Monday, May 25, 2015

Weekly Savings

All of the hard work in the garden is starting to pay off as it is producing well.  This week we harvested squash, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, potatoes, and herbs.

I bought 4 pounds (two 2lb packages) of country style ribs for just 39 cents. The meat was on markdown due to a fast approaching sale by date.  I cooked one package and vacuum sealed the second.

One of my splurges is a coffee subscription for fair trade, shade grown coffee.  My aunt gave me several packages of coffee beans so I have postponed my next coffee delivery.

My foot is finally healing, and I have been able to wear shoes again.  My usual shoes are a bit too tight on the toe and area of the foot that were broken.  My doctor had recommended that I try Crocs.  I searched on eBay and found a pair in my size (women's size 4) for just $8.  They do not look like they were ever worn.  They fit well, are comfy, and are easy to slip on and off.

I spent several evenings reading in the backyard.  Leo loves when I sit out there as he is happy to hang out with me.  It is generally cooler than in the house plus I have plenty of free light to read by.

I used some yarn leftover from other projects to make two small gifts - a hat and a dish scrubbie.

It was a quiet week but often those are the best!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pantry Challenge Update

This week the garden production was in full swing.  I expect that for the next few months I can base meals on what we are harvesting.  Not having to buy produce certainly helps the grocery budget.


Weekend meals (Saturday through Monday) tend to be on our own.  W works a 12 hour shift on these days  With the weather heating up he rarely wants anything heavy and often wants nothing at all.  Normally his weekend supper is cereal.  I eat leftovers.

Tuesday:  We had banana sandwiches with chips for dinner.  Supper was tuna and crackers, cheese, and veggies (carrots and cucumber mainly).

Wednesday:  I baked two loaves of French bread first thing, and we had French bread pizza for lunch.  Supper as usual on Wednesdays was popcorn for movie night.

Thursday:  We had ribs (I got a great deal!), squash, cucumber, and salads.  All of the vegetables were from the garden.

Friday:  I served leftover ribs, a squash/zucchini casserole, salad, and potatoes with a cream sauce.  Once again the veggies were from the garden.  Supper was pancakes using my favorite recipe.  It mixes up nearly as fast as the box mix and tastes so much better.

Now for the spending....

I did end up purchasing a few items this past week.  I bought bananas, lemonade, peaches, fresh corn, buttermilk and 4 pounds of ribs.  I spent a total of $9.52 leaving me $16. 49 for the last week of May.  I am certain that I can stick to that budget next week.  My best deal this past week was the 4 pounds of ribs.  They cost a grand total of $0.39.  That comes out to 10 cents a pound.  They were on markdown with a quick expiration date.  We ate one package and I vacuumed sealed the other.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weekly Savings

I decided this week to take time to write down a couple of money saving things each day.  At the end of the week it is often hard to remember those small things.  It often seems that those small things do not matter but combined they do equal to savings.  I also think the little things put me in a mindset to do the big things.

I used an empty dog food bag as a trash bag.  I had a few things that did not need to sit for long in the kitchen trash can.  I used something I was going to throw away anyway and saved an actual trash bag for later use.

I made my own hummingbird food.  We get piles of hummingbirds in our yard.  Watching them at the feeders is good entertainment.  It is worth the cost/effort of making sugar water.

I spent some time reading a book outside one evening.  It was cooler there than in the house.  No electricity was needed for reading.  Leo was happy to sit beside me in the grass.  He loves to have someone outside with him even if we are not doing anything but sitting.

I decided that the porch needed a bit of color  Most of my plants are ferns or succulents since they tolerate the heat better.  I purchased a vibrant green coleus.  It added a different pop of green, and I can take cuttings to root and get more plants.  I also bought a six pack of portuluca (moss roses) and ended up using them in four different pots.  I put one in each of two hanging baskets.  Two went into a planter with a spider lily, and the final two went into the pot with the coleus.

I burned my arm while making bread - long story, but I am clumsy.  I immediately grabbed some aloe from one of my plants.  The burn is still quite bad but would have been much worse without the aloe.  Aloe plants are very easy to grow and having one in the kitchen is helpful.

I listened to the Essential Oil Revolution presentations for free.  I took my tablet around the house while I cleaned or worked on some craft projects.  I discovered some wonderful new blogs and learned some new things.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pantry Challenge Update

A little over halfway through the pantry challenge, and I hardly feel that I have made a dent in the pantry or freezer.  That is a good sign that I will have no trouble making it to the end of this month at least

Meals first:

As noted last week - Weekend meals (Saturday through Monday) tend to be on our own.  W works a 12 hour shift on these days.  With the weather heating up he rarely wants anything heavy and often wants nothing at all.  Normally his weekend supper is cereal.  I eat leftovers.

