Thursday, January 14, 2010

Weekly Fritatta

So one of the weekly items I will be making to save money is some sort of egg dish. I love fritattas and could eat them every week. I feel like I have to jazz them up a bit to pursuade my husband to feel the same way. Tonight I will make a fritatta with frozen spinach ($1), eggs from Aldi ($1.09), and swiss cheese from my local grocery store (Big Y brand $2). I also use a little milk, salt, and pepper. We used up our salad last night (in the old days I would just go out and buy more) so we'll have whole wheat toast on the side.

My husband loved the black bean patties last night. I liked the flavor and the yogurt sauce was yummy. However, I thought the patties were on the dry side. I guess that's just what happens with a dish like this. I would make it again though. My son didn't partake in the meal.

So this brings me a dilema that many parents face. If your child doesn't like what's being served...what to do? I will not cook two meals. I just can't and I don't want a child who only eats chicken nuggets. I always wondered how children get to this point and now I know...if you only give them chicken nuggets...that's what they'll eat. So my son ate a few bites of his bean pattie and some frozen peas and that was it for him. It is hard to listen to the protests but he got over it and ate a wonderful breakfast this morning.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Black Bean Patties...YUM!

Tonight for dinner I am making Black Bean and rice patties from the new issue of Everyday Food. Although the chickpea curry from this issue was a flop, most of the recipes I make from this magazine are great.

I bought two cans of black beans at Aldi for $1 a piece. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of brown rice. I made too much brown rice a few weeks ago and froze it in small portions. I never new you could freeze cooked rice but I have defrosted two bags so far and they taste perfect. I'm going to do this from now on because I like the brown rice that takes 40 minutes to cook and frankly I don't have the time for that on a daily basis. I also purchased green onions from the produce store. They were 79 cents a bunch. So you basically blend 1 can of beans in the food processor with cumin and 3 green onions. Then you mix the rice and other can of beans in and form into patties. I made them ahead and will bake them in the oven at dinner time. You also serve with a cilantro yogurt sauce. I used Oikos greek yogurt and grated in some lime zest, squeezed in some lime juice and added leftover cilantro from earlier in the week! Hopefully it will be yummy! Stay tuned for a review!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I love Pasta!

Hello's the day going? I have to first comment on the chickpea curry that I made for dinner last night. My house, hair, and clothing smells like curry. Even my car for some reason which doesn't make sense. The chickpeas didn't taste like curry. They just weren't very good. It was a cost effective dinner but I won't make it again. I was thinking that I would look for a better recipe but I just think I'll stick to Indian food out. I just don't like the smell in my house.

So on the list today is plain old pasta and sauce. I buy the whole wheat pasta from Aldi for $1.04 per box and their sauce for $1. I actually love their sauce. It's on the sweeter side which I like. I also bought salad for $2.99 and will only use half and save the rest for tomorrow night. I bought cremini mushrooms on a whim since they were on sale for $1.50. I'll add those to my sauce tonight and use them in a frittata later in the week.

I'm trying to make a pasta dish once a week and an egg dish once a week to save money. I try to be creative by adding different veggies each week. I may take a week off now and then to prevent boredom but it's working for us!

I would ultimately like to keep our food bill around $50/week. Sometimes when I buy coffee in bulk it's higher. I also don't count things for the home in my food bill like paper towels and TP. I buy all of that in bulk at BJ's. I also buy all my baby items there like diapers and wipes.

I wanted this blog to be about everything I spend money on and ALL the ways I try to save money but the more I write, the more I realize that most of my time is spend with meal planning and how to cut our grocery bill. I think from now on I'll just focus on that!

Happy Saving!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Computer Glitch I start this blog we have the most expensive week ever. The hinge of our computer is broken and we were told our waranty covers the cost of fixing it. Turns out that isn't true and we may have to pay over $300 to fix it. We are probably just going to let it ride and then buy a new computer. I have learned my lesson that buying the extended waranty doen't do anything for you. It only covers the things that never break.

