Books, frugality, birthdays, and an awesome pencil sharpener (do these topics actually go together?)

My birthday girl, a few years ago...time flies!Life has been nutty around here.  Wednesday alone I had three different interviews for Forever Mom.  By the end of the day both of my phones had dead batteries and I felt certain I had lost all ability to construct a complete sentence.  Whew!  What’s really cool is that people are interested in Forever Mom–here’s a review on adoption.com. (By the way, if you go read it, will you also share it on facebook so more people can see it?  Thank you so much!)  I am so humbled and so grateful that folks are appreciating the message of the book.  And also relieved.  Because, honestly, my heart went right out there in every page. I’ve never felt so trembly-kneed when sending something out there.  So thanks for all your support.

I don’t have many frugal thoughts this week– it was kind of a fish sticks and corn dogs and cereal kind of week around here with all busyness. I did bookmark this great-looking blog post sharing 52 Meatless Meals so that I can intersperse all the rich holiday food with some frugal and good-tasting meatless dinners. I also earned a free turkey at Winco.  (They have a promo where if you spend  $100, you get a free turkey– yeehaw!)  The man in line behind me looked in my heaping cart and told me I should have gone through the line twice and gotten two turkeys.  He was right.  I actually ended up spending $300 on groceries yesterday– apparently I’ve skipped shopping lately too, because we were out of so many things.  So I could have gotten THREE free turkeys, but ah well. Now we are stocked up and I hope that I remembered most of what I’ll need for the next couple weeks.  Potatoes were on a screaming good sale 99 cents for 10 pounds– so we currently have about 4o pounds in the pantry, and I am signed up to bring mashed potatoes to every Thanksgiving gathering we’re attending.  (That reminds me– I still need to buy sour cream.  Because in my opinion, mashed potatoes reach greatness through butter and sour cream.  And maybe garlic.  But I’m aware that not everyone agrees about the garlic.)

 

For those of you who asked, I am in the process of getting an email subscribe feature added to my blog.  I should have done it a long, long time ago but somehow never got around to it.  I will let you know when it is up and running, since I know a lot of people prefer to read blogs in email form.  Thanks to those of you who emailed me lately and encouraged me to get it together.  :)

 

Finally, I have meaning for awhile to tell you about a REALLY neat pencil sharpener. Let me tell you, as a homeschooling mom of many, I have bought SO many pencil sharpeners over the years– from the old fashioned manual kind that you mount on the wall to the really nice electric kind.  I don’t know if it is just a function of having a lot of kids, but every sharpener I’ve ever owned til now has always ended up disappointing me. So when I heard about this one from Classroom Friendly Supplies, I was all attention.  This sharpener is different in that it holds the pencil for you, which I think makes it much more likely that the pencil will enter the machine straight and be sharpened properly. (Watch the video to see what I mean– it’s a little different.)  I also need to disclose that I was given a sharpener for free in exchange for a review. The bottom line is we’ve been using this sharpener for several months, and we really like it a lot.  It makes pencils SO sharp! The only thing I don’t love is that the clamp that is supposed to hook it to a counter is a little chintzy– we can’t make it stay. But since the sharpener holds the pencil for you, it’s not a big deal to just hold the sharpener steady with one hand while turning the handle with the other.  I am working on getting a freebie to give away here on my blog, but I don’t have it yet. I will keep you posted.

Anyway, we are off to homeschool craft day and then we are celebrating my BABY’s tenth birthday– oh be still my heart!! There she is above several years ago with a PENCIL in her hand, which is my very best attempt at making this post actually hang together.  Pencils.  Birthday girl.  Books. You get it?  OK,  that’s all I have for you today. But as usual, I’d love to hear about your frugal successes for the week! So comment away!

Frugal holiday beauty

This weekend I have the fun of attending the Joy for the Journey adoptive mom retreat in Lancaster, PA. So instead of my usual frugality post, I thought I’d share some fun and frugal ways to decorate for the upcoming holidays.

thanksgiving-decor

 This silver and white decor could be lovely for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

 

Christmas ball decor

Lots of pretty ideas for Christmas balls- A big box of glass Christmas balls is $10 at Target or Walmart.

