loaves of bread and a cantaloupe with her when she babysat.

11) I interviewed a mom in the neighborhood about babysitting my kids while I work a few days a month. It is 2 streets over, so we walked there and back and spent a while over there seeing if it's a match. I ended up hiring her, which means I won't have to worry about extra taxes for an in-home employee.

12) I baked a loaf of bread, and a couple dozen cookies.

13) I only drove Sunday (for our play date), Wednesday (a meeting at school), Thursday (dance class), and Saturday (shopping and out with some friends).

Fail:

1) I threw out a couple bad bananas, and some greens that were dying at the bottom of the crisper.

2) I spent all Friday doing grad school homework, and we ended up spending $30 on pizza.

Win/Fail:

1) After dance on Thursday, there were a half dozen hot air balloons flying over our town, so my daughter and I got ice cream and sat in the van watching them.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Menu Plan- Last Week of August




Monday: Hunt and Peck

Tuesday: Roasted Potatoes Huevos Rancheros (this was a hit last week)

Wednesday: Lentil and Onion Sandwich Spread over Rice

Thursday: Italian Sausages (from freezer), Sauteed Peppers and Onions, Rice

Friday: Hot Dogs (or Veg Burger), Corn, Peaches

Saturday: Hunt and Peck for family (I am out with friends)

Also making:
Bread
Cinnamon Rolls
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Shopping Trips- Last Week of August



Kroger: $33.50

(Not pictured) My husband decided he would "help" me by stopping at Kroger and picking up a few things. Of course, he did not remember I was in the middle of a challenge and trying to keep this week to $60. He bought soy milk, almond milk, Clif bars, and my son picked out watermelon, cantaloupe, and blueberries as his treat. 

This of course caused me to quickly replan my Aldi trip and menu plan for the week. 

Aldi: $32.48




Weekly total: $65.98, which is not terribly above where I wanted to be.

This is the last week of the month, so here is my total for the month:
$97.90 + $184.64 + 61.28 + 65.98 = $409.80

This is just slightly above the $400/month I plot out for myself, but averages out to $2.73 per person per day. That is still pretty fantastic.

It's been interesting challenging myself to keep our budget around $60 each of the past 2 weeks. We have been eating just fine, and keeping our food waste within check more than usual. (Did you know the average American wastes 20 pounds of food per person per month?)

After receiving my $125 Visa card in the mail from the research study I completed recently, I am thinking it might be fun to challenge myself to sticking to the total of that gift card for the next 2 weeks. I will then transfer the $200 I would usually withdraw for my grocery trips to my Capital One 360 account.

This account is where I put my savings for my Roth IRA and Vanguard investments accounts. My goal is to use my small part-time income to not only pay for our food, clothing, kids' activities, school fees and supplies, entertainment (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and outings), internet, preschool, and medications/medical copays, but to max my Roth ($5500) and put $3000 in investments every year.

We still have plenty of staples and a full freezer, and the pantry can use some thinning. My plan for the next 2 weeks, then, is to stick to a budget of $62.50 per week for the next 2 weeks. Can I do it?


Friday, August 21, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) I sold my Angelcare Monitor on Ebay for $40 to someone local. We met in a parking lot to do the exchange. It was nicer than craigslist, because she had already paid via Ebay and I didn't have to ship it.

2) My husband sold 4 boxes of books at Half Price Books for $28. Of course, he bought one book there for $4! Net income: $24.

3) Friends came over to hang out on Saturday. They paid for pizza (thanks guys!), and we supplied beer. I made cold brewed mason jar tea and homemade cinnamon rolls.

4) I bought reusable juice boxes for my son to use at school on Amazon, as well as some crackers and cookies. I used my $5 Prime Pantry credit and $12 in Discover cash back so I spent only $10 out of pocket.

5) I kept my grocery spending to $60 this week to keep us within our $400 monthly grocery budget.

6) I picked up 2 work shifts, and my mother babysat for free.

7) We rented a Redbox movie using the free Redbox code I got last week.

8) I only drove Monday (medical appointment and 2nd grade meet and greet), Thursday (dance class and robotics club) , and Saturday (gymnastics, shopping, and free company picnic).

9) I cleaned the bathroom toilets with a baking soda/borax/vinegar mixture I saw on Pinterest.

10) I have two potential lots of boy clothes I may sell. I hope to meet with the buyers this coming week.

11) We packed lunch every day for my son and once for my husband.

12) I finalized my new Capital One 360 Savings account and set it to automatically transfer $250 every month. If I do that for 12 months successfully, it will be $3000 towards my investment accounts in one year. My monthly income is variable, so this could sometimes be a challenge.

13) Watched some shows on Hulu and borrowed some more Magic Tree House books for my son on the Ohio Digital Library.

14) I received a $10 rebate check in the mail, plus the $125 Visa card from the research study (they were very prompt!).

Fail:

1) Ordered pizza Thursday night for $30.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Shopping Trips- 3rd Week of August

Farmer's Market: $4 for tomatoes


Kroger: $39.31 (the parchment paper was $3.99 and comes out of the $25 per month household expenses). $10.49 of this was beer!


Aldi: $17.97 (Ignore the beer- I was not moving that heavy sucker from the counter)


Total for week: $61.28

I am just slightly over my $60 planned for this week and next. I have already plotted out Saturday's shopping trip, and think I can make it within that amount too.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Menu Plan- 3rd Week of August



Sunday: Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas (I will mix with black beans when done), with tortilla, lettuce, cheese, tomato, and black olives. Cucumber and Tomato Salad.

Monday: Vegan Lentil and Potato Dal over Rice

Tuesday: Roasted Potatoes Huevos Rancheros

Wednesday: Lentil and Onion Spread on Fresh-baked Bread, Broccoli

Thursday: Hunt and Peck

Friday: Hunt and Peck

Saturday: Hunt and Peck




Saturday, August 15, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) After visiting family for several days, my generous MIL sent us home with a ton of food bought for our kids that we didn't eat there. We came home with ham, hot dogs, bread, buns, cereal, chocolate milk, crackers, fresh veggies, juice boxes, and fresh fruit.

