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2024 Restaurant and Take Out Budget

This is an area that we struggle with. Some years we rarely get take out food. Others we get it about 6 times a year. If we do get take out it is usually submarine sandwiches or wraps, Panera Take Two, fish fries, Arby’s, or KFC. These take out purchases occur when I am either sick or just plain worn out. Most meals are cooked in our home. It is so much cheaper to cook at home and tastier too.

This year I will try out the KFC copycat recipe that is here: https://easychickenrecipes.com/copycat-kentucky-fried-chicken/ .

I can make up this recipe ahead, freeze the chicken, and then quickly reheat it when I know that I am not up to cooking.

The fish fries this year have not been as good as other years and they have gotten much costlier. So now that it looks like I can get haddock at around $9. a lb. , I will make our own. Hubby has a great homemade recipe that he uses when we have haddock.

The rest we will get take out for.

Restaurants we only go to a couple of times a year and for the most part it is Russell’s which is one of the best steakhouses in our area. It is very costly but we love the food. It is the best prime meat that I have ever tasted and the service is top notch. It is worth every dollar that we pay. Once in a while, we take family with us. We have some gift certificates that were given to us by our son and DIL for Christmas so that will help defray the cost this year. We always go there for our anniversary. Their menu is here:

https://www.russellssteaks.com/menu

Sometimes, we go to a small family owned restaurant in town but that is usually it. We are not big on chain restaurants.

We have decided to set our eating away from home budget at $750. this year.

If you want to save money this year to build an emergency fund or some other goal, this is an area that most people could easily cut. Even with inflation so high, restaurant parking lots seem to always be full. Many would be shocked at what they spend in this category if they tracked every dollar.

Feel free to share in the comments.

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Bonus Post Today: One Of My Goals in 2024

Besides the big goal that we are saving for in 2024, I have another one that I have always wanted to do. Since I do most of our shopping whether it be online or at a physical store, grocery store, drug store, restaurant, or take out, etc., I am never going to pay full price for anything in 2024.

If I can’t buy it on sale, on clearance, with a coupon, or a gift card that I already have or is free to me, points that I have earned for gasoline, or on Amazon, etc., I will not buy it.

Exceptions would be a car repair or maintenance or a home repair or maintenance. We also have a home garden to finish up. The landscape company will do our spring clean up which is too much for us to do. I doubt that we will get a deal on that. Prescriptions, dental or healthcare is excluded also. Basic everyday bills that we pay are also excluded. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t try to negotiate them.

This totally goes along with my goal to spend as little as possible in 2024. I would like this year to be our best savings year ever. It will be hard since so many things have gone up in price and things like healthcare are going up January 1st. It seems like everything is going up. Soon my car and homeowners policy will show up in our mailbox and I expect that will really increase. And I am sure that the town will up our assessment again. But we are going to try our very best!

Anyone set any goals for yourself for 2024?

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Merry Christmas To All

I hope you all have Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. With so much strife in the world today, I think we should remember that this is Jesus’s birthday. Take some time to pray for peace for the world.

For those of you with young children, I hope that it is as magical as I remember it all those years ago.

Enjoy your families and good food today also.

We have company until Saturday. But I will pop in with some short posts on our 2024 budget this week.

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2024 Budget Plan – Cellphone

When we lived in Arizona, my youngest son sent us a cellphone so that he could keep in touch with us. He had a 1 hour and 15 minute commute back and forth to work. He would call us on his commute every day and we would have a nice chat.

When we moved here he offered us a cellphone on his plan and we would be able to text him, call him and use the internet also. He only charged us $ 596. per year which we would pay in advance to him for a year. To be honest, the phone gets more texting use than anything. Hubby has been looking at cheaper plans the past couple of years. We looked at adding a cellphone via Spectrum but heard not so good reviews about their service. So we stayed on his plan.

The other problem was that he lives in a different area code than us so our phone number had that area code.

A couple of weeks ago we switched to Mint Mobile. They had a deal where if you purchased 3 months worth of service at $ 15.00 per month, they would give you 3 months free if you chose automatic renewal which we did. Their service seems to be as good as T Mobile was. So this year, our cellphone service will cost us $ 172.59 including taxes, surcharges, and fees. That is a huge savings of $ 423.41 for the year. Since we owned our own cellphone we did not have to buy one. And the bonus is that we have a cellphone number within our area code. So we have budgeted $200. for the year just in case of a rate increase or jump in taxes or fees.

