Monday, May 27, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan

Well here we are once more.  Time to get back into routine.  Holiday aside, meals are planned once more.  Next task today: begin a freezer and pantry inventory.  It's moving on towards June now and high time I checked to see what I've got on hand and what is needed in the months ahead.

I had a 'practice' run of pantry cooking this weekend.  I skipped grocery shopping last pay period, saving my money for food for a little trip we took last week.  Not replenishing at home was fine...until we had to prepare a company dinner...I made a meal which will appear below in the menu plan, but it was a scraped together affair.  Truthfully, I might have made it until grocery day this week if I'd tried, but John was paid early due to the holiday, Publix had some too good to miss sales on items we can't buy at Aldi and when John was called in to cover for the other team due to a holiday presentation at Andersonville, I took advantage of his being gone and went off to pick up the sales items and enough produce to get us through until we go to Aldi later this week.  It's amazing how just having lettuce and tomato and an apple or two on hand can feel like a booster shot to the pantry.

Roasted Whole Chicken, Beans and Potatoes, Waldorf Salad, Challah, Peach Cobbler
I knew Katie and her boyfriend would be down to pick up her furniture from the shed.  Seemed to me the last thing they were going to do was stop for a meal anywhere along the way, especially knowing that she still had to load her things from her brother's house as well.  I was right and they looked very happy to know they'd have a nice hot meal while here.
Katie made the cobbler, using frozen peaches from my freezer.  It was very good.  Similar, I think, to the one I make, but she had her own recipe and I was too busy to notice how she made it.
This meal was all about using what I had.  Apples from the fridge bought two pay periods ago, some awfully wrinkled little potatoes, canned green beans, challah leftover from the Shabat table the night before.  But it tasted good and no one would guess how hard I'd had to think to come up with a mix of fresh and canned ingredients to pull it together.

Chicken Tortellini Salad, Challah bread, WW 'Ice Cream' Sandwiches
Today's meal was a leftover makeover dish.  And yes, I know I've skipped Sunday's menu...There was none!  I made a tomato sandwich for my dinner after I came in.
This is an easy salad to make:  I didn't have green onion, so used vidalia onion, a little red (or orange or yellow just for added color and crunch) bell pepper with a Parmesan dressing that you make yourself.  Very tasty and served warm-ish not cold.  This is the first time I've made a full recipe.  We'll have leftovers to eat on grocery day.

Cubed Steak Sandwiches, Chips, Fruit Cocktail
I'll use two of the hamburger buns for the bread and we'll have lettuce and tomato and Vidalia onion on the sandwiches.

Burgers on the Grill, Lettuce/Tomato/Onion/Cheese, Corn on the Cob, Wellesley Fudge Cake
It's Mama's birthday and this is her 'gift'.  She loves a good grilled burger.

Tuna Salad Plates, Crisp Crackers, Fresh Fruit
With tomatoes, lettuce, and carrots on hand I think tuna salad is a nice meal for a warm day.

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Steamed Broccoli, Garlic Cheese Toast
I need to look up recipes for other meatless meals to have...but in the meantime this dish is a good way to use up fresh tomatoes.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love summer produce?  The foods are flooding into our markets here in the South and I have to really limit myself and not overbuy this time of year.
Fresh tomato sauce is a mix of diced tomatoes, a little olive oil, garlic, and parsley (fresh basil if you have it).  Let sit on the counter for a few hours so the flavors fully marry, then toss with hot pasta.  If you can afford Boccini (fresh baby mozzarella cheeses) they are especially nice in this dish, too.  If not, a good grated Parmesan will do.

Taco Pizza, Tossed Salad
I'll assemble the pizza and leave in the fridge, cook after we come in from synagogue.  I'll top the warm pizza with crisp shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar and some of the homemade enchilada sauce.  You could skip the enchilada sauce and make a fresh pico de gallo to top the lettuce instead, with dollops of sour cream on each slice.  

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!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan: Pantry Freezer Challenge Week IV

Wow what a Week End!  Grandbabies and their parents arrived Friday afternoon.  Dear DIL made dinner.  I don't know how she does it, drive 5 hours to our house and then make dinner, but then again she'd been in close confines with the kiddos for 5 hours so maybe that was a huge break for her!  She spoils us a bit, always has a new item or recipe she wants to try.  Friday evening was a fancied up meal of Artisan tomato soup and Panini style Grilled Cheese that was grown-up sandwiches: Havarti and Gouda on three cheese Italian bread.  Campbell's tomato soup suddenly seems so...I don't even have words.  Let's just say that I'd much much rather have the Artisan soup, but I'll probably have another can or two of Campbells soup before I give it up and admit that I've been turned into the worse tomato soup snob ever born. 

