Archive for August, 2012


It’s the end of the month and time to see how we did.

Balance to date: $179.84

At trip to Wegmans to purchase a few items for Sweet Saturday: $16.11

Grand total: $195.95

I’d say not a bad amount. We were a little over last month and a little under this month. I can’t wait to see what kind of challenges next month brings.

This past month we used the bounty of the garden to put up some pears and tomatoes. You can read about the pears here. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing how easy it was to can the excess tomatoes from the garden.

It’s almost apple season. I enjoy apple picking directly from the orchard. We make it a family event and also try to bring a few friends who have never been apple picking. This year I’m thinking about canning cinnamon applesauce and maybe even some cinnamon apple slices. I’ll definitely be making apple pies, apple dumplings, and my homemade caramel apples for Halloween, and can’t wait to share these adventures with you.

 

What’s for Supper?

Sunday – Stuffed Peppers

Monday – Shrimp Stir Fry

Tuesday – Leftover Stuffed Peppers

Wednesday – Spaghetti and meat sauce made with Italian seasoned ground turkey, broccoli sauteed with garlic and olive oil

Thursday – Chicken with Garam Masala (a spice blend which originated in India) and tomatoes, brown rice and quinoa pilaf, salad

Friday – Ham, String Beans and Potatoes

Saturday – BLTs, tomatoes, zucchini cakes

My best friend requested zucchini bread this weekend. We both enjoy nuts in our breads and I have a nut hater at home so this worked out perfectly. I’ll keep the plain loaf and share half of the the nutty loaf. I still have tons of zucchini so I plan to make two more loaves later this week, one to freeze and one to share with my parents.

3 eggs

2 c sugar

2 c zucchini, shredded

1 c canola oil

2 tsp vanilla

3 c flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 c chopped nuts

1/2 c raisins (optional)

Makes 2 loaves

Beat eggs and stir in sugar, zucchini, oil, and vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients and spices. Stir in nuts and raisins, if using. Pour into bread pans which have been greased only on the bottoms. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60-80 minutes. Cool 10-15 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Also good with the addition of chocolate chips. When I add chocolate, I eliminate the spices.

Love

What is love? Can it be defined? Is it different for everyone? How many kinds are there?

How many of us really think about love, even though it is an emotion that most of us feel each and every day?

The free online dictionary definition of love is…A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness. Hmmm.

The bible speaks of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Good News Bible (1978)

Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.

How many of us have experienced that take on love? Few I think.

There are many different kinds of feelings of love. We love our spouses, but it’s a different kind of love than what we feel for our children, or our parents. We love our siblings, other family members, our friends, even our pets. We love our creator. If we think about it for a minute I bet we’d find each stirs a different feeling within us.

Love is often painful. It’s an intense emotion. Men have killed for it and died for it. It’s a confusing emotion, I think because everyone is different and therefore feels differently.

Even though it’s not mentioned out loud, its presence has certainly been felt around here lately.  My daughter’s high school sweetheart left for college this week. The whole family is feeling their pain. It will be a time of adjustment and growth for both of them. Young love, it differs from mature love.

Love is a complex emotion, both a blessing and a curse.

I’ve been thinking lately that the name I have given this challenge may be misleading to some so I am taking a moment to clear up any misconceptions. Even though the label states groceries, I’m feeding a family of three and two dogs and two cats. In addition, this small outlay of cash, in comparison to an average monthly budget for such expenses, is providing all personal, cleaning, and paper products for our family. I am challenging myself to be more mindful of my spending and while I envy the extreme couponers who seem to get a lot more for a lot less, I feel I’ll definitely be challenged by this goal and it will keep me focused.

What are some of my strategies for making this possible?

Once or twice a month I shop Aldi for several items that I know I can’t get cheaper elsewhere. I know in advance what the prices will be. This allows me to budget without a lot of effort of searching and clipping. On my most recent trip $21.33 was spent.

