Monday, March 27, 2017

Grocery Finds and Dinner Menu

Hello, Dearies!

Husband had a really good grocery week.  There were some good sales, some good coupons, and between Ibotta and Checkout 51, he's getting a lot of rebates as well.  This past week, he made money (with sales, coupons, and rebates) on Truvia Nectar, Command Strips, Whole Earth Sweetener, Vitamin Gummies, TicTacs, and V-8 Energy drinks.  The overages on those items help us cover the cost of other groceries.

Free downloads and Ibotta freebies got us some salsa, quite a bit of yogurt, Teddy Grahams Soft Bakes and some Cafe' Creamers.  We also had free donuts (won through the Monopoly game) at Safeway.

Cantaloupes were .98 each, so we purchased one.  We got some onions (.50/lb) and stocked up on a couple of types of crackers - Wheat Thins, Ritz Chips and Good Thins for as little as 25 cents a box.  For less than a quarter each, he picked up 160ct. boxes of Kleenex using store sale, coupons and rebates.  We picked up Kashi bars, Quaker Breakfast Bakes and oats the same way, for about 50 cents a box/package too.  An Ibotta for Hillshire Farms lunch meat got us ham and turkey for $2.75/lb.  We put some of that in the freezer - it's better than average quality, too!  With a sale and coupon, we were able to get 4lb. bags of C&H cane sugar for 49 cents each.  I should be in good shape for jam season.  We also bought Opal apples for .98/lb, Cutie tangerines for 3.88/5lb., lettuce for .80/head, 2lb. bags of carrots for $1 each, and another head of cabbage for .25/lb.  Finally, we got 16 oz. jars of store brand peanut butter for .50/ea.

So...we are well stocked on most everything I can think of.  The fruit and vegetable bins are full, we have plenty of meat, bread, grains, cereals, soups, cheese, peanut butter...the only thing steering our menu is making sure we don't waste any fresh produce. is this week's dinner plan:

M - tuna salad sandwiches (tuna salad on green salad for me), cucumber kimchee, ritz chips, pickles, oranges

T - macaroni & cheese, seasoned butter beans, green beans, apples

W - chicken & cranberry salad w/lemon poppy seed dressing , oranges

R - marinated, grilled pork chops, slaw, sweet corn, cantaloupe

F - minestrone soup, cheese & crackers, apples

S - meat loaf, seasoned new potatoes, garden salad, peach cobbler

S - chicken (nugget - hee hee!) parmesan, spaghetti w/marinara, green beans, peach cobbler

That's the plan from our place - what's for supper at your home this week?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

This Week's Frugals!

I listed and sold a few more things from the basement, and I started on the measured drawings of the intended basement finish.  Our regional building department allows for homeowner-drawn plans, which saves me a lot over hiring someone to do it (and trying to explain what we want and how we want it).  The lines are not as faint as they appear here, and it is still a work in progress.

I gave Husband a haircut.

I gave Daughter a haircut.

I stocked my desk at work with some of the things Husband has gotten free or low-cost recently.  Now I have some Shout Wipes, Vitamin C gummies, Trident Gum and TicTacs, should I (or a co-worker) need any of those things at work.

We went for a day trip to the Sand Dunes National Monument.

From the dunes:

Early butterflies were flitting about!

The dunes are just beautiful....

...even from the hiking trails.

The creek is just beginning to flow.  The water is all snowmelt, and very cold!

While we were at the sand dunes, we rented a sand sled and had a lot of fun.  I didn't have the camera along for that part, to protect the camera.  Daughter fell off the sand sled and found 56 cents on the side of a dune!

Two days after the above photos were taken, we had a blizzard, resulting in a snow day at home.  The weather here is not terribly predictable!

We enjoyed the day of hiking and play, and also stopped off at some land we own in the vicinity.  We took photos in preparation for listing the land to sell.  If you're in need of 5 acres of beautiful solitude, let me know!  We can help you out.

Our land down south:

We have Pinon Pine and Sagebrush...

...expansive views...

...a beautiful view of Mt. Blanca...

...and some nice secluded areas.

Pinon pine is the one that gives us pine nuts!

There are some yucca here and there...

...and the Sagebrush smells fantastic!

Many of the seeds I re-planted have sprouted.  I have a couple of things that just don't seem to be doing well, so I borrowed fresher seed from the seed library that is housed inside our community library.

We borrowed books and media from the library as well.  I had started a book series that several co-workers recommended to me.  I liked the first book, but really disliked the second one.  I'm glad I waited and got them at the library, rather than purchasing them.

