Monday, April 29, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 4/29

Monday- Chicken fries, Chicken Wraps and Homemade Fries
Tuesday- Grilled Marinated Chicken with White Rice
Wednesday- Pasta: Beef Ravioli
Thursday- Roast Beef Sandwiches
Friday- Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Saturday- Frozen Mini Beef Tacos or Chili and Chips and leftovers
Sunday- Chicken Tacos with white rice

Last week we have most of the meals according to plan.  We had Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and homemade fries on Monday.  Tuesday was Trader Joes Frozen Mini Tacos with white rice.  Wednesday was Chicken Parm Pasta.  Thursday was Chicken and Rice Casserole made from scratch.  Friday was Ground Orange Chicken with white rice.  Saturday was leftovers with pancakes, pizza and orange chicken.  Sunday I baked the lasagna from the freezer.

I have been trying to use up the items in the pantry and freezer so that I can clean up everything and start with new.  My family isn't super big fans of this because then there isn't always all the things that they love and they have to try new things.  I cleaned up and took inventory of the items in the one pantry.  Hoping to find more as I search through the freezer.  I think that there might be some chili in there which I would like to make for dinner this week so there is a goal to all my cleaning.

I hope that you have a good week planned with lots of yummy food!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Zero Down Debt Book Review

I was looking at the library for some interesting budgeting books to share.  Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love by Holly Porter Johnson was one that the library had that was interesting.  I think that this was a great explanation to help people set up a budget and learn to live with it.  The book gives concrete examples and helps through the whole process of modifying and finding the best fit for your life.

How to get out of debt and enjoy debt free living with the powerful "Zero-Sum Budget" method

Zero Down Your Debt ─ How to manage money and experience debt free living: Getting into debt is a piece of cake, but getting out? That’s the hard part. Fortunately, award-winning authors Holly Porter Johnson and Greg Johnson offer actionable tips and advice in their new book on how to get out of debt and enjoy debt free living. The secret? The “zero-sum budget”— the black belt of budgeting methods and the answer to how to get out of debt and pay off that debt quickly. They should know: It helped them wipe out $50,000 of debt.
How to get out of debt: With just a pen and a piece of paper in your arsenal, you’ll learn how to implement a zero-sum budget and become debt-free – once and for all. The zero-sum budget’s primary tenets are giving every single dollar earned a purpose — whether it’s for bills, debt repayment or savings — and using last month’s earnings to cover this month’s bills. All you need is the know-how, some willpower, and a positive attitude to transform your financial situation. Let Holly and Greg Johnson show you how to put zero-sum budgeting to work for you.
In Zero Down Your Debt you will learn to:
  • Unlock the powerful potential of your paycheck to help you save more and get ahead faster
  • Seize control of your money by creating a simple monthly plan that actually works
  • Understand the root causes of your debt and how to get out of debt
  • Use a step-by-step plan to eliminate your debt once and for all and enjoy debt free living
  • Identify and avoid budget vampires that drain your bank account and wreak havoc on your savings
  • Prepare for unexpected expenses and survive financial emergencies
It was well written and super interesting stories that my it easy to read.  I thought that it was a fast read that was super helpful on such a tough subject and it included many personal stories that you could relate to in order to make all of the topics easy to understand.  The chapters walk you through the process to set up a budget to make sure that you are paying all your bills and saving money a tthe same time.  It give information about how you can be spending all your money at any budget and where to cut back to try to make ends meet and pay off debt.  I found it is be a good guide to the way that I do things as well (although I do prefer a good excel spreadsheet instead of paper and pencil because it is something that I can copy month after month so that I have a record of everything for the last few years).  I hope that you find this book super helpful and it helps you figure out how to make a budget and live within your means to make the most out of your life.  If you are already doing that, it might also help to figure out how to budget and change your budget to best fit your circumstances.  I hope that you enjoy the books and the stories as much as I did.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Not Quite Over You Book Review

I had this book on reserve because I like everything by Susan Mallery and I saw it in the new release section.  I thought it was a little great that I got to read Not Quite Over You (Happily Inc) by Susan Mallery which was the forth in the series so quickly after reading the third book in the series.  It was great to get to see more friends in this small town.

