Saturday, May 30, 2009

Could I live on this for a week- a peek into my grocery cart

A few years ago there was an online challenge to come up with a decent menu with only $20 a week and starting with no food at all (no sugar, spices, flour, etc).

A quick trip to the grocery store this morning had me surveying my cart and wondering if I could manage solely on what I had picked up.

A six pack of coke bottles (my major weakness)
3 loose potatoes
A bag of romaine salad
A pack of wheat hog dog buns
A dozen medium eggs
A four pack of vegetarian Italian sausage
A canister of General Foods vanilla coffee mix
Total: 16.03

It looks like I'd be having a hot dog bun for breakfast for four days with a cup of coffee mix. The other three days would have me eating a boiled egg and some coke.

Lunch would be a very small salad with a few pieces of chopped egg. Water to drink.

Dinner for four nights would be a Italian sausage on a hot dog bun. The other three nights I could have a delicious plain baked potato with no toppings washed down with some coke.

If I had no one else to feed I could manage it. I would be hungry for sure (oh, darn weight loss). But, I would survive.
Now if I had planned ahead I would grab brown rice, bananas, and pinto beans. For less than a dollar a pound bananas are still a good buy. Need I say that that pack of Coke would still be on the store shelf.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What's For Dinner: Comfort Food from the freezer and pantry

Morningstar veggie dogs topped with homemade veggie chili.

All ingredients bought with coupons or on a deep discount.

G'Bye Cascade

The dishwasher detergent I mixed up a few days ago with a cup of borax, a cup of baking soda, a teaspoon of salt, and the last tablespoon of ReevaAldi brand dishwasher powder works great.
It is a lot better than the Reeva powder by itself.

One more reason why the only cleaners I need to buy are plain soap, vinegar, washing soda, borax, and baking soda.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Who needs a schedule for the Summer?

I do!

My mind is ajumble with keeping track of all camps, classes, trips, and other summer activities.
It's completely unlike when I was a kid and could spend the day playing in the sprinkler or hunting for bugs. We'll still have times to do that but they will have to be scheduled.

And I'm not a scheduling kinda gal.

Any ideas on how I can do some type of daily reading/math lesson with Big Girl, get some play time in, keep the kids from killing each other, and still have a sorta maintained and orderly household?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TO DO List-

Grocery Shop- (done)

Weed veggies (when it finally stops raining)

Iron my pile and iron on transfer to t-shirt (done)

Mend the Car Seat Cover again (mostly done)

Clean out Fridge

Clean off kitchen table

Quicken all receipts

Father's Day Presents

Teachers Presents- Bake Muffins tomorrow (done)

Make card and wrap birthday present for party on Sunday

Mail Paperback Swap book
Bag up garage sale videos & books

Friday, May 22, 2009

Enjoying the Everyday

My little veggie patch might not impress anyone else but I get a sweet thrill when I see how lush and bushy my pumpkins and zucchini babies are- not to mention the 5 yellow flowers on my Lemon Boy plant that will soon be delicious homegrown (and still organic) tomatoes.

My Asian climbing beans (lab lab?) are coming along beautifully as the squirrels have decided that they are not that tasty. The marigold seeds I scattered are sprouting up everywhere and by the end of summer I will have a vibrant yard full of lush orange blooms.

And my dollar store laundry line has seen action everyday. I get a thrill out of folding slightly crunchy and wind fresh clothing.

I've been keeping on top of my library items so we always have dvds and books for our entertainment.

I'm still trying to save water in my shower by turning off the water while I soap up. It has the added benefit of making me hurry so I can get in and out of the shower in 3 minutes if I don't wash my hair and 7 if I do. The days of languishing in a hot steamy shower are over as I'd rather get on with my day.

This past week we've had a lot of homemade treats- Puddings, bread pudding, apple pie, and cake mix cookies. All of them with things that were in my pantry or freezer. I also surprised Hubby with an impromptu picnic with sandwiches, iced tea, and chips.

Our dining out expenses have been cut this week with the use of a BOGO coupon for a lunch out with hubby, a cheap Taco Bell dinner night, one .49 cent fountain soda from the gas station, and a drive thru treat of mini ice cream cones for 1.37.

I've been air drying out dishes in the dish washer to save on electricity. Last night I mixed up the last tablespoon of Aldi dishwasher powder with some borax, salt and baking soda to make my own cleaner. I'm not using vinegar as a rinse as I have multiple bottles of rinse aid that were free after coupons.

All of these things give me great joy and if they save money or resources that's great too. I like doing more with less so that we can spend on the things we really enjoy like vacations and dinners out.

Playing with my big sweet doggy- priceless.

Grocery Shopping and How am I doing on our $60 budget

On my two previous shopping trips to Foods For Less and Wal-Mart I spent $27.32.