Any small or large cut that you can make to your budget for the coming year will make a huge difference in how much money you can actually keep in your wallet to save or invest. If you don’t have an emergency fund use that extra savings to build one. The one thing I know for sure is there will always be an emergency when you least expect it. Be prepared!

I will be back posting a bit on our budget for 2024 next week when I get a chance. We have company coming today to exchange gifts and enjoy a charcuterie board that I am making for lunch. Tonight we will be watching the Buffalo Bills game. So I had better get moving!

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2024 Budget Plan – Food

We all have spent a fortune on food the past couple of years. Inflation has caused some items to go up over 60-70%. We have dealt with fresh food that goes bad a few days after we purchase it. We have dealt with a slew of recalls that they tell you to just throw away. That sure is money down the drain. I personally have not thrown a slew of recalls away. That food is too expensive to just throw it away. Take it back to the store or call the manufacturer and insist that they replace it free of charge. Keep an eye on the recall list here: https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts . There are many posted almost every day.

I have dealt with rotten meat and gotten my money back at the store. Don’t let the manufacturer’s of all of these things just pocket your money. I know it takes your time, but do what you have to do to protect your hard earned dollars.

Bottom line is that prices are so high now that I will do whatever needs to be done to not overspend my food budget again. It has been hard to stay below what you think or want to spend. I have gone over it many, many times. I am sure a lot of you have too.

So I have set a monthly budget of $ 534. a month for the two of us in 2024 and that will include any extra meals that we make during the year for our sons’ families or when we have company. This is how we came up with that figure. We went here: https://fns-prod.azureedge.us/sites/default/files/resource-files/Cost_Of_Food_Thrifty_Food_Plan_October_2023.pdf and looked at the thrifty plan for our ages. That gave us a total of $ 502. per month for us. Then we added $ 32. more per month as a little buffer for inflation. Hence the $ 534. per month.

We chose the thrifty plan because these government plans are extremely high. Also we do have some food left in our pantry and freezer that we will be using up in 2024.

We also tend not to waste any food. It is too expensive to not use it and just let it rot. We always use up or freeze leftovers for future meals. Twice a week, I check my refrigerator to see what needs to be used up before it goes bad. Then I make a plan to have those on 1-2 leftover days for brunch or dinner. If I have a lot of lettuce that needs to be used up, I will make tacos, taco salads or serve a side salad with a meal. Every veggie that needs to be used up will go into those salads. This year I am also going to make sure that I am not buying too many fresh vegetables and fruits at one time when I shop. I know how much we use, so one to two weeks worth when I shop is what I will buy.

We eat a lot of eggs so I buy the 60 count box from Walmart. The prices have started escalating again because of the bird flu again so I have been buying and freezing eggs to get ahead of the price increases. I just put one egg in each part of an ice cube tray, freeze them, and put them in a Ziploc bag. That way I can pull out one or two to thaw each time I need them. I try to use them up within 4 months for freshness but you can keep them and they will last a year.

I am not renewing my Instacart which expires this month. I found I didn’t use it enough to make it worth it. B.J.’s is expiring the end of this month too. I will make one more trip there before it does. I only need a couple of things. Then I will wait for 6 months or so (after the winter) and use a coupon to get a membership for $ 20. or $ 25. again. The one delivery service that I use a lot is Walmart+ especially in the winter. It just renewed the beginning of this month. I don’t like driving in snow and ice. In my area, Walmart is the cheapest for most things unless they are on sale at the more expensive grocery stores. They even beat Aldi’s on a lot of items. So I check Walmart online whenever I am planning to buy an item at Aldi’s to check the prices. I do not include my memberships or the driver’s tips in in my food budget. We budget those in a category called the Cost of Food Delivery.

I am also planning on using some sources for food that are farther away from where I live. But they will only be used when things are at rock bottom prices and I have other errands in that direction. I have to make my expenditure of gas worth it.

I could write a lot more but you will see the things I do during the year to save with posts that I put up.

Have you set a budget for 2024 for food?