Kohls sent me a post card for $10 off any purchase of $10 or more.  I got a set of portion containers for meals, completely free.  I've had my eye on something like this (but more expensive) for a while, and I'm giving them a try this week.  If you think that these are pretty much just measuring cups, you're be right, but the containers do come in handy for putting meals together, and they have lids.  While I'm not following this strictly at this time, it's helping me see where I need more of some components, less of others.

I did a little mixing and matching in my closet this week.  See...every Sunday, I put together my work outfits for the week.  It saves me a lot of time and stress.  I want to maximize what I have and use things in different combinations, so I've been looking at new ways to assemble various separates.  I 'discovered' a couple of new outfits this week that I really like, and didn't spend a penny.

I made some lovely chicken stock from the frame of a chicken we ate (well, we ate some, and froze some for nest week's meal plan).

How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more and make do?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dinner Menu and Grocery Deals!

There were some really good deals this week on Whole Earth sweetener, Trident gum, Equal Cafe'creamer, Truvia Nectar, Hillshire Farm Deli Meat, Quaker Breakfast Squares and Breakfast Flats, Real Medleys Oatmeal, Ritz Thins, Crunch Master Crackers and Stainmaster carpet cleaner.  Husband has had a few moneymakers this week, including Nutella, Tic Tacs, V-8 energy drinks, Teddy Grahams, and some gummy vitamins.  With St. Patrick's Day, he was able to get cabbage for .25/lb, red skinned potatoes for .45/lb and corned beef for $1.55/lb.  Cuties were $3.88 for 5lb, lettuce was .80/head and canned soups were .50/can after sales and coupons.  

This week is week 1 of Spring Break for us - I'm taking a day off mid-week and we have a little outing planned, complete with dinner out.  Here is our supper menu for the week:

M:  egg roll in a bowl, apples
T:  rotisserie chicken, green beans, sweet corn, oranges
W:  dinner out
R:  vegetable soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, apples
F:  tacos, side salad, oranges
S:  black bean burgers, fries, apples
S:  grilled steak w/grilled peppers and onions, roasted potatoes, oranges

What's cookin' at your place this week?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Weekly Frugal

We borrowed books and media from the library, and I downloaded 5 free songs through Freegal - a service our library offers to its patrons.  I'm reading a novel, Husband and I are watching a tv series, and Daughter is reading all sorts of things.

We did a fair amount of scratch cooking this week - Husband made & prepped all the components for taco salad, as well as a pot of chili.  We also made barbecue chicken pizza.  It was a yummy week!  I made Irish Soda Bread (I can't believe I didn't take a photo!), and took some of it to work for our staff meeting.  I also made some pumpkin soup from a pumpkin that was given to me, home-canned chicken stock, honey that was given to me for harvesting for a gentleman who couldn't harvest his hives that season, a few herbs from my kitchen and some heavy cream I bought on markdown.  The soup was alright, but I'm still looking for a favorite recipe - please let me know if you have one.

I collected my final prize from the library's adult reading program - a coffee mug.  It's a nice one!

The weather was nice enough to hang laundry out on the clothes lines.

We went to the bread outlet and picked up three loaves of wheat bread and two packages of bagels for $5.75.

We supplemented dog food and chicken feed with scraps from our kitchen.

In preparation for finishing the basement, we are going through our stuff.  I listed groupings of childrens books - a lot of dinosaur books, a set of picturepedias, a lot of books on manners and morals, etc...and sold all but four books!  I plan to do some listings like this each week for a while, just to pare down the items we'll be storing in our garage.

The goal is that everything we're saving from the basement (which includes a couch, a large work table we use for sewing, crafts and other projects, books and bookshelves, canning supplies, etc.) will fit in our garage while we are doing the finish work.  We would rather store in the garage than rent a 'pod' or other space for storage.  This will save us some money, and I think it will keep us on track too, because it will be really annoying to have the garage taken up with these things, hee hee.

We signed up for some freebies that Safeway offered us on the loyalty card.  We've been picking some of our free items from the Monopoly game here and there - this week we got facial tissues and hummus.  He also combined sales and a discount to get some corned beef for $1.55/lb.  We were limited to two packages, both of which are in the freezer.  At that price, we would have liked to purchase more, but we're happy for what we were able to get!

We washed the dogs.  They were not enthused, but they got clean, and we did a bit of grooming as well.

Aw.  Poor girl...

I went for walks on my lunch break a couple times this week and listened to music on my phone.

