Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Gluten Free Menu Plan

I'm so tired of our limited meals - I need some recipe rejuvenation. Maybe I'll find time this week for some research.

Monday - turkey, carrot sticks
Tuesday - mac & cheese pie
Wednesday - nachos
Thursday - pizza
Friday - finger food lunch
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - with family

Monday - beef & broccoli
Tuesday - pork chops
Wednesday - sausages
Thursday - skillet (eggs/sausage/cheese/potatoes/bell peppers)
Friday - dinner out
Saturday - some sort of soup
Sunday - popcorn & smoothies

To buy: potatoes (have been wanting to buy organic, but haven't found them & didn't want to go to Whole Foods)


Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 Groceries Week 42 - $114.29

This week I really wanted to limit my spending because the last few weeks were so big! 

I also had a friend mention something this week about how much time I spend grocery shopping and I thought I should clear up any misunderstandings the might be lingering.  I'm super-busy and I don't have time to grocery shop constantly.  Many of my shopping trips are squeezed in 15 or 20 minutes when I'm between errands or already out for an appointment.  I'm typically not making special trips or spending much time at this.

This was a quick visit to Fred Meyer at 10PM on a Monday night.  I had just left my accountability group and thought I'd swing by on my way home to get butter.  I didn't buy it because it was ridiculously priced, but found some other great stuff instead: An organic chicken, 4 lbs of apples for $2.00 and some tomatoes on the vine.  I spent about 20 minutes in the store and spent $12.43.

On Tuesday I dashed into Albertsons with 3 girls while the 4th was at speech therapy.  We were in the store less than 15 minutes.  I picked up frozen corn, some grapes, and this amazing markdown meat.  It's bone-in grilling steak that were on sale B1G1 and had peelie stickers.  I found two of similar size and paid $5.38 total for over 3 pounds.  With grapes & corn I spent $11.67.
Costco - dashed into Costco for a couple things on Wednesday after a visit to the pumpkin patch.  My aunt & uncle came with us, so they fed the girls half-slices of Costco pizza while I ran in for butter and  string cheese.  I could not believe how the price of butter has increased!  A year ago I spent $8.99 on the Costco pack and thought it was expensive, but this week I paid $12.99!!!  The string cheese was also $12.99 so I spent $25.98 at Costco. 
QFC - Later wednesday I stopped at QFC after DD#1's ballet class.  We just milled around looking for clearance deals and I found a lot:  4 bagels for $0.99 ( a kid splurge), 2 lb bags of apples for $0.99 each, 8 oz. fresh mozzarella for $0.99 each (yummo!), a whoopee pie/cookie thing for DH $0.99 (also a kid-prompted purchase), yami plain yogurt $1.79 each, a greek yogurt for $0.39 and 2 deli pizzas for $2.99 each.  The most exciting purchase was not on clearance, but on sale.  A 7 oz  pack of pepperoni for $1.50 which I thought might be cheaper than the Dollar Store.  Sure enough, I looked when I got home and my usual purchase at the Dollar Store is $1.00 for 3 oz.  So this pepperoni was a great sale price.  I spent $17.39 at QFC.
I went back to QFC when I was running errands Saturday.  We were out of milk and I was planning to pick up that pepperoni again.  I found lots of other clearance deals include $1.99 for 1# chubs of sausage, $2.39 for 1# packages of turkey lunchmeat, $1.79 for plain Yami yogurt, $0.39 for a greek yogurt cup, 6 mandarin oranges for $0.99, and 3 big apples for $0.99.  I also got some fresh pears.  I spent $33.95 in total.
Milk was $12.87
Week 42 Total: $114.29
2014 Year-to-date Total: $3,656.80
Weekly 2014 Average: $87.07

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Small Batch of Applesauce

Last week we made a small batch of applesauce.  A friend had given us a bag of apples that were picked before we left for our 2 week vacation.  Then, the apples were in our fridge for another 2 weeks before I managed to process them in applesauce.

Here is about half the apples.  I had them stored in my fridge in big Tupperware so I could still stack stuff on top of the bins.

Lots of hot 'sauce.

For a small batch I don't bother with the water bath canner.  I just freeze these guys and save the cost of the lids needed when pressure canning.
Next up I have about 100 pounds of apples still waiting for me in the garage.  They are newer so could wait longer to be processed.  Plus, it's kind of daunting . . .
Love, Katie

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Emergency Fund Update

We have been trying to restore our emergency fund for about a year.   Last fall we replaced our family vehicle using the emergency fund because our old Suburban was really dying.  And then we had a car accident and we had to replace our commuter vehicle.  We quickly depleted our emergency fund, you can read about it here, and have been working at replacing it since then. 

