Monday, July 27, 2015

Gluten-Free Menu Plan

This week DD#1 and DD#3 are kitchen helpers and are helping plan the menu.  I'm still trying to steer them toward the freezer, but mostly the like their Paul Deen kid's cookbook and Elmo's cookbook.

Monday - Pizza (picked up Udi's crust on clearance)
Tuesday - Egg Salad (gf bread in freezer, will bake or buy other bread)
Wednesday - Porcupine Balls (ground beef from freezer)
Thursday - Lunch TBD at Aunt's house
Friday - Lunch out
Saturday - Macaroni & Cheese pie (gf noodles)
Sunday - leftovers

Monday - Pork w/ pear & cranberries (pork from freezer - didn't use last week)
Tuesday - Teriyaki chicken & rice (chicken from freezer)
Wednesday - Dinner out
Thursday - Dinner TBD at Aunt's house
Friday - Taco Salads
Saturday - chicken burgers
Sunday - Smoothies & Popcorn


Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 Groceries Week 30 - $107.01

My awesome mother-in-law was here early in the week and we didn't do much shopping except a quick run to the grocery store for a gallon of milk.

I spent $5.99 at County Market for organic milk.

The girls and I went to Costco Wednesday afternoon mostly for garlic & lettuce.  I was signed up for salad & chips at our Friday Bible study potluck so I also got veggie straws that my kids are in love with.  A new purchase was organic sugar.  As I try to transition and fit more organic stuff into the budget, this was the next step.  Really, it just seems so expensive and my grocery bill is definitely increasing, but small changes are less painful.  Maybe it's time to ask DH for a grocery raise? I spent $40.03 on groceries.

Thursday morning DD#1 went to Fred Meyer for fast morning shopping and a quick date.  Usually we do Wednesday nights, but DH worked late so it was a Thursday morning 'squeeze-it-in.'  I bought a sweet potato & butternut squash for an amazing soup I love, more chips for the potluck, GF cereal, clearance milk, sour cream, cilantro and a huge box of peaches.  I spent $44.55, but I owe the store money and haven't been back yet to fix the problem (see below).

Fred Meyer had peaches and nectarines on sale last week for $0.99/lb.  Usually, I score great canning peaches with my bulk buying group, but I have to miss this year's event.  I generally get several boxes of 23ish pounds for $17.50 which ends up in the $0.80/lb range or less!  A super great deal, but I thought I'd buy some peaches for canning at Fred Meyer since $0.99 was also a good price.  I asked a guy in the produce department if it would be possible to get a couple of boxes of the sale peaches.  He said they have huge totes, not boxes, and how much would I want.  I asked if 50 pounds would be OK, and he asked me to wait.  A few minutes later he came out with this big 'ol banana box full of peaches and put it in my cart.  I was delighted!  Then he said, "You can get a 10% discount, too, since you're buying so much."  WHAT!?!  AWESOME!?!  I went immediately to the register, but wasn't about to try and lift the peaches out at 6 months pregnant.  The cashier from the next stand lifted it onto the conveyor, but the scale wouldn't work for that heavy.  In my mind I'm thinking, "I don't want to pay for the box weight!" but the cashiers didn't seem to want to unload the peaches into bags and I was running late getting home so I just mentally decided to let it go, they were giving me a 10% discount after all.  Then they asked me how much was in the box.  I said, "I don't know exactly, but I asked the produce guy for 50 pounds so it's probably around there."  In my mind I'm thinking, "It might be only 40 pounds! What do I know if they guy weighed them back there? I can't lift the box and get a general idea myself!"  They decide to charge me for 50# and I remind myself of the 10% discount and it's still a good deal, even if the box isn't quite 50 pounds it might also be over 50 pounds so just have some grace for these cashiers who are trying to figure out what to do.  The decision made, the cashier gets an override and rings me up for 50# of white peaches which are NOT on sale and $2.79/lb.  The screen said $139.47 minus $13.95 for the 10% discount.  I said, "Um, that's not right.  I'm so sorry, I'm buying the $0.99/lb peaches."  She quickly flipped through the box and found another sticker that rang up at $0.99/lb.  It was for nectarines, but it was the right price at $49.49 minus $4.95 for the 10% discount and required a manager override again.  I wasn't going to correct the designation because the price was finally right, and I finally got out of there.  But then when I got home I realized my receipt was too little money.  How did I get the peaches AND the other groceries for $44.55?  A quick scan showed me that while the $139.47 for white peaches had been removed, the $13.95 discount was still on the receipt.  So I need to go pay an additional $13.95 and you'll see it in next week's total.  Crazy!  But really happy to get peaches for $0.89/pound when I thought I was going to miss out entirely this year.