I found a water bottle that I really love.  It was on clearance, which helped a bit with the cost.  I've been drinking more water ever since I started using it.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

This Week's Dinner Menu

As much as I enjoy the later light we get from daylight savings, I must confess that I'm a wee bit groggy this morning.  I hope you did a better job planning your transition than I did.  (I thought we still had a couple weeks...oops.)

Oats were .50/lb at Sprouts this week.  We stocked up on both rolled oats and steel cut.  Grapes were .88/lb, tomatoes .50/lb, and cucumbers 2/$1.  Husband picked up some Pop Chips that ended up being a moneymaker with the Ibotta offer he had, and we were able to get some Quaker Breakfast Flats for .49 a box after sale, coupon and Ibotta rebate.  There were other bargains and other items purchased, but I confess, I'm a bit out of the loop this week.  We had a child sick enough to miss two days of school this week and we were busy this weekend with home projects.  What I do know is that we've got plenty of good things on hand, and our grocery budget is in good shape.  We have two meatless meals again this week, a transition I'm really happy about.  Here is this week's supper menu:

M - saimin (Asian noodle soup) with Spam and vegetables, cherry cobbler
T - chik-n (meatless, made from mushrooms!) chicken nuggets, carrots/celery/cucumbers, steamed broccoli, 3 bean salad
W - taco salad, grapes
R - pumpkin soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, sliced cucumbers, sliced apples
F - barbecue chicken pizza, carrots and celery, sliced apples
S - tuna croquettes, rice, kimchee, slaw, peach crisp
S - chili with rice or macaroni, carrots & celery, peach crisp

What's on the menu at your house this week?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Weekly Frugals

Another week, already?  Was it just me, or did this week fly by?  I hope yours was a good one - here are frugal things we did:

A neighbor who has done some major sorting and de-cluttering called and offered us some plastic storage totes.  We happily took them!  We will use them to store items in our garage while we're finishing the basement.  On that front, we moved some bookshelves out to the garage, and we are going through our books.  The ones we are keeping will go on the garage shelves, and the rest will be sold or donated.

We gave some excess ceramic tile with the same neighbor who gave us the totes.

I bought some of these gladiolas last year at Dollar Tree - there are six bulbs per pack, and they were absolutely beautiful.  I want to expand the bed, so I picked up some more to plant this year.  The ones from last year should return as well.

We borrowed books, games and movies from the library.

I colored my hair at home.  Since I have short hair now, I used my digital scale to weigh out half of each bottle of hair color into a glass bowl.  I stirred it with a couple toothpicks, used just one of the gloves that came with the kit, and I had more than enough product to color my hair.  I'll use the second half (I still have half of everything, includine one glove!) next time.  This wasn't so much about saving money - the whole kit was only $3 - but this way I wasn't wasting half the hair color that I didn't really need yet.

We used our wood stove for heat, burning firewood we picked up free.  Husband has already cut and stacked the truckload of firewood we picked up last week, and he thinks we might have enough for next season already.

When you've got a sweet potato, a couple russets, some pepper,
onion and a carrot, just toss it all together with some oil and spices
and roast it all in the oven.  This was a delicious way to use up
some odds and ends.

We did a fair amount of scratch cooking this week, and Husband made ribs, turkey wings and turkey legs in the smoker.  Husband uses trimmings from our fruit trees for smoking, so it's really affordable.  We had the ribs this week, and wrapped and froze the turkey for future meals.  I made a few things that use 'a little of this, a little of that' to avoid waste, and used some canned fruits and vegetables to stretch our fresh produce a bit.

Marinated 3-bean salad was a great way to stretch fresh produce this week - I added
some cucumber and celery for crunch.  Yum!
A single granny smith apple, a can of fruit cocktail and a few chopped pecans became
5 servings of fruit salad.  The syrup from the fruit cocktail helped sweeten some fruit punch.

Husband combined coupons, sales, and Ibotta/Checkout 51 offers to maximize our grocery dollars.  However...since we keep a fairly substantial pantry in our basement, we are going to dial back on the grocery purchases some.  We need to 'eat down' the pantry somewhat, so we have fewer foodstuffs to store while the basement work is completed.

I (finally!) got some things listed for sale on a local sale page.  Baby steps!

What did you do this week to spend less, save more, and make do?  

Monday, March 6, 2017

This Week's Supper Menu and Grocery Finds!

