Friday, August 18, 2017

Make Overs for Leftovers in Your Budget

Almost everyone has turned leftover baked beans and grilled hotdogs into beans and franks.

Or turned a little of this and a little of that into a comforting soup or stew.

Recently, I made applesauce BBQ chicken,a  Taste of Home recipe, using leftover cinnamon applesauce from the freezer, leftover chicken and BBQ sauce I got for $1.00.  I served it with the leftover potato salad from the night before and a simple vegetable.  Three leftovers made another different and delicious meal.

Another time, I used flour to thicken leftover vegetable soup and turn it into a pot pie.  With a little extra onion for added flavor, this leftover made a new meal.

I made kale salad with lemon vinaigrette recently.  The next night, I sauteed the leftover salad in oil with some garlic to turn it into a great side dish:  garlic sauteed kale.

Leftover green salad with Italian dressing was recently  pureed and became the flavorful base for Italian vegetable soup.

Leftover rice and meat regularly becomes either a rice pilaf or fried rice.

Leftover veg  and meat, with some added milk and eggs, turns into quiche.

Leftover corn or baked potatoes or both is turned into a chowder.

Coleslaw leftover from your picnic meal can go on top of pulled pork (or chicken) sandwiches.

Once piece of ham becomes a family meal when cubed and tossed with pasta and peas in a light cheese sauce.

One or two leftover hamburgers can feed a family of four when turned into cheeseburger scalloped potatoes.

Small amount of leftover roast beef can be a family meal when you turn it into a cheese steak pizza.

Get creative with recipes.  Improvise if you don't have the exact ingredients listed.  This gets easier the more you cook.

Eat more makeovers and have some leftover money in your budget at the end of the week.  That's a win.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 1-14: Buying and Eating

With July's 31 days, our monthly allotment is  $381.61.  Our carryover is $178.94, for a total available of  $560.55.

What we ate:
Tuna macaroni salad; pasta with peas, chicken and pink sauce; leftovers as we prepare for a vacation;  family prepared meals while on vacation;  grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with chips and fruit; leftover pork, pasta salad, corn, toasted bread;  pasta salad with turkey and peas, cheesy bread, brownies

What Groceries We Bought:
Eggs, 8 lb. turkey breast, 7 lb. boneless pork loin. $22.39. (We saved $25.31 by shopping the loss leaders.  Fifteen pounds of meat for $22, the eggs were 39 cents.  On average, $1.47/ lb.)

Meals Out:
Lunch at Ruby Tuesday between doctors appointments. $5 (used a coupon and shared)
Lunch with Pat, our  $14.54
Dinner at Subway on way to lake  $3.94
Mike lunch after golf. $6.99
Lunch at Taco Bell on way home from lake. $5.28
Lunch with Ginger. $12.60
 Total meals out:  48.35

We spent $22.39 on groceries and $48.35  for a total of $70.74.

We have $310.87 of our monthly allotment left, plus all the cushion of $178.94.

I'm posting this a day early since I am having surgery tomorrow.  I didn't want to not post.  See you later.  Shop well, Eat well.  :)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Extreme Frugality

Some frugal ideas may sound too extreme for some to try.  But, others need to be a little more extreme to balance their budgets.

Below are some ideas some may embrace but others will say no way.  It's up to you.  Frugality is different for everyone.


1.  By hand, empty and reuse your vacuum cleaner bag.  I have been doing this for years and have never had a problem.  On occasion I have even reused it twice.

2.  Wash and reuse your Ziploc bags, except those that contained meat.  I wash mine with my kitchen towels and add some bleach to the load.  A box of bags lasts me a LONG time.

3.  Save cereal bags and reuse them as you would waxed paper.  I haven't bought waxed paper in years.

4.  Wash and reuse barely dirty aluminum foil.  It really isn't hard.

5.  Reuse coffee grounds a second time by adding an additional half of the usual amount on top of the used grounds.  You can get two pot for only 1 1/2 the usual amount of coffee.  And truly, unless your taste buds are really sensitive, you will never taste the difference.

6.  Cloth bathroom paper and intimate articles that are washed and reused.  You stop buying toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.  But, you have to deal with the washing of these items.  This was a step too far for me, but maybe not for you.

Now you decide what works for you and your family.  And remember, little savings will, over time, add up to big dollars.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Homemade Extracts for Baking

Extracts are flavorful but expensive.  Why not try making your own?  They are easy but do take some time to age.

Vanilla Extract:
10 vanilla beans split down the middle (I buy mine from Amazon)
1 liter vodka, go for the cheapest
Put beans in the vodka and sit away to age at least three months

Orange or Lemon Extract:
Zest three average sized pieces of fruit, add to 1/2 cup vodka
Age for three months

Almond Extract:
15 chopped blanched almonds, 2 cups vodka
Let age three months.  Strain before use.

Mint Extract:
1 cup mint leaves of any variety, 2 cups cheap vodka
Age for three months

Chocolate Extract:
1 cup vodka, cheap,  1/4 cup cocoa powder
Let age for three months.  Strain before using.

Remember, homemade extract can make great gifts for those who love to bake.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cook Once, Eat For the Week

If your family likes Mexican food this menu plan is for you.  I use it when every square of the calendar is jammed with commitments.

First, make a HUGE pot of chili using your family's favorite recipe.  I start with dried pinto beans because they are the cheapest.

I usually use half the meat called for in the recipe.  When money is squeaky tight, I leave the meat out entirely, add some beef bouillon, and make sure there are plenty of beans.  If I have them, I use more than one type of bean.

For the first night, serve the chilli as is.

Night two:  cook some pasta, dice some onion, grate some cheese.  Serve the chili over the spaghetti, top with onions and cheese.

For the third night:  puree a scoop or two of the chili to make the filling for burritos.  You may have to strain the chili some so it isn't too moist.

Night four:  strain some chili to use the beans or beans and meat for filling tacos;  Serve with your favourite accompaniments.

Now we are at night five:  Make or buy a pizza crust; slightly strain some of the liquid away from the beans and meat and then puree; spread the puree over the crust;  If desired, dot with salsa;  sprinkle with onion and cheese and bake.

Day six:  We will be using the chili liquid to cook eggs in.  Put the needed liquid into a broad bottom container such as a deep dish pie pan.  Crack eggs into the liquid and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake in the oven at 350 until the eggs are cooked.

And finally, cook the necessary amount of rice needed for your family.  Mix the remaining chili with the rice.  If you want to, stir in some salsa.  Add some onion for added flavor.  Top with cheese and bake until warmed through.

If you have some cornbread, green salad, fruit, tortilla chips and salsa, with some sour cream you are all set.

There you go, a week's worth of meals from one pot of chili.  Happy eating.

Monday, July 31, 2017

July Groceries and Meals Out, Part 2

We have $116.56 left from July's allocation.  Then we have to move into our cushion of $307.25.

What we ate:  cheese filled burgers with mushroom wine sauce; shrimp scampi salad with olive cheese bread; grilled salmon burgers from the freezer with sauteed kale, peaches and yogurt and olive cheese bread;  mooshu from the freezer, homemade fried rice, Asian broccoli, mixed fruit salad with honey and lime; salmon macaroni salad with mixed fruit salad and garlic crackers; ribs, corn on the cob, fresh fruit salad; leftovers; leftover ribs, baked potatoes and zucchini; bacon wrapped shrimp, broccoli salad and fried rice from the freezer; soup from the freezer, salami and cheese sandwich, leftover broccoli salad; leftovers times two

What we bought:

Bread Store:  English muffins, bagels, Monk's apple cinnamon bread, double fiber bread.   $3.28

Save a Lot:  quart of chopped garlic,  dry milk, reduced bananas, reduced strawberries, reduced fresh ginger.   $16.51

Walgreen's:  sugar $1.89

CSA:  corn, potatoes, black raspberries, zucchini, broccoli, onion. $15

Tops:  6.3 lb. Roasting chicken.  $4.29

CSA:  tomatoes, peaches, cherries, beets, beet greens, green beans, acorn squash, cauliflower.   $15

Then, we killed the budget by taking a trip to Pittsburgh's Strip District.  And I do mean killed it.  Here is what we bought.