 

Here are a couple of affordable and pretty ways to decorate pine cones.

Dip a pine cone in glue and dust with Epsom salts for snow-sparkled pine cones.sparkly pinecones

 

Or gather a bunch of pine cones with some red ribbon for a lovely alternative to a wreath.pinecone-cluster-collage

Did you know that you can slip ping pong balls over LED lights to make these lovely globe lights?

DIY_ping_pong_lights6

Then finally here’s a sweet craft you can make with some wood rounds and an etching tool.

Etched-Birch-Ornaments-7

 

Before you buy decor items at full price, be sure to look at your local thrift stores and craft stores. Often thrift stores seem to be the depository for half-done craft projects, which makes them a great place to look for ribbon, yarn, silk flowers, and many other craft and decor items such as knitting needles, beads, crochet hooks, baskets, tins, and wreaths.

If you have more ideas for affordable Thanksgiving and Christmas decor, I’d love to hear them!

 

Gifts kids can make for friends

Gifts Kids Can Make

If your kids are like mine, they enjoy giving their friends gifts at Christmas time.  The problem is, even a $5-$10 gift, multiplied by 3 or 4 or 6 friends, times whatever number of kids you have in your family, can add up to a lot of bucks.  But if you can think of fun gifts that your kids can make for friends, suddenly gift-giving gets a lot more affordable– and a lot more personal. Here are a few gift projects that might spark a kid’s creativity and help solve the dilemma of gift-giving on a budget at your house.

 

paper clip earrings1.  These paper clip earrings would be quick and fun to make, and could be done in any color, depending on the preferences of the gift recipient.

 

Decorating Mugs

2. These coffee mugs decorated with sharpies would also be cute.  Just make sure you follow the directions on the site and be aware that you’ll need to buy the right kind of sharpie.  Not all sharpies are created equal.

 

teacupcandles3. Fill a thrifted teacup with melted candle wax and add wicks (purchased at the craft store or on amazon) and you have a sweet delicate gift for a teen girl or maybe even a grandma.

 

paracord beaded bracelets

4. These paracord bracelets are completely awesome looking.  I wasn’t able to find an exact tutorial, but my son who has made quite a few paracord bracelets says it isn’t a complicated design.

 

 

licorice jar
5. What kid wouldn’t like to get a jar of his or her favorite treats?  If licorice isn’t a favorite, suggest mini Hershey bars, nuts or even beef jerky. (Tho that last option might put you back into the $10 range, depending on the size of the jar.)

 

Duct tape wallets

6.  Duct tape wallets have been a popular project at our house for years.  Here’s an easy tutorial.

 

iPhone wallet

Make Your Own IPhone Wallet

7.  A teen who knows how to sew and is game for a more challenging project might enjoy zipping out one of these I-Phone wallets.  You might even want to make one for yourself!

 

washers

8. For a fun and colorful necklace, just use nail polish to decorate a washer in bright colors.

 

Be sure to visit the bloggers linked above  to see the details of each of these great ideas!  And happy crafting!!

Frugal Friday

chalk art in progress

This week when making my frugal list, I tried to think of things I do routinely every single week but don’t often mention here. This week’s frugal successes, in no particular order…