It was a rollicking weekend.  It was stormy outside with rain and thunder and lightning and inside it was just as noisy and loud.  Sleepy babies, babies thwarted in their intent to do exactly what they know they oughtn't, parents and grandparents shouting a warning to the nearest adult to prevent the disaster just milliseconds away, and a wee older brother who has just discovered the lack of freedom when twins become mobile enough to follow  you every single place you go.  Yes.  It was awesome.

I made a bunny cake.  I haven't made one in years upon years and no there will be no pictures forthcoming.  It was the oddest looking thing and I didn't think ahead before I got it made.  I used a recipe I'd found late last year and wanted to make for my own birthday cake back in February.  For one reason and another I didn't get to make it then.

I made the bunny cake that starts with a single round layer, cut in half and set on the cut ends to form the body. Then I had this brilliant idea to use a tiny portion of the batter in a regular cupcake tin and another tiny portion in a mini muffin tin to make the head and tail portions, an addition of my own that I thought was brilliant.  Heaven help me.  I got the thing assembled and frosted and it was a right mess with a wobbly head and droopy tail. I used a cut plastic straw to hold the head and tail in place, fashioned ears from a white paper plate and shoved them in.  At this point I was down to eyes and nose.  Only I forgot to buy the candy I'd meant to use to decorate it with.  So I used two pastel blue peanut M&M candies for the eyes and a pretty pink one for the nose.  At that point I decided I'd best stop the decorating.  It was pretty weird looking.

But it gets worse.  I couldn't cover the thing because with the addition of the head and tail it was too long to go in my cake carrier.  That's not the worst thing that can happen.  I knew the frosting would 'dry' somewhat and protect the cake from drying out.  I didn't know that it would also dry out the M&Ms which cracked so my rabbit had chocolate bloodshot eyes and a funny looking nose.  But it gets worse.  Because you see, in my lack of thinking ahead, when you cut into my bunny cake there inside was the cake...a cherry nut cake so the whole thing ended up looking rather macabre.  Thank goodness my grandson is three and thought it just fine.  The rest of us sort of shifted our eyes away from one another and let it rest.  It did taste pretty good, though.

Well, enough of my foolishness.  I am a woman blessed.  Our pantry and freezer are still full-ish, our home is pretty much ready for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread.  The weather report is that the cold is blowing in once more on another blast of Arctic air.  I've just the meals to remedy that cold spell.

Leftover Baked Spaghetti, Green Salad, Toast, and the Unfortunate Rabbit Cake
I made the spaghetti dish Thursday.  Somewhere in between there and Saturday when I first served this meal, the sauce 'disappeared'. It had been so nice and thick, a real meaty layer in the middle of the spaghetti dish.  The pasta must have absorbed the sauce.  It tasted good but it came across as flavored pasta.  We finished off the casserole today.

Flank Steak, Hashbrown Casserole, Spring Salad, Muffins
Dear DIL provided the main course Saturday night of a marinated flank steak.  It was very tasty and John was pleased as punch when he heard that she'd left the leftovers in the fridge for us.  (I discovered a container of that awesome tomato soup, too as I rummaged about.)  Spring Salad: green peas, green onions, thinly sliced radishes in a green salad.

Pot Roast with Root Vegetables, Corn Casserole, Coleslaw
There should be enough roast for two meals this week.  The corn casserole will make enough for two casseroles for us.  I'll pop one in the freezer.

Arroz Con Pollo, Black Beans,  Iceberg Wedges
I love this hearty rice casserole that cooks on the stovetop.  I've learned to cut the rice packets in half.  I suspect we'll have leftover black beans as well, so two meals from one here.

Black Beans and Rice, Salad with Avocado, Pico de Gallo, Flour Tortillas 
If the black beans and rice looks a little small for two servings, I'll add in some of the roast pieces from  Tuesday.  We'll shred it and roll in the tortillas with some enchilada sauce and cheese, add in rice and beans to 'fill it out'.

