Every Day

Freezer Cooking Day

A while ago a friend gave me a freezer cooking recipe. It has lingered in my stash of recipes for a long time. Even though I had a very busy day, I decided I was making it at dinnertime. The only thing I was dreading was cooking up a lb. of bacon. I had cooked an extra lb. this past weekend specifically for this recipe but Hubby saw it in the fridge and had been eating it. When I went to check earlier today that I had everything for this meal, I found that out.

So I took a package out of the freezer and thawed it out. While that was happening, I was out at appointments, stopping for milk and bringing my 3 books back to the library that I read. I picked up one that was in that I had a hold on and 2 more.

So late this afternoon, I cooked and cooled the bacon. Just before dinner, I crumbled the bacon into 1 cup portions(2 of them). 

Then I added 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs to each of two paper plates, added the 1 cup of bacon to each, and added 1 Tbsp. of minced onion to each. You can skip the onion if you don’t like it or add more if you want more. Then I mixed these three ingredients all together on each plate. 

Next I measured out 1 cup of ranch dressing into 2 different bowls. Lastly I washed chicken tenderloins before I used them. 

Then I dipped each tenderloin into the ranch dressing for each dish. Then into the breadcrumb, bacon, and onion mixture.

Here is the meal that I made to freeze. 

I wrapped this pan of Breaded Chicken Bacon Ranch in foil, labeled it and added directions. I didn’t date it because we will cook it the beginning of November. If I was going to keep it for any length of time I would label it. Don’t buy special labels; just use anything you have hanging around which I did.

Here is the dish that I baked for dinner tonight at 375 for 30 minutes and it was perfect. 

It was so delicious that Hubby was thrilled that we had leftovers for tomorrow night. This recipe is definitely a keeper. It goes together easily if you have the bacon cooked ahead of time. The next time you cook bacon, cook an extra pound like I did. But then put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. That way Hubby or anyone else who lives with you won’t eat it before you get a chance to use it. Just pull the cooked bacon out when you pull your meal out to thaw.

I really hated the thoughts of cooking another pound. So when I was in the market picking up the milk, I priced those packages of ready cooked bacon which I have never used. I almost choked. I would need 2 pkgs. and they were $ 5.79 each. No way was I paying that for the bacon. So I bit the bullet and cooked another pound.

I am going to try this recipe next time with chicken breasts that I have cut in two lengthwise. I think they would cook in about the same amount of time.   

Every Day

Holy Cow and Chicken, etc.

Our meat stockpile has gotten out of control. Fortunately, taking a good inventory has made me realize that. You all know that we have been basically eating from our stockpile for the past 2 months and we continue to do the same.

Even after eating from our freezers for all of this time, we have so much left. Luckily when I pulled every last morsel out of them to do my inventory, nothing had gotten old or freezer burned. I believe that is because of my food saver which shrink wraps our meat.

Here is our current inventory of meat:

20 lbs. of beef

74 lbs. of chicken

1- 6 lb. leg of lamb

32 lbs. ham and pork

8 lbs. of fish and shrimp

21 lbs. of turkey

This totals 161 lbs. of meat or about 322 meals for us when you take into account bones. That number is shocking for the two of us. Considering that we eat meatless once or twice a week, we can live a long time off of this meat and seafood.

To be totally honest, we also have 2 lbs. of bacon, 1 lb. of ham, and 1/2 lb. of turkey in our refrigerator right now also. We will use a lb. of that bacon for our family breakfast tomorrow and the other lb. will get cooked up and used for Club Sandwiches(uses the turkey also)and with eggs for breakfasts this week. Hubby is making ham salad for lunches which will use up the ham.

So seeing all of this meat and these numbers makes me realize that I have to change the way I grocery shop. We live in a northern area of the U.S. where power outages are common when we have lots of snow. So we have lots of snow storms. How long do you think this meat would last if our power was down for a couple of days? Not long, maybe two days. We would be cooking on our grill and in our fireplace like crazy and feeding the entire neighborhood. 

Of course, I purchased most of this meat at rock bottom prices. But that does us no good if we lose it in a power outage or it gets freezer burned. It would be a total waste of money.