So onto the fun stuff! I planned a great menu for the week and shopped accordingly.
Monday: Chickpea curry with brown rice and Naan
This recipe is from Everyday Food. I have brown rice in the freezer and purchased the Naan as a treat to go with our meal. I also had to purchase the chickpeas, curry powder, and cilantro. The other ingredients I had on hand. (garlic, onion, cinamon, & cloves) I also added some zuchini because I had it. I made this ahead of time since I work on Monday night. Hopefully it will heat well and please the family.
Here is the cost breakdown: chickpeas on sale 99 cents per can (I bought organic because they were the best buy in the store), curry powder $3.49 for a small container (have to use again soon), bunch of cilantro 50 cents at the produce store I go to. Two large pieces of Naan, $2.99. I thought this Naan was pricey but hopefully it will be good so I don't feel like I wasted my money. All the other ingredients I already had in my fridge/pantry.

Stay tuned for a review of this meal....coming this other meat free dinners!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Enjoying life!

This past year I have really struggled with saving money and still enjoying our life. I want to be responsible and take care of our family. However, I want to have fun and enjoy our life. I don't like to stay home all the time and I like to have nice things. The problem is that I used to live life differently. I used to buy what I wanted and dress very nicely. My daily jeans and T-shirts are fine but sometimes I just want to break down and buy some shoes, get a mani/pedi and a really expensive coffee. God forbid I do this all in the same day!
I think that finding this balance is key! I try to cook really good food for our family. I really love to cook and eat good food. If we could afford it, I'd shop at Whole Foods every day. I used to make a weekly shopping list based on recipes I picked out of magazines and cookbooks. This was obviously very pricey. Our weekly grocery bill for two was over $100. I was also finding that we threw away a lot of food. I started clipping coupons and following sales but then I found that sometimes we weren't eating as healthy as I'd like. I did save money though. I got our shopping bill down to around $75 a week. (And now there were three of us!)
The next thing I did was start using a local grocery store that sells produce. I find that some of their items need to be eaten right away or they go bad. I have learned how to shop there and I now know what to buy and what's not so great. I also learned to use store brands. This was also a problem since they just don't taste as good sometimes. I don't mind for some things but again...I like to cook and I like good food! Stale taco shells don't make me happy!
I then found Aldi. I don't work for them or anything....I just love it there. They have a good thing going and I leave with a cart full of grocereis for $50. And their items taste good!
So now I think I'm on to something...I buy veggies and fruit at the produce store and everything else at Aldi. The only problem is that I don't buy meat there.
I tried a week of vegetarian eating and it was okay but I just like some chicken sometimes. I also have a hard time feeding a 1 and 1/2 year old just veggies and beans all the time.
My local grocery store has meat sales often so I stock up and freeze things when they go on sale.
I do have some higher priced items that I can't live without...but it's all about balance right? I must buy Trader Joe's Almond Butter and High Fiber Cereal. I eat this every day. I consider it a good investment. It keeps me full until lunch and I don't have to buy morning snacks.
I have a new plan for the new year. I'm going to go vegetarian three days a week. The night I work will be Pasta night...easy for the hubby. Another will be some sort of egg dish with veggies. And the third I will try something new!

So to recap:

1. Buy fruits and veggies at discount
2. Aldi for everything else
3. Trader Joe's for my two expensive staples
4. 3 non-meat meals a week
5. Buy meat on sale and freeze

I'll keep you posted on this new plan! Anyone want to join me?


That's right...a dog costs money. Not every day...but when they need costs money. Our poor Libby threw up her expensive food today, so off we went to the vet. Some prodding and 2 shots later we are out $120. So I'm starting to think I can't make this money up over the weekend. I did, however, cook eggs for dinner. And we are not going out to diner this weekend! That's a start right? We also have to buy some birthday gifts this weekend and I want to do a grocery shopping. The positive about not leaving the house today is that I didn't really spend money.
I feel like every time I leave the house I spend money on something. I don't go shopping for things I don't need, I just feel like I always have a list of stuff we need. Right now on that list is a filter for the vaporizor and a basket for bath toys. I'm starting to put off buying things on the list and see if I really need them. I think we may be able to do without the basket for bath long as he doesnt' get any new ones. I think I may need that filter because my poor coughing little boy can't use the vaporizor without it!
Do you every put off purchases to see if you really need them? It actually works. That's one of those easy things that people always recommend doing to save money.
Stay tuned....hopefully I'll start to get some pictures on here at some point!

