Planting Strawberries

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Last Friday, my strawberry plants arrived from Territorial.  They had promised to ship them “when the time was right.”  I guess it was time by the calendar, but, it has been so wet that I was worried that I would not get them in the ground before they suffered.  We had high hopes that Rob would be able to get the topsoil on Saturday and I would be able to clear the area.  We woke to a deluge!  All of our plans had to be postponed.

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This is where I wanted to plant them.  The previous owner had some strawberries planted in there, but the bed was quite overgrown with grass and weeds.  I had no idea how old the berries were, and they usually only last about 3 years before needing to be re-done.  I chose Seascape this time because my mom had given me some gorgeous Seascape plants that were just starting to fruit beautifully when we moved.  The few I tasted were delicious, so I wanted more:)  I’ve had good luck with Tri-star and Quinalt in the past.  I did notice that Quinalt did not make very many runners, though.  They did produce well, as did Tri-star.

After an extremely rainy Saturday, Sunday dawned clear and gorgeous.   I had slightly over 1 hour of free time during the middle of the afternoon.  It was still very wet and soggy, but I tackled the job anyway because, well, there was that package of strawberry plants sitting on the counter.  I dug up the sod and weeds,  separated and moved some of the old plants, sprinkled coffee grounds from McDonald’s on the entire bed and finally, in desperation, stuffed the bunch of strawberry roots into a flowerpot with some potting soil until I could get back to the job.

One day after work, Rob grabbed 4 bags of topsoil from Walmart for around $2 per bag.   He poured the dirt on the bed. I had removed a lot of dirt along with the grass, and the bed had sunk over time.  I slipped out this morning while the girls were typing up their language arts assignment and planted the plants properly.  I have all the new ones down on the far end, and the old ones on the other end.  If the old ones don’t produce, look diseased, die, etc. I plan to ruthlessly pull them and throw them away.  I then hope to fill in the blanks with runners from the new plants.  I had also planned to add some bone meal as well, but the store was out so I will have to stir it in later.

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Then, it rained and watered them in.  I’m one happy camper.  It took almost a week, but they are planted!  The new ones don’t look like much, but they will take off now that they are in the dirt.  I can look forward to strawberries all summer and fall once they get going. The first year, a new bed produces lightly.  With everbearing strawberries,  I usually get a fairly good crop by the end of the summer and into the fall, but much more berries the second year.   The bed should be good for 3 years, then I will move it and renew it.  In the past, I have started a new bed the 3rd year so I always have lots of berries.

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I am very pleased to have begun the transformation of my new yard.  I have many more plans in mind.

 

March 2017 Low Budget Grocery Challenge–End of Week 4

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I made the last week of the grocery challenge into a school assignment.  I gave the girls a list of what I needed, and told them they could spend $38 dollars, not including the soap.  I would pay for that since it wasn’t food.  I loaded coupons onto my Safeway card, and looked up the Fred Meyer ad on-line.  I gave them a list that included soda pop and goldfish crackers, as well as the needed items, and told them to get the most important things first.  Do you see that loaded cart?  I was amazed–they did so well.  They only spent $39 and a little change.  They bought milk, eggs, salad stuff, 2 cases water, 1/2 and 1/2, sour cream, 2 lbs cheese, and more.  I got dish soap and laundry soap.  They did not buy goldfish crackers or soda.  They had me drive over to Fred Meyers for the 99c eggs and got 2 cartons and one other thing I forgot.  I forget what that was now.  Hmmm…..  At home, I had them write up what they had learned, and what they would have done differently if it was their shopping trip.  One would have bought chicken instead of 1/2 and 1/2.   They both thought coupons were a great idea.  I plan to repeat this assignment later on and have them do more of the planning.

So, we ended the 4 week period of the challenge at $101.   We did not suffer at all.  I have almost $100 left over to do what I want to with.

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I can really see some spaces in the freezers and on the shelves in the garage.  I’m excited about that.  I’ve also been going through the camper and pulling items that were opened last summer and forgotten in the cupboards in the move.

