Category Archives: Saving Money

Use-It-Up Update–Feb. 25, 2016

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My project is moving along nicely.  Last night, I was able to finish re-filling the cleaned freezer from last week and empty another one in the process.  I found these berries from ’13 and ’14 (pretty icy and old), this mystery green soup (?) and those chicken thighs that look pretty freezer-burned.  Today, I will serve the green stuff for lunch, make berry crisp for the weekend helpers that are coming to assist us with sorting and moving loads to storage, and see if the chicken is salvageable.  I found some terriyake marinade in the fridge that I can dump on the chicken if it looks save-able and hopefully kill any off taste.

So, now, another freezer has been standing empty, thawing out, all night, and I will wipe it out and turn it back on this morning.  Then, I will start filling it up from another freezer, and so forth, until I have done them all.  I’d like to do one per weekend, until I’m done.  I should have an empty one to not turn back on at the end, but we do have pigs almost ready to butcher, so, I guess we’d better keep eating if I want that to happen.  I am pretty determined to not move or keep quite so many freezers.

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This is my garage fridge, nicely cleaned and sorted out by Patsy (with assistance) last evening.  She was in a cleaning mood.  I’m not one to argue with that, so while I worked on the freezer, I showed her how to remove everything, and wipe up the mess that was in there.  It was pretty bad, as this has been an extra fridge for us, and has been used for stuffing all of the bulk purchases, garden produce, etc.  Some jam had spilled all over the shelf, and she got it cleaned up.  There were other piles of yucky sticky stuff in other places, including under the drawers.  We both scrubbed part of it, but she sure did a lot.  I’m proud of her.  Now that my house fridge is broken, I wanted this one cleaned out to maximize it’s usefulness, since it is my main fridge now.  The one in the house is cool, so I am using it for lettuce, ketchup, etc.  Things like meat, milk, leftovers, etc. are going out in this one.  So handy, I know, trotting back and forth:)  The plan is to bring this one in, but we are so overwhelmed with the sorting/packing/storing things for the move, we just haven’t done it yet. So, between things from the back of this fridge, and some really old stuff from the freezer, we got a good-sized bucket of slop for the pigs, a freezer that will be ready to re-fill this morning, and a nicely-cleaned and organized fridge.   A little girl got a good lesson on how to clean a fridge, and that’s worth a lot to me, as well.

Food items I have used this past week include:  frozen fish, green beans, drinks I found while cleaning the garage, the items in the picture above, canned pears, canned potatoes, some bacon that was frozen and looking old (but was fine), and leftovers (quite a few).  We also got quite a bit of bread out of the freezers.  Rob served it for meals, and I threw some of the really bad stuff in the pig bucket I was filling.  When we are given bread, I put it in the freezer, but sometimes we don’t eat it all.  I’m not out anything, as it was free.  I was also ruthless with bowls of ???? that I found lurking in there. If it looked freezer-burned, I threw it into the pig bucket.  I’m sure somewhere in the past, I thought I’d want that leftover, but that time is past.  Now, I know that these freezers will be in relatives’ garages in-between houses, so I want to keep meat, produce, and frozen cheese and butter as my top priorities.  I still have a tremendous amount of meat to deal with, and want every bit of it, as we will not have the opportunity to raise our own meat again for a while, at least.

 

Saving Money–Week Ending February 21

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I had the cutest wood hauler carry wood for me on Monday!  He only charged me a few meals.  What a deal!  So frugal–he doesn’t even eat much!  He was so proud to carry such a big load.  When he was very little, he would carry one stick of kindling at a time–so had me load him up as much as I could now that he’s “big.”  After one look at my garage, with its towering stacks of boxes, which must look like skyscrapers to one so short, he informed me that the only reason he was going into that garage was to haul wood, because he always did that!  It was cute.  We only had Jake and Michaela (niece and nephew) for one night, since they didn’t have school on Monday.  Their mom and sister were visiting their oldest daughter at college, and their dad had to work.  So did I.  So, after a fun evening, I went off to work Monday morning and Rob and 4 kids had a blast.  We won’t talk about how frugal that wasn’t–they went to the movies and McDonald’s–thankfully our brother-in-law had a pretty good movie gift card to throw Rob’s way.  Apparently Rob fell asleep during the movie, and was poked awake by one of the kids and told to wake up and pay attention:)    I guess he was worn out by then.  Then they came back to the house and built Legos together until I got home and we all ate dinner.  Then, he and Ja’Ana took them home and stayed there until their daddy got home.

