Monday, November 25, 2013

Goals & Menu Plan

The goals last week were:
1) Empty box of car paraphernalia from selling car last month (NOPE)
2) Can the last few pears (YES)
3) make doctor appointment for DD#1 (NOPE)
4) Get all the clothing bins put away (NOPE)

So I did poorly.  Boo.  I did get furnace filters ordered and I did do annual maintenance cleaning yuck out of the humidifier and replacing the filter so that's something.  I also am very close to getting the bins all put away.  I have to just finish folding the laundry to try and not miss anything before I stack all the boxes back on the high closet shelf.

This week I am out of town so I don't have any home-related goals, but just things I can do away from home. 
1. Update Christmas card mailing list
2. Work on Christmas letter
3. Update chore charts
4. Plan Winter/Spring homeschool schedule

Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - With friends
Wednesday - Sausage Soup
Thursday - Chicken in sour cream sauce
Friday - Turkey
Saturday - Taco Bar
Sunday - Pasta

Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Burgers
Wednesday - Quesadillas
Thursday - Mac'n'Cheese
Friday - Turkey
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Sandwiches


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Huge Grocery Shopping Week - $151.40

So this week was full of stock-up shopping.  I am so thankful I had some cash set aside just for these kinds of stock up sales!

The little ladies and I took a walk to the library on Monday afternoon, but it was dark when we exited at 5:30.  I called DH and he said he'd come pick us up in an hour at a nearby grocery store.  We walked over and poked around.  I was couponless, but we still found some awesome deals in the clearance section.  I spent $29.65 at QFC.

15 oz dried cranberries - $1.00 each on clearance (I bought all they had)
14 oz cashews - $1.00 on clearance (only saw one, but would have bought more)
14 oz mixed nuts - $1.00 on clearance
14 oz peanuts - $1.00 on clearance
10 oz almonds - $2.99 on clearance
7 oz pecans - $3.49 on clearance
Campbells 'cream of' soups - $0.69 each
Pizza - $2.99
Raisin Bran - $1.29
18 oz Pork Tenderloin - $3.99

The next night, Tuesday, was the last day of the great sale at QFC so I went after I served a dinner at church.  It was 11PM and I was exhausted, but I'm so glad I went!  I also stopped at Albertsons and Safeway for a couple things.  This photo includes all of those trips for $47.27.
 Chex - $1.88 ($1.00/3 MC) = $1.50 each
2# Carrots - $1.00
Lunchmeat - $1.99 on clearance
Post Cereal - $1.99 ($2.50/2 with coffee purchase MC x2) = $0.75 each
Yuban coffee - $2.99 each
vegetable oil - $2.99
4 pack greek yogurt - $1.99 on clearance
Triscuits - $1.79 each ($1.00/2MC x2) = $1.29 each
Cottage Cheese - $1.25 each
Stovetop - $0.99 each (B4G1 MC) = $0.80 each
Chicken Broth - $0.49 each ($0.40/5 MC) = $0.42 each
Evaporated Milk - $0.89 each ($0.55/2 MC x2) = $0.63 each
Doritos - $1.99
Dannon 4pack - $1.29 on clearance
Campbells 'cream of soups - $0.69 each ($0.40/4 MC x2) = 8 for $0.59 each and 2 at $.069 each

I went back to Safeway for the giftcard deal they are running and used another of the Post coupons I had.  This was $6.47.
The Post cereal had gone up in price to $2.49, but with the coffee on clearance for only $3.50 it was still an excellent deal with the $2.50 off MC.  The tomato sauce was $0.50.

