Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Menu Plan Wednesday 10/31

Sesame Chicken with white rice
Chicken Fries and Chicken Wraps with homemade french fries
Homemade Pizza
Chicken Tacos with white rice

Last week was a little crazy because my parents came into town.   We did my son's favorite dinner Monday and Pasta on Tuesday like normal.  Wednesday we went with Grilled Chicken and White rice.  Thursday was tacos when my parents got there because they like tacos.  Friday was Breaded Pork Chops with mac and cheese and asparagus.  Saturday we did Pizza Hut for lunch and Chinese for dinner so there was no cooking.  Sunday, I made spaghetti and meatballs so we made it through with the basic plan for the week moved around a little.

This week started off crazy because my parents were still here so I didn't get the menu posted in time but here it is!!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 10/22

Chicken Fries and Chicken Wraps with homemade french fries
Pasta with Sausage Sauce
Grilled Chicken with white rice
Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with mac and cheese

Last week got dinner on the table every night with the help of a flexible menu plan.  We made pasta on Monday and I made a huge batch of sausage sauce and we got to have it on the pasta.  I made a bunch of lasagna with the sauce and got to save a little for this week too!!  We were going to have soccer practice on Monday which got cancelled and then soccer was called for Tuesday so I made Sesame Chicken Stir Fry with white rice because I could pull it together before practice.  It was fast and tasty (replacing the grilled chicken night). Wednesday was finally Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and homemade french fries.  Thursday we had Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese.  Friday was supposed to be leftovers and I made lasagna for my husband and I while my son opted for pasta again.  Saturday was homemade pizza after soccer.  Sunday was Philly Cheese Steak Pasta for us and rice for my son between meetings.  I was glad to have a flexible week that I could get done even though I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer.  I love a good backup plan especially when it turns out tasty!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wedding Ring Book Review

I got this book from one of the libraries and it was sitting in my pile to read even though I knew nothing about the book or the author.  Wedding Ring (A Shenandoah Album Novel) by Emilie Richards turned out to be the first book in a series. I am excited to start a new series and check out the others in this series.

Three generations of women discover the healing gift of family, memories and love.  Needing time to contemplate her troubled marriage, Tessa MacRae agrees to spend the summer helping her mother and grandmother clean out the family home in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. But the three women have never been close. Helen, the family matriarch, is domineering and sharp-tongued. Nancy, Tessa's mother, appears to be little more than a social climber. And Tessa herself is in turmoil following a family tragedy that has affected them all.

Now, with the gift of time, Tessa's eyes are opened, and she begins to see her mother and grandmother for the flawed but courageous women they are. As she restores a vintage wedding ring quilt pieced by her grandmother and quilted by her mother, the secrets that have shadowed their lives unfold at last. And each woman discovers that sometimes you have to clean house to find the things you thought were lost forever.

I really connected with all the women in the family while they were trying to mend their lives.  Tessa was starting her summer break by going to her grandmothers house.  She was sitting on the porch and waiting for her mother, Nancy.  Helen, her grandmother is not letting them in because she has started hoarding and doesn't want to admit that she needs help.  There is an amazing transformation as the three women start working together to clean up the house and start cleaning up their lives together.  It was an amazing journey for all of them to see how they decide to embrace life after having great loss in their lives.  It is great to see the truth come forward and see all the information that comes out over the quilts that the family has as their family history.  I hope that you check out this book and see if you enjoy the series too.  Stay tuned for the next book in the series review coming soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Middle of the Month October Budget Update

I work every month to shop for all of the things at the best price so that I can stock up on the items that my family needs at the lowest price to spread our budget as far as possible.  My budget for the month is $160 per month for all our household goods for our family of three.  I use sales, coupons and any method to get the items that we need for the lowest prices that I can.  I shop at lots of different stores and my shopping may look a little different then a normal trip to the store because of that shopping technique.  Most of our monthly meal plan is already in our house in the pantry and the freezer with a few additions of deals that I get in the month that I work in.

I didn't do the best job this month of writing the receipts into my spreadsheet as soon as I got them but I knew that I was a little over shopping but still well under budget.  Below are the pictures and break downs of all the items that I got this month.  We have a lot of cereal and granola bars now but it was a pretty good month so far.

Harris Teeter $6.30

I got the tomato sauce and soup for free.  I bought the cold medicine to stock up for this winter cold systems since there was a coupon that doubled.

Harris Teeter $2.08

I bought these because my husband seemed to enjoy them as a special treat and there was a $2 rebate on Ibotta so they ended up being a great deal after the rebate.