2) I read a magazine on the Ohio Digital Library.

3) I completed the follow-up conference call for that research study I did last week and earned the extra $50.

4) We used a $4 off coupon at Bob Evans on our way home from our trip.

5) I opened up a Capital One 360 Savings account that earns 0.75% interest (higher than our local bank/credit union). I am making planned automatic transfers to this from every paycheck and any freelance income will go here. This will keep my freelance income separate for tax purposes and I hope to make a lump sump into an investment account at the end of the year this way. Making an automatic savings transfer is a great way to save, as you are used to spending only what you have left.

6) I got a free Redbox rental code.

7) I picked up 2 work shifts. For one shift, I got up very, very (painfully) early and worked before my husband left for work to avoid having to pay a sitter.

8) My mom picked up 6 jars of Jif peanut butter for $0.99/each at Meijer this week while we were out of town. When she dropped them off, she also gave us two huge bags of grapes.

9) I went to Sam's and stocked up on bread flour, all purpose flour, raisins, almonds, apple juice, and Clif bars.

10) We did stick to our $300 vacation budget (about $120 for gas, $80 for food, and $100 to get 3 kids and 6 adults into the Zoo).

11) I got a $9.06 Ebates check in the mail.

12) I used a $5 Prime Pantry credit and $12.06 in Discover Cash Back to get a 6 pack of reusable juice boxes, a box of Pepperidge Farm cookies, and some crackers on Amazon for only $10 out of pocket.

13) My mom brought a Cassano's pizza (yum!) for the kids when she babysat.

14) I used a Hulu gift card bought on Ebay with Paypal funds from items I sold to buy a year of Hulu. We are happy with the TV selection, and it looks like the shows I usually bought on Amazon (Dr Who) we can watch on Hulu as they come out.

15) I took a Kroger survey to get $1.

16) We hit up a new park as part of our last day of summer vacation fun.

17) School starts Tuesday for us. So far the only things I have bought are backpacks, dance uniform, reusable juice boxes, and supplies the PTO sold as a full supply kit.

18) I used a coupon to get a free clothing item from Once Upon A Child (a long sleeved shirt for my son).

19) I signed up for automatic payment of my daughter's dance tuition to pay $10 less per month.

Fail:

1) My mom offered us an evening of babysitting for a date on the fly Monday night. We went to try a new restaurant and spent $80.

2) We had to get milk after coming back from vacation. After 5 hours in the car with a screaming toddler, we made the closest and fastest stop, instead of going to Aldi, meaning milk was $3 per gallon.






Friday, August 14, 2015

Shopping Trips- 2nd Week of August

Haul from Grandma and Grandpa's: FREE

There were a few things we brought from home we didn't eat (yogurt/fruit snacks), but most of this was given by my in-laws.



Meijer: $6

$6 for peanut butter and grapes for free from my mother.



Sam's: $88.23

This is a stock-up trip for us. At the beginning of March, I bought bulk flours from Sam's to make our own bread at the lowest price possible. I am now out of bread flour, and have about half of the all purpose flour left. We haven't made more than a small dent in the oil, vinegar, cocoa, and rice we bought at the same time. 

I bake a loaf of bread between 1 and 3 times a week, and make homemade pizza or buns at least once per month. It has taken us about 5 months to work through the 25 pound bag of bread flour. 

This go round I bought Clif Bars, baking soda, bread flour, all purpose flour, raisins, apple juice, and almonds.



Kroger: $76.89
    food cost: $65.43 (minus the Borax, dish wands, and a night light on clearance)


Target: $15.98 for Clif Bars



Dorothy Lane: $9 for 3 gallons of milk

Total $184.64

Now, if I want to keep my monthly average to $400, this means I have $117.46 left to spend over the next 2 weeks. (We spent $97.90 last week).

Now, we are by no means poor, and it will not break the bank to spend a bit more, but I do like a challenge.

Our fridge/pantry is rather overflowing still, so I have decided to do a mini pantry challenge the next 2 weeks, only buying fresh produce and necessities, and keeping my spending to $60 each week.

Can I do it?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Menu Plan- 2nd Week of August

Sunday: Back from Vacation- hunt and peck

Monday: Vegan Lentil and Potato Dal with Rice

Tuesday: Vegan Red Lentil Chili over Rice

Wednesday: Hunt and Peck, clean out fridge

Thursday: Scrambled Eggs, Toast, Mediterranean Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Friday: Hunt and Peck, clean out the fridge

Saturday: TBD

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) I used Ebates to get 16% cash back and 5% off on flowers for my in-laws' anniversary.

2) I picked up 8 hours of work, and worked outside business hours and had Grandma babysit so I would not need to pay child care.

3) My sister and I took the kids to Kings Island (summer bucket list item), and used a coupon to get $35 off each adult ticket.

4) I read the latest edition of OK, National Geographic, and Wired through the Ohio Digital Library. We borrowed three more Magic Treehouse Books and the Dragonbreath book for my son through the same app.

5) Got a Loop N Loom for my 4 year old's Christmas present at 60% off on Amazon and a Tots Jr Art Start for our toddler for 30% off. I got a $5 Prime Pantry credit for choosing no rush shipping. (I am soooo close to being done with Christmas gifts.)

6) Our neighborhood has a community pool that includes a kiddie pool, and we spent Sunday afternoon there for fun.

7) Grandma and Grandpa treated us to dinner several times, and my SIL and her boyfriend made us a yummy meal.

8) My husband and son camped out in the backyard in a tent we borrowed from a cousin. We had a campfire and made s'mores with ingredients from Aldi. As it turns out, they have tree nut-free chocolate, and graham crackers and marshmallows without dye (most brands contain blue dye).

9) We took the kids to a park for free.

10) At King's Island, we planned on eating pizza there, but after seeing they charged $14.29 for a single slice, single bread stick, and a drink, per person, we said forget it. Instead, we waited until we got back to Grandma's, ordered a large pizza, a salad, and 2 bowls of soup, for $20 after coupon. We would have spent over $50 for much less food if we ate there. Crazy!