PrestiGious Coffee and Tea:  5 lbs. Specialty coffee  $50.37.    Mike loves this coffee but, because of the cost we make it last.

Pennsylvania Macaroni Company:  gallon of extra virgin olive oil and 16 oz. jar of capers $27.48.   Both will last a LONG time.

Market Outlet:  Romano cheese (2),  dry salad dressing mix  (4), marshmallows (2),  snack items(6),  crackers (4)  $24.90

Meals Out:

Lunch at IKEA:  $14.75

Dinner at Pita Pit:  $7.75

Lunch on way to Rochester:  $10.75

Lunch coming home from Rochester:  $22.90

The last half of the month we spent $188.72 on food and $56.15 on restaurant meals for a total of $244.87.  We only had $116.56 left from July's food allocation.  The result is we went into the cushion by $128.31 (see the Pittsburgh trip above). That means our cushion is now down to $178.94.

The good news is that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  The better news is that our pantry is now getting to be full.  And remember, we are working off the thrifty allocation, including both meals at home and meals out.

But, if I want money to stock up on holiday specials this November and December I need to add to the cushion in August, September and October.  Wish me luck.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Refrigerator Organization to Prevent Waste

 Over the years I have developed an organisational plan for my refrigerator.  It helps me keep food waste to a minimum and that saves me money.

So here is what I do.  You may find a different system works for you.

On the day of my CSA delivery, or the day I am heading to the grocery store for produce, I clean out a crisper drawer, putting everything I have into one drawer.  The now empty drawer is for the newly purchased vegetables and fruits. That way I use the older items before the newer.  If I can't get it all into one drawer, I really don't need to restock, I need to use it up or freeze some of what I have before it goes bad.

One shelf is only for leftovers to be lunch or makeovers.  Otherwise they get lost and go bad.

On another shelf, it's the bottom shelf in my refrigerator, I keep a box for cheese so that it doesn't end up lost all over fridge because of the smaller packages.

One part of a shelf, the top shelf for me, is where the eggs and bread items go so I don't inadvertently squash the bread or run out of these important basics.  The rest of that shelf is for miscellaneous items like yogurt, cottage cheese, oj, and such  things as milk/half and half and cream.

The door is for condiments and the top shelf of the door is for butter, and other basics I need to be able to easily keep track of or access.

By keeping track of items like this I am more likely to make sure they are used before they turn into science experiments.  If you know where it is you can use it before it goes bad.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My CSA and Thrift

Community Supported Agriculture

I don't garden.  I've tried but I have less than ideal conditions ( small city lot and lots of shade, backyard patio that is the yard, all of it, and very limited front yard that faces north).

So I just buy from the farmer in the form of belonging to a CSA.

Mike and I bought a half share this year.  It runs from June to October.  If you've been reading my bimonthly grocery posts you know what we have been getting so far:  zucchini, onions, strawberries, potatoes, lettuce, rhubarb, kale, corn, beets, peas, cherries, cantaloupe, blueberries, raspberries, green peppers, green beans, broccoli, black raspberries .

Although not certified organic because of the cost of going through the process, I am comfortable with how these vegetables have been grown.  They taste fresh and wonderful.  We have been eating like kings.

And, I have had enough extra to freeze zucchini, strawberries, rhubarb, peas, blueberries, raspberries , green beans and corn so far.  They will taste wonderful later this year.

We pay about $15 a week for our half share.

So is it strictly frugal?  No.  I could find fruits and vegetables cheaper in the grocery store.   However, we would probably not have the variety and they wouldn't be anywhere near organic.  They also wouldn't be local.  And, they wouldn't be as fresh.  Also, I wouldn't be supporting a local farmer.

For the few extra dollars it is worth it to me.  Everyone has to make their own decision on this one.  We have enough wiggle room in our budget to make it work. You may not.  We didn't either for years.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Big Bread Store Discounts

I love to bake bread.

And bagels, English muffins, tortillas, pitas.........

But not in the summer in the heat and humidity.  Call me a foul weather baker.

And, let's face it, sometimes life gets in the way and there literally is no time to breathe let alone bake bread.

That is when I head to my local day old bread store.

We try to go on Monday for an additional 15%military discount.  Every penny saved counts.  They all add up into dollars eventually.

Most visits we buy a variation on the following:

Monk's Bread, apple cinnamon, normally $3.99 ; every day price at the bread store $0.89

Thomas's Onion Bagels normally $4.99 ; every day price at the bread store $1.19

Arnold's Double Fiber Bread normally $3.99 ; every day price at the bread store $0.89

Strohman's English Muffins normally $2.99; every day price at the bread store $0.89

Military discount 0.58

Total cost:  3.28.

We saved$12.68 over normal grocery store prices.

Well worth the trip.

Could I make them for less.  Yes.  But did I mention I get really cranky when I'm hot?  :) 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Thrifty in the Kitchen

Fancy ingredients are expensive ingredients.  Simple ingredients are thrifty ingredients.

Ingredients like chicken and beans, ingredients that can be used in more than one recipe, end up being frugal ingredients.

Tougher cuts of meats that you can marinade to tenderize and flavor, or cook slowly in your crockpot, are budget wise purchases.  Steak and lobster are not unless you can find a great sale.

Root vegetables are cheap vegetables.  Think onions, potatoes,carrots and garlic.

Eggs are versatile, a great source of protein and inexpensive, especially on sale when you should stock up.

Keep a bag in your freezer for vegetable scraps and when it is full make your own vegetable stock.  Do the same with beef, pork and chicken bones and meat trimmings.  Your own broth will be less salty, taste fresher and cost a lot less.

Have leftover or stale bread?  Make bread crumbs, croutons and sweet or savory bread pudding.  Or use it where you won't notice:  French toast, regular toast, bruchetta, garlic bread.

Have a lot of shelf stable items in your kitchen such as beans, rice, pasta, and some canned goods.  These will help you put together meals for less.

Use spices to make inexpensive ingredients taste different and wonderful.

Be careful not to over buy perishables like fruits and vegetables because that can lead to expensive waste when things spoil.

Any food you throw away is expensive food.  Use it up.  If you can't use it now, put it in the freezer before it spoils and use it later.

Cook as much from scratch as you can.  Convenience food is expensive food.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July Groceries, Part 1

For July we get $381.61 to spend on food.  We also have a cushion of $307.25.  So, theoretically, we could spend a total of $688.86 this month.  I sure hope I don't.  But, summers can be more expensive due to the CSA.  And then there are the season's special deals I like to take advantage of to build up my stockpile.  So, I expect we will spend some of the cushion in support of that good cause.