Harris Teeter $7.76

Super excited for the beginning of super doubles and I got my free canned tomatoes.  We are running low on rice so I decided that I would get the Mahatma Jasmine for $1 since I didn't get it back when it was free.  The ground chicken was $1 each and it took a few stores to find it so I was excited to find it in stock.  The Quaker Chewy Granola bars are $0.74 per box which was a great deal!!

Harris Teeter $3.07

This store was out of a bunch of things but had the right granola bars that my son likes so I grabbed what they had left for $0.74 per box.

Shoppers $0

Another yummy freebie that I ran in and grabbed at Shoppers.  They didn't have the right thing so they replaced it with these.  They were tasty treats for me that I got to have over a few days.

Harris Teeter $1.27

I was excited to get free coffee, Piergoies, and Evol burritos.  The Wewalka pizza crust is $0.50 and the Nellie eggs were $0.49.  

Harris Teeter $1.28

Got more freebies and $0.50 Wewelka pizza dough and $0.49 Nellie eggs because the deals were too good to pass up.

Harris Teeter $0.15

I grabbed these additional coffee pods which are going to be a big gift box for my cousin for the holidays.  Who doesn't enjoy getting something they use which normally cost $8 per box?!

Harris Teeter $3.88

I went out at night with my friend to see if I could find some more things that I couldn't find earlier in the day and I didn't have a lot of luck because everything was out of stock.  I decided to get the tomatoes.  The Muir Glen was on sale for the big can and I got them for $0.67 each.  The other cans were $0.60 each.  I was hoping to make a big pot of sauce and lasagna so I wanted to grab some sauce to make my own sauce so I was glad to get some deals.

Harris Teeter $0.44

I went back to the store to get some deals and saw in my email that there was a $10 off $50 digital coupon on my account and free milk.  I decided to go a little crazy when I had found most of the things that I wanted in stock including some high priced items like the $7.99 coffee and $3.99 cereal.  I added up the price of the items before coupons to make sure that it was over $50 and after coupons and it was still under the $10 after coupon amount so I added the eggs to my order. The coffee, chocolate milk, life cereal and Captain Crunch were all free after coupon.   The Cheerios were $0.75 each, the Frosted Flakes were $0.97 each, Children's medicine $2.99, and eggs were $1.47.  The $10 digital coupon and another digital coupon that came off paid for all my items that weren't free and I paid only tax for all these items worth about $92 retail. 

Harris Teeter $6.21

I went to another store to see if they have any more Cheerios cereal and free Life cereal.  I got these for $1 each box after sale and coupon.  My husband was super excited to have all those Cheerios since they are now his favorite cereal.

Safeway $0

I got another digital coupon added to my account and my husband and son picked it up and we had it for lunch.

Aldi $11.03

I was out of all these items so I grabbed a few things to cover us until I had more time for shopping.

Shoppers $0.28 

Super excited for these deals.  I got the free Lucky Charms, Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I also got $2 overage in digital coupons.  There was a Friday freebie for the Grown in Idaho Tater Tots which are my son's favorites.  I also got the Orville popcorn with the overage for a treat for my son.  I ended up getting $2 back from Saving Star and $1 from Checkout 51 so it was a great bonus on a trip where I paid only tax.

Wegman's $3.12 + $0.08 + $0.08 + $0.08= $3.36

I went to the store to get lettuce so that I didn't have to drive farther to Harris Teeter. I was willing to even pay a little more so I didn't have to make another stop but I luckily didn't have to because it was $0.99 at Wegman's.  I grabbed the yeast and saw the flour out of the side of my eye and they have already started the holiday sale on flour (limit 2).  I checked out four different times to get all of these groceries super cheap.  I have so much yeast but it is hard for me to pass it up when we get the high value coupons. 

Aldi $14.40 

Next stop of the day was Aldi.  We needed lots of things but I was on a mission to get all my errands done and make it home.  I grabbed what I had written on my list and was super happy that I didn't forget anything.

Harris Teeter $26.64

Maybe my craziest trip of the month but the Cranberry juice was on sale half off so it was $2 each so I grabbed what I could carry.  I got the free taste and tell milk to use in baking.  The ricotta was to make some yummy lasagna with all the things that I already have around the house because it was half price.  I got the Nonni Thin cookies which were $1 each and there was a rebate for $1 each.  It seemed like too good of a deal to pass up.