I ran out to QFC tonight because we were out of milk.  I ended up getting more of their cream that's been on sale, some Doritos (bad choice!), and microwave popcorn for the kids who were watching a movie.  I spent $16.44.

I barely see my friend anymore who sells eggs. *sniff* and I cancelled our milk delivery to save money.

Week 30 Total: $107.01
Year-to-date 2015 Total: $3,195.79
Weekly Average: $106.53.

This is significantly higher than last year at this time - only $79.89!  But 2013 was $109.37 so I can feel good about that I guess . . .


Friday, July 24, 2015

Daily Project Post - Burning Ribbons on the Elsa Wand

Does Elsa even have a wand?  I don't think so, but DD#3 got a really fun birthday gift of a glittering snowflake cape and wand and this week I came to the rescue of the wand.

Here you can see how the ribbons had started to fray.  One of them had frayed several inches.

First, I trimmed off all the frayed ends.

Then I held the ribbons over a burning wooden match, but didn't let the ribbon touch the flame.  The heat of the fire melted the ribbon ends together, preventing future fraying.

Good as new!  This is also a good trick for favorite hair ribbons, some decorations on fancy dresses, and where I learned the trick as a kid: ballet pointe shoes.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Daily Project Post - Freezer Blueberries

This isn't a biggie, but last week I bought 3 flats (24 pounds) of blueberries.  I slowly got them frozen in batches using cookie sheets in my tight freezer.  I got the last few tucked away on Saturday morning and finally put labels on late Monday night.  My kids probably ate a half flat while they sat on the counter for 3 days so this is about 4 pounds in each gallon ziploc bag.

And I'll probably buy more from the farmer this week or next if he still has any and if I can find room in my grocery budget.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Daily Project Post - A Top for Wire Basket Drawers

DH and I have been working on getting our garage all cleaned up and organized.

The rental finally went on the market Friday so Saturday we spent a big chunk of time working on our garage.  First, DH took a big load of junk to our city's recycling event.  It was scrap metal from the rental's old fireplace, our old hot water heater, the old dented trash can, and old screens from the rental property.  There was also 'bulky garbage' including a bathroom cabinet with mirrors.  The recycle event also accepted some hardened concrete (half-bag used for a project and the rest hardened), and some dead electronics inlcuding a coffeemaker, a boom box, 2 small fans, and a VCR. They also took some big styrofoam pieces.  It was so nice to get it all out of the garage!

It was especially nice to have the utility trailer out of the garage and have all that space!  We also have our mission style dining table/chairs that have been in the garage for 5+ years now.  It is way past time to get rid of those, so we're hoping to do that this weekend.  I loved that dining set, but after this many years of using the formal dining room as an office I just don't think we'll ever bring it back inside.

One of my garage projects was putting a top on a little set of Ikea wire drawers.  This would allow me to stack stuff on top of the drawers - in particular, the tub where I toss the packing materials until I can recycle them.

Here's the drawer frame, ready for me apply the screws.

This tool is awesome!  It's just a small drill, but super handy as it makes those 'small jobs' go significantly faster.

Here you can see the screwed down brackets - it took about 30 seconds.

