Thursday, August 29, 2013

Freezer Staples

There are a few things I ALWAYS try to keep in my freezer and I look for these items on sale or on manager special marked down.  Having these things always helps when trying to get by on spending less at the grocery store.  It makes it easy to throw meals together on the fly and makes it possible for me to have a tiny grocery budget.
  1. bell peppers (red, green, and yellow) wash and slice them, put them in a freezer bag.  When you want to use them either thaw out the amount you need or defrost in the microwave.  They will be a little water logged but I just spread them out on a kitchen towel and place another towel over the top, press down to absorb the water then use in whatever recipe I'm making.
  2. chicken or veggie stock.  I make my own chicken stock when I have bone in chicken breast or a whole chicken I need to cook.  I have a bag in my freezer for leftover veggie parts that I use to make veggie stock.  These include the pieces of celery or carrots you would normally cut off and throw away, corn ears (after I scrape the corn off and freeze it for future use), leftover pieces of onion, etc.  When I get about 2 cups worth of veggies I fill my pot with them and water, add a little salt and pepper and maybe a bay leaf and let it simmer for a while.  Separate the veggie parts from the liquid and freeze the liquid in 1cup portions.
  3. veggies, any and all that you can fit but especially broccoli, corn, and stir fry mixed vegetables.  The broccoli and mixed veggies I like to have to make a quick stir fry.
  4. blueberries.  I buy these in the summer when they are around $1.25-$1.50 a pint.  They are my favorite fruit to add to muffins, oatmeal, yogurt, or cobbler.  I usually try to have about 3 quart size bags of them in my freezer and that gets me through the winter until they start going on sale again.
  5. Meat. In an ideal world I would have smoked sausage, chicken breast, ground beef, pork loin, pork chops, and beef roast in my freezer at all times.  Unfortunately this is rare.  I usually have 3 or 4 of these but not all.  The more variety you have on hand the less bored you will feel with your menu planning. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Weeks Worth of Grocery Basics

I think a lot about food, grocery shopping, and budgeting.  I'm always trying to get more for less out of my grocery shopping trips, trying to make the food we have go further and always trying to save more in our budget for other things.  Over the past few years of having a small grocery budget there have been many times where I had to come up with a weeks worth of meals with seemingly nothing to make them from.  Because of that I have compiled a list of must have items, if your grocery budget is tiny or you're trying to make it smaller this week to put money towards something else here are the things you should buy during your grocery trip.

Prices will vary depending on where you live and these are the prices if none of the items are on sale that week, at my grocery stores.
  1. Potatoes $2.50
  2. Pasta $1.00
  3. Canned tomatoes $1.00 for 28oz can at Aldi
  4. celery $1.19
  5. onions $1.99 for 2lb
  6. carrots $0.99 for 1lb
  7. rice about $2.00
  8. meat (chicken, beef, or pork, whatever is on sale that week)
  9. eggs $1.68/dozen
  10. bread $0.79 at Aldi
       Total before the cost of meat is $13.14.  You can usually find frozen chicken breast in a bag for about $7 if nothing is on sale.  Usually in my area you can get fresh boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.99/lb or less depending on the store.  This makes family packs of about 7 chicken breasts about $7.  I cut them in half at their width making myself 14 chicken breasts, more than enough for us.

When we lived in Tennessee, my husband's job depended a lot on the weather, if it rained he didn't work so we never knew how much money we were actually going to have at the end of the week.  Obviously we couldn't not pay our electric or rent so we cut costs where we could, groceries.  During those weeks I had this go to list in my mind. If it was on sale I would always buy boneless skinless chicken breast because I can use it in more ways than any other meat, but that's just me.