I used:

Home-canned and frozen items:  Green beans, canned peaches, home-canned grape juice, jam, berry syrup, tomato products, salsa, frozen broth, hamburger, turkey burger, steak, ham bits I froze earlier, hazelnuts, lemon poppyseed muffins I made a while back (all gone now)

Pantry: Gluten-free pancake mix (1 bag emptied), syrup (gone), navy beans,  Hershey Kisses from Valentine’s Day, chocolate chips and all odds and ends of M and M’s and other white chocolate chips from camper, Rice Krispies (huge bag and box gone), marshmallows (used all I had in garage and camper–some pretty old), a box of gluten-free bread mix, random cookies and crackers and chips, gluten-free pasta, mushrooms, cream of rice cereal (all gone), cocoa powder, some peanut butter from the camper, baking supplies (all gluten-free), ho chocolate mix and tea, potatoes, onions,

Fridge: carrots, celery, milk, eggs, 1/2 and 1/2, butter, sour cream,

Garden:  Swiss Chard.  I picked a large handful of leaves 2 times this week from what I planted last fall and stirred it into spaghetti sauce.  No one, even the pickiest eater around here, seems to care if there is some chard or spinach in the sauce.  I’ve been doing it for years, to add vitamins.  The plants are not very tall, so I’m very careful to take only from the outside of the plant and I take sparingly.  The leaves are young and tender, and wilt down nicely into the sauce.

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I served spaghetti, ham and bean soup, steak with baked potatoes, hamburgers, waffles, eggs, leftovers, chocolate cookies with assorted goodies in them, Rice Krispie treats (3x), chocolate chip cookies,

I wanted to make a few freezer meals.  When I made the spaghetti, there wasn’t enough left to freeze, so I made it again Saturday morning and froze that batch.  One time it was turkey and one time, beef.  Rob made a huge batch of waffles and we froze a bunch of those.  I cooked a soup bone in my Instant Pot and froze the broth and bits for a stew later on.  I also cooked taco meat and froze it, ready to go.

I will say that the natives got restless on Saturday.  I ended up getting completely spoiled when Lovana decided to take us out for lunch.  She’s been planning on it for a while now, and Saturday turned out to be a good day.  We went to a Chinese buffet where they focus on vegetables and seafood.  I was delighted to not get sick.  I chose carefully, but buffets are always a gamble for me.  I ate a lot of plain-looking sauted shrimp, sauted mushrooms, and stir-fried vegetables.  THEN, Ja’Ana talked her into ordering pizza for dinner.   So, with the large breakfast Rob cooked, the only food I cooked that day were the freezer meals.  We could have eaten at home, but that is what she wanted to do and we gratefully accepted.  We thought it was very sweet of her.  So, technically, this was 1 day short of a full week, but since I made freezer meals, it evened out in the end.

I learned:  We have a very well stocked food supply.  We can make good meals out of the things we have.  My garden (frozen and canned things at this time of year) saves me a lot of money.  It’s worth it to invest in large quantities of things like meat and pasta, as long as we have times like these where we use them up so they don’t go to waste.  My family will fork out their own money if they don’t like the offerings I serve, or just want a change.      That being said, they will eat Mexican food 5 times in one week without a single complaint, and also eat Swiss Chard in their spaghetti, happily.  There was a little bellyaching, but not much more than usual.  There’s always a little!   In the end, I was very proud of them.  We were 1/2 way done before the kids even figured out what we were doing.  Trust me, when I do spend the extra $100, they will all know what we buy, and I will make sure they like what we get, to encourage them to see a tangible benefit of saving.  In reality, it saved me more than $100, because I can easily spend over $200 in a month for the 5 of us.

Having a list of rules for my challenge that fits my family and situation keeps me less stressed.  If I had to only use $100 per month  without any little trips for fries or ice cream with the kids or my hubby, it would be very, very hard.  But, I could do it, because I did for years in the past.  I’ve just gotten softer in my middle age.   Also, having that extra $100 set aside that I could use if I needed to, worked well for me.  My life is really busy, and can be quite stressful, so it’s very important to me to keep things balanced.

I made more casseroles and desserts than normal and we also ate more carbs (i.e. potatoes, bread, cereal) and I’m afraid I gained a couple of pounds.  Yes, really.  Yikes!  It would be much easier in the summer when we had a producing garden to stay on the challenge and to eat more fresh veggies.

What’s next?  Rob and I agreed that we don’t want to think very hard during spring break, which is next week.  We both have the week off from work.  We have some fun things planned with the kids, and I envision home-cooked meals, some freezer meals I made this week, a picnic if it stops raining for 5 minutes, and probably eating out at least once.  I plan to go grocery shopping within the next couple of days and get a few things replaced, like  pancake syrup.  I may even spring for soda and goldfish crackers for spring break treats.

