Sunday, February 11, 2018

How to keep your grocery shopping under control: Make your list of staples

I know maybe some of you are looking for ways to get your grocery budget down or to save a bit of money, pay down debt etc. So are WE!

In January we spent $472 on groceries for a family of 5 ( read about that here) I'd like to get that even lower.

One thing that helps me is to make a "Top Ten" list if you will. When money is tight and you are trying to really make those nickels and dimes count- it's good to just make a very very basic list of what you can get by with for that shopping period. Now I realize that you could live off of beans and rice if you had to ( or whatever else you have in your home) but I'm talking about really thinking about what your family eats and what it would take for you to have a variety of meals for a month. Some could be staples you already have in your home so you would need to buy those items. Then whatever money is left after you buy your top ten list you can then prioritize other things your family would love to have. Mine looks something like this ( please note that we have all the eggs we can manage because we have chickens, so I don't ever buy eggs at the store.) We also have an abundance of deer meat and sausage from deer and boars that my husband or daughter harvested this past year- so I don't buy meat at the store either.

1. Tortillas (I realize they may be easier to make- but we like the convenience of having them read all the time. We use for breakfast burritos, bean burritos and wraps.

2. Pinto beans  ( dry and in the 25 lb bags from Sam's- I use to make beans, refried beans, chili etc.)

3. Flour- for baking and such again buy in bulk from Sam's

4. Butter- sometimes my Kroger has these on sale for $1.99/ lb. I'll buy 10 or so then and freeze them.

5. Coffee- my husband would disagree but for me this is certainly in my top 10- I like a brand that I buy in bulk from Amazon using my Swagbucks and other point type of rewards. I haven't actually spent money on coffee in quite sometime.

6. Milk- for baking, cooking, for the kids to drink etc. I buy skim milk from Sam's for $2.25 a gallon- cheapest place around here

7. Rice- long grain brown rice bought in 25 lb bags from Sam's- used in soups, stir fry, burritos, casseroles

8. Peanut Butter-  stock up when the Kroger brand goes on sale- kids eat with apples or bananas, I use in baking etc.

9. Apples- I try to buy apples as all the kids eat them, take them to school for a snack, my husband and I take them to work for snacks etc. We have no preference on variety and I just buy what's on sale and looks tastiest- we have a few small trees that haven't started producing much yet but normally get about 20 apples per tree in the fall. Not a lot compared to how much we eat.

10. Spinach, salad greens, lettuce etc. - I buy whatever appears to look freshiest, be on sale etc. We actually can grow a lot of our own greens from Spring to early Winter but when we don't have any they make my 10 ten list. We use the for salads, to top burgers or sandwiches, in wraps, tacos etc. We normally always have some sort of green in the fridge to munch on.

I also freeze and can a lot of fruits and vegetables from the garden during the summer- so we normally have quite a bit of frozen corn on the cob, jelly and jam, salsas, tomato sauces, frozen strawberries etc. I realize not everyone has those on hand.

So what do you think? What is your in your top 10 that didn't make mine???

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Spring Break Vacationing while getting out of debt?

We love to vacation. And since I work the same schedule  that the kids go to school we normally always do a full week of vacation for Spring Break. Last year we went to St. Louis- which was awesome. The year before that we went to the Smoky Mountains- even more awesome.

But we are trying to get out of debt and we realize that a full week of hotels or another vacation rental, plus all the food, eating out ,gas, activities etc. will just cost too much.
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BUT we do still plan on having a ton of fun this Spring Break. We like to camp and go pretty often, so this year we are planning 4-5 nights in a State park that is local to us and just hike, and play, and cook food that we bring and enjoy some fun time together . We already have the equipment, I'll use our normal grocery budget, and our normal gas budget. The nightly site fee and maybe a tiny bit of other expenses will be all we have to spend.  Nightly fees range between $18-$32 depending on the park and the site.

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I actually already have one night credit for camping because we were camping last year when there was an issue at the park and they gave us one night credit to use on our next trip.

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We should have our tax refund back by then, but instead of using that bit of money to go on a huge trip, I'm going to budget $200 to go camping on Spring Break.  ( Last year our hotel bill alone was over $1100 for Spring Break- OUCH).

Could we use that $200 to pay down more debt? YES!
Could we get out of debt sooner if we did not go camping? YES!