And the drawers now have a top!  So I can put my big bin on top instead of taking up more floor space in the garage.  Those boxes behind and to the right are garage sale/consignment/give away stuff.  To the left are the beginning of the long row of canning jars/shelves and 3 folding tables stacked in front of them.

So a quickie project, but one that's been waiting for LITERAL YEARS as that top has been waiting in the same closet since the day we moved into this house (ahem, 2007, ahem).

I will choose to say Whoo-hoo! instead of being ashamed of myself for taking so long.  ;)

Love, Katie

Monday, July 20, 2015

Gluten-Free Menu Plan

My freezer is ridiculously full as I continue to try and freeze more and more fruit while leaving my garage freezer defrosted.  I was also very confident in my packing abilities when I bought a dozen packages of meat last week that were on clearance.  Anyway - attempting to use old stuff out of freezer this week!

Monday - Wendy's (GF chili) after trip to zoo
Tuesday - Waffles
Wednesday - Pizza
Thursday - Macaronada
Friday - Finger Food Lunch
Saturday - Mexican Dip
Sunday - Leftovers

Monday - TexMex Turkey soup (uses shredded turkey, black beans, corn from freezer)
Tuesday - Chicken Cordon Bleu (uses chicken, ham from freezer)
Wednesday - Beef Stew (uses beef, carrots from freezer)
Thursday - Chicken & Roasted Veggie soup
Friday - Big Salad for potluck
Saturday - Pork Loin (from freezer)
Sunday - Popcorn & Smoothies

Smoothies (fruit from freezer)
Olive Crostini (still have bread rounds & a bit of jack cheese in freezer)
Zucchini Bread (have zucchini from last summer still in freezer)

Costco shopping list:
Organic Sugar
Kid Vitamins (on sale)

Other shopping:
Butternut squash
small sweet potato
peaches to can?


Sunday, July 19, 2015

2015 Groceries Week 29 - $200.32

Another big week . . .

First was early Monday morning at Fred Meyer.  I had gotten home from a weekend away the night before and gone straight to the rental where I worked with DD#1 until after midnight!  I was in bed by 1AM, but there was still no milk in the house so off the store I went early Monday.  I had some register-printed coupons from Fred Meyer for Post Cereal so on top of the 3/$5 sale these boxes of cereal were only $1.17 each.  Bacon was on sale for $2.99/lb.  Milk was normal price of $5.39/gallon, eggs were on sale for $2.69/dozen.  I also got cherries, bananas, & onion and a bottle of creamer I paid a whopping $2.79 for.  It was the best option, but still way too much!  Then I hit the jackpot in the clearance bins.  I got 4 big cans of diced tomatoes for $0.69 each, 4 small cans of diced tomatoes for $0.49 each, 2 cans of corn for $0.29 each, tomato paste for $0.29 each, a big can of peaches for $0.99 to take camping, 2 boxes of spaghetti for $0.49 each, Pam for $1.89 (and I had a coupon for $0.30 off), clearance Greek yogurt for $0.69 each.  Phew!  I spent $61.75.

Tuesday evening I drove out to Monroe to pick up blueberries at my favorite no-spray farm.  They were charging $18 for an 8 pound flat.  I got 3 flats for me and 11 flats for my girlfriends who wanted some.  So my blueberries were $54.

Later that night I popped into QFC hoping to get a deal on creamer, but realized it was a digital coupon.  I don't have a smart phone so I just poked around the clearance bins.  I found a couple bags of apples (with 5 and 6 apples in them!) for $1.00, 4 pack of Greek yogurt for $1.79, microwave popcorn for $0.99, Rice Krispies for $1.99 (big box), and some gluten-free caramel corn I thought the girls would like in our packed lunches.  I spent $9.22.

We've been working a lot in Issaquah on the rental, but I've been so busy I haven't been able to pop into Champion Foods - until this week!  I found just a few things and spent $12.65 on crackers, pasta sauce, organic decaf tea for my preggo self, brown rice pasta, curry powder, and a couple bags of chips.

