Just a disclaimer: we don't eat beef or pork or lamb, but we do eat chicken, turkey and fish. A lot of our meals are vegetarian. Even when we are eating animal protein, we bulk it out with vegetables.
These are all on heavy rotation because they are inexpensive and really yummy:
Salmon cakes with leftover potato, a whole red pepper; made with canned salmon from Trader Joe's. Served with a big salad.
Frittata with spinach and cheese and onions
Crustless quiche - 10 eggs, 1 c milk, with cooked broccoli or other leftover vegetables, sundried tomatoes, leftover chicken or not, leftover potato or not, whatever we have on hand!
Mexican eggs - https://www.nigella.com/recipes/mexican-scrambled-eggs
Asian meatballs - https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/slow-cooker-asian-meatballs/79c76dca-ff5a-4992-8386-fb5d259bfaf3 with rice (crockpot recipe!)
Easy chili with tortillas - 1 lb ground turkey, 1 can kidney beans, 1/2 onion diced fine, 2 cans (or 1 lg. can) diced tomatoes, 26 oz can tomato sauce, package Trader Joe's roasted frozen corn, some chili seasoning (another crockpot!)
Posole - 2 lb bag posole (hominy?), 13 oz tub New Mexico green chile, turkey thighs, 1 onion chopped fine, 1 can Mexican tomatoes, some oregano, water to cover and soak up posole (also crockpot!)
Aloo Gobi - Indian potatoes and cauliflower in the crockpot!
Vegetable Pad Thai
Asian Cauliflower Stirfry with Rice - I use more than one cauliflower! - https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-spicy-roasted-cauliflower-stir-fry-224291
Tostadas - corn tortillas, refried beans, lettuce, salsa, sour cream
Enchiladas - with refried black beans and roasted corn and green onion
Baked Polenta with red sauce and mushrooms, and a vegetable on the side
Polenta and Black Bean Casserole - https://www.purplecarrot.com/plant-based-recipes/black-bean-and-polenta-casserole-with-chile-butter - but double the recipe!
Bad Breath Pasta - with spinach, capers, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and kalamata olives
Pasta Carbonara with a big salad or vegetable - weirdly Gwyneth Paltrow's is the best - https://www.popsugar.com/food/Gwyneth-Paltrow-Carbonara-Recipe-41083033
Pasta with zucchini and goat cheese - https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/pasta-zucchini-goat-cheese
Viewing the 'Frugal Food' Category
Just a disclaimer: we don't eat beef or pork or lamb, but we do eat chicken, turkey and fish. A lot of our meals are vegetarian. Even when we are eating animal protein, we bulk it out with vegetables.
F is off for two weeks (Spring Break!) and we are not going anywhere, so having fun at home...
Five Frugal things:
- F and I went to the gym to attend my friend L's class (she teaches the same class I do, but on Mondays). Because I teach there, I am free and my immediate family is free!
- F and I went to the library today and she got four books; we don't buy books. This should last through the week I hope. But if we need to go back, we can...
- Dinner tonight was tostadas, my most frugal dinner. A $1 package of corn tortillas, $1 can of refried beans, a little sour cream, a little salsa and some lettuce. D uses a little bit of grated cheese, too.
- F went to Karate this afternoon; we pay monthly, so the more she goes, the less expensive it is. She can go 3x/week.
- Tomorrow is D's birthday! We are having a nice dinner at home (because we're all getting home really late!) and flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream (yes, homemade! - way less expensive. F made him a card, and we got him a breakfast burrito from the best place in town for his breakfast. I hope it's a good day even though he has to work!
oh - and #6 - we are not going anywhere for Spring Break!
I am sitting here happily watching the snow fall outside... I know the East Coast is getting hammered, but we're very happy to have this snow. We've had a below-normal year here at the tail-end of the Rocky Mountains. So we don't need to water out trees today - hooray! Probably a savings of about $1, but still...
So, about 2 months into the year, and I've done well with my plan to minimize buying things for myself. I am not talking about experiences or consumables. The only thing I've bought this year is a new pair of trainers. My other pair were pretty broken down, and since I teach a fitness class, it's not good for my feet, legs, back... The money came out of the fitness budget, which I track separately, deducting from the money I make from the gym. I will keep the receipt for next year's taxes.
There are things I'd like to buy but haven't. First on that list is a new pillow. My pillow is great, but it's feather, and I have allergies. I do better with a foam pillow, but I like the feel of feathers. Maybe Mother's Day...
Other than that, there is nothing that I need and very little that I want very much.
So the personal spending is very low.
We spent the day yesterday at F's soccer game. We brought packed lunches for after the game. We ate brunch at home because F couldn't eat lunch before (game started at noon and they warm up at 11:15). This eliminated the cost of eating out afterward, and she was able to eat right away (she was so hungry! She is a left-winger and was not subbed the entire time!). Not sure if everyone thinks that watching U14 soccer is a great Saturday, but we do!
Today, F had her Karate belt test. She missed the class test yesterday because of soccer, so we had to do a private test (cost is $70). The private cost is for an hour, and the test only took 15 minutes, so she had a private lesson for the rest of the time which was great! She had fun, we had fun watching.
Spent the rest of today reading a book on my phone (free on Hoopla), drinking tea and going to the grocery store. We spent $121. My friend whose daughter plays soccer with F said that he never spends less than $200. It's all relative.
This week's menu is:
S - cauliflower stirfry (Vegetarian)
M - tostadas (Vegetarian)
T - baked penne with turkey (D's birthday dinner! It will be post-soccer practice so late, but he has a work thing until 6:45 anyway)
W - baked potato bar with chili, cheese, sour cream, green onions (Vegetarian) - friends coming over for dinner and he can't eat cheese, so we go with a baked potato bar approach and a side salad. I will make the chili without any turkey burger in it because we'll have had turkey the night before.