Potatoes of any kind, mashed, roasted, fried, wedges, homemade French fries, or baked.  I'd change it up each night but we ate a lot of potatoes.  If you have canned tomatoes you can add them to almost anything, pasta, over rice, or pour a can of diced tomatoes over a few chicken breast and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes and you have a yummy main dish.  I try to stock up on them every time they are on sale or I have a coupon, and keep various kinds, crushed, diced, whole, and tomato sauce.  Celery, onions, and carrots are the 3 items you can add to about anything to add flavor,  rice to make fried rice, meatloaf, chicken pot pie or chicken-less pot pie, throw them in the crockpot with a beef or pork roast and some potatoes, sauté them with chicken chunks and add to rice. 
Eggs were always a must because in the worst case scenario we could always have scrambled eggs and toast, French toast, or omelets with just cheese (if we had any) or whatever veggies we had in the fridge or freezer.  These basic items will get you through at least a weeks worth of simple meals.  Remember we aren't looking for a knock your socks off dinner for your in-laws, just some simple meals to get you through a tough week spending as little as possible.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting Back on Track

I've taken a few weeks off from the blog world to ya know, get my head out of the toilet and my stomach out of my throat.  The nausea is finally starting to pass and I can't say how excited I am.  Many women love the first trimester of pregnancy, the miracle of it all and while I appreciate the miracle I do not enjoy being overly exhausted or nauseous or vomiting.  I count down to the 12 week mark and cross my fingers food will magically start sounding good again.  It's starting to, slowly.

I've started cooking actual meals that have a meat and 2 veggies rather than hot dogs with fries, chicken nuggets with fries or tuna helper.  I think my husband was quite relieved to see me in the kitchen making homemade sloppy joes, mashed potatoes, and corn.  This is the first "real" meal I've cooked from scratch in weeks, and it felt good.

I've also started getting back on track with my grocery budget.  The $30 challenge will start again for me, and I'm actually trying to get it down to $25, cuz I'm just that way, always trying to spend less and save more.  When the nausea hit me hard and nothing sounded good or smelled good, I "splurged" at the grocery store.  Now when I say splurged I'm sure many people will think I spent around $100, Heck no! My splurging was more like $40 instead of $30 and going in with no meal plan and no grocery list.  This being said, I should have stuck to my original budget and planning methods because we have started running out of some essentials but due to the fact that I was buying more quickie stuff than actual meal stuff I didn't keep these in stock or even pay attention to the fact that they were low.  Every penny counts when your budget is small and even a $3 item, that's not meat, can be difficult to fit in.  So I'm playing catch up now.

I had no desire to craft, sew, or do anything that require extra energy for that matter, but I'm starting to get the itch again.  I have a list, a small one, of baby items I want to make for this new little one. 
  1. 1 yard flannel receiving blankets
  2. hooded towels
  3. binky clips
  4. messenger style diaper bag
  5. hospital gown
Nothing fancy but some essentials.  We kept pretty much everything from Grant's baby days, except clothes, so most items there's no need to repurchase.  However there were a few baby items I found completely useless with Grant and I refuse to have useless items in our small space.  Grant was a big baby, over 9lbs, and I couldn't even swaddle him in regular receiving blankets because they were all too small.  Same goes for infant towel, I had to use 2 from the very beginning to wrap him up and actually have all of him covered.  These were the first things I thought of when I was figuring out what I needed for another baby.  That being said, I'm hoping to get the sewing machine out again soon and have some goodies to show off.

I also have quite a few events coming up that will require my craftiness capabilities.  Grant's 3rd birthday is coming up and he's obsessed with trains, so that's our theme.  Halloween is after that and I think it's becoming a tradition I make his and my nieces costume for our trip to the zoo's Halloween celebration.  My cousin is pregnant (2 weeks ahead of me) and I'm doing her baby shower, cowboy or cowgirl depending on the gender.  My sister is getting married next summer and I'm in charge of the bridal shower, think modern country, and cupcakes for the reception.  Add in the birth of my own baby right smack in the middle of it all and my year is pretty hectic.  My creative juices are already flowing and I'm planning and gathering ideas on how to make all of these events budget friendly, and amazing!

So you see I haven't dropped off the face of the earth..
As if you thought that.
And I should have some great stuff coming up to show off, which is my favorite thing to do on this little blog of mine.