I swung into Grocery Outlet with all the kids in tow so I could use my coupon for free eggs.  It was literally a 5 minute stop.  I spent $19.54.
Creamer - $1.99
Bananas - $1.99
2# Cheese - $4.89 each
Summer Sausage - $3.99
Martinelli's - $1.79
Eggs - FREE with coupon

I told a friend I'd bring a birthday cake for her to kiddo to our Friday night potluck so I went to Safeway Friday morning to buy it.  I decided to use my $25/$50 coupon from the giftcard purchase.  When I went through the checkout my total was $50.74 but it wouldn't take off the $25!  I guess the $50 couldn't include coffee creamer.  There was only the one checkstand open and a line behind me, but there's no way I would have spent $50 again this week!  The checker was really annoyed, but  I quickly ran to the pop aisle and picked up the cube of Mountain Dew because there were no other pop choices.  I think my brother likes it, but I didn't really want to buy it.  After the pop and sales tax my total was $56.31 and the $25 off worked.  Total was $31.31.
Capri sun - $1.00  on clearance
Coffeemate - $5.00
Mt Dew - $5.00
Apples - $0.99/lb "Envy" variety.  I've never tried them.
Pork Roast - $17.47 ($1.99/lb)
Tortillas - $1.59 each
Greek yogurt 4 pack - $1.99 on clearance
Birthday cake - $18.99 (not pictured)

All of these are a little less than 50% off because I used the $25/$50 coupon.

Our milk delivery was $11.16 and I bought eggs from my friend for $6.00.

Total for Week 47: $151.40
Total Year to Date: $4,854.87
Weekly Average: $103.30


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gift Card Deal at Safeway

Safeway is running a good deal on Gift cards this week and next.  It runs through December 3, 2013. 

The deal is if you buy $150 in select gift cards you receive a voucher for $25 off your next $50 grocery purchase. 

The drawbacks:
  • This deal is only for select gift cards.  Not all gift cards.  I was pleased to see about 70% of the gift card options were included instead of the normal 6-10 choices.
  • It might be hard to land on $150 exactly if you don't buy in $25 multiples, the deal still works if you spend more than $150.
  • You have to find $50 of groceries to use your $25 voucher
  • Your voucher is only good for 7 days.
The good stuff:
  • Free $25!
  • A wide selection of gift cards relative to usual gift card deals.
I would caution you not to by stuff you wouldn't normally use, otherwise you aren't actually getting a good deal. 

I will absolutely use all of the gift cards I purchased above.  The Starbucks and iTunes are gifts for this Christmas, we have taken our kids to JC Penney for portraits for 8 years and I don't see us changing that anytime soon, DH loves movies and we have an AMC up the road with great deals on shows that start before noon so we like to go there, and finally Amazon will definitely get used.  Too bad I didn't buy this gift card before I spent $60 on filters for the furnace and humidifier last week!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekly Goals & Menu Plan

I did well on my goals for the week and accomplished most of them:
1) work on lipstick stain on bedspread (Done)
2) make applesauce (Done)
3) make doctor appointment for DD#1 and eye appointment for myself (1/2 done)
4) finally switch out kids' summer & winter clothes (Done)

New Goals:
1) Empty box of car paraphernalia from selling car last month
2) Can the last few pears
3) make doctor appointment for DD#1
4) Get all the clothing bins put away

Monday - pizza
Tuesday - Spaghetti & Meatballs
Wednesday - Hamburgers
Thursday - Pork Loin & Rice
Friday - Potluck
Saturday - Chicken in Sour Cream Sauce
Sunday - Asian Pork Stew

Monday - Waffles
Tuesday - Nuggets
Wednesday - Nachos
Thursday - PBJ
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Macaronada
Sunday - PBJ


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Week 46 Grocery Shopping - $124.50!

Well, so much for my plan to spend very little on groceries.  I ended up buying much more than I anticipated as I was lured into several stores for good deals.  Darn!  