So, for the first half of July my here is the breakdown:

What we ate:  leftover pizza; leftover buffet (2); leftover brats and sauerkraut with tomato and mozzarella salad and fresh peaches; salmon/spinach/feta burgers with salad and baked beets; applesauce BBQ chicken with slaw and potato salad; leftover cheeseburger scalloped potatoes from the freezer with tomatoes, roasted broccoli and fried cabbage; Pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches topped with coleslaw, tomatoes and cucumber salad, watermelon; mooshu from freezer with quinoa fruit salad with honey mustard dressing; frozen seafood crepes with sauteed beet greens and salad; leftover pizza

What we bought:

CSA:  lettuce, onion, corn, cherries, broccoli, peas  $17

Giant Eagle:  eggs (2)  $0.98

Giant Eagle:  2 pints ice cream, one jar instant decaf coffee (for iced coffee)  $6.50

Walgreen's:  green olives (2), black olives; 18 oz. jar of decaf coffee (4)  $18.93

CSA:  green beans, green peppers, beets and beet greens, raspberries, blueberries, cantaloupe , peaches, apples  $17

Aldi:  mushrooms (2), pretzels, multi color peppers, olives, shrimp, prunes, 10 pounds potatoes, blue cheese, feta cheese, parmesan cheese(3) for pesto to freeze. $29.75

Country Fair:  potato chips (2)  $5

Tim Horton:  donuts and coffee $3.18

Salvage (probably the last until late September or October):  oil (gal), flour, sugar, vegetable broth, chicken broth, quinoa, oatmeal (2), popcorn, cornmeal, Ritz crackers, multigrain crackers (2), maple syrup (pint), soup, rice, frosted mini wheats (2), honey nut O's (2),  m&m's (2 large for cookies), raisins (2), sugar cones, taco boats, panko, cat food, cheez it's, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, coffee (4), butter beans, red enchilada sauce, chopped clams, Greek vinaigrette, Russian dressing, natural peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, dried apricots, honey roasted almonds, slivered almonds. $63.47

Meals Out:
Aunt Millie's for lunch on way to N.Y.  $14.17
Aunt Cookie's sub for lunch coming home from N.Y.  $8.31
Dinner with Jim and Robin. $35.76  WOW!!!  We had leftovers but still.
Lunch with Angela $17
Birthday dinner $8
Lunch after salvage: $ 20.00

In total, $ 161.81 was spent on groceries and $ 103.24 was spent on meals out.  That means a grand total of $  265.05 was spent during the first half of July.  Of the $ 381.61 allocated to July, we have $ 116.56 remaining for the second half of the month.  My freezer is almost full.  My cupboards are stocked.  So maybe we will be OK. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Saving on Non Food Items

Shopping sales and using coupons isn't just for food.  In fact, I use more non food coupons than food coupons.

Penney's periodically gives out in store coupons for $10 off a $10 purchase.  The last time they did so my husband and I managed, by shopping sales, to purchase $66 worth of clothes for gifts and only spent $3.66.

 Using a $10 off a $25 purchase Penney's coupon we managed to purchase six bath towels and two hand towels for $22.18 with tax.  We saved $55.08.

Free photo deals at drug stores can result in some great gifts.  My dad, at 87, really doesn't need more stuff.  But, new pictures of his great grandchildren can be a real hit.

Back to school sales and coupons are great for stocking up on copy paper, pens, mechanical pencils, sharpie markers, staples, tape, etc.  They are also great for buying children's art supplies for later gifts from grandma and grandpa.

Wal-Mart recently had 24 packs of Crayola sidewalk chalk on sale.  I haven't seen any in thrift stores for quite awhile, so I stocked up.  My grandchildren love sidewalk chalk.

Starbucks often has half price sales between two and  five.  My husband and I will periodically indulge our coffee addiction then.  If we have a gift card (generous daughters) it's even better.

Restaurant coupons are great for when we want to or must eat out.  If we don't have a coupon we look for the $1 menu.  If there isn't one we usually order one entree and split it. We enjoy eating out and by keeping the cost under control we can do it more often.

I shopped a sale at Walgreen's , used two $3 coupons, and got two normally priced bottle of oxiclean detergent for $0.99.  The bottle does 26 loads at about $0.04 per load.  That's cheaper than the $0.06 per load for my homemade detergent.  Normally, the detergent would have cost $7.49 which would work out to about $0.40 per load.  I love great deals.

Another Walgreen's deal I did was on the 12 roll pack of Charmin.  Normal price is $8.99.  It was on sale for $4.99.  By using a coupon I lowered the price to $3.99.  That makes the price per roll $0.33.  Normally the price per roll would be $0.75.  I bought two twelve packs because I had two coupons.

My final Walgreen's deal was on Bounty in the six pack.  Normally the package is $7.49 or $1.25 per roll.  The sale took the price to $4.99 and my coupon dropped the price to $3.99 or $0.67 per roll.  These six rolls will last me about a year.

So, look at those advertisements and match them with coupons to see what deals you can score.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Composting for the lazy but patient

I am all for composting my kitchen and yard waste.  It's good for Mother Nature and a great way to build up the soil in gardens and flower beds.  And, it is frugal.

All your plant based kitchen waste can be composted as can grass clippings and leaves.  So much better to make something useful from them rather than put them in the landfill.

Usually, compost goes in big bins, is built in layers, and needs to be periodically turned so that the stuff from the outside end up in the center and the stuff from the center end up on the outside.  This helps things decompose into compost faster.

I get that.  Really.  But I'm just not thrilled with turning decomposing kitchen waste.  So I compost in a way that is much easier, although slower.  I use a series of garbage cans.

First, I have my husband drill some holes in the bottom, sides and lid.  Then, we place them on blocks or bricks to allow air flow.  The first layer is always newspaper followed by grass or leaves.  Then I start adding plant based kitchen waste and egg shells.  Don't add greasy things, fat or meat.  They slow the decomposing way down and could attract unwanted critters.

The holes provide drainage and airflow, and the holes in the top allow rain to get in and keep things moist.  This will aid in decomposition.

Once you start adding kitchen scraps you will be pleasantly surprised at how long it takes to fill the garage can.  This is because as things decompose they shrink down and settle, allowing you to add more.

Once the can is full, add a layer of grass, leaves or shredded paper,  wet things down, put on the lid and move on to can two.  I usually have three cans going at once.

Decomposition is faster in warmer months and slows down as things get colder.  I've found that where we live it takes about a year for things to reach compost level.  Different climates will be faster or slower.

It is compost when it looks dark and rich and you can no longer identify the ingredients that made it.

And no, it is not smelly.  If you begin to notice a smell add a layer of newspaper, grass or leaves and wet things down well.

Also, we have never attracted unwanted critters.

Best of all, it I easy.

Help Mother Nature.  Save money.  Save work.  A triple play.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Clean Without Cleaning Out Your Wallet

Manufactured cleaning products are expensive.  And, it seems you need a special one for every cleaning task.  The dollars quickly add up.

Also, upon reflection, you may not like that idea of using so many potentially harmful chemicals with names you can't pronounce in your home.  I know I don't.

I also was not fond of all the packaging that I kept sending to the landfill.

So, I did some research and started making my own.  The homemade versions work well for me.  I know exactly what is in them.  I reduce the packaging I need to dispose of.  And, I save some money to be used for something more fun than cleaning.

Below are some ideas for making your own cleaning products.  I would say enjoy but somehow that doesn't sound right when talking about cleaning.  :)

All Purpose Cleaner:  Mix 2T of Dawn with 2 cups water and put it into a recycled spray bottle.  This cleans kitchen and bathroom counters, stove tops, woodwork, fridge surfaces, kitchen tables and more.

Glass and Mirror Cleaner:  Mix equal parts of white household vinegar and water and keep in a recycled spray bottle.  Also good for stainless steel and metal kitchen sinks.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner:  Sprinkle baking soda on the surface of the water.  Pour in some household vinegar and let it fizz. Scrub with your toilet brush and then flush.  The vinegar will help kill germs.  And, if you have  pets that insists on using this big water bowl, you no longer have to worry about what dangerous chemicals they are all drinking.