Then yesterday I went down to QFC to get cream, bananas, and grapes and came home with all this! I got a package of boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.79/lb, 6 - 1# packages of ground Isernio's chicken for $1.50 each (and I had a coupon for $1.00 off one of them), 7 -1# packages of organic ground turkey for just $0.99 each (!), 2 packages of Isernio's breakfast sausages for $1.50 each (for camping), 2 - 8 oz bags of Tillamook shredded sharp cheddar that were on sale and I had a coupon making them $1.50 each, 3 creamers for $1.99 each, a dozen donuts (not pictured) for $3.99, ridiculously priced GF chocolate muffins for $4.99 so DD#2 could also have a treat, 6-packs of boxed dried cranberries for $0.99 each, 5 clearance yogurts for $0.29 each, organic milk on clearance for $2.49, after coupons the crackers were $1.25 each, and I also got red grapes, green grapes, and bananas.  I spent $62.70.

Once again I am making very poor progress on paying off my credit card which I've been floating a small balance on for over a year.  So far I've managed to pay off 30% since March, when I confessed to DH that I'd been floating a balance (but never paying interest).  Maybe I'll manage a bit more by the end of July.

2015 Week 29 Total: $200.32
Year-to-date Total: $3,088.78
2015 Weekly Average: $106.51


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Gluten Free Menu Plan

It's going to be a really busy week and I'm using the crockpot almost every night.   A plan will sure help so I remember to get meat out of the freezer, etc!  I also am needing some freezer space to freeze the blueberries I'm picking up on Tuesday evening.

Monday - Potato/Linguica stew (crockpot)
Tuesday - Chicken curry (crockpot) and rice (will make in the morning)
Wednesday - Asian Style Country Ribs (crockpot)
Thursday - Roasted Chicken
Friday - Chipotle Barbacoa Tacos (crockpot)
Saturday - MIL  visiting - Will ask what she wants
Sunday - Pizza

Monday - Leftovers (hot dogs, bbq chicken sandwich, corn on cob)
Tuesday - packed sausages
Wednesday - packed sandwiches
Thursday - packed sausages
Friday - Nachos (with nanny)
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Pot Roast


Monday, July 13, 2015

2015 Groceries Week 28 - $82.12

I only had two trips to the store this week.  We were swamped with rental work and I was out of town all weekend.  My family barely had food to eat because I didn't have time to make any!

I went to Costco on Wednesday because I had  a window of time and we were going through more chips & tortillas than normal as we had fast, easy meals.  I also had committed to bring a watermelon to our Small Group potluck dinner Friday night and this little window of time was a good opportunity to get one.  I forgot to take a photo, but I spent $49 something in cash (let's just say $50 for the tally).  I also got parmesan cheese, bananas, and I think that's it.  I'll update if the receipt turns up

I was at Fred Meyer for a couple more things before I left town.  I didn't want poor DH t have to go to the store with 3 kids while I was away and we were out of milk, GF cereal, and had very limited fruit. I found some clearance coffee for $3.49 and bought all 3 cans even though I just bought 4 or 5 dented cans just like it last week for $2.99.  I know we'll use it and $3.49 is too good a price to pass up.  I also bought chips for the potluck dinner, cottage cheese, and a GF sugary cereal for camping in August.  I spent $32.12.

No eggs from my friend and cancelled milk delivery.

Week 28 total: $82.12
Year to date total: $2,888.46
Weekly average: $103.16

Next week will be big because I'm getting blueberries.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

2015 Groceries Week 27 - $325.96

 Ouch!  Yes, that does say $325.96.  It was a huge shopping week and I didn't make nearly the dent in my small credit card balance that I was hoping to in June.  I'll try again in July.

Monday we headed over the rental house.  DH asked me to bring food as there weren't a lot of options for snacks, etc.  So we stopped at Fred Meyer and got lots of stuff.  I took this photo of the grocery bags in the back of the car.  I bought chicken nuggets & strips, 2 tubs of cottage cheese, bananas, clearance oranges & apples, clearance dressing & 3 cans of clearance coffee.  I also got a frozen dinner for DH to take to work that day.  I spent $33.74 on food.

