Monday, January 26, 2015

Holiday's and Vacations ...

throw a wench in your frugal plans?  It sure does mine.  Partly being away from home so much makes menu planning virtually impossible.  Thankfully I did some freezer cooking in November that has helped me out.  On Days I knew for sure we would be home for dinner I could a pork roast in the crock pot with some pineapple juice and forget about it till dinner, deciding what to actually do with it could wait till I found out how much prep time I'd get.  I also knew I could shred it and use it on another night if my plans flew out the window.

I tried very hard to limit meals at restaurants, and mostly succeeded but I found that most of my relatives don't plan their meals from one day to the next!  This is frankly scary and yet...I still fell into this trap when life should have been "back to normal".

I can say with a certainty that having a full freezing and pantry is such a blessing, even when the job is going fine, life is not screwy with health issues or other crisis'.  Sometimes life is just hard to plan, resetting after big events takes time.  Knowing that I have food in the house made it possible for me to get my act together and still feed the family.

If you thought this was post about to make it all happen for less, I am sorry.  I can state with a certainty that stocking your pantry through out the year will help more than you think.  But no I am writing this to encourage myself and others, that falling off the frugal path is not the end of the path.  I can get back on, reset my habits, reset my path.

If you fell off this week, this month, this quarter, forgive yourself, and move forward.
Hopefully I will have some success to post next week.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My frugal week ending Oct 25

I am following along with Brandy over at The Prudent Homemaker.  She is such an inspiration.  I have found writing this weekly blog post helps me keep my week in perspective.  While I usually have some fails, like spending $18 on one lunch out.  I have many wins.

One thing this blog post helps with is my kids.  I have found that my children have a tendency to be "the cup half empty" kinda people, and after talking with my husband I think they get this from me.  While he didn't accuse me of anything, and was very encouraging that I am being much more positive, I need to remember that "my cup runneth over", not just half full.

Last week I was putting into place what I need to do a big once a month shopping trip.  (I will still have to go and get milk once every 5-7 days, I just don't have the room in my fridge for more than one gallon at a time).  I then want to do a once a month cooking day, this won't end my need to cook of course but I am hoping it will simplify dinner more often.  Right now I do something more like batch cooking.  Some of my meals I cook 3-4 times what I need and then when I reuse that food, those meals are much less stressful.

What are you doing to help yourself look at things with a positive spin?  Are you able to look on your frugal wins and fails and stay positive?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My frugal week ending Sat Oct 18

Well I got two Bountiful Baskets this week.  While not quite as excited this time as the time before we will use it most of it up.  My only problem item is Fennel.  I gave one to my SIL and am not sure how to use the other.

I volunteered and got an extra bag of grapes for my time.  Here is a list of my baskets
Fennel, Celery, Living Butter Lettuce, Avocado, yellow squash and Broccoli, grapes, bananas, red pears, apples, limes, honey dew.
I am hoping to plant to lettuce after we use up all the outer leaves.  One one hand my husband after years of not liking salad, then a few more of only really like ceasar salads, had discovered he really likes baby spring greens, and has asked me not to buy romaine, or leafy green, or iceberg.(okay I agree on the iceberg:D ).  So the Butter Lettuce is okay, and I am buying the smaller container of spring greens and adding the Butter Lettuce.  This uses it up and lowers my lettuce cost.  My effort to increase our vegetable consumptions has also increased our salad consumption, probably because it is so easy to serve and only Timmy doesn't eat it. 
I managed to get my 2 week grocery/gas allowance to go 3 weeks.
I am working on limiting my trips to grocery stores and to have a list for Sam's Club and Costco and sticking to them!
We took the kids to NASA on Homeschool day, saving about half the cost of admission, free parking and discounted meal plans.  It was fun, but we learned that a 3 year old maybe doesn't need to go to NASA, well our 3 year old at least.  All in all glad I learned this for half the cost.

Timmy spent most of her time here on this slide!
Oona and Timmy in the shuttle hatch.

They did have several hands on activities for all ages, including this Marshon arts center.

All wore out?  I wish, just an 2 second example of her sillyness.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments for week ending October 11

This week I started off with a bang.  I canned the 10 lbs of pears I bought last week.  I got 9 pints 1 half pint.  We used up the last of the pears I made last year about 2 weeks after I started canning this fall.  My kids are rating my pears based off when I made them, they are favorite batches.  We have also found that letting them sit for a month improves the flavor and texture.  This is even more true of the peaches I canned last year.

I made some cute shorts my Middlest.  I have plans to make her more, but we decided to wait until spring.  I used fabric I had bought months ago for this purpose, but had to buy elastic as I could not find what I though I had.  I did use a 40% off coupon and refrained from buying anything else, so that was also a win, I have rarely gotten out without additional purchases when I go in needing only one item.