We had saved 13% heading into summer, but had to use most of it for a big car repair (hello transmission!).  We would have been able to save more, but we are paying for DH to fly and visit his dad every month and we've paid about $600 twice for the whole family to go visit so the girls could see Grandpa.  So the saving had been going slow.

We were counting on a fall bonus to boost our emergency fund and then the hot water heater went out.  After covering that expense I'm happy to report our emergency fund is at 51%!  It feels so good just have a little cushion.   

Love, Katie

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Canning Pears

I had those 85ish pounds of organic pears to process a couple of weeks ago so I got busy canning.  These girls were happy helpers - I paid them $0.10 each for each pear that they peeled.  I have to add that my 5 year old, kitchen-loving, DD#3 peeled just as fast as 9 year old DD#1.  DD#1 was very conscious of how many dimes were in each girls cup and kept checking to make sure she had more, even though it was only 1 or 2 more for the duration of the peeling!  They only peeled one box, but it was worth the couple of bucks to get the canning done that much faster!

Here's the finished product, but we ate at least a dozen raw pears before and after as well.  They were extremely delicious!
I am not a canning pro, but I've done pears 4 or 5 times so it's pretty low stress.  See previous year here.  My favorite canning website is  They have instructions for just about everything with color photos to help show the way.  I also rely on my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
And now I'll feel good this winter about giving my kids organic fruit.
Love, Katie

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We Have Hot Water! - update

I didn't want to leave anyone out of the loop so I'm updating about our hot water situation.  I wrote a lengthy post last week on Thursday all about events up to that point.  Thanks friends, for praying for me! 

That day we did not have anyone come to check out the problem.  DH's attempts to reach our friend's friend were unsuccessful. So first thing Friday morning DH called the company who services our furnace and asked about hot water heaters.  They said a guy could come out and have a look that afternoon.  DH explained the whole situation because we didn't want to pay for a service call if the technician would refuse to work on it.  Yes, they would still send someone.

So Friday afternoon I met Pete and he was great.  He was dismayed about the venting situation, but still had a look at everything and eventually delivered the sad news: We need a new hot water heater.  He explained the things that had deteriorated in the heater and how it might be possible to replace or repair them, but the cost and labor would run about $800.  Even then, he couldn't be sure it would work or for how long because it was just worn out. 

Ed and I talked it over and decided that we'd rather have a new one than pay $800 to fix the old one.   We talked about getting a tank v. tankless.  A tank is significantly cheaper but due to the space in our utility room and all the plumbing and structure already fitted for a tankless heater we decided to dip deep into our emergency fund and get another tankless.  Also, we figured over the life of the heater we could definitely justify the tankless as soon enough we'll have 4 daughters showering everyday and a need for more than 40 or 50 gallons of hot water in a given morning. 

I called my brother Friday evening and he agreed to come install the heater for us AND fix the venting problem.  I am sooooo thankful and blessed.  Would you believe he got up at 4AM on Saturday, drove 7 hours to our house (stopping on the way to buy the hot water heater while he was still in Oregon to save us sales tax), then proceeded to work hard until 10PM when he got back in his car to drive virtually all night to get home by Sunday?  Crazy!  And again, soooo thankful.

All the kids got a bath Sunday morning and DH and I enjoyed glorious, hot showers instead of a sink of warm water for our morning ministrations.  Hooray! 

The best part is that this new hot water heater is even better than the old one.  It can heat more gallons per minute so I can actually run the clothes washer or dishwasher while someone is in the shower!  And the kitchen faucet will actually pull hot water all by itself!  Previously, the faucet water had to travel so far it never got warm unless a bigger appliance was pulling a bigger amount of water all the way to the kichen/laundry room.  Now it takes about a minute, but the hot water does come to my kitchen sink!  I am in hot water heaven! 

Thanks for reading and caring.  Love, Katie

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Menu Plan

Ah, back in the saddle.  It feels so good to be hammering out a plan.  We've been trying to eat more gluten free meals with better or organic meats and for the first time in my life I feel at a loss sometimes for what to make.  I think with the diet changes the meal plan is going to be more important than ever.

I'm so glad I got some good grocery shopping in this weekend! 

