Monday, June 27, 2011

Week #4 Menu Plan & New Challenge

I am preparing for a new challenge next month. The doctor has put me on a low-carb diet to help treat my PCOS. So, I am going to challenge myself to stick to budget while eating low carb. I'm contemplating on keeping the budget $75 or bumping it up to $100 to cover the cost of the extra proteins and veggies that will be the bulk of my diet. I'm calling this challenge the Low-Carb On A Budget Challenge!

This week's Menu plan is going to be a usual for my family. Nothing really exciting or new. For TONS of more menu ideas, please check out the great site Org.Junkie!So here is the last Menu for the $75 a week Challenge:

Breakfast Choices:
-cold cereal/banana/milk
-blueberry muffins/milk
-English muffins/applesauce/milk

Lunch Choices:
-turkey sandwiches/green beans/apple slices/milk
-baked chicken/pasta salad/milk
-PB& banana sandwiches/corn/milk
-grilled cheese/mixes veggies/fruit salad/milk

Dinner Choices:
-Italian chicken/yellow rice/green beans (Tonight's Dinner)
-Smoked pork tenderloin/macaroni salad/corn
-BBQ Chicken/potatoes/side salad
-Pork loin chops/rice/salad
-Chicken Fajitas/corn
-HM pizzas/salad/milk

Snack Choices (all snacks are served with 100% fruit juice):
-cheese and crackers
-chocolate chip cookies
-veggie sticks and dip

That is the plan for this week! Now to start preparing for my upcoming challenge!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Last Shopping Trip For the Challenge!

Today I did my last shopping trip for the month! We really didn't need much, just some meats, kitty litter, bread, lunch items for Kirstey, etc. Food Lion is having a great promotion going on right now and it's our one store we shop at every week, so I did buy items for my stockpile too.

Here is what I got:
-2 boxes of microwave popcorn (my FAVORITE snack)
-2 packages of Chips Ahoy Cookies
-2 boxes of Town House crackers
-1 package of English Muffins
-1 loaf of bread
-4 boxes of Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats (3 different varieties)
-1 box of Tetley Tea bags
-2 Hormel Complete's Meals (Kirstey's lunch)
-3 Hormel Completes Kids Meals
-2 lbs of long grain white rice (long-term stockpile in case TSHTF)
-1 lbs of dried pinto beans (long-terms stockpile in case TSHTF)
-46 Yakisoba Noodle meals (long-term stockpile in case TSHTF
-1 brick of Maxwell House Coffee
-2 bottles of A-1 Marinade
-1 jar of Vlasic Dill Pickles
-2 packages of brown gravy
-1 whole chicken
-1 whole pork loin
-2 Lunchables
-1/4 lb deli turkey
-1 1/2 pound fresh peaches
-1 1/2 pound bananas
-4 frozen burritos
-1 package klondike Crunch bars
-1 bottle of pine sol
-1 aluminum foil
-1 Tidy cats Kitty Litter (24 lbs)
-1 package of Scott paper towels (8 rolls)
-1 each Aussie Shampoo and Conditioner

Total Retail: $144.66
Total OOP: $74.61
Total Saved: $70.05

Here are the Month Totals:
OOP: $290.06
Retail: $596.37
Total Saved: $306.36

I spent in a MONTH what we use to spend a WEEK! And we have eaten just fine, maybe better than before. And my stockpile is growing too big for my cabinets! And, if you consider that I am use to spending $1,000 a made a HUGE difference in being able to get caught up on our bills! I saved $700!

I plan on keeping this up! Maybe not $75 a week, but I think $100 a week is a great number for us. Now to celebrate!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What A Week!

My Hubby, Jeff, Was in a car accident Tuesday. He is fine, thank goodness. A woman ran a stop sign and he hit her at 55 mph. He then slid another 130 feet... hitting some road construction equipment and taking out a 6 foot cinder block pump house. His work van was completely ruined. But, he walked away without a scratch. Either that man has nine lives or extremely good luck!

