Frugal Living

Meal Plan January 19 – January 25

The cupboards are starting to look bare, but the freezer is still full.  This week’s meals need to tackle the surplus of frozen foods that have so that we can defrost the freezer.

Sunday January 19 – broccoli cheddar soup, salad and dinner rolls

Monday January 20 – quiche and salad

Tuesday January 21 – minestrone soup and salad

Wednesday January 22  – pizza and salad

Thursday January 23 – butternut squash chili

Friday January 24  – salmon and sweet potato fries

Saturday January 25 – seafood linguini and salad

This morning I cleared out the pastries we had in the freezer that my daughter had brought home from work.  They were a nice treat today with a cup of coffee.

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Family Life, Frugal Living, Recipes

Saturday Thoughts

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My girls

We got a lot of snow last night.  Last week’s snowstorm hit us this weekend instead.  We were planning on driving about an hour away to see my daughter’s show choir competition.  The weather continues to be the deciding factor in whether or not we go.  I hate driving in winter weather almost more than anything.  While it seems like it is clearing up now, blowing snow and ice remain in the afternoon forecast.  Thankfully, 3 more competitions are on the calendar and I have committed to meeting family at 2 of the 3.  We may decide to err on the side of caution today and stay home.

Last night’s snowstorm was kind of nice.  It forced us to stay in and properly unwind from the work week.  I had put some lentil soup in the crockpot before leaving for work yesterday, making dinner prep and clean up very easy last night.  We watched Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (which I liked, my husband hated), snuggled with the dogs and popped a big batch of popcorn.  It was nice to turn in early last night with a good book.  I was sound asleep by 10:45.

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Given the likelihood that we will be staying home today, I plan to make some brownies, a loaf of bread, get a good walk in and finish a book.  We have dinner plans for tonight, that is why I am going make some delicious brownies for dessert to serve with ice cream, here is the recipe.

Brownies

1/2 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Grease  an 8-inch square pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder.  Fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

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What are your plans for this snowy Saturday?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Even with it being my daughter’s birthday this week and the week that we mail 2 college tuition checks, we were able to save some money along the way.  Here is what we did.

  1. My church has rotations every few weeks to leave things for other to take.  I found a nearly brand new North Face winter hat.  It’s in perfect condition and was free.  I looked up it’s value online and it sells for $32.
  2. I have the worst eczema, but only have a flare up every 5 or 6 years.  I know exactly the steroid cream I need, but it requires a doctors prescription which requires a visit and a copay.  My mom had an extra, unopened tube of the exact stuff my doctor prescribes.  Another item for free.
  3. At Christmas we visited my husband’s aunt and she gave us a bag of stuff as we were leaving.  He left it in the trunk and I forgot about it until Sunday.  We found a couple boxes of dental chews for the dogs.  Another expensive item given to us for free.
  4. I only needed to spend $14.40 on groceries this week.  Most of that was for produce, butter and sugar.
  5. I was given a bag of rhubarb that a coworker still had in freezer from last spring.  I can’t wait to make something delicious with it.
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Frugal Living, Recipes

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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Last Saturday we were supposed to have dinner with friends.  That did not happen because the weathermen lied and claimed that the worst blizzard ever was on its way.  The city shut down, people cancelled plans and we got a dusting of snow.  With our change in dinner plans, I had to come up with something for dinner.  I had all the ingredients for broccoli cheddar soup.  Add a loaf of sourdough bread, and dinner is served.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

4 tbsp melted butter

1/2 medium onion, diced finely

1/4 cup flour

2 cups half-and-half cream

2 cups vegetable stock

3 cups broccoli chopped 

1 cup carrots, sliced

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp dried mustard

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

salt and pepper

Melt the  butter and saute the onions until soft. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the half & half and vegetable stock. Add paprika and mustard. Add the broccoli and carrots. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the broccoli and carrots are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return to low heat and add the cheese.  Serve with additional cheese and bread.  Serves 4

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Family Life

Birthday Celebration

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This is what happens when you don’t have enough candles

Today my middle child, Hannah, turned 21!  Where did the years go?  Honestly, it feels like she should only be about 5 or 6 years old.  But here we are, she’s a grown adult with all the rights and privileges of an adult (with the exception of renting a car and running for president. btw, she would make a much better president than the clown we have now).