Th - salmon souvlaki with rice, cucumber, feta, greek olives and raita (I love raita! I got Greek yoghurt and F can have yoghurt with berries for breakfast one morning, too)
F - fennel salad and black bean taquitos (Vegetarian)
End of February, so I am taking a look at YNAB to see how the spending went...
We are negative in the following categories:
- Pets: because our dog has arthritis and a thyroid condition - we bought her expensive arthritis chews (but they work, and she's worth it). Also she had her bloodwork redone so that we could adjust her thyroid meds. $34 over
- Doctors: because we paid the hospital (two separate bills) for F's ER visit in January (when she had hives). And my many visits to doctors, acupuncturist, naprapathist to get over pneumonia. I am almost well! $132 over
- Drugs: I had to get another inhaler which I am still using once a day in my recovery from pneumonia. $22 over.
But... we are also building up other categories.
- Now have $300 in house repairs.
- Leftover in Dining/Groceries is about $175!
- $750 in auto servicing; I need a service soon, so that's good
- $300 in karate
- $224 in dentist (not sure we will need this with our amazing dental plan but we're keeping it in case a filling or something needs to be replaced)
- lots of other categories with money building up for once a year expenses
We also have $1250 in Camp, but F is not really interested in camp this summer. She'll probably do one camp (soccer of course) and then we'll be gone for 3 weeks overseas. That's 4 weeks. And she can help me out in the office. And we'll go to the pool (there is enough money to pay for our pool membership accrued in that category already).
I got paid by the gym today! It was my first day back teaching since I got pneumonia, and it went well... I used only the bar (no weights on it) which was probably a good idea. Bench press was the hardest because my ribs are still bruised. It is going to take a long time to get back to where I was, but it was really good to go through different motions to increase my flexibility. I am embarrassed to say that I didn't even open the envelope to see how much I made.
I went to the acupuncturist afterward, and that was really great. She gave me some tai chi lung exercises to do. My acupuncturist was actually recommended by my doctor; she is known for helping women through peri-menopause so I was already seeing her about every 6 weeks. When I asked me doctor if I should see her for my lungs she said absolutely yes. My doctor practices western medicine, by the way, but this is Santa Fe where alternative is not alternative. The cost of the acupuncturist might be a splurge, but right now especially I am ok spending money on my health. $45.
Tonight - party for F's soccer team. We are picking up a pizza to share, and so is everyone else. There is going to be a lot of pizza. $16.
So, the meal plan for the week (we will shop on Sunday):
- kimchi quesadillas (https://www.purplecarrot.com/plant-based-recipes/kimchi-quesadilla-with-charred-scallion-aioli-korean-cabbage-slaw) - I found the recipe on the website, so this is not coming in a box!
- salmon cakes (already have a tin of salmon and some leftover mashed potato, also scallions - need to pick up a red pepper)
- asian meatballs (will use the rest of the scallions, need turkey burger)
- ottolenghi red rice and quinoa (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/feb/24/foodanddrink.recipes1) - we have the red rice and the quinoa, have apricots and pistachios and rocket... just need a white onion)
- roasted veggies and potatoes - red onion, beets, courgettes, brussels sprouts or whatever is on sale!
- artichoke pasta (D won't be happy - he isn't in love with this recipe, but it's so good! Lemon zest and artichoke puree... I will maybe try to jazz it up a little to convince him that artichokes are awesome).
So using up the things in the fridge - always frugal!
Here are the facts:
- I am recovering from pneumonia
- My husband called me from work yesterday to say he has a cold!
- He is in exile in the spare bedroom. I wiped down the entire house; he is not allowed out of the bedroom except to use the bathroom which is designated as his now.
- He was supposed to be taking over most of the housework, making meals, dishes, driving F around, etc, and now he can't do that.
So... I have more to do, but I am feeling better day by day, and I can do some of it.
But I did NOT want to go to the grocery store. So I ordered online! Sprouts now has online delivery here. It was $8.98. I hope they actually bring what I ordered. My mother is covering the cost of the groceries and delivery because she wanted to do something nice for me. That is so nice!
I wrote about the meal service gifted to us by my almost-sister-in-law. We had the first meal last night. As someone mentioned - wow that is a lot of waste in the packaging! Yikes! The food was pretty good. My sister in law is vegan, so the meal service is vegan (we are not vegan, but mostly vegetarian). I subbed out the vegan yoghurt for yoghurt we had on hand. It was a lime coleslaw, pan fried hearts of palm and basmati rice. I added some of our own rice. I would make the meal again on my own, but not vegan. I don't have an issue with dairy. Tonight's dinner is a farro risotto. I can't eat farro (it's not gf), so I will sub our own rice. There is tofu "feta." I am using real feta. I don't eat tofu.
My thoughts on Purple Carrot:
- Like that it's vegetable based, but not that it's vegan.
- You have to cook the meals yourself of course; I think it might've been better to send something that we only needed to heat up, because right now it'd be great not to have to cook.
- But I am getting some new recipes. I would have never thought of hearts of palm as a main!
- I think I have too many dietary restrictions for this to make sense.
- I'm cooking anyway, so I'm not sure how this makes it easier. Just a lot more little plastic things to open.
- Would never order one of these meal services again... but it was fun to try it at no cost!
My very sweet not-sister-in-law (but we're hoping that she is my actual sister-in-law one day) wanted to send us food since I've been sick. She decided to send one of those food box services like Hello Fresh, but not Hello Fresh because she and my brother are vegan.