 

 

 

 

Saving Money–March 19, 2017

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This week was another productive one.  I decided to take on the project of working on the camper.  When we moved here, the camper stayed at the farm where we spent the summer. That kept the side area open for loads to be taken into the shop, wood to be stacked and other activities to be done.   After a few weeks, we moved it down.  By that point, I was focused on the house, and I just grabbed things out of it as I thought of them after wondering where they were, or needed them for a recipe, or a project.  So, a week or two ago, I decided to take a look around out there. Yikes!  Pretty bad!  Some cupboards look as if a giant just went through and stirred, or worse!  So, I started cleaning it out little by little.  I really, really don’t want to do it all at once right before we go on a trip since it’s a big job, and I will want to pack it with our clothes, etc. when that time comes.

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Last summer was fun!  I can’t wait until we can get out again.

Friday morning, I started on 2 food cupboards out there.  I took out several partial packages of things, and used them up.  It was good for my food challenge, too.  I sorted, organized and made a list of  non-perishable items I need to replace.  I like buying them on sale, instead of waiting until the day before we go camping when I would have to buy them at full price. I keep a plentiful supply of groceries in the camper at all times because when we go camping we eat from there most of the time.

I spent a morning cooking a few freezer meals.  They will save me money later on a busy day.  I made gluten-free bread from a mix I had purchased quite a while back.  I will post about the final week of our grocery challenge (we are on week 4 now because we started the last week of February) on Monday night or Tuesday.

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I was given a rose at Fred Meyers one day.  For whatever reason, each lady was handed a rose as she walked past on her way out of the store.  They may have been getting old, but it’s still going strong several days later, so it couldn’t have been on it’s last leg!

I worked a few extra hours because Michaela did not feel well.  I had to get her from school one day, and then kept her home the following day.  She was fine after that.  It’s always a balance–it cut into the girls’ homeschool time a bit (to be driving around, etc.), but I am very happy that I can be there for her, and they still finished their work just fine.  It just took until later one day, especially.  Over the course of this week, we’ve probably played between 15 and 20 games of Yahtzee.  That girl loves Yahtzee!

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I had my broken filling fixed, using my insurance.  That is still wonderful to me, after over 20 years without dental insurance.  At this point, I did not have to pay any more money, because they are waiting to see what the insurance pays and they feel we may be up-to-date or even have paid a little more.  Nice!  No worries if we did overpay a few dollars–Rob’s got more work to be done–it will get used quickly or they’ll give it back.

We got a $10 check from something we accidentally overpaid a while back.  We hadn’t realized it, so it was like pennies from Heaven.

I rode the exercise bike 3 times this week at the YMCA, totaling around 17 miles between the 3 sessions, and we did the pool one night. I sat in the hot tub not exercising for quite a while that night.  Felt great!  I’m loving how much we are using our membership.

Lovana took us out to lunch.  Yum!  She has worked at her job for 6 weeks now, and wanted to treat us while she was home for the weekend.  That was nice.

Rob has been taking both girls, Lovana and Ja’Ana, driving on the weekends.  They both have their permits and it’s time for them to practice.  Ja’Ana and Alissa have driver’s ed classes starting soon and they want them to have some knowledge coming in.  Lovana just wasn’t ready until now, although she’s had her permit for some time.  I took J driving one afternoon, and she did great!  I have high hopes.  Alissa’s parents have been taking her.  It will be a few months before they can even try for the licenses, but we are on the right road.   Pun intended!  We want to get out money’s worth out of the classes, thus we are practicing ahead of time.  It would cost Lovana $1,500 for private driving lessons at her age, so……

How did your week go?

 

 

 

 

 

March 2017 Low-Budget Grocery Challenge–End of Week 3

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It’s all about potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!  I went back to the discount store where Rob discovered potatoes for 10c/lb last week, and bought 100 additional pounds for $10.  I gave away 20 lbs right off the bat, and started cooking potatoes.

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While I was at the store buying the potatoes, rejoicing because there were still some left, I bought my daughter $1.29 worth of snacks.  And, that was it for the week–$11.29.  That brings the total up to $61.29 for a 3-week total, leaving $138.71 from the $200 I set out in envelopes.  What did we eat?  I’m glad you asked.

Refrigerator items and produce left over from last Friday or before that I used:  cheese, milk, eggs, lunchmeat, sour cream, carrots, celery, lettuce, tiny bit of broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, 1/2 and 1/2, butter, onions,  POTATOES!