Being the daughter of parents who try to practice some kind of simple living, frugal living and her own desire to consume less, we opted for an experience gift to celebrate her big day.   Today, Hannah and I went to Kohler Water Spa to celebrate.  We spent the day be pampered.  She had a facial and manicure while I had a massage and pedicure.  We sat in the hot tub, steam room, sauna and swam.  We ate delicious spa food which included chocolate mousse, drank infused waters, enjoyed some granola and green tea.  We also had some champagne to celebrate this milestone.  It was honestly a perfect day.  I have decided that now that I am the mother of adults (my youngest is 17), experience birthday gifts are the way to go.  Honestly, she is going to remember this day we had together forever.  But, I doubt that she could even remember what we gave her for her 19 birthday.  I am going back to 19, because for her 20th we also did an experience birthday.  I did offer to buy her one thing in the spa store and an extra (I had 20% off) and she declined.  She felt that everything was too expensive even with the discount and she stated again that she does not want more stuff.  So we left, having spent exactly what I planned for, without extras that no one needs.

Tonight we are celebrating with vegan hamburger mac and cheese, salad and banana cake.  We did celebrate last night as well when her brother was home.  Instead of cake, I made almond butter bars .  When searching for candles, I realized that I did not have a 2, but I did have enough numbers that I could get to 21.  My youngest suggested I buy a 2 for future use.  The other kids suggested I not do that, that the hodgepodge of candles makes it uniquely us.  I think they are right.

I think that she is planning on going out tonight, after dinner with her boyfriend, so that she can have a drink.  Being a girl who likes to be asleep early, I doubt it will be a late night for her.  But, I really hope that she has some fun. We live in suburban Milwaukee so I doubt they will be going downtown and the options in our little town are somewhat limited, so that alone could make it a very early night for her.

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Frugal Living, Household

Meal Plan January 12th -18th

Below is our meal plan for the week.  I had to buy fresh produce and some ingredients for my daughter’s birthday dinner.  But, we are able to continue clearing out the freezer and pantry by using what we have on hand.

Sunday 1/12 – pesto pasta and caesar salad

Monday 1/13 – My daughter turns 21 today!  She requested vegan mac and cheese, mixed greens with pomegranate seeds and goat cheese and vegan banana cake.

Tuesday 1/14 – spinach artichoke quinoa casserole

Wednesday 1/15 – bean burritos and salad

Thursday 1/16 – salmon, mashed sweet potatoes and kale salad

Friday 1/17 – lentil soup and salad

Saturday 1/18 – Due to a blizzard, last Saturday’s potluck was postponed.  All I am responsible for is dessert.

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Family Life, Frugal Living

Goal Updates

  1. My number one goal is to get my pressure back to normal.  Several of my goals have been set to help bring it down with the help of medication.
    • This week my blood pressure has gone from dangerously high to just plain high.  It’s going in the right direction!  Yea me.
  2. Lose 20 pounds.
    • While I will not say how much I have lost, the scale is going in the right direction.
  3. Continue to get 10,000 steps a day in.
    • I did not reach 10,000 all 7 days, but came very close and went way over 10,000 on more than one day.
  4. Go to the gym 3 days per week.
    • Good thing this one is a goal not a resolution.  Otherwise, I would not try again next week to go at least once.
  5.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  I eat a lot as it is, but it’s time to add more, especially potassium rich produce.
    • I was successful with this one.  I make sure to add extra produce to all 3 meals.
  6. Try to start trying to meditate at least 2 or 3 days per week.
    • I accomplished this goal this week.  Meditation 3 days.
  7. Get back into the yoga habit.
    • I did not do any yoga this week.
  8. Cut down on the alcohol.
    • I have not had a drop of alcohol since New Year’s Eve
  9.  Pay off the house.  We had every intention of paying it off December 31.  A couple of unexpected expenses put that on hold.
    • This will happen, but not this month
  10. Read 110 books in 2020.
    • I am off to a great start with 7 books read this year.
  11. Read 3 classic books this year.
    • I have started Call of the Wild.
  12. More dates with my husband.
    • There’s always next week.
  13. We have a membership to the Milwaukee Art Museum that I plan on utilizing a lot more this year.
    • There’s always next week
  14. Spend more time outdoors.
    • I walked my dogs every day, except today.  It’s too slippery out there.
  15. Throw away 20 items per day.
    • Done
  16. More no spend days.
    • The only money I spent this week was $72 on groceries and anticipated bills.
  17. Spend more time with my friends.
    • Done
  18. Finish a knitting project I started in November and start and finish another.
    • I am almost done with my project.
  19. Learn how to can!
    • I will officially visit this goal in the summer.
  20. Go on 2 weekend getaways with my husband.
    • I am looking for fun get aways in the midwest.
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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

