Every Day

Our Frugal Saturday

We have been extremely busy today. Hubby hired a company to fix our stone front on the house. Three of the ledge stones had fallen off. They wanted $800. to do the job. We said okay. That was back in May. They said they would do it when they got time. They have never come or called us. With winter upon us, Hubby decided to fix it himself. He did a lot of research this week to learn how to do it. This afternoon he has been working on it. He is an engineer so he built a contraption to hold the stones against the house while they dry in place. It is ingenious and seems to be working well.

This morning I cut up all of the leftover lasagna from Hubby’s birthday dinner. I used the food saver to package in up in 2 portion meals and put them in the freezer for future dinners. Two nights in a row was enough. It’s very rich. 

Then I made my next two weeks of menu plans. I like having to do this every two weeks instead of one. Sorry about the shadows on the first week.

Next I made my prep tray for dinner tonight. I do this every morning for meals that need prepping. That way when it is time to cook all I have to do is pull the tray out of the fridge. We are having chicken stir fry with onions, red, orange, and yellow peppers, and pineapple chunks. We will use a little of the stir fry sauce. Hubby will make rice to put on it in the rice cooker.  

After that I made a little homemade blueberry and banana ice cream and it is freezing in the freezer as I write this.

Then it was time to bring all of the items for our next two weeks of dinner meals up from the chest freezer. They all reside now in the first drawer of my fridge freezer. I also keep my yeast here for making bread.

On the left side of that drawer, I keep our breakfast items like chopped onions for our omelets and hash browns, sausage, bacon, orange juice to make cranberry orange muffins, and blueberries for muffins, smoothies, and pancakes. I also have two toaster waffles left from when my granddaughter was here. West will eat them next time he is here to visit for a weekend. 

Now I am about to go watch football with Hubby before I make dinner. 

How is your Saturday going? 


Every Day

Is Everyone Trying To Take Your Money?

As I was sitting here this morning, drinking my Irish Cream coffee with Irish Cream whipped topping (Thanks Sis!), I opened my e-mail. I had no less than 36 e-mails from companies trying to tell me about the latest great sale and how I could spend my money this morning. It’s exasperating!

Every company that you have ever done business with in the past 20 years thinks they can take up your time by sending e-mails and trying to sell you something. Some even give you a coupon to entice you even more. I am getting e-mails from companies that I haven’t done business with since we lived in AZ, almost a decade ago.

My time is valuable! I need it to do the frugal things around here that allow us to up our net worth not lower it by buying stuff. I need my time to write this blog and help a lot of other people. I don’t have time for all of these companies who want to part me from my money. But they don’t make it easy to get rid of them. Delete doesn’t do it. So I painstakingly took the time this morning to unsubscribe from each of those companies. 

Oh, you say, but I might miss out on a sale. Believe me, there will always be another sale. If I need to buy something, I know how to find a coupon code. 

You get the same thing on Facebook, ad after ad. Open the newspaper and all of the ads are there on Sunday. If I need something, I can look through them and follow the sales that way.

No wonder so many people are in debt today. They are bombarded with information on how to save money by buying the companies’ products. Don’t miss this sale, it is the best ever! Grab our coupon code and save some money! These tactics are everywhere.

The only way to save YOUR money is to put it in the bank and not touch it. These tactics aren’t saving you money; they are making you spend money. 

Bah humbug you say!  Yes, I know that Christmas is coming. Hopefully most of you purchased gifts throughout the year and are done. But if you didn’t, do yourself a favor and make a list of what you want to buy for whom and how much you want to spend that is within your budget. Then look for a sale at specific stores or peruse your Sunday ads when you have the time. 

I can’t even stomach TV commercials; hence I don’t watch much TV unless it is on You Tube or Amazon Prime who have limited commercials. So much of an hour show is taken up by everyone wanting to sell you something. At the rate commercials are going, it won’t be long before there is more commercial time than show time.  

Don’t let these advertisers take up your time! Life is too short. Make up your own mind on what you need to buy not what they want you to buy. The advertisers aren’t trying to save you money. They are trying to part you from your money!

Also keep track of what you are putting on credit cards this upcoming holiday season. Don’t spend more than you can pay off when the bill rolls around each month! That way you will start off the New Year with much less debt and stress! 

Every Day

Homemade Laundry Detergent

You all know that I use the EcoEgg for my laundry. That said, I need some laundry detergent to soak hand washables that I feel are too delicate to go in the washer. I also need something that I can soak stains in.