Today I went to Schnucks with my coupon box to get a few deals-

2 Martha White Muffin mixes- not on sale at $1.08 apiece
2 Lipton Decaf ice tea bags- 3.84- .75 MFR coupon - 1.50 store coupon makes them $2.34 each
Bananas- not on sale at .65 an lb. .64 cents
C&H 4 pound sugar bag- on sale for 1.79 minus .30 MFR coupon + store double = 1.19
2 Ragu sauces on sale for 1.58 minus two MFR coupons totaling 1.20 = .98 cents apiece
HeartLand Mickey shaped Pasta- FREE after purchasing two jars of Ragu
Sargento's Salad Finishers- on sale for $2- $1 MFR coupon = $1 plus FREE after rebate
Nutty Bars- financial downfalls are started by shopping while hungry 1.34
4 2 liters of Store Brand Soda- on sale for .59 each= 2.36 for 4
Durkee Seasoning Salt- on sale for 1.00 minus .50 MFR coupon = .50 (for a wedding gift I'm assembling)
Lawry's Garlic Salt- on sale for $1.50 minus .50 MFR coupon - $1 (for wedding gift)
Morning Star Riblets- 4.19 minus .75 MFR coupon = 3.44
Luigi's Italian Ices- on sale for $2 minus .75 MFR coupon = 1.25
2 Snickers Bars for Friday night date night- BOGO after MFR coupon = .33 cents each
One Everything Bagel for my breakfast- .65 cents
Total before coupons $35.79
After coupons and rebate= $22.31

Grocery Budget for the week is $60. I've spent 51.63. That leaves 8.37 in the budget to scope out Dierbergs for goodies and perhaps some free Marcal toilet paper.

Typing it all out makes me see where I'm wasting our money (snack foods, Hello!). And my grocery shopping in no way represents a balanced diet. But, with our stockpile of sale/couponed foods- I never have a normal grocery list anyway. Plus, I get a lot of things to donate by using coupons too.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Visa Black Card- Only for the 1% Dumb Enough to Get One.

My mailbox had a sleek black envelope in it today. Curious, I opened it to see what could be lurking inside (high dollar coupons!! free samples!!!?).

It was an application for "The World's Most Prestigious and Versatile Credit Card" that only 1% of the population carry. Hmm. What are the perks? OOH, a credit card made of carbon (whoopdedoo.. I'm made of carbon, my dog is made of carbon), 24 hour concierge service, and a nice annual fee of only $495. Well, for only $495- heck why not make it an even $500 since that special 1% is dumb enough to buy a credit card?

Me? I'll stick with the card that pays me back 1%. It may not be made of carbon (or platinum or playtex or spandex whatever) but it does have a nice Seurat painting on it.

I am planning on re-using that nice envelope though. I unglued it and flipped inside out and it's ready for a homemade card - Thanks Visa Black Card.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One more thing that I can make myself- Microwave popcorn

Brown paper bag- check. 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels- check. butter spray- check

Sorry Orville, I actually prefer my own.

More couponing

Here we have:

Hunts Ketchup free after MFR coupon
Kitten Food free after MFR coupon
Kraft bbq sauce (2) on sale for .88 cents and used .75 off MFR coupon so .13 cents apiece
Small bottle of fabric softener from dollar section $1
And a pack of clearance sweet rollls that we ate $1.50

Total: $3.91

I had to include my new $1 purse (still have tags, calculator and day book attached) from a garage sale.

No shopping today. My goal today is work on my to-do list, hang a load of laundry, make dinner, and spend no money.

Monday, May 18, 2009

To Do List for this Week

Put away all clean laundry (never ending process- finished all of yesterdays but we have a new load hanging to dry so this stays on the to-do list)

Change Sheets on my bed (done)

Mail Paperbackswap book and mark as mailed (done)

Register Big Girl for School- find paperwork for this. (done)

Fill out all paperwork and mail for summer activities (done)

Book our vacation (Done!! Yippeee)

Make bread pudding with old milk (done)

Make vanilla pudding with old milk for dessert tonight (done)

Put out fresh water for the fish tank (done)- and get Hubby to clean it (done)

Boil eggs for snacks & breakfasts (done)

Clean out fridge (really don't want to do this one!!!)

Clean out and gas up car (done)

Figure out summer schedule for trip to Grandma's (done)

Start working on garage sale piles- I am determined to have one this year.

Buy Memorial Day flowers- or plant bulbs??

Take a trip to the basement to put up extra food and freeze bread from thrift store. (Done and I cleaned the cat litter while I was down there so Hubby won't have to later)

WalMart Shopping Today- using up those high $ coupons

I spent a few hours this weekend reassembling my dumped coupons and pulling all free and high dollar coupons.