I bought a ebook bundle a few weeks ago, and got a free e-course that started this week. 
It is taught by Shannon Brown over at GrowingSlower The course is groceries made simple.  I think I do pretty well, but am currently working on cutting my grocery bill even further, and trying to streamline my meals a little more. I am two lessons in and I am feeling challenged in a good way, already.
 As much as I do to cut my budget I feel like their is always  more I can do.  I have learned a lot over with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker , but my family is different from hers, and so is my situation.  There is so much I am still learning, I think it will be a life line thing, because different things challenge us at different times in our lives.

Our daily temps have been all over the place, with pretty high humidity, so I am doing things like watching our lights, working on not rewashing or redrying laudry (a big issue as our humidy level causes laundry to spoil and smell bad quickly.)

I water down all my soaps, it helps with the kids over pumping, and using what they need ie... less waste.  I moved bath soap into a pump bottle as well, also to help the kids figure out how much liquid soap the need to use.

I tried a new bread recipe, only made the one loaf, and the kids voted no to the new recipe, yes it would have been cheaper, but the taste really suffered.

I did not buy any meat last week, just used what we have in the freezer, doing the same this week.
In leiu of itemizing my shopping, I am $194.40 into my food budget for the month.  I am trying to move my grocery budget to a monthly perspective vs, a weekly perspective.

What have you done to be frugal this week?

Monday, October 6, 2014

My frugal week ending Oct 4

Last week I got my Bountiful Basket, love it!  I go early and volunteer so I ended up with two cartons of strawberries.  Then the regular part of the basket had bananas, cantaloupe, broccoli, green leafy lettuce, 2 bunches of spinach, 4 cucumbers, 7 large orange bell peppers(traded some artichokes for bell peppers that is how I got so many of those) tomatoes, lemons, and merlots.  Yummy!  I also got 20lbs of potatoes for $6.75, a great price for my area!

I also got 10 more lbs of pears, there where .77lbs this weeks, makes me wish I had waited last week and not spent the .88 lb,  Seems like pears are late this year because I got them in Aug of 2013 for .67 lb.  I also wish I had gotten two boxes from bountiful baskets, just didn't see how I could prep 72 lbs, in one go, 36 seemed to be pushing my limit.

I got some sewing done, but not as much I wanted to do.

I worked harder on keeping lights off in rooms not occupied.  Limited dryer to morning, failed on one load though, we ran it 3 times before getting it out of the dryer, while weather was cooler the humidity was high, this means the air conditioner still ran, and I slept in sweat pants.  husband loved it.  I got my electric use down some, below the average home in my area, the week before I was even with the average.

Watered down my soap for washing hands, moved kids bath soap into a recycled pump bottle, hoping this will help Timmy need less help in the shower.  And if I am lucky use less soap.

Timmy also made it thru the week with no bed wetting!  Yay!  So no diapers AND no extra laundry:D

Did not make any sandwich bread, also did not buy any so it was okay,  I did make 1.5 batches of corn bread using a recipe I found on pinterest.   I did end up altering the recipe a bit, I have a bunch of biscuit mix, so I used that in place of flour and baking powder.

Made fruit leather with the left over pulp from making plum jelly.  Took it to our playdate, and both the kids and the mommies loved it.  YAY!

I only made it to 21 days with take out.  My oldest slept over at a friend, so I treated Middlest to take out Chinese food.  At least it was cheaper with one of our big stomach's missing.

Ordered ink for my printer online, seems to be cheaper, and I can use swagbuck gift cards.  I tried store brand and the ink did not seem to last as long, tried getting recycled ink cartridges and it made my printer not work, so this seems to be best for us.  I love having my own printer/scanner.

I used $15 in amazon gift cards on ink, earned another $5 amazon gift card this week.

I got some reduced hamburger as I am out in the freezer, cooked it and taco's, put some aside for spaghetti later, spaghetti uses less meat.
Over all spent less money, did well in the grocery store, I am happy with my week!  Are you pleased with your savings/spending/frugality this last week?  I hope so!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My frugal week ending Sept 27

A few months ago I signed up to get weekly energy reports from my electric provider, and it really helps me to be on top of our energy use.  While I am blessed that my highest bill this summer was only $175, that is because we spent a bunch of money 18 months ago and getting the top of the line new air-conditioner.  We found out that our old air-conditioner was the wrong size for our house, actually to big for our space, our air-ducts where to small, they fixed that for us.  We got a new air-conditioner heater combo unit, because our old heater went out, and while they could fix it, they found that our air-conditioner was leaking Freon into our attic.  Yikes!  So while there is no electric savings for us from November to April(the heater is gas), from May to October our bill doesn't move a great deal, we save from $100-$150 a month, with the weekly updates I am hoping to save even more.  It just takes time to see what affects our usage, and get the whole family on board.  The best part is I can SHOW my kids how running the dryer in the morning vs the afternoon benefits our pocket book.

Frugal loss this week, I had to pay full price for our internet security, I have been watching it for a few weeks, but not as closely as I should have.  Ended up getting it at Sam's, that saved us $10 over the other stores, but more than I wanted to spend.

Also spent more at Sam's club than I expected!

