Yippeee! Not bad at all!
My mother and I went grocery shopping today and I made up for it. I spent about $130 on groceries today but I'm okay with that and here's why.
I bought a lot of meat on sale, enough to last at least a month, two if I'm very careful. Almost every item I bought was on sale for a very good price and none of it was unhealthy or something I won't use.
Tomorrow I'll repackage the meat in servings for one or two, label the packets, and pop them in the freezer. Over the next two to four weeks I'll need to buy milk, bread and fresh produce but that should be it.
Since I shouldn't have to spend much more on groceries for the next six weeks or so, all in all I think I did well. Now I just have to come up with menus for the next couple of weeks to make the most of the food I have.
Archive for October, 2007
Yippeee! Not bad at all!
I've been craving sweet and hot chicken wings for several days and since I don't have any wings and I'm experimenting with just how long I can eat on $50 (this is day 19, by the way) I don't want to buy any. I figured I could improvise and create something halfway palatable but I have to admit this recipe, if you can call it that, is a very tasty alternative that satisfied the craving.
I cut some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips, cooked them in a little butter with some Louisiana Hot Sauce and put them in a baking dish with Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce. I stirred them to ensure they were well coated and baked them for about 15 minutes at 300, then turned the oven off and let them sit for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
They turned out very well! Slightly hot and slightly sweet, just how I like them. And because I'm a frugal foodie (would that make me a froodie? or a frooglie?) I froze the butter and tiny bits of chicken in it and will use that savory concoction the next time I make chicken soup or casserole.
I had my Chicken a la Wings with steamed brussels sprouts and green beans and it was a fine and frugal dinner. There's enough left for lunch tomorrow and dinner another night this week.
Today is Blog Action Day and while I'm not the greenest person, I do try to take the environment into consideration when I drive, shop and cook. I do all I can to run errands one day a week, saving gas and the ozone layer, I limit items in disposable packaging and try not to throw out food so there's less waste to deal with. I have a garden when I can and love the produce from it. When I can afford it, I even buy products of environmentally conscious companies. I wish I could do more of that but most of the products are quite a bit a bit more expensive than their non-green counterparts...at least they are here in my part of the world.
In honor of Blog Action Day this morning I did some little things. It was raining pretty good so I didn't get as much done as I wanted but here are a few things I did:
I organized my seeds and containers for Spring. The more vegetables and herbs I grow, the less I buy and that makes sense financially but it also makes sense on a greater level. No, the few tomato plants I'll have won't make a huge dent in things but what if everyone did it? Well, we wouldn't all be driving to the local grocery for tomatoes now, would we? Things that make ya go hmmmm.
I organized the tiny kitchen cupboard that holds containers and lids I use for the refrigerator and freezer. If I can actually find a container and lid I need, I won't use a plastic bag and that bag won't end up in the trash can and eventually in a landfill. Again, it's a little thing but what if we all did that?
I finished taking myself off a ton of postal mail lists I'd been on and changed several subscriptions from postal to email only. This has been a project that's been going on awhile. What a waste paper flyers and circulars are! I even dislike paper magazines. I just throw most of that stuff in the trash and we know what happens from there. Once again it's a little thing but....well, you get the picture.
There are other things I've done this morning and they're all small and seem to not be important. But they're important to me and in a small way, they're important to our planet. And if we all did just a few things a day and continued to learn a few more new things we could do, wow, what a difference we could make!
I posted on September 30th that I'd spent most of the $50 I alloted for two weeks of groceries but that I was set on chicken breasts and a few other things.
Well, I'm happy to report that I haven't spent any more money on groceries since that date. And I still have chicken breasts, turkey ham and some other things I bought then! Instead of eating as I'd planned I decided to experiment in the kitchen to see just how frugal I could be.