There are tons of homemade laundry detergent recipes online but this is the one that I find works the best for us. So I make up a small batch and keep it in a reused container. 

Here is the recipe:

1 bar of Soap grated(I use any soap that I have.) 
1 cup of Washing Soda
1/2 cup of OxiClean
1/2 cup of Borax

The worst part of this is grating the soap. I use a box grater. Once that is done, it is just a matter of  throwing it all together and mixing it well. I use 1-2 tablespoons of this soap mixed in a bucket of hot water to soak or wash items. 

Since I am out of purchased regular laundry soap, I needed to make a couple of batches to soak 4 items with stains. I will soak them overnight. Rinse then well and then wash with the EcoEgg. This detergent has never let me down.

Do you make your own laundry soap? Do you have a recipe you like?

Every Day

Update On Our Two Couples

I finally heard from our last couple who I am mentoring last night. So it is time for an update.

The Jones have done very well since we first talked a few months ago. They have cut their grocery bill by $50. a month by using their leftovers which they used to throw out. Mrs. Jones cut the bill down to just $ 30. this month by trying the grocery challenge. She is using up items that have been lingering on her pantry shelves. She has also been making a price book so that she knows the cheapest place to buy items. She and her Hubby have been eating healthy by keeping meals simple. That is a savings of $ 170. in just the past three months. She told me that they added that to the fund for her high risk pregnancy. 

She and Mr. Jones decided they will use cloth diapers. She has been able to get a few dozen by buying them at garage sales. She said she was very excited when she found a brand new package of 10 that someone had never used at one of them for $2.00. Her family is throwing her a baby shower where she hopes to get a start on stocking disposables. They are going to ask people to bring a box to enter into a raffle for a gift basket. She has registered her list of wanted baby items at a site she is using.  

They have not gone out to eat in 7 weeks. She said she is enjoying cooking at home. However Hubby is getting the bug to go. So they compromised. They are going to go out for dessert at a special place in town that they both love. She convinced him that it would be cheaper than spending a lot of money on dinner and they would enjoy it just as much. The leftover money from their budget will go to the pregnancy fund also. 

They cut their clothing budget by $25. a month. She borrowed maternity clothes from a friend. They are also looking at cutting their entertainment budget in the next month or two.

Hubby did some research on cutting their car insurance. But he found out that they already have the cheapest policy that they can get. He will look at it again next year. 

I am amazed at how well they have done over the past couple of months. It’s not easy to cut when you are used to spending a set amount of money. But they are doing well and I am cheering them on to continue. 

Bruce and Noreen are doing very well also. Noreen found a part time job -20 hours a week. She is making about $300. a week after taxes, Social Security and Medicare are taken out. She just started last week and got her first paycheck last Friday. She is going to be paying all of her paycheck toward debt. So that will be about $1350.+ a month. Congratulations to her for quickly finding a job.

Remember that their budget was $ 8539. more per year than they were bringing in in income.  Her yearly income of $16,200. more than makes up for this deficit.

But they also have been cutting expenses. I told them they needed to cut everything except the basics in order to get rid of this debt. They discussed it and decided to cut another $688. per month out of their budget. They have reduced their monthly costs by cutting groceries by $50. a month, no restaurant or takeout which was $150., clothing by $75. leaving just $25. to spend when their son needs something.
They also cut their entertainment and misc. by $200.,
their household by $50., no travel which gives them another $120., and their home phone which gives them $43. more for debt payment. They did not want to cut their Cable TV or internet because they both use the internet and the son likes to watch some shows on TV. I told them to look for a cheaper option to give their son a choice of shows like Netflix. They are working to reduce their utility bills.  I will be working on this with them this month. Their plan is to dump every penny extra they have next month on their debt.

I have been teaching them how to cut their food bills all month. Next month we will touch on a lot of subjects that will teach them how to lower their costs not just for now but how to be frugal in the long run so that they can spend their money on the things that are more important to them.

If you have a any comments or suggestions for any of the families for this next month on what they can do, please feel free to leave a comment. They read the comments every couple of days. I gave them a  Big Congratulations! They are starting to get the “frugality bug”!

Every Day

A Little Of This and Little Of That

My family came for a breakfast of homemade banana bread, scrambled eggs, and sausage yesterday. They stayed to watch our Buffalo Bills game so I made BLT’s for everyone. It was the first time that I felt up to cooking. The Bills won so it was a good day all the way around.