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post but I felt it need a picture.  Grant is a little camera shy.  Actually as soon as I get it out he runs, or turns his back to me saying "I don't want to".
Do you think maybe the kid sees my camera way too much, haha.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Little Absent These Days

I have to admit things around this little blog of mine have been lacking.  The reason for that being the extreme nausea that accompanies growing a little one.  Instead of sewing and crafting I have taken the extra time at night to go to bed early, and I have not one desire to get up any earlier than Grant makes me.  When I was pregnant with Grant I rarely took naps and refused to go to bed early after the exhaustion of the first trimester wore off.  I kicked myself after he was born and never slept, and therefore I never got sleep.  I swore in future pregnancies I would not do this to myself.  I would rest and relax a little more.  I worked up until the day before Grant was born and didn't even rest after he was here.  Instead I did laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking in between the diaper changes, feedings, etc.  Stupid, stupid me, thinking that's what a good mom and wife does.  She keeps going and gets everything done before Husband gets home, regardless of the fact that she just gave birth to a human being.

I like to think I've learned a thing or two since my first little one came into this world and I have no desire to wear myself ragged with housework while recovering from giving birth and taking care of 2 kids.  I haven't even taken the time to menu plan because the nausea makes it difficult to know what's going to sound good and not make me want to vomit while cooking it.  I instead just make sure I have all the basic ingredients and I figure it out on the fly.  It's been a lot of hot dogs (surprisingly they always sound good to me), waffles, pancakes, pasta, and other various easy meals. I'm sure my husband is missing meals like baked barbeque burgers, orange chicken, and meatloaf, but lets face it those take about an hour each to fully prepare and cook and that's more energy than I have to give to a meal right now, not to mention I have no desire to smell any of those meals cooking for a solid hour, ugh.

I'm looking forward to this stage passing and getting things back to normal around here.  Maybe I'll have more energy for some of the sewing projects I've had on my to-do list for quite awhile.  So maybe I'll actually have something fantastic to post on here in the coming weeks.  Until then things will be scattered.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Week #9 Grocery Shopping

This week there were so many great deals on produce I went a little crazy.  Not many things sound good to me these days and the ever present nausea makes it a lot more difficult to grocery shop and meal plan (which is why I haven't done it much lately).  Nothing really sounds good to me except take out, fresh fruit, and hot dogs.  So great home cooked meals of meatloaf and mashed potatoes have been set aside for hot dogs, hamburgers, mac and cheese, and anything else that doesn't keep me standing over as stove for an hour.  That being said, here's what I bought this week:

Bread $0.83
Hamburger buns $0.99
Hot dog buns $0.99
Yellow peppers (on clearance) $1.54
Chicken Breast (on markdown) $3.18 used a store coupon for $2 off any meat purchase= $1.18
4 1/2lbs Bananas @ $0.38/lb= $1.71
Ocean Spray juice $2.50 used $1.00 coupon= $1.50
Kraft shredded cheese $2.00
2pkg Eckrich Cheddar bacon links (part of the buy 7 get $7 off) $1.49 used $0.55 coupon that doubled to $1.10= $0.39 each
2 pkg Bacon $1.89 each
3pkg Hot dogs $0.79 each
2 Herbal Essence body washes $2.45 used 2- $1.00 manufacturer coupons and a $2.00 off any health and beauty purchase store coupon making them each $0.45.
Softsoap Foaming hand soap on clearance @ $1.49 used $0.35 coupon that doubled to $0.70= $0.79 
Not pictured: Angel soft toilet paper 6 roll $2.24 used $0.45 coupon that doubled to $0.90= $1.34
Watermelon $2.99
2lbs Grapes @ $0.99/lb =$2.00
Milk- I actually haven't bought any yet, that comes tomorrow since I was so beat after the grocery store and other stops I had to make, I decided one grocery trip was enough for one day.
Total Spent (before milk purchase) $25.94
With milk my total will be about $32 but since I purchased multiple toiletry items I give myself a little cushion.


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