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2024 Budget Plan -Utilities

We have been working on our 2024 budget plan for a few weeks now. With inflation as high as it is, we have three main categories that are our largest expenditures: Food, Utilities, and Cable TV and Streaming Services. Today, we are going to talk about utilities and how we are planning on lowering them.

This purchase in the picture is our latest attempt to do that. You all know that I have accumulated a lot of small appliances over the years. They are always more energy efficient than using the natural gas stove top and oven. This new oven will replace a number of other small appliances especially my toaster oven, air fryer oven, and rotisserie. So besides saving energy, it frees up my cluttered counter space. And as we are trying to live a simpler life, this will definitely benefit us. Sometimes, you just have to spend money to save money.

It air fries because it is a convection oven so things cook faster. It broils and bakes. I cooked our homemade pizza for dinner last night in the air fryer rack which you see in the top of the oven part. It not only got done quicker than in the regular oven or toaster oven but the crust was nice and crispy. It will also do a 16 inch frozen convenience pizza. What really amazed me is that it took only 1/2 the time to preheat than my large oven does. I know that makes sense but when we were weighing the pros and cons for buying this, I didn’t think about that.

I could get a small piece of meat or a small casserole in my toaster oven but I could not cook a large roast or small turkey or whole chicken in it. I can get two chickens at a time done in it and cook up to a 15 lb. ham. A 12 x 15 casserole dish will fit in it. Eleven of the cooking functions are preset to make it easy for me: air fry, slow cook, bake, toast, broil, roast, warm, turbo convection, wings, pizza, and grill. This will replace my indoor grill also.

We have looked at this appliance for over 6 months now. It was not a hasty purchase. When I was looking at it back then, it cost more than I paid for it when I ordered it. Plus the only color I could find at that price was red. Not in my kitchen because I have mostly stainless steel appliances. So when Hubby saw it was on sale for less than when we looked before and they had the stainless steel, we pulled the trigger and ordered it. And I know I will not regret this purchase.

I believe I will never have to turn on the big oven again except for a very large turkey. I also think we are going to save much more money in the long run than we spent to buy this which was $ 219.98 + tax. Hubby and I don’t exchange gifts for Christmas because we buy what we need when we need it. But we are calling this our early Christmas gift. The best part is Hubby unboxed it and washed all of the pans and trays and the inside and outside of the oven. That was a bonus for me! So it is now in full use.

I am not going to show you all the ways again that we try to save on our natural gas and electric bill because I have done that many times on here. Just search the tags for saving on utilities or natural gas or electric.

Bottom line, we will do our very best to save on our energy bills even though we have had a rate increase and an increase of $ 2.00 each for our electric meter and gas meter. Winter bills are very high here because we live in a very cold and snowy climate.

We spent $ 2145.60 in 2023 for our natural gas and electric bill . We are allotting $ 2250.00 in our budget for 2024 but hoping to spend less than that with all of the things we do to decrease it. That works out to $ 187.50 per month.

There will be a number of posts over the next 16 days showing you what we are doing with our 2024 budget. They will all be titled 2024 Budget Plan.

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Frugal Things The Past Few Days

These are the frugal things we did recently:

  • Purchased a ham on sale for $ 1.49 a lb. at Tops
  • Purchased a rib eye roast for $ 9.99 a lb. which is one of the cheapest prices I have seen in a long time. Aldi’s had tenderloins on sale for $7.99 a lb. but they did not have any. The cashier told me that they were gone right after the doors opened this morning. They only had a few. I did not feel like making another trip this week to see if they get them in. The rib eye will be for the holidays and the ham we will be used over the winter. Both pieces of meat will get stretched as far as I can stretch them after the holiday making soups and casseroles from leftovers.
  • Purchased bra hooks and eye replacements to mend 3 bras. The bras are otherwise in good shape. I did not want to spend $40. each to replace them. The hooks and eyes only cost me $ 6.70+ tax because I used $ 6.00 in gift cards to help pay for them.
  • Hubby told me he needed underpants. Instead of going out to buy them at outrageous prices at J.C.Penney’s, I grabbed a package that I had put in our stash of underwear for him that I purchased there before the prices started to go up. I paid $19.99 for 6 pair. The same pack right now costs $34.00. It always pays to buy ahead especially with inflation.
  • Mended a sweater.
  • Hemmed two pairs of jeans.
  • We have made easy dinner meals: soup and an English Muffin with butter, Parmesan coated chicken with macaroni and cheese( 2 meals), cheeseburgers and French fries and a pizza.
  • We did treat ourselves to take out lunch from Panera Bread on a day that I was running a slew of errands. We each got a Pick Two and I paid with one of the gift cards that I purchased 4 years ago. I now have only $ 8.96 left on those cards. So I decided to purchase 1 $ 50. Panera gift card at Top’s with a Christmas bonus point that gave me $ 10. off of it. That will probably last us a year or more. I mainly use it for the bagel deal on Tuesdays when Hubby has a craving for them.
  • My son and grandson came for breakfast and we played rummy for a couple of hours afterward which is cheap entertain. I love rummy!
  • I ended up buying one more Christmas gift which I got on sale for 37% off.
  • I am changing over to Mint Mobile for our cellphone. I got a deal for $15. per month for the next three months and then 3 months free. Then I will revert to the $15. a month plan for the future. I was paying my son $ 596. a year for our phone on this account so this will save us a lot of money. We really only use the cellphone for emergencies and calling or texting family.
  • Hubby and I have both used our dental plan recently which pays for our cleanings and X rays. We also brought home a big bag of dental goodies. It is always nice to get these items free.
  • I uploaded my receipts to Fetch which gave me 1500 points for a Rite Aid receipt plus other points from grocery trips.
  • I am working on our 2024 budget which I will be sharing with you in future posts.
  • I made and baked a cherry pie. Those cherries from the tree in our yard that we froze taste so good in autumn and winter.
  • I have only done 1 load of wash this week using homemade detergent in cold water and hanging it to dry.
  • The Medicare hospital bill that they denied has been taken care of. The woman there told me they made a mistake and the correction had been made. She sent me copies of all of the paperwork. That saved me thousands of dollars.
  • I delivered 3 Christmas cards to my neighbors after the mail came today. I usually mail them but most of them haven’t since we lived here. They just put it in the mailbox. So this year I decided to save the $ 1.98 and just put them in their mailboxes.. BTW, get your stamps soon because they are going up to $ .68 each from $ .66 each on January 21, 2024. I will be getting a roll of 100. We seem to be able to make them last for 2 years or more.
  • My son and DIL are not going to have their usual Christmas fondue on Christmas Day. They are going to have it the weekend after New Year’s. So they will be coming out the weekend before Christmas so that we can all exchange gifts. So I picked up a whole bunch of meats, cheeses, and beef jerky to make a charcuterie board for us all to munch on. I will add black olives, stuffed olives, and nuts along with some pork rinds for crunch. The meats and cheeses are on sale this week at Aldi’s for great prices.
  • We continue to keep our heat at 64 at night and 71 during the day. When there is a sunny day, I open the shades and blinds when the sun is on them and close them when it is not.

That is it for now. As I stated I will be posting about our 2024 budget by the end of the week. It is going to be very tight because we are saving money for something that is very important to us in 2024. One post will then turn into many.

Please feel free to leave a comment and share with all of us what you have been doing to be frugal.

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Use What You Have And Don’t Waste Money

There is nothing I love more than using recipes from old cookbooks. This recipe is from The Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Cookbook published in 1962. My sister-in law gave me the book for a bridal shower gift. This is not my original copy. Mine fell apart from using it all the time. When we moved here, I figured someone out here in Buffalo would have a copy they were selling and sure enough I found this one. It is in much better shape than mine was although the binding is coming apart. So I may take it to get it rebound. That is how much I love this book. We have used many, many recipes from it. I think the reason is because most of the recipes use simple ingredients, are easy to put together, and taste so good.

So tonight, we are having this dish. But for the first time, I am not following it exactly. I am not going to bake it at 300 degrees for 3 hours. I am going to cook it in the crock pot to save energy. But I will use the electric skillet to brown it and then transfer it all to the crock pot and add the other ingredients.

I did not have a round roast in my freezer so I thawed a chuck roast which I will cut into pieces. I always have flour, salt, and pepper. Since we eat a lot of bacon, I save my bacon drippings to cook with so we have those. The only other ingredient that I will substitute is the cooking sherry. I don’t have it but I do have red cooking wine.