More money????

We spent more money yesterday after my post...ugh! Our dog, Libby, has been getting sick. We started researching her food and found out that it is being investigated. It's been making a lot of dogs sick and even killing some of them. So my husband went out to the pet store and now our dog is eating very safe/expensive dog food.
This leads me to the discussion that I have with my husband often. In an attempt to save money we use less expensive items. In the long run, however, it ends up costing us more because we have 1/2 a 40lb. bag of dog food that we can't use now. If we had let it go we may have also had an expensive vet bill. So I have learned that Libby's sensitive stomach will only save us money if we treat it sensitively. So now I must find another way to make up that extra money spent. My idea is to not go out to dinner on Saturday. And we always go out to dinner on Saturday. I think I can tempt my husband to stay in with homemade nachos. I have the leftovers for this meal but he probably won't see it as leftovers since it's a treat that we normally wouldn't have for dinner. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Daily Tally

I was feeling pretty good today...thinking that I didn't spend any money. I then remembered that I had to get gas. I only put $15 in the tank because the gas station I went to was on the expensive side. I'll fill up over the weekend at a less pricey place.

I then had to take my son to the doctor $15....and then to the pharmacy for antibiotic for a sinus infection...$10.

I also successfully used items from the freezer for dinner. I fixed BBQ chicken with brussel sprouts and sweet potato. The chicken was in the freezer and the BBQ sauce was leftover in the fridge. I had brussel sprouts and one large sweet potato. I roasted those with oil, salt, and pepper. It was very tasty and I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Stay tuned as our family makes our way through the fridge...I think for tomorrow night it'll be a fritatta! YUM!

How much does that oil cost?

About two moths ago we (my husband, son, dog, cat, and I) moved into a new home. We were so excited to have more space and get out of our condo! We also entered the world of oil heating. Everyone said that we would love it. Being the frugal homemaker that I am we have had the heat set to 60 degrees since we moved in. It gets cold in Connecticut so we have been slightly chilly since winter set in. My son is sleeping in double PJ's with a blanket now and we wear extra sweatshirts around the house. All the frugal heating has also made us a joke in the family. My father-in-law won't take his jacket off when he comes over. Everyone thinks we're cheap and we're just so afraid of an expensive heating bill.
So for month #1 we recieved our first oil delivery. They only had to fill 1/4 of the tank and it was $! That's a lot...what are we going to do when it gets really cold. So we then set forth on month number two dreading that next bill. We kept the heat at 60 degrees and endured another month of cold family members making fun of us...oh well!
Today I returned home and was looking out the side window of the house and noticed that there were tire marks in the snowy grass....uh oh! I ran to the mailbox to get the bill and was hoping that all those chilly nights under the blanket were paying off...$455. To heat the house? And we weren't really heating it to it's fullest potential...we have to pay that and we've been cold?
So here is my new mission....stay cold and try to save money another way to pay for these heating bills...
My new mission is to totally live out the contents of our fridge and freezer before going to the store. I've tried this before but not "really". If we can make it through the weekend and not go to the store or out to eat, we can save at least $50-$100. That will help pay that bill and I will feel a little "warmer" inside!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

So many things!

Welcome to my blog! I want to tell you a little bit about myself first and what has prompted me to start this blog in the first place! I am a mother, teacher, and stay-at-home mom. I took the leap 17 months ago when my son was born and decided to leave my teaching job to stay home with him. I was determined to make it work financially. I started with a little accordian file to keep all my reciepts and coupons in. I tracked all of our spending on little pieces of scrap paper for the past year. I struggled a lot along the way. Not just with saving money, but with making decisions for our family that may not always be the most cost efficient. (i.e. going on a family vacation to San Francisco or buying that $4 latte becuase I just thought I really needed it)

I then got to thinking that I needed to be a little more organized about this. I learned a lot using my little pieces of scrap paper, but I wanted to do more. I also thought it would be great to share my ideas and all the information I've learned with the world! So here you go "world"! This blog will contain my daily spending information as well as little tips on cooking, cleaning, and spending in the real world! I may also throw in some motherly advice and gripes here and there along with my struggles to find part-time teaching work! So this blog is a little of this and a little of that! In other life! Enjoy!