Here are a few examples:

10# white potatoes $3.99

Mac n cheese $.39

3 pk scrubber sponges $.99

Condensed soups $.59

There is a slight possibility I could do better with coupons. My daughter likes the mac and cheese occasionally for something different for her lunch. We’ve tried name brand, which is supposed to be soooo good. She prefers the Aldi brand and found there is even more in the box. It seems to make more for the same size as the name brand. Maybe it’s our imagination? We also tried other store brands. Aldi won on both taste and price.

A recent trip to CVS scored me $5 extrabucks that I can use on a future purchase. I stocked up on shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, and even got two cans of tuna for $.38 per can. Total spent $11.51 Total saved $24.77 + remember I get $5 to use in the future. If you’ve been keeping track of my shampoo purchases you’ve probably noticed that I have quite the stock pile. The key is to buy when it costs the least so you will never have to pay full price.

Giant and Aldi are very close together, so we almost always hit Giant after Aldi. I always take cash into Aldi so we use the leftover cash at Giant and try to get all we need with what is left. It’s fun to try to do this. It really makes you price compare and consider each purchase carefully. I know many use the cash envelope system. It does work. I find it more difficult to track expenditures when using cash but there probably isn’t an excuse to not use cash exclusively for groceries. When we get through the check out line we always use the cash first and then our bank card. Some may justify that since they do not have enough cash to cover the amount that they would rather pay with only one source and use their bank card or write a check, etc. It would then be tempting to squander that cash in your pocket. You can pay however you like in whichever combination though, at least at our store. Check which kinds of payments are accepted and the policies of your store before setting out to do this. Total spent $29.85 ($20 cash and $9.85 check card) Total saved $12.76

A few deals and strategies worth mentioning:

BBQ sauce was on sale and combined with a coupon was FREE.

Two Zone Perfect bars with coupons were FREE.

A B1G1 free deal on laundry detergent turned out to be the best deal even without a coupon, and I have a lot of detergent coupons. Always check! Sometimes using a coupon is not the best deal. Also make sure to compare cost per load. I noticed a lot of variations at the store that day, especially with the new pods. Does anyone have any experience with the pods? I noticed you get less loads per package, but you don’t have to measure, so could you actually use less maybe? I’ve gotten a few samples in the mail and feel the pods work fabulously, even one pod to a washer full of clothes, lightly soiled clothes. This is something to look into in the future.

Check out the store brand. This isn’t always the case, but most often the store brand is just as good as name brand without the inflated price. We saved approximately two dollars by buying store brand cream cheese and o.j.  If you’d do this every other week for a year it would total $52 in savings. That equals four trips to a movie matinée for us.

We decided on Wegmans for our meat purchases this go round. Earlier in the year I was really trying to strive for all organic meat and dairy purchases. Evidently this is not the season of my life to undertake such a goal. We still do buy only organic milk, other organic dairy items when I find sales and/or coupons, and organic meat on occasion. In the meantime, as long as my ground beef does not contain that “pink slime” I am content with non organic. We are eating less meat too. Here are a few ideas on how to make that work for your family.
We purchased ground beef, boneless and skinless chicken thighs and pork country style spareribs in family size packs to divide and freeze at home. Total spent $34.48

Total spent so far this month $179.84

What’s for Supper?

It’s almost time for the kids to go back to school. This will be the first year that I do not have any children in school, although we may be working around my teenage daughter’s work schedule a little, as soon as she finds a job. Until then I’m going to sit back, relax, and enjoy this new season of my life, for a bit. Making a menu still helps me to feel organized and also helps to make sure I use my resources frugally.

Sunday – Ham steaks in orange juice and brown sugar, broccoli corn bread

Monday – Chicken roasted with potatoes, carrots and peppers

Tuesday – Four bean chili with whole grain tortilla chips

Wednesday – Ham and broccoli quiche (utilizing leftovers)

Thursday – Hot dogs, left over chili, zucchini “fries”

Friday – Grilled salmon, garlicky summer squash and corn

Saturday – Grilled pizzas

Italian Pasta Salad

This recipe was enjoyed at a family reunion picnic recently. It received many compliments and I noticed  many going back for seconds, which is always a good sign. Enjoy!