Nori came to visit too. Poor dog got spade last weekend so she has to wear this collar to prevent her from scratching at her stitches. She is not happy about it. West and she were good enough to pose for a picture to share with you. 

After breakfast I went to the store to do the weekly shopping. I was only interested in some meat that was on sale for $ 2.99 a lb. Since I have limited freezer space I only bought two sirloin tip roasts. One will be used today for beef stew. The other will be ground like I showed you here: Saving on Meat . I was happy when I got those steaks for $3.99 a lb. but I am thrilled to get these roasts at $2.99.  The one roast I will cut up and throw in the crock pot with red potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and some beef stock, which I will thicken an hour before the stew is done. That should feed us a number of meals this week. I may or may not pick up another one for the freezer on my way home from the dentist this week.

Besides not feeling well this past week and dealing with my dental issues, our cellphone bit the dust for sure this time. UGH! My son did some research for us and found a Samsung J7 cellphone that we could buy from Sprint for $312.48 including tax. Then we would just have Sprint transfer my number and activate it. I hated paying this for a phone but all the others were hundreds more. So when I got home from the market, my son and Hubby went to the Sprint store to do this. However there were two people in line ahead of them. They waited and waited for their turn. Guess what?  The two people bought the last two of this phone that the store had. They came home very disappointed. I was not looking forward to being without a phone again. 

So while they watched the game, I called another Sprint store in another town to see if they had one. Sure enough, so I made the hour trip to get it. My son activated it by calling Sprint when I got home with it. It’s his account so they wouldn’t do it for me. It’s activated, updated and all of our apps and our calendar is now on it. And I will sigh relief when I go out in the car again with it. My worst nightmare was getting stuck somewhere with a broken down car and no phone to call anyone. 

It has turned cold here finally. But we are doing okay for now without the heat on. I hate to turn it on so early. So Hubby has been bundling up in layers. He gets cold easily. A sweater does it for me.
I put an extra blanket on our bed and that has made the nights comfortable.
We just got our electric and gas bill and it was $ 108. since we had A/C on for so long. Most bills this summer were $20.-30. more than that. So I would like a low bill for at least a month before the heat goes on for the next 7-8 months. 

Today, I am planning on catching up things around here. I will clean the laundry room and possibly make a small container of homemade laundry detergent that I use on hand washables. The ecoegg does not work well on those. If so I will post my recipe. 

I also have some e-mails from the two couples to catch up and write back to them. I am hoping to do an update on how they are doing tomorrow. 

Are you getting any good grocery deals this week?

Every Day

What I Have Been Doing The Past Few Days

Well for one thing, I have been missing in action. I cannot believe that it is Thursday and I haven’t posted most of the week.

First, I haven’t felt well all week and made a Doctor’s appointment that I couldn’t get until the first week in October. UGH!

Second, I spent a good part of the day at the dentist  who fit me in between patients yesterday. My permanent denture which I got last Thursday is just awful. It doesn’t fit well. Every time I try to eat something, I bite my cheek. The entire gum on the left side is sore and blistered from rubbing. I resorted to drinking smoothies for all meals over the weekend. The dentist has sent it back to the lab which in this area means dropping it off to them. He told me his office would call me when it was ready for me. I got a call this morning saying the dentist needs to see me next week for an hour. The receptionist said she had no idea why because the dentist didn’t say. Either it will be ready or he is taking new molds and we are starting from scratch. We’ll see.

Tuesday, I spent running errands to the market( purchased strawberries and cantaloupes), to Fast Cash with the bottle deposits, to UPS to ship a package, and to the drugstore to pick up a prescription. I also caught up laundry which had been piling up around here.

We also spent some time getting rid of a nest that bumble bees had built in the ground near our front door. Those things are awful.

The landscape crew was here yesterday so that entailed telling them what we wanted done and keeping en eye on them. 

One day I spent a lot of time on the phone between QVC and my bank trying to straighten out an error with an easy pay charge. It is all straightened out now but I am very aggravated with the bank who screwed up with a key error. I get so tired of fixing other people’s mistakes. You just can’t rely on good service anymore. If I get good service from someone, I let the company know because it is non-existent today. 

Other than those things I have spent every other minute laying in bed either sleeping or reading the above book by Andrew Mellen. It’s very interesting. Most of his ideas are very similar to how I organize but I am picking up some new tips.