It's going to be a tasty week!  My sweetie is still getting lots of great deals with Ibotta.  It helps that he can stop at the store after he drops Daughter off at school - the stores where he is getting his deals are right on the way.  This past week he saved on onions and tomatoes (which were also on sale), he got some free Crunchmaster crackers and Twisted Q (barbecue) seasoning, and he was able to get 3 cans of solid albacore tuna for .25 each!

Checkout 51 is looking pretty good too - he got Bush's canned beans for .25 a can, because they were on sale for $1 and Checkout 51 had a offer for .75 off for up to 10 cans (so, yes, we got 10).  There was a good deal on Kleenex too, which he used at Dollar tree to get them for .20 each.  As is true with Ibotta, the Checkout 51 deals tend to work best when the item is also on sale...and if we also have a coupon, all the better!  That's how he got some Hummus Made Easy (the red pepper one is really good) for 12 cents a package and some battered fish that was BOGO, with coupons and Ibotta.  $3 a package isn't a screaming deal, but it is pretty good for here, so we picked some up.  

I used an image for the header this week with yogurt, because there were sales on yogurt, plus Ibotta and Checkout 51 offers, which can be stacked on the same item.  Yogurt is the current go-to for breakfast and snacks, because we are well stocked.  

Apples were .77/lb this week, and with some coupons we had, it turned out that salad-in-a-bag was the best way to go for lettuce this week, at .19 a bag.  We are hoping cabbage will go on sale this week in preparation for St. Patrick's day, but we have plenty of other produce on hand from previous sale cycles - a partial head of romaine, onions, celery, carrots, cucumber, and tomatoes.  I may pick up some zucchini and broccoli before this sale cycle ends. 

OK...I'll hush about the deals now, and share our supper menu plan for the week!  We are slowly nudging ourselves toward a more plant-focused, less meat-focused diet.  Baby steps, for sure, but this week, we have two meatless suppers.  Here is the plan:

M- shrimp tacos, salad, mandarin oranges

T - black bean burgers w/lettuce, tomatoes, etc., tater tots, sliced apples

W - macaroni and cheese, marinated 3 bean salad, sauteed zucchini

R - barbecued ribs, marinated 3 bean salad, sweet corn

F - fish & fries, slaw (if cabbage goes on sale) or carrot & raisin salad

S - meatloaf, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli

S - marinated grilled chicken, steamed rice, kimchee, wakame salad (I brought home dried wakame last time we visted family - I need to use it!)

The ribs are coming from the freezer - Husband got them back when they were on sale.  Same for the ground beef we'll use in the meat loaf and the chicken we'll be grilling.  One of the ways we save on our overall food costs is to buy extra that we have storage space for.  We keep a pantry and we have a small/medium chest freezer.

What's cookin' at your place this week?

Note:  You may have noticed that the mentions of Ibotta are links.  If you use our link to join, we get a little bonus, and you do too.  Thanks.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

This Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I played around a bit on and made some new headers for the blog (see above).  Canva has a lot of free resources (and some they charge for).  If you like to play with graphics, lettering, etc., it is a useful tool that can do a lot of things!  You can also upload your own photos and other images with no cost.

I refilled hand soap dispensers with some shampoo we got on sale, with coupons, and with a rebate.  For the foaming hand soap dispenser, I added water to get the proper consistency.  I add a little water to the standard pump dispensers as well.  The shampoo was pennies per quart and makes an economical hand soap.

As a little present to myself, I picked up a miniature orchid about 6 weeks ago.  It was blooming at the time, and those blossoms lasted quite a while.  It began to bloom again this week - there are three more buds that will likely open in the next week or so.  We live in a fairly dry climate, so I hae it in a glass...canister?...with a bed of aquarium gravel and some water to keep it more humid.  I am really enjoying my little orchid.

Husband has continued with Safeway's Monopoly game.  This week his instant winner freebies were a pack of Orbit gum, salt and 2 donuts.  We still have bananas and a loaf of French bread to redeem, and when he opened the game cards from this week he had one another free canister of salt.  I use the plain iodized salt to soak cabbage for kimchee, so we are pretty happy to stock up for free.  Later in the week he received coupons for free hummus, another donut or bagel, water crackers, some malt-o-meal cereal and a box of facial tissues.  This makes it sound like we must surely be spending a small fortune at Safeway, but we are not!

Husband flipped our piano bench, glued the cross piece that has been loose for a while, and clamped it to dry.  So far, so good!  We have this very long clamp from when we were building our house, and he used glue he had in his workshop.