Cheese Omelet, Grits, Fried Apples, Biscuits
I read a tip today to add 1/4tsp baking soda for each egg you use in your omelet.  The soda will combust when the eggs begin to heat and create a lighter and fluffier omelet.  I'll be trying that tip this week.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings, Steamed Pea Pods, Fried Rice, Eggrolls
I have the rice and eggrolls, and the chicken wings plus a bottle of marinade on hand.  At most I'll purchase 1/2 pound of snow peas or pea pods for us for this meal, only because I know I'm running low on vegetables.  If I decide against even that purchase, I'll steam green peas or heat green beans.  We'll se ehow I feel at the end of the week. 

A Year of Savings: 2013

Mar 15:  Received in today's mail: 1 Worship Cd.  It was an unexpected courtesy gift for a gift we made.  We never expected that!  The Cd is top rate and we enjoyed it greatly.  Savings $15, the retail value of the item.

Clipped coupons from the ALL YOU magazine issue I'd finished reading.  I clipped enough usable coupons today to pay for the subscription...if I'd paid for it myself!  As it is, I got my subscription using Coke Reward points.  Savings $22.

I love to do Suduko puzzles.  I have several books on hand here at home.  Lately I've been systematically working the puzzles. I began at the beginning and worked them in order of difficulty.  I confess that the HARD puzzles are still a bit beyond my thinking skills at this point but using the whole book instead of just those puzzles I think might be my skill level or a challenge means I'm getting full enjoyment from the books.  I have about six books on hand averaging $5 each.  Fully enjoying them nets me a savings of $30, because it's not savings if you're not taking advantage of what you have, is it?

Mar 16:  Lovely easy day at home.  I was so totally relaxed all day long.  Dinner was pizza: HOMEMADE.  And we had enough leftovers that I put some in the freezer for a future meal and some in the fridge for a grab and go supper meal.  Savings $10 over the cost of takeout.

Mar 17:  No big corned beef dinner today but we had a lovely meal all the same.  I made my own Thousand Island dressing for Reuben sandwiches.  Savings $2.49 for a bottle of dressing.

I didn't need all of the corned beef I had, even though I thought I had only enough for sandwiches.  Hash for breakfast tomorrow will be a nice bonus meal.  Savings $2, a bonus breakfast entree.

Potato soup...It's easy to make, delicious and so inexpensive to make.  Homemade broth brought the cost down and the flavor up.  savings for homemade broth: $1.

Sunday paper netted me more than enough coupons to offset the cost today. Savings:$2.

Mar 18:  Not feeling well today.  I have a problematic tooth and today it was making itself felt in a big way.  No dentist open either so it was make do the best you can.  When Katie had a problem following her wisdom tooth surgery the orthodontist had her swish her mouth with peroxide.  I didn't have the higher strength solution on hand that he prescribed but I did have peroxide.  And I had over the counter pain relievers.  That and a moist heat pack helped get me through the day.  Here's to home remedies!  True the tooth will eventually need to be seen but to manage reasonably well at home on my own made life bearable.

Mar 19:  What's the best way to SAVE money overall?  Don't spend it!  I thought long and hard to day about my plans to spend, picking up a few items at several different stores.  They were good buys and with coupons they would have been even better buys.  But honestly?  I'm in a pantry/freezer challenge.  I have plenty of stuff in the house and these were all just extras, not filling in holes in the stock.  I cut out one store and then two and then three...My savings was $35.

When I got home today the first things I did was put my change into the savings jar.  I added $6 towards that vacation shortage fund today.  So far I've saved $38.

I made a second meal from my dinner.  We had chicken breasts today.  I set a portion of mine aside, along with a roll.  This evening, I made  sandwich from my dinner leftovers.  It was a perfect supper portion for me and so good that I think I might have to have a chicken sandwich dinner one day soon.  Two meals from one isn't news in this house, lol, but I'm always amazed that my foodstuffs continually 'expand'.

Mar 20:  Grocery day.  Not my usual day nor store.  Necessity this week demanded that we change our day and place.  And I discovered something.  I'm very spoiled by Aldi prices.  I had to buy what I had to buy today, mostly dairy and produce and we didn't walk down too many aisles besides those.  Our sole splurge was a dozen donuts.  I spent every single penny I had in my budget.  NO savings there.  I'm more determined than ever to attempt an ALL ALDI month in April.  Officially I have a pittance set aside for the beef purchase I meant to make.  Good thing I decided to wait on that meat purchase.