Later Monday I headed out to our favorite berry farm in Monroe.  The Bahnmillers had set aside 8 flats of raspberries for me and a few of my friends.  3 were for me - here are 4 of the 6 half flats in my fridge.  They were $66.00 for about 21 pounds.

I met those friends with raspberries in the Costco parking lot Monday evening and finally had a long-awaited Costco shopping trip.  I spent a whopping $129.65!  I did get a lot of stuff and as I took the photo I realized how much was organic: syrup, carrots, salsa, chips, canned tomatoes, feta, flour, peanut butter.  But a lot was conventional, too: watermelon, shredded cheese, string cheese and another feta.  The fruit leather is also not organic, but it's non-GMO which makes me feel a little better.

I popped into QFC for milk on Thursday morning.  They had cereal for $1.49 if you buy 6  of certain things.  so I got 4 cereal & two creamers which were also part of the deal.  I found some jack cheese on clearance for $2.99 that still needs to be shredded and frozen.  I spent $19.91.

I went to Fred Meyer Friday for some plants we needed for the rental and I skimmed the clearance groceries before checking out.  I'm glad I did!  I found round steak for $2.39/lb, a loaf of bread, a package of buns, pita (love!), and a 'natural' chicken I had an additional $1.40 off coupon for. I also grabbed some bananas and clearance apples.  I spent $19.91 which is strange as it's exactly what I spent the day before at QFC.  Weird.

At QFC earlier in the week I had gotten an $2.00/5 GM coupon as I was checking out so I wanted to go back for the $1.49 cereal deal and use the coupon.  I got the cereal for an average of $1.16/box and a bunch of organic yogurt for $0.49 each.  I also bought chips because I was feeling snacky.  I spent $14.30.

I stopped at a different Fred Meyer for more plants on Saturday morning and cruised the clearance aisles again.  I picked up a couple of pork roasts for $1.79/lb and some cream cheese.  I spent $19.22 after a $5.00 off coupon I got as a catalina from an earlier purchase.

Finally, I made it to County Market on Saturday to use my final $10/$50 coupon.  My total after coupons and before sales tax was $50.62 so I saved 20%.  Yay!  Here's a list because they were such good deals I want to share!  Not that I should take the time with all the other stuff I need to do, but Oh well!

Organic Milk - $5.99 (20%) = $4.80 each
Lawry's & Sweet Baby Rays - $1.00 each sale (20%) = $0.80 each
Pickles - $1.99 each and ($1.00/2) coupons (20%) = $1.19 each
Earth balance organic - $3.99 (20%) = $3.19
Tortellini - $0.99 clearance price (20%) = $0.79 each!

No milk delivery as I finally arranged to have it stopped.  *sniff* and no eggs from my friend.

Total week 27 - $325.96
Total year to date 2015 - $2,806.34
Weekly Average - $103.94

Oh - I went over $100 for my weekly average.  Boo.  The bulk buying really gets me.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Daily Project Post - Food Prep

Where have the daily project posts been?  At the rental property!  I can't post all about it now as I'm spending so much time there all my time home is just staying caught up on laundry and food.

Mostly I just handled food and budget stuff re. end of month and our budget to get the rental on the market in my home hours this week.

Here are food photos.  Portioning up for getting stuff frozen, getting it into easy to use portions, and even getting it to fit into the small inside freezer.

Freezing raspberries.  Whole, firm ones on the waxed paper cookie sheet & soft, discolored in a bucket for jam.

There are never enough raspberries!  I just love them and they disappear fast. 

Round steak cut into chunks and portioned into 3 oz (for steak & egg breakfasts), 8 oz & 16 oz for dinners.
Chicken into 1# packages and wedged into freezer.  You see 4 here but 4 more are tucked into other nooks and crannies.
So the rental is occupying a lot of my time and bigger projects are on hold for another week or so.