I went to Champion Groceries in Issaquah to pick up pecans for Christmas baking.  There had been lots of packages on my last visit, but they were sold out this time.  Instead I bought a small container of pecan halves that will do the job.  I spent $23.10.
Chips - 3/$1.00 I bought 15 bags
Tazo Tea - $2.60
Twinings Tea - $2.20
Dry Mustard - $2.00
Garlic Powder - $3.30
Pecans - $8.00

I had a $5/$20 coupon for Grocery Outlet so I visited specifically to use that.  I had $20.43 of product and paid $15.43 after the coupon.  I calculated everything around 25% off because that was the effect of the coupon.
Coffee Creamer - $1.99 32 oz (25%) = $1.50
Coffee Creamer - $0.99 16 oz each (25%) = $0.75 each
2# shredded cheese - $4.99 each (25%) = $3.75 each
Cereal - $3.49 (25%) = $2.65
Bacon - $2.99 (25%) = $2.25

I stopped at Fred Meyer to pick up cereal and found lots of other great stuff on sale.  I spent $27.51
Cereal - $2.00 ($1/3) = $1.75 each
Chocolate Milk - $1.00
Organic Yogurt - $1.79
Hunts Pasta Sauce - $0.69 each
Mac & Cheese - $0.50 each
Sour Cream - $1.00 each
Hunts Tomato Paste - $0.69
Tazo Tea - $1.99 each box on clearance
Brown Sugar - $1.67 ($0.40 MC) - $1.27
Hot Dogs - $0.79 on clearance
Lunchmeat - $3.49 ($1.00 MC) = $2.49

Costco was the unexpected expense.  I went for lettuce and picked up some of our other staples.  I didn't expect it to cost $47.30!
Chips - $3.69
Cocoa - $8.99
Feta - $9.86
Chicken Nuggets - $9.99
Bananas - $1.39
Lettuce - $3.49

Our milk was $11.16 and I didn't get eggs this week. 

In total our groceries cost $124.50 this week!
Total year to date 2013: $4,703.47
Weekly Average: $102.25

I have my big fall pantry purchase arriving in a couple of weeks.  That will be a big grocery addition on top of what I expect will be lots of stocking up in the next few weeks, too.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Smoothies are Healthy & Thrifty

We have smoothies for our afternoon snack several times a week.  Not only are they full of foods I feel good about feeding my kids, but they use up a lot of food that might otherwise be wasted.  A couple days ago, in particular, I realized how many 'odds-and-ends' I was putting in and decided it was worth a blog post.

I tossed in a half apple that had been on the counter all day.  DD#1 had half an apple with peanut butter for breakfast, but the other half apple didn't get eaten.  Then I put a bunch of cauliflower that was leftover from DD#2's birthday last weekend.  I have lots of frozen peaches and put in several cups.  I am still using peaches from summer 2012 so our smoothies have been heavy on the peaches.

Next I added some fruit juice.  I typically add whatever I have.  This time it was the very light syrup remaining after we emptied a quart of canned pears. 

Finally, I added about 2/3 cup frozen blueberries.  I always put in blueberries because it creates a nice purplish color that little girls like to little girls more than the light orange of peaches.  I also put in about a cup of yogurt - whatever is oldest in the fridge - because I always find such great deals on it.

Banana is also a good addition and sometimes I toss in frozen strawberries, cranberries, or blackberries depending on what other ingredients need to be used.

It makes a full blender and 3 girls eat it right up.  One of the girls continually refuses, but I figure 3 out of 4 isn't bad.  =)

We also have fun straws that are a little larger in diameter than standard straws.  We reserve these exclusively for smoothies which (I think) adds to the smoothie appeal. 
To sum up: A healthy snack that makes good use of food that might other be wasted.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Tangled Birthday Party

DD#2 had her birthday over the weekend.  She wanted a Tangled party, but lots of her friends are boys so we tried to make it a gender neutral event. 

We couldn't do much about the cake.  Rapunzel is Rapunzel, after all.  But I was able to save $5.00 on the price of the cake by providing my own cake topper.  This is a toy DD#2 received for her last birthday.  I was really pleased with how the cake decorator matched the color of Rapunzel's hair to the toy I brought in.

We played "Pin the Tongue on Pascal."  This paper is a recycled blueprint from my dad & brother's construction company.  DH is a great artist and even teaches cartooning at our local community college.  He drew this great Pascal.  DD#1 helped color him and cut out tongues.