Okay it might sound like a splurge but it wasn't really.  It was a little spot of joy in the midst of my frustration: I had a Starbucks coffee.  I indulge only once a month.  It's my treat to myself and lately I've discovered that I can buy a gift card with my Swagbucks.  Now I usually use my Swagbuck dollars to purchase Amazon gift cards which we use towards household and personal care purchases but every fourth or fifth time I earn points enough I'm purchasing a $5 giftcard to Starbucks instead. Today I treated John and I to coffee and we didn't pay one penny of cash for it.  Savings: $5.46

John needed a desk to work at and we've looked for one at thrift and yardsale over the last few months.  We had an idea of about what we'd pay if we found one we liked.  He cleared out his music room today and moved a lot of equipment and stuff and low and behold...A table that had been laden with other things suddenly presented itself as a desk.  Savings: $40.

Mar 21:   We didn't spend any money today...Always a good thing.  I spent the morning preparing foods for the weekend, getting the guest room prepared, etc.  We went out that evening to the Region 7 EMS dinner.  It's a wonderful dinner hosted by two hospitals honoring the EMS.  Awards, door prizes, dinner, gathering with friends and acquaintances; it's a lovely evening out.  Very nice evening out with people we like.  You can't beat that!

Savings: $180.95

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan: Pantry Freezer Challenge Week III

I've decided that I'll probably sail through next week without a care as my pantry/freezer are holding up very well to this challenge.  Even the meat that I had on hand has gone further than I thought it might.  I think this is wonderful and am really pleased.  I was fortunate last week that Mama shared some fresh produce items with me.  This meant I could extend our produce items by choosing the ones less likely to keep well and those that would keep longer.  No need to use up all of the broccoli right away, since it will keep well for another week.  Apples will keep, but the grapes won't, so we've had grapes this weekend and will have apples for the beginning of this week.

Baked Ruebens, Creamy Potato Soup
I put the rye bread in the freezer when we got home from the grocery almost two weeks ago.  I couldn't get another corned beef as the store was out and I thought this menu would do nicely for a St. Patrick Day meal. We should have leftover corned beef and bread so there will corned beef sandwiches for supper one night later this week.  

Chicken Fried Rice, Egg Rolls, Tangelo
I put so many vegetables in the fried rice (mushrooms, onion, celery, carrot, peas, broccoli stems) that I feel with the egg roll we're safely getting two servings of vegetables each and possibly more.    This will be the last meal from our whole roasted chicken.  I'll put the carcass in the freezer to make broth with in the very near future. 

Cubed Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Broccoli Apple Salad
I moved the broccoli apple salad from last week to this week.  I really like this salad.  It's a fresh alternative for a winter salad bowl.  You can add raisins, craisins, a bit of onion, toasted nuts or sunflower seeds to this salad to extend it.

Homemade Sausage Pizza, Tossed Salad
The last time I made pizza, I made the dough ahead and put in the fridge.  It rose there overnight and was the best dough I've made to date.  I plan to do the same this time.  I'll won't use vegetables on my pizza this time.  I plan to have a salad filled with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, olives

Quiche, Hash Browns, Green Salad, Biscuits
I froze the leftover asparagus last week instead of using in the egg dish and will thaw to use in the quiche today.  I'll make my own pastry from scratch.  The remaining Swiss will be used in this dish, too.  Hash browns will be made from scratch as well.

Tortilla Towers, Corn with Cumin Butter, Salad with Ranch dressing
I have corn tortillas in the freezer.  I'll make a batch of homemade chili, use half for this dish and freeze the rest for a future meal. 

Smokey BBQ Sandwiches, Coleslaw,  Sweet Potato Fries 
Smoked turkey meat, homemade bbq sauce on whole wheat rolls.

Corned Beef Hash with Fried Egg, Cornmeal Pancakes, Applesauce
I had enough corned beef left for another meal.  With rainy cool weather predicted for the weekend I think this meal might just hit the spot for us.  I've a jar of applesauce that needs to be used up.  Some for dinner today and some for a dessert later in the week.