Susan Mallery, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool’s Gold romances, proves there’s nowhere better than Happily Inc to rekindle first love.

Silver Tesdal has a head for business and a mouth made for kissing, and banker Drew Lovato has his eye on both. But ever since he was dumb enough to let her go, she’s kept him at a distance. When the bank turns her down for a loan, Drew sees a double opportunity—he can finance her brilliant, unique idea to rock Happily Inc’s wedding industry and win back her trust.

Despite her reputation, Silver’s not as tough as she seems. Losing Drew nearly destroyed her. Still, his kisses are as tempting as his offer to invest in her business. If she can’t quite get over him, maybe she should get under him and knock him out of her system once and for all.

But her best laid plans begin to unravel as Silver finds herself falling even harder than when they were high school sweethearts. Which means that she’ll have to come clean about the secret she’s been hiding from him for years—and risk losing him forever.

I hope that you check out this book and the rest of this fun Happily Inc series.  It was super enjoyable to see the small town in action once again and with another great story that was hard to put down.  Silver has been a figure in all the other books and this was the book where we get to know lots more about this amazing character.  It was interesting to see her interact with Drew who was her high school sweetheart and she how so many things changed but so many things stayed the same.  Both Drew and Silver are working together and they are building a business relationship when the old flame re-ignites.  The two of them have to figure out how to work together in business and in a relationship.  They have lots of things come up like Drew's mom and Silver's friends marriage.  I know that it seems a little crazy but the ups and downs in this book are filled with interesting drama that you have to read to believe.  They involve getting to know a child and police coming to break up a party as well as a night in jail but you will have to pick up the book yourself to find out what I mean.  It was a great story, filled with great characters, that made this book hard to put down.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Cooking on A Bootstrap Book Review

I was looking for new cookbooks and I found this one.  Cooking on a Bootstrap: Over 100 Simple, Budget Recipes by Jack Monroe was one that came up in my search because it is super new and popular.  The introduction was interesting because I didn't know anything about the author so it gave a lot of information about her and information and her style of cooking.

Award-winning cookery writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe is back with Cooking on a Bootstrap: a creative and accessible cookbook packed with affordable, delicious recipes, most of which are vegetarian.  Winner of the Observer Food Monthly Best Food Personality Readers' Award 2018.  Jack Monroe is a campaigner, food writer and activist, her first cookbook A Girl Called Jack, was a runaway bestseller. The sequel Cooking on a Bootstrap makes budget food fun and delicious, with 118 incredible recipes including Fluffy Berry Pancakes, Self-Love Stew, Marmite Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Hot Sardines with Herby Sauce.  Chapters include Bread, Breakfasts, A Bag of Pasta and a Packet of Rice, Spuds and Eat More Veg. There are vegan, sweet and what Jack calls ‘contraband’ dishes here, as well as nifty money-saving tips. With her trademark humour and wit, Jack shows us that affordable, authentic and creative recipes aren't just for those with fancy gadgets or premium ingredients.  Initially launching this book as a very limited black and white edition on Kickstarter, Jack reached the funding target in just one day. This beautiful edition contains illustrations and original full-colour photographs to really make your mouth water.

I read the book from beginning to end and there was a story at the beginning of recipe that made it interesting.  There were stories that I couldn't really relate too so it wasn't a great book for me with some of them because it wasn't American but British which uses a lot of different terminology.  The recipes aren't really things that I really enjoy or would make so I don't think that it was a success for me.  There were a lot of recipes that she feels are budget friendly recipes with a lot of flavor and there is a great selection of vegetarian recipes which are probably great for those who are looking for them.  I was hoping to find a few recipes that I was interested in but I mostly liked the bread recipes. Although I don't know the likelihood that I will make them because I have my favorite bread recipe and my favorite roll recipe already.  I hope that you check out the book for yourself and see if you enjoy it.  I would love to know what recipes you think are your favorites.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 Day Book Review

I went on a search for cookbooks at the library and I found this one that seemed interesting so I put it on reserve.  Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown was well reviewed.  The beginning had a great intro with lots of information about eating healthy on very little using the Food stamps program as the basis of this because it means that everyone should be able to make these foods.

