Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Year of Savings: 2013

Mar 22:  My kids are coming in for the weekend.  I made a few things ahead for meals so that I could spend more time with them and less time cooking.  I could have bought take out or even frozen entrees but homemade is just so much better.  Two meals prepared ahead of time netted me a savings of at least $20.

Mar 23:  The little wagon full of alphabet blocks wasn't expensive at Ross for Less.  I paid just $10 for it, compared to the $21 we spent for a similar item at Toys R Us a few years ago for another grandchild.  The kids loved it just as I thought they would.  Savings $11.  What they also enjoyed: empty plastic buckets (which became hats, were filled with toys), canning jar rings (bracelets), an empty oatmeal box (used as a drum and as a container to drop things into).  Toys are fun, but honestly, no money is required when you have children.  Imagination is a great thing.

Mar 24: No expenses associated with this day.  We didn't buy the Sunday paper, didn't go into town, didn't use a lot of energy cooking (used microwave to reheat leftovers).  I'm sure there were savings but I'll limit it to the cost of the paper and the gasoline saved.  Saved: $2.25.

Mar 25:  I felt a little unwell today with an earache and sore throat.  I opted for the prayer,  mega dose of Vitamin C and gargle method.  That and plenty of water seemed to do the trick.

It was time to wash bath towels.  I had enough clothes for a small load but I scrounged about and came up with enough items to make up a medium load.  This means we won't be doing another load for a couple of more days this week and I barely raised the water level.

I noticed the markings on my detergent lid had begun to wear off, making it impossible to tell which level was required for small and medium loads.  I got out the red nail polish and used that to mark the lines on the lid.  That won't wear off and it will allow us to continue to use only as much detergent as is needed.  I've noticed the bottle of detergent has last us about a month longer this time around, though it was a smaller bottle than our last. Savings $2.49.

Dear DIL prepared dinner for us Saturday evening.  We had leftovers and she left them with us.  Those leftovers were our main dish today.  I just added a salad.

Mar 26: I sure didn't feel well today.  Allergy/cold, call it what you'd like I knew just what I needed: Chicken Noodle Soup.  Mine didn't come from a can, it was good homemade soup, enough for a couple of meals and cost me less than one can of ready to heat and eat soup.  My big pot of soup saved me $5 the cost of the 'extra' cans needed to make up the same amount of soup.

Mar 27:  Mama and I skipped the shopping today and simply had dinner out and a nice ride.  I've said it before and it continues to be true: if I don't go into a store I save.  I decided to go into the local store to pick up the one grocery item needed for John's work meals this week.  I'm not even tempted to pick up extras in there on a good day and today was a good day.  Overall I'd put my savings at $30 for the day.

Mar 28:  Pantry freezer challenge ongoing, I am now able to dig deep into the baskets to pull out those items that really needed to be used up or would be a total loss.  I was amused by the cost comparison of today's meal and one we had a few weeks ago.  I had chicken wings (sauced with a homemade sauce), French Fries (the remaining portions of two different bags), and Celery sticks with blue cheese dressing (home prepared celery and homemade dressing).  We paid $25 for a similar meal out (and got a FULL cup of coffee afterwards instead of the half cup poor John received when he ordered coffee!).  My costs today, just using what I had on hand netted us a difference of $20.  Using what we had and not letting it be lost in the freezer until it was no longer edible saved us $5.

 Mar 29:    I gave myself a full pedicure today.  Compare my FREE pedicure to the cost of a salon pedicure.  I saved $25.

We washed a full load of clothes and a full load of dishes today.  

Mar 30:  I made muffins for breakfast the other morning.  Not unusual, I do that sort of thing often.  What was unusual was that I only made a half dozen and I put the rest of the batter in the fridge right away.  This meant it didn't 'rise' and it also meant that we had only enough muffins for one day, key for us because we don't seem to like muffins that aren't made fresh that day.  Otherwise they just end up in the dogs' pans.

So this morning, I added to my half batch of batter: 1 cup grated carrot, 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and made a small batch of Carrot Cake muffins.  Frosted them with leftover cream cheese frosting from that pitiful bunny cake.  John told me they were super good.  Score me!  My leftover batter makeover saved us tossing a half batch of muffins.  Savings is too small to calculate but it's still savings!

Mar 31:  John brought home a treat for me, the cutest cupcake, straight off the pages of Pinterest.  He also brought home two hardboiled, dyed eggs.  "Egg salad would be great from those," he told me as he handed them over.  Good idea.  Two eggs made enough egg salad for three sandwiches.