We will see how this comes out. If it doesn’t taste as good as when I roast it in the oven, I will try to cook it in the toaster oven next time.

My mouth is watering just thinking about serving this on rice for dinner. I will try to remember to take a picture when we eat it and show it to you in another blog post. We should be able to have this for at least two meals.

I try to use what I have when I cook all of the time. I don’t always have all the ingredients so I substitute. I definitely don’t run out to the store for a couple of ingredients and waste time and gasoline. If I have a substitute on the shelf, I would much rather use that than spend money on the proper ingredient.

When I was a kid, my grandmother was the cook in our home. She made a roast almost every Sunday. Usually it was a roast beef or a pork loin with whatever vegetables she had on hand at the time. I never really learned how to cook from her but I do remember her using up all of the food. She and my grandfather had a young family during the Great Depression and they never wasted anything. She knew how to stretch a roast into other recipes like beef stew, or beef or pork chop suey, etc. Nothing ever went to waste! So over the years, I have done what she did. I try never to waste a bit of food and to serve the proper portions. For a meal, we would be served a small piece of meat, a small piece of potato and a couple of spoonfuls of whatever vegetable was in season. There were rarely seconds.

We also rarely had any kind of treat. A quart of soda that my Mom would buy would last at least a week for her, my sister, and I. And she would not buy it every week. Once in a while, she would make a dip(Catalina dressing mixed with cream cheese) to go with a bag of potato chips or make popcorn on the stove. We sometimes would share an apple or an orange. And ice cream was a treat that I looked forward to but that didn’t happen often either.

There wasn’t a lot of money when I grew up, but there was always food made and served with a lot of love. The difference between then and now is remarkable. 99% of our food was made from scratch back then, most people weren’t fat, and people really knew the value of a dollar. Today we have an obesity problem, convenience food is the norm, and people waste food and money without even giving it a second thought even going so far as to put food and their wants on a credit card that they can’t pay off each month. If you have to put food on a credit card, go to a food bank. Quit buying wants!

Because of this we have a credit crisis in this country today. Both our government and so many people are collapsing our economy by their frivolous use of credit. Most people didn’t have credit back when I grew up. If they wanted something, they saved cash for it. We would be so much better off if we lived like our ancestors and saved cash for our needs and our wants. Don’t use your credit cards unless you can pay that bill off each month.

Our government tells us everyday that things are just fine. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. Things are not fine. Our government is trillions of dollars in debt that we have to borrow from countries that don’t like us. China has started to sell the debt that they bought from us. China, Russia, India and some other countries are no longer using the dollar to buy things. The value of our dollar is going down every day. Soon it will be so inflated that we will be paying $10. for a loaf of bread(not me, I will be baking my own) or $ 15. for a gallon of gasoline.

Please don’t waste food or your money because bad times are coming. I don’t believe that we have seen the worst yet. I follow a person who has dealt in commodities for many, many years, and he is predicting a bad recession globally by 2025 which will go into a depression that could last 7 years or longer. He believes it will start around April of 2024 when the stock market will crash. At first I took his word cautiously but I am seeing more and more bank CEO’s warning us and many economists too.

So I will take them at their word and you should too. I have no debt but if you do, get it paid off as fast as you can especially your home. During the great depression, many people not only lost their money but they lost their homes. I have been beating this drum for years but I don’t know how many people have listened and it is just scary for me knowing that this will happen to people.

The only other advice I can give you is to stop spending on anything except food and other items that you will need to keep your home and car in good running order. If you can find some room, stock up some food and medicine. Don’t waste any of it. If your furnace or any other appliance needs some repairs do them now. If we do go into a recession or depression these things will become extremely unaffordable.

I apologize for getting somewhat off topic but my heart told me that I need to warn you. If you would like to see the video from the man I follow here it is but I will warn you that it is not for the faint of heart:

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A Little Of This And A Little Of That

I am getting low on meat so I purchased ground round on sale for $4.79 a lb. for a total of $ 30.80 at Niagara Produce. This will give us about 11 meals. Hubby told me the night before that we needed celery because he used up the last of it in turkey salad. So I picked up one while I was there only to find out later that we had a new one already in the other produce drawer. So I cut up one package into pieces and froze it for soups and stews. I also needed two reusable bags at $ .99 each. They are so much bigger than the other bags. Mine seem to disappear when the family is here. I also stopped at Top’s and got a package of their on sale chicken breasts for $ 1.99 a lb.