A Year of Savings: 2013

March 8 (cont'd):  John washed a mixed load of clothes today.  That consisted of colors, whites, towels, etc.  We seldom separate our clothes preferring instead to wash a full load two or three times per week.  John hung clothes to dry today, forgoing the use of the dryer.  When he came indoors later with the towels he did something I've done many times myself: he held them to his nose and inhaled deeply, "GOOD!"  That's one thing the dryer is not going to give us, that lovely line dried aroma of clean laundry.  Fresh air and sunshine are FREE and no artificial perfume will ever duplicate that aroma try though candle and freshener manufacturers do.

Peaches to Beaches yard sale  stretches for about 250 miles from the start of the peach growing district to the coastline of Georgia.  I've attended this yard sale regularly for the past few years but this year I'm skipping it, as much as I've enjoyed it in the past (and the weather is lovely today!).  In years past I've spent about $40, my personal limit for the yard sale. I have that amount in my purse at present, but I'm saving $40 and the gasoline usage.  I don't have room for more 'stuff' at present and I need other things I never find at yardsales or thrift stores.  In the meantime, I figured I'd hold onto my money for a bit.

Made sloppy joes from scratch today.  I made up my own sauce.  A can of sloppy joe sauce costs $3 these days.  I saved $2.50 making my own sauce.

Made my own BBQ sauce, too.  Savings $2.59 the cost of one bottle of sauce.

March 9:  No expenses connected with this day except the small amount of electricity used.  We stayed home, didn't do any work aside from heating our dinner and putting it on the table.  John watched Rugby, which I'd never seen before and rather enjoyed watching, too.  I now know the word "Scrum"...knowledge free, lol.

Filled my Swagbuck quota today doing searches.  I had enough points at day's end to order another gift card.  Savings $5.

March 10:  Spring Forward today for Daylight Savings Time.  We set our clocks back last night prior to going to bed.  I'll appreciate the later evening hours, especially now that the cold weather will soon be passing.  It will give me extra time I can spend in the yard.

John had an errand he wanted to run today.  It took us over an hour away from home.  We were both surprised that it was so much further than we'd thought it might be.  On the way back home again, now well into the afternoon, he decided we'd stop for lunch.  $5 for a footlong sub, $3 for two drinks and eating al fresco under the big covered patio at the place enjoying the warm late winter afternoon, FREE.  We had many options, all of which would have cost a good deal more than our $8 meal, but you can't beat atmosphere.  We overlooked a city park and a row of lovely old houses opposite.  The birds sang, it was reasonably quiet for an area near a highway and was so pleasant we lingered for over an hour after eating!

That little patio made us think hard about what we like.  We've always enjoyed picnics and eating outdoors.  we frequently plan a picnic into any long roadtrip from home.  John mentioned twice how much he was enjoying himself and I said the same at least two times myself.  I finally looked at him and said, "At home we have a front porch, a deck and a patio...Why don't we make our own outdoor areas more attractive for use?"  I think we're going to be working on those areas this Spring.   We have almost all the furnishings we need to do this.  Our only expense might be the purchase of an umbrella for shade for the patio.  Inspiration FREE.

Bought the Sunday paper while we were out.  Coupons galore this week, more than enough to offset the cost of the paper.  Savings $2.

March 11:  Morning spent in the kitchen.  I made 1 dozen egg rolls.  Savings $1 each or $12.  That's what they cost at the Chinese restaurant and mine are just as good.  Perhaps even better, as we bake them.

Cleaned the top of the stove.  No fancy cleaners required, even though there were 'baked on' stains from the past month's meals.   I used baking soda, a bit of Dawn detergent and a green Scouring pad.  I buy the pads in 8X 4 sheets at the hardware store for $1 each.  I cut them down into four 2X4 pads. I'll get more use from the pad yet and have three fresh ones in reserve.  Not buying a special cleaner is a savings of $4.

Roasted a whole chicken for our lunch today.  I'd planned to BBQ it but didn't.  While I was prepping vegetables for the egg rolls, I made up a nice coleslaw.  That finished off 1/4 head of cabbage that likely would have languished and been tossed (savings $.30) and 1/2 an apple (savings $.50) that had been in the fridge since Thursday and was obviously not going to be eaten otherwise.

Made up 16 slider type sandwiches.  I used Smoked turkey legs and wings from the freezer for the meat, dinner rolls we'd bought and put in the freezer, and my homemade BBQ sauce.  Having that convenience meal on hand for 'heat and eat' meals saves $8 (the cost of 1 dozen White Castle Burgers), and every bit as convenient to microwave.