Poor Hubby is on his own for meals. So we have resorted to buying a rotisserie chicken that he has been making sandwiches from. I am hoping tonight to feed him a hot meal such as spaghetti since it is quick and easy to make. We will see how I feel before dinner. I have been eating cottage cheese and tomatoes. It is the only thing that tastes good to me. 

Do these sound like excuses? Yes, but I just can’t function when my brain is telling me how bad I feel and won’t let me write a great article that will benefit you.

So hopefully in the next few days, I will be back with one. I am off to lay down.

Every Day

Frugal Things We Have Done

These are some of the frugal things we have done the last few months that I haven’t told you about before:

– We had a beautiful flowering plant put in on the south side of the house. It really did not do well. I was sure it was dead. But Hubby insisted on moving it to a shady spot to see if he could revive it. Take a look at the picture above and see how well it is doing now.

– Here in New York, there is a rebate program on your school taxes where they send a check back to you for a certain percentage of your Star Exemption based on your income. They have 4 income tiers. The less you make in income, the more your rebate check is. We got a check in the mail for approximately $256. It was very tempting to cash and spend. However, we are depositing it in our investment account rather than mindlessly frittering it away. 

– Over the summer, I have done major decluttering especially in our basement. I can now find everything in storage when I need it. Everything that I really want to keep has been put in bins and labeled. Some of these things are only used once or twice a year and I do not want them taking up residence in my kitchen cupboards. They save me money when I do use them. We also have a stockpile of lined paper pads, computer paper, office supplies, business envelopes, etc. that I purchased in bulk at dirt cheap prices. That has all been organized and labeled. I have also gone through our Christmas decorations and weeded out a lot that we don’t use. Some I am going to gift to my children. Mostly things that they made me over the years.

– My stockpile is now perfectly organized with all of the early expiration dates in the front. When I put anything down there now, they go in the back. Even Hubby can go down there and find what he is looking for.

– I am giving away most of my frugality books. My sister was reading one while she was here so I gave it to her to take home. My DIL took quite a few. My kids know that if they want more they can just take them while they are here. Rather than sell them for a few cents on the dollar, it is PRICELESS to me that my family will enjoy reading and learning from them. They have been a great source of reference for me over the years. Now they can benefit my children. 

– Gifting the books will also give me more shelf space for stockpiling.    

– I now only use the ecoegg to clean my laundry. No laundry detergent! If something has a stain on it, I  will spot treat it.  

– This week I will be making a small amount of homemade laundry detergent to use for hand washables only. I will post the recipe it when it is done.

– I have been staying way under budget on food all summer and now in September I am staying under my challenge budget. 

– We have sprayed the foundation of the house for bugs every few weeks using cheap bug spray that I bought in bulk at Walmart. This has killed all the ants around our patio and kept spiders and other bugs out of our garage and basement. Some of our neighbors are paying a fortune to have their homes done professionally. 

– Even though my credit card company said they doubted that I would get my money back from Zaycon since the claim had to be within 60 days and it wasn’t, they decided after investigation to credit my credit card back the full amount. However, if in the next 60 days Zaycon reverses it,they will charge it back to me again. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

– Every few years, I do a full price check at all of my food stores on most of the items I buy every month. I did this over the summer and have added prices to my list so that I am now up to date with my prices. I  know which store has the best prices on the groceries I need. This makes it so much easier to make my lists.

– I collected the pine cones from our Spruce trees in the backyard so that I can use them for fire starters in our backyard fireplace. As soon as the weather turns cooler, we will be enjoying that a lot. We are still using wood that was leftover from when all the homes were built in here. As soon as they start building the new section of our neighborhood, I will be scrounging wood scraps again from the dumpster. 

– I made roasted diced potatoes from fresh yesterday morning to give a little variety to our family breakfasts. It seems like I always make hash browns.

– I love Naturalizer flat casual shoes for everyday wear. The pair I purchased 17 years ago finally fell apart this week. I definitely got my money’s worth. They were so comfortable that I had to get 2 new pair- one in black and one in navy. They were $59.99 each. But I did find a coupon code, got free shipping, and I will get $5.00 back from Ebates. The coupon code was good for 20% off when you bought two pair so that was a reduction of $24.00. If they each last me as long as the shoes I am throwing out, it is a great purchase. 