Total Retail $462.56
Total Savings $374.41

Total OOP $88.15

I have $71.85 left for the month so I know that I will spend it well.  I am looking forward to a rumored super doubles at the end of the month.  I am going to save a little bit of money to spend there but I haven't seen a lot of other deals that I couldn't pass up.  I guess I will see what the rest of the month brings but I know that I am on a mission to clean out the freezer and eat a bunch of things from the pantry before filling them up again.

I have already received back $11.10 in rebates so that is an amazing bonus for the month. I hope that you have a great month so far and enjoy some great shopping.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 10/15

Chicken Fries and Chicken Wraps with homemade french fries
Salsa Sloppy Joe with mac and cheese
Grilled Chicken with white rice
Homemade Pizza
Philly Cheese Steak Pasta

Last week was another crazy busy week but I amazingly got every meal on the table every night that I thought I was going to have!!  WHAT?!  When does that happen!!  We made pizza on Monday which was quick and easy.  Pasta was Tuesday before soccer practice.  Chicken fries and Chicken Wraps with homemade fries was Wednesday because it was a night we weren't super busy.  We had grilled chicken and white rice on Thursday which was a nice break for me because I didn't have to cook it because my husband did!!  Friday was Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken and mac and cheese which I used leftover breadcrumbs from all the cracker, chip, pretzels and other crumbs around the house to coat.  They are super tasty and have a lot of yummy flavor.  I made leftovers on Saturday for everyone and cleaned out the fridge.  Sunday was Barber Chicken and white rice before I went to work.  It was amazing how well the cooking part of the week went.  I finally made the Cinnamon Sour Cream Cake which was super tasty and bread which my son ate the whole loaf.

This week I am hoping for another good week getting meals on the table and maybe even some more bread and brownies.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted Book Review

I had this sitting on my shelf for a long time because I picked it up as a freebie from one of the libraries.  The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg was different then I expected after reading other books from the same author.  It was a collection of the short stories about different things including mostly eating stories which was not what I was expecting.

Every now and then, right in the middle of an ordinary day, a woman kicks up her heels and commits a small act of liberation. What would you do if you could shed the “shoulds” and do, say—and eat—whatever you really desired? Go AWOL from Weight Watchers and spend an entire day eating every single thing you want? Start a dating service for people over fifty to reclaim the razzle-dazzle in your life—or your marriage? Seek comfort in the face of aging, look for love in the midst of loss, find friendship in the most surprising of places? In these beautiful, funny stories, Elizabeth Berg takes us into the heart of the lives of women who do all these things and more—confronting their true feelings, desires, and joys along the way.

There was a mixed collection of short stories in one book which had nothing pulling them together except that they were about women.  Some of the stories were about Weight Watchers meetings and women on Weight Watchers.  There were others about the shopping and different parts of women's lives.  Although all the stories were good, I am not a huge fan of short stories.  If I just read one and put the book down, it was actually easier for me then reading two stories because I had to keep reminding myself that the characters had nothing to do with each other.  If you love short stories, I highly recommend this book.  If you want to have something short to read before going to bed at night, this might be the book for you.  I hope that you check it out for yourself and see the interesting collection of short stories put together in this book.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

September Reading Review

I did a horrible job at keeping track of the books that I have read this month. 

by Louise Miller

by Amy Clipston

by Amy Clipston

by Amy Clipston

by Amy Clipston

by Beverly Lewis

Total Books 2018

January   8
February  10
 March    10
April     11
May      6 
June     5
 July      7
August  6
September  6

Total Read 69

Currently Reading:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Crossroads Book Review

I did the summer reading program at a few libraries that gave me coupons to get free books.  This library didn't give me a coupon but I had to pick a book there even though I didn't have a ton of time.  I grabbed The Crossroad (Amish Country Crossroads #2) by Beverly Lewis off the shelf.  I didn't think that I read it before when I looked at the name and the description on the back.  I was trying to figure it out but my blog is my way of searching and the older posts don't seem to be coming up when I search anymore.  I was glad when I got it home and found out that I really hadn't read this one!!

Journalist Philip Bradley can't forget Rachel Yoder, the blind Amish woman he met while on assignment in Pennsylvania. He is determined to find a cure for her and to get to know her better. But before Rachel can move on in her life, she must first confront traumatic memories. Can their growing love survive the vast gulf between their different worlds and Rachel's agonizing road to recovery?
A gifted storyteller, Beverly Lewis draws on her childhood in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country and her mother's Amish family heritage to create realistic situations. Narrator Barbara Caruso vividly brings to life Rachel's setbacks and victories as the young woman struggles to move from the darkness into the light.