Freezer items:  1 chicken, 2 lbs ground beef, bacon, frozen waffles, leftover frozen bits of roast beef from a ziplock I discovered, refried beans from last weekend (I froze several pints and we ate a bunch all week as well), corn, frozen bread and muffins

Home-canned and pantry:  green beans, peaches, fruit cocktail, salsa, spaghetti noodles, various tomato products, lentils, quinoa, canned black and kidney beans. (Lovana made a bunch of soup and I’m not sure what else,and took it and a bag of potatoes with her, so you won’t see some of these ingredients in my menus)

Garden:  Chives!   I only got enough to sprinkle on the soup, but it’s a start!

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The girls made large batches of cheddar-broccoli soup and potato-cheddar soup.  We had that several times, including today for lunch.  My sister took a bunch for her lunch one day when she got to my house to drop Alissa, and realized that she had left hers on the counter at her house.  Rob also took some in his lunch, and my mom enjoyed it, too, when she came over for lunch one day.  They are getting some serious cooking skills!

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They also made a simple cornstarch chocolate pudding from my “More With Less Cookbook.”  It was great.

I found a container of frozen turkey-spaghetti sauce in the shop freezer that was a couple of years old.  I wasn’t sure if it was still good, but it was excellent and we ate spaghetti one night with green beans.

We had tacos several times.  I mean like 4-5 times in the past week. There were leftovers from our company last Sunday, and then several people ate refried beans on tortillas throughout the week.  I froze a few of the beans, but had to pull 2 pints out on Saturday morning because I found that some dear friends from out-of-town were going to be able to eat lunch with us Saturday.  So, I still had tortillas, cooked more burger, finished up the cheese our friends brought last Sunday, used most of the lettuce that was left, and a tomato.  There were still chips from the huge Costco bag I opened last weekend and lots of home-canned salsa.  (I put the chips into Ziplocks immediately after I open one of the huge bags and they stay fresh for quite a while.)

I made an enchilada casserole from–wait for it–tortillas, beans, sauce, cheese.  We ate it for dinner tonight.

I cooked a chicken Saturday night.  I have to admit it tasted really, really good after so many tacos.  I boiled the bones and have some broth to use this week.  I made mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans with it.

Rob made chicken-potato pancakes from:  1 cup cut up chicken, 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, 3 eggs, a few tablespoons of chopped onion, salt and pepper.  He then fried them in a pan.  They were amazingly good for supper last night.  I made salad from leftover taco lettuce and tomato, and put salsa over the top, along with leftover green beans.  Rob also ate leftover corn.

To sum up the potatoes:  mashed, fried for breakfast, potato-chicken pancakes, baked potatoes, potato soup

So, the meals ended up being quite repetitious this week.  Still, we enjoy Mexican food a lot, and we love potatoes.  The chicken made a nice change.  I feel really good about how the week went.

I will be buying a few more fresh things this week than last.  The lettuce is almost gone as are a few other things. But, the challenge was helped along a bit when my sister gave me an avocado, some veggie chips she got for really cheap at Grocery Outlet, and 1/2 of the stir-fry veggies she bought today.  I enjoyed stir-fry for dinner tonight and she enjoyed the other 1/2 for her dinner.  My other sister gave us some crackers and another bag of snacks.  My aunt and sister did the cooking for this Sunday’s family dinner and gave me the week off.  I guess none of them want anyone to really suffer through this challenge!!

As I stated in the rules in the beginning, I have another account where I occasionally buy some fast food for one kid or another. It’s my “keep from going crazy and keeping balance in my life on crazy days” account.  That was my day on Thursday.  I was hit with several unexpected things that I needed to do and I ended up driving around a lot, doing school in-between driving around so it went late into the day, taking care of a sick kid, and more.  I was simply not home at lunch time with no time to plan ahead for it, and yet, had a car full of hungry kids.  Guess where mine wanted to go?  Seriously, just guess.  Yep.  Taco Bell.  Ja’Ana chose Taco Bell.  Where she bought…..yep…..burritos and other items containing tortillas, beans, rice, etc.–one of those $5 boxes.  It surprised me a bit.

I limited each one to $5 and they were fine with that.  Michaela and I chose Dairy Queen.  Later, when Alissa was picked up, she also chose Taco Bell, which did not surprise me since she doesn’t eat dinner here.