11) We went to the Cleveland Zoo and got 50% off admission with our Cincinnati Zoo pass.

12) My MIL found a huge box of used random Legos for our son at a garage sale. We also played with my husband's old board games from the early 70s.

Fail:

1) We ate at restaurants on the way to and from our travel destination this week. We probably could have brought something, but we wanted the kids to run around and burn off energy. It was $80 overall.

2) The $9 necklace I bought for my daughter at King's Island was broken by that night. Grr!

Win/Fail?:

1) We budgeted for this, but my sister and I took my two older children to King's Island for the day, using those discounted tickets. We played games ($) and ate ice cream, and bought one souvenir per child there ($). My mother babysat the baby for free.




Sunday, August 2, 2015

Grocery Trips- 1st Week of August

Dorothy Lane:

$70.74

Mostly beer, deli food, waffles, and snacks. The waffles were cheaper here than at Kroger this week. My husband has had a hard week at work, and requested beer and chocolate cake.


Aldi:

$27.16

We will be traveling a bit back and forth to see family, and Grandma and Grandpa will be treating us to some meals, so I bought stuff for S'mores, fruit snacks, and a couple things to get us through the week when we aren't eating out. We are cleaning out the fridge and using up what we have still, so lots of lentils, rice, and simple meals like eggs and hot dogs this week.


Total:

$97.90

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) I got a $2 rebate check in the mail from a Yuengling beer purchase.

2) I picked up 3 half-day shifts this week.

3) We borrowed 6 more Magic Treehouse books for my son on the Ohio Digital Library.

4) I baked bread once this week.

5) I spent less than $100 for groceries for this coming week ($97.90).

6) Since I worked 3 afternoons this week, the kids played indoors and did water play on our deck for fun.

7) I sent a water bottle and simple fruit/graham crackers for my son's camp snacks this week.

8) Thanks to our alpaca dryer balls, I used fabric softener on only 2 of 9 loads of laundry this week. (Yes, that's a lot of laundry. We have a preschooler who still has accidents.)

9) I am signed up to do an online survey Mon-Wed for 20 minutes each day, which will pay as a $75 gift card. If they pick me for a follow-up conference call, I will get $50 more.

Fail:

1) My son was in video game design camp every morning this week. The closest one we could find was a 40 minute drive south, so that meant a lot of driving and more than a full tank of gas to get there for the week. A full tank is about $40 for our minivan.

2) We ended up renting a movie on Amazon for our date night on last Saturday for $4.99. Cheaper than the movies though, right?

3) I still haven't sold those lots of boy clothes, but my mom is considering setting up a booth at a big kid sale soon to sell them for me. The Angelcare Monitor is listed as a Buy It Now on Ebay, and no hits thus far.

4) We had Chick-Fil-A for breakfast one day, to the tune of $14.

Win/Fail?:

1) My kids wanted a day at Chick-Fil-A to eat and play at the indoor gym for their summer bucket list. We did that this week, after camp, and spent $18. It was within my entertainment budget though.

2) We bought camping supplies for our son- a sleeping bag, pad, and pillow, for cub scouts this year. It was $159, but I got 2% cash back from Ebates and free shipping. It was from LL Bean, so it is guaranteed for life.

3) Dinner last night was from the deli at Dorothy Lane, including some cake, as the mister and I worked late. The win part is that we included it as part of this week's groceries, so there is nothing extra spent.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Shopping Trips: Last Week of July


Kroger: $21.78

I took advantage of some ecoupons to get staples for a stock-up price. Other than yogurt and waffles, I doubt we will be eating much of these this week. I bought pectin to try a peach pie recipe I've been longing to try.



Aldi: $24.68


Weekly total: $46.46

Monthly total:

$46.46 + $103.63 + $132.11 + $99.52 = $381.72

How I think we got here:

* My fridge was still a little full this weekend, and we had a ton of fruit and veg left over, so I am trying to clean it out and use up what we have. I thought of going to Sam's for bulk bread flour, but we have too much going on socially, and I didn't go, leaving my weekly grocery total pretty low.

* I have been keeping an eye on food waste. It wasn't perfect; I think I bought too many tomatoes at the farmer's market last week and we threw out same baked beans. We have had more "hunt and peck" nights than my menu plan called for, as I did not accurately calculate how long we'd be eating those baked beans from last week and that lasagna from this week. Of the four dinners I planned to cook last week, I only made two.

* I also bought a few more things at Aldi that were on my list, such as dye free marshmallows and graham crackers for s'mores we will be making at grandma's, Goldfish Crackers, buns, and chocolate milk. All were cheaper than Kroger this week. We've been slowly trying out the Aldi brand to see if we like the taste, and so far everything has had a thumbs-up.

* I didn't buy any meat. We have ham, cheese, eggs, and plenty of lentils and beans already, and I have a few meats in the freezer.

* Our monthly Amazon Subscribe and Save order had only toilet paper and dishwasher detergent (that is a separate "household" category for me), so that brought down the monthly average. I have nixed most food items through Subscribe and Save, and only buy loose tea, maple syrup, and pancake mix with that every few months.

Average weekly grocery spending for the month of July:

$95.43!

This is $2.73 per person per day.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) I read a book, Zero To One, on the Ohio Digital Library. I borrowed two Magic Tree House books for my son as well.

2) I listened to a free history podcast about Diogenes.

3) I baked bread twice this week.

4) A friend came over, and we just chatted and drank mason-jar tea.

5) I used some money I got from selling my son's clothes to go out for a work dinner and to hit one of my favorite foodie joints for lunch with my cousin this weekend.

6) My mother took the kids overnight tonight (free babysitting) and the husband and I are having an in-home date night. I am using the B1G1 Chipotle coupon that was floating around this week to get burritos, and we watched a movie on Amazon Prime.

7) I only spent $47 in groceries this week.

8) I used my Y membership once and the kids played outside with the hose several times.

Fail:

1) I planned to sell 4 boxes of books to Half Price Books today, but left my license in the diaper bag at home, so I couldn't sell them.