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Patsy’s 4H horticulture leader helped her start a spider plant in water a few weeks ago.  This past Friday, she helped her plant it into soil because it had a lot of roots.  She’s looking forward to growing it.

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I boiled up a huge bag of turkey bones that were in the freezer and made quite a bit of broth.  Some I froze and some I made into turkey-rice soup right away.  I put in more rice than I thought on accident, so it’s more like turkey and rice–not so much soup, but it is great.  I didn’t want to can this batch of broth because I was simply out of energy and time, so hopefully I will use up the broth quickly.  Lovana did use up a bunch in chicken chili verde on Thursday.

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I’m still using lots of onions from our garden.  They are one of the easiest garden items to store.  I just dry them well after pulling and washing, and then store them in a cool place.  The main bulk of them are on screens in the shop, and a small box-full is brought into the garage for immediate use.

I followed my $50/week grocery budget.  I’ve spent only $16 this week so far, and got mayonnaise for $2.50 jar (I got 2), and a few other things I needed.  Rob spent $3 on a gallon of milk.  So, the $31 will carry over until next week.

I continued to run back and forth from the garage to the kitchen, using the garage fridge for more perishable items.  The kitchen one is broken, and only keeps things cool(ish)–not cold enough for meat, etc.  I don’t want to buy another one now.

In my packing and sorting, I found a piano music book that I did not know I had that Ja’Ana is enjoying playing from.

We sold a few more items on e-bay.  My bank account is up to around $850 now for fixing up the new house.  I was able to save a bit extra and put it into that account as well,  for later–only $25—but every bit helps.  That’s the second time, so it’s an extra $50 I know I will love to have later.

 

 

Use-It-Up Project–Feb. 19

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As you can see, someone had left this freezer cracked open one day after removing some coveted corn dogs.  When I found that it was actually cracked open, and starting to thaw out, I was able to save almost all of the food because I caught the problem in time.  However, it iced up badly when it was re-freezing.

A main goal of my use-it-up project is to empty out one of my many freezers.   Clearly, this one was the one that got targeted first.  This past week, I was finally able to empty the rest of the items.  We have eaten food from all of the freezers, so I simply took the remaining items out of this one and put them into the spaces in the other freezers.  For the first time I can remember, I was able to simply open the door, turn off the freezer, put towels in the bottom to catch the water from the melting ice, and leave it overnight.  I did make a pot of broth and put it in there while hot to both cool the broth and melt more ice, but otherwise let nature take its course.   Easiest freezer cleaning EVER!  The next morning, I just wiped it out and started to transfer items over from other freezers to re-fill it.  I will work on emptying another one, cleaning it, sorting and organizing every item inside, and so on until they are all done.

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Items I used this past week:

Several loaves of frozen bread and buns that were given to us a while back, and I froze them.  I am only accepting 1-2 loaves at a time from now on until after we move so I can keep the freezers down.  There are at least 8 loaves still in there and they need to be used.

One huge-2 gallon bag of turkey bones from when we butchered last.  I made into broth.  I actually froze several containers of broth, but also used quite a bit, so space was gained.

A 10 pound bag of chicken thighs and drumsticks I got on $5 Friday a while back.  We ate chicken at least 3 times this past week.

Home-canned jars of tomatoes, green beans, fruit cocktail, peaches, applesauce, salsa,  jam and pickles, plus whatever I forgot.

Frozen blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, some shrimp that was starting to look freezer-burned but turned out great, a piece of fish (also suspect but turned out fine), frozen white beans, frozen turkey bits (I REALLY wasn’t sure about some of that–looked pretty bad, but the girls have been chowing it down in quesadillas daily-whew–and Lovana also made white bean chili from it and the frozen beans and some broth)

Many, many pantry and food items were used for 4H club last Friday.  I purposely chose recipes that would use my stockpile items.  Those included several cans of beans, broth, lentils, a whole chicken (I gave them a lesson on how to cut it up in that class, then they cooked it),  and many more.  I had to buy potatoes and a few other things. I had 9 recipes going in the 3 hours (Rob did 2 outside at one point)–it’s a bit chaotic, but super fun and a great learning experience.  We did use an entire 2-lb loaf of Tillamook cheese that day-haven’t done that for a while:)

I had to throw away a little package of sausage.  It was awful.  You could smell the freezer burn from across the room.  I’m glad it’s gone.  Overall, I’m delighted with this week’s progress.

