I found some frozen cauliflower gnocchi in the far corners of the freezer, along with a bag of frozen cherries. My husband commented on how much we have used up this month, but we have so far to go. Here is the plan for this week.
Sunday January 26 – hearty quinoa chili and sour dough bread
Monday January 27 – gnocchi with roasted butternut squash and kale
January has been a great month for us as far as saving money is concerned. I have been mindful of needs vs. wants. We all know that Americans are constantly told that that we need more more more to be happy. But, the cost of more stuff is so high. To our planet, our checkbooks and family life. I know I prefer to spend time with a movie at home as opposed to an expensive night out, if it means my husband can have a job he loves, as opposed to a higher paid job with a lot of stress. I think it’s true, as we get older, things become clearer on what’s really important. Family.
Here is a list of things we did this week to continue to save money:
My husband used Amazon gift cards to purchase textbooks for our son. He also had a couple textbooks that Alec needs for the semester. That is the advantage to our son majoring in the same thing his dad does for a living, we happen to have things on hand. Alec has one more semester of college after this. There is a light at the end of his academic tunnel!
I picked up a bunch of extra hours at work. I have a coworker who is out on medical leave. I am taking advantage of the extra hours while I can. Not only is the extra money nice, but I love my job and don’t mind being there longer.
I used a 40% off coupon code at Walgreens for a box of party invitations I ordered. The savings was nice, given I needed 40 invites.
We continue to use the library for so much. I cannot stress this enough, if you want to save lots of money, use your library. This week alone, we watched a couple blockbuster movies, just released on DVD, for free. We don’t have HBO, but love the show Big Little Lies. I was the first to check out season 2. We were able to watch it, without a cable subscription. Our library even has WIFI hotspots for checkout. Families who cannot afford internet are able to check these out for home use. I tried to find a few textbooks for my daughter at the library, but they don’t have everything.
Continued with my shop the pantry and freezer first policy this month. I had to give in yesterday and go to the grocery store for a lot of items. BUT, I spent a lot less than I normally would and went with a meal plan in mind. I think I am going to need to extend the freezer first for one more month. I really, really need to defrost it.
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.
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.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
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
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Grease an 8-inch square pan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I only needed to spend $14.40 on groceries this week. Most of that was for produce, butter and sugar.
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.
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 tbspmelted butter
1/2medium onion, diced finely
2cups vegetable stock
3 cups broccoli chopped
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.