Weather warmed up nicely for the day.  So warm that the house got a bit stuffy.  The AC came on but so did the oscillating fans.  That kept the air stirring even with the AC set to summer settings, which kept us cool while we grow accustomed to the warmer temperatures.

I clipped coupons this morning and sorted them, then went online to look at sales sheets and make out my list.  Preparation ahead always helps me to save money.

Savings this week: $100.74

Savings for March $736.44

Weekly Meal Plan

The weather outside is Springlike once more, after a couple of chilly rainy days at the end of last week.  We went visiting yesterday and the ride was made that much more pleasant by the site of dogwood, redbud, azalea, and cherry trees along with that soft gentle new green of leaves starting to show upon many of the trees.

I woke a little late this morning, to a world riddled with sunshine, dew, birdsong and the most beautiful blue skies.  SIGH!  It's nice to see Spring has finally arrived.  Mosquitoes, too.  I got bitten twice last night while the dogs ate.  John's planning to mow the lawn today, first time for this year.  I think we had to mow in February last year due to the unexpected heat wave that hit us and shoved Spring away in about one and half weeks.  I like this slow easing into a season myself, despite the pollen.

Trouble is, weather like this has me thinking all sorts of thoughts: mulch, plants, new curtains, paint, etc.  I mean to stick to my Back to Basics plan but I can see that will be a huge challenge if this keeps up.  One just naturally wants to spruce everything else up to look as pretty as it does all outdoors.

As I said earlier I was up late this morning.  John took one look at me and knew without a doubt he would be waiting a bit longer for breakfast as I was definitely on a two cup coffee call before I was going to be sensible, lol.  Bless the man he got busy rattling pots and pans and made quite a nice breakfast for us of omelets, fried Spam (no Ews allowed we LIKE Turkey Spam!), and toast.  So nice to be pampered by the man of the house while the coffee took effect.

Big late breakfast and plans to mow the lawn, there's no need for a big heavy meal.  I had a prepared entree in the freezer that I'll heat and add salad.  One meal down, six more to go...

Spaghetti, Salad, Pineapple Cupcakes
I used my favorite single layer cake recipe to make up a dozen cupcakes. I decided to replace the milk called for with the juice from a small can of crushed pineapple, then dumped in the fruit, too.  I had leftover butter cream frosting in the fridge from the disastrous bunny cake.  I used that to frost the cupcakes.  John says these are the best cupcakes I've ever made!  I don't know if that's true or he's just that easy to wow, but they are moist and tender.  I was happy to use up another can of that pineapple that expires next month.  Only three cans more to go.

Chicken Enchiladas, Spanish Rice, Black Beans, Salad
I never made chicken tacos last week.  I had the meat cooked and was ready to prep the meal when John told me he didn't think he wanted that for dinner.  I had a fall back meal we could eat and just put the chicken meat in the freezer. I think he'll be happier with the switch to enchiladas.

Beanie Weenies, Coleslaw, Corn Muffins, Grapes
I have three hot dogs in the fridge. I'll slice and add to a can of baked beans for homemade version of Beanie Weenies.

Tuna Salad Nicoise, Tomato Soup, Crusty Bread
I'll use canned tuna, sliced cooked yukon gold potatoes, and steamed whole green beans for the salad.  In summer we wouldn't add soup to the menu, but Spring is a season when a little something more is nice, as appetites are still used to the heavier meals of winter.

Chicken Kiev, Roasted Asparagus, Wild Rice, Green Salad with grapes and apples
John loves roasted asparagus.  I try to buy it each grocery day when it's in season as it has been for about a month now here.  The challenge is coming up with menus that it 'fits' and I think this one will do nicely.  I'd have liked to do a salad with strawberries and almonds, but the berries were not very pretty this last grocery shop.

 BBQ Beef Cups, Spring Salad Bowl, Strawberry Cobbler
I DO have frozen berries in the freezer.  Nothing tastes richer than cooked strawberries in a cobbler.  I won't make a big cobbler, just enough for two.  I'll make my own bbq sauce for the beef cups and my own biscuit dough, too.  I'll put some of the biscuit in the freezer for future meals.

Macaroni and Cheese, Wedge Salads with Thousand Island dressing, Steamed Broccoli
I'll likely cook double the amount of macaroni required, perhaps even a whole box.  I can always use an extra dish in the freezer for a future easy meal and any leftovers besides can become salad next week.

That should do nicely for the week ahead, don't you think?  Have a great week!