By showing that kitchen skill, and not budget, is the key to great food, Good and Cheap will help you eat well—really well—on the strictest of budgets.

Created for people who have to watch every dollar—but particularly those living on the U.S. food stamp allotment of $4.00 a day—Good and Cheap is a cookbook filled with delicious, healthful recipes backed by ideas that will make everyone who uses it a better cook. From Spicy Pulled Pork to Barley Risotto with Peas, and from Chorizo and White Bean Rag├╣ to Vegetable Jambalaya, the more than 100 recipes maximize every ingredient and teach economical cooking methods. There are recipes for breakfasts, soups and salads, lunches, snacks, big batch meals—and even desserts, like crispy, gooey Caramelized Bananas. Plus there are tips on shopping smartly and the minimal equipment needed to cook successfully.

And when you buy one, we give one!  With every copy of Good and Cheap purchased, the publisher will donate a free copy to a person or family in need. Donated books will be distributed through food charities, nonprofits, and other organizations. You can feel proud that your purchase of this book supports the people who need it most, giving them the tools to make healthy and delicious food.

It was an interesting theory to see all of the recipes that she could make for the low price of $4 per day so that everyone could afford them.  I liked the information in the beginning about how she decided to write this book.  It was interesting and insightful and I hope that everyone knows that it is easy to eat on less money a day and still make super healthy meals.  There are a ton of things that she recommends at the beginning like getting one thing and starting to stock up on a little more expensive things every week and it is a great way to do things.  I have made a list of recipes that I would be interesting to me which includes Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars, Pierogi, Flour Tortillas, Pizza Dough, and Fresh Pasta.  I am not sure that this ranks against the cook books that I would use but there were a few recipes that seemed interesting.  What do you think about this?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Alaskan Holiday Book Review

I picked this book up off the shelf with the new releases when I saw it.  Alaskan Holiday: A Novel by Debbie Macomber was a book that I thought that I didn't read but who could turn down that cute cover.  I was excited to get to this book and not disappointed when I finally for to read it.

Before beginning her dream job as sous chef in one of Seattle’s hottest new restaurants, Josie Avery takes a summer position cooking at a lakeside lodge in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder. Josie falls for the rustic charms of the local community—including Jack Corcoran, the crotchety keeper of Ponder’s famed sourdough starter, and, in particular, the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon, a famed master swordsmith.

Josie and Palmer become close during the long Alaskan summer days, but Josie knows that, come fall, she’ll be returning to reality and the career she’s worked so hard for. Palmer, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to make Josie his wife and to keep her in Ponder. But Josie can’t imagine abandoning her mother back in the Emerald City and sacrificing her career to stay in this isolated town—not even for a man she’s quickly coming to love.

Fate has other plans. Josie misses the last boat out of town before winter sets in, stranding her in Ponder and putting her dream job at risk. As the holidays approach, Josie and Palmer must grapple with the complications that arise when dreams confront reality, and the Christmas magic that can happen when they put their faith in love.

Josie is a chef who takes a job in Alaskan town when there is a little break before her dream job in her home town.  She makes a lot of friends and a great life in the small remote Alaskan town of Ponder.  She is supposed to be leaving to go home when her boyfriend, Palmer, proposes to her and she is upset.  She takes a sleeping pill to try to get some sleep and she misses the last boat out of town.  She is now trapped for the winter unless she can find someone else to take her out of the iced in area.  Her luck changes with help from the most unlikely place, Palmer.  It was a crazy good story and I thought there were tons of surprises with these great characters and more.  I thought this was a great book and it was hard to put it down once I got in and I was pulling for the characters to get what they wanted.  I ended up reading it all night once but it was super worth it.  I hope that you enjoy it and check it out too.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 4/8

Monday- Chili Spaghetti and Fritos with Chili
Tuesday- Marinated Chicken with White Rice
Wednesday- Pasta (maybe Chicken Parm)
Thursday- Chicken and Rice Casserole
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday-Roast Beef Sandwich with mac and cheese

Last week was according to plan for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Saturday we opted to do easy Sesame Chicken Stir Fry and white rice.  Sunday was my question mark that I was supposed to come up with an idea this week but it seemed that I should have a better idea but I didn't come up with anything because I hadn't been to the store.  I have been trying to clean out areas of the pantry and freezer so that I could restock but I haven't done the best job restocking yet. Hoping that I get lots of food prepped and in the freezer soon.  Off to a good start with the week!!