Today I have a doctor’s appointment so I will stop at Top’s again because they are having a 3 Day Sale with some great loss leaders to get you into the store. I will be getting either a whole or half pork loin depending on what grade it is. They are on sale for $ 1.69 a lb. If it is Select, I will not buy it. If it is Choice, I will. They also have Heluva Good block cheeses for $ 1.99. I will be getting Extra Large Cooked Shrimp for $ 7.77 a lb. too. All of these are terrific prices for us. I will buy nothing but these loss leaders.

Now that all the turkey leftovers from my son are gone, I have been doing quick meals because we have been really busy in our basement going through every storage box and bin and reorganizing things. More on that later. We have had copycat Chick Fil A sandwiches, pizza, and tonight we will have taco salads to use up the rest of the romaine lettuce. Tomorrow night will be fish fries and French fries. Then I think I will make a beef stew in the crock pot for the weekend.

Hubby and I have been really busy in the house getting rid of anything that we are not using by donating it or tossing it. As I have mentioned briefly before, our garbage pickup rules are changing on January 1, 2024. Instead of being able to put out 6 bags or cans of garbage a week, we will have to use just the 1 that we have to buy from our garbage company for $ 65. That extra charge will appear on our property tax bill in January along with the the full year’s cost( about $ 260.) of the garbage pickup. It is the one on wheels that the truck picks up and dumps the garbage. I have to wonder how many garbage people are losing their jobs the end of December because of this. We have been using a recyclable one for a few years. Because of this we are trying to get rid of anything we aren’t using this month while we can still put out 6 cans or bags. Hubby went through the entire office and pitched so many things that were not being used. Now we are working in the basement.

In the spring, this is going to become a real problem because of grass and bush clippings. Hubby has 5-6 bags of clippings per week. This along with the garbage may not all fit in the new can. Hubby has had a conversation with our Town Supervisor about how we had the cans on wheels out in Arizona that were green barrels that you put the bush and tree trimmings out and they picked them up. He informed Hubby that the garbage company did not offer that but he will look into it. Meanwhile he told Hubby that we can buy an extra barrel for another $ 65. and for an additional property tax of $ 33.75 each year of the contract. We are happy that it is an option but we really won’t need it until he starts mowing in the spring. So since we can buy the extra at any time during the year, we will wait until then. In the meantime, we will get a feel for how much this new can will hold. Maybe it will work. We’ll see.

We also learned a valuable lesson this past week. Don’t ever buy from a third party seller at Walmart! We have had two items that we have had to return. The first was flannel sheets that were dirty. The package was taped up like it had been a return and then shipped to us. The second was Cross Pen Refills that we ordered from China. After a very long delay that package came yesterday. Not only was it not even close to what we ordered but our mailman brought it to our door telling us that they had paid some of the postage but there was $ 5.25 in postage due on it. Yikes this was for a $10.99 order that was supposed to be postage paid. Of course I had to pay the postage only to find out later when I opened it that it was not what we ordered. But the worst part of all of this is that when you bring your return back to Walmart, they tell you that they will return it to the seller and the seller will credit you. That will take 15 days or more. I asked if this is a new policy and she said yes. Walmart is no longer giving you the credit when you make the return. Well this stinks! I don’t have high hopes that the China one will be credited and I will just chalk up the postage to lesson learned. I will be very careful from now on to make sure that I am only buying from Walmart or Amazon and not a 3rd party seller.

Well, it is time to get started on my day with making bacon and eggs for breakfast. You all have a great day!

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More Changes As To How We Use Power in Our Home; Part Two

We used to keep two guest bedrooms closed off in the winter time. We would shut the door and close the vents in those rooms and then put cloth snakes in front of them. However, I am not going to do that this year on the advice of my heating people. They tell me that by doing that, it makes our furnace run harder costing us more money. I am willing to test this out for the winter season to see if we use less natural gas.