Scouring powder:  Baking soda is a very gentle scouring powder.  Use salt if you need something stronger.

Rug deodorizer:  Fill an old parmesan container with baking soda.  Sprinkle on your carpet and let sit for a few minutes then vacuum.  Baking soda is a good deodorizer for lots of things.  Try it with funky smelling plastic containers, litter boxes, trash cans, smelly sneakers and more.

Counters:  To sanitize spray with vinegar, let sit for a minute, wipe.

Shower surfaces:  To help prevent mold and mildew spray with vinegar and let dry.

 To clean floors:  Use a solution of vinegar and water.  No soapy residue that seems to attract dirt.

Faucets and shower heads:  Soak with vinegar to remove calcium and lime deposits.

Softener in your wash:  Just a quarter cup of vinegar will soften the entire load.

Laundry detergent:  There are several versions.  You can make a liquid by dissolving soap and adding borax and soda;  you can make a dry version by grinding up the bars of soap;  or you can be lazy and just add Dawn to the dry ingredients and mixing well.  When I first started I made the liquid but it took a long time and needed a lot of storage space.  Then I figured out how to make a powdered version.  Faster and easier to store.  Then one day I needed detergent and was out of soap so I figured out how to make a super easy and fast version with Dawn.  I now use both powdered versions depending on how lazy I feel.  (Just keeping it real.)  Below are the actual recipes.  Wal-Mart stocks the needed ingredients.

Liquid: half a cup each of washing soda and borax, one third bar of Fels Naptha soap and 6 cups of water heated until everything dissolves.  In a LARGE container add the mixture to 5 quarts water and stir.  Let sit overnight to gel.  Use one half cup per load

Powder:  grate 8 oz of Fels Naptha, mix with 1 cup each of washing soda, baking soda and borax.  Mix well.  Use 2Tbs per load.  I use my food processor to grate the soap and mix everything together.

Powder Version Two:  one half cup each of borax, washing soda, baking soda and Dawn mixed together well.  Use 2Tbs per load.  Again, I use my food processor to make sure everything mixes well.

Dishwasher Detergent:  1 cup each of borax and washing soda mixed with one half cup kosher salt and one half cup unsweetened lemonade mix ( I use two packets of unsweetened lemonade Koolaid and it works fine).  Use 1Tbs per load.  Use vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser for fewer spots on your dishes.

So, go out and buy a LARGE box of baking soda, a box of washing soda, a box of borax, a jug of household vinegar, a bar of Fels Naptha, a bottle of Dawn and some unsweetened lemonade Koolaid and you are set.

Wish I could honestly say enjoy.  :)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Shop Till You (see your budget) Drop

This last month I have gone grocery shopping many times and in many places.  This breaks a rule that many people follow:  Shop only once a week or less.

Why do I break this well known rule?  Because for me it saves money.

 I shop many times in many stores to take advantage of loss leaders being advertised.  A loss leader is an item that the store sells at or below cost as an incentive to get you into the store where they hope you will do all your grocery shopping for that week.

But, if you have the resolve to go in and just buy the loss leaders you can save a lot.  And, you can buy things you might not normally have the budget for.   For example, let's look at my shopping this last month.

I carefully read the local grocery store adds of several stores, compared the advertised price with normal price, and went to each to purchase only the loss leaders that worked for me.

Here are some of the things I bought:

Steak for $1.99 per pound (a manager's special and a nice treat); boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.79 per pound;  pasta at $1 per pound; eggs at 49 cents per dozen; Bird's Eye frozen vegetables at $1 per pound; bread, English muffins and bagels for 75 cents each; chobani yogurt for 69 cents; two boxes of cereal for a total of 98 cents after coupons; 10 ears of corn for $2; ribs for $1.99 per pound (wonderful for the grill); sweet baby Ray's bbq sauce for $1; a watermelon for $2.99; assorted berries for $1.99 per pound(some for now and some frozen for later); cheese at $2.99 per pound; ground beef at $1.99 per pound; Smithfield bacon at $2 per pound (we love it but not it's usual price)

Many of these items are frozen or stored as part of my stockpile.  We will be eating them until their next good sale.

I went to a few stores to get these deals but to me they were worth it.  We will eat well thanks to these bargains.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summing up June

Ok.  We went over budget and into the cushion this month.  But I stand behind what we bought and how much we spent.

Here are the specifics for the second half of the month:

What we bought:

CSA:  strawberries, snow peas, zucchini, rhubarb, lettuce,onions, radishes, cherries   $10
CSA:  strawberries, cherries, green peas, zucchini, kale, cucumber. $17.00

Aldi:  instant coffee (for iced coffee), Greek yogurt, prunes, onions, half and half, Worcestershire sauce, corned beef, pretzels,sugar, mayonnaise, garlic, peaches, honey, grapes, French baguette, eggs (3),   $36.50

Save a Lot:  steak (4), hotdogs. $5.73

Tops:  chicken breast( 5lb); tuna (4), Swiss cheese; pasta (9lbs); hotdog rolls; ice cream; eggs; frozen vegetables (9)  $29.07

Bread Store:  bagels, English muffins, maple cinnamon Monks bread.  $2.78

Whole Foods Co-Op:  Pomona pectin (for low sugar jam)  $4.79

Giant Eagle:  chobani yogurt, peach and raspberry tea (for lake)  $4.69

Dollar Tree:  onion powder  $1.00

CVS:  cereal (2)  $0.98

Price Rite:  fresh mozzarella $2.99

Aldi:  mandarins, plums, peaches, feta, blue, cheddar (2), mozzarella,Swiss, parmesan, pepperoni, cottage cheese, blueberries, prunes, half and half, shredded wheat, brats, Monterey Jack, pepper jack, cheetos, ice cream cones  $25.50

Giant Eagle:  corn (10)  $2.00

Tops:  strawberries(3 lbs.), blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, ribs (2 slabs), chip dip, Oreos, orange juice, bbq sauce, paper towels, whole watermelon. $31.66

What we ate at home:

Mexican frittata;  beet greens and bacon salad; cheeseburger scalloped potatoes; homemade chicken Italian sausage with homemade applesauce and vegetable pancakes; marinated steak on the grill; leftover cheeseburger scalloped potatoes with salad and sauteed beet greens with feta;Pittsburgh style steak salad with brie and figs; homemade sausage pizza with peppers and olives; crockpot chicken and noodles; bratwurst; stirfry, fried rice and Chinese pancakes

Meals Out:

Lunch on way to beach house:  at Arby's. $8.20
Dinner at beach house:  Strombolie and chips. $13.50
Breakfast at beach house:  donuts. $4.75
Lunch at beach house:  Taco Bell $2.38
Lunch on war home:  KFC. $12.00
Breakfast after the Clinic:  sausage and egg wrap. $2.49
Lunch with Angela: Thai. $13.77

All told during the second half of the month we spent $168.69 in the grocery store and $57.09 in restaurants for a total of $225.78
For the month we spent a grand total of $374.39in the grocery store and$146.08 in restaurants.  The allover monthly total was $522.47.  That means we went into our cushion for a total of $153.17  Our cushion now sits at $307.25.

What did we buy/stock up on that justified going over budget and into the cushion:  eggs, steak, chicken breast, tuna, cheese, pasta, frozen vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, ground beef, bacon, corn, strawberries, ribs, and lots of other fruit.