  • I checked out the clearance racks at the local Family Dollar store and found some items of clothing on really good sales– the start of my Christmas gift stash.  Bonus:  when I got to the checkout counter, two of the items were buy one, get one half off.
  • I combined leftover gravy from the Sunday church pot-luck with ground beef and served it on really big biscuits for a nice meal on Monday.
  • I washed a couple of gallon-size ziplock bags to re-use.  Usually I don’t wash out sandwich bags, but I almost always wash out the larger sizes, unless I’ve used them for raw meat.
  • We had our very first fires of the fall in the woodstove.  (We have electric heat and try not to use it at all, except in the coldest nights of winter.) I made frugal fire starters with dryer lint and egg cartons.
  • As per usual, I sent kids out to feed the chickens with kitchen scraps at least once or twice a day.  We also fed the last of the garden zucchini to the cow. This gets fresh food into their diet, decreases their need for store bought food, and uses something we’d otherwise throw away.
  • A few weeks ago when making lasagna, I had half a dozen lasagna noodles leftover that I stuck in the freezer, not sure what I’d do with them. One night this week I decided to make taco soup with ground beef, garden peppers and tomatoes, and corn.  When I realized I didn’t have any kidney beans to add to make it heartier, on a whim I pulled the leftover lasagna noodles out of the freezer, cut them crosswise, and used them like egg noodles.  Super yummy.
  • I overbought corn tortillas a couple weeks ago. So a couple times this week, I cut a stack of tortillas into quarters, tossed them in a dab of salt and olive oil, then baked them in the oven til light brown.  They made nice very sturdy chips that I served with homemade salsa and guacamole.  Yum!
  • I had some extra homemade pizza dough in the fridge after making pizza one night.  A couple mornings later when I couldn’t think of a thing for breakfast  (we were out of milk, flour, and eggs) I grabbed that leftover pizza dough out of the fridge, rolled it out on the counter, slathered it generously with butter and cinnamon/sugar, then rolled it up into cinnamon rolls.  Nobody complained about that breakfast!

When I asked the kids what else I did this week to save money, one of the boys said teasingly, “You ordered takeout pizza!”  Oh.  True.  But in my defense, I did order it on a $3.99 special, so it could’ve been worse.  How about you?  What did you do to save money this week?

PS- I’ve been pinning chalk art lately– the photo above shows my 12yo daughter’s first attempt at graphing and copying an idea.  (You just erase the lines when you’re done drawing.)

6 quick kitchen tricks

6 quick kitchen tricks

Have you ever read the book Cheaper by the Dozen?  Though the dad in that book is a little extreme, I have always secretly identified with his eternal quest for greater efficiency in the home.  I am always on the lookout for ways to save time, and thought it might be fun to share some of the ways I save time in the kitchen.  I’d love it if you add your own ideas in comments, below.  Who can’t use a few good time-saving strategies?

1. I double-batch whole meals at least a couple times a week. It only takes a few extra minutes to measure out more ingredients or chop more veggies or meat while the kitchen’s already a mess. Leftovers can go into the fridge to serve at lunch later in the week or in the freezer for a different week entirely.  Common examples include big pots of soup or chili, or pans of enchiladas to stash in the freezer.  Time savings per meal: at least 30 minutes per meal, especially when you consider there’ll be much less mess when serving that second meal.

2.  You don’t have to double batch a whole meal to save time, however.  Even doubling one portion of the meal can save prep work a different day.  For example, when I am cooking meat for a meal like tacos, fajitas, or Molly’s chicken, I will often cook more meat than I need for that meal, setting aside the extra to use a different day  in a soup or a stir fry. (Remember to set that extra meat aside before the meal, however, so your family doesn’t just gobble up the extra.) Other examples of this tip include making extra pizza dough one day so kids can easily make their own pizza another day, or making extra rice and setting it aside for fried rice another day.  If your rice AND your meat is already cooked, it’s perfectly possible to get a meal of fried rice onto the table in 20 minutes flat.  Time savings:  20 minutes per meal

Creamy Chicken and Potato Soup3. When I am beginning dinner, I always think about which part of the meal will take longest to cook and start there. Since I have lots of meals that take less than 30 minutes to get to the table, that often means starting rice or pasta cooking. On spaghetti nights I  get pasta water heating first, then cook ground beef and simmer sauce while noodles cook.  If the meal is a stir-fry, I’ll get the rice going in the rice cooker, then chop/cook the chicken, then work on the veggies while the chicken (and rice) chicken cook.  I love having multiple pots going at the same time– it feels so efficient. Time savings: at least 10 minutes per meal.