Monday - packed lunch - sausages (slices), cucumbers, deviled egg
Tuesday - Tortellini & leftover beef stroganoff for DD#2
Wednesday - packed lunch - chicken breast, grapes, cheese
Thursday - packed lunch - nachos, cucumbers
Friday - corndogs, grapes
Saturday - Mac'n'Cheese Pie
Sunday - leftovers

Monday - Beef Stroganoff, zucchini
Tuesday - family visiting - lemon chicken, acorn squash
Wednesday - packed dinner - sausage, carrots, trail mix
Thursday - Breakfast for dinner - pancakes
Friday - Egg Casserole
Saturday - Wedding! - kids eat homemade pizza (small gf one for DD#2)
Sunday - Smoothies & popcorn

Sunday, October 12, 2014

2014 Groceries Week 41 - $134.93

I didn't do any shopping until Friday and I ended up buying a ton of stuff this weekend.  I also was gifted a bunch of food this week - We are So Blessed! - so the food is just flowing around here. 

On Monday my girlfriend gave me these apples:

 There was a 4th bag (from the prior week) that I had already processed by the time I took the photo.  She also gave me a paper grocery bag about half full of plums.  Again, I had started processing them by the time I took the picture, but this is about a quarter of them in the crockpot.

I finally went to the store on Friday morning.  I was committed to making chicken taco soup for 5 families that night and desperately needed onions!  So I went to Fred Meyer.  I grabbed a 5# bag of onions at first priced at $3.00 something, then I realized the 3# bags were only $1.49.  So I got two of those instead.  It was a good reminder that the big package is not always the best price!  I also bought some GF Rice Chex - $2.50 each after sale & coupon, Honeycomb - $1.50 each after sale & coupon, grapes for $1.49/lb, coconut milk, organic yogurt, eggs (for deviled eggs for a Saturday potluck), canned beans because I hadn't planned ahead and cooked beans already, clearance pack of turkey for $2.49 and a few other things.  I noticed an employee putting out more markdown meat while I was leaving the meat department so after I took my groceries out to the car I ran back in for a minute to check.  I was glad I did!  I found sirloin steak for $2.99/lb!  Each pack was over 3 pounds, too.  In total I spent $59.78!

Later on Friday morning I met an acquaintance who had a huge volume of acorn squash to give away.  Seriously, his church has a farm and donates to the food bank, but they couldn't use any more acorn squash.  So his minivan was loaded with squash and I took a big grocery bag full.  Not sure how I'll use it yet, but squash keeps so long I am not in a hurry.

Sudnay I went to Albertsons after church to get sale GF corndogs, but they didn't have any! I also got eggs for $1.25 a dozen.  I keep missing my friend at church so I needed to stock up.  I got sour cream for $0.99 each on clearance, organic carrots, 4# bag of sugar for $1.59 after sale & coupon and frozen green beans for $0.88 each.  My best find was seriously markdown meat - again!  I got three packages of cubed steak at were marked at $3.39, $3.24, and $3.69 with peelies of $3.00 off, $2.00 off and $2.00 off!  Similarly, I got three packages of pork loan marked at $3.35, $3.18 and $1.78 with peelies of $2.00, $2.00, and $1.00 off.  Seriously - $.78 for half pound of pork loin!  I spent $21.20.  I also picked up a few things at the dollar store for $4.00.

I went to QFC because I had a $4.00 off coupon to use that expired today.  I found lots of clearance including: brown rice noodles for $2.39 each, some clearance corn noodles, a B1G1 turkey sausages that worked out to $2.39 each, 2 bags of six lemons for $0.99 each (great for lemon chicken and GF lemon cupcakes), Annie's shells & cheese for $0.49, plain Yami yogurt for $1.79 and a family-pack of chicken rigatoni for $3.79.  The only thing that wasn't on clearance was the Monterey Jack cheese, but it was on sale for $5.99.  It looks like QFC has all their Kroger 2# cheeses on sale until January 5 at the $5.99 price.  That will be great for cheese trays at holiday parties and potlucks.  I had a coupon for $1.50 off a $7 purchase of meat and that $4.00 off coupon so I spent $37.08 altogether.

It was a big week with lots of meat purchases, but I didn't make it to Costco where I needed to pick up some basics like butter, olive oil, and tortilla chips.
Milk delivery was $12.87
Total for Week 41: $134.93
Total year-to-date 2014: $3,542.51
2014 Weekly Average: $86.40