Well, there's a vegan Hello Fresh. It's called Purple Carrot. The meals came today. Three meals, so over the next three days we are having:
- Baja Bowls (with hearts of palm)
- Tomato Farro Risotto
- Black Bean and Polenta Casserole
The meals sound good! We eat mostly vegetarian. But we are not vegan, so I am going to sub out their Veganaise for my own mayo, their vegan butter for my own regular butter, their vegan mozzarella and cream cheese for my own.
The meals are supposed to feed 2 people, and we are three, so I am going to try to bulk things up with stuff from my own pantry (I have polenta, basmati rice, risotto rice etc.). We bought a can of hearts of palm.
I would never use a meal service like this, because seriously - $72 for three dinners? But as I mentioned, I didn't pay for this, and it was very sweet of her to send it.
If we like the meals, they give you the list of ingredients and recipes, so we could make them again. Pretty certain I could make these meals for less than $24 a meal!!! I mean, polenta, black beans, green chile, cream cheese and spinach - that is like $5!
Have any of you done meal services like this? Did you like them? Did you do it save money or for convenience or ??
So first... I have spent a ton of money on being sick. I have pneumonia (no comments please, I am getting better and I've heard it all from my friends). Bought a humidifier, loads of drugs, I'm sure the copays are going to be awful. Missed teaching my classes (so I won't get that income). It's frustrating now that I'm starting to feel better. But I AM feeling better, and that's all that matters.
Enough of that (believe me, I've had enough of it).
On to meal planning.
So one of the things about being home in bed/on sofa for over two weeks is that I've been on the internet A LOT. We don't have tv. I did watch a series (A House through Time) which I loved and a movie (Hidden Figures) which I loved. And for some reason my facebook feed is full of "Prep 5 Dinners in an Hour" which I don't love. There was a lunch version, too, which I watched because it was a cute little girl and since I've been sick F has been making her own lunch.
The Lunch One - not enough food!!! I was horrified! If I sent F with some veggies and dip, a piece of cheese and a muffin, she wouldn't make it through the day! She does do a lot of sports. But seriously!
My Lunch Planning:
- a main (deviled eggs, caprese sandwich, turkey wrap, burrito, dolmas, avocado/tomato wrap)
- a veggie (carrots/celery/cucumber/snap peas and dip, a salad)
- a fruit
- a starch (chips/salsa, popcorn, seaweed, japanese rice crackers)
- a dessert (yes, I give her a dessert - usually a small piece of chocolate)
- a snack for some other time during the day (nuts, string cheese, trail mix, hardboiled egg, dried mango or pineapple)
And the Five Dinners in an Hour - I've seen a bunch of these, and they are all based on CHICKEN and BEEF and PORK. Every night is meat-based. We are not vegetarian, but a lot of our meals are. Most of the Five Dinners had almost NO vegetables in them - ack!
My Meal Planning for six nights:
- Something with Fish (tuna melts with a salad, fish with a veg and rice, souvlaki bowl, teriyaki bowl with red peppers/bok choy, salmon cakes with red peppers)
- Something with Pasta (red sauce with zucchini, carbonara and a big salad, pad thai with lots of veggies, pasta with balsamic and spinach)
- Something with Eggs or Potatoes (crash potatoes/vegetable, frittata with spinach, Mexican eggs, baked potatoes/vegetable, aloo gobi in the crockpot)
- Something Bready/Cheesy (enchiladas with black beans, risotto with peas, quesadillas with guacamole, roasted veggies and rice, tostadas, polenta with beans or veggies)
- Something with Chicken (roasted chicken in the crockpot, baked penne, chicken queso casserole with the leftover crockpot chicken, posole in the crockpot, asian meatballs in the crockpot)
- Something from the Freezer (leftover from earlier meals!)
I know my meal plan doesn't get everything done ahead of time, but I organize my meals based on activities that evening. Some nights, it needs to be cooking away in the crockpot. Some nights the 13 minutes it takes to make pasta (I prep everything while the pasta is cooking so I can get dinner on the table in 15 mins) is ok. Some nights I can spend some time making dinner (enchiladas, pad thai, souvlaki bowls).
I am putting this out there in case it helps someone... or maybe gives you new dinner ideas. If you have an awesome (fast) dinner idea that is vegetable based esp. if it is made in the crockpot, I would love to hear it!!
We're trying to eat more veggies and less chicken/turkey (we currently eat chicken/turkey about 2-3 x each week).
So I found three new recipes to try...
1. Spicy cauliflower stirfry - asian spices, cauliflower with rice. Cauliflower is often on sale at our supermarket (Sprouts).
2. Salmon souvlaki bowls - greek inspired - we love feta! Salmon is a once every other week treat, so this isn't really a super budget recipe, but sounds yummy!
3. Brown rice bowls with roasted veggies and lemon-soy dressing. I may have to make double the dressing!
Do you have any vegetarian (or fish) recipes that you really love?
It's been a crazy winter break so far! I've had F home but have also had meetings and work to do. Have not been able to blog here, but I am here now!
So here are some financial and not-very-financial facts:
- I taught F to knit! This is keeping her brain and hands occupied!
- I went to two pre-proposal conferences for possible projects; I had to take F to one of them. There will be another right after the holidays, so three possible projects.
- Had my office Christmas lunch today. Since I am the only employee, and F is working for me during break, I took her!
- It's been unseasonably warm which is sad. No white Christmas.
- Once again I was in charge of gifts for the soccer coaches. We had contributions from the team members. Some pitched in $20 and some $25. We did $25. We had enough for $95 gift cards to our local movie theater (the one that serves food in the theater!). I made it $100 each. I am hoping two of the $20 people will add $5 each so I don't have to do $35.