Unfortunately the people in the other vehicle weren't as lucky. There were 4 people in the car. A woman driver - age unknown, her mother who is 50 and two children ages 5 and 2. All The were thrown from the car but the driver. No one had a seat belt on and the children were NOT in car seats or booster seats( even though there were car seat in the car)! The two children landed in the middle of the highway! We still do not know the conditions of everyone in the other car. I can only hope and pray that everyone is ok.

Please....anyone who drives a vehicle and is responsible for children.... remember that YOU have to make sure those sweet babies are safe! You as the matter what! They cannot do it themselves.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week #3 of The $75 A Week Challenge

Since today was Sunday, we did our weekly shopping. We only went to our local Food Lion, we didn't feel like spending all day shopping and the deals weren't THAT great this week anyway.

I thought there would be no way I could meet the $75 this week with Kirstey moving back home and being TOTALLY out of meats but I came pretty darn close!

Total Retail: S250.29
Total OOP: $87.15
Total Saved: $167.14

Only $12.15 over budget for the week and $5 of that was a watermelon that Jeff HAD to have and with it being Father's Day I couldn't say no. LOL

Total for the Month so far: $217.45
leaving me with $82.55 for the rest of the month.

Next week is Super Doubles at our local Harris Teeter. I hope to hit the deals, buy our "needs" and still be under or right at budget! We will see how that goes.

Also, Robert will be visiting July 4th. He gets a 4 day leave from AIT! We are planning a cookout with the whole family coming. I hope to still keep budget. I have about 8 packages of hot dogs in the freezer so, I know 1 of the items I will be serving. Maybe a macaroni salad of some type since I have so much pasta in the stockpile. I have TONS of canned veggies thanks to this week's .33 cents a can sale.

So I KNOW part of the menu!
Hot Dogs
Sweet Potato Fries
Macaroni Salad
Fried Corn (a Southern Thing)

I'll add to the menu as I see great deals the next two weeks.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another Weekend

Here it is, another weekend with Jeff being on call. I hate it when he works 70+ hours in a week. Not only do I miss him but, I worry. Since he works in commercial HV/AC, he can get injured VERY easily if he isn't paying 100% attention to what he is doing. And when you are exhausted, it's hard to give 100% of your attention to anything.

I ordered some new toys for the daycare yesterday. I had been wanting to get either a climber with a slide or some cozy coupes for a LONG time. I finally broke down and bought two of Fisher Price's version of the cozy coupes. One is pink and one is teal. I hope the daycare kiddies like them! I will purchase a climber/slide next month if I have the funds available. Luckily every toy I purchase is 100% tax deductible as a business expense!

I have already started planning this coming weekend's shopping trips. Again we will need a few basics. Sugar, bread, eggs, milk, juice, kitty litter, etc. This week we will definitely have to buy meats. I am down to only 1 package of ground beef, 3 packs of hot dogs and some ham in the freezer. And since Kirstey has moved back home I need to make sure I have things for her to pack for her lunch. I so hope there are some great sales! LOL Even if there isn't, I'll make it work. I am doing my best to stick to my $75 budget! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Week #2 Menu Plan

Sorry I completely forgot to post this week's menu plan. It's been busy-busy here with my daycare (I am open 24/7) and Jeff worked 30 hours just this past weekend (on top of his regular 40). So, yesterday we were both exhausted.

My oldest daughter called last night informing me that she is moving back home. Hopefully I will still be able to keep the food bill to $75 a week or less. I am going to try my best!