 

 

Saving Money–Week Ending February 14

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This past week was a mixture of saving and spending–kind of like life–full of good and bad.  Here’s how it went:

The pigs continue to grow.  An appointment was made this week for the mobile slaughter man to come the first week of March and take care of them.  They are all spoken for, except 1,  and several are paid for.  We anticipate Rob’s labor will pay for our pig.  It got a little complicated when we realized a few weeks ago that one of them had not been properly castrated by the woman we bought them from.  After phone calls, and pictures being sent back and forth, she traded in the incorrectly fixed pig.  Thankfully, Rob was able to catch it with no problem and take it back.  So, it was not a complete loss as it would have been if we had been stuck with a viable boar.  They aren’t good to eat, and we have no need for a daddy pig.  The new baby is smaller, by far, then the other ones. So we are out a bunch of feed, plus the cost of transporting the pig and trading it in.   We are still not sure how we are going to handle that–but the good news is that we are still going to make enough money from the other ones to pay for our pig.  We will be lucky to break even on this one, though.

Rob picked up a temporary job and earned a bit of $.  He might have been needed one more day, but a piece of glass he had previously stepped on caused an abscess in his foot, causing us to go to the doctor for lancing and antibiotics.   She said he had to stay off of it.  The good news is that he is healing up nicely, now, and he did get paid for the one day.

We sold some dishes, cookbooks, home-school books, and a few small items from the shop on e-bay and a used book store.  We got over $150, which will bring our savings total for fixing up the new house up to around $600, once we get it all into the right account.

We did not buy a new refrigerator or popcorn maker when they broke.  I am using the fridge in the garage and a pot for now.

We had our taxes done instead of having Rob do them with Turbo-Tax as usual.  It was complicated this year because we had done some logging.   We had a fear that we would owe a lot, but that was not true in the end.  We also worried that our inexperience and lack of knowledge would cause us to make a mistake that would come back to haunt us later.  We will be getting a small refund.  I’m sure we paid taxes, but there was enough money withdrawn from Rob’s paychecks from last year to cover it.  I’m so glad we had this firm do the taxes.  They had a lot of experience in timber sales, which is why they were recommended to us  and knew how to calculate which part of the sales were actually profit, and how much timber was purchased when we bought the property (they don’t consider that profit).  We still do have expenses to pay, such as replanting baby trees, etc., so still are not spending the money until after we have paid what we need to.   Still, we had envisioned paying, and ended up not paying and even are getting a bit back—-happy day!

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We have been eating a lot of that cauliflower I froze last fall, along with many other vegetables I preserved by canning or freezing.

I shopped on Thursday at Costco for myself and 4H club, which was Friday.  I am in charge of cooking classes and there were 9 recipes to prepare for this week.  I purposely chose recipes that used my stockpile.  I didn’t have everything.    I didn’t have time for multiple stores, so got what I could at Costco and spent about 10 minutes in a Safeway getting the few remaining items.

I took the kids to McDonald’s Thursday after dance.  I figured we could afford that with the excellent news about the taxes.  Thursday was a crash and burn day for me–I could hardly drag one leg in front of the other, but needed to go with Rob to the doctor (we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to drive after they fixed him up–he actually could).  I also wanted to see what the Dr. found–had I gotten all the glass out, done something wrong, etc.  What did I have to do to take care of it at home? Since he could not see the bottom of his foot, it was all me.  Also, planning and getting ready for so many cooking classes for 4H is time-consuming, and I was exhausted because I had saved that job a little too long.  By the time I figured out that I was the one who was going to go to take the kids to dance, shop like  a maniac while they were in class, and do dinner as well, since Rob was in bed at that point with his foot up, I decided that Mrs. McDonald could make dinner.  They accidentally gave us 2 extra cheese burgers and an order of fries.  They caught the mistake and gave us the extra food for free, as they would have had to throw it away, and it was their mistake. We took them home to Rob and he didn’t even have to get out of bed to eat dinner.