Frugal wins this week.
My kids challenge to have me cook dinner every night for a month, convinced me to skip take out and cook dinner at home, on the two occasions this week we got home at 6:30. This saved us $60+.

$15 on a quart of local honey at the farmers market.

Managed to cook dinner every night this week!

$20 I did order and received a smoked chicken and brisket from our friend.  They gave us way more than we ordered and charged us less.  Our friend was not happy with the quality this week as he was using we wood and had trouble with consistent heat.  My girls and I where just fine with the flavor, but my husband noticed, he did however eat his normal amount:D

I made 3 24oz jars of grenadine
from the info I found on canning pomegranate's I will keep those in my fridge instead of process them for shelf stability.

groceries I got at Sam's club food cost $77.11
25# of sugar
Simply Orange 2pk orange juice
2 boxes General Tso chicken
1 pork loin $2.69lb
1 pkg chicken breast $1.98lb
18ct eggs

HEB $53.49(used a $10/$30 coupon I earned a few weeks ago)
2 boxes apple sauce Dole fruit Squishems
1 box HEB brand apple sauce squishems
1 box HEB brand ritz type crackers
1 big container Pert Plus
hydrogen peroxide
rubbing alcohol
2 6pks of socks(clearance $2.50 each)
4 lbs pears .88 lb
1 qt organic chocolate milk(serious markdown .50)
1 organic milk
1 Cat food
2 pk string cheese
2 pk cheese slices(free with string cheese purchase)
1 2pk appliance light bulbs
1 50ct store brand ziploc sandwich bags
1 pk suishi(snack for Middlest and I) should never shop hungry!

I had 2 more trips to HEB that I am not recording.  I took my husband and we bought lego's (I had two $5 off coupons, and some cane sugar no preservative soda, not something we normally buy, but quite a treat.

No pictures this week, should have some great one's next week, as I have finished some cute projects, and am canning plum jelly as I type this:D

If you have any frugal wins or losses feel free to share!

Monday, September 22, 2014

My frugal week ending Sept 20

Wow, I had a great week financially.  Not so great in other ways,  funny how it works that way sometimes.  The not so great part was I ordered my niece's senior pictures from an online venue and the pictures came back twice unusable. So I had to make an extra trip into town to get them done locally.  There are finally shipped off to her for her parents to order from.   YAY!  But caused my IBS to kick in as I worked thru the printing process.  Ugg.  Top that with showing up to choir practice in the opposite direction from the printer when choir had been cancelled.  I really wanted to cry.  We salvaged that gas expense by vising with some friends that live in that area.

The other not so great is I broke down and finally replaced my broken laptop, it was driving me bonkers.  The good news on that is I got some medical reimbursement that covered that cost, so it did not come out of my budget or get charged.  Win win.

Frugal wins,
Made dinner every night.
Made all but one lunch, and the one we ate out counted towards a 60 day of excellent behavior reward I owed Middlest.
Ordered a basket from Bountiful Baskets.
I know it doesn't look like a great deal of variety or even like what other's in the blog world have posted for this weekends pickup, that is because I go early and volunteer, and traded some things my family will not eat for things we will.
Spent $18.50
I brought home 10 pomegranates(making homemade grenadine syrup) Traded one lady Kale, we won't eat it, and one lady cherry tomatoes, we don't eat raw tomatoes, and someone else got my celery.
22 plums one lady just gave them to me along with her pomegranates
green leafy lettuce
2 honeydew
4 red bell peppers

HEB $22
7 large red bell peppers marked down for $1.50
2 gallons of milk
4 boxes of 4 squishems apple sauce
3 pkgs 11oz beef sausage
1 pkg 100% whole wheat hamburger buns
1 pkg whole wheat hotdog buns
50 count pkg flour tortilla's
1 banana
1 pkg spring greens salad
1 pkg large pasta shells
2 lbs thin spaghetti pasta

Randalls $20
pineapple juice
12 cans of soup
6 cans greenbeans
2 small Dawn dishsoaps
drinkable yogurt(on clearance as a treat to the kids)

Total spent $60.50

Turned in some receipts for Checkout51, will get $2.25 back

All meat eaten(which is every dinner) came from the freezer.
Did not get my normal smoked meat from our friend.  He was sick last weekend.

Made 4 loaves of wheat bread, 2 loaves went fresh and hot to our playdate and was devoured.
Added water to shampoo and conditioner to get all out of the bottle.
Got Middlest to use an older bottle of shower gel instead of buying her some of her own..
Remembered to use less shampoo and conditioner since I had 14 inches of hair cut off two weeks ago, takes some adjustment.
Cut out some shorts for my Middlest using a pattern I already have, and fabric I already have.
Bought supplies for my co-op class and already got reimbursed for it.  Used coupons and shopped around to get the best prices.

What have you done to save money this week?
I know I will spend more money this week as I am going to Sam's club and will be buying meat, how about you?  My kids have challenged me to cook dinner for a month straight, I am 7 days in wish me luck, I don't think I have done this in the whole 16 yrs I have been married!