Yes, I'll stand behind spending the extra money.  In the long run, it will save me money and allow me to serve better meals.  And really, that is what the cushion is for.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Make Green Your Favorite Color

Being thrifty saves money.
But it can also save Mother Earth.

Did you know there is about a 90 percent overlap between being green and being thrifty.  Do something to save some green and you're probably also being ecologically green.

If you buy less, less will probably end up in the landfill.
If you make your own cleaning supplies there's less packaging to go into the garbage.
If you buy used something new does not have to be manufactured for you.
If you cook from scratch your car will not have to be used as much since you won't always be heading to restaurants or picking up take out.
If you compost, your food scraps will feed you and your soil.

If you buy less, you will spend less.
If you clean with baking soda, vinegar and dishwashing liquid you will spend less not having to buy so many one purpose manufactured cleaners.
If you buy used items, some with the tags still on, you will save hundreds.
If you cook from scratch you will save a fortune in money, and also in calories.
If you drive less you will end up pumping fewer gallons of gas and more green will stay in your pocket.
If you make your own compost you won't have to buy anything to enhance your soil, or lug it home.

Small things can make both you and Mother Nature richer.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


As anyone who knows me would tell you, I am thrifty.  For example, today I bought $66 dollars worth of clothing for$3.66 at Penny's.

Some people think of thrifty as cheap.  I don't.  I think of it as making the best use of the resources you have.

Originally, the word thrifty actually corresponded to success and respectability.  It was a complimentary word.

It meant an individual was thriving and prosperous.

Recently, it has taken on a more negative connotation.  It makes someone seem poor and ungenerous.  Cheap.  Lacking in appreciation for quality.

I disagree with the modern connotations.

Thrift allowed us to retire early.
Thrift allowed and allows us to travel.
Thrift means we are able to be generous to others.
Thrift means we are not at all poor.

Want a good life?  Embrace thrift.

Friday, June 16, 2017

June So Far

June sees us with a budget of $369.30 and a cushion of $450.42.

We are able to add to the cushion due to a $10 off a purchase of $10 or higher Staples coupon.  So, our cushion is now $460.42.

We Ate:
Meatloaf sandwich with chips and dip, tuna macaroni salad and fruit, chicken fried rice and Asian peanut and almond salad, oyster stew and salad, sloppy Joe, shrimp crepes with asparagus salad, leftover oyster stew, mooshu pork and fried rice, leftover shrimp crepes and salad, Rotatouille pizza, beef and bean nachos, leftover pizza, hotdogs and baked beans with three bean salad, leftover smorgasbord.

We Bought:

Whole Foods:  vital wheat gluten, unsweetened coconut.  $4.54

Staples:  Dunk in Donuts coffee.  $11.99

Aldi:  Chips, dip.  $2.38

Cheezits, jerky, cold brewed coffee (2), Regalia coffee (2), decaf coffee, natural peanut butter (3), cashew butter, horseradish, sees me seeds, refried beans, hatch green chili enchilada sauce, tomato puree, spaghetti sauce, green beans, pancake syrup, Newman's balsamic vinaigrette, ketchup, microwave popcorn, rice a Toni, Mac and cheese, saltines, teabags, frosted mini cheats, crunchy and soft taco shells. $37.33

Tops:  6 pounds ground beef ( stocking up), Quaker poppers. $12.04

Aldi:  corn, grapes, cream cheese, strawberries, asparagus.  $ 7.67

Bakery Outlet:  wheat and oats bread, pumpernickel rye bread, whole grain English muffin, plain mini bagels.  $3.54

Tops:  cereal (5), bacon (5), orange juice.  $23.97

Save a Lot:  broccoli, cucumber, olives (2), ground turkey (2), tomatoes, romaine lettuce.  $12.54

Aldi:  flour, sweet peppers, peaches, oatmeal.  $7.52

Save a Lot:  dry milk. $7.99

CSA box:  $20  (the strawberries were wonderful)

Hopefully we are stocked up enough that we won't have to spend much the next couple of weeks.  We spent more than we should have this half of the month when you add in our too frequent restaurant meals.

Restaurant Meals:

Papa John's Pizza:  3 item large pizza after one of those days.  $8.47

Lunch with Angela: $22.64

Lunch with Bob and Berwyn:  $22

 Lunch to use free sandwich coupon:  $4.76

Lunch with Angela:  $15.32

Lunch with Dad and Sharon:  $15.80

Our groceries cost us a total of $150.61.  Eating out was another $88.99.  So, combined our cost to eat was $239.60 or a whopping$16 a day for the two of us.  And, we only have $129.70 left from the monthly allotment to get us through the next fifteen days.  I believe we will be literally eating into the cushion before the month is over.  Luckily, it is a healthy amount.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Was A Good Month

After spending $97.98 during the first part of the month, we now have $283.63 remaining from the monthly allotment.

We got to add an extra $25 to our cushion thanks to the gift card we got when we filled a prescription at the Giant Eagle pharmacy.  Our cushion is now $328.27.

What We Ate:
Grilled cheese and tomato soup, cheese nachos and guacamole, grilled fish, zucchini, and corn with strawberries, hamburgers and hotdogs, grilled pork chops with roasted veg and baked potato, leftovers, homemade pizza, meatloaf with corn and potatoes, hamburgers and pea salad, grilled sausage, grilled chicken and Asian salad, leftovers, huevos rancheros.

We ran into some good deals on meat so we bought eleven pounds to restock the freezer.  The cost was $26.20.

What we bought:

Save a Lot:  ribs, boneless pork chops, sweet sausage, polish sausage, cottage cheese, grape tomatoes.  $ 22.69

Aldi:  pretzels, three bean salad, limes (7), mayo, Vidalia onions, sunflower seeds, corn on the cob.  $9.63

Tops:  coffee.  1.99

Giant Eagle:  spinach and feta salmon burgers. $7.99

Aldi:  sour cream, cheese. $3.87

Save a Lot:  green chillies  $1.29

Aldi:  eggs (2), half and half, ground turkey, Greek yogurt, pepperoni, avocados (4), tea bags, English muffins, baguette, oyster crackers.  $ 18.50

Price Right:  coffee, olives, jug peach iced tea, prune juice, tonic water, peaches(3), nectarines(3), cantaloupe, bacon (2), cheese (4), peas (2)  $29.17

Dollar Tree:

Frosted Mini Wheats  $1

Price Right:
Ramen noodles (for salad), elbow macaroni, bananas, cheese (7), hotdogs.  $15.64

We spent $111.70 in grocery stores this half of the month.  The grand total for the month is $209.68.

Because of moving, travel and enjoying time with friends, we spent $ 48.47   on food out.

Meals Out:
Lunch on moving day. $5.30
Dinner on moving day. $6.34
Breakfast day after move.  $ 2.19
Lunch with Angela. $13
Lunch at Aunt Millie's on the way to N.Y.  $13.65
Lunch with Pat.  $7.99

All together, we spent $258.15 eating this month.  That averages out to $8.37 per day . And, we have $122.14 to add to our cushion.  Our cushion now totals $450.42.

When we go back to England I will need that cushion to stock the boat.  For sure.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Stuff. Too Much Stuff.

We have to be out of the cottage we have been living in since September by next Tuesday.  We have found another place so all is well, except we have to move all the stuff we have scattered around the cottage during the last eight months.

I now realize just how much yarn I have accumulated.  To be precise, one heck of a lot.  Two large boxes worth.  Probably time to focus on using some of that up before looking for more.

I have been working on Christmas items while here and three boxes of these items need an easily accessible home, along with a few birthday gifts.  Wedding gifts and birthday gifts needed in August also need to be corralled.