I had scrambled or fried eggs a few times for supper, sometimes with a thin slice of turkey ham and a slice of cheese on a low carb english muffin, made beans twice, chili once, made soup twice, had grilled chicken a couple of times, and used the ground beef I had more as a condiment than a main dish. I even managed to turn one pound of ground beef into six meals. No, they weren't meaty meals but I don't need to have a lot of those, anyway, so that worked out well. I ate plenty of fresh and frozen vegetables and even had a little fruit. I think I did really well and the meals, though not perfectly nutritionally balanced, were pretty healthy.
I imagine I'll do some grocery shopping tomorrow or Tuesday as I'm out of milk, peanut butter, and a few other things and am almost out of several more. But I'm sure I can stretch that into three weeks of eating, possibly more with what I still have from the last grocery trip.
Okay, this might be addictive trying to figure out just how long I can eat fairly nutritious meals on a deliberately tight budget. Yeah, it's a new game for me. That's the ticket!
October 15th is Blog Action Day and even though I'm not nearly as green as I could be or should be, I have a few things planned to commemorate the day.
I'm going to organize my seed containers and seeds, try to organize my cupboard that holds freezer containers and do a few other little things. I'm also going to blog about what I do!
You can read about the event here:
Do the rest of you have any plans for the day?
::all said in best Grandpa Jones voice:: "Well, we have three bean soup with green onions, garlic, and turkey ham cookin' on the front burner. We'll have 'em with homemade biscuits and butter! We also have boneless, skinless chicken breasts defrosting and those'll be baked in the oven, some with lemon pepper, some with Country Bob's sauce, and some with fajita seasonin'. They'll all be cut into strips and used for salads, stir fries and just eaten with fresh vegetables throughout the week!"
Denise and Bob the Cat reply with "Yummm yumm!"
Okay, so Grandpa Jones wouldn't have cooked the way I do but y'all get the picture. That's my basic cooking for today in preparation for the coming few days.
I had more no spend days this past week than I've ever had in my adult life, I think. There were four! Why? I planned better than I normally do.
I ran errands one day and took care of whatever I thought might come up during the week and that seemed to do the trick. I know it won't always work but if it works most of the time or even 50% of the time, it will be of benefit. I use less gas, spend less money, and have more free time. That's good all the way around.
I should get paid about $104 for miscellaneous online work I did this week. Most of it goes into the bank for November bills but I'll put $20 in savings. November is quickly approaching and it's time to start the cycle again!
Let's see. Today was yet another no spend day for me. I've had quite a few of those lately and I love it!
A friend came over tonight and brought dinner. It wasn't anything exciting, just a hamburger, fries, and a drink but it was my second free dinner this week and it was actually very tasty.
In the mail this week I've received numerous shampoo and conditioner samples, mostly Garnier Fructis and Pantene products. I really shouldn't need to buy hair care items for awhile.
I also received some Lipton noodle dinners, several of them. I rarely eat them but they'll be good for one of those times when company shows up unexpectedly or I just don't feel like cooking much.
The best freebie, though, was a $50 Target gift card. The electric company I use offered it as an incentive when I chose them. I'd have picked them, anyway, but it's nice to get the gift card. I don't know what I'll get with it but I'm sure I'll think of something.
and I really want to go back to school. Working retail and cleaning houses won't get me where I want to be. Well, it might but a college education would probably do more in that arena.
There are a couple of problems, though. I suck at Math. I mean I really do. Years ago, when my kids were young, I went to college for about two years. A good portion of that time was taken up by what I refer to as the "Developmental Math Disaster". I took that class five times and flunked it five times. I finally gave up and went back to being a full time homemaker and mom.
The other problem is that I don't know what I want to do! I really don't. And that's a major problem.
Now, here I am, on my own, with the kids grown. And I finally have time to go back to school. But now I'm terrified. I'll have to take that blasted DM again. Add to that the new required entrance tests and it makes me one nervous nellie.. no, terrified tammy!
Have any of you been through this? If so, what did you do that helped? There must be a solution but I haven't the foggiest what it is.
