Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Menu Plan - Freezer Focus

My life is really so much more smooth when I know what we're having for meals.  I had a difficult couple of months this winter and wasn't motivated to menu plan.  In retrospect it probably added to why things were feeling so difficult!

7 Dinners:
Baked Pasta - pureed tomato, ground sausage/turkey, mozarella from freezer
Easy Pot Pie - shredded turkey, mixed veggies from freezer
Stir Fry - chicken thighs, broccoli, snap peas from freezer
Pot Roast - Roast from freezer
Dinner Out
Sour Cream Chicken - chicken & broth from freezer
Popcorn & Smoothies

7 Lunches:
Hot dogs & Fries - dogs, fries from freezer
Ravioli - from freezer
Chicken Nuggets - from freezer
Grilled Cheese
PB & Honey Sandwiches

I'm hoping my freezer feels much emptier after this week.  We have been using lots of fruit in smoothies and I did make a big pot of turkey soup that used several containers of broth over the weekend, but it doesn't feel like enough!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Safeway Shopping Trip - $30.57

$30 is actually a big grocery purchase for me!  But I got some excellent deals I couldn't pass up.

FREE - Ken's dressing on sale for $.99 and I had 2 $1.00/1 MCs.
$1.59 - Tub of Oatmeal on clearance
$2.50 - Quart sized creamers.  I hate to spend this much, but it's the best deal I've seen in weeks!  Ad coupon for $2.99 and I had a $1.00/2 MC.
$1.67 - Cheez-it crackers with Ad coupon
$4.99 - Olive oil with Ad coupon
$3.99 - Olive oil with Ad coupon and a $1.00/1 MC
$4.99 - 2# shredded jack cheese (need for next meal swap)
$4.99 - 2# brick of colby cheese
$2.74 - Dannon 12-pack on clearance
$0.99 - Cream cheese with Ad coupon

I decided to get two olive oils because that price was so good.  Regular price for that size is generally $10 or more. 


Friday, April 27, 2012

Deals I Noticed

Just a quick note for anyone out shopping this weekend.

I picked up organic tortilla chips this week at Albertsons for only $1.79 each.  I was pleased to find organic for less than the cheapest conventional bag.

I also saw Pork roasts at GFC for only $.99/lb.  If you like roast, this is an amazing price and you should totally stock up.  If I wasn't trying to empty my garage freezer I would have purchased Several.

My friend, Sarah, found wide-mouth canning lids on clearance for only $.49 at her QFC!  This is such a deal I checked out my two nearest stores, but no luck.  If you preserve by canning, it's worth checking out since these usually cost over $3/box!

Safeway also has Ken's dressing for $.99 (and I have some $1.00 off coupons), Lysol cleaners for $1.99 with in-ad coupon, $.99 cream cheese with in-ad coupon, and $2.99 quart-sized flavored creamer with in-ad coupon.  A friend sent a recipe for creamer recently, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.  I'll post when I manage to whip it up.  Finally, 2# bags or bricks of Lucerne cheese are $4.99 this week.  This is a good price for cheddar, and a great price for other varieties of cheese.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monthly Wrap-Up April 2012

I had wanted to post monthly about our progress toward our goals but posting has been such a challenge while I'm also doing ProjectTwentySix.

There is a lot of good news to report!

With our tax return we were able to pay off our student loan! Now our only remaining debt is mortgage. Yahoo!

We were also able to refinance our home mortgage for a full point lower interest rate! We finished the paperwork for that 2 weeks ago and now have a much lower payment. We are applying that difference right back into our mortgage so we can pay off our small second mortgage quickly.

We initially got a second mortgage when we purchased our house. Jumbo loans have a significantly higher interest rate than standard loans, and back then standard loans were the same across the country. Now the standard loan limits are adjusted based on median home prices in your area, but back them we got two loans to alleviate the burden of the Jumbo Loan interest rates. Most of our loan was financed at the limit for standard loans and we got a great interest rate. The remainder that wasn't covered by our down payment was financed as a second mortgage with a much higher interest rate. We'd love to dump that high interest rate!

We also made progress on our basement bathroom when my brother was able to come help us again, which we are so thankful for!

DH also continues to teach a cartoon illustration class and is loving it - It's also a little extra cash which helps a lot with various projects I want to do around here. DH will appreciate that I said "I" there and not we. Our favorite weekend disagreement is how I make work for him. *sigh*

Overall we're making great progress toward our financial goals. Next up - saving a stockpile of cash for more long-term emergencies.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Menu Plan - Freezer Focus

What is going on? How am I posting 4 days in a row? I don't know either, but I love it!

I'm making a freezer-focused menu plan this week so I can consolidate my freezers and unplug my garage freezer to save energy during the sumnmer. I don't usually need to plug it in again until August/September when I start freezing fruit.