Then there are the clothes.  What should stay here, what should go to England when we leave, what should be donated?  And, just as important, what will fit in my suitcase.

And, what do I keep out to wear to two weddings and one wedding shower?

Then there is the food in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  What do we take with us, what do we get rid of, what do we give to friends?

And I'm sure there is more I am not even thinking of now.

My head is swimming.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

$97.98 May, The Start Of The Month

This month we get $381.61 to feed ourselves, plus the $303.27 cushion from previous months, for a total of $684.88 of possible spending during May.  Although, I have no intention of spending it all.  I'm still eating from our freezer and pantry and working on saving money, some of which will be used to help restock.

What we ate:  nachos supreme and spinach salad, homemade split pea soup, grilled Ahi tuna, leftover pizza, pasta with seafood sauce, slow cooker roast beef with vegetables, grilled hotdogs with baked beans and deviled eggs, Spanish omelette with chorizo, chorizo and white bean Mexican soup, grilled ham steak with noodles Alfredo, salami with ham and cheese sandwich and popcorn, Cincinnati Four Way Chili, grilled ribs, Greek  appetizers

Meals Out:

Breakfast with Dad.  $28.96
Lunch with Angela.  $11.12
Total:  $40.38

What we spent:

Salsa, cheese. $4.18

Aldi:  saltines, cheese (2), half and half, sweet peppers, avocados (2), BBQ sauce, tomatoes. $15.61

Aldi:  bread, milk, eggs. $6.10

Aldi:  potatoes  $2.39

Aldi:  eggs (2), romaine hearts, cheese (4), oysters, onion soup mix, canned soup (3), Apple's, zucchini, spinach, mustard, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, mushrooms $29.

  We spent $40.08 at restaurants the first half of this month.

For food we spent $57.90.

The total of the two was $97.98 over the last 16 days for an average of $6.12 per day.

When all is said and done, we now have  $586.90 of monthly funds and of cushion and I'm hoping I can keep most of it for restocking because that time is approaching.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Homebound No More

Yesterday was a red letter day:  I was released from in home nursing and PT.

I will start outpatient PT on Wednesday for both my hip and shoulder.  I'm really hoping I get the shoulder rehab finished this time before the next thing happens.

Actually, I'm hoping no next thing happens this time.  I'm ready for some boring everyday life.

In eight months I've had a broken shoulder, a broken elbow, appendicitis, perotinitis, a broken hip and a small bowel blockage.  Enough, right?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Great Month of Eating Leftovers

To recap, this month we had $369.30 for the month and $110.00 of a bonus cushion.  The first part of the month we spent $79.50, leaving $289.80 of April's funds and all of the bonus cushion.

Mike did a great job of eating out of the freezer and staying out of the grocery store and restaurants.  Thanks to him we did a great job of keeping costs under control.

What did we eat:
Mike grilled himself a steak to have with a green salad, Rotatouille with pasta and Greek salad, grilled ham and cheese, grilled shrimp and tilapia, steak with Brussels sprouts, salad and cantaloupe, Easter dinner with Sharon, leftover Swedish meatballs, stir fry, leftover southern bbq, left over stir fry, bam and cheese omelette, leftover stir fry, pasta and melon, grilled hamburger, grilled ham steak, leftover Swedish meatballs, Mac and cheese ( my welcome home from the hospital soft food diet choice), tilapia and shrimp, leftover French onion soup, homemade pizza with six toppings and three cheeses

Meals Out:
Mike's Barstool sailing  $13.82

What did we spend:

Aldi:   cream, eggs (2), whipped topping (2),  pork rinds, cheese, mushrooms, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, salt and pepper grinder.   $17.90

Giant Eagle:  bacon, sweet pepper,   $1.62

Save a Lot:  cabbage, cheese   $ 3.61

Walmart:  Flatbread (2), tortillas  $5.86

Aldi:  frozen berries, spinach, pork rinds, eggs (2), baby back ribs.  $14.14

Tops:  coffee, ketchup  $5.48

Aldi:  prune juice (prescribed), strawberries, cheese (3),  peanuts, olives, cantaloupe, apricot preserves, chorizo, bananas.  $25.20

We spent a total of $87.63 this part of the month for a total of  $167.13 for the month.
That means we have $202.12 to carry over from April.  When you add in the cushion we started the month with, $101.10, we now have a cushion of  $303.27 to carry over into May.  Not too shabby.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April, When It was still normal

My cushion took a beating in March.  And I am worried April won't be much better since we will be going out with friends before we leave for England on May fifteenth.  Send good thoughts.  (Update:  England is now on hold.)

At $12.31 per day we have $369.30 to spend for April.  Our cushion is$68.02 from January and $32.08 left from February.  So, the max is $469.40.  Let's see how well we do.

What did we eat:

Leftovers of pizza, ham loaf, French Onion soup;  grilled pork chops with Greek cucumber salad and creamed spinach; leftover savoury cheesecake, tacos at Megen's, ham steak on the grill, leftover ham steak

Eating Out:

Lunch with Ginger and Eileen. $11.01
Lunch on way to beach house  $10.87
Dinner out at beach house. $20.57
Dinner and lunch on way back from D.C.   $15.80


Aldi:  $21.25
Cantaloupe, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers (3), canned peaches, pears, fruit cocktail and mandarin oranges,  Parmesan cheese, Roma tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, mushrooms, olives (2), cream

We've spent $79.50 so far this month.  We have $289.80 of April's money, plus the  $101.10 of bonus.

It is anyone's guess how the next few weeks will go.
Yesterday I had surgery to repair a broken left hip.
 Once released, I will be going to a rehab center to kick start my rehab.
 For the next few weeks Mike will be chief cook and grocery shopper.
 I think I have left him enough funds.  We shall see.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Summer Wardrobe

I'm an optimist.  Summer, I'm sure, is coming.

So today I went out and bought my summer wardrobe.

True to The Compact, all of my new to me clothes came from a thrift store.

I now have seven new to me tops and two new pairs of pants.

The grand total:  $34.01.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March, Final Numbers

We have $121.66   to get through the next eleven days.

Lunch with Rick and MJ:  $14.06
Lunch with Joyce:  $15
Breakfast with Dad:  $23.45
Lunch with Angela:  $19.85
Lunch with Ginger:  $10.00

Eggplant, strawberries,carb bars, sweet peppers, green beans for $9.35

Spinach for $1.00

I only had $28.95 to get through the next week.  Too much social life with more to come.  I would definitely be using some of the extra January and February money.  Drat!

Charlie's Celebration Dinner (he got into pharmacy school) $75.10.  That took all of the money remaining for March and $46.15 of February's extra.

 Only $66.29 of February money, plus all of January's extra remained.  I was bummed.  I can't afford to have too many social months like this or I won't have any emergency cushion at all..

What did we eat:
Steak and shrimp; homemade French Onion soup; beef and bean burritos; grilled scallops;  chicken paprikash soup with dumplings and cheesecake; Rotatouille with pasta and garlic bread;Swedish meatballs; Reuben with yogurt and blueberries; homemade pizza

Salvage Shopping:

Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, Heath bar toffee chips, trivia brown sugar (2), brownie mix, Atkins items (2), beef Jerky, popcorn, pineapple, black pepper, minced garlic (2), split peas, coffee (3), natural peanut butter (3), marshmallows, vanilla pudding, nuts(4), balsamic vinegar for a cost of $34.21

So, a bad month.  We spent all of March's money ($381.61),  and most of February's surplus ($80.36  ) for a total of $461.97 .    Too much of this resulted from meals out ($207.34).