I thought that this was a great story and I was glad that I picked it up.  Philip was looking to move forward in his career as a writer when he realized that I didn't really fit in when he was in the city.  He went to the small Amish town and stayed in the local bed and breakfast and realized that he really enjoyed the slower pace of country life.  In addition, he met Rachel who became blind after a horrible accident where she saw her husband and child killed in front of her.  Philip decided to research the ways that she could get better and talk to lots of different doctors on what the causes of this type of blindness are.  I loved Rachel's story and all the things about her life that are shared through her blindness.  She is an amazing character and you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  I usually like the Beverly Lewis books but this one stood out as very unique.  I hope that you check this out for yourself and enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 10/8

Homemade Pizza
Chicken Fries and homemade french fries
Grilled Chicken with white rice
Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with mac and cheese
Barber Chicken and white rice

This week started before I knew it because of the holiday so I didn't post my menu yesterday but here is what I am planning for the week.  Last week we had my son's favorite dinner on Monday with chicken fries and homemade french fries and we had chicken wraps.  Tuesday was pasta night.  Wednesday was tacos but I forgot to take out the ground beef but amazingly I had ground chicken which I just got on sale so I cooked that up and we enjoyed our chicken tacos.  We had grilled chicken and rice on Thursday.  I made Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes on Friday and made my son plain hash browns instead of the seasoned ones like he prefers.  Saturday we were busy most of the day and ended up with Leftover Family Fun Night.  We made homemade mac and cheese balls and homemade mozzarella sticks which were really tasty with a few other things thrown in.  Sunday I had to work so the boys ate a late lunch and they were on their own for dinner and they had leftovers.

Here is hoping this week goes well and I catch up with my schedule.  Still looking for my to do list that I didn't finish from last week so probably not going as well as it could!!  I have hope for getting dinner ready and start some baking that I still haven't gotten to.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

September Month End Shopping and Eating Out Budget Update

Every month, I work with my monthly budget of $160 for our family of three to get the most for the least amount out of pocket. I mix sales, coupons and any deal that I can find to stretch the budget as far as possible and fill the pantry and freezer with things at the lowest cost.  The great thing is that leaves lots of room to get things that we need to use for future months at the lowest prices because we have so many things already in the house in our stockpile.

I did a horrible job of adding up my receipts this month.  I added up my first half of the month receipts and broke them all down here.  After that, I put no more receipts into the spreadsheet and just put them in a pile on my table.  I finally got to it on September 25th with 5 days left in the month.  Luckily I was still under budget with a few more days to get deals for the month and then I added a few more trips and realized my formula was wrong and it didn't include the first trip of the month. This math calculation messed up my month and I ended up going a little crazy.  Below is everything that I got for the month with the things that I got in the second half broken down.

Aldi $17.58

Giant $0.44

Safeway $12.30 

Harris Teeter $6.19

Harris Teeter $5.16

Shoppers $0.08

Target $0

Aldi $19.89

Aldi $1.42

Harris Teeter $13.56

Shoppers $0.04

I got a yummy freebie from Shoppers and I enjoyed it lots!

Giant $0.15

I went to the store to get the cherry juice and the yogurt showed up free on my account when I was in the store.  I ate the yogurt for lunch that day and it was yummy!!  I still haven't had the cherry juice but I look forward to it because the last one was really good.  I got $0.25 back from Saving Star for the yogurt.

Harris Teeter $13.07

The sugar was on sale for $0.97 each with limit 4 so I got them all.  I was excited to get the Veggie Straws for $0.50 each.  The Hodgson Mills Vital Wheat Gluten was on sale for $3 and there was a printable coupon which made them $2 each.

Shoppers $0.11

Another great snack for free and I only paid the tax.  I opened it and ate in the car so that was where I took the picture.

Wegman's $19.68

We were running low on ground beef and totally out of mac and cheese so I went to Wegman's to grab those and decided to get the yeast because they are free after coupon there.

Aldi $5.31 

I went to get ice cream sandwiches which according to my son are very important and turkey for my husbands lunch which according to my husband is also very important.. not really but I haven't had a sale on turkey in a little while so we were running low.

 Harris Teeter $21.79

I was super excited to hear about the rumored super doubles and even more when I knew that I had money left in the budget to spend.

Traders Joe's $3.58

I went to get blue cheese because we were running very low so I decided to make a lot of trips in one day and this was my first stop.  I grabbed this and put it straight into the cooler.

 Shoppers $0

I went to Shoppers to get the freebie and they didn't have it in stock so the manager said that he would give me anything from the cookie and candy aisle under $3 so I grabbed the Oreos and went to customer service to get rung up.  There was a little delay because the person there didn't think that it was a match and I explained twice what the manager said so he rang it up and kept the receipt but I was right by the door so I just left with my cookies.