2) I threw out a couple tomatoes and a bad orange. We also threw out a couple servings of baked beans from last week.

Win/Fail:

1) I tried to sell huge lots of clothing on Ebay, but people were not biting because of shipping costs. I ended up closing my listings and posting on a FB yardsale. One person showed interest but would not get back when I tried to plan and meet. Still waiting for those to sell.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Menu Plan


Sunday: Pesto Veggie Lasagna

Monday: Leftover Lasagna

Tuesday: BLTs on homemade bread, Roasted Broccoli, Nectarines

Wednesday: Cheese Quesadillas with Tomatoes, Green Onions, Sour Cream, Oranges

Thursday: Hunt and Peck, clean out the fridge

Friday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Onions

Saturday: Kids with Grandma, date night at home. Plans TBD


Also making:
Applesauce
Bread

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Grocery Trips- Third Week of July

Farmer's Market: $14. I nabbed the last dozen eggs! I could get this cheaper at a store, but who wants tomatoes that have been shipped from California, when I can get the real deal during the summer?



Aldi: $37.35



Kroger: $52.28


Weekly Total: $ 103.63

I wanted to squeak it smaller, but I can't seem to get less food without running out/complaints by Friday. Still, $20.73 per person per week is nothing to sneeze at! That's about $2.96 per person per day.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) I read The Cheapskate Next Door through the Ohio Digital Library (myeh, I wouldn't recommend it).  I also read the latest issues of OK magazine and Shape through a Nook reading app using the Ohio Digital Library.

2) I baked two loaves of bread, made my own pizza crust, and made a huge vat of Boston Baked Beans from dried navy beans.

3) I sold 3 boxes of books to Half Price Books for $32.

4) I paid $5 out of pocket for two 31-load bottles of All Free and Clear and a tube of expensive dry mouth toothpaste, thanks to multiple coupons and Extra Care Bucks at CVS. Original cost $24.

5) I was sorely tempted by the smell of McAllister's Deli next to Half Price books, but I did not give in!

6) I picked up one work shift this week.

7) I used my Kroger Fuel Points to get $0.50 off per gallon.

8) I only drove twice this week- to a local sprinkler park and today for gymnastics and grocery shopping.

9) The kids ran through the sprinkler and we visited a local park for entertainment this week.

10) I packed no work lunches for my husband, but for a month his work will be feeding him 3 times a week while they work some overtime, so that is a win! I'm a little jealous...

11) Prime Day was pretty much a bust, but I did pick up a 9 pack of 80-count Amazon Baby Wipes for $6.80 shipped. That's 2 cents per wipe, which is my stock-up price.

12) I bought a Wahl Color Pro Haircutting Kit on Amazon for $20 (50% off). I cut my son's hair at home today. It paid for itself with one haircut, as we usually spend about $20 for cut and tip at Big League Haircuts. It looks like it's still that price today.

13) I made cold-brewed iced tea in a mason jar for me to drink this week.

Fail:

1) My friend's daughters babysat for us Tuesday and stayed overnight. We ended up getting wings for dinner and ice cream for dessert. Cost: $50. I won't lie, we all had a yummy dinner and they got to try Dairy Queen for the first time.


Win/Fail:

1) The new sitter came and worked half a day as a trial. Cost: $40. I did get to work out on the treadmill and clean out my office, and it looks like we have a new sitter I will be happy with, so I can't call it a fail.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Menu Plan- July 12



Sunday: Hunt and peck- lots of leftovers

Monday: Boston Baked Beans in slow cooker

Tuesday: leftover beans

Wednesday: My Veggie Infused Meatloaf, Nectarines, Peas

Thursday: Scrambled Eggs, Toast of Homemade Bread, Salad

Friday: Pizza Friday- Homemade Cheese Pizza

Saturday: Cheddar Grits with Heirloom Tomatoes, Veggie Burgers


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Shopping Trips- 2nd Week of July


My poor long-suffering husband was complaining this week about running out of soy milk and juice. It is also the time of the month to stock up on his coffee. This coincides with a grass fed beef sale at Fresh Thyme at $3.77/lb (usually grass fed beef is $8-10/lb), so my weekly costs were going to be higher. 

Farmer's Market: $13 for local honey. Did you know autumn honey tastes stronger than spring honey? I didn't know either until I did a taste test at the bee lady's stand. I preferred spring honey. 
I use this for baking bread and occasionally in my tea. Hopefully this will last several months and it supports our local bee population.

Kroger: $60.00

My husband stopped here for soy milk mid-week and spent $14. I shopped there today and spent $46 even. I got a free Skinny Cow Iced Coffee and there was an ecoupon to get peanut butter for $0.99. The Seattle's Best Coffee was $2.99- they let me use an ecoupon and a printable from coupons.com. 




Fresh Thyme: $34.92. 

I got 4 pounds of beef and that was $15.48. You can see why one of our main strategies is eating vegetarian. Beans, lentils, and dairy are way cheaper sources of protein. I had a $5 off $30 coupon in my email to use. I only bought cheap fruit, veg, and meat. Anything else is way too pricey.



Aldi: $24.19

 Nothing special, just our usual milk, OJ, veggies, and fruit. I did pick up a package of Fair Trade coffee for $3.99 to see if my husband likes it. That everyday price rivals or beats what I usually can get on sale with a coupon at Target or Kroger.



Weekly Total: 
$132.11

Ouch! I'll try to bring my monthly average back in line next week by shooting for $85-90.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1)We watched neighbors set off fireworks from our back deck on the 4th of July.We had a 4-pack of sparklers in my stockpile that I bought for 50 cents a few years ago, and used half a box. Cost: $0.13.

2) I picked up 3 shifts to work this week. My mom babysat for one, so I didn't have to pay for babysitting that day. That saved me the $60 I have been paying my teenage babysitters.

3) I KonMari'd 12 boxes of books, and my husband took one box to sell at Half Price Books: I earned $20 this week from that. I hope to take another load Saturday.

4) I posted our baby bottles and accessories for sale on Ebay as a buy it now for $15.