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We are expecting a pretty major snow storm this weekend.  I heard the word blizzard used a couple times.  I will believe it when I see it.  The meteorologists seem to get a bit ahead of themselves and are so dramatic when snow is ready to fly.  More times then not, an anticipated blizzard has turned into a drizzle of rain.  But, we shall see and maybe we will have a cozy Saturday night at home.

We continued with our frugal ways this week.

  1. I continue to shop the freezer and pantry.  I decided this week that I either need to do this more or I need to stock up less.  My dad’s favorite words are stock up, so I am guessing that out of loyalty to him, I will continue to do things this way.
  2. For the items we did need at the grocery store, I used a giftcard that I received for Christmas.  I do not need or want anymore stuff, so this seemed like a perfect compromise.
  3. I have been prescribed a new medication.  With our insurance a 3 month supply cost me $3.00!  I cannot believe it.  My other prescription costs me $109 for a 3 month prescription.  My ultimate goal will be to get off the prescription all together and save the $3.00 every 90 days.
  4. We were gifted a year supply of flea and tick preventative for our dog.  Same brand and dosage we already use and has not expired.  This is a huge overall savings for us.
  5. Recently my mom had to buy a new coffee table that she could move on her own.  She gifted us her old one, which in all honesty was the one piece of furniture in her house that I wanted for myself.  It is set aside until we buy a new couch (waiting out the puppy days).  We are trying to use second hand as much as possible.  But when we get the couch, it will be new.  I have heard far too many stories of bed bugs in used couches and chairs.

What did you do this week to save some money?

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Frugal Living, Recipes

Cream of Tomato Soup

Tonight I cleared out more of our overflowing pantry and made cream of tomato soup.  I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches because tomato soup does require grilled cheese in order to achieve that perfect comfort food balance.  We received a cheese box (we are from Wisconsin) for Christmas, so our cheese options are plentiful.  My recipe is really easy and frugal . I would guess that the grand total for this recipe is $3.00.  It also feels perfect for this evening, as it is 12 degrees tonight and soup really does warm the soul.

I feel obligated to mention that the fires in Australia are a catastrophe that the rest of the world needs to pay attention to.  An entire continent is on fire, species of animals will be wiped out.  The devastation cannot adequately be conveyed to those of us not there.  My thoughts are with those who are living with this as their reality right now.  The world is watching and I hope paying enough attention to make meaningful change.

Now, on to soup.

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Cream of Tomato Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 cup vegetable broth

12 oz can evaporated milk

1 onion finely chopped

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp basil

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in pot, add onion and saute until translucent.  Add tomatoes with juice, garlic powder, basil and vegetable broth.  Boil 10 to 15 minutes.  Turn of stove, add milk and with immersion blender blend to desired consistency.  Serve with grilled cheese for the ultimate comfort food.

Household, Recipes

Meal Plan January 5th-11th

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We are trying to use up the irrational amount of food that we have stockpiled in the pantry and freezer during the month of January.  I have been reading blogs where the family has decided that they are absolutely not going to go to the grocery store.  We already have, we ran out of bananas.  But, I think we are going to be able to cut back on the grocery bill a lot this month.  Below is this week’s meal plan that utilizes food on hand.

Sunday 1/5 – Trader Joe’s Tofu turkey (this is REALLY good) and root vegetables

Monday 1/6 – Broccoli quiche and chicken breakfast sausage

Tuesday 1/7 – Crockpot chicken chili with tortilla chips

Wednesday 1/8 – Homemade cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese

Thursday 1/9 – Orzo risotto with sun dried tomatoes, broccoli and artichoke hearts

Friday 1/10 – Cod and cauliflower tots

Saturday 1/11 – OUT!  We have been invited to a potluck and all I am responsible for is dessert.  I will be bringing brownies and ice cream.

Breakfasts will be oatmeal, eggs, cereal bars or smoothies.  Lunches are usually leftovers from previous dinners.  Snacks are usually fruit, nuts, crackers, etc.

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