But my husband and I have talked about it and opt to spend that $200 for a fun week with the kiddos, and since we normally spend SOOOO much more we feel good about the decision.

Anyone else planning a frugal Spring Break?

Saturday, February 3, 2018

My Shopping Spree at Old Navy ( for $5.02)

So you may recall that we are in a load of debt that is insanity. Read about that here if you are so inclined.
You may also remember that in January we did NOT spend one cent on clothes for the family but I thought we might have some needs for the kiddos for this spring and summer.

So I received an email from Ebates that it was time for my quarterly cash out and that I could earn an additional 20% on my gift card balance if I cashed out with Old Navy. An extra 20% sounded nice and when I started looking at Old Navy I found several items that would be good for the kids this summer.

Side note: Ebates is a free site I would encourage you to sign up for where you get cash back online for your purchases. You then get money back either in paypal or in a gift card form. I would encourage you to sign up if you haven't yet and then use it whenever you shop online.

So I took my gift card and did some shopping. Old Navy was having 20% off any purchase and if you spent $50 then you got free shipping. My gift card was for $52.02.

I got the following items:
3 pairs of cotton elastic pull on shorts for my son. 1 in red, 1 in black and 1 in gray. That should be good to match little tshirts and he can wear them to school come spring and summer. He literally had ZERO shorts for this upcoming season so this was nice.
    product photo



I got 1 print shirt for my daughter -
who again is growing like a weed and will need some tshirts.
product photo

I then also got a very nice dress for the girls for spring/summer. They have 3 dresses between the 2 of them, then 2 skirts also that they share. They could use a good dress. 
product photo
Then I still had a few dollars left on my gift card and I needed to get it up to $50 to get free shipping. So I added 2 pair of fuzzy socks. I will put these in my "gift tote" in our closet. This will either go to my girls stockings at Christmas, used for a gift for my kid's friends etc.

So out of pocket was a total of $5.02. I feel like even at the Goodwill ( one dress is $5.00) that this was a good deal. I wasn't expecting the gift card and thought this would be a frugal way to use it.

Then on top of that I earned cash back from Ebates for shopping at Old Navy in the amount of $4.62. So that puts my NET price to be about 40 cents!!

In the past it would not have been anything for me to take the kids to Old Navy and buy each of them several outfits, myself a few things I didn't need etc. I'm proud of these purchases and feel like they will be put to good use!

What are you all doing frugally this week?


Friday, February 2, 2018

So How much did we spend on groceries for January??

So for the month of January:

Family of 5 ( myself and husband) kiddos ages 12, 11 and 6 , eating every meal at home/from home and the grand total is

$472.01

I feel like that's a good start. I am trying to stay under $400 for February and should be able to. You may recall that I made these breakfast burritos ( and I still have several left) so that's nice.



The first trip of January started with a trip to Sam's club which you can read about here.  We still have some pancake mix, chocolate chips, hashbrowns and olive oil left from that trip. I also still have about 15-18 frozen quiches  in the freezer- that I have made this winter when we had an abundance of eggs. Sometimes I would put in pieces of ham or bacon if we had it and would not put in dill or asparagus- I just put in what we have- but the base recipe is the same. Regardless I have a lot of that frozen. We also still have deer meat and some sausage in the freezer so I need to try to utilize that.

We really love fresh fruits and veggies in this house though- but that can sometimes be difficult to do in the winter, in our climate especially while trying to stay out of the grocery store and use what we have! So for this month of February ( it's a short month right) I am going to shoot for:

$400

What are you shooting for in February? Any freezer meals or tips you would like to share? 

Happy (frugal) homesteading Y'all!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January Update- what we did and didn't do!

So you read yesterday that we have so much debt!!! Read about it here.



January was interesting and in a sense super fun. The weather was cold and rainy so we stayed inside a lot. The kids and I went back to school ( and work) after our long Christmas break.
Some of the highlights from January:

1. No eating out!!!! We did not eat out at all the entire month of January. I actually went to two different lunch lectures at work which were free, my husband had a lunch or two free from work but we did not eat out at all where we paid for it! That may not be much for some of you- but for us it was an accomplishment.

