Monday, January 31, 2011

January Savings

This was my first month using the Savings Tracker. Finally I kept up with my coupon usage. For the month of January I save $79.67 by using coupons. I spent $259.66 on groceries, health & beauty, and personal care. This was slightly higher due to stocking up on things. I hope February will be better spending-wise.

Here are two of my best shopping trips which happen to be from last week. At CVS I bought three hair accessory packs (for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes), two cans of apple pie filling, and two packages of chocolate covered cranberries. My total out of pocket spending was $2.09.

Second was my grocery shopping trip. I got 3 pounds of onions, eggs, two bananas, grapes, peanut butter, and 2 bottles of coleslaw dressing. My total out of pocket was $4.92. I got a coupon for free eggs when I scanned my savings card. Otherwise I would not have gotten them as our chickens are laying well now.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

My car ended up needing only a few parts to get it up and running. I was asked to work again this week and ended up working two days. That compressed all of my other plans into one day. It also affected my menu plan. As a result you will see many of the same meals from last week on this week's plan.

Pizza & salad
Pork tenderloin, macaroni & cheese, peas
Cheeseburgers & fries
Turkey pot pie
Breakfast for supper
Pork fried rice
Sandwiches & chips
Tortellini with Alfredo sauce, salad, garlic bread

This week I am definitely sharing the bread and yogurt I made. I am hoping that this week will be more normal so I can get back on track with my usual life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reading - A 2011 Goal

I have always been a big reader. Every summer I won the library contest for most books read. I actually saw the former librarian a few years ago in a store and she recognized me. I obviously have not changed much and spent many hours in the library. I attribute my love of reading to two things. First I am an only child. Reading opened a limitless world to me. Second I grew up in a family of readers and had parents who took me to the library.

Of course with a love of reading comes a love of books. I no longer frequent the library as my reading tastes have outgrown my small town library. I also just love seeing my own shelves piled with books. I had a designated space but my books long since surpassed that. One of my 2011 goals is to read these books and free up some shelf space.

Normally when I go to choose a book, I stand in my craft room where my bookshelves are and stare for a bit. The options are a bit overwhelming. *No pictures as the room is atrocious and embarrassing, but that is part of a separate goal.* To remedy that and make more progress, I picked a shelf and have started reading. The books are mixed enough that I am finding variety. Since I am reading from one area, I am also seeing progress.

Some books are too good to let go. I did not start this expecting to completely clear out all of my books. Although I know I will pass on many. Some are swapped via PaperBack Swap or Title Trader. Others get passed on to friends or family. The rest are donated to a local store that has a free bookshelf.

I recently finished reading Stupid History. It was a collection of short paragraphs on different historical misconceptions. It was interesting and good for short spurts of reading time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Gosh where did last week go. I ended up working one day which completely threw off my entire schedule. After being mostly a housewife for the past 9 years, it is sad that one day in the "normal" world caused so much chaos in my country home.

Meals this week are a rough plan again. Here are my ideas:

Pizza (a Monday staple in my home)
Pork tenderloin, macaroni & cheese, peas
Breakfast for supper
Pork fried rice
Turkey pot pie
cheeseburgers & fries
Brunswick stew

Our date night meal is up in the air. I also have other cooking adventures planned this week. I need to make the big pot of Brunswick stew which was put off from last week. Much of that will go in the freezer. I want to try a bread recipe I discovered on a friend's blog and also give making yogurt another try. I will post more about those adventures later in the week.

I have tried to plan meals that I knew I could make from ingredients on hand. Car issues might prevent me from going into town this week. If that happens, tacos would be put off. A little digging would give me a substitute meal I am sure.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Inexpensive Date Night

My menu plan went out the window this week as cold weather set in and I was asked to work at a local technical college. Thanks to the crazy schedules my husband and I barely saw each other. I was determined we would have dinner and a movie last night. I also wanted to do it on a budget.