The receipt:

Windex Wipes- 2.63- .40 MFR coupon (plus free after I send off rebate)
Sure Men's Deodorant x 2- 1.78- 1.50 MFR coupon so .28 cents each
Snickers Marathon Bar- (don't go shopping hungry) .98
Always Pads- 4.97 - 4 MFR coupon so .97 cents
Johnson's Buddies Soap- free after $1 MFR coupon
Denim shorts for Little Guy- 3.50
Sun Hat for Little guy- 3.00
Peter Pan peanut butter x 2- 2.18 minus $1 MFR coupon so 1.18 each
A1 steak sauce- 2.63 minus $2 MFR coupon so .63 cents
Kraft Salad dressings x 2- $1.58 - 1.50 coupon so .08 cents each
Morningstar veggie dogs - not on sale and no coupon 3.32
Doritos Cool Ranch- splurge for 2.50
Mr. Clean Magic Erasers x2 -1.96 and a BOGO MFR Coupon so 1.96 for 2 packs
Kashi Waffles- 2.54 free after MFR coupon
Cascade rinse aid- 3.13 free after MFR coupon
Coke Zero- 1.38 free after coke rewards coupon

Total before coupons= 46.55
After coupons= 23.41

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Frugal Deeds of the Day

*Returned what library items I could find before they accrued any more fines. (ok, not frugal but I'm working on it)

*Ate at home.

*Hung my laundry outside on my cheap dollar store line.

*Weeded and finished planting the last of the tomatoes from my bathroom "nursery".

These are my cherry tomatoes that I grew from seed. I plan on seeing which one is the heartiest and plucking the others before I cage it.

This is the left side of my poor little veggie patch. The back right square has one melon barely hanging on and one volunteer pumpkin. The small rectangle in the middle has my cilantro and basil garden. Front and center we have my zuchini, eggplant, and pumpkin patch. Something really loves my eggplant and my leaves are slowly disappearing.

This is the right side of my veggie patch. The bottom is my pumpkin patch all from last years jack o' lantern volunteer. The back part is my tomato patch with early girl, lemon boy, mr. stripey, and four beefsteaks that I started in my bathroom. Something is eating them too.
This is what I have left of my container garden. I planted lettuce (all gone- squirrels), morning glories, and an Asian climbing bean. The Asian climbing beans are hanging on but I'm not sure the squirrels won't get to them soon. They seem to like morning glories a lot.

Other than composting leaves and kitchen scraps on our garden I have not fertilized at all. I bought some 7dust for the eggplant but I am loathe to use it as I'd love to have an organic garden. But, I'd also like some veggies to harvest too.

The best way to Curb your spending.

Clean out your wallet and review your receipts. Today Quicken and I are becoming reacquainted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Starting From Scratch.

One thing that I love about Flylady is her premise that you're never behind.

I need to keep reminding myself that as it becomes more apparent how many things I have let slide the last couple of weeks.

Our family calendar fell down two weeks ago and I still haven't gotten around to nailing it back up. Constantly reminding yourself of dentist appointments and early school pick ups is not the way to stay organized. Something is bound to fall in the cracks.

I have gotten the dirty dishes in the sink under control again but now it's time to bleach and scrub it so it get shiny and motivates me.

The grocery circulars and coupon piles are calling me and I'm trying to ignore them. Is it worth my time to get one or two cheap/free things from a few stores when I don't really need the items right now? I know I could donate them but they will be in my way until I get around to going to the pantry drop off in a month or two.

What do I tackle first?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Garage Sale Deals This Morning.

I chose garage sale shopping time over any store bought thing for Mother's Day this year. Big Girl and I headed out with whatever bills I could scrape from mine and Hubby's wallets. I ended up with about 9 dollars.

Here's what we got:

One complete Disney's Magic Kingdom set- very neat for $1
Stride Rite sandals for Big Girl- .50 cents
Long sleeved thermal t for Little Guy this winter- $1
Shorts for Little Guy- $1
Polly Flinders sweater for Big Girl- $1
Snowman ornament- .25 cents
Stuffed Simba cub animal- .50 cents ( we so did not need another stuffed animal-this is where shopping alone is a good idea)
Pink Gap summer dress for Big Girl- .25 cents
Long Sleeved shirt for Big Girl- .25 cents
Velour sweat pant sets for Big Girl- .50 cents
Pink Kobe Kids sweater for Big Girl- .25 cents
Two figurines for Little Guy- .25 cents
One free monster truck from free box complete with a full set of teeth in the tires
Lemonade from kid run stand- .50 cents
Alarm clock for Big Girl- $1

I still have about a dollar left. I've definitely done better but Big Girl and I got in some quality time together learning about the value of a dollar. And I won't be scrambling as much come fall to assemble back to school clothes. I'm doing my back to school shopping now one quarter at a time. Of course, she's growing so fast I only hope what I'm buying now will fit next winter. If not I'll pack it up and take it to the kid's consignment store and see if I can recoup something.d

As someone who normally purchases our clothes at thrift stores it seems amazing to me how quickly those $2 and $3 items can seem really pricey. Garage saling can be a lot of work but if you need to stretch your dollars on kids clothes and toys I don't think they can be beat.

