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.



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


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).


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.


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:
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


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!).


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


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.


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


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.


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!


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:


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.



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.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Frugal Win/Fail


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.


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.


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.