A friend of mine wanted to go out for dinner so we went out and had Tex Mex and she paid. I left the tip but that was only $4 and that's all I spent today so it was a frugal day.
I couldn't pay the electric bill because I hadn't received the paper bill yet and that's required to pay it at one of the local stores. But I got the bill in the mail today so I'll go tend to that tomorrow.
I did some more online work today and made another $20 or so. Not big money but it all helps so I won't say no to it. It goes into the regular checking account to help with the bills in November.
I've been managing to save about 10% of everything that comes in and while it isn't anything to brag about I do have a little cash saved. It's nice to know I have that. Apparently I'm a slow learner but I am learning.
But according to weather underground (http://www.wunderground.com/) by the end of this month we should be averaging temps in the low 70s. Oh please, please, come a little sooner! I miss Fall! Not that we really have much of one here - it goes from green to brown to dead, basically, but the cooler weather means no need to run the AC and possibly not even the fans and that means a lower electric bill.
Of course, on the tail of that is winter and that means trying to stay warm and a higher electric bill. But hey, it isn't so bad in Texas. We can put off using the heat for quite a while and enjoy those lower bills.
But really, I want Fall.. now, please!
Today is another no spend day for me. That makes two in a row! That's a rare thing for me but I'm thrilled about it.
I earned some more money online today. Not a lot but I should get a check for about $100 in a few days and it goes into the bank.
Tonight I used the last of the leftover beef roast to make a nice pot of beef and vegetable soup. I didn't make a huge pot but enough for me to have several meals this week from it.
Tomorrow I'm going to pay the electric bill and run an errand or two so it won't be a no spend day. But hey, it was nice to have two of them in a row.
wow, that Cowboys/Bills game was something! That's one of the weirdest and best Cowboys games I've ever seen and I'm surprised I have any finger nails left! I was on the edge of my seat the last quarter and I didn't even bet on the game.
Well, today is another no spend day for me. Woohooo! I do love 'em!
I made the Chocolate Snickerdoodle Coffee Mix earlier and had a cup or two of it. It's too warm to drink it often but when it cools off that will make a great cup of coffee to help stay warm.
I had my breakfast sandwich for dinner with half an apple. It was very good and filling. The other apple half I'll probably have in the morning or with my lunch tomorrow.
I did a little online work today and earned about $5. Not a lot but it will go into savings when I get it. Every little bit helps. If I can do more later tonight, I will, but right now I'm watching the Cowboys/Bills game.
I guess that's all my excitement for the day. Tomorrow should be another no spend day but I really need to get to the storage unit and if I do, I might stop by the CVS on the way to get a couple of small things I need.
I made this today and oh man, is it good! It's still too hot to drink it regularly but it will be good this winter.
Chocolate Snickerdoodle Coffee Mix
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup sugar (I used 12 packets of Splenda and it's too sweet - will use less next time)
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup non-dairy powdered coffee creamer
1/4 cup cocoa
3 T. instant coffee granules (I want it to taste like coffee and might use more next time)
dash of nutmeg
dash of cloves
1/2 tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine all the ingredients together and store in airtight containers.
To serve: add 3 Tablespoon coffee mix to 3/4 cup boiling water; stir to dissolve.
Tonight I'll have a homemade egg, turkey ham, and cheese sandwich on a reduced carb english muffin. Then, for the next week, I'll use food I have so I don't need to do more shopping. I'll have, in no particular order:
Chicken Fajitas with a side salad
Scrambled eggs with a thin slice of turkey ham and one slice of whole wheat toast
Roast beef hash served with green beans and spinach
Chef salad made with roast beef, chicken fajita meat, and turkey ham
Tuna salad rolled up in leaf lettuce and served with a salad
Veggie meal which will more than likely be steamed cabbage, carrots, green beans and spinach
Homemade beef and vegetable soup with a salad and a slice of buttered whole wheat bread
Those are all frugal meals and most will be planned overs or left overs. Yaay for 'used food'.