5) I spent $13 of the monthly $50 I allow for myself on alpaca dryer balls. I bought them at the farmer's market from a local alpaca farmer. I quit using fabric softener on Saturday. (Dryer ball review coming soon!) I calculate that if I use this for 9 out of ten loads (I like my sheets and towels to smell April fresh), I will save maybe $50 a year, with no fears about topical allergies.

6) I finished watching Season 2 of The Middle, which I borrowed from the library.

7) I read a book I borrowed from the Ohio Digital Library. I was able to read it on my laptop.

8) I stayed within my $100 grocery budget for the week.

9) I baked 2 loaves of bread.

10) With the exception of a few work lunches for my husband, we ate 100% of meals at home.

11) I used my YMCA membership twice this week. On Monday, we walked there and back (it is 1 mile each way) to save gas. My 4 year old told the childwatch attendant "We walked here to save money on gas."

12) I only drove four days: Saturday to grocery shop, Tuesday to the post office, Wednesday to a doctor's appointment, and Thursday to the YMCA. We would have walked to the Y Thursday, but my community repaved the walking paths and they are still blocked off.

13) We are done with a series of medical appointments for our son, and it will no longer cost us $100/month in copays.

Fail:

1) I returned a movie late to the library and was fined $1. D'oh! I thought I could renew, but for some reason, only that movie was nonrenewable.

2) We threw out some moldy grapes and a bad kiwi.

Win/Fail:

1) My blog revamp and self-hosting is coming soon (look for a whole new blog, a move to Wordpress, and a name change!). I am paying for 24 months of Bluehost to start with and must pay upfront. I'm hoping to write my way into a win.

2) We are using Care.com for our part-time in-home sitter search. We paid for a year's membership ($156) , $59 for an in-depth background search for our prime candidate, and we will sign up for its payroll/tax services, as even part time our sitter will require withholding and tax as a nanny. That will cost around $50/month. However, these are our kids, and I want people to be vetted, have background checks, and not be a random person from craigslist. I can't feel bad about paying for an extra level of safety.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Menu Plan


Sunday: Veggie Infused Meatloaf (my recipe), Peas

Monday: Simple Spaghetti with Red Sauce

Tuesday: Baked Potatoes, Veggie Burgers

Wednesday: Mexican Tomato Rice and Beans

Thursday: Kid Choice: Hot Dogs, Corn, Peaches

Friday: Pizza Friday- Homemade Cheese Pizza

Saturday: Red Lentil Chili, Corn Bread

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Shopping Trips- 1st Week of July

My husband hit Kroger on Tuesday, and picked up soy milk, orange juice, Clif Builder Bars, and yogurt. Total: $20

Aldi: $33.58. I had actually planned on buying a lot of these items at Kroger, but decided to try and see if the Aldi prices were better. They were! Oats, potatoes, orange juice, peanut butter, bacon, milk, lettuce, and bananas all were better priced than Kroger.



Kroger: $14.94. I got a register coupon for a free pint of Halo Ice Cream last week, so I picked up a pint of chocolate today. I had an ecoupon for the yogurt and a $3 catalina from last week as well. 


Farmer's Market: 1 basket of tomatoes for $4.

Total this week: $99.52

Friday, July 3, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail

Win:

1) I sold my son's 4T shorts on Ebay for $10 and his size 6 jeans for $22. (And yes, at age 7, he just outgrew those shorts. We make 'em skinny here!)

2) My mother stopped by today and brought us a pizza to eat.

3) I bought L.L. Bean backpacks for the big kids with a coupon code and Ebates. These are guaranteed for life, and I am hoping to eke out as many years as I can in these (at least 5?). I bought plain solid colors.

4) I baked bread and cinnamon rolls twice, and made homemade cookies.

5) Picked up two work shifts this week.

6) Used our YMCA membership once.

7) This week's fun activity was inviting my son's friend over for the day to play- no money needed.

8) We watched movies from the library 4 times.

9) I got my quarterly CVS ECB bonus of $3.

10) I packed lunch for my husband twice.

11) I worked a shift Thursday, and drove on my lunch break to the post office and pharmacy. As I got in the car, it occurred to me that it was the first time I had driven since Saturday when I went to the store. (I work from home). That is a lot of savings in gas. On the other hand, I am feeling rather stir crazy.

12) Got a free pint of ice cream at Kroger by using a register coupon received last week.

13) Downloaded a free Kindle First book, The Einstein Prophecy.

Fail:

1) Even though I sold my Angelcare Monitor on Ebay, the buyer has not paid. I will probably have to relist. Ugh! From here on out, I am choosing the Buy It Now option. This is the second time this has happened to an auction. The other clothes I sold this week I listed as Buy It Now only.

2) I own one pair of jeans and 5 pairs of yoga pants. One yoga pair finally tore beyond repair in the washer and had to be thrown out. I am losing weight, so I am going to make do with what I have until I am down another size.

3) Threw out some veggies dying in the back of the crisper drawer.

4) Missed out on packing lunch for my husband once.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Food Blog Lovin'- Freezer Cinnamon Rolls from Money Saving Mom


One of last week's frugal failures was the buying of last minute breakfast pastries for way more moolah than I could make myself. I've been thinking of trying to make something that I could make ahead and freeze.

Perfect timing, I saw this post for Freezer Cinnamon Rolls on Money Saving Mom this week, and it looked easy. All it took was throwing a few ingredients into our bread maker and using the dough cycle, rolling it out quickly, spreading some butter/cinnamon mixture, cutting it, and baking it. We received our bread machine as a wedding gift 9 years ago and I really just use it to make pizza dough, focaccia dough, and other yeast rolls. It took me 2 minutes to throw the ingredients in there, and about 5-10 minutes hands-on time to prep the rolls.

It truly was that easy. I haven't frozen any yet, but I have made these twice now. I haven't made the icing, as we thought the filling was super sweet and didn't need any extra sweetness. The second time around, I also reduced the brown sugar in the filling to 1/2 a cup. This made about 14 rolls each time.  I'm estimating the cost per batch, based on 14 rolls, is around $0.50.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Menu Plan- Last Week of June



I'm trying a lot of greek yogurt smoothies this week for breakfast. I'm getting a little tired of my Chocolate Oat Protein Smoothie and need to mix it up.