So, here is the plan for the week. This is not just for my family but for the daycare kiddies as well. When running and operating a daycare, you HAVE to have a plan. If not, you'll have five 2 year olds all screaming "eat-eat" and you desperately trying to throw something together last minute. LOL- Believe me NOT a good start to the day! lol

*Cold cereal/milk/apple juice
*Cinnamon buns/peaches/ milk
*HM blueberry muffins/milk

*PB&J/carrot sticks with dip/milk
*Mac & Cheese/green beans/fruit salad/milk
*Hot Dogs/sweet potato fries/ grapes/milk
*leftovers from dinner
*HM mini pizzas/salad/milk

*Oven fried chicken/mashed potatoes/succotash
*Taco salad
*Chicken stir fry/ rice
*Meatloaf/ baked potatoes/roasted root veggies
*BBQ chicken/fettuccine alfredo/green beans
*Leftover night

Snacks:(ALL snack are served with 100% juice)
*HM cookies
*Veggies and dip
*cheese and crackers
*HM granola
*Dry Cereal (the kiddies LOVE it)

That's the choices for this week! Got to find some new recipes for chicken and ground beef LOL.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week #2 of The $75 A Week Challenge

Well, this week's shopping is done and I did pretty good. First we went to Walmart. Total retail was $59.08, OOP was $38.54 for a total saved of $19.50. I had to buy cat food which was $20 of the total but, it will last at least 2 weeks (hopefully 3). One of my best unadvertised finds was Finnish Quantum tabs on clearance for $2.97...paired with three $1 off coupons so I got them for $1.97 each box!

Second store was Food Lion. Total retail was $108.54, OOP was $66.53 for a total savings of $41.99. My we had to pick up kitty litter, bread, flour, freezer bags, tea, sugar and some other odds and ends. One of my best unadvertised deals I found were Borden Sensations cheese was marked down to $1.66 each. I had four $1 off coupons so I picked them up for $0.66 each! Then there was the canned kitty food that I got for $.25 a can! Our outside kitty gets dry and wet to keep her weight up. She is SO small (only 4lbs.) compared to our giants in the house (my kitty Little Bit is 12lbs., Sabrina is 9lbs, Mysti is 12lbs., Felix is 34lbz, and Rupert is 42lbs).

So, total OOP for the week is $105.07
Last week's total was $25.23
Total for the month so far: $130.30 or an average of $65.15 per week.

So far so good at $300 or less for the month of June! Next week I know I will have to buy some meats but, hoping to use my $ off Catalinas I got today to help cover the cost.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Challenge Is Helping!

Well, I wouldn't have believed it if it hasn't happened to me but, just following the challenge has helped us get current on some bills we were behind on for a while. First, the electric got shut off. We got it paid up (the same day) PLUS have a $150 credit towards next month! Then, this past Thursday, the cable got turned off. Again, we got it current the same day. We had been living a month behind on both for a LONG time.

Then, today Jeff informed me that we should have enough money this paycheck to get current on the mortgage! He has worked a LOT of over time this past week and will have a GREAT check! So, we will be current on ALL of our bills! I can't even remember the last time this has been true!

How has the challenge helped towards this? Well, if I had spent my normal $150 - $200 for groceries each of the past couple of weeks, we wouldn't have had the extra funds to get current! We also had some extra $ so my youngest daughter, Summer, could go take a road trip to the beach with some friends for the weekend (parents are supervising of course). It was her 17th birthday this past Tuesday so we figured it was a great birthday gift.

It's been a great experience so far. I have learned a lot about the way we consume everything and has me thinking. Wonder what the next couple of weeks hold!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

So Far-So Good!

We are mid-week through the first week of the challenge and I must admit, it is going a LOT smoother than I expected. We haven't had to make any more trips to the stores, and still have tons of items in the stockpile to choose from!

I have run out of a couple of staple items. I am out of AP flour after Friday night's pizzas. I am out of freezer bags for storage. And I am down to my last 4 tea bags (I don't know what I am going to do without my sweet tea)! But, I am not making a trip to the store until our normal shopping days (Saturdays and/or Sundays). When I use the last of the tea bags (tomorrow) I will make Kool-Aid and coffee (so I don't go through caffeine withdrawl).

I am surprised on how well the homemade pizzas went Friday night. With Jeff being from New Jersey, he is very picky about his pizza! And his comment of my Italian Sausage pizza being "pretty good" is the best compliment I could hope to get from him. And the Hawaiian pizza, the daycare kids even loved it! And they both had whole wheat crust and cost me less than $5 a pizza to make!