I had so many clothes, sheets, blankets and comforters to wash this weekend that I used cold water for all but did use my dryer. It would have been too much for me to hang. The comforter took a long time to dry. Today, I can get the two guest beds back together. But since all are done, I am ready for more guests. By doing them one load after the other, It cost less than doing them on different days. The residual heat always helps. I always do full loads.

We use our small appliances most all of the time to cook rather than use our stove top and oven. If I can cook it in the air fryer, I do. Over the winter, we use it for almost all our meats. I haven’t tried hamburgers in it but we do pork chops, lamb chops, chicken and even steaks. I love grilling steaks outside but not in the cold and snow. So Hubby tried filet mignon in the air fryer once a couple of years ago and it was perfect. We now do all of our steaks in it in the cold weather. I will try hamburgers soon. I am just worried about it making a mess on the inside of the air fryer. Do any of you do hamburgers in yours? Is it messy?

Unless, I am cooking for more than the two of us, I now scramble our eggs and cook them in the microwave in a mug. They only take 45 seconds to 1 minute. I always cook our bacon in the microwave also. So it is easy for me to have bacon and eggs for breakfast most mornings. I also use our instant pot for hard boiling eggs each week when we want to switch up how we want them. I can do up to a dozen at a time. I usually do this when I am having eggs delivered that day. I always buy the 60 count from Walmart. The old ones get hard boiled and the new ones get put in the fridge. I cut the flaps off the new box and it fits perfectly on the top shelf of the fridge. It still leaves me room to put the hard boiled ones in front of the raw ones so they get used up first. They get used for meals and snacks.

Our instant pot gets used for lots of soups, stews, one skillet dishes and taco meat. I love to cook up lots of meat for tacos at once and then freeze it into portions. It is then so easy to make taco salad for a meal.

We also use our waffle iron a few times a month. Hubby makes blueberry ones from blueberries that I freeze in August when they are in season. But his best are the apple cinnamon ones. He always makes more than for just one meal. I freeze the extras to pull out when we are in a rush to go out. I have a small waffle iron to make chaffles when I am on Keto.

All of our oatmeal gets cooked in the microwave. On an especially cold day like today, it tastes so good.

I use our bread maker now for all of our breads. I will bake muffins in the toaster oven.

What ever small appliance works, I will use instead of the big appliance.

We no longer use an electric blanket. When we got the adjustable beds and had to buy new linens, I thought about buying new ones but decided that two blankets and flannel sheets on each would work fine and use no electricity.

Our freezer I have to manually defrost. So I try to keep the ice off the walls so that it is more efficient. Three times a year, I defrost it using a blow dryer and a plastic scraper. This saves us the cost of it constantly defrosting if I had a frost free one. I also use a chest freezer rather than an upright for two reasons. It costs less to run and it holds more food per square foot.

We use a storm door on our back door to keep the drafts down. We can not find one that fits our front door but we rarely open that door in the winter.

I never let hot water just run down the sink. I have two sinks so I put a little hot water in one to wash and a little warm water in one to rinse. Anything that can go in the dishwasher does.

Since we upgraded our A/C unit to a more efficient one this year because of a freon leak, our A/C bills were lower. We also will get a tax credit on our income taxes when we do them the beginning of the year. It was a win, win situation.

We always have our furnace checked by a professional just before heating season. If we hadn’t, we would not have known that the motor was failing in the furnace. Hubby replaced it.

We always have a professional check our A/C just before summer. If we hadn’t, we would not have know about the freon leak we had.

I am discussing with Hubby insulating our hot water pipes that run through the unheated basement. We did this ourselves in one of our homes.

We also check for leaky ducts in the duct work. They can be fixed easily using duct tape.

If you have heat registers in the floor like we do, place your furniture so that it doesn’t block them.

Replace your furnace filters about once a month to keep your furnace running efficiently.

We use a programmable thermostat so that it automatically turns the heat down at night and up in the morning.

I open shades and blinds on sunny windows and close them when the sun is no longer on them.

We inspect the seal on our refrigerator once a year to make sure it is tight. We put a flashlight on inside of it. If you can see light outside of the fridge, replace the seal.

Never put hot foods in your refrigerator and open and close the door quickly.

Use cold water when operating your garbage disposal.

I hope these tips help you keep your energy bills down.

If you have any tips that you would like to share, feel free to comment.