John has new suspenders, the sort with teeth that grip the waistband of the pants rather than hook onto his belt.  The teeth bit hard into the fabric and to prevent wear he asked what I could do to help save the material.  His pants only come in one length when he orders them and so I typically cut off about 5 inches of fabric from the bottom and re hem to his length.  I save this material as it comes in very handy.  I've used it to patch pockets, repair tears, etc. over the years.  Today I took some of the material, cut into strips and made tailored patches that I sewed to the waistband in the spots where he hooks the suspenders.  This should be an effective way of extending the life of his pants.  It took about an hour or so to do but his work pants cost $50 a pair.  I'm counting this as a savings over purchasing a new pair next year...savings $50.  And by the way, that means my hourly 'wage' for that task was $50.

March 12:  Plundered through the fridge and freezer for this meal: 1/2 package Kielbasa (7 ounces these days, since the packages have been reduced from 16 ounces to 14 ounces.  Yep they got us again!).  I found 1 cup of Green Peas left from a meal late last week.  I dug about under the counter and came up with a sprouting onion, three potatoes  that were beginning to age a little...One casserole later I'd used all the ingredients to make a meal.  Savings: $2.00 for items that nearly weren't used.

John did a home repair job.  The facings inside our double windows have been looking steadily worse over the past two years.  He removed the inner windows, cleaned, spackled, sanded and painted the interior framework and then replaced the windows when it was all dry.  To do two windows took just over an hour of real work time.  Our goal is to do one room every other week until all are refurbished.  It cost us the price of a new tub of spackle ($6.97) which will do all the remaining windows as well.  We had paint on hand.  We figure a handyman would have charged us $20 an hour and would have added in the cost of waiting on the spackle to dry etc.  Our DIY job saved us $50.

March 13:  John washed a full load of clothes, hung to dry.

I've been waiting to wash a load of dishes until the dishwasher is full.  I thought I'd have enough after breakfast this morning but no, there's still room in there.  I'll hold off until tomorrow.

Out with Mama today.  I spent $3.   I skipped going into the temptation filled store and stayed in the car.  My expense was the cost of ice cream (our usual dessert when out) for the two of us.  I used a $5 and put the change aside to add to  my savings account deposit $2.

Mama shared produce she'd bought yesterday.  A half pint each of yellow and red grape tomatoes, 1/2 a stem of green grapes and 1/3 of a pound of radishes.  These are bonus foods for us and saves her having them spoil.  How I wish she could buy just what she needed loose, but I am the one who benefits from her overage.  It will extend our fresh produce here and means we can eliminate some of the pantry items from our menu this week.  Savings to me: $5.

New pantry shelving arrived this morning.  John had it together in about five minutes time.  It's light enough to move easily when empty and sturdy as can be.  I think we got really good value for that $42 purchase.

Came home this afternoon and put the new pantry shelving into order.  We're very pleased with the shelving we purchased.  It fits the space perfectly and we now have MORE storage room for further stocking.  That's one bonus we hadn't planned for, doubling our storage space for free.  Because the length is shorter I can now stack the resealable buckets at the end of the unit, freeing up floor space in front of the freezer.  That's another added bonus we didn't plan for but are certainly grateful for. 

March 14:  Prepped vegetables for chicken fried rice for tomorrow's dinner, the last meal from this roast chicken.  The chicken cost me $3.20.  We will have had 4 meals from that chicken and I've not yet made broth from the bones and skin.  That works out to about $.80 per meal. I expect we'll have enough chicken fried rice for TWO meals.  That will reduce the costs even further.

Used the last of the potatoes that were getting older.  Savings $.50.

Refilled two water bottles for John's work supper.  Savings $1.50.

After dinner today, I finally had the dishwasher filled to capacity.  I waited two full days beyond the day I thought I might wash dishes.  Since the water must be hot when you start the machine, I filled a measuring cup and the coffee pot for later use while the water was still cool, and when the water was warm, I ran some in the sink to handwash a few items. I washed them quickly and had hot water just in time to rinse those dishes from the sink.  Then I turned on the dishwasher to begin it's cycle with really hot water.

I've recently followed another blogger's example and reduced the amount of soap I put in the dispenser.  I've found that the 1 tbsp she uses is sufficient for thoroughly cleaning our dishes. I should double the usage I get from this bottle of detergent, a savings of $2.29.

Total $186.18