I am meal planning from our inventories and not buying much these days. Just the necessities that we run out of or perishables like milk, half and half, and produce. Hence, we are not spending much on food. I am using our grocery budget to buy Christmas gifts instead.

Yes, I will do some stockpiling of things that are only rock bottom at Thanksgiving and Christmas but not as much meat as I usually do. I already have my turkey for Thanksgiving in the freezer. I may buy one more to cook up and freeze the meat in meal portions to use in place of chicken. Or I may not depending on the prices. I might actually wait until turkey breasts go on sale next year at rock bottom prices and get a few of those. I also have a spiral sliced ham for either Christmas or New Years. So our holiday meat is already in the freezer.

I would like to get down to the point where I only have 3 months worth of meat in the deep freeze. I would like to have room to put up freezer meals instead. 

After all of these years of cooking, I am getting really tired of it. So having a month’s worth of freezer meals at the ready would be a luxury for us. I have been collecting small containers so that we can eventually do this. Do any of you cook freezer meals? How do you do it? Do you make a bunch at once or just make an extra every time you make a casserole, etc.? I would really love to hear your experiences. 

When we get to the point of having just three months worth of meat, we have decided that $ 300 a month or $75. a week for groceries will be enough for us to eat a healthy diet and buy any personal care products, OTC meds and cleaning products.

I have been estimating what a meal costs us for quite a while now and also keeping track of what non food items we buy. That $ 300. a month should be sufficient to do everything. If it doesn’t work, we will raise it a little. 

So are any of you in the same boat we are? Too much freezer food that needs to get eaten? Have you taken an inventory so that you know what you have? I would love to hear from you all in the comments.  

Every Day

Errand Day

I usually run my errands on Thursday but I did them today since I seem to be a day ahead on everything this week. 

We needed just a few grocery items so I decided that Top’s was the best choice this week. They had bacon( bought 5), turkey pepperoni, yams, and eggs on sale that were all on my buy list. I also picked up a cottage cheese cup with a free store coupon. The lettuce and tomatoes were a necessity. I also purchased a 6 pack of Flying Bison Rusty Chain beer which is not in the picture. The total for all was $ 45.13 including tax and bottle deposits.

My next stop was at Super Walmart to pick up a Christmas gift that I had shipped to the store. I love how easy it is to get a pick up there. I have been doing some of the Christmas shopping already. I need to have it done by Thanksgiving so my family can take it home with them. Shipping has gotten very expensive. 

Then I went to the library which has become a regular stop every 8-9 days. I borrowed 3 more James Patterson books. I am able to read one book in a about 3 – 4 hours depending on interruptions. I am enjoying his Murder Club series but I am reading it backwards. The reason is that the newest books are hard to come by so when I see them, I grab them.

Last stop was the drug store to pick up a prescription for Hubby. That cost us $ 50.00.

Dinner tonight is leftovers from last night. I made spaghetti and meatballs for Hubby. For me I made alfredo sauce with broccoli and chicken. I can’t eat red sauce so this a meal where I really have to cook two different meals. Most times I just eat spaghetti with butter. My leftovers are pictured.  

Every Day

What is Financial Independence?

There seems to be some confusion in the blogosphere about what it means to be financially independent. I have seen many blogs and articles talking about financial independence that have different definitions of it. Some I agree with others I don’t.

Let’s look at the definition of financial independence.
Here is the definition from Wikipedia .

Hubby and I are financially independent. It means to us that we have enough money from investments and other passive income to be able to pay all of our expenses for the rest of our lives without working jobs.

To some people it means being self employed and making enough money to pay all of their expenses. Others believe that they are financially independent if one spouse is self employed and the other works for someone else.

I know there are many, many more definitions. But which one is the right one?  Perhaps there isn’t a right one. Perhaps it depends on what each of you think it is.

I’ve been around so many decades that I don’t even count them anymore. But I was raised to believe that you became financially independent when you retired. That retirement came when you turned 65. We didn’t like the idea of retiring at 65, so we set up our life goals so that we could retire 10 years earlier than that. We could have set it up for much earlier but our children would not have been able to attend private schools and go to college. Those goals were more important to us than retiring earlier.