I bought 5 disposable 9' tablecloths at the Dollar Store and cut them in half length-wise.   For $5 we had 90 feet of "Rapunzel Hair" to tack up all over the house!

More hair.

These are mylar balloons I also picked up at the Dollar Store.  I found a template for the Disney Tangled sun emblem online.  I printed them on yellow cardstock and cut them out one evening.  I taped one big sun onto each balloon and they made great decorations!  These were also the gifts we gave our guests to take home.

We had a fun little party and DD#2 was happy with it which is what really matters.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Small Savings Goals - Week 42

A few weeks back I snapped this photo with the intention of posting in the following couple of days.  But then I was off on vacation, my laptop was broken, and I was getting back into the swing of life.  I'm finally ready to post and update about our short-term savings goals.  My last update was at 31 weeks.

DD#1 and I have been working toward saving for our Disneyland Trip in 2015.  We have been saving an amount from $1 to $52 each week.  We are planning to buy annual passes for all 6 of us and would love to allow room in the budget for several weekend daddy-daughter dates over the course of the year.  This is a photo of our little savings chart that we have been diligently filling out all year.  You can see we were up to $1,030 back at week 42.  DD#1 was very excited to add into the thousand column.  I was kind of freaked out there was that much cash just sitting on the kitchen table. 
The remaining weeks include $13, $16, $17, $36, $37, $42, $44, $45, $48, & $50.  I'm working hard to save the larger amounts now so that in December, when there are so many costs that come up, I have those smaller 'teen' amounts remaining.

December and unexpected costs were the focus of our second goal this year.  We have been saving all year to prepare for Christmas expenditures.  We have managed to save $100 ten of the eleven months so far in 2013.  I have also been using those funds to buy Christmas gifts and there is currently $300 still saved and only a nephew and one under-the-tree gift left to buy for one of our daughters.  We'll be headed into December in good shape for me to stock up on holiday baking sales, have cash set aside for road trip gas, and even enough to take the older 2 girls to a local Nutcracker performance.  It feels pretty good knowing I won't be scrambling to cover those costs in January. 

Finally, we had a goal of saving $10 per week for bulk buying purchases of food.  This mostly happens from April to October and while I saved a bit in the early months of the year I haven't saved since.  I'd like to start setting aside funds for next year, but I don't think it's particularly realistic with the large amounts I am trying to save for the Disneyland savings project.  We'll see!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Applesauce round 3, or is that 4?

I visited my good friend, Sarah, in Spokane a month ago.  She used to live here in the Seattle suburbs but had been considering a move to the east side of the state for years.  I miss her terribly, but I am so happy for her and her sweet family. 

They live more rural now with acreage, a dozen fruit trees, and 20 chickens!  Their garden is huge and they are learning how to care for all those fruit trees.  When I visited her I was amazed at all the food that was stored all over her huge house.  There were potatoes, pears, and onions in a big family room in the basement.  There were boxes and boxes of fruit in three fridges and freezers in her garage.  There were also many tomatoes, cantaloupe and I can't even remember what else laying on tables in the garage ripening.  She had a huge closet with shelves she'd already begun to fill with canned goods, too. 

In theory I would love that kind of life, growing so much of our own food, spending little on groceries, and literally depending on God for the harvest.  But it would also be hard for me, I think, to let so much food go to waste and I would feel so pressured to preserve as much as I could.  Sarah is great at not stressing over the food loss.  She says it was hard just at first, but now it's just part of their way of life.  Some food spoils, but there is just so much it's not too upsetting to 'lose' some.  The chickens eat much of that on-the-edge food, too, so it's not really wasted.  I would love the abundance though, and the ability to give to friends and neighbors. 

Sarah blessed our family by giving us lots of fruit from her trees.  Her husband came out and helped us pick several boxes of fruit.  I brought home two big boxes of apples, but I don't remember the varieties.  One was golden delicious and the other was a red.  She also gave me lots of little pears.  Those have been in my fridge for a month.  I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with them.  Can them?  Make pear butter?  Just mix them into more applesauce?  We'll see.