I don't use a multiple envelope system where there's one envelope for each bill that's coming due but I use a single envelope system. It's a bank envelope and the amounts due are written in list form on one side of it. Once the entire amount for that bill is in the envelope, I check it off. I can easily look at the envelope and see how much is in it, how much I still need to get, etc. But it's a new system for me and this is my first month using it.
Right now there are no unchecked items and it's only October 7th! I just put in enough money to pay the storage and electric bills. The electric bill isn't due until the 24th but I'm going to pay it early this week.
Wow, it feels great to have all bills paid or the money for them set aside so early in the month.
The system I'm using seems to be working.
I checked my electricity account online and got a great surprise. The amount I owe is $72.06 and not close to $150 like I suspected I'd owe. Since this is the first full month and the first electric bill which was for 9 days was almost $40 I just knew it would be between $120 and $150. I'd figured my average daily kWh as 22 but the bill shows it to be 20. What a pleasant surprise to get a utility bill that's actually about half of what I thought it would be! I've tried not to use the AC much but I'm really not sure how it worked out this way. But hey, I'm not complaining.
And I managed to keep the kWh at 20 or less which has been a goal.
Yaaay, go me!
or get the inkling that I might be, I'm going to go back to this website and get a reminder of how rich I really am:
According to it, I'm the 708,428,706th richest person in the world. And to think I never knew.
Funny thing is, even though I've been literally destitute in my life, I don't remember ever actually feeling poor. I wonder why...
I had to spend money today, money I hadn't planned on. I have a Mac Mini and a beautiful ultrathin keyboard shown here:
I cleaned the keyboard this morning and couldn't get all the keys to work afterwards, although I didn't douse it with anything. I tried letting it dry in front of a fan but that didn't help so I went to a local place to get a new keyboard. None of them had USB ports and since I thought the cord on my Mighty Mouse was too short to reach the back of the Mini, I got a new mouse, too.
When I got home I found out the keyboard works fine with my system but the mouse doesn't. Fortunately, the Mighty Mouse cord is long enough so I'll return the other mouse next week. I'm also going to ship my Apple keyboard to my son in Austin and he'll take it to the Apple Store for repair or replacement and ship it back to me.
The total for the new keyboard and mouse is $37.64 but when I return the mouse I'll get about $16 of that back. I'll keep the keyboard - it's nice to have a back up, just in case!
But I sure miss that sexy Apple keyboard..and my $37.64!
On my way home from the store I stopped at BK and spent about $3 on a double cheeseburger and fries. I don't eat that way often but I was very hungry and it was very good!
So, I spent a little over $40 today. Ugh...
I got to the house I was to clean at about 11:30 after a very fitful night of not sleeping. The back door wasn't unlocked and there was no key to be found. I called the client and he had someone come let me in. So, I got in and started working. I thought it would take about 3 hours to clean but it took 4 and 1/2 hours. There were messes that I wasn't aware of but I managed it. Pay wise, it works out to a little over $13 an hour. It's hard around here to make that kind of money, especially if you're 'undegreed and uneducated' so I think I did well.
The client just called me and told me he was very pleased with the house and that it smells good. That made me feel nice! "Make it smell good" was his big request for the day so I succeeded!
But I am one tired girl! My back hurts, my feet hurt, and my head hurts. I was hungry when I got home but so tired all I could do was open a can of vegetable beef soup and eat it right from the can, no water and no heating. Now that's pretty tired!
Anyway, I survived and I hope he ends up being a regular or semi-regular client. Of course, if he does, it shouldn't take that long each time. I think I could do it monthly in 3 hours. That would be great!
And the best part is I have 60 more dollars to add to the bill envelope.
Right now I have $17.48 on hand and $15 of that is spoken for. Wooohoooo! I won't get too far on $2.48!