4. Especially when meals are labor-intensive, I get help! The other day I had 10 pounds of potatoes to peel– we were bringing mashed potatoes to a potluck.  I started by putting the water on to boil, then asked 5 kids to peel three potatoes each.  (We have lots of peelers!) It was a tiny bit of work for each of them, but getting their help made the job at least 20 minutes shorter than if I’d worked alone.   Even tiny kids can peel carrots or garlic.  Elementary age kids can set them table and pour drinks.  Bigger kids, with training, can do almost any part of cooking that I can.  And whatever you do, always say yes to a kid who wants to make cookies.  When they’re little, it feels like more mess than it’s worth, but they get efficient quickly, and there’s not much in the world that’s nicer than fresh-baked cookies that you didn’t have to bake yourself.  Time savings: probably at least 5 minutes/child/meal, but this varies by your child’s age. :)

5.  If you need a quick side dish to fill out a meal on a busy day, crank your oven t0 475 and chop whatever fresh veggies you happen to have into bite size pieces.  Almost any veggies are wonderful roasted;  I’ve roasted carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, whole peeled garlic cloves, Brussels sprouts, green beans, asparagus, and broccoli.  Toss your choice of veggies (cut into similar sizes) in a couple tablespoons of olive oil on a cookie sheet.  Then spread them out evenly across the pan, top with a few grinds of salt and pepper,  and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until veggies are getting browned bits and are cooked to your liking.  Yum!  You may even convert a veggie hater in your house– this is the only way my husband will eat Brussels sprouts.  Time savings:  depends on what you would’ve made instead. :)  This recipe takes about 10 minutes of prep time.

6. One last tip for frazzled mommas:  often I’ll decide at the last minute that I want baked potatoes for dinner.  Problem is, they take an hour to bake, and they’re just not the same when cooked in the microwave.  But there’s a way to shave half an hour off that cooking time.  Just preheat the oven to 425. (convection is best, if you have that feature) Then wash and poke potatoes, then zap them in the microwave 2 or 3 potatoes at a time for about 3 minutes.  By the time the oven is hot, the potatoes have already begun the cooking process in the microwave, which means they’ll only need another 25-30 minutes in the regular oven.  But they’ll end up cooked as nicely as if their whole cooking time had been in the regular oven.  Time savings: 30 minutes per meal.

OK– your turn!  What are your best quick kitchen tricks?

For more affordable and quick recipes, check out my cookbook: Family Feasts for $75 a Week
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Frugality this week

FallFlowers

  • The flowers above are from my sweet mother in law to celebrate the launch of Forever Mom.  (Hope you’re not too, too sick of hearing about it! :)  )  Very sweet of her to help me celebrate!  We are enjoying the prettiness of the flowers on our table.
  • I did finally get around to canning grape juice– we did about 20 quarts.  That will be good either to drink as juice at breakfast or to make into jelly later in the winter when our jam stash is diminished.
  • I found chicken thighs on sale for 99 cents/lb.  I used some as a meal with rice, some in chicken and rice soup, and some in a stir fry. I like to cook them in a crock pot slowly with some water, which makes them quite tender and then also nets me some chicken broth to use for soup.
  • I made corn cakes this week that turned out yummy, and served them alongside a lime cilantro slaw that nicely complimented that corn cakes.  The recipe was pretty much the same as this recipe except I used gluten free flour mix instead of regular flour. FallCornCakes
  • I also made a chicken skillet pot pie this week with a biscuit topping and lots of garden veggies. (I have LOTS of cabbage and sweet peppers right now.)  Pot pie always feels like a treat, but it is actually very affordable to make.
  • I made some more homemade spaghetti sauce the oven-baked way.  It turns out so good that way, and gets very rich and thick.
  • The girls and I chopped some sweet peppers to go in the freezer.  They’re so lovely fresh that it feels like a shame to freeze them.  But we simply had too many to use quickly enough, so after using lots in stir fry, fresh on sandwiches, and in pot pie, into the freezer the rest of them went.  I’m relieved to be finally getting the excess produce cleared off my kitchen counters.  Though the abundance is a gift, the clutter and the knowledge that I need to do something about it gets to me after awhile.