Our life goals for financial independence were achieved through saving, frugality, investing, and setting up other streams of passive income.

Hubby was self employed as a consulting engineer for less than a year after he was done with his career jobs. He quickly realized that he had retired to enjoy life not do consulting work. Most of his working career was spent doing two different jobs. I worked part time and full time jobs for less than 17 years. Most of my work was done while my children were in junior high, high school, and college.

Now we are in our 17th year of financial independence and have not had one thought about self employment or even taking a part time job. We have plenty to do each day and we are never bored. But most importantly our planning and working has paid off. We are free from work.

So our definition of financial independence is the same as our definition of financial freedom. Never having to work again because our money pays our expenses year after year. By not working we control our own lives. We don’t have a boss telling us what to do each day. I totally agree with Wikipedia.

I am very curious. What is your definition of financial independence? Are you working towards it? Or have you already achieved it?  Please leave a comment and share with all of us.   

Every Day

The End To A Very Crazy Busy Week

I know that a lot of you can’t wait every week for TGIF!  When you are retired and have a crazy busy week, you can’t wait for it to be over with and start a new week on Sunday.

I had so much anxiety this week because we had so many things to do or oversee. I don’t do well on a time schedule. I like setting and controlling my own day.

We started the week out going to a birthday party which was a lot of fun. Then the next morning I spent hours at the dentist getting some major work done.  As you all know, I hate going to the dentist. UGH! For some reason, I had an earache when I came home so I went to bed to rest.

Hubby went for a haircut the next day. Lately when Hubby goes to the barber, it is jammed packed. So he was gone a very long time waiting his turn. I was getting worried which again gave me anxiety. 

I got a surprise the same day. My son, DIL, and my grandchild in the Eastern part of the
state had this beautiful bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates
delivered by the local florist. This picture was taken today so it is 5 days old but doesn’t look too much different than the day it was delivered except for the  some of the missing lilies that bit the dust. Of course, I am enjoying the chocolates – one a day.

Later that day, I got a long distance telephone call from my sister and my anxiety disappeared for a while.

Realizing that Christmas is coming and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, I spent most of Wednesday out Christmas shopping. I like to have my gifts purchased early and then wrap them to go home with some of our family on Thanksgiving. I was exhausted when I got home but managed to cook a nice dinner as I had all week.

On Thursday we had workmen here all day that we kept an eye on. The landscape company that takes care of our yard all spring, summer and fall were here for their last appointment this year. They did their usual weeding and weed whacking but also cut down all of the perennial flowers, trimmed all of the bushes and trees cleaned up the beds and anything else we wanted done. The yards are now ready for winter. Then around dinnertime the company came who blows out the lines on our sprinkler system. So that took about an hour and is all done for the winter.

On Friday, we had to take the SUV to the tire place to have the snow tires put on for the winter. We went a little early this year because they gave us a 50% off coupon. Hence it only cost $30. instead of $ 60. for the changeover. Every dollar counts!

It was a long week and I was beat. And Hubby knew it so he asked me to thaw 2 lbs. of ground chuck. He said he would make dinner tonight. He made this delicious pot of chili that you see at the top of my blog. He also made a pot of rice in the new cooker that came this week. His chili is so yummy. It’s all meat. We will have it again the next couple of days and then freeze any that is left to put on hot dogs or use for a baked potato bar. 

I was very happy to eat this bowl of chili on rice for dinner. I even said don’t bother with a veggie tonight. He had enough to do and he gave me the day off so I definitely was happy eating just the chili and rice. 

I wanted to let you know that I have barely done any grocery shopping. I think I have picked up just 6 things that we needed since I purchased the 11 stock up onion soup mix. We are still eating down our freezers and pantries. The inventories that I did has really helped me with the menu planning.

Anyhow, I am so glad that this week is over with. I am looking forward to a new week tomorrow. You all know that my son and grandson come to breakfast every Sunday morning. Ninety percent of the time I cook a very large breakfast for us. I decided to give myself some grace tomorrow morning. So I purchased this assortment of muffins, donuts and coffee cake for our breakfast. I am frugal most of the time but because of that I can splurge on a luxury when I need to. It isn’t the healthiest but my grandson will be delighted and I will enjoy not having to cook.