But my bills are paid for this month, other than electricity and storage, neither of which is due yet, I have enough food to last a couple of weeks, and I have a full tank of gas in my car. I also have a house to clean tomorrow and will get $60 for that but it all goes into the bill envelope.
Oh well, I'm set for at least another week and a half to two weeks so all is well. It's just kind of sad to only have $2.48 in my pocket...maybe I need to run a coin rescue like baselle does!
I cleaned my mother's house today and she insisted on giving me money. I tell her taking money from the woman who cleaned me and my room and raised me and fed me and clothed me just seems wrong on so many levels but she insisted and wouldn't take no for an answer. So, I finally talked her down to $25. I had a minor errand to run when I was finished cleaning her house and spent $10 of what she gave me so I still have $15.
$5 goes to savings and $10 goes into the 'bill envelope'.
Tomorrow I have another house to clean, but not for family. I should make about $60 and it all goes towards bills.
I read this and almost got ill:
It comes earlier every year..and that's all I'm gonna say about that. (said in best Forrest Gump voice)
Here's my spending for October so far. I included what was spent on September 30 since most of it was for things to be consumed in October.
Valero - $13.00 (gasoline)
Albertson's - $43.56 (food for at least two weeks)
Wal-Mart $ - 16.37 (clothes line, clothes pins, cat food, light bulbs, instant coffee)
Food Fast - $3.00 (snacks while out with Mom)
$0 Yipeeee, a no spend day for me.
I want to see more of those $0 days!
Smelly in a good way, that is. I'm not a crafty person and this as about as crafty I get. This is a simple and inexpensive thing to make for yourself or others. Kids can even do it with supervision.
I make about half this recipe.
Easy Spicy Potpourri
1/2 c whole cloves
1/2 c whole allspice
10 cinnamon sticks, broken
10 bay leaves, crumbled
8 oz decorated jelly jars with bands lids
Using a vegetable peeler, peel fruit carefully, removing only the peel. Cut or tear into pieces about one inch in size.
Spread peels on paper towel lined pan. Place in preheated oven to 175 degrees F., or set oven to WARM. Dry for 1 1/2 hours, tossing now and then. When dried, peels should be leathery and/or slightly crunchy.
Spread the peels on dry paper towels and let air dry for 24 hours.
Combine with the cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
Fill jars with the mixture and place lids on. Screw bands on tightly.
Yield: 3 or 4 half pint jars
To use: Remove lid and leave band on for decoration to fragrance a room. Or put one Tbsp into a jar and fill jar with boiling water to release fragrance.
My favorite way to use this is to just add a tsp or two to a small saucepan or kettle of simmering water and let it sit on the stove. Yummy!
I was curious how much electricity I'd used since I got my first electric bill (for just 9 days) so I just checked the meter. I've used 562 kwh since that first bill.
My average daily usage on my last statement is 17 kwh. With today's reading and the number of days since the last reading, I can guesstimate that my average daily usage now is almost 22 kwh. Not as good as 17 kwh but it's been really hot and though I've kept AC use down, I have used it here and there. I'm also cooking more than I was the first 9 days I was here. So I can see the increase being reasonable. But I'm using the AC less than I was so I figured it would stay the same or be slightly less. Things that make you go hmmm....
On a website about green technology and tips to reducing electric consumption I found this:
"Monitor your electric usage daily. Chart it, if it helps. Keep a daily eye on it; like one would you were living off-grid. This will keep your focus on conservation. Set a goal for daily kWh usage, achieve it, and then try to go lower. An average American home uses 40 kWh per day. Efficient homes use as little as 14 kWh a day, which includes winter heating (electric heat pump). Some off grid homes as little as 1 kWh a day!"
So, my consumption is right at slightly less than half the average American's and that seems about right considering there's just one person in the household.