Here's the apple boxes after I'd dug into them significantly.

I mixed in a few pears as they didn't all fit into my fridge. 

DD#3 is quite the little kitchen helper.  She is around all the time wanting to do anything I can teach her to do.

This is what happens when you don't position the bowl correctly under the applesauce chute.

The finished product: 24 more applesauce quarts.  I only bought one box of wide-mouth lids so I was limited to how much I could actually can.  All my regular mouth jars were filled this summer with peaches and earlier applesauce.  Luckily I found a couple stray lids so I could do two full 7 quart loads in the water bath.  The rest I just tucked into the freezer and DD#2, our applesauce lover, has already made her way through over half of the frozen containers.

Total applesauce made this year is up to 79 quarts.  I estimated that we go through about 100 quarts per year and I think I'm on track to get awfully close!  I just bought another 20 pounds of apples for the bargain price of $7.00, and those apples should make another 8 or 9 jars, I think.  If I mix in some pears I can probably stretch it to another dozen.  We'll see!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Menu Plan & Goals

My house is in pretty reasonable shape after all the partying over the weekend.  Dishes are caught up & living space is picked up.  I think it's time to get caught up on laundry, but otherwise I feel pretty  on top of my responsibilities going into the new week.

Goals for this week are:
1) work on lipstick stain on bedspread
2) make applesauce
3) make doctor appointment for DD#1 and eye appointment for myself
4) finally switch out kids' summer & winter clothes

My mom visited about a week ago and we made some big progress in sorting and organizing the various little piles of clutter that collect all over.  It really felt good to see everything so tidy and know that there weren't bits and pieces of games or puzzles in the bottom of the puppet box.  We patched up books, found long missing parts of toys, and she caught up all my laundry.  Hurrah!  We also attempted to organize the office but couldn't quite finish.  At least all the gardening gear is back out in the garage and there is more work space now.

I mentioned in my grocery post yesterday that cash is tight.  We need to buy a commuter vehicle, my laptop had to be replaced, we need to buy airline tickets for our 10th anniversary trip and to visit DH's dad who we just found out has terminal cancer.  I just don't have a lot of wiggle room or time to even grocery shop right now so we're eating what's on hand.

Monday - Chicken curry leftovers
Tuesday - Southwest Chili Casserole - freezer meal
Wednesday - pizza
Thursday - French Toast & Bacon (DH teaching)
Friday - Honey maple chicken - freezer meal
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Smoothies & Popcorn

Monday - Waffles
Tuesday - PBJ
Wednesday - Nachos
Thursday - Quesadilla
Friday - Finger Food Lunch
Saturday - Soup & Sandwiches
Sunday - PBJ


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Week 45 Grocery Shopping - $107.22

This week I spent a bit more than I planned.  I had DD#2's birthday party this weekend and she had some special requests.

First was Fred Meyer where I scored lots of clearance apples!  I spent $17.29 on food.
$1.50 each - 2# packages of brown sugar
$0.89 - ketchup
$7.00 - about 20 pounds of clearance apples! 
$1.88 - 18 eggs
$0.64/lb - bananas
On Thursday I had to visit the Dollar Store to get birthday balloons.  There is a Grocery Outlet next door so I stopped there, too.  I spent $23.21 on food at the Grocery Outlet.

$4.99 each - 2# bags of shredded cheese
$0.39 each - mac'n'cheese
$1.49 - 3# bag of onions
3/$1.00 - 7 oz pasta
$0.33 each - organic strawberry yogurt cups
$0.33 each - vanilla yogurt cups (my kids' favorite)
$0.20 each - raspberry dannon yogurt cups
$0.10 each - string cheese
$0.99 - large greek yogurt
$0.79 each - olives