FallSalsa

 

  • Salsa was another thing we got done this week, finally.  Super spicy this year!  I was glad to use most of the last of the tomatoes, but then John brought more in from the garden, so we still have a basket full ripening on the counter.  We still haven’t had a hard frost, which is really unusual around here.  Lots of time the garden is completely done by the second week of October, and here it is, almost November.
  • I was in the mood for some more fall decor, and so instead of buying something, I found some Christmas lights that actually still worked– hooray! — and twined them in with several fall-leaf garlands that I’d bought earlier this month on a 40% off clearance.  It looked pretty and saved me a trip to the store. We also spread pumpkins around on our front porch from the garden.  No big ones this year, but lots of medium and smaller ones.  We’ll be making pumpkin pie soon too, I’m sure.  Yum!

How did your frugal adventure go this week?  I’d love to hear about it!  And if you an adoptive momma in need of a getaway, remember to enter the drawing for the Created for Care Getaway package!

Frugal Friday

With our sweet grandbabies

With our sweet grandbabies

I don’t feel like I’m completely ‘back’ after a busy couple weeks, but I decided I’d better write out a few of the things I’ve done right to get some momentum building again and work my way back fully into the frugal swing of things.

  • Ali

    Sweet Ali

    Last weekend I picked peppers and tomatoes out of our garden to bring to the adoptive momma retreat.  I’d been tempted to just grab ‘perfect’ veggies on a trip to the store, but a walk out to the garden scored me lots of produce that was almost as pretty as store-bought anyway.

  • Thanks to lots of leftover goodies from my retreat weekend, we haven’t had to buy much for groceries this week.  I’ve even pulled together the energy to cook a few times!  :)
  • I decided to only choose one item from my Stitch Fix box, despite being greatly tempted otherwise.
  • We used coupons when bringing our youngest girls to meet the babies and our oldest daughters at the corn maze this week.  We also combined a couple of errands with that trip to save on gas.
  • I signed up to donate plasma after a friend recommended it.  We’ll see how that goes.  Apparently you can make about $45 for an hour of sitting around, and benefit someone else in the process. (Update: after reading more about risks, I’m feeling on the fence about this, and am going to think a bit longer before trying it.
  • I had the kids pick more raspberries even though we are all kinda tired of picking.  Ditto for more apples and tomatoes.  It is SO hard this time of year to get out there– I’m actually very eager for the garden to be done– but I feel good when we use what we have been so bountifully given.

How have you done in the frugality department this week?

September grocery challenge, week 4

I keep thinking that I’m actually going to get less busy and manage to post here more often, but then the week runs away with me. Again. I also imagined that with both our teens sons now having licenses and cars, my driving load would be less.  And it is– except for the 7x a week driver’s ed that our 16 year old daughter has been doing for three weeks.  But that’s done today, so maybe, maybe I’ll get to stay home more soon.

But then starts another 6 months of driving with a student driver.  She’s #8 to take driver’s ed, so we’re starting to feel like campaign-hardened veterans in the driver’s ed department– harder to scare, and a bit better at predicting the typical things that kids have trouble with. This is also our 4th new driver in 2 years, so I’m starting to feel sorry that our preteen daughters once again get to sit in the car and again hear my play-by-play direction of new drivers.  Heck, even I’m getting tired of the sound of my voice pointing out possible hazards.  On the bright side, they’ll probably be excellent drivers by the time it’s their turn to learn.