Tuesday - I made baked fish with herbs from the garden.  I fixed a Parmesan pasta which is basically cooked spaghetti noodles, Parmesan cheese, a bit of butter, and parsley.  It is similar to the boxed mixes - just as quick but much healthier.  I made slaw with the last of the cabbage.

Wednesday - Big salads - a bowl full of lettuce, chopped tomato, cucumber (from the greenhouse), a bit of cheese, homemade croutons (from the end pieces of bread I made), baked chicken tenders, and homemade ranch dressing.

Thursday - We planned to go out to eat with a couple of W's clients this evening so I planned a simple lunch.  We had turkey sandwiches (cooked turkey from the freezer) on homemade bread with a few chips and pickles.  

Friday - We had leftovers from our meal out.  I added in some potato salad and rolls to finish off the meal.  If W eats a large mid-day meal, he is rarely hungry at night.  I try to have a snack at least.  This night I ate whole wheat crackers with natural peanut butter.

This past week's dessert was lemon bars for my dad's birthday.  He is a big fan of any lemon dessert.  As usual I cut back on the sugar amount called for in the recipe.  I did use fresh lemon juice from lemons I had in the fridge before I started the challenge.

Now for the amount spent.  I bought a 5 pound bag of potatoes, and W picked out a bag of grapefruit to take in his lunch. The sales on fruit were non-existent this past week.  I spent $6.94 for these two items.  I had $32.95 left in my monthly budget.  After this week I have $26.01 left.  I really hope to do no grocery shopping this coming week.  I will have to see what the sales ads have to offer though.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thrifty Thursday - DIY Hummingbird Nectar

One of my favorite things about spring/summer is watching the hummingbirds that visit our yard.  I have used the same hummingbird feeders for years.  I also prefer to make my own nectar.  The recipe is pretty simple.

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar
4 cups water
1 cup sugar

Heat one cup water and add in sugar.  Stir thoroughly until sugar dissolves.  Then add in 3 cups of cold water.  Stir to combine.

I like using a small amount of hot water and mostly cool water.  This means I am not waiting hours for the nectar to cool. I do not use red dye and have no problems attracting hummingbirds.

This time of year I fill the feeders with a fair amount of nectar.  The temperatures are warm but not so hot that the nectar spoils quickly.  As the summer progresses I put less nectar in the feeders.  I store the rest in the refrigerator.  It means that I need to fill them several times a week, but I am not wasting the nectar.

The last tip I have is to keep your feeders clean.  An old toothbrush works great for scrubbing them.  I also like to use pipe cleaners to keep the feeding holes clean.  Pipe cleaners are inexpensive and effective.

W and I enjoy sitting in the yard to watch the hummingbirds.  It is free entertainment in exchange for a bit of food.  Of course you could always grow flowers that attract hummingbirds.  Check out this link for information on the best flowers for hummingbirds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Testing Tuesday - Pineapple Coconut Buttermilk Pie

I found this recipe on One Hundred Dollars a Month and had pinned it.  I had all of the ingredients on hand and decided to make it last week.  The recipe did not state the size of the pie crust.  I used a purchased frozen crust and thought I had bought deep dish ones.  I was a little annoyed to discover that they were regular crusts.  I seriously need to remember to double check and not go by the tag on the shelf.

As usual I made some changes.  I made enough changes this go around that I completely rewrote the recipe.  I omitted an ingredient and adjusted a few others.  If you want to see the original recipe (which is actually an adapted one as well) go here.

Pineapple Coconut Buttermilk Pie (adapted from One Hundred Dollars a Month)

1 frozen deep dish pie crust
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn meal
5 large eggs
1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a whisk combine sugar, corn meal, and eggs in a large bowl.  Add in remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake for 35 minutes or until set and top is lightly browned.  Allow to cool thoroughly and store in the refrigerator.

I ended up making two small pies.  When baked in a deep dish crust, it will be thicker than the one pictured above.  I sent one pie to work with W and took the other to Sunday dinner with my parents.  I was worried that W's co-workers would not like it since I cut the sugar amount by more than half.  He said they loved it so much he only got a tiny sliver of the pie.  Fortunately I had leftovers so he got pie at home.