Here’s to a great week for all of you too!

Every Day

A Little Of This and A Little of That( Breakfast, New Cooker, and Planner)

We had a celebration in our home yesterday. For dinner, we got KFC take out. We both love fried chicken from there. But since it is pretty unhealthy, we only purchase it 2-3 times a year. With the 8 piece meal we got some biscuits. Since we watch how many carbs we eat in a meal, we did not eat them yesterday. But not wanting to waste them, we used two to make egg, bacon and cheese biscuits for breakfast this morning. Waste not want not!

Over the weekend, Hubby saw on QVC this green 
Cooker .  As you can see in the picture, we already had a smaller yellow one. We use our yellow one all of the time to make rice, quinoa, etc. But it holds very little. I love to make rice on Sunday and then use it a few times a week. So for $19.96, we couldn’t pass up this 5 cup one. Also the new one is big enough to cook meals in it for just the two of us. Using small appliances saves a lot of energy money. So with autumn upon us, this larger one will get used a whole lot now and throughout the winter.  Hubby is making chili in the crock pot tomorrow. So I will make a big batch of rice in the new one and we will just use it through the rest of the weekend. 

My favorite planner is Amy Knapp’s .  I waited too late last fall to order it and they were sold out. So I had to purchase a different planner which did not work well for me. So I was getting Amy’s early this year to make sure that I got one. I actually ordered two- one as a gift. You can’t beat this price for a great planner.

It has a pocket in the front that holds all of my paperwork to run errands or that I need to make calls each week.

I love the weekly pages with the to do lists, grocery shopping lists, and a place for my menus. Both the grocery lists and menus are perforated and can be torn out. I am a very visual person so I need to do lists.

Then there are note pages. I use these to write down my morning and evening routines and my zones. Then they are always handy for me to look at. 

There are also phone number and e-mail reference pages. There are a number of pages to list info for babysitters, children’s friends names and addresses, etc. Those I wouldn’t use but people with children would love them.

And lastly, there are two pages of stickers. Some I can use and others that I can’t, so I will share those with the gift one. I did also buy two sets of stickers that I can use for my planner. I am a very visual person so I enjoy using them in my planner. I plan each week on Sunday for the following. 

So tonight I will be happy to get everything up to date in this planner and throw out the one I am using. I am not waiting until January 1st.

Dinner tonight will be leftovers from KFC. Yummy!

Every Day

Never Give Up

I hope you all had a wonderful three day weekend. We sure did.

Today I want to summarize a struggle with an ambulance bill that we did not owe. A year ago when Hubby’s kidneys were failing, the hospital he was in transferred him to a hospital in our area that was better equipped to take care of him. The smaller hospital took care of all of the paperwork and called the ambulance. He was taken to the better hospital.

A couple of months down the road, we got a bill for $2443.32 for the ambulance. Hubby called our insurance company to find out why they didn’t pay it. The company informed him that the ambulance company billed it as a non- emergency. Believe me it was an emergency. The lady he spoke to also told him that he should call the hospital that had him transferred because this bill should have been taken care of by the hospital.

So Hubby called and talked to them and they told him that he needed to call the receiving hospital. So Hubby called the larger hospital and talked to a woman there. She informed him that he never should have gotten a bill from the ambulance company. That they should have billed her hospital directly. She told Hubby that he needed to contact the ambulance company billing department and have them send the bill directly to them and they would take care of it. 

So Hubby called and talked to the ambulance company’s billing department which is outsourced to another country. Just trying to explain to these people left Hubby exasperated. The room they were sitting in had constant telephones ringing and was very noisy. Finally the woman he spoke to said she would take care of seeing that the bill was sent to the hospital.  A few months later, Hubby got another bill. He called the billing company again and they agreed that they messed up and would send the bill to the hospital. 

the meantime, we started to get harassing calls from both the ambulance
company and a collection agency. We did not know that it was these two
places harassing us because we don’t answer our telephone if we don’t
recognize the telephone number. And of course, when they get the
answering machine, they hang up.

starting tracking the telephone numbers that were showing on our called
ID and after researching them figured out that it was the ambulance
company and a collection agency. They were calling all different hours
of the day and evening. It really got very annoying. 

after 244 calls, Hubby started doing some research on the ambulance
company which is a nationwide company. He found a telephone number of
the CEO. He called that number and got an answering machine. He left a
short message and asked the person to call us back.

few hours later a very nice man called us back and told us that he was
no longer the CEO of the company but he gave Hubby the new CEO’s name
and his telephone number. This man didn’t have to call us back but he
did and he helped us. We are grateful that he did.    