The only downside to the challenge has been that I am having to plan things out more and I am spending more time in the kitchen preparing meals. Which isn't a bad thing. At one time I LOVED to cook BIG meals. But, over the years as I had more children and started my daycare, meals just became routine.

And, I can't believe it but I still have PLENTY of food choices for next week! I thought by now we would be running a lot lower than we are! So, next week it shouldn't be too hard to keep my budget of $75!

So Far So Good!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Week #1 of The $75 A Week Challenge

After the wrench thrown into our budget this week, I am glad we had already decided on this challenge. Jeff did the first shopping trip for the week today for me since I have the daycare kids (I am NOT krazi enough to try to shop with a bunch of 2 year olds in tow). I will add any trips to the store to this post as the week progresses (I know I am going to need more milk).

2-64oz bottles of apple juice
10 packets of Kool Aid
2 baby wipe refills
3 lbs. of rice

Total Retail: $13.64
Total OOP: $5.11 (yep... that's right)

Trip #2-Food Lion: (Jeff forgot the coupons in his truck!)
1 lb. Mozzarella Cheese $2.49
1 bottle white wine $7.99
1 gallon 2% milk $3.79
1 package of U by Kotex Tampons $4.69

Total this trip: $20.12

Total for the week OOP: $25.23! Well below the $75.00 limit.

I have also worked out the menu plan for the week. Here is the plan:

Dinner: HM Sausage Pizza,HM Hawaiian Pizza,Salad

Breakfast: Cinnamon Buns, Juice, Milk, Coffee for me
Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches, Salad, Peaches
Dinner: Rosemary Garlic Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Brownies

Breakfast: Eggs,Toast,Cantaloupe,Milk,Coffee for Me
Lunch: Chicken Salad on Lettuce, Bread and Butter, Milk
Dinner: HM Spaghetti and Meatballs,Salad

Breakfast: Cereal, Milk, Juice and Coffee for me
Lunch: Open faced Meatball Sandwiches, Green beans, Juice
Dinner: BRINNER Eggs, Country Ham, Biscuits, Maybe Pancakes

Breakfast: Omelets, Peaches, Milk, Coffee For Me
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Sweet Potato Fries, Fruit Cocktail, Milk
Dinner: Cajun Pork Chops, Rice, Corn

Breakfast: Oatmeal, Bananas, Milk, Coffee For Me
Lunch: Ravioli, Mixed Veggies, Applesauce, Milk
Dinner: Chicken Casserole, Green Beans

Breakfast: Waffles, Pineapple, Milk, Coffee For Me
Lunch: Macaroni and Cheese, Green beans, Juice
Dinner: Leftover Buffet

Breakfast: Cereal, Milk, Juice
Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwiches, Salad, Milk, Fruit
Diner: Meatloaf, Roasted Potatoes, Corn

Snack choices for the week:
Pretzels with honey mustard dip
Cookies and Milk
Carrot Sticks and Ranch Dip
Cheese Crackers
Apple Slices with Peanut Butter-Honey Dip

That's the plan! Turned out I have a lot more than I thought-LOL

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What A Day!

Today started out as usual. The daycare kiddies arriving, getting them fed and starting the day's curriculum. Lunch and nap time came without a hitch. Then all heck broke loose! The power went out-right in the middle of the kiddie's TV time and Sponge Bob was on! They really it the roof! I called Jeff to see if he knew what was going on. Our electric bill was due today so I had a sneaking suspicion. Sure enough, even though Jeff had set the payment to be transferred today... they STILL turned off power! So, in order to get it turned back on, we had to pay $300! We had set the original payment to be transferred at the end of the day so we had to try to cancel that transaction, and no go! So, even though we paid them in FULL with the $300...they will be getting the original amount that we had budgeted on top of it! Which usually wouldn't be that bad but, the mortgage is coming out tomorrow and now there isn't enough in the bank to cover it! ARGGGGG!