Friday, April 5, 2019

First Quarter Reading Review

Although I posted all of my books that I read with my reviews, I totally forgot to write a summary to have my list of how many books I read during the month.  I can't believe that I forgot that but it is hard to find time to do blogging so I guess I let things slide.  Anyway, my goal for the year is to read 100 books.  Here are the books that I read in the first three months of the year.  If you click on the title, it will take you back to the original post which has the summary and my review.


Lovers Knot
by Emilie Richards

An Outlaws Christmas
by Linda Lael Miller

Escape from Cabriz
by Linda Lael Miller

Tempted by the Billionaire Next Door
by Therese Beharrie

Rescuing the Royal Runaway Bride
by Ally Blake

Touching Stars
by Emilie Richards

Angels at Christmas
by Debbie Macomber


Mrs. Miracle
by Debbie Macomber

Between Friends
by Debbie Macomber

Summer By the Sea
by Susan Wiggs

Mending Fences
by Suzanne Woods Fisher

 Blood Feud
by Mike Lupica

The Colors of the All the Cattle
by Alexander McCall Smith

Look Alive Twenty Five
By Janet Evanovich

Best of Us
by Robyn Carr

The Cottages on Silver Beach
by RaeAnne Thayne

The Christmas Remedy
by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

The Christmas Room
by Catherine Anderson

A Cold Creek Christmas Story and
Christmas in Cold Creek
by RaeAnne Thayne

Season of Wonder
by RaeAnne Thayne

As the Tide Comes In
by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

Why Not Tonight
by Susan Mallery

The Noel Stranger
by Richard Paul Evans

The Good Pilot
by Alexander McCall Smith
Courting Mr. Emerson
by Melody Carlson

Books Read in 2019

January     7
February    11
March       11

Total Books Read 29

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Month End March Shopping and Budget Review

I maintain a budget of $160 for our family of three for all of our household and grocery needs.  The great thing is that it helps me be creative in the kitchen to get the most things for the lowest price and then figure out how to use it to make tasty meals.  I shop with sales and coupons to get the best prices on the most variety of things I can find.  This month super doubles had a lot of great deals but not a lot of freebies so the spending was high fast into the month.  I have lots of things in the pantry, freezer and fridge after lots of these stock up sales which have helped me make meals for just a few dollars every day even with these crazy splurges on a variety of meats.

I also budget $40 for eating out so that the total for both is $200.  I used to track these two separately but I find that on months that I splurge at the store and get different things then I spend less on take out or eating out.  The two amounts seemed to be so closely related that it was hard to talk about one without the other.  This month I made steak and cheese sandwiches for $2.13 and used the roast beef that was $4 after sale and coupon for three meals with homemade rolls and the same cheese to make another tasty treat.  I got a whole 7 lb. chicken for $5.73 which we had a big meal with sausage stuffing from the freezer and mashed potatoes and used the leftovers for tons of other meals and froze the rest for future meals.  All of those splurges were about the price of buying two pizzas but I made more then 6 meals with that money instead of spending it on meals out.

Here is what I got for the month including with the breakdown for everything purchased after the middle of the month.  The first half of the month items are pictures and totals listed but the breakdowns can be found here.  Check out how I did for the month below:

Harris Teeter $15.70

Harris Teeter $3.04

Aldi $45.74

Harris Teeter $6.64

Harris Teeter $1.13

Harris Teeter $7.40

Harris Teeter $8.21

Harris Teeter $10.93

Harris Teeter $6.45

Harris Teeter $20.22

 Harris Teeter $6.45

Harris Teeter $12.52

Harris Teeter $3.21

Harris Teeter $9.44

I got a free cottage cheese and Stoneyfield yogurt.  I got the Quaker Chewy bars for $0.69 each after sale and coupon which was an amazing deal and I probably should have bought more but it was the end of my budget so I decided to pass.  While I was at the store and splurged a little and got steak which was on clearance for $2.13 which my husband grilled and I made it into steak and cheese sandwiches for dinner one night which was a tasty treat we really enjoyed.