Another thing that’s been taking some time lately is really fun.  I’m pulling together final plans for a Created for Care mini-retreat in McCall, Idaho in October.  Twenty ladies have signed up to attend, which is a nice number for the house that we rented, and I’m just praying the weekend will be a delight and a blessing to everyone.  We’ll be watching some really good DVD’s from the ‘big’ Created for Care event that I’ve attended for several years, plus have time for sharing and fellowship and encouragement. And chocolate.  :)

So.  On to the great grocery adventure.  I went to the store twice this week, for essentials like potatoes, Her first apple pieonions, dish soap, milk, yogurt, eggs and a watermelon. OK, the watermelon wasn’t an essential, but the affordable watermelon season is getting near its end.  Better enjoy before the prices go up. I also grabbed some peanuts for munchies for my college-student girl who’s working so hard, and probably not eating great with all the studying and early rising.

As of Thursday I was up to $290 which I call a great success for the month. I don’t really even feel like the cupboards are bare. I have been a bit more repetitive with food this week, but I attribute that to being busy as much as to the $300 budget.

Julianna made her first apple pie this past week, using the press-in pie crust recipe from Family Feasts for $75 a Week. It was yummy and she was very proud of herself.  I canned some apple pie filling which will be really yummy this winter, and I also began canning grape juice.  Lots more grapes on the vines but I don’t know when I will get to them.

Here’s what we ate:

 

Saturday

  • Breakfast-Buckwheat cereal that had been languishing in the pantry forever, canned plums from last year
  • Lunch-  Fried rice, sliced tomatoes, cookies
  • Dinner- Injera, West African peanut chicken, made with almond butter instead of peanut butter, cucumber salad

 

Sunday

 

Monday

  • Breakfast- Eggs and toast
  • Lunch-  Tomato melts
  • Dinner- Hot dogs and cheesy potato casserole

 

Tuesday

  • Breakfast-Hash brown combo
  • Lunch-Pizza rolls, pizza
  • Dinner-Pizza, apple fritters

 

Wednesday

  • Breakfast-Pancakes
  • Lunch-Ramen and Stirfry veggies, dinich wat
  • Dinner-Hamburgers and rice, watermelon

 

Thursday

  • Breakfast-Eggs and leftover apple fritters
  • Lunch-rice, quesadillas
  • Dinner- empanadas from Tango’s  (after being gone ALL day)

Friday

  • Breakfast- Scrambled Eggs, muffins (from the freezer), plums, apples and grape juice
  • Lunch- chicken veggie wraps, made with rice paper, spring roll style
  • Dinner-  Chicken and rice soup (made with bone broth)

 

How did your week go?  I’d love to hear some of your budgeting successes.  Did you make a meal that your family particularly enjoyed?

Recipes I’ve pinned that I’d like to try:

BBQ Chicken Street Tacos

Korean Marinated Pork

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

September grocery challenge, week 3

I spent $129 shopping this week, bringing our total for the month to $231. Given the fact that it’s Sept 19th, I think we’re doing great. I still have $70 to spend! This week I bought milk, eggs, oil, vinegar, cheese, butter, potatoes, oatmeal, raisins, yogurt, day-old bread, corn tortillas, onions, avocados (a splurge), and about 15 pounds of chicken thighs marked down to an amazingly low $.80/lb. We did eat at Panda Express one day this week, but a meal out every week or two is pretty normal for us.  In a less busy time I might have made my own yogurt and bread.  But– this happened instead.Canning

This week was a crazy whirl of canning and more canning.  As far as school, we did get math done most days and reading done some days, and our college kids kept up with their work.  But the rest of homeschool went by the wayside in the great apple onslaught. I think our applesauce total ended up around 78 quarts, and we still have 3 bushels of nice apples to save and/or give away. Not only was the apple harvest HUGE this year, but also the apples were good quality, with a good percentage of them being worm-free, and most of the rest only lightly damaged

This weekend we’re starting in on grape juice which is much less labor-intensive than applesauce– hooray! I also did 13 pints of sweet relish, and another 10 or so of apple pie filling. If we do any more apples, I think I’ll do them as apple pie filling because it is a yummy easy way to have dessert in the winter time and also is more interesting-looking in the pantry.