It just gives me a larger appreciation for Rob.  I truly could not do well at living the life we lead without his constant help and support.  He has always wanted a large family,and promised long ago to bear his share of the load of the daily work involved with so many special needs kids. And he has.  He will do doctor visits, therapy, dentists, DHS visits, shopping, laundry, cooking, etc., etc., etc., as will I.  It takes us both. Let’s face it, we do SO much work ourselves because our kids either can’t or won’t.  Don’t get me wrong, we train them, but it often takes much longer to do a job than is normal, or it is beyond their ability.  Then you add in sometimes oppositional behavior, caused by neurological glitches, or just teen-age years, and it gets interesting sometimes.  So, we tag team the emotional part as well, and handing out the consequences, etc. He has never resented giving up the toys he thought he wanted when we were young, such as a fancy pickup, a boat, time for fishing a lot, hunting a lot, etc.  I feel like it’s Valentine’s Day all year long, because our love has grown and matured over the last 33 years to so much more than it was when we first got married.  I am blessed.

 

 

 

Saving Money–Week of February 7, 2016

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This past week, I was able to spend a great deal of time on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday sorting, cleaning out, and even packing a few boxes that will go into storage.

I took some time out from sorting to cook.  The last thing I want to have to do is start spending extra money on take-out food because I am too tired to cook, or didn’t plan well.  I had Lovana make up some pizza crust mixes for the camper.  I also made up a bag into pizza that I had made a while ago.

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I plan to make home-made gluten-free biscuit mix in the near future.  Making mixes saves me both time and money.  I also use them to stock the camper to make camping more relaxing.

We did not spend the $50 that we budgeted for groceries this week.  We used our stockpile, canning, and freezers instead.  The only thing we bought from the grocery store was matches. We’ve been building a lot of bonfires while cleaning out, as well as our daily wood stove fire, and don’t want to run out of those!  I’m noticing that Ziplocks and Parmesan cheese are getting low, so I probably will take that money to Costco and get those items with it.  I’m thinking that lettuce/produce will take some of this week’s allotment.  We eat a lot of salad.

I’m noticing that, because I’m willing to dip into the stockpile and use up “special” grocery items, we are eating like kings and queens around here.

Both Rob and I sold several things on e-bay.  He’s finding a few things in the shop that he’s listing to see what happens, and so far, a couple sold.

We are putting all scrap metal that we find while cleaning onto a trailer and Rob will take it to the scrap metal yard soon.

As I pack and sort, I am making a big pile of items to put into the camper as soon as we get it back from the shop, where it is getting some warranty work done.  It is likely that we will need to stay in the camper for a couple of weeks after this place sells, and before we close on the new place, so I’m organizing myself for that.  If, for any reason, that doesn’t happen, we still plan to camp as usual, so it needs to be done.  I try to rotate the food supply in the camper each spring so things stay fresh.  This time, I’ve also picked out a couple of extra bins of food from the garage to pack under the benches of the dinette table.  I chose items like mac and cheese, canned soups, mixes (both home-made and purchased), etc.  I don’t use those items much on a daily basis, but do use them when camping.  If we do end up staying a couple of weeks in there, I want this extra food on hand to make things go more smoothly and to save money.  After all, I already own it!  I also am able to pick and choose out the convenience items before someone eats them.  I did a post on how I stock the camper pantry on a budget on Rob’s outdoor blog.

I have sorted out boxes and boxes of books and hope to make it to the home-school used book store this week.  They won’t take them all, but will buy a bunch of it.  Then, I’ll deal with the rest.  We took a huge load of miscellaneous items to a charity thrift store.  I know they will put the money to a good cause.

 

 

February Use-It-Up Project a.k.a “Yikes, I used up my fridge!”

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Now that we are starting to sort and clean so that we can put the house on the market, I’m even more determined to use up items, especially food items. I have a very large stockpile and only want to move the freshest food.  However, I do not want to wipe out my food storage entirely, so I am seeking balance in this project.   After a successful Use-It-Up project in January, I am encouraged to work even harder at it in February.

This past week, I targeted what I call “freezer #3.”  Unfortunately, sometime in the not-so-distant past, one of the kids got something out of this freezer and didn’t get it closed correctly.  Sadly, this happens more often than I’d like around here, so I have a habit of going past those freezers and pushing on every one daily, sometimes several times a day, to make sure the doors are shut.  Thankfully, because of this habit, I caught the problem in time to save everything, but ice had formed on many items as well as the shelves.  I’m trying to empty it all the way out and defrost it, then re-fill it with stuff from another freezer, clean that one, and so on until some are empty and all are clean.