- F had her annual well-check today; she is doing very well on a GF diet (digestively speaking - all problems gone!) and a side benefit is that her allergies are also better. So... no gluten. It's hard for a 12 year old. Not the food, but the attitude of other 7th graders.
- We went to F's conferences... A+ in Algebra, History and Latin. A in English and Science, PE and Acting. English teacher said it would be A+ but she can't give an A+ in English due to school policy. All of the teachers wanted to make sure she wasn't spending all her time doing homework. She has less than an hour a night, usually half an hour. She gets it done in school so she can go to her sports!
- I played basketball yesterday. Swimming tomorrow. F is keeping me busy.
- Dinner is all planned through next Friday. I bought almost everything. Just need to get fresh veggies tomorrow. I don't want to be in the stores on Saturday!
- Saturday is a mother-daughter get-together with F's three best friends hosted her closest friend who has to go be with her dad on the Navajo reservation for a week right after Christmas.
- Sunday we'll have frito pies because I can't make tamales anymore (too time-consuming!).
- I worked out my business income; I am waiting to invoice my clients on the first because the gross receipts tax is going up.
That's it for now... need to get dinner going soon!
How is your holiday season going?
I've been so busy, so haven't written much lately. This is a good thing - it means I have work. And I found out about some projects coming up from my County clients who want me to apply for them.
What I really want to write about: have food costs gone up or WHAT? Maybe it's just us. F had to go gluten free because of stomach issues, and she's a lot better now. So that does cost a little bit more. I never bough GF tortillas or bagels before (I just didn't eat them) but for her, I would buy tortillas and bagels made of gold. She also eats two high protein snacks a day because of all the sports she does!
As a result of higher food costs I am meal-planning all of our meals (and snacks!).
I made a form for the meal planning and F helps me with it. I realized the missing piece was taking inventory first. The freezer is a bit full right now.
Tonight is lemon-crumbed fish and brussels sprouts.
Last night we made muffins because F was signed up to bring snack for her Advisory Group at school. F is gluten free, and there's another girl who is sugar-free. No honey, either. No stevia. We made these muffins https://www.joyfullymad.com/healthy-no-sugar-added-blueberry-muffins/ but used GF flour and instead of blueberries, we used raspberries. I also used half the cinnamon. The kids liked the muffins, and we spent very little to bring the snack. They are kind of like breakfast muffins, and we'll definitely make them again! And everyone could eat - this was very important to F!
Need to meal plan for next week...
I bought too many groceries. We will eat it all, so I'm not worried about it, but sometimes I just buy more than my meal plan calls for. We do have to have food for lunches, etc. I also bought pasta which will last us a long time; we have pasta once a week.
Here is the meal plan:
last night - Bad Breath pasta
tonight - Pad Thai with shrimp
M - tostadas
T - lemon-crumbed fish with broccoli and potatoes
W - Music on the Hill (we will stop and each get a premade salad at Trader Joe's (that's our night out)
T - pasta carbonara with asparagus
F - food at Folk Art Market
We got two FREE tickets to each event at Folk Art Market as a thank you for my volunteer work. The opening night party is an amazing event (I've worked it before, but never attended). There's a lot of food, so we'll eat for free. We have to wait until F's basketball practice is over, then we'll bring her to her friend's house which is right near the party. Then pick her up at 9 or so. We never go out, so this is exciting.
F and I will go to the Early Bird Market the next morning. Early bird opens and 7:30 am, and we're going to try to get there when it opens; that way it will be less crowded and still cool.
I am giving her $20 and she can buy something if she wants or keep the $20 for later. I, on the other hand, don't want to buy anything at all! I am contemplating a garage sale... need to talk to my neighbor to see if she wants to join in...
Not sure why our grocery bill was so big this week! I didn't buy much last week, so that's part of it, but still.
Other anomaly this week was that we had friends over this evening... so I bought things I wouldn't normally buy like sparking lemonade, an artichoke dip, sour cream for dip, etc. How much do you usually budget for get-togethers like this? According to receipts I spent about $28 and D got beer and wine last night which was $14.
Also - I'm making chicken queso casserole this week which will feed us for a couple of days.
And it's memorial day so I wanted to bbq something - I bought chicken and veggies to do kebabs.
We buy a lot of veggies and fruit; do you follow the 5 a day plan?
I think we are more than 5 a day.
Looking at the receipt, I also had to stock up on a couple of staples: res wine vinegar ($2), almond butter for D ($7!) and vanilla (also $7 but lasts 6 months).
A lot of this will take us into next week, so that's good, and there was leftover food from the party.
The rest of the meal plan:
Sunday - pasta with peas and turkey bacon
Monday - bbq chicken/courgettes/red onion/red pepper kebabs, corn on the cob
Tuesday - bad breath pasta (spinach, olives, capers, balsamic)
Wednesday - chicken queso casserole with kale chips on the side
Thursday - tostadas with refried beans, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and roasted broccoli
Friday - graduation dinner out!
Saturday - party and we don't have to bring anything!
Our Coach: left today to stay with another family. I think this is the last coach we're hosting. I am sending the sheets through the wash twice (they smell like perfume!) and airing out the duvet. F didn't connect with this coach (she was kind of negative) and the smell-thing is just too hard for me. Even though we explained weeks before she arrived that she couldn't use perfume or scented products, she did anyway, and probably thought I wouldn't notice. I felt really ill one evening, and it's just not worth it.
Dinner Tonight: General Tso's chicken, rice, Chinese cabbage - a Chinese Fakeaway!
D's New Job: will start on June 5. In the meantime he gets to talk with HR about benefits. I've never worked for a big organization like this myself, so the idea of HR is pretty exciting to me. We will be putting aside an extra $140/month for gasoline, but I know he can carpool at least once a week.