Sunday: Country Style BBQ Pork Ribs Marinated in Root Beer (going to make my own hack of this), Cole Slaw

Monday: Leftover Ribs/Slaw, Corn

Tuesday: Lentil Shepherds Pie

Wednesday: Mujadarrah

Thursday: Kids request: Hot dogs with veg and fruit, Boca burgers for me

Friday: Homemade Cheese Pizza

Saturday: Lentil Pierogi, Beet Chips, Corn on the Cob

Also making:

Freezer Cinnamon Rolls
American Sandwich Bread
Mocha Breakfast Shake
Apple Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie
Strawberry Breakfast Protein Smoothie

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Grocery Trips Week of 6/27


I had a few things the family insisted upon this week:

1) Making a meat dish. We eat mostly vegetarian, but occasionally the natives get restless.

2) Stock up on coffee, Cheerios, soy milk, tea, and and juices. We had run out of almost all and had to do without on Friday.

3) Buy lots and lots of oranges (per my son, who eats 3 a day).

Our fridge was pretty bone bare, and we did eat all of the party leftovers from a week ago. Last night, we ate 15 breadsticks dipped in spaghetti sauce plus the last cake. I planned on spending around $130 this week. I initially planned on hitting 4 stores, but my arthritis is unhappy, and in the end I opted for a quick run to the Farmer's Market and Kroger.

Farmer's Market:

Tomatoes for $4

Kroger: $129.38

Thanks to some couponing, I got 6 boxes of Cheerios for $1 each, and 3 packs of Boca Burgers for about $2.50 each, plus a $3 catalina back for them.





This brings me to $133.38 for the week and $426.41 over the entire month, making my average for this month $106.60 per week to feed a family of five.

This is slightly above where I want to be, at $100/week, but I see a few places that I can tweak. A new Whole Foods just opened up, and they tend to have the soy milk we like at a cheaper price per quart. Now that I know my husband goes through 3 packs of coffee per month, I will be keeping my eyes pealed for coffee deals.


Frugal Win/Fail- 4th Week of June

Win:

1) Sold our Angelcare monitor and a Vera Bradley tote on Ebay for $52.50.

2) Got a 7 month supply of one of my medications for $25.72 out of pocket. After switching to a generic antacid (and an H2 blocker instead of a PPI), using a coupon and $13.75 in ECBs at CVS, and taking advantage of a B1 G1 at 50% off deal, I paid for a 7 month supply what I typically paid for a one month supply. Total savings will be $150.

Since we will have had 12 medical office visits by the end of June, to the tune of $300 for all the copays, I am very happy with this.

3) Spent about $71 in groceries for ourselves this week. There was a LOT of food left over from the party. We gifted a friend about four 12-packs of Coke products for her son's graduation, as we don't drink it at all.

Helpful hint: we revived the vat of cold spaghetti with a little olive oil, as suggested by my Sicilian uncle. He also told me we could fry it in a pan with a little olive oil as well.

4) Craved a Mocha Frappucino and made my own after a Pinterest search.

5) Used my YMCA membership three times. Added bonus: using the membership 2-3 times a week is getting me extra money through my work's wellness program, almost half the monthly cost of our Y membership!

6) My mom bought us a gallon of milk from Aldi and a box of crackers.

7) We are joining a friend at a local park today (free), and the kids will play in the splash pad (free) and we will grill out at their camper. I am making pasta salad and oatmeal raisin cookies from things I already have, and will spend about $3 on hot dogs we will bring to share.

8) At first glance, it sounds expensive, but I spent $209 on Zulily for Christmas. I have had my eye on a software program for kids that teaches them Java to create their own custom mods in Minecraft. My son REALLY wants to be able to do this. The software is $250 and it was $100 less on Zulily. I also found some art-related coloring books at 50% off for my older daughter. I had a $25 Paypal balance in there from selling on Ebay, so it was $184 out of pocket instead of $359.

9) Went to the local library for the first time in almost 5 years. I had to pay $1 to get a new card, but we came home with the new Terry Brooks novel for me, a Magic Treehouse for my son, and 4 DVDs. Even better, I found out we can now borrow a digital version of this whole series my son loves on our Kindle through an app! Things have changed since I last worked at a library in 2000.

10) I earned $2 in ExtraCare Bucks from CVS for filling out a survey sent to my email.


Fail:

1) My daughter is in art camp, and it is a 20 minute drive away. I will have gone through a full tank of gas by the end of the week. Ouch.

2) The down side of staying at home and still trying to do some professional things: having to pay for a sitter, $60 out of pocket. I belong to a professional nursing organization. To be certified, you have to pass a 15 contact hour home study course before sitting for your certification exam. I am one of a group of 15 nurses who are part of a committee to rewrite the course. I am considering getting my PhD, and this would be a very valuable experience to have.

My team finished a chapter and had to present it this week, and I needed to have a sitter watch the kids and keep them happy and in another part of the house during my conference call. It went well, and it was worth the money, but $60 is a lot to me now. My next chapter is due in two weeks, and I will be working that day and doing my meeting on my lunch break. At least I will be earning some money that day!

3) Paid for 4 more Kindle Magic Treehouse books before I decided to get my behind to the library and get a new card.

4) Threw out a bad orange and a bad apple. Bought a pound of lunch meat at Target, and even though it was within the sell by date, we thought it smelled really off and threw it out.

Win/Fail?:

1) I got a great deal at Target on razors. If you have been following the blog, you may remember that in 2009 when I started couponing I was able to spend only $9 to buy a huge stockpile of razors/refills for my husband. The coupon deals were a bit better back then. This is the first time since 2009 that I have had to buy razors. The fail part is that I forget one coupon on my dining room table- the one that would get me a $10 gift card back for buying $35 in shaving products at Target. D'oh! So ticked at myself for that one.   There was no way I was schlepping 3 kids back to that store to do it all again though.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Food Blog Lovin'- Healthy Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino from The Lemon Bowl



I've had a hankering for an iced coffee drink this week, what with temperatures being in the 80s and 90s finally. I do have a $5 Starbucks gift card, but I am saving it for my husband, who actually likes to drink coffee every day, and might like a fancy drive-through beverage.

