Archive for the ‘dinner’ category

Saving Over $120 a Month- And Counting!

September 10, 2008

     The economy has been on the minds of many Americans lately.  Either it comes up in campaign speeches and television ads or it hits closer to home with many families feeling the pinch.  Because I am one of those feeling the pinch, I got to thinking about what I have been doing to compensate for the change in lifestyle for our family.  And, then I started wondering what others are doing to help during this time of economic struggle.  Maybe someone else has done something that I can do to save a few dollars here or there.  And, maybe something I’ve done could help someone else.  So, here are my ideas.  Please share yours, too.  And, hopefully, together we’ll all get through it!

     I took a look at every bill I pay each month.  There were some things I really didn’t need- one organization I paid fees for that I had never used.  So, that got cancelled and saved $10 a month.  Then, netflix had to go.  Thank goodness we have a wonderful library that has anything i ever wanted!  That was another $10 a month.  Yesterday, I found a car insurance company that was $30 less a month for the same coverage I had before.  So, yes, I must say, I switched to Geico! 

     In April, I got a new car.  Although that sounds like spending instead of saving, I actually broke even.  Because I drive so much, gas and my new car payment is actually the same- or less- than what I was paying in gas every month.  So, I got a better car that will eventually save me a ton of money!  When I have an errand to run close by, I really try to walk or ride my bike.  Of course, as it gets colder that will change because I hate being outside in cold weather!  But, for now, it gives me some exercise and saves on gas.

     Lately, I have been making a huge effort to make a menu and shopping list for the week.  This saves me money and also keeps me from having to think at the end of the day!  The hardest thing to do for dinner at night is decide what to make.  So, this works well in several ways.  I’ve been able to stay under our $30 a week budget and make some tasty, well balanced meals! 

     We don’t go out to eat now.  We joined the $5 club at the theatre.  But, we very rarely go.  There’s always fun things to on weekends during the summer that are free.  When winter comes, we’ll probably have to work a little harder to find things.  But, I know they’re out there.  So, I cut out our $18 a week entertainment budget.

     On the homeschool front, I’ve had some luck- I call it God!  A friend has a daughter about the same age as my ds.  So, we’ve combined some classes, shared some curriculum, and been able to save money.  I also have some other people in my homeschool group that I am swapping curriculum back and forth with.  I think this is a great thing for homeschoolers to do- either as part of a homeschool group project or just as individual homeschoolers that know each other.  It can get expensive and most people use it and then it sits on a shelf or in a box and collects dust.  I’d rather see someone else get some use out of it.

     On the good side, evaluating how we spend our money has made me become much more aware of where it’s all going.  I have always thought of us as very frugal.  But, now that we are forced to live on my income alone- and are still eating with a roof over our head- I see that we could really save a lot of money away when my husband does find a job.  So, hopefully, this will all be good for us in the long run.

     I’m sure there are other things.  But, those are the main ones off the top of my head.  What have you done?  What are you planning to do?  How has the economy effected you?  Let me know your thoughts!

Advertisements

Goal Confession

March 11, 2008

After almost 4 weeks of doing very well with my goals- only a few minor slipups- I have to confess, last week I achieved none of my goals- past or current.  Instead, I did everything I could think of to get rid of a headache/ migraine/ weird spacy feeling that I’ve been suffering from for about 2 1/2 weeks.  So, that included drive-thru’s for pop, laying in bed instead of riding my bike.  Cooking and eating dinner at the table- what’s that?  I did do game night at church and I played games with my son and nephew.  So, iI guess I accomplished one goal.  As for the envelope thing, I was never able to get to the bank to get the cash  to fill them last week so that didn’t get done either.  On a good note, my dh told me several times that I really need to keep up with that so it doesn’t fall by the wayside.  I take that as a good sign that he has accepted the system!  On the other hand, he hasn’t accepted it enough to actually go to the bank to get the cash and fill the envelopes!  But, to quote Dave Ramsey, “Baby Steps!”.

So, today was a good day.  No headaches!  I went to the health store yesterday and got something new.  I’m not sure if it’s helping or if my migraine thought it had tormented me long enough.  But, either way, I’ll take it!  Ironicaly, yesterday I finally had enough and scheduled a massage for today.  (my splurge from our tax check)  So, even though my headache was gone, I enjoyed some pampering.  Actually, she put some things back inplace and it wasn’t all relaxing.  But, it was definitely wonderful!

This week, I will do my best to accomplish my previous goals and work on my new ones.  So, here is the list of old and new-

1) Use the envelopes

2) No caffeine (except for when I was suffering from my migrane yesterday)

3) No drive- thru’s (except for migraine)

4) 18 minutes on the bike at least 3 times- usually more

5) Play a game with family

6) Try the yoga DVD I just renewed from the library without even looking at the first week I borrowed it

7) Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (this seems to be harder than it looks)

Ok.  I’m going to stop there.  Wish me luck!

Weekly Goals

February 26, 2008

Last week was not my best.  2 out of 3 of the people in my house had the flu.  I was the lucky one who didn’t get it.  But, I paid for it by being in bed with a migraine last weekend.  I think that being gone for work the first days of their flu kept it away from me. 

Since nobody wanted to really sit up and eat on a regular basis, the sitting together for meals goal was impossible.  I did work out some, but definitely not as much as the two weeks before.  I might have gotten three days in, but, it’s all such a blur I can’t be sure.  I was doing so well on the caffeine thing.  I couldn’t even remember the last time I had drank a pop.  But, after trying everything else to cure my migraine, it became inevitable that it was the only thing that would get rid of it completely.  So, I went to Burger King and got dinner- including my pop.  I had a great coupon so I really didn’t spend much money for our dinner.  And, for some reason, it sounded really good as I was trying to get over my migraine.  I usually crave things after a migraine.  Anyway, I didn’t go through a drive though during the day at all so, I am pretty happy with myself for that.  It’s still hard to figure out alternatives for lunch sometimes since I’m usually driving around. 