Mortgage Principal: Got $65 for a craigslist sale yesterday and $64 from the gym today. We now owe $8722. Someone said "Oh, you should just pay it off now." That is a super weird thing to say - if we had an extra $8722 we would definitely put it toward mortgage principal!
Dog Fence: We need to fence in a small area for our dog. That is one of the things we'll do when D starts getting paychecks from the new job. But for right now it'll have to wait. Priorities. But I will submit the fence plan to our homeowner's association next week so that we can start when we're ready.
Soccer Tournament: A game at 9 and the next one at 2. What do you do for 3 hours between games? We may go to Albuquerque and get spring rolls. And then Sunday: game at 9, and maybe game at 2 (they'll need to win one of the other three games to earn a fourth game). There's no time to shop for food this weekend. Or clean. So I just vacuumed half the house and cleaned the birdcage, and put in a load of laundry. I'll clean the bathroom tonight.
Meal Plan for this Week:
- Chinese dinner
- lemon crumbed fish, rice, veg
- mexican eggs
- chicken in crockpot
- sausage pasta
- freezer with salad (basketball night)
- grilled cheese, tomato soup
Had to slightly tailor our menu plan to fit our coaches likes/dislikes. She definitely doesn't like fish or seafood, so I had to adjust the meal plan slightly.
I have to be gluten free, and none of us eats beef or pork. Since she doesn't eat fish, that leaves only vegetarian, chicken or turkey for our mains.
I tried to alternate between vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Last night we had chicken queso casserole which is one of our favorites, but not sure if the queso and green chiles are completely normal to an English girl from the north! Oh well, we'll expose her to new things.
Tonight, though, is a dinner you can find in any English house... baked potatoes with green beans or maybe a salad.
S - asian meatballs with veg of some type
M - risotto with peas and sundried tomatoes
T - turkey burger for her and fish burgers for us with fries and rocket salad
W - pasta with red sauce and courgettes
T - quesadillas with guacamole, sour cream and salsa
F - She may be having dinner with us and maybe not... I'll make general tso's chicken and asian cabbage with rice
S - just us: lemon crumbed fish, rice, veg (back to fish!)
It's been kind of a challenge to my meal planning, but I think I've managed to balance everyone's food preferences with the budget!
Another Spring, another British soccer coach coming to stay with us!
This time it's about 10 days... no reimbursement from the Club (ugh; sometimes they really frustrate me - even $25 would help with food costs). It's a girl, and we're very excited because I met her and she loves both soccer and Harry Potter (so F's twin!).
She'll be here tomorrow, so tonight we're eating a very frugal dinner of polenta and salad. Tomorrow - chili with cornbread.
I need to get the sheets on her bed and quickly clean the bathroom (which is already clean, but you know...).
Tomorrow is a soccer practice night which is why the crockpot dinner. F's team is scrimmaging the boys' team.
In other news - her coach told me last night that his wife has basically gone AWOL (alcohol). They have a two year old, who he is now taking care of by himself. His parents are in town, and he has the two older kids to help (his daughter is on the team, too). I offered to help however I can - how could I not? I think some dinners over here would help. And I can watch the kids.
OK - need to go make a salad now, and start dumping things in the crockpot for tomorrow's chili (I put the crockpot in the fridge until morning; couldn't do it all in the morning - too crazy).
I have probably told you that I have to be gluten free. This is not a choice (celiac genes, digestive issues, microscopic colitis) and I know a lot of other people have to be on a gf diet, too or choose to be so that they don't have symptoms (there are a lot of diverse symptoms).
This is my Lunch Planning (and includes my daughter's lunch plan, too). My husband is on his own, because he makes his own lunch, but I can tell you what he eats, too.
- leftovers or a turkey sandwich (or tuna sandwich on Thursdays when I make two can's worth of tuna)
- tortilla chips
Yes, that's what he eats every day. I would get so bored.
she gets veggies and dip, a piece of fruit, some chips/crisps and a cookie, and then a main, following this basic schedule:
- Monday - hot lunch (this is something pre-made from the store like Trader Joe's chicken strips or potstickers in her thermos and is in lieu of the very expensive and disgusting school hot lunches)
- Tuesday - turkey and cheese wrap (in a tortilla)
- Wednesday - bean and cheese burrito
- Thursday - tuna wrap with avocado
- Friday - mac and cheese or a quesadilla with a salad (instead of veggies and dip)
My lunch plan:
I also toss in a piece of fruit and chips/crisps, sometimes carrots, too. Her lunch coordinates with mine (so if she's having refried beans in a burrito, I have them on a corn tortilla)
- Monday - one egg (hardboiled or fried), string cheese or goat cheese with chips
- Tuesday - turkey sandwich with cheese rolled in lettuce
- Wednesday - Beans and cheese between corn tortillas
- Thursday - tuna with avocado
- Friday - Salad
This meal plan limits what I need to buy each week: one cucumber, some radishes, lettuce, tortillas (corn and flour) but only once every two weeks, some cheese, one packet of turkey, one can of refried beans, two cans of tuna, an avocado, a couple of types of chips (usually tortilla chips and one other type), a couple of types of fruit. I always have eggs on hand. Oh! and something for F's "hot lunch."
Do you have to eat gluten free? Do you use Lunch Planning like meal planning?
One of my absolute favorite tv series is Back in Time... where they send a family "back in time" to cook and eat and live like another era. The first series had them going back to the 40s and then moving forward to the 90s with each day being a year. They even transformed their house!
It's a great show to watch with kids, too - entertaining but also educational. F wondered at how I survived the 70s (which I thought was the perfect time to be a kid!)
I can't believe we missed Farther Back in Time! Need to catch up fast since the final episode expires in 12 days.