Yesterday Hubby called the CEO’s telephone number. Of course he wasn’t available. However his assistant said that she could help him. She told Hubby that even if the CEO was available, he would ask her to take care of it anyhow. 

So Hubby spent a lot of time on the phone with this woman explaining about the bill and all he had done to get it corrected. She listened very patiently to everything on the incorrect billing. He also told her about all of the harassing telephone calls(all 244 of them) that we had been getting from both the ambulance company and the collection agency that we had tracked. He told her he wanted them to stop.

He informed her that we have never had an overdue bill ever and he takes bills that come to him seriously. However he told her that he does not owe this bill so he was not going to pay it. He told her it is not his fault that their billing company is incompetent.
She told him that if he would give her three hours, she would look into all of this and get back to us. Finally Hubby felt like he got to the right person and that the bill would get corrected and sent to the hospital.

She called back in less than 2 hours and informed Hubby that all telephone calls would stop and that we now had a zero balance on the bill.

She told Hubby that one of the numbers that had been harassing us was American Medical Response. She had no idea how they got involved but that they and all of the other numbers had been taken care of. We would no longer get any calls from any of them. She gave Hubby her direct number to call her if we got another call so that he could let her know and she would take care of it. We have not gotten one call from anyone since they hung up yesterday. So it is looking like they have ceased, hopefully. It is the first peace we have had in over a year.

Hubby asked the CEO’s assistant to e-mail us a new bill with a zero balance for our records. She said she would send it as soon as they hung up. She did and we now have it in our records.

Hubby hates to have to go up the ladder at a company to get things corrected. But after exhausting other options, it was the only one left. Thankfully we got the right person.

It isn’t the first time that we have had to fight over medical bills. There seems to be a lot of incompetence in insurance companies and billing departments these days. But we were not going to pay $2443.32 for a bill we didn’t owe no matter how long it took to get it straightened out.

So don’t ever give up and just pay a bill that you know isn’t correct because it gets to be too much of a hassle. Fight for what is right. We have had a few seniors tell us that they get tired of the fight and just pay it. I can understand that attitude. It is very aggravating to get things corrected. However, it’s your money so respect it and don’t pay what you don’t owe.       

Every Day

It’s Apple Picking Time

Hubby and I went to a local farm which has apple orchards. We are always willing to try new apples.  This time it was Macouns. They are slightly tart. We love them. They are in the front of my fruit drawer. The back has delicious apples that we got a couple of weeks ago. I love apple everything so Fall is a favorite season for us.

One of the reasons that we are frugal 90% of the time is so that we can afford some luxuries that we enjoy. So we spent some money at the farm to pick up two favorite syrups and some strawberry – rhubarb jam. This morning I made pancakes and we used the syrups as toppings. Yummy! 

A trip to the library for me to pick up a couple of books to read. Do you know that I never read the Little House books when I was young? Nope I didn’t. So I figured it was about time to do it. You can never be too old to do the things you always wanted to do. So I plan on reading all of those books and I am starting with this one. 

While I was out, I stopped at Super Walmart and picked up 11 packages of the Onion Soup Mix that they have on sale for a dollar. It was a great price for our area and I use it for cooking and for onion dip.  I already had one on the shelf so 12 of them will last us a year or more.

Hubby was disappointed in the last jar of Mt. Olive pickle relish that he opened. There was so much fluid in the jar that he had to strain it to be able to eat it. Doing this he found out that there was less than 1/2 jar of actual pickle relish. He complained to the company and they sent this coupon that arrived today. There is no way that he will buy another pickle relish from them. However, I suggested that he get a jar of pickles and make his own pickle relish. So he is going to do that.