As far as the new budget system goes, we have successfully gotten through a month of the new envelope system.  And, my dh and I are still speaking- usually!  I really do have to give him credit.  I know he is trying and it’s been hard for him to adjust.  But, he is doing really well now.  And, I’m trying to be more patient when the system isn’t followed perfectly.  (I’m still working on that one!)  The good news is that we were able to pay off some bills off and work on our emergency fund.  That’s really good considering it’s my dh’s off season! 

The homeschool goals are on the right track.  So, I’ll just let you read my last entry to get updated on that one.  The one goal I did not even attempt to accomplish was playing a game as a family- or at least my son and me.  Was it because he was sick?  Maybe.  I was exhausted all week since I didn’t get a good nights sleep.  But, there is a family game night at church on Friday.  So, I should do better this week.  I will try to do something else during the week, too.

Here is where I should write my goals for this week.  But, since last week’s accomplishments are questionable, I’m going to stick to those this week before I add something new.

Goal Update

February 12, 2008

     Here’s a quick update on last week’s goals for those of you who have told me you are holding me accountable.  I was pretty good at the dinner at the table thing.  4 nights last week, we ate at the table.  That exceeded my at least 3 daysgoal.  On the other hand, excercising 3 days out of the week was not so successful.  I finally got motivated Friday and Saturday, but only got 2 days in.  So, I am still working on it this week.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.

     So, here are this weeks goals-

1) Eat dinner together at least 3 days (I would have made it higher but I was out of town for 2 days so that would not work out)

2) Exercise at least 3 times a week (1 down- I rode my bike when I got home from my trip tonight)

3) No caffeine

4) New this week! No drive-thru’s!  I have been stopping for a quick meal during work way too often lately.  So, wish me luck!

Taco Bake

February 8, 2008

I just finished dinner- taco bake.  It was really good!  As I promised YFS, here is the recipe. http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=157947

I changed it a little.  I’m not a huge onion and pepper fan.  So, I substituted 1 of the tomato sauce cans with salsa instead- just enough pepper and onion for me.  I also used refried beans instead of pinto beans.  I had sour cream and tortilla chips on the table for anyone who wanted to top to their own taste.

Taco Bake-Weight Watchers Recipe

Poultry  Dinner 
Submitted by STACIARN01

Ingredients

 

1 lb lean ground turkey
1/2cup diced onion
1/2cup diced red/green pepper
1 8oz package Red Fat cresent rolls
1 can pinto beans,drained
1 pkt taco seasoning (red sodium)
2-8oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup fat free cheddar cheese

 

Directions

Preheat oven 375 deg
Brown Turkey,onion,pepper,drain
spray 9×13″ baking dish w/cooking spray.Unrol Cresent rolls.Pinch together to make crust.Bake for 6 min.
Add tomato sauce,beans,and taco seasoning to beef:mix thoroughly. Top crust with meat mixture and bake an additional 10min. Top with cheese and bake an addtional 5 minutes.
Yum!!! Makes 8 servings…….5pts each

Number of Servings: 8

Recipe submitted by SparkPeople user STACIARN01.
Number of Servings- 8

February 5, 2008

I just finished dinner and I have a little time to write before my dh gets impatient and wants to play his game on the laptop.

So, let me share the good news!  We have all – including dh- sat at the table for dinner two nights in a row!  I’m 2/3 on my way to achieving that goal this week and it’s only Tuesday! 

On the other hand, my exercising is not going as well.  By the time I get home, make dinner, sit down at the table and eat (yay!) and then go over any school work with my son, there is no time left to exercise.  Where do people fit this all in?  My only option seems to be to do it first thing in the morning.  So, maybe I will try that.

So, some of you have asked about my grocery shopping.  I have to admit that I get a strange joy out of spending as little as possible to get real food to make real dinners.  So, spending $20 is about usual- if not more than lately.  Alot of times, I have meat in the freezer from a good sale.  And, I had bought a lot of cans of fruits and vegetables when they were on sale.  But, here is what I bought on $20.  

whole chicken- frozen

cream cheese block

shredded cheese

pot pies- the only easy, processed food for the week

refrig crescent roll tube

2 lbs ground turkey- well, I compromised with my dh and got 1 turkey and 1 ground beef to mix together

tortillas

salsa

lunchmeat variety pack- turkey and ham

salad mix

pretzels

One thing that helps is to plan on using leftovers.  For instance, yesterday I cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot and then today I used the rest of the chicken to make my chicken burritos- which were very good!  (here’s the link to the site I found the recipe on http://momadvice.com/food/aldi_meal_plan4.aspx )  My family goes in spurts with eating leftovers.  So, since I hate throwing food away, it’s much better if I can find another way to use them up.

The taco bake recipe I am going to use is one I found online, but have not tried yet.  http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=157947 I’ll let you know Thursday.

The envelope system seems to be getting easier.  I am realizing that each week should get easier because some of the envelopes accumulate each week.  So, the first week is probably the worst because there was nothing to start with except what I put in there Friday.  My dh called me today to ask which envelope to take money out of for something.  That, I feel was a step in the right direction rather than just using the bank card to get it.  As Dave Ramsey’s book says- baby steps!