Frugality (or lack of frugality which in this case often means convenience) is a major theme, or at least an undercurrent.
Speaking of that, tonight's dinner: roast potatoes and a big salad (big salad, as opposed to our regular dinner salad, has whatever is on hand, but tonight will have grated carrot, cucumbers, cut up turkey, sunflower seeds, radishes, homemade dressing).
First - here is my stupid whine: wah, wah, everyone I know has a better car than I do! Wah, wah, all I want is heated seats. And a USB socket so I can plug my phone in and listen to the music on my car's stereo. Wah! I wish I had an SUV; not a big SUV, just a small SUV.
The reality - My car is fine. It's got a good safety rating. It runs fine. Oh - and it's paid for! When I was whining, I realized that a lot of the nice cars that I see up at school are probably leased, or still have loans on them. So I'm happy with my car again.
Here's the other thing - I don't have a lot of food budget left for this month. This is partly my fault - Sprouts was having a gf sale, so I stocked up. This was a smart move, I think, since these are products I use and they were much less expensive. They're not fancy things, just basics: tortillas, bread, pizza bases and flour.
I have to be careful about the budget, though.
Here's the meal plan for the next little while to accomplish that:
S - soup and cheddar bay biscuits
(this is a soccer practice night, and we don't get home until 8! - need something easy; I will mix up the dough for the biscuits before we leave)
M - fish with aioli and broccoli
I already have the broccoli; need to use it before it goes off. Dinner is about $9 for the three of us; one of our more expensive dinners.
T - pasta carbonara with salad
Basketball game night; easy and inexpensive dinner (turkey bacon $3, pasta, 4 eggs and some parmesan - about $6 total)
W - chili with cornbread
Soccer practice night. Will have this bubbling away in the crockpot, and make the cornbread when we get home (it's an easy recipe! Since I have turkey burger, I'll use that, but last time I made it veggie; I may bulk this out with some carrots and corn). This will create two dinners: one for the freezer.
T - crustless quiche with salad
This is a basketball practice night, but if I do the prep ahead of time, D can transfer this from fridge to oven as we're leaving the practice. I chop up olives (already had a can in the pantry), cheese (I have some herbed goat cheese on hand), sundried tomatoes (those are in the pantry, too) and lots of eggs - makes enough for dinner and lunch the next day. And vegetarian.
F - lettuce wraps
I got bamboo shoots and water chestnuts on sale the other day. Add to that shitake mushrooms and a little bit of chicken (with soy sauce and other stuff I already have on hand). We all love lettuce wraps.
S - Tostadas
One of our least expensive dinners - corn tortillas, refried beans, a little sour cream, a little salsa, a little lettuce. Vegetarian.
S - cauliflower cheese
Already have cauliflower, need an extra cheese, maybe broccoli. This is a soccer practice night, and we'll need to eat lat. I can make the cheese sauce and have this oven ready to go when we get home (oven timer!). Another vegetarian dinner. Will probably serve with toast and butter.
M - mahi mahi burgers with chips
We usually make the burgers on the bbq; hope it doesn't snow!
T - asian meatballs
This is a basketball game night, and this can all be made in the crockpot and rice cooker. We already have turkey in the freezer and some jasmine rice (I mix it with plain white rice). Also have green onions on hand.
W - french dinner
This dinner is basically cheese, crackers, olives and a small salad. We splurge on boursin cheese. Perfect for another basketball game night, and another vegetarian dinner.
T - roasted veggies and brown rice
We already have cauliflower and red onion. I can buy a few assorted veggies. I can pop the veggies into the oven with the timer and time to rice in the rice cooker, since this is also a basketball game night. Vegetarian meal.
F - posole from the freezer and peas
This will carry us through to the next shopping day...
We made this for dinner tonight:
Spicy Roasted Cauliflower Stirfry (with Rice)
The goal is less fish/chicken/turkey and more veggie meals. We eat veggie about 3-4 days a week. I want to eat one fish night, one turkey or chicken night and the rest vegetarian.
Tomorrow night is chili in the crockpot with cornbread. We put turkey in that but it could easily be vegetarian with more beans. Or Quorn.
Our other vegetarian standby recipes:
- grilled cheese with tomato soup
- frito pies
- baked potatoes and a veg
- crustless quiche with various veggies, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes
- frittata with spinach and cheese
- roasted veggies and rice
- tortilla espanola
- stirfry with carrots, snow peas, ginger, broccoli, cilantro and mint over rice
- mexican eggs
- crash potatoes and a veg
- potatoes dauphinoise and a green salad
- bean and cheese enchiladas
- soup (butternut squash or hungarian mushroom) with bread
- olives, cheese and crackers for dinner
- quesadillas with guacamole
- polenta with red sauce and a salad
- pasta with zucchini and goat cheese
- pasta with red sauce
- bad breath pasta (capers, spinach, kalamata olives, balsamic)
- noodles jefferson with courgettes
Notice there are no eggplant recipes on there. Blech. No one in my family seems to like eggplant. And I would eat artichokes for dinner every night, but D doesn't think they're worth the trouble (!!!!). And F isn't fond of mushrooms.
Do you have any other veggie recipes that you use a lot?
When we got back from our holiday, the refrigerator was empty. There were a few things in the pantry. I did a quick shopping trip to restock and get items for Wednesday through Saturday. Tomorrow is the regular shopping for the coming week.
I am going to try a new recipe that I saw on Eat Well for Less (this is one of our favorite tv shows). http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/puy-lentil-bolognese-with-pasta
We don't eat red meat (pork, lamb, beef), but we do eat chicken, turkey and fish. I am trying to cut down, though, and eat more vegetarian meals. It's partly for health and partly for savings. So that recipe replaces the turkey burger we'd use with lentils. Have you tried using lentils in place of mince?