Since I want to reduce my electric bill, I'm setting an average daily use goal of 20 kwh or below, starting right now. I don't know if I can do it but hey, it can't hurt to try! If I can get it down to 20, I'm going to try for 18 and see what happens.
Here are a few good links about energy to check:
Find out how much energy is used by common household appliances:
And here's how to do a home energy audit on your own home:
And here's a nice heat loss quiz:
I imagine most of you know about the Energy Guy and others like him but it's still interesting information!
Out of curiosity, what is your household's average daily kwh usage and how many people are in your home?
Part of starting over, at least for me, is building my pantry contents. I'm a real believer in keeping a well stocked pantry and it surely keeps me from having to run to the store for one or two things and coming out $50 poorer.
I haven't been too concerned about food partially because I wasn't sure if I need to stock up like I used to and partially because, well... I wasn't in the mood. But now I am in the mood so I just started the process this week.
It's going to take me awhile and without the large pantry room, generous kitchen cupboards and deep freeze, I'll have to be very creative about how and what I buy and how and where I store what I buy.
As of tonight, here's what food is in the house, excluding the contents of the fridge (whole wheat bread, eggs, milk, cheeses, fresh vegetables and fruit, etc):
Two 1 lb 9.6 oz bags of powdered milk
Three 1 lb bags of instant potatoes
Two 14 oz bags of farina
Two 30 count family size tea bags
Five pounds regular plain coffee
One lb flavored coffees
7 oz instant coffee
2 boxes taco shells
18 oz can Uncle Buck's Biscuit Mix
One 14 oz box whole grain brown rice
One 7 oz box instant rice
One 6.9 oz box chicken rice mix
One 7.5 oz box quick cooking wild rice
about 10 lb of long cooking white rice
10 lbs various beans
4 lbs various pastas
3 sleeves saltines
10 oz onion soup mix
1 large bag Splenda
1 small box Splenda packets
4 lbs white sugar
68 oz olive oil
Two 28 oz cans Italian green beans
Three 7 oz cans mushrooms
Four 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes
Two 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
Three 10 oz cans Ro-tel tomatoes
One 15 oz can chili
One 14.5 oz can carrots
One 14.5 oz can green beans
Two 10.5 oz cans vegetable beef soup
One 16 oz jar Alfredo sauce
Two 16 oz jars mild Salsa
Miscellaneous baking ingredients and spices
Several packages of gravy mix, spaghetti sauce, etc.
Meat & Frozen Goods
Two lbs boneless beef rump roast
Six lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2.5 lbs lean ground beef
4 bags frozen vegetables
It's almost depressing to look at this list but hey, I have to start somewhere! Over time I'll get the kitchen stocked as I want it....
Today was planned to be a no spend day for me. I wasn't going to leave the house and that means I don't spend money. But my mother had a 'quick' errand to run and wanted me to go along so I did. It just so happens that the place she had to go was very, very near the new Kohl's that just opened. Since neither of us had been in a Kohl's, we had to check it out. We found things we both wanted but I'm happy to say I didn't buy anything at Kohl's. Oh happy day!
However, Mom remembered another errand she needed to run and since it was going to take awhile and we were both famished we stopped at a convenience store for a snack. I spent about $3 but that's it.
We ran the other errand and went home and I will not go out again tonight. Period!
So it was almost a no spend day for me, close anyway.
Dinner tonight is Poor Man's Steak, brussels sprouts and a slice of pumpernickel with butter. I decided to try a different recipe than I usually use for Poor Man's Steak. I used this one today but cut all ingredients by half:
1 pound ground beef
1 cup milk
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 can mushroom soup
1 cup water or milk
Mix all together, except soup and water/milk and shape into a narrow loaf. (I flattened it on a cookie sheet instead) Let sit in refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Cut loaf into slices and fry in a skillet on both sides until brown. (I skipped the frying) Put slices in baking dish. Mix 1 can mushroom soup with 1 cup of water or milk and pour over each piece. Bake at 325° 1 hour.