Also in the mail today were three Enlightened coupons which I will use at Super Walmart the next time I go.

I have a beef stew in the crockpot for dinner. It holds a beef chuck roast that I cut up into chunks, chunks of potatoes, some baby carrots and some pearl onions. I still have to make the gravy. My kitchen smells delicious!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. We have a birthday party for the 1 year old next door that we are looking forward to.

Every Day

Strawberry KitKats et al

I had a crazy busy day yesterday. I started the morning going to an annual doctor’s appointment which is 16 miles away. So after the appointment on my way home, I did some shopping in a town that I don’t get to very often.

I stopped at CVS to use the $3.00 in ECB’s that they gave me for my birthday.  I picked up some needed foundation and then I saw the candy pictured above on clearance. I purchased two bags to put in my Halloween stash for $ 1.25  each. I will use these bags after I give out the candy I already had. If there are any of these left, I will save them for Christmas or Valentine’s Day. My family loves Kit Kats. 

Then I stopped at Home Goods. We use the Jordan’s SF Skinny Syrups in our coffee and Hubby finished his favorite. My sister told me that Home Goods has the big bottles for $3.99. That is $2.00 cheaper than buying them online at Jordan’s. They had one of the flavors he wanted but not all. But they did have the ones I like. I will keep checking back there anytime I am down there for new flavors. The cashier told me they change them often. BTW, the peach in my coffee is my very favorite. It is so good!

When I got home, I finally had some time this afternoon to finish my basement freezer inventory. When I was done, I sat down and made a list by category. For example, beef, chicken, pork, turkey, lamb, vegetables, fruit, baked goods, etc. have their own Master List. That way I can menu plan from those master lists. It is such a relief to know exactly what I have. I am not buying any beef, chicken, ham, sausage, bacon, etc. for a very long time. The same goes for fruits and vegetables.

As I was doing the inventory, I found this bag with 1/2 lb. of cooked ground turkey. Hubby was going to finish the Spicy Szechuan chicken that was leftover for his dinner tonight. It did not set well with my stomach the first day we ate it.

So I grabbed a packaged cheese pasta that I bought at Aldi’s for my stockpile. I cooked it up and added the turkey last minute. I also made a tossed salad to go with it. There is enough pasta for lunch tomorrow. I want to make sure that all of the cooked meats in my freezers get used up first.

I hope you all had a great frugal day. 

Every Day

Frugal Things: Tracking Your Inventory and Others

It’s so important to use your stockpile and rotate it as you replenish it. That way things get used before they expire. Mine had gotten out of hand. So I spent a couple of hours today taking inventory of my two freezer drawers in my French door refrigerator. Here is one of the inventory sheets. I emptied everything out of those drawers and then cleaned them well. When I put the items back, I tried to put like things together so that they would be easy to find because I hate wasting electricity leaving the drawers open longer than I should. 

Tomorrow I will inventory my basement freezer. Then I will inventory pantries and the refrigerator. You can’t use up food and make menus if you don’t know what you have. It does take time and I hate starting from scratch doing it but I have been bad at times with not adding something when I buy it. Other times I forget to cross off what I have taken out and used. So I am starting with a new inventory and I have vowed to make it a habit to always add and subtract on my inventory sheets.

I like to make breads when I have time. Certain rolls and breads I can buy cheaper than making them. These sub rolls are an example. We use these for submarine sandwiches or for Philly steak ones. I purchased these at Walmart. I always check their day old bakery items to see if they have something we can use at a discount. These were expiring within a day or so when I bought them for $ 1.22. I saved $.66 off the regular price. I immediately put them into packages of two and froze them.

We had company for an early supper one warm afternoon.  I made a large bowl of pasta salad which I chilled most of the day. It is large shells, cheddar cheese, black olives, diced tomato, and Italian dressing. I added pepperoni to this salad just before I served it. I don’t like it when the pepperoni slices soak up too much of the dressing when it sits in the fridge. We had garlic bread, spumoni ice cream and a glass of wine with the salad. It was a tasty and inexpensive supper.