There is lots and lots of food still left around here.  I’m not sure what I’m going to cook this week, except for something from the broth.  And potatoes.  I’ll let you know as it unfolds.  How is it going for you?

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Money– March 12, 2017

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Whew!  What a busy week this has been!  I’ve had several refreshing glasses of lemon-water, and boy did they hit the spot.

On Monday, we had a snow day.  It is very rare to have one of those at all, especially this late in the year.  Although we had 4 inches, it was pretty much melted by 1 o’clock, and we were able to go do some errands.  Since my husband had the day off, due to the schools being closed, we took the opportunity to head up to Portland (about an hour away) to pick up some paper cups. They were given to us to use.  There were a lot of them (several cases) and we are going to have plenty to share with the youth group at church.  A friend has been tasked with cleaning out a warehouse, and these were in there.  Some are a bit “shop worn,” but most are in plastic packages, and can be easily sorted.  We were happy to get them, and happy to get a time where we could use the several hours it took to pick them up.  He needs the warehouse clean by a certain time, so it was get them or lose them.  Some of the items in there will be burnt or thrown away if a home is not found for them, but it looked like he was making good progress finding homes for things.

I was able to stop by the mall after picking those up and get some clothes, using gift cards I’ve had for quite a while.  I didn’t have a lot of time, as Rob dropped J and I off and took Patsy and Jake to Toys R Us to keep them busy, then kept them in the van until we finished.  He has the patience of a saint, but, we still hurried.  We got some things Ja’Ana needed desperately, and a few tops for me.   Mine are getting so worn because I wear the same ones over and over.  It’s nice to have some new ones.

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I will post about this week’s grocery challenge on Monday night or Tuesday, but I will say I was very happy to get potatoes for 10c/lb.  Rob had found them last Sunday night, and got a few.  I went back Tuesday morning and got 100lbs.  Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of potatoes this week.

We had some friends drop in from out of town, and were able to easily feed them lunch with what I had on hand. I had a couple of hours notice that they were going to eat with us, so I just thawed out some more ingredients for tacos.  We had tacos several times last week.  I cooked a chicken last night.  It was a nice change, although I will say tacos are one of everyone’s favorite foods and I don’t get protests no matter how many times we have them.

Jake and Patsy enjoyed some art activities this week.   Before Christmas, I got one of those little art kits with several items in it for $3.50 at Michaels.  The quality is not high (and the markers are already drying up), but neither was the price. They’ve been using it a bit, and yesterday, they painted.  I’m not sure if Jake has painted much with watercolors before, but he wanted some “water” for his current Lego boat to float in, so I gave him a piece of paper and he painted some.  He enjoyed it.  Patsy painted and drew for a long time, even after he went home.  One thing she enjoyed is some watercolor crayons my niece, Rachel, sent along when she cleaned out.  I had some card stock, and that is what I gave them to paint on.

I also read aloud to Jake several times, re-reading last week’s library books.  Since I keep them at my house, he is learning to look forward to hearing the current ones when he comes over. I read part of a chapter book to Patsy.  We started it last summer in the camper, and it came to light when I was doing some cleaning, so she wanted me to read it some more.  It’s an old Trixie Belden book from my childhood, and she likes it.

Both Patsy and Jake built Legos for quite a while.  Patsy listened to library books on c.d.  She worked on her sewing project, a skirt, for a while one day.  We went to the YMCA and exercised while both girls were in their dance classes.  On Friday night, Rob took Patsy and Jake swimming.

This is the last scheduled overnight for my nephew, Jake,  for some time.  I’ve had several occasions to keep him over the last month, but now will go back to my regular schedule for the most part.  I’ve enjoyed the extra time with him.  Last week, I ended up getting Michaela, my niece, from school one day, as she was sick.    She watched the movie Cars, which we own, until her daddy picked her up when he got off work.

Ja’Ana was able to go to a movie night at church, which was fun for her.  She was able to clean house again for money that is put into an account at church towards her summer church activities.  She is earning money for both camp and a mission trip.  My mom came for lunch and Ja’Ana and Alissa made soup for her to practice their cooking. (They make soup almost every time, and it’s almost always potato- cheddar.  They made some broccoli-cheddar as well this time. There’s a theme here.  Let’s hope I never run out of cheese.  Good thing Grandma is a good sport!) I also showed them how to make a simple cornstarch chocolate pudding, using the microwave.  The recipe is from my “More With Less” cookbook, which I’ve had for years.