– My daughter-in-law e-mailed us a picture of my granddaughter in her school uniform this week. The picture was just beautiful. So I asked Hubby to make an 8X10 on our photo printer. He did and it is now sitting in a frame on the shelf in our great room. He also made some wallet sizes. The photo paper we are using I got for just pennies after a sale and rebates when we lived in Arizona. I bought so much that we still have many packages of it left.

– And lastly, there is one frugal thing that we are going to be doing very soon. Our brand new YMCA in our little town is opening the beginning of October. Hubby and I decided a long time ago that when it opened we would join so that we could use the pools, sauna, steam room, track, and any exercise equipment they might have. They are running a special that if you sign up as a charter member before October 1st, they waive the $40. per person membership fee. You can bet we will be signed up before then because it will save us $80. Using the facility will be adding $ 37.00 to our monthly bills for the two of us. We get this low price because we are seniors. It is well worth it.

What have you been doing frugally? Feel free to leave a comment.

Every Day

How I Have Cut Food Costs For Over Fifty Years

When Hubby and I were married over 51 years ago, we made very little money and really adhered to a strict budget. I had about $15. a week to spend on food. I would spend that every week at the old Central Market which I could walk to from our apartment. There were very little convenience foods back then, so I bought fresh. Whatever meat and veggies were on sale that week, I would purchase. There was no stocking up not only because we didn’t have the money but because we had 1/2 a freezer above the fridge in the apartment. It was tiny!

I adhered to many strategies so that we could eat well. Many of which we still use today. I cooked simple meals of meat, veggies, and/or potatoes or rice. I only used a couple of spices like oregano for Italian meals and chili powder for Mexican meals. We liked spaghetti and meatless lasagna. I would make a big lasagna with just a little bit of cheese and cottage cheese and we would eat it for 2-3 meals and take it work for lunch. I made stir fry as I do today with whatever meat and vegetables were cheap that week. I made a lot of casseroles and skillet dishes where we could use just 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of meat. I made soups at least once every two weeks- chicken rice with bits of cheap veggies like carrots and celery, bean and ham soup, beef barley with the meat from short ribs. They would give you a ham bone for free at the market if you asked. It always had little bits of ham on it. I made my own chicken and veggie stock as a base. I made stews that were heavy on potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery, and just a little bit of beef. 

I try to stay away from expensive ingredients to this day. I find the simpler meals are cheaper and healthier.

We never purchased lunch out. We would pack our lunch faithfully the night before we would take it to work. I would buy a loaf of bread each week for sandwiches. We took peanut butter and jelly most days.

Twenty two months after we were married we moved into our first home. We really had to stretch every dollar to make our mortgage payment and property taxes and save for furniture. We started out with a bed, fridge, and sofa and a bunch of hand me downs. So we had to save, save and save. We also had depleted our savings buying the house so we wanted to make sure we had an emergency fund. We never touched our retirement savings.

I had a Central Market where we moved to so our shopping continued the way we had always done it. On sale that week and just enough for the week. About 4 years after we moved into our home and our first son was born, we purchased a scratch and dent freezer from Sears. At that time, we had more money to spend on food so we would stockpile meats and frozen veggies when we would find them at rock bottom prices. I made some of our son’s baby food from scratch. But because my Father-in Law was constantly dropping off big grocery bags of baby food jars. I think it was because he wanted to see his grandson a lot. Our home was on his way home from his hardware store.

What are rock bottom prices you say? They are the lowest prices you will pay all year for certain items. I still do this today. Turkeys are at their cheapest before Thanksgiving, hams before Christmas, corned beef around St. Patrick’s Day, and hams and lamb around Easter. Butter and other staples are also cheapest around Thanksgiving. I would stock for a year on these items. I still do.

To this day I compare prices and buy the on sale cheapest meats and freeze them. I also freeze fresh fruits and veggies when they are in season to be used over the next year.

We ate easy and cheap breakfasts like oatmeal or cereals or eggs on toast. I still love oatmeal and Hubby loves cereal. We both love eggs and eat them a lot.

As I got older and wiser, I started to make some things like salad dressings, sauces besides spaghetti sauce, and all of our bread. Then I started making our spaghetti sauce from scratch. I still make a lot of those things today but bread not as often. If I can find bread on the markdown rack at Walmart, I will buy it. We use more wraps than bread today in our home. Those are purchased at Aldi.