Back in November, I bought a large soda at Sonic.  I bought it in the morning when they are 99 cents.  (I know...breakfast of champions.)  It had a survey on the receipt, which I completed, and then the receipt was good for a free Route 44 drink.  I picked up the free drink this week....and the lady gave me the receipt, which has a survey on it, good for a free Route 44 drink.  Echo...echo...echo...hee hee!

Image result for lynda logo
Many libraries offer this database to patrons for free.
Check with your local library!

We watched a family movie that we checked out from the library, Husband and I continued with our HBO series, and we all have books going.  After a recent training on and how it works (it is free through our district), I am going to take some courses there for work, and I'm going to have Daughter work through the piano lessons offered there.  We stopped piano lessons for her several months ago when her instructor raised prices with no warning, and we've been working through the books she had from that, but we are just about finished with those books...the timing of this is very good!

Daughter and I cleaned out/purged her play room area in the basement.  We have some things to sell and some to donate, and her space makes a lot more sense for her and her age/maturity now.

I made a batch of kimchee.

Cabbage is soaking in salted water in the crock on the left, for kimchee.
On the right, a batch of kombucha is brewing in a half-gallon jar.

I had a weekday off from work (because it was my Saturday to work) so we went to pick up a load of firewood while Daughter was in school.  I also picked up a kombucha scoby the same day, and started a half gallon batch of kombucha.

We had salmon one night for supper, and I made a compound butter for it - lemon zest, parsley, dill, some 'citrus grill' seasoning, garlic, and a bit of salt...and butter.  I made more than we used, so the next morning, I used that compound butter to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  YUM, y'all.  It used what we had on hand, but it also made me realize that we could make these tasty grilled cheese sandwiches on a regular basis!

Our little seed starts are doing...okay.  I will need to replant a few, but I'm hopeful that they will continue to grow.  Below is a jade plant that had gotten overgrown.  I sawed it all off level with the pot right at the new year, and it is coming back really nicely.  The leaves and stems are larger, which I think is a good thing.  I also have a pint jar full of rooted starts that I will likely share with friends, since I don't want 37 jade plants.

What did you do this week to spend less, save more, and make do?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Goals and Plans for March

I'm a list-maker.  Lists help me make sense of my progress (or lack of it) and help me remember things that need to happen.  Here are our plans for March:

Shopping/Food Storage Goals:  Lent begins this month, so we will be watching for good sales on fish.  We had some early sales this year (February) where tuna was 3 cans for $1, so we are already well stocked on tuna.  We'll watch for good prices onother types of fish that we like.  We are beginning to run low on dehydrated refried beans and popcorn kernels, so we may get those this month.  We'll also be watching for sales on chicken thighs, as we are low on those as well.

Husband had done really, really well with Ibotta, and plans to continue matching up sales, coupons and Ibotta offers.  He started using it about the second week in January, and has already gotten $185 in rebates.  Considering our grocery budget is $200 per month, and that has been reduced to $180 the past few months, the rebates are a significant benefit to us.  He is also testing out Checkout 51, but he's still getting it figured out and deciding if it will work well for us.

Gardening Goals:  Reading The Prudent Homemaker's Blog always gets me eager to garden long before it is feasible here.  If the weather permits, I will continue to dig the garden for spring.  I've pretty much decided to get a dozer scoop of enriched soil to add to our little garden.  It is a small enough garden that one scoop will do it, and I think it will give me a good jump-start on soil improvement.  We just dug this garden spot last year, and it could use some enrichment.  I've been adding composted chicken manure and rabbit droppings, but I think the enriched soil will be a good boost.  I'm not sure if I'll get the soil in March - it really will depend on the weather.  Our last frost date is in late May, so there is some time.  I have a friend with llamas too, and I think I will ask him for some manure for the garden.

House and Home Goals:  We still intend to finish our basement, and to make that happen, I need to get some things sold or donated, so that we have fewer things to shuffle around while the finish work is being done.  We might go pick up a load of firewood on the day when I have a weekday off, but we are not in need.  Firewood is free for us, so we may get it even though we are not running low, if the weather is good.

I'm very slowly cleaning our kitchen cabinet fronts.  They are not in terrible shape - this is just a sort of slow-motion spring cleaning, where I take a little time each weekend and clean and polish the cabinet fronts in a section of our kitchen.  We have a modest kitchen, so it's feasible that I could have this completed in some weekend spare time.

Educational Goals:  I recently learned that there are piano lessons in a database at our library.  I plan to try and find Daughter's 'spot' in those so we can use them to supplement her at-home lessons.  I also intend to take a time management course in that same database.  All classes in the database are free!

What sorts of goals do you have for the month of March?