Here is the menu plan for this week:
S - baked potatoes, salad
S - fish, rice, broccoli with lemon/garlic/mayo sauce
M - mexican eggs with salsa, sour cream, green onion
T - spagbol with lentils
W - something from the freezer (I think it's chili) with salad
T - roasted vegetables (red onion, courgettes, cauliflower) and rice
F - tuna melts with corn on the cob
S - out with friends (pizza?)
- goat cheese on chips, carrots, fruit
- turkey sandwich, fruit, tortilla chips
- avocado toast with radishes, fruit
- fried egg, veggies with dip, piece of cheese
- corkscrew hot dog with fries (at the pool!)
I don't really plan lunches, but I like to have a list of things I can make so that we don't have to think about it too much. It also helps when I'm buying groceries.
Just made this:
Best new recipe I've made in a long time, and inexpensive (half a packet of turkey bacon = $2, pasta = $1, three eggs = 60c, some parmesan = 40c).
I had tried another pasta carbonara recipe and this was a lot better.
It was good that I made this comfort food tonight. D's dad fell about a month ago in his apartment, was in hospital, and is now in a rehab facility. Social services decided he could go back to his apartment, even though D's family thought he'd be going into residential care. His dad can't walk, and often can't get out of bed. They were looking at all sorts of places near D's sister. But it seems like the residential care places are mostly full of people with dementia, and D's dad is 87 but no dementia at all! He'd be miserable there. D was super upset; it's hard being so far away (we are in the US, but D's family is in the UK). Anyway, social services is going to have someone come out three times a day to help him out of bed, help him bathe, get him back in bed. And he'll get meals. I think D is now ok with the idea.
The only thing I said is that the apartment he's in now isn't suitable. He needs to be on the first floor not second since he has mobility issues, and he needs to be in the same town as D's sister not 2 hours away.
We have a hotel room booked where he lives now and another booked where D's sister lives. So we'll see what happens...
Other news: F is on a school camping trip (the first since her anxiety last fall). She was really excited about the trip, and I am really excited for her! I hope she's having a ton of fun! She spied the graham crackers in the teacher's truck, and she and her friends were excited for s'mores, too! I spent the evening cleaning weird parts of the house that don't get cleaned as often (top of pantry shelves, etc) and spackling things and tightening hinges.
My parents come to visit on Thursday afternoon... do you do those "handyman" things before your family comes to visit?
We went out to dinner on Friday night, and it was expensive because we brought the coach who was staying with us... We have $76 left in our dining out budget, though, and I really don't feel like I need to eat out for the rest of the month.
The groceries for this week came to $97.68 which seems pretty good since prices seem to have gone up.
We are so fully stocked it's a little bit ridiculous. I need to inventory the freezer and pantry. And we have three coca colas. I never drink soda, and neither does the rest of my family, but I was warned that our coach likes coke, so I bought an 8-pack on our last Target run. I think he'll be staying with us again, so I'm going to remove it from the fridge, put it in the pantry and save it until he comes back. [Update on the coke: my husband opened one and had three sips. So I can't put that in the pantry now. Do I need to buy more coke for the coach when he returns?]
The meal plan for this week:
S - turkey burgers, fries, peas
M - king ranch casserole - this version http://www.thirtyhandmadedays.com/2014/05/southwest-chicken-bake/
T - very sweet salmon, brown rice, broccoli
W - something from the freezer, salad
T - grilled cheese and tomato soup
F - potatoes dauphinoise with salad
S - we have so much food, I'm sure we can whip something together!
We try to eat meatless at least three nights a week. But it's soccer season, and F needs protein!
Do you have any innovative ways to plan your meals to save money?
It's been a while since I posted anything... there isn't a lot to report.
We were very good about bringing food and snacks to the weekend soccer tournament so that we didn't have to buy the junk there or go out to eat somewhere gross (fast food or whatever). We brought fruit and veggies and sandwiches, etc. Only one other family did the same! Weird!
Anyway, as a treat (and because F's team won the tournament in their age bracket!!!!) we went out to dinner on Sunday night. We ended up with enough leftovers for lunch on Monday, so that was good.
Soccer was canceled last night (F was sad even though she was probably exhausted after two days of soccer). We spent a quiet evening at home, and she got a bunch of school work done. (Ongoing projects as well as her nightly homework).
We leave on Friday for Phoenix, and F misses a day of school, so she's turning a few things in early.
I have the food worked out until then:
- Lemon crumbed fish, brown rice, broccoli
- White chicken chile
- Enchiladas (black bean and cheese)
Last night was baked potatoes and asian courgettes. Yum!
I haven't posted in a really long time! I guess there just isn't much to report...
We've had the usual monthly expenses, plus a few others (ugh):
- vet bill $351 plus another $19 for thyroid meds for our dog (but she is definitely worth it!)
- book for F for school $6
- new glasses for D $341
- $61 for x-c skiing (including gear rental for D; F and I have our own gear)
- hair trim for me $30 (but that is budgeted for)
We are now negative in the entertainment category (but I can make up for that with low grocery and dining spending) and medical category (ugh, but I committed to taking some money as distributions for medical each month since I couldn't set up an HSA).
Also $171 over in the Pets category. Next month we'll put in $80 but the follow up thyroid test is $80 so there goes that money. I need to figure this out.
That's it, I guess. Some months are like that.
To make myself feel better, I'm going to post our frugal and yummy meal plan for the rest of the week:
tonight - tuna melts and salad
Thursday - tostadas
Friday - red pasta and courgettes (Art Night at school and F is in charge of one of the 5 tables!!!)
Saturday - risotto with peas and sundried tomatoes and goat cheese - D makes this! Yay!