I shop Aldi more often than any other store these days. It is a discount store. I know some of you shop salvage stores. If I had one close, I would but unfortunately the closest one is almost 2 hours away. Save- A – Lot and Price Rite are two other discounters near me. But Aldi and Super Walmart are closest to me so they are my first choice. If I find a great deal at Top’s I will shop there for that deal. I also buy a lot of my meats on sale at Top’s in bulk because their prices are lower than Aldi’s many times. For example they had whole pork loins on sale for $ 1.49 a lb. this week. If I had needed pork, I would have purchased one and had the butcher cut it into roasts and chops for me. 

If you have a discounter or Aldi’s near you, check out their prices against your supermarket prices. I think you will be amazed at how much money you can save each week. We have always kept a price book or online spreadsheet which I update often so that I know who has the lowest prices at any one time. 

I also have Niagara Meats and Produce close to me. I  buy whatever is in season there if the price is better than Aldi or Walmart. 

Another way we save is to eat the proper portion of  proteins. No one needs more than 3-4 ounces of meat at a meal. We also eat a lot of bean dishes. I buy huge bags of  black beans and northern beans because we use them a lot, I cook up big batches in our slow cooker and freeze them in the portions we use for a meal. Don’t buy the cans unless you can get them for pennies. They are so expensive compared to uncooked beans. When we buy meat, if we are not buying at rock bottom in bulk, I look for reduced for quick sale meat. As long as the sell by date is today or tomorrow, it is okay to buy it. Either cook it that day or freeze it for future use. Your stores may offer this more than mine do. I now rarely find reduced meat.

I always shop with a grocery list that I have made at home after I have checked my pantries and freezers to see what I can use that week. Don’t go into the store and just throw things in your cart that look good!  You will spend a fortune and then get home and find out you are missing an ingredient for a meal. I stick to my grocery list most weeks. I rarely buy impulse purchases.

I try to buy as little junk food as possible. It isn’t easy because Hubby likes his junk food. But I have a limit on how many bags I will buy a month.

I also buy store brands as much as possible. I find a lot of them are as good as name brands and they are usually made by the same name brand company. Aldi’s store brand of mayonaise, Burman’s, is Hellman’s. My husband has been eating Hellman’s since he was a kid. He always knows when I don’t buy Hellman’s. He has been eating Burman’s for over a year and doesn’t even realize it. 

I try to not overbuy produce. This keeps our food waste down. We also do our best to eat all of our leftovers. We either eat them for lunch, have a “smorgasbord night  to use them us up, incorporate them into another meal, or freeze them for a future meal or to make soup. Every week, I check my produce to see what can be used up for lunch or dinner. 

I like to make meals that give us at least two dinners. It takes up less of our time that can be used for other money saving pursuits. It also saves us money when we can cook once and eat twice. Heating in the microwave saves us money over using our stove twice. Our second night dinner of Hubby’s homemade chili is pictured above. He just needs to nuke it and make some rice in the rice cooker.

Shop alone! This one is a biggie. The more family members you have with you, the more you will spend. I leave Hubby home 99.% of the time because if bring him, he loads the cart with whatever looks good to him that day. In all of the years we have been married, I only sent him to the market when I got my knee replacements and I sent him with a list and specific coupons. He still came home with extras. So for the rest of my recouperation, I had my groceries delivered. It was much cheaper!

I have written this for the Jones and Noreen and Bruce. A lot of you have seen these suggestions over the years from all of my blogs. But it never hurts to see a reminder.

What do you do to cut food costs?

Every Day

Meal Planning

I never meal planned. I would just look in the pantry or freezer and determine what meat I would cook that night and add sides to it.

But in the past 30 years, I have come to enjoy meal planning. I do it on Saturday night for the following week. Before I even think about a meal, I check my calendar to see what appointments we have for the week and when. Then I plan my meals around those things. For example, I had a long dentist appointment yesterday and a long day out of the house so we went out to dinner. We hadn’t been out in well over a month so it was a treat. When I had kids at home, we planned meals around their activities. They played sports in junior high and high school so my crock pot got used a lot.

On Saturday night, I ask Hubby if there is anything special that he would like to eat this coming week. Sometimes, he will make a suggestion and sometimes he won’t.