I picked up a few things at the Dollar Store, too.  And I had a late night stop at Fred Meyer for ginger that I needed for a recipe.  Between these two stores I spent $22.23.
$2.50 - Doritos (one bag not pictured)
$1.49 - hummus on clearance
$1.25 - sour cream
$2.00 each - ginger
$3.49 - lunchmeat
$1.00 - mustard
$1.00 - syrup
$1.00 - whipped topping
$1.00 each - pepperoni

I had a final trip to Fred Meyer on the morning of DD#2's birthday party to pick up party snacks.  I'm not counting her cake as part of our grocery budget because it's more of a gift/birthday expense, but I'm counting the other food because it's all stuff I would buy otherwise.  I spent $31.33. EEP!
$2.50 each - ice cream
$1.79 - organic whole milk yogurt
$2.50 - Ritz crackers
$2.00 each - Wheat Thins & Better Cheddars
$8.49 - veggie tray on clearance - a total splurge, but I was REALLY low on time
$2.99 each (MC $1/2) = $2.49 each = Stacy's Pita Chips (only one pictured)
$2.99 - bacon
$0.79 each - cucumbers (not pictured)

Our milk delivery was $11.16 & I bought a dozen eggs from my friend for $2.00 this week.

Total grocery cost for week 45: $107.22
Total grocer cost to date 2013: $4,578.97
Average Per week: $101.75

Cash is pretty tight just now for a variety of reasons so I hope to keep my grocery costs quite low for the next couple of weeks.  I might be tempted by Thanksgiving deals so I'll have to resist stocking up too much!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Week 44 Grocery Shopping -

I went to the store immediately when I returned home from Hawaii because we were out of coffee creamer.  I just stopped at my local QFC since it's so close to home.  I spent $20.42.
Coffee creamer - $2.99
Sour cream - $1.00 each
Fresh salsa - $1.29 each on clearance
Bananas - $0.69/lb
Lemons - $0.99 for the bag on clearance
Reese's - $1.25
Cucumbers - $0.59 each
Bell pepper - $0.59 each
Green onion - $0.59 for the bunch
Yami - $0.45 each
Ground turkey - $1.79/pound on clearance

My parents came into town on Thursday and Mom and I headed to the store for a few things.  I love to make baked potato soup for my dad and potatoes were needed.  I also dropped in at QFC for a couple things.  I spent $18.96 between the two stores.
Coffee creamer - $2.00 for the first 2, $2.79 for the 3rd
Satsumas - $3.99
Romaine - $1.79
Tomatoes - $0.99/lb
Refried Beans - $0.99
Potatoes - $2.99

Finally, I went to Fred Meyer once more to get more mandarins (my dad loves them) and some cereal for my kids who were whining terribly about oatmeal too many days in a row.  =)  I spent $18.89 on groceries.
Coffee creamer - $2.79 each (I forgot to use the store coupon!) ($1.00/2 MC) = $2.29 each
Cereal - $2.99
Satsumas - $3.99
Bananas - $0.64/lb
Lunchmeat - $3.49 ($0.75 MC) = $2.74
Onion - $1.49 for the 3 pounds
Corn - $0.29 each on clearance
Tomatoes - $0.39 on clearance
Persimmon - $1.00 for the kids to try one

Milk delivery was $11.16 as ever.

Total for week 44 groceries: $69.43
Total for year-to-date 2013: $4,471.75
Weekly Average: $101.63


Week 43 Grocery Shopping - $87.16

I've been so behind since I got home from vacation!  I've been busy organizing at home and the blogging has slipped, but I want to be sure and catch the grocery spending because it's been such a fun year of learning my true food costs!

While I was in Hawaii DH only went to the store once.  He bought cereal and more bananas.  I guess he didn't want to make the kids eat oatmeal.  =)  He said he spent $6.

My girlfriends and I managed to eat pretty reasonably in Hawaii.  It worked out to about $70 per person which I have to admit I was VERY pleased with since the first suggestion discussed a couple  months ago was $150 per person.

Finally, our milk delivery was $11.16.

Total for groceries the week I was out of town was $87.16.
Total cost of groceries year-to-date 2013: $4,402.32
Total average weekly grocery cost: $102.38