7 Lunches:

Hot Dogs (bbq leftovers)
Chicken Nuggets (from freezer and easy to pack for lunch at church)
Macaroni & Cheese
Pizza (from freezer and too big to even fit in the inside freezer)
Ravioli & Red Sauce (Ravioli from freezer)
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Honey Sandwiches

7 Dinners:

Turkey Soup (turkey broth & turkey from freezer)
Biscuits & Turkey Gravy (turkey from freezer)
Dinner out
Stew (veggies to use up)
Chicken in Sour Cream sauce (uses chicken and turkey broth from freezer)
freezer meal (whatever is an odd shape and won't pack well into freezer)
Popcorn & Smoothies (family move night)

This weekend I'm hoping to put the garden in, but I'm also hoping to make my first pass at combining what's in my freezers.  Next week's plan will likely be using up what wouldn't fit in the inside freezer but we'll see!  It depends on just how much there is.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Freezer Photos - 10 day goal!

Yesterday I mentioned my goal of unplugging the garage freezer by April 30. It's just not going to happen this year , but I will see what I can accomplish! I'll make my goal to unplug May 15 instead.

Here's a photo of our freezers a couple days ago:

I'm a great packer but I just can't fit all of this into our inside freezer! Instead I'll make a meal plan this week that is focused on using up bulky items and by April 30th I'll try to shift mostly into the inside freezer and see what I'm left with. Using my oldest stuff is my top priority.

I already know one big challenge is going to be a huge bag of cherries that I need to pit and I've been putting it off until I can buy a cherry pitter. I haven't found one under $15 and I refuse to pay that much! Maybe I'll just borrow one from a friend.

Another challenge is all the turkey/chicken broth/stock I've got frozen. At least one meal this week will be turkey soup!

I also have 20 pounds of chicken, a ham bone, and a bunch of freezer meals coming in tomorrow night or unknown shape & size.

I made good progress last night when we had company for dinner and I used up some skewers, a small pork loin, and some random sausages that were in the freezer.

I also used up 7# sausage, 4 containers of tomatoes, and 3# ground chicken earlier in the week for the chili I made for the meal swap.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pantry Challenge Wrap-up

I continued the Pantry Challenge into March and did pretty well using only $30/week for groceries. The worst part was the kids whining about no cold cereal and me missing chicken.

Here's what the pantry looked like at the end of March. It might not look empty to you, but I assure you it's depleted. Usually it's packed and stacked with cereal boxes running behind the tupperware bins and canned food stacked behind the craft supplies.

As time passed I was turning it into a bit of a Freezer Challenge, too. And that's where I'm focused now. I generally aim to unplug my freezer by the end of April and it might be a challenge this year with only 10 days left! We've been eating lots of the frozen fruit in smoothies, but then I messed it up by buying 20 pounds of chicken! We'll have to see what I can accomplish these next few days.

After that I've got to focus in getting the garden in!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Safeway - 30% off Kashi, Ground Turkey Deal

Safeway has a great deal today I wanted to share.

3# package of 85/15 ground turkey is only $5.00. It's not organic, but a price that low for 85/15 meat is pretty stellar.

They also have a coupon in their weekly ad for 30% off Kashi products that's good until Tuesday.

There's been a lot of cereal on sale lately, but Safeway has the 14 oz (middle size) boxes of Cheerios for $1.99 with store coupon which is much better than the smallest boxes for that price everywhere else. This also runs through Tuesday.

Finally, I've been having good luck with the clearance areas at Safeway lately. Here's what I found this morning.

12 pack of Dannon Light & Fit was $3.49, so only $.29 per cup

2 Greek yogurts on clearance for $.49 each (I would buy more at this price, but with the other yogurt deals I found, we won't go through more)

4 pack of Yoplait light with granola on clearance for $1.49 and I had a $.70 off coupon making this only $.79.

Organic squeezer yogurt on clearance for $2/box. I always pick these up when I find them and toss them in the freezer. As the weather gets better my kids will eat them up fast like popsicles. At this price it's only $.25 for their snack.

Suave conditioner was on clearance for $.69 (a must with my girls' hair)

Finally, a splurge because it was so cheap, Betty Crocker glitter icing on clearance for $1.99 and I had $1.00/1 coupons so they were only $.99 each. The girls and I will have a great time decorating with these.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

QFC - $14.93

Oh how I miss this blog! is productive, but some days it's such a chore! This is pure joy.

Here it is 12:30AM and I should have been sleeping 2 hours ago. But I decided to do this quick post.

I stopped in at QFC tonight for organic lettuce that was on sale for $1.50 per head. It was one of those evenings when I have no need to hurry home so I leisurely wandered the store and checked out all the bargain bins. Here's what I ended up with:

$3.00 2 Heads of organic romaine
$2.00 2 pounds of organic baby carrots
$1.98 2 - 8 oz packages of yogurt cheese. $.99 each on clearance. I'm going to use half of it for homemade mac'n'cheese for the girls' lunch tomorrow.
$0.98 2 bottles of John Freida Radiant Red conditioner $1.99 on clearance and a $3/2 MC!
$1.49 Tillamook Natural sour cream - clearance price
$1.79 Yogurt - organic, whole on clearance for $1.79.
$1.30 Krave cereal on sale for $2.00 and a $.70/1 MC.
$0.99 Juice on clearance
$FREE Easter cookies on sale for $0.99 and a $1.00/1 MC.
$0.79 Toothpaste $1.79 on clearance and a $1.00/1 MC. I can usually get toothpaste cheaper, but this was a larget size tube and my $1.00 coupon was expiring soon.