16 oz box rotini pasta

8 oz pepperoni chopped in small pieces

8 oz  cheese of your choice cubed, I used Muenster

1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped, reserve the marinade

1 can black olives, drained

1 pint grape tomatoes

1 Tbsp fresh basil, sliced thin

12 oz of your favorite Italian dressing, homemade or store bought

Boil your pasta being careful not to over cook. Stir gently to prevent breaking up pasta. In the meantime chop pepperoni, cheese, and marinated artichoke hearts. When pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Place in a large nonreactive bowl or container. Add artichokes, cheese, pepperoni, and black olives. Dress with reserved artichoke marinade and mix. Place in frig until serving day. Before serving add dressing, tomatoes, and basil.

The marinade from the artichokes helps keep the pasta from sticking together until it’s time to add your Italian dressing, and it adds flavor. If you add the Italian dressing too soon it will soak into the pasta and you will have a dry salad or need to add additional dressing which will add additional expense and calories. This is up to  you. Tomatoes should remain at room temperature. Refrigerating tomatoes alters their flavor and texture. Your basil will wilt if mixed in too early so it is also best mixed in at the last minute before serving.

A dear sweet friend inspired me to try this dessert on this lovely summer weekend. He described a sugar cookie crust, yummy rich topping and mostly berries for the fruit. It sounded easy, frugal, and even a little bit healthful due to the inclusion of berries.

18 oz pkg refrigerated cookie dough

7 oz jar marshmallow creme

8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened

Assorted berries or other fruit of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On a greased baking sheet press your cookie dough into a 1/4 inch thick layer. I baked mine on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges start to turn golden and center is no longer soft. Cool. In a medium bowl mix cream cheese and marshmallow creme. Spread onto cookie crust. Arrange fruit on top. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Zucchini Onion Pie

If your garden is overflowing with zucchini here’s an extraordinarily yummy recipe to try.

It’s from my ma’s kitchen.

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup canola oil

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp pepper

3 cups zucchini, thinly sliced

1 cup baking mix, like Bisquick (I use the heart healthy version)

1 sm onion, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large mixing bowl whisk the first six ingredients. Stir in zucchini, baking mix and onion. Pour into a greased 9-in deep dish pie plate. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes, or until lightly brown.

We are into the first two weeks of August and are right on track. Expenditures so far total $82.67.

My most recent trip to Target looked like this…

I know it looks like quite the hodgepodge, but my method is to buy what you can while it’s cheap or free and you won’t need it when it’s not.

This haul contained:

2 bags of dog food (not pictured, that scored us a $5 gift card to use in the future)

10 cans of cat food

A Ritter Sport bar (a once in a while indulgence)

Fruit snacks

Bugles (husband’s indulgence)

4 bags of frozen veggies

Cleaning/disinfecting wipes

Comet stainless steel

Pens

Scotch tape

Pantene shampoo and conditioner

Garnier shampoo and conditioner

$43.98 spent

$22.97 saved

Ducked into Walmart on the way home because someone remembered they broke a boot lace. I happened to have coupons for tissues they carry and someone also decided they wanted a candy bar. Here’s a hint. Someone isn’t me.

$2.24 spent

$1.50 saved

Earlier in the week we made a trip to Wegmans because it’s our closest organic milk source. Also, daughter had a hankering for chocolate so I picked up a couple of Ritter Sport bars. This is where I noticed how much cheaper they are at Target and is why I grabbed one to keep back the next time we shopped there. I don’t eat candy bars often, but when I do, I find this European chocolate to be worth the calories. They seem pricey, but you have to keep in mind that each bar contains three servings. Remember to keep that in mind while you’re eating it too. 😉

$10.77 spent

We also ran into Giant for ingredients for pasta salad that we needed to make for a picnic. While there I spotted a B1G1 free deal on bread and another store deal that scored me some rock bottom prices on cat litter and feminine products, even without coupons, so we stocked up.

$25.68 spent

$16.11 saved

Remember: In order to reach a goal you need to set one first!

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