Sadly, the refrigerator in the kitchen developed some problems as well this week.  When Rob was working on correcting that problem, he put a heater inside to thaw some ice that had formed and was about to stop the fan from working.   It melted the ice all right…..and part of the fridge!!!! It now looks like something from a science fiction movie inside and some of the plastic shelves on the door are either gone, or will never be the same.  Also, I am wondering if it is sealing properly anymore.  We put several hundred dollars into the fridge last summer for the same exact problem, and he thought he’d fix it himself this time.  It still works!  Whew!  The fan isn’t stopped by ice anymore!  That’s a bonus, but I really didn’t exactly mean to use up the refrigerator when I started this project:)  So, we used up the fridge, but will make out with it until after we move and will not take it with us.  If it becomes inoperable, we will just bring the one from the garage in and make do.    It’s been trouble for us anyway, but now it’s really a troubled fridge. But it works for now.  I guess I’d better get some more items up on e-bay.  My “fix-up-the-new-house fund” needs more money in it!

I dug out some frozen lemon loaf and I served it with dinner.  I used a small amount of corn fetuccini noodles and a small amount of spaghetti noodles, also corn.  I used them both on spaghetti night.  I used a bit of frozen basil in the spaghetti and a carton of frozen peas that were 2-3 years old.  I found some salad shrimp that I thawed, but they were so old that I gave them to the cats.  I took some old glass jars of lemonade and juice and let the kids have them.  On Lovana’s cooking night, she used cabbage from last summer’s garden (kept in garage fridge since then), frozen fish, and potatoes.  Rob used carrots, also still lingering from last summer.  I also got refried beans out twice from #3.  I also moved 2 hams out of there into other freezers, opening up more room.  Now, there is a lot of room in there and I’ll be aggressive about getting more out this week.

I thawed and served a large bowl of ham and bean soup for lunch yesterday when a friend came to visit for a few hours.  She lives 2 hours from my house and I don’t get to visit with her very often and it was nice to have a prepared meal so I didn’t have to stop visiting for one minute.

I thawed some old bread and will feed it to the pigs.  The kids continue to eat frozen berries and banana in their smoothies.  I keep serving canned fruit and using canned and frozen vegetables.

Lovana made pizza one day and successfully used up some pepperoni and Canadian bacon that were about 3 years old.  (I’ll frankly say she didn’t want to use them, I actually tasted them first, could tell they were fine, and forced her to use them.  She was assuming that because they were so old, they would be yucky, but they weren’t.)  She also used up a large amount of chocolate chips when I was not paying attention, making cookies that were extremely chocolaty.  I explained for the umpteenth time (she says she doesn’t remember hearing this) that we double the dough part with the same amount of chips so the chips stretch farther.  I’ve been trying to not micro-manage her cooking choices, but at this rate, we will not have any chocolate chips left for me to manage. I’ll have to say, though, the cookies were really good to eat.  I didn’t have to worry about forcing anyone to use them up!

I’ve been loving it when I just thaw something to eat when I’m busy sorting.  We are making progress, but it’s a huge job.  We got a huge bonfire going today, and burned a lot of trash.  Rob took a huge pile to a Kiwanas Thrift shop.  I sorted out  a lot of books that I hope to sell on E-bay.  I have some set aside for a homeschool used book store as well.

I had to buy matches this week, but that was all.  I need to figure out what else I may need, and get it.Otherwise, it’s wonderful to have that $50 sittiing there for another week when I may have additional needs beyond my lowered budget.  I’m excited to see how it goes.

 

Saving Money–Week Ending January 31

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This week, I took a loaf of gluten-free bread from the freezer that was starting to get ice on it and turned it into gluten-free bread crumbs.  I thawed the loaf.  It was a little too wet from the thawed ice, at which point I decided to make it into crumbs instead of eating it.  I laid it out on the top of a cookie cooling rack and left the slices there for 2 days to dry.  Then, I broke the pieces into chunks and whirled them around in the food processor until they were crumbs.  I left mine quite large, like Panko crumbs.  They were still a little more moist than I wanted, so I cooked them at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.

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The entire loaf of crumbs easily fit into a quart-sized zip-topped bag.  I then froze the crumbs so they would last for a really long time.  I know they could be left out, but I prefer to keep mine frozen so they don’t get rancid, or have a chance of molding if they weren’t quite dry enough.

I continued my project of using up food. Since we are definitely putting the house on the market soon, I am now VERY committed to clearing some of it out.

We bought some plastic bins to start putting some of our things in.  We will fill them with non-essential items, packed well and put them in storage.  My brother-in-law has an empty semi-truck trailer he has offered to let us use for free.  There are 2 reasons for this