This week's menu plan was designed to accommodate three days of late nights (soccer and basketball).
S - tuna melts and leftover brussels sprouts and peas
M - chicken piccata with broccoli and rice
T - baked potatoes and roasted carrots
W - fagiole stew and cornbread
T - salad and chicken/rice soup
F - goat cheese and spinach and beet tart
S - pasta with red sauce with a salad
Next week will be "eat out of the pantry" week since it's the 5th grocery shopping weekend of the month. There is still $166 left in groceries, but it'd be nice to take some of that and use if for something else.
This morning was a little hectic, so I ran out of the house without breakfast. It's so tempting on those days to get a muffin or something, but instead I had an emergency noodle bowl here in the office, added hot water and that was breakfast instead! I am very proud, and it's actually a good breakfast.
Now I need to stock the office with another emergency noodle bowl!
I just paid our last mortgage principal payment for 2015... it consisted of $100 gym payment and $20 Craigslist sales.
The totals for the year:
- House value about $600k
- I wanted to pay down $8k in additional principal in 2015
- Actually paid down $10,127
- Our mortgage was $64,601 at the beginning of 2015
- It's now $43,327 (so that is $21,274 of principal from our regular payments)
- If we don't pay down another dime and just make regular payments, we'll pay off the house in July 2019...
... but you know we're not going to do that!
I know that there are good arguments for putting the money into IRA's instead, but these are our reasons for paying off the mortgage:
1. We will need the money to pay for F's school
2. It has trained us to live on less (we might just have spent the money without this goal)
3. When the mortgage is paid off, whatever does not go to the school will go to savings now that we're trained not to spend our excess
And... It's snowing, and I made this chocolate cake for dessert tonight! We'll be eating it for days!
Last weekend, in addition to buying our tickets back to the UK, I also had to buy a new computer. Luckily, the old computer was fully backed up. It is very, very broken, but I decided to pay $55 to get it diagnosed; I am going to find out if the cost to repair it is less or more than what it's actually worth. Then I can make a decision.
But meanwhile, I'm typing this on my new computer. Since it's my business computer, my business paid for it. I have a business budget item for a new computer every four years or so.
And then came another large expense... definitely not planned. It looks like we're going to Phoenix in December. I will let you know why in a few days when the plans are firmed up, but it's a good thing, a sort of early Christmas present to ourselves.
We have the money for the plane tickets, and we'll need a rental car and a hotel. Ugh. But all of us are fine with using our Christmas money this way. It's my birthday this Saturday, and I have an envelope from my parents which I think has a check in it; I'll use my birthday money for this trip as well.
I'm trying to be frugal with the grocery shopping since we are spending all this money and because there are five weekends in this month. Meal plan:
Sunday - chickpea flour pizzas and roasted veggies
Monday - soup and garlic bread
Tuesday - very sweet salmon with rice and edamame salad with wasabi dressing (because I have salmon in the freezer)
Wednesday - tostadas
Thursday - big salad with turkey, cucumber, carrots, radishes
Friday - chipotle chicken stew from the freezer and a salad
This week the soccer coach will come to stay with us again. He comes on Tuesday...
Sunday - neighborhood potluck in J's giant garage - we are bringing rosemary roast potatoes
Monday - grilled cheese and tomato soup
Tuesday - lasagna with courgettes
Wednesday - chipotle chicken stew
Thursday - potatoes dauphinoise with a salad
Friday - fish with homemade aioli and broccoli and rice
Saturday - no idea!!
So I have a lot of wealthy friends (you'd think it'd rub off!) and they have been raving about Hello Fresh. It's a box that gets delivered to your house with the exact amount of ingredients for the meals you order. You then cook it yourself. Of course, it is not a frugal option for dinner. I think it's $10 per person. Our dinners average $5 for all of us.
But, I was curious about what the meals were (new ideas?), so I went to the Hello Fresh website to check it out. It turns out they have recipes online for their past meals. Since they have both regular boxes and veggie boxes, there are a lot of vegetarian recipes.
I downloaded a couple that I want to try:
- brussels sprouts crumble (with mushrooms and parmesan, served over rice)
- one pot mexican quinoa (with corn, avocado and feta)
Those aren't really expensive dinners, and they tell you exactly how much your need of everything for 2 or 4 people.
Anyway, it seems like a good source for new (and not that difficult) recipes.
D is doing student photos for F's school again this year. He doesn't charge the school, but he makes money when parents order photos. Not sure how much he'll make, but he is going to take part of it to buy a new smartphone since his is now pretty old (isn't it weird what counts as old now?). The rest will go into savings which I need to shore up since we "borrowed" a little to redo our stucco and pay for D's allergy shots.
I helped out with the school photos today, so I didn't get much work done, but that's fine - I finished my deadline on Monday and this week is pretty quiet. Just a couple of meetings and misc. work.
Because of the busy day, I didn't have time to spend any money!
And I returned a lunch container which said it was 5x5 (perfect sandwich size) but turned out to be 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 (not perfect at all!).
Lunch was a very frugal: slice of turkey, a few chips, pluot, home-made muffin.
Dinner is: Spaghetti Gambino Crime Family (not the real name). It's actually this Jamie Oliver recipe (a really nice combination of shrimp, lemon, garlic, rocket, white wine and sundried tomatoes):
The rest of the week's meal planning (including the past few days) looks like this:
S - quesadillas with guacamole
S - chicken piccata and broccoli and rice
M - posole
T - gambino crime family pasta
W - grilled cheese with salad
T - crash potatoes from freezer and roasted broccoli
F - big salad with radishes, carrots and cucumber
Now I am super hungry, so I'm going to make dinner... what are you having tonight?
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