Let's just hope I do a lot better in April.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Using Up The Bits And Pieces

Anyone who crochets or knits ends up with bits and pieces of leftover yarn.

My obsessive compulsive cheap self won't throw it away.

Consequently,  I ended up with three bags of bits and pieces.

I had a goal:  find a project(s), that will use up this leftover yarn.

I found two!!!

So far, I have made 18 of one project and 4 of the other.
And, I still have yarn to use up!?!  Can you believe it???

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 20, 2017

March, Part two

During the first third of the month I spent almost exactly one half of the March allotment.  I have $190.70 left to spend.  Of course, I could spend some of the rollovers from January and February ($180.46 in total) but what's the fun and challenge in that?

Cream (2), dill pickles, green peppers, eggs (2), cereal snack bars, onions (2), zucchini, Romaine (3), blue cheese, feta cheese, lemon juice.  The cost was  $24.16.

Trader Joe's:
Sprouted grain bread (6),  chocolate covered almonds (2) for a total of $31.13.

We also bought pizza while at Jim and Robin's for $13.75.

We have $121.66 for the rest of the month.  Should be Okay.

What did we eat:

Ham loaf, asparagus, Greek salad and egg custard; leftovers; baba ghanoush, hummus, Mediterranean tuna, chocolate pudding;  homemade ham salad sandwich and homemade bean with bacon soup;Parmesan crusted fish, asparagus,mushrooms and yogurt with strawberries;  corned beef, cabbage, deviled eggs and Kentucky high day pie; 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

March, Part One

For the month of March the government says I should be able to feed us frugally on $381.61.  Added to that, I can, if needed, use all or part of January's rollover of $ 68.02 and February's rollover of $112.44.  Therefore, I could, if I so desire, spend up to a total of $562.07.

Since we are still relying on items in our stockpile, my goal is to once again have a rollover of funds at the end of this month.  These and other rollover funds will eventually be used to rebuild stocks of meat and other items.

In fact, some was used to purchase Lenten fish and seafood this month when we went to Aldi and took  advantage of some sales.  We bought:
Medium shrimp (2), Ah I tuna, tilapia, scallops, mussels, canned soup (2), corned beef brisket and asparagus.  We spent a total of $39.19

Dollar Tree:
Molasses for $1

After a good meeting with my surgeon we treated ourselves to lunch at a cost of $22.58.  Pricey but enjoyable.

We went to Wal-Mart and bought:
Splenda, honey ham, roast beef, flour tortillas and spent $12.14

We also gave into temptation in D.C. and went to Trader Joe's where we bought:
Cheese (three types of cheddar and two types of Swiss), a liter of olive oil, almonds,black bean rottini, and a loaf of multigrain rustic bread.  The total is $41.66.

In D.C. and on the way home we ate out twice.
Subway salads for $14.52 and
Bob Evans for $21.71

At this point in the month we have spent $152.80 and have $409.27 for the remaining month.

Another trip to Aldi:
Strawberries (2), medium shrimp, sugar free strawberry preserves, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, eggplant. For a total of $13.23

A trip to Shur-Fine where we bought:
Cheese (4 lbs.), tomatoes, cottage cheese, cream cheese, Bob Evans sausage (2) and paid $24.04.

We have now spent $176.06 and have $385.23 left for the rest of the month.  Time to slow down.

Save a Lot:
Olives, cabbage, cream, cheese (4) for $11.00

Whole Foods:
Tahiti for $3.95

Really, Sandy, slow down on the buying!

One third of the month is gone and we have spent $190.91, over half of March's basic allotment.  Not good.

What did we eat this month?:
Homemade veggie pizza, leftover nachos and guacamole, leftover pizza,dinner courtesy of Megen, dinner out courtesy of Ash, soup and grilled cheese, chef salad and garlic bread, Asian spicy peanut noodles, savory spinach cheesecake,
Southern BBQ, eggplant parmesan.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Back At It

The wound vac is off.
I'm no longer homebound.
My incision is healing well.
And I am back to outpatient physical therapy for my shoulder.

While I was homebound I had two wonderful physical therapists who came in three times a week to help make sure my shoulder didn't lose too much ground.  Barb and John did a great job.  I could have been in deep trouble having to take six weeks off.  Instead, I have lost very little of my range of motion or strength.  Hooray!

Our goal is to be back in England no later than May.  Quite doable.

Life is back on track.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February, Part Two

Home again, but still keeping the food simple, we ate soups and comfort food for several days.  After three weeks of cafeteria food that would win no awards, it tasted heavenly.

What did we eat:
homemade tortilla pizza, sloppy Joe, chili, clam chowder, grilled chicken breast with green soy beans and cumin seasoned acorn squash, steak ( part of a gift from our girls) with mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, pork chops with spinach-cheese patties, leftovers (of course), homemade bean with bacon soup and roast beef salad sandwich, chicken fajitas and broccoli,grilled ham steak and asparagus, brats and beans, marinated chicken breast, leftover soup and sandwich, Joyce's chicken salad, chili and either egg salad or tuna salad wraps, southern bbq, nachos and guacamole.

Mike was still the designated shopper during this time period, and he likes small shops done frequently. This works because he sticks to the list unless he sees a super deal like eggs for 45 cents a dozen.  Just add them to the stockpile.

What did we spend:
Onions, mushrooms (2), eggs (2),cream cheese, strawberries  at a cost of $7.05

Mozzarella and cheddar Cheese (6) at a cost of $8.90

Whole Foods Co-Op: $9.12
Dry soybeans, fresh natural peanut butter, green soy beans

Save a Lot:
10 pounds of chicken leg quarters for $2.90

Low carb tortillas(2 pks) for $5.98

Cream, strawberries, baby Bella mushrooms (2), pork rinds (for Mike)  for $6.65

Werther's (2), orbit gum (2) :  $6.53
Balance:  $278.89

And then there was the monthly salvage shop where I bought:
Low carb tortillas, tomato sauce (6), salsa, spaghetti, Pam, evaporated milk, Nestle crema (2), Mac and cheese, noodles Alfredo, Siracha, corn, green beans, spinach, sauerkraut, black beans, cream of asparagus soup, green chillies, chicken stock, beef stock, coffee (3), nuts (6).  The cost was $28.85.  Not bad.

We had three more days of February and a balance, including January's extra, of $250.04.  Then we shopped.

Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, summer sausage, cream,Roma tomatoes, green peppers, bagged salad (2), olives. The total spent was $19.00

Price Rite:
Queso for frying, ricotta, lavish.  The total spent was $9.34

We also treated yourself to lunch out at a Thai place:  $25.22
And then lunch out with friends:  $16.02

Our current balance as the month ends:  $180.46
Of that $68.02 was the January rollover.  $112.44 will be the February rollover.
We spent $230.28 this month.
That averages $8.22 per day, $4.11 per person per day.

I'm happy.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


I have been quiet the last couple of weeks.  But, I have a good reason. Just after the last post I was readmitted to the hospital with abdominal abscesses. Another surgery and countless bags of antibiotics later, I am back home recovering.

So, what was eaten and bought during the first two weeks of February?

First, how much money do we have for February.
28days times $12.31 per day equals $344.68.  Plus the carryover of unspent money from January, $68.02, equals a total of $412.70available in February.