Then I come up with 6-7 meals for dinners that I will make during the week. Each week I try to have at least one meatless meal. Because I knew we were going out to dinner last night, I penciled that in for Tuesday night. Next I checked my pantries, refrigerator, and freezers to see if I had the ingredients for those meals. I had all the ingredients this week so I needed no food at the grocery store to make them. If I did need an ingredient, I would put it on my grocery list. However I did shop for a few things this week. I purchased the liquid dish detergent pictured above at Walmart for $ 5.96(stockpiling for the winter). It is the cheapest dish detergent that we like. So I just buy it and pour it into a smaller bottle.  I also went to Dollar Tree and picked up 6 packages of Jennifer’s Garden Spring Rolls for a $1.00 each. We rarely buy food at Dollar Tree but when I find something we really like, I stock on it. When I saw these a while ago, I purchased one package to try. They are vegetable spring rolls. I deep fry them or air fry them.  They are delicious! My store doesn’t always have them so when I see them I snag a bunch. They will make a nice snack on Sundays during football season. I also picked up 2 lbs. of butter for $ 2.36 each at Aldi’s.

Here is our menu this week:

Sunday – Homemade chicken vegetable soup, crackers with butter
Monday – A repeat of Sunday night
Tuesday – Dinner out
Wednesday – Chicken with Orange Sauce on rice, green beans
Thursday – Hubby’s meat chili on rice, tomatoes, and cucumbers
Friday – A repeat of Thursday night
Saturday – Meatless spaghetti, side salad

I find that meal planning saves us money because our leftovers get eaten and I can work food that needs(think produce) to be used into our meals. We have very little waste in this house.

We always have many choices of breakfast food in the house – cold and hot cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham slices and I make pancakes, waffles, various muffins and quick breads. This week I have been eating a bowl of plain yogurt, fresh blueberries, and granola sprinkled on top for breakfast every day. It’s easy to grab what we feel like eating when we get up.  Lunches are usually sandwiches, peanut butter on English muffins, salads, fruit, cheese and crackers or leftovers. Sometimes we even skip lunch if we know that we are having a heavier meal like stew for dinner.

So if you haven’t tried to meal plan at least your dinners, give it a try. It only takes a few minutes to do. We save money not running for takeout or going out to dinner two or three nights a week because I forgot to thaw something or I don’t know what to make. I keep my menu on the side of the fridge so we always know what we are having that day.

Every Day

Stretching Every Dollar

The couples that I am mentoring want to stretch every dollar that they can. Noreen and Bruce want to get themselves out of debt and financially fit. The Jones want to save for their dream house. Both of them can do it with some restraint on their spending and with cutting expenses. However Noreen really needs to get a job so that they can get rid of the debt. She has been looking for a few weeks. She was called in for a second interview for a job last Friday. I am hoping she hears back soon.

Noreen and Mrs. Jones are both doing the grocery challenge. Noreen only spent $22. last week. They pretty much ate from her pantry. Mrs. Jones spent $31. which is on target to be below her monthly budget.

I didn’t think that Mrs. Jones could lower her budget. But she was not signed up for any of the grocery rebate programs like Fetch, Ibotta, Checkout 51, Saving Star, etc. So she has done that and is checking her grocery list before she goes shopping to see if any of the things she needs are offering rebates on those sites. Noreen already belongs to all of those sites. But she has resolved to checking them with her list before she goes grocery shopping. She had not been doing that very often.

Right now if you join Fetch Rewards 
and use my Referral Code of JQ5QH, you get 3000 reward points as do I. This is good through tomorrow night.

Using rebate sites, doing wine and beer rebates, saving bottle deposits, credit card reward rebates, and Ebates, I have managed to accumulate in cash and gift cards a total of $1108. that I have saved toward Christmas gifts and other associated costs. It has been well worth my time and effort.

Both couples have resolved not to buy packaged or prepared foods and to make their food from scratch. I have talked at length with Noreen about how she can do that when and if she is working. She will use her crock pot and pressure cooker to cook up their meals for the week on Sundays. She will also make double batches of entrees to freeze so that she can have a meal ready when she is rushed. I relied heavily on both of these things when I worked. My Sunday afternoons were spent cooking. It made the whole week of meals so easy. 

Both couples are going to skip eating out and getting takeout at least for the month of September and see how that goes. It will free up some money to pay off debt for Noreen and Bruce and to save in their house fund for the Jones. They have both resolved to do that and not spend it on anything else.  

I think they are off to a great start! 

Today is my grocery shopping day so I am off to do that as soon as I eat brunch. I have made myself a scrambled egg, sausage, cheese, and salsa wrap using ingredients leftover from breakfast yesterday.