Speaking of the pantry, I’m seriously running out of space.  I already moved all my less-used small appliances out the the garage shelves, and the pantry is still packed.  I may need to put some jars on laundry room shelves this year.

Potato Pancakes

 

Saturday
Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: ?? I forgot to write it down and that was AGES ago

Sunday
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Chicken fajitas with homemade flour tortillas (yum!)
Dinner: Pizza

Monday
Breakfast: French toast
Lunch: Leftover pizza
Dinner: Vegetable pancakes, cucumbers, tomatoes, applesauce

Tuesday
Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Takeout tacos and burritos (thanks, Eldest!)
Dinner: Sandwiches and applesauce

Wednesday
Breakfast: Eggs, toast, apples
Lunch: tomato melts
Dinner: Panda Express (a splurge after a long day canning
Thursday
Breakfast: Eggs and toast, apples, pears
Lunch: Tacos with ground beef, sauteed veggies and guacamole
Dinner: Chicken and veggie stir-fry

Friday
Breakfast: French toast
Lunch: Costco pizza
Dinner: Cheesy enchilada rice

v

September grocery challenge, week 2

birthday time

This week I went to the store twice, but didn’t spend too much either time. Saturday I bought milk, butter, potatoes, onions, coffee creamer, and Kleenex for a grand total of $37.

Sunday we had the family over for dinner to celebrate Lidya’s 19th birthday.  We had barbecued hamburgers, salad, pickles, cucumbers, watermelon, jello ice cream, and two kinds of birthday cake, lemon and chocolate.  I already had everything except hamburger buns, which my momma very kindly brought.

Thursday evening I went to the store again and got milk, cheese, chex, yogurt, oatmeal, oranges (5 lbs for $1.25), a few peaches,  chicken ($1.37/lb chicken breasts), vanilla, chocolate chips, and toilet paper.  Grand total on that trip was $65 which brings our total for the first 11 days of the month to $102.  I’m trying not to run out of things that my husband really cares about, since that leaves him very dubious of the virtues of this spending challenge idea.

I still have lots of meat and the garden continues to overflow with veggies.  So I’m hoping that getting by for the rest of the month on only $200 more should work just fine.

Here’s what our food looked like this week.

Saturday
Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Turkey sandwiches
Dinner: Ham and bean soup, zucchini muffins

Sunday
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Corn dogs and tater tots, cucumbers
Dinner: Hamburgers, jello, salad, watermelon, birthday cake

Monday
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch:  Baked potatoes with bacon, cheese and sour cream. Watermelon, cake
Dinner:  Rice, turkey, sauteed cabbage, cucumbers

Tuesday
Breakfast: Pancakes, apples, milk
Lunch: Turkey noodle soup
Dinner:  Hamburger enchiladas (from the freezer, basically this recipe but with ground beef)

Wednesday
Breakfast: Cereal (we’re low on eggs) and apples
Lunch: Leftover corn dogs and hamburgers, rice
Dinner:  Hamburger zucchini stir-fry, pickles, pears

Thursday
Breakfast: Hash brown combo with peppers and tomatoes
Lunch: Tomato melts, cucumbers, apples
Dinner: Baked chicken, potatoes, sauteed zucchini and eggplant, angel food cake

Friday
Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Leftover fried rice, cucumbers,
Dinner: Pizza and garden cantaloupe, apple pie

Our tomatoes are already slowing down– it’s a cool September here– but today I think I have enough tomatoes and peppers to make some salsa. Our apple trees are still groaning with fruit.  We made and canned applesauce twice this week.  Once the younger kids and I worked through it together, and another time my oldest married daughter came over and helped us get a lot done.  I’m hoping to cut more apples today and freeze a few apple pies, and maybe even some baked apple donuts.  We love applesauce, but it is soooo labor-intensive.  Plus it will be fabulous to have some ready-made dessert in the freezer.

Are you doing the spending challenge?  Do you have any frugal wins to share today?