2. Saturday night card nights with my parents and brother and sister in law. On New Year's Eve we went to my parents and had snacks and played cards with my parents and my sister in law and brother ( Rummy). We had so much fun! So each Saturday since then we have went over to their house and played cards! We each bring a snack or something small and have a super fun time. It gives us something fun to do and is a frugal way to have fun and hang out with family. We hope to keep it up in February.

3. We did not buy a single piece of clothing. No socks. No underwear. No shirts. NOTHING. With three growing kids this is also something I'm super proud of. We just used what we have and no one is naked. We will of course have to buy more clothes for the kids soon, especially for summer as I don't know that any of them have shorts that fit- but I hope to find them at yard sales or Goodwill.

4. We got some wonderful new chickens! There was an email that come across through our local 4H group that a lady had some chicks she wanted to give to a 4Her when they hatched- for free. So we called her and visited her and she blessed my daughter with 8 rare breed chicks. She was glad to give them to us and we felt so thankful that we could be frugal and still do some neat things around the homestead.


What are your highlights from January? Any moments your proud of?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

This is the post I hate to write.... how much debt do we have??

Oh. My. Goodness.

If you have followed me for very long you may recall that we are up to our eyeballs in debt.

I've debated putting out here how much we owe- but I have a feeling someone else may be struggling with debt as well. I hope it's not to the magnitude that ours is- but I have a feeling some of you may be struggling yourself.

So on December 31, 2017 we started with:

$152, 852 worth of debt.

$152,852


This is NON Mortgage debt people. Sigh.

Even though I thought we were frugal  over the last few years - we weren't seeing any progress. So starting Jan 1st 2018 we did a budget ( www.everydollar.com) followed it and did not buy ANYTHING at all we did not need. I have another post coming up about that soon, but just know that as of today January 31st- one month later we have paid off $1662!

$1662

That brings our non mortgage debt down to $151,378. It seems like only a drop in the bucket- but we have paid off more in one month than we did all of last year. That makes me both nauseated and hopeful all at once.

$151,378

It's our first month and I realize that 30 days isn't that big of a deal but it does give me a glimmer of hope.

Some of you may be saving for a trip, or trying to pay off a loan of some sort, or saving for your kids college- but please feel free to join me on this journey. I'll be updating you monthly on our budget, our debt, etc. It is way outside of my comfort zone to put it out there- but I think I'll be more accountable to you guys and also maybe someone will find some encouragement through this blog.

Follow along guys! It's going to be a journey for sure around the homestead!



Saturday, January 27, 2018

Prepping Breakfast for the Week: Frugal Breakfast Burritos

A few things are going on here: 
1: we have so many eggs coming in that we can't keep up- I've made and frozen quiches ( recipe here) and we eat eggs of course fried, scrambled, hard boiled etc. But this is another good way to make a good use of them. 
2: we have gotten a few wild boars this year and processed them so we have yummy sausage
3: it's rainy and cold here so I thought it was a good day to make some of these burritos for the freezer
4: My husband loves these and takes a bag of these to work and then eats one each morning after he goes to the gym. Quick ,easy, protein, cheap and ensures he eats a good breakfast

So  I assembled the ingredients to make breakfast burritos. 
Eggs- from our own chickens
1 lb sausage- we harvested and processed ourselves
tortillas
canned jalapenos - from our garden last year
an onion
taco seasoning - ( it's in the clear container) I buy it in bulk from a local Amish store
cheese- from a local farm ( wish we could do our own cheese)

Let's chop that onion up ( I love my Ulu knife, by the way) 

Brown the sausage then add the onion and taco seasoning. 


Add the dozen eggs and start scrambling them together. 

Add the chopped jalapenos ( fresh are great here too, we just don't have any fresh ones right now). I use bell peppers when making for the kids. 

Shred some cheese to add to the top. 

Wrap that baby up- then roll in foil. 


And here we go. A nice batch of breakfast burritos to add to the freezer. We use a lot of our own ingredients, and also I buy super cheap tortillas- you could probably make them but I can get 10 for .99 cents at Kroger. I have calculated each one costs about .22 cents. 22 cents for breakfast is not bad!! I do write "breakfast" on these with a permanent marker on the foil, because I do make lunch ones as well and write "lunch" on those so we don't get confused!

What all are you guys cooking, prepping, baking and freezing this week?