I surfed around on Pinterest and found this recipe from the Lemon Bowl for an iced chocolate/coffee drink made with stevia to sweeten it. I have no whipped cream or chocolate shavings, so I made mine without. I also used (gasp!) decaf instant coffee, as I did not want to waste a pot of coffee that I knew I would not drink.

My stevia was plain and I was not about to go buy some chocolate stevia, so I added a wee bit more cocoa. I blended it in my Ninja single serving cup and drank it on the way to my daughter's art camp.

My verdict: I liked it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Shopping Trips Week of 6/21/15


Dorothy Lane: $33- assorted pastries for breakfast, fruit, iced tea, bread, and cereal

Amazon: $24 for a 4-pack of Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain Pancake Mix




CVS: $70.43 out of pocket after coupons and ECBs, got $6 ECBs back. The Flonase is pricey, but I found a $4 coupon. I will be very happy when this is both OTC and generic. At least my son only needs it through the fall. The sunscreen will last us through the end of the summer. The antacid will save me $150 over the next 7 months!





Target: $44 out of pocket after using coupons, Red card, and $35 in gift cards. I am kicking myself for forgetting the coupon that would have gotten me a $10 Target gift card back. I just could not schlep my kids back there though. I bought a couple food items (about $10 worth) and a checkers/chess and pick-up sticks game for my son.


Food total for the week ended up being $71 from all stores, which is under my $100 goal. Yes, we are still working on those party leftovers-see?



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail- 3rd Week of June



Win:

1) See the picture above? My sister, the graphic designer, made custom cake toppers for my mother's retirement party. Comparable ones go for $10-50 on Etsy. On a side note, my sister should probably open her own Etsy shop.

2) I spent about $132 on my grocery trip this week, however 2/3 of that was for party food and was technically paid for by relatives. I spent about $33 for food on my family. I still have to get staples, like soy milk and apple juice, but that's about it, so we are at about $43 in groceries this week from the store and $24 from Amazon Subscribe and Save.

3) We have a LOT of food leftover, including two large pizzas, a pan of spaghetti that should serve 10, a tray of salad, half a tray of lasagna, and half a tray of chicken alfredo. And about a half sheet size of cake. This will pretty much feed us all week.

4) We went to the Zoo using our already paid for Zoo membership. As long as we use it three times in 12 months, we will come out ahead. My sister was our guest for free thanks to our membership package. We brought our own water and juice boxes to the Zoo.

5) We went to the park once this week as well and used our YMCA membership twice.

6) We surprised my mother at work on her last day there, and her coworkers sent us home with a giant load of food from their party. (This kind of cancels out the Chic-Fil-A incident below, as we had planned on eating out that night, and ended up not having to do so. Thanks ladies!!)

7) I can't claim any responsibility for this, but our youngest successfully made it through her oral peanut challenge at the allergist's office. Can I tell you how much money this will save in not needing to buy certified nut free chocolate chips, regular foods without special nut free measures, and plain old cheap peanut butter?

8) I listed our Angelcare Monitor and a Vera Bradley tote bag on Ebay and both have bids on them thus far (about $27 and hopefully will close higher).

9) I had bought gift cards in the fall as part of a fundraiser for my son's school, and gave one to my father for Father's Day.


Fail:

1) We opted to buy pizza at the Zoo, plus an Icee for my son- a cost of $23. We were exhausted after walking/driving all day and opted for Chic-Fil-A that night, to the tune of $20.

2) We threw out a rotting avocado, a couple jars of dip for the party that nobody wanted to take home, and a couple servings of beef and cabbage that no one wanted as leftovers. I bought a schnecken for $10 at our fancy grocery for breakfast the day of the party and it really wasn't good enough to be $10. I could have made cinnamon rolls that tasted better.

3) My daughter needed an antibiotic, and I picked up the one prescribed for her at the pharmacy Friday. I went to give the first dose that night, and a little voice in my head told me to double check the ingredients for red dye- her allergen that causes hives and necessitates we carry an Epi-pen everywhere. Lo and behold, it did, and the doctor and the pharmacist both did not catch it. I can't return what had been dispensed, so that $10 copay is a loss. Let me tell you, I will check before I leave next time.

4) Packed zero lunches for my husband this week. He's not terribly motivated for this, so he is not unhappy.

Win/Fail?:

1)  Father's Day lunch at Panera with my dad, and bought lunch for him and us, for $36. I won't call it a fail, as it was a gift and it was planned, but I'm wondering if I could have found a coupon somewhere. I had never taken the kids there, and am happy to report they were very happy with peanut butter sandwiches and squeeze yogurt. We were able to easily avoid our other allergens (cashew, shellfish, strawberry, and red dye).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Food Blog Lovin'- Quinoa Enchilada Casserole from Damn Delicious



My sister-in-law has stayed with us a couple of times this year, and bought some quinoa for herself to use. It has been sitting in the back on the cabinet for months, and I wanted to try and do something with it.

We usually get rice, as it is cheaper to buy in bulk at Sam's and store in bulk storage containers with gamma lids.  We use this same method for sugar, bread flour, and all purpose flour. Other than that Blue Apron meal last week, we have never really had quinoa on the menu.

I decided to try this Quinoa Enchilada Casserole from Damn Delicious. It was something I had pinned on Pinterest, and I had most of the ingredients already. We didn't have tomato or avocado, so we left that off. I just needed to pick up a can of store brand enchilada sauce from Kroger.

I made beans from dried in the slow cooker the night before making this, and I used the prepared enchilada sauce. It was very easy to throw together.