What I didn't buy- any more paperbacks. My shelves are aching.
Decorator items- I need no more stuff until I use what I have
Garden plants or items- tempting but I need to take care of what I own first
Adult clothing- we don't need anything
Dishes, cookware etc.- don't need it.
Power tools- Not my department
Furniture- although we are thinking of getting a desk for Big Girl's room since she'll be doing homework soon- I'm just not ready for one yet and we have to re-arrange. When we are ready I feel confident that the right one will come along for the right price. Until then she'll have to make do at the kitchen table.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Parenting Files: Free Joy for the taking.

Despite a crumby start to my day (my full coupon box tipped over, I forgot Little Guys lunch at home, etc) I have to admit that the one thing that always puts a smile on my face is the silliness of my boy.

We spied the baby geese who live in our neighborhood on our way home from school. We sat in our car for a minute watching their little yellow selves waddle around in the water puddles on this rainy day. Never straying too far from their parents, they moseyed from puddle to grass shoot inspecting their new world. Little Guy of course wanted to take one home and voiced this loudly when we pulled away from them. Yeah, I know how he feels.

This is him five minutes ago. He heard the recycling truck coming and jumped up on his computer table to get a better look. He'll let me know when it gets to our house.

Thanks Little Guy for keeping me grounded and always managing to put a smile on your tired mama's face. I love you to the moon.
The truck is here and you're calling me to join you. Must go.

Tired and Lazy isn't a way to go through life

I don't like to write about the truly personal details of my life on this blog and mostly see it as a vehicle to share ideas with other frugal minded people.

The truth is that I've been in a major rut lately. I'm tired all of the time and my bp is high even on medication. There are many days where I don't cook except to heat something up in the microwave and I have many baskets of folded laundry left from the last two weeks that are begging to be put away.

I'm being fitted for a C-pap machine on Monday for my sleep apnea which my Dr. thinks is causing my exhaustion and my high bp. I am in no way looking forward to having to sleep with a Darth Vader mask on every night. And I'm sure Hubby will think it's sexy too. Well, maybe he'll get better sleep anyway. It's probably quieter than my snoring.

So, with that confession I apologize to all my readers about my lack of interesting blog content and photos. I especially need to apologize to Ruthie who's produce picture I stupidly uploaded for a post.

This is what I'm doing today:

Here's my ambitious plans for date night with Hubby:

I get the Oatmeal and Hubby gets the Monkey.

Hopefully I'll be back up on the horse again soon with some new and my own original content to share. Until then I'll be reading all of your blogs for inspiration.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dierbergs Today:

Had to do a bit of shopping today although my big trip will be tomorrow. I also brought my own reusable bags for the first time even though they didn't offer me a discount.

2- 4 packs of Cottonelle t.p.- 3. 17 each after coupon
2 packs of vegetarian ethic meal kits- on markdown shelf for .99 each
Purina kitten chow- free after MFR coupon (for donation)
Ronzoni Smart Taste noodles- .50 a box after MFR coupon
Sara Lee Honey Wheat bread- free after sale and coupon
Snuggle Fabric softener- 2.49 after MFR coupon
Box of Apple Whirls cereal- $1 in dollar section (I let Little Guy pick)
3 packs of fresh blackberries- .99 a box on special

Total OOP:

The cereal, fabric softener, cat food, tp, and meal kits were not planned purchases but I feel good about the deals I got.

Couponing with a plan

I am weeks behind in clipping and sorting my coupons. I also have several high dollar and free coupons for things we need. This is also a week where one of my local groceries stores is doing "Coupon Thursday" where they deduct ten dollars off any purchase over fifty.

A lot of my free time has been spent outside in my yard planting veggies and flowers and weeding a love vine here and there. Big Girl found a little black toad and we had hours of entertainment with him. She named him Harold the Wild and bravely set him free again after her Daddy got a chance to meet him. I even mowed (poorly according to Hubby) the front lawn last week. My house is showing signs of neglect as my veggie patch is starting to blossom.
Today it's rainy outside and I've got nowhere to be so Little Guy and I are happy to be at home doing simple chores like putting away the mountain of clean laundry and planning a trip to the grocery store tomorrow.

I no longer have the great drive to find every bargain but if I plan accordingly today then I can get in and out of a store with things we're running low on for less money. That pleases me more than bargain hunting for the sake of bargain hunting.

**Squirrels in my lettuce container! I doubt I'll have enough for one small salad. GRRRR**