Our tax refunds both came already.  They came super fast, so we were delighted.  We’ve got good plans for the money.  One thing that we will do is get some maintenance done on the van, as well as new tires.

Our power bill went down by about 25%.  It was really high last month, and we turned a few things off, worked on shorter showers and lights off, and what ever else we could think of to cut it down.  The weather was slightly warmer and the days are getting longer, which all helps, too.

Rob had more dental work done, using our insurance, and now has his permanent crown from the tooth he broke.   Again, that is such a blessing to have dental insurance after so many years without.  Although we still have co-pays, they are so much less than we used to pay.   It’s my turn this week to get my broken filling fixed.

Last fall, Patsy planted about 50-100 daffodil bulbs next to the sidewalk.  They were from my sister’s yard, so were free.  They have started to bloom.  They are such a cheerful yellow.  There are many that did not bloom this year, but she spaced them nicely, and next year they will fill in even more.  I also have several other bulbs that came up and are blooming in the flowerbeds.

 

March 2017 Low-Budget Grocery Challenge-End of Week 2

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This past week turned out great with the pantry challenge.  I was able to use up quite a few things, and was actually able to re-stock some items.

So, on week 1, we spent $11.50.  We got some cheese and some 1/2 and 1/2.

On week 2, which ends tonight, we bought more groceries.  We spent $16, $18, and $4.50 at 3 different stores, totaling $38.50.  I’m not sure how, but that totals exactly $50 for the 2 weeks, a nice round number. So, since I put $50 in an envelope twice, I now have an extra $50.

I got lots of basics like celery, carrots, 1 head lettuce, 25 lbs potatoes, 4 tomatoes, 6 lemons, milk, 1/2 and 1/2,  6 bagels, 6 English muffins,  2 dozen eggs, onions, 40 tortillas, 3 apples, the bananas, and a few other things.  I hit a Friday sale at a store near my house and got 2 bags full of groceries, plus the bananas for the $18. Rob did Cash and Carry  for large packages of tortillas, onions, carrots and 1/2 and 1/2 for his $16 and the $4.50 was spent at a discount store.  He went in there to get some gum for the kids in his classroom and found the fabulous deal on potatoes.

The items that were put back into the pantry were frozen bananas–there was a bag of very ripe bananas at one store for $2.28 and I got it. We ate a bunch and I froze a quart bag for smoothies.  Rob came across potatoes for 50c for 5 lbs–10c/lb.  I had him grab 25 lbs and am now wishing I had said 50!

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Meals:  There were muffins, cereal, eggs, some bacon and sausage for breakfasts. When Jake is here, he eats bagels a lot.  In fact, the entire bag I purchased on Friday has been eaten by him and some others.

Lunches:  I ground turkey with bread and butter pickles and Miracle Whip for sandwiches and we ate that several times. This was the end of a bag I found in the freezer. Rob always packs a lunch to work and he takes leftovers, sandwiches, fruit, crackers–whatever he can round up. He also takes coffee in a thermos every day.  Patsy packs a peanut butter sandwich daily, and takes fruit, etc. as well.  J and I ate a lot of soup, burritos and leftovers. I made rice and stir-fry on the day my mom came for lunch.

Dinners:  We ate a lot of turkey-rice soup, chili-mac casserole,  chili, a lot of tacos/burritos and refried beans.  We had pizza.  We ate broccoli, green beans, baked potatoes, rice, and lots and lots of beans.  Rob cooked some steak one day while I was gone.

Extras:  I made cookies and Patsy made Rice Krispie Treats for when we had company.  We had popcorn and corn chips.  We also used several odds and ends like partial bags of chips and crackers and the kids had some popsicles that were in the freezer.

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Items used:  Canning: Several jars of home-canned items including peaches, tomato products, green beans, pickles, salsa, jam, applesauce, and more.

Frozen:  hamburger,  steak, turkey from Thanksgiving, chocolate and white chocolate chips, butter, several kinds of peppers from 2015’s garden in re-fried beans, 3 chicken tenders for stir-fry, frozen corn from 2015’s garden, broth, bread, and more.  We carried in several loads from the freezers in the shop throughout the week.  I can start to see a little space in the freezers.

Pantry:  Several pounds of pinto beans, white rice, cereal, marshmallows, baking ingredients like gluten-free flour, sugar,cocoa powder,  etc., spices for cooking such as chili powder and poultry seasoning, gluten-free noodles, coffee, tea, hot chocolate (packets), corn chips, popcorn, peanut butter and more.