I liked this, but the kids thought it was too spicy. I have been happily eating the leftovers for lunch, but if I made this again, I would probably add more toppings, like sour cream, tomato, and maybe guac.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Menu Plan Week of 6/14/15



Saturday: Grilled Hot Dogs, Homemade Buns (egg free recipe because we have 4 eggs left and I am not buying more this week), Corn, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Sunday: Hunt and Peck

Monday: Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, Turkey Kielbasa, Apples

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Beef, Tomatoes, and Cabbage

Wednesday: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tortilla Wrap, Oranges

Thursday: Homemade Pizza, Peas, Apples

Friday: Sisters Coming in Town, multiple trips to pick up from bus/airport, planned eating out (Panera?)

Saturday: Throwing Retirement Party for Mom. Catering by a local restaurant (generously covered by relatives).


Breakfasts: No toaster waffles this week. We will be eating oatmeal, cereal (Cheerios for less than $1/box), leftover homemade waffles, banana/chocolate/oatmeal smoothies, and toasted homemade bread with butter.

Lunches: Ham, Almond butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese and crackers/bread, raw veggies and fruit.

Snacks: Homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, fruit, homemade wheat thin crackers

I am still making homemade American sandwich bread- this has been a big hit here.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Grocery Trips - 2nd Week of June


This week, my husband made a lunchtime trip to Sam's and Dorothy Lane and spent an awful lot. Now, this means we won't need to buy any of these things for months on end. I did, however, want to make sure that this week we stayed at least within the $125 that is the topmost range of what I like to spend on food every week. 

Let's just say that my massive first tuition payment of $2475 (books were included), is making me very, very careful. In September, that next payment is due, and we do not want to incur debt for my master's degree, or dip into our savings.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to challenge my cooking and shopping skills, and resolved to use what we had in the pantry, plus supplement with only $30 of fresh food. 

Was I able to do it?

My strategy was to hit multiple stores and get the items I needed at the cheapest possible price for that item.

Sam's Trip: (not pictured)

$90 for 4 huge containers of Clif Bars for my husband, the athlete, plus our son, and Carnation Instant Breakfast for our son, to help gain weight. 

Dorothy Lane: $5.49 for a gallon of organic milk. It was on sale, but that is still pretty pricey.

Fresh Thyme: $13.63



I was eyeing the blueberries for $0.99 each, but we still have grapes, kiwi, and some oranges, so I passed on them this week. Got to stay in budget!

Aldi: $7.98


We have an Aldi that is somewhat nearby, but I don't typically go there. My mother told me I can get a gallon of milk for $1.69 though, so I decided to head there, as we are going through a lot between the baby and my bread-making. An 8 oz block of cheese was only $1.59, and I noted for the future that I could get a pound of lunch meat for $3.49. The yogurt was cheaper than Kroger.

Kroger: $8.20 (minus gift card)


I probably only get the Kroger Free Friday Download 20% of the time, as they are typically overprocessed or have allergens in them. I was happy to see the Snapple tea, though, so I scooped that up for free. Unsweetened for me, please.

I used an ecoupon to get 4 bags of frozen veggies for $0.69 each, and just got a cabbage and some juices and almond milk. Nothing fancy! The original total was $13.20, but I had a $5 Visa gift card from a rebate offer I received, so my out of pocket was lower.

Total for the week:
$29.81 + $95.49 = $124.59



Next up- playing the drugstore game at CVS.

I am trying to switch from my $25 prescription antacid to a cheap OTC one. So trip #1 this week was $8.48 for the antacid, a savings of $16.50 for the month, and $1.25 for a single serving CVS version of Ensure. I got $1.25 back in ECBs for the drink.

Trip #2 and #3 was in one night at two different stores. My usual store was out of All Free and Clear, so I had to hike to another one.

Here is my haul:



For haul #2 I paid $17.94 out of pocket after using coupons and $13.25 in ECBs. I also got $3.75 in ECBs back. For haul #3, I paid $13.05 out of pocket after coupons and got $10 in ECBs back.

This was a total of $30.99 cash out of pocket, getting $13.75 in ECBs back, and I will submit for a $10 rebate from the manufacturer.  After the rebate, my out of pocket will have been $20.99. I will roll those ECBs on another deal in the future.

I bought 16 items, so my cost per item was $1.31 each. Pretty great considering that All detergent was originally $7.49 each.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail- 1st Week of June



Win:

1) I stuck to my menu this week without any variation- so no eating out. We came close again on Thursday thanks to a long time at the park, a long medical appointment, and everyone being hungry and tired. That was an exercise in willpower.

2) Treated myself to a $2.19 Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cone as planned and read a book in my van for some "me-time". ( I used to go to a restaurant for a $20 brunch and tea).

3) Baked bread three times.

4) Made my two free Blue Apron meals.

5) Downloaded a freebie for iced tea at Kroger on Friday.

6) Took a free class at work to fulfill my required one hour Nursing Practice Act CEU to renew my nursing license.

7) Paid my grad school tuition by electronic check to avoid paying a 2.5% fee for using a credit card.

8) Signed up for 17 work hours during non-business hours to work without child care.

9) Took the kids to a local park for fun time.

10) It's hot, but I am heat-tolerant. My A/C is set at 82, and we keep the blinds closed and run ceiling fans to manage.

11) Returned glass milk bottles for  $3 cash back.

12) Bought a huge vat of Carnation Instant Breakfast my son needs to help gain weight at Sam's at a much lower cost than the store.

13) Made a pound of black beans from dried in my slow cooker. I kept half in my fridge for use this week, and froze the other half. (I just soak in the pot for 12 hours overnight, drain water, refill with clean water, and cook on low for 12 hours. Drain, and either stick in the fridge or freeze.)


Fail:

1) Impulse bought The Music Man for $5.99 on Amazon Instant Video. My daughter is really into musicals.

2) Threw out two bins of mushrooms and the quinoa leftover from our Blue Apron meal. There is a vat of half eaten Kroger cole slaw I bought for my family during a cookout weeks ago that I won't eat (HFCS and I am trying to lose weight) but feel bad about throwing out. I really just need to pitch it.


Win/Fail?

1) Bought the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on Kindle instead of waiting for the library. It was $7.26. ( I am within my $25 fun money for the month still, but I am up to $15 already and it's just the 13th.)