Aldi $5.18

I went to the store to get turkey and milk because we were out again.  It feels like I do this all the time.

Harris Teeter $1.53

I went to use the rain check for the cottage cheese and I also found the Hershey Reese bar that I also had a rain check for so they were both free.  I went a little crazy and bought half priced Ricotta to make lasagna.  I mixed it with the cottage cheese and made two for the freezer and a small ones for dinner that night with the other one from the freezer.  It was super yummy and I got three meals out of my $1.50 splurge.

Harris Teeter $0.05 

I had a rain check to get the Stonyfield free and I enjoyed the cookies.  I got the Uncle Ben's free with the coupon from a friend.  My son enjoyed the rice for a quick dinner one night.

Safeway -$0.32

My friend gave me coupons from the Monopoly coupons for the drink and the Pure Protein bar.  I had two electronic coupons for $1 off the bakery goods and $1 off canned soup.  I got a doughnut because two would have cost money.  I was planning on getting the Safeway soup because it was on sale for $1 but there was a managers special on the Campbells and that is my husbands preferred soup so I got it but it didn't ring up correctly.  I had two other electronic coupons that I was hoping to use but I couldn't get a deal to work so I passed on them.  Then at the cash register the cashier was super mean because the electronic coupons didn't come off.  He over rode them and I spent $0.18.  I looked at the receipt to see how it worked out and then went to customer service to get the $0.50 back on the soup so it turned into a money maker of a trip and I got to eat a doughnut for lunch.

Giant $0.06

I went to the store to get the freebies this week.  I got the Chobani that was free which I wanted for my son to try but he didn't like it.  I also loaded $1.00 off Danon Oikos which made it $0.59 so I used a coupon for $0.50 which doubled so I knew that I was going to have overage so I got two packages of Kool Aid that were on sale.  Ended up only paying tax.  I enjoyed my yogurt and my husband enjoyed his Kool Aid.

Aldi $5.18 

We were running out of the milk and lunch meat so I decided to go into Aldi and grab some because we were passing the store even though I knew that we weren't totally out but it would save me a trip later.

Harris Teeter $5.06

My whole family went to the store to get the soda deal and a free yogurt because my husband was in charge of doing most everything.  It turned out that the cashier didn't ring up the last soda but my husband doesn't pay attention to anything so we didn't know until we got home and I got the receipt.

Total Retail $639.81
Total Saving $465.99
Total OOP $173.82

I know that I went a little over budget but I think that I did a good job getting a bunch of things we would use including lots of meat which we were running low on.  I was also a little worried on how long I would be out without driving after my surgery so I got lots of every deal that I might have passed on previously.  The great thing is that we are really enjoying the fresh chicken nuggets and the amazing chicken strips.  We have made tons of wraps and just had an amazing and easy chicken parm dinner.  I made steak and cheese sandwiches and grilled roast beef which were big treats for us.  The other big expense was the Windex which was almost $13 but we were totally out so it was a great stock up price so that we don't have to buy it for many months to come.  I hope that you have a good month and made good use of your budget.

Eating Out

We went out as a family to Delia's which is one of our favorite places that has millions of different things to choose from and we always get the same things- one large pepperoni pizza, one chicken salad with corn and house dressing and 1/2 Peruvian chicken which my son, husband, mother and I split.  My father orders his own food because he is always against sharing for some reason.  Anyway, my parents picked up the tab so that was no money out of pocket for us.  We got Pizza Hut one night because it was Family Movie Night at school so I promised my son's favorite pizza at home first and then it turned out that he was too tired after putting away most of one pizza himself so bonus good time for $10.60.  Knowing that I still had money in the eating out budget and that I only went over $8.76 on groceries, I agreed to a second pizza night so I would have a break after surgery and the boys would have a treat after soccer for another $10.60.  Out total eating out budget for the month was $21.20 which is well under my $40 monthly budget.  Even counting my grocery overage, I am under my total by about $5 so I call it a win!!