We had a church event. My sister was in charge of feeding 40-50 people.  She chose taco bar. I made a lot of refried beans as my contribution, and then enjoyed a taco lunch there. I made 2 crock pots full, and served them to our company as well as church, plus we ate them several times.  J and I ate over at my sister’s house a bit, and we took a few food items over there.  My brother-in-law took J, me and Alissa (his daughter) out for lunch after our homeschool meeting on Friday (we finally had our 1st semester grade meeting).  We took Jake for happy meals a time or 2.  (This is a different fund than my regular grocery budget)    My mom came for lunch one day.  On Sunday, we had friends over and there were 13 of us in all.  We served taco bar for them.   We got the kids a burger and some fries one day while we were out and about.  The funds for that came out of another fund–entertainment, but I thought I’d mention it to keep things real.  Also, sometimes the kids pitch in for something they want that’s not in my budget, such as french fries or a $5 pizza (which they promptly eat) and one day Jake’s mom sent him with money so we could stop and get him something on the road since he had not eaten yet.  Lovana swoops in on the weekends and cooks enough food for the week ahead as she prefers to eat a certain way.  At her new job, she can eat whatever she wants while she is there, but this is the first weekend where she didn’t cook it all ahead of time–just took a box of ingredients from here.  (From here being the pertinent  phrase in this case)

My point is, it all averages out.  If I serve 15 meals per day for 7 days, I am serving 155 meals per week, plus snacks.   I’m putting out ingredients for that many or more even though every one of us does not eat here every single meal.   I am using lots of pantry ingredients, and spending very little money while still stocking up a little bit, so I’m feeling very successful. I’m making a dent in my stockpile, while still grabbing that great deal on potatoes.   I have had to hold myself back from my usual habits of stocking up a lot when I find a great deal–but so far, so good.

I’m going to plan some meals for the week ahead in the next couple of days.  Until I get it done, I’m going to fly by the seat of my pants and plan one day at a time.  I have a busy week, so hopefully, I’ll have some inspiration quickly when I do write the list out.  Until then, there are lots of tortillas and refried beans left:)

 

 

 

Saving Money–March 4, 2017

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On Thursday, Jake was not feeling well.  He came to my house and rested.  Later in the day, he felt better.  I took him and Patsy to the library, where they enjoyed the puppets and checked out books.  You may notice, he was wearing his Mario outfit.  He was so cute, and got a lot of interested glances as he travelled through the building, heading upstairs to the children’s section.

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They have a large assortment of adorable puppets.

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We had some friends come down and go to church with us today.  We had them over for lunch afterwards.  We served tacos. I made home-made refried beans, some cookies and Patsy made Rice Krispie treats.  They brought shredded cheese, which was really helpful, as I was running a little low (until they generously left the rest of the bag).   I did a lot of other cooking this week, and used up a lot of random items, but I’ll cover that when I post about the March Low-budget challenge.  The second 2 weeks will be over tomorrow night, so I plan to post then, or sometime Tuesday.

I rode over 15 miles on the exercise bikes at the YMCA this week in 3 different sessions.  On Friday, Rob and I took Patsy, Jake, Michaela and Alissa swimming at the Y while Ja’Ana had her dance class.  I love the fact that we are using our membership so much.

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The girls practiced their guitars this week for a couple of hours.  They used chord sheets we had.  Alissa recently started up lessons, and Ja’Ana had some lessons a while back.  So, they played away, and the soothing sounds of guitar chords filled the house on a few mornings.  They were so cute.  They would choose a song.  Ja’Ana would start off, playing all or most of the chords called for.  When Alissa got to the chords she knew, she would dramatically strum that chord until J moved on.  Both of them were singing, sometimes in the correct key, and sometimes not.  They had so much fun, and although there were a few false starts, they sounded  good to me.

We ran off coloring sheets for the younger kids to color.  Jake worked on some craft kits he had not finished at Christmas on the day he was sick, while I did school with the big girls.  He also played Legos for hours while here.  Patsy worked on her embroidery some this weekend.  Ja’Ana cleaned house again for money towards her summer church activities.  I worked extra again this week.  The extra hours are available for just for a short time, which is nearing an end, but I have a plan for the extra money, so am glad to get it.  So, we came out of the week earning more than we spent, which is always a triumph.

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I’m really enjoying all of the bulbs that have popped up, and started to bloom, in our yard. There are several kinds and colors.  They are so pretty.