Each pay period I purchase two used DVDs from our list of movies we want to see. I can usually find them at a better deal than renting especially since we would need to drive about 30 minutes into town one way to rent a movie. This week's movie was Killers, which was better than we expected.

The meal was the steak dinner from the menu plan. I estimated it cost us $6.50 for both of us. Here is the breakdown:
salads from half a bag of salad mix - $1
twice baked potatoes using two potatoes and a bit of cheese - $1.50
New York strip steaks (from freezer) - $4
homemade crescent rolls (from freezer & leftover from the holidays) - $0

It was a nice evening at home. I am hoping to plan a special meal each Friday night and make this a regular event. If we had gone out, the cost would obviously have been much higher. I expect see a new release movie in the theater would have cost $24 (no snacks), and the meal would have been at least $30 for the pair of us. That would fund a month's worth of date nights at home.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We stuck to the planned menu for the most part last week. I think this week rather than going by day I will divide it by dinner (lunch for those not in the south) and supper.

ham, tomatoes & rice, peas
cheese ravioli w/ tomato sauce, salad, garlic bread
pork tenderloin, macaroni & cheese, vegetables

Pizza & salad
steak, baked potatoes, salad, & rolls
Breakfast for supper: waffles/pancakes, scrambled eggs, & bacon (not eaten last week)
Turkey pot pie
French dip sandwiches & chips
pork fried rice

I expect this week more than last will have some changes. I need to dig around in the freezer and pantry more to see what needs to be used. Menus are merely suggestions in my house and subject to change. A plan of any sort is better than no plan at all!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Just Ducky

A neighbor has four ducks that live in a pen with some of my father's goats. These ducks are very spoiled. When you feed the goats, you must also feed the ducks. They love corn and will eat it from a bucket. They will also walk right up and the corn straight out of our hands.

When they have eaten their fill, the waddle right back to the pond for an evening swim. That is after the photo-op, of course.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Free Savings Tracker

Every year I have all these good intentions of keeping track of how much money I save by shopping sales and using coupons. Sadly I have never made it past January. My system is too flawed for me to keep up with for more than a few weeks. That is all going to change.

This year I am using a savings tracker provided by The Coupon Project. You can follow that link to download your own copy. I have used it to add two receipts and am in love! It is easy to use. I downloaded the Excel version, but it is also available in Google Docs. I am determined to enter my receipts after each shopping trip. That will allow me to quickly see how much I have spent, how much I saved from sale prices and coupons, and also see how much of my grocery budget is left.

A big thank you to Angela of The Coupon Project for this great tool!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It has been several months since I planned weekly menus. This was one of my 2011 goals. I also decided to start January with a pantry/freezer challenge. I am sure I will shop some throughout the month, but I want to focus on using up what we have on hand.

Pizza and salad: Pizza is our normal Monday night meal. I am including a salad to make it healthier.

Lunch - Roast with gravy, mashed potatoes, butterbeans, rolls
Supper - chicken & cheese quesadillas

Lunch - chicken wings, potato salad, green beans
Supper - shrimp, baked French fries, salad

Lunch - Black beans and rice, cornbread
Dinner - Breakfast for Supper: Waffles/pancakes and bacon

Lunch - garlic lime chicken, parmesan noodles, peas, rolls
Dinner - cheeseburgers

Turkey pot pie: the filling is in the freezer so I will just need to make up the pie crusts

Leftover night: I am trying to use this night as a time to eat up the leftovers. I am going to test it for a few weeks and see how it goes

Extras: We are not big dessert eaters, but I do have some apples in the fridge. A French apple tart is in the weekly plan. We also have an abundance of eggs thanks to several chickens that have started laying. I will likely be eating scrambled eggs for breakfast and may add deviled eggs to one day's menu.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

A new year always feels like a new start. I like to mail goals rather than resolutions. Some of my goals are long term. I also have smaller goals. One of my goals is to blog more. I am starting with a goal of blogging at least three times per week. I will be sharing more of my January goals as the month continues. I hope all of you are having a great start to 2011!