It didn't take long to start shopping.  Tops had a great sale.  If a certain amount of ground beef was purchased several items were available free.  So, we bought
Ground round (part for stockpile); and we got chilli beans, cheese, taco seasoning, crushed tomatoes, tortilla chips, Italian bread; Greek yogurt; sour cream; ketchup; tea bags;

A total of $14.31 was spent leaving a balance of $398.39

A shop at Aldi was next.  We bought:
Italian sausage; Italian seasoning; bratwurst; tomatoes; mushrooms; Romaine lettuce; avocados; sweet peppers; cucumbers; pepperoni; saltines; eggs; broccoli; corn; bleu,Parmesan and mozzarella cheese; blueberries, cream;cottage cheese

A total of $41.64 was spent leaving a balance of $356.75.

And then some meals out took a chunk.  $20.75  The balance going forward was $336

Another Aldi shop saw us buying:  oatmeal; potatoes; OJ; jam; bananas; chipotles peppers

The cost was $9.34 for a balance of $326.66

A Wal-Mart shop saw the purchase of flour tortillas; olives; cilantro and a lime.

The cost:  $8.64 for a balance of  $322.02
So far $84.08 has been spent in total.

So,what was eaten:
Pork chop;Joyce's chicken salad; Italian sausage with onions and mushrooms; salad; tortilla pizza; macaroni and cheese; grilled turkey and cheese sandwich;guacamole and refried beans; chili; clam chowder

Not a bad first two weeks.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Almost Lost Week, Week 4, January 2017

From Early last Saturday until past dinnertime on Wednesday, I was the guest of St. Vincent Hospital.  I was "consuming " bag after bag of fluids and antibiotics.
Mike was heating up leftovers:  quiche, burritos, pork chop, ham and cheese sandwiches, Buffalo turkey meat ball salad.  I love how leftovers can get you through some no-cook times.

Thursday I talked Mike through a turkey, ham, cheese and artichoke casserole. Since I made it up as we went along I was surprisingly pleased with the results.
Friday we had Aunt Joyce's Chicken Salad with cranberry cheddar quesadillas.
Saturday a Friend brought over delicious vegetable soup and wonderful crusty bread.
Sunday was a leftovers night.
Monday I was back in the hospital with complications from my perforated appendix.  And Mike was eating leftovers or from the cafeteria. ($4.87)

As for groceries, we started with$87.99 left to spend.
Topps had skinless, boneless chicken breast on sale for $1.88/pound.  I bought ten pounds.  Some is for now and some is for the stockpile.
I also bought four dozen eggs at fifty cents a dozen for the stockpile.

Total spent:  $12.00
Total remaining:  $71.12

Mike went to Aldi and picked up some 'essentials' :  olives, Greek yogurt, and (my favorite) pork rinds.

Total spent:  $7.97
Total remaining:  $63.15

The $63.15 will rollover as a cushion for February.  All things considered, it was a good month since we relied on leftovers instead of restaurants.

Now to see what February brings.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Detour on the way to Posting Food Challenge: January, Week 3

I was all ready to write and post this update, but then life happened.  My appendix perforated last Saturday.  Sunday I was operated on.  I came home last night after dinner.

Below is a summary of what we bought and ate during the third week of January.

Monday, January 16th at Aldi

Spent $32.43

Purchased:  cheese (feta, blue, parmesan); ground turkey (2lbs.); mushrooms; green peppers (2); romaine hearts (3); yellow onions (3 lb.); cucumbers (3); tomatoes (4); cream (2); garlic powder; cheese stuffed red peppers; soy sauce; SF jam; blueberries (2); dry ranch dressing mix; dry Italian dressing mix; flax seed;

Money remaining:  $97.99

What we have eaten:  tuna patties, salad, fried cabbage;  stuffed pork chops, broccoli with hollandaise, salad, SF frosting peanut butter/ chocolate fudge;  quiche and blueberries; meat, bean and cheese burritos;  ham and cheese sandwiches; Buffalo chicken meatballs, yogurt, green beans with almonds and brown butter;

Total  Grocery money spent $ 220.43.  Total Restaurant money spent:  $63.18
Total to date spent:  $293.61.   Money remaining:  $87.99

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Food Challenge January: Week Two

This week there were no restaurant meals.  That saved a huge amount of money.

Our purchases at the grocery store were also kept to a minimum.  We shopped only a couple of loss leaders that we could also pair up with coupons.  So, we spent an additional $9.70 to buy natural peanut butter, several cans of chunk white tuna (current and stockpile) and a bag each of frozen green beans and broccoli.  Otherwise we were eating from our pantry.

But I did do my monthly salvage grocery shopping.  That ate into the remaining monthly budget to the tune of $ 28.98.
For that I managed to purchase:  SF pudding mix (2); small bag walnuts and pecans; can of kidney beans; can of white kidney beans; Smuckers Natural peanut butter(3 for stockpile); Swanson beef broth; fresh chopped garlic (2); can of red salmon; white Albacore tuna (5 for stockpile); bags of Starbucks(2) and Folgers coffee (3 partial stockpile); tubs of SF frosting (2); Hershey cocoa powder; mayo; hot sauce;Atkins shakes (8).

As noted, some of these goodies will go into my stockpile and last into February or even March, but they are part of this month's budget expenditures.  So, subtract the amount I did.

So, what did we eat this week:  soybean and ham soup; pepper steak with cauliflower rice and chocolate pie; mashed cauliflower, Greek yogurt, and shredded zucchini fritters ( I had a tooth out so soft was the name of the game); creamy Italian chicken, winter squash and cream of asparagus soup; hamburgers with sauteed onion, mushrooms and peppers with winter squash; Swiss steak with blackberries and the odds and ends of leftover vegetables.  Definitely not fancy, but tasty.

So, of our $381.60  allotted to food this month, we have spent $63.18 on restaurant food and $188.00  on groceries.  Our total at about halfway through the month is     $251.18 ($17.94/day).

  For the next seventeen days I have $ 130.43 ($7.67/day) to feed us.  It looks fine if we just stay out of restaurants.

But, I'll get it done because I have a stockpile in my cupboards and freezer.  As the year goes on you will see how it gets used and replenished.  I would be broke without it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Food Challenge January: Week 1

We are one week into my 2017 cut the cost of eating challenge.  And I am already in trouble, I think.

The government, specifically the Department of Agriculture, keeps track of the cost of eating a nutritious diet.  There are three different levels but I decided to see if I could feed Mike and I at what the government labels the thrifty level.  This is the level upon which SNAP benefits are based.

According to the government, it should cost me $86.20 per week or $12.31 per day to feed us.  That means in January I have $381.61 to cover food eaten at home or away from home.

I think deciding to start a food cost challenge the same time I decided to start a high protein/ low carb diet may not have been my brightest move.

Protein costs money, as we all know.  And we are eating a lot of protein.

And, when we traveled home from D.C. we paid a lot of money to buy that protein.
This diet had better work, or I have really wasted a lot financially.

So, what have I bought:
butter, cheese, eggs, nuts, summer sausage, low carb wraps and bread, almond meal flour, sugar freechocolate and hard candy, flax tortilla chips, vanilla protein powder, psyllium, sweet peppers, blackberries, pickles, soda, heavy cream and dry soy beans.

And what have we eaten:
Wraps, meatza and spinach patties, almond flour chocolate chunks cookies, sugar free pistachio pudding, chef salad, eggs and bacon, omelet, chicken, turkey sandwich on lettuce, ham with asparagus and broccoli, mushu pork with fried green beans and blackberries, soybean and ham soup with grilled cheese.

What have we spent:
Restaurant.    $63.18. ( The D.C. trip and Mike's barstool sailing )
Groceries.       $140.22
TOTAL Week One:     $203.40

Money remaining for the month:  $178.21.

I still have salvage grocery shopping to do next weekend.  But, if I can keep us out of restaurants, we MIGHT just do this.

Fingers crossed.