So, it looks like I will be WAY below my $75 budget because we don't have it! BUT, on s good note now I see how my stockpile is going to save us! I have so much stocked up that milk and juice will be the only things I have to buy for the whole week! I am still going to get my free deals this week but nothing else for the stockpile. I am going to have to get creative with our Dinner menu but, it may actually be fun! Already thinking ahead, preparing for my $75 a week challenge, I cooked a whole chicken yesterday and got 3 meals worth of chicken and 8 cups of broth made and in the freezer.

This challenge is going to start out with a BANG! LOL

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This Coming Week's Plan!

Okie Dokie, I've looked over all of my local grocery store's sales ads and have come up with a list on needed/ stockpile items for the week.

From Kroger:
**3 Minute Maid Punches ...$3.00
**? 5 lbs. of Kroger Ground Beef....$10.00
**? 10 lb Bag of Kroger Leg Quarters.....$6.00
**3 Snuggle Fabric Softener (stockpile)....$9.00
**3 1lb bags of Mahatma Rice (stockpile).....FREE
**6 bottles Old Orchard Juice (Stockpile)....$6.00
**15 packets Kool Aide (Stockpile).....FREE

Total At Kroger: $34.00

From Food Lion:
**2 Green bell Peppers....$1.50
**1 loaf of Nature's Own Bread.....$2.00
**10 Bottles of Power Aid.....$7.00
**1 Scott TP (12 roll)....$6.00
**1 Scott Paper Towels (6 mega rolls) $5.00
**1 Gallon Milk....$3.00
**3 bottles Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent (Stockpile)....$6.00

Total at Food Lion: $31.00

That would leave me with $10 left for the week for fresh fruit/ veg at our local road-side stand (less than 1/2 a mile from my house).

That is the plan!


I have been debating all day about the laundry detergent, chicken and ground beef purchases. I have very limited freezer space and I have 3 packages of chicken, 5lbs of ground beef, 3 lbs of pork lion, 1 lb of italian sausage, 1 package of steak, 2 three-pound packages of spiral sliced ham left over from Easter and 7 packages of hotdogs. We eat chicken every other night due to it being Jeff's favorite protein source! And the laundry detergent....I have a 6-month supply! Do I really need the extra for the stockpile this week? Is $1.99 a bottle low enough when I could buy more fresh produce with it?

I am down to my last package of TP and paper towels. And I know that we need more fresh produce. But I have tons of canned veg and fruit. My goals for the next month are not only to spend $75 a week or less on QUALITY meals, but also to continue to build my stockiple at the same time! ARGGG! HELP!!!!!

Blog Hop!

The Planning Stage

The past couple of days I have been really thinking over my $75 a week Challenge. The Dear Hubby (Jeff) is skeptical if I can do it. I have inventoried my stockpile, the fridge and freezer to make sure of what I have already. the only problem I foresee is with the pet supplies. Having 6 cats that ONLY will use Tidy Cats kitty litter (with 3 litter boxes) and all pets on IAMS brand food, that may be my major challenge to work through.

I Have plenty of staples, the only items I should have to purchase for the month are: milk, eggs, juice, fresh fruit, bread, lunch meats, cheese, meats on sale, rice, popcorn (my favorite snack), TP, paper towels and the pet supplies. I follow the USDA guidelines for all meals and snack since I run a daycare. We usually don't keep a lot of junk in the house. Once in a while I may serve chips or cookies but it is not a daily occurrence.

I have also started looking at the amount we waste (leftovers usually get forgotten). I will have to either cut back on the amount I cook at Supper time or, will have to make sure the leftovers are turned into a new meal because my family doesn't like eating the same thing two nights a week. I have been pouring over my favorite cook books(Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O' Dea and The $5 Dinner Mom Cook Book by Erin Chase) for ideas. I now how some great new recipes to try while using my leftovers.

The new sales ads come out today for my local grocery store so I will start planning this weekend's shopping trips and next week's menus. Now the Challenge begins!