Safeway $0

Next stop was Safeway to get my freebie that was loaded on my card which I am looking forward to making into Cinnamon Sour Cream Pound Cake.

Harris Teeter $14.19

I went to get the Kool Aid Sparklers for the taste and tell.  I also grabbed the Canola Oil sale for $1.97.  I grabbed four more of the oatmeal because they were an amazing deal and that should get us through the winter months with my son's oatmeal.  I turned in the Kool Aid for a $0.75 Ibotta rebate.

Wegman's  $0.48

I did a lot of transactions with different registers to get a bunch of yeast with all the coupons that I had and change in my pocket.  I was super happy to have the previous ones that I could cut down the side and dump into a small mason jar that I keep in my fridge.  I use a lot of yeast so I will be having lots of fun bread with this for super cheap.

 Aldi $1.94

We were out of milk so I got another milk as my last grocery stop for the day.  I was exhausted but glad that I got everything done with my one free day.

Harris Teeter $4.61

This was the start of super doubles which I started off with a bang!!! Free Annie's pasta, Lipton Tea, Enjoy Life Rice Milk bars, Turtles, Hormel Bacon, Barilla Pasta Sauce, and Birds Eye Veggie Pasta.  I got the Tide for $0.47 each and the Fruit Gushers for $0.97 each.

Harris Teeter $0.03

I grabbed my two free Tomato Sauce.

Harris Teeter $0.18

I was excited to get the nail polish because it normally gone by the time that I get to the store.

Harris Teeter $4.91

I got the Barilla Pasta Sauce, Blue Diamond Almonds, and nail polish for free.  I got 6 more boxes of granola bars and after coupon and sale, they were $0.74 per box.

Harris Teeter $0.20

I went to another store to grab a few things that were out at the last store and they were all free except tax.

Harris Teeter $0.08

My husband grabbed three jars of spaghetti sauce.

Harris Teeter $7.57

I went a little crazier the later in the day and put in a huge total for me.  The TastyKake doughnuts were $0.75 each and one of my son's favorites.  The Quaker Chewy bars were $0.74.  The Mahatma Rice was $0.39.  The Barilla Pesto was $0.79 each and I turn it in for a $3.00 Ibotta rebate.

Harris Teeter $0.08

I was excited to get lots of spaghetti sauce to stock the cupboards.

Harris Teeter $3.19

I didn't get this deal in the morning because I didn't think that I had a coupon but I found one so I had to go to a few stores to find it before the deal was over.

Harris Teeter $5.68

Last stop of the month and I got more of everything from above and was glad to get home and unpack and try to see what my totals were for the month.

Total Retail $626.89
Total Saving $443.40
Total OOP $183.49

I went super crazy at the end of the month and found that I had a little error in my formula on my spreadsheet so my first total wasn't included in my calculation.  Oops!!  Also there was a super doubles that landed on the end of the month.  I was $23.49 over my grocery budget but well under my Eating Out Budget (see below) to make up for the overage so I was still under by $8 for the total budget.  I was happy with all the amazing deals that I picked up this month including 30 boxes of granola bars which would normally be about $90.  I also got 20 jars of spaghetti sauce, pesto and alfredo sauce which would normally be almost $60 but I got it all for free after sale, coupon and Ibotta rebate.

My happiest thing that we have done this month is amazing saving with using gift cards and free money this month.  My husband used Home Depot gift cards to buy stuff for the house and still has some left to use towards fertilizer and other things we need.  I went to Kohl's because I realized that my son didn't have a shirt for picture day and found shorts on clearance for $6 and shirts for $5.  I had a gift card that I already got from My Points and got another one while I was in the store and only spent $11 for 5 items.  I still had two Target gift cards which I used to get new dish brushes and clearance notebooks for $0.07 so paid nothing.  I used the rest of the gift card and Pay Pal to pay for our Target purchase.  I used Pay Pal for my son's school pictures. Working on using my Swagbucks and My Points to pay for lots more going forward including ordering $75 in Swagbucks for Amazon in case I need to order a new bread machine and $50 for Home Depot for more fertilizer. 

Eating Out

My husband and son decided that we had to have take out pizza so we ordered a Pizza Hut pizza and picked it up.  It was $8.47 and gave me a night off cooking so it was a nice change of pace.  The best part is that it is way under budget for the month and we earned a free pizza which we used on the last day of the month with no money out of pocket.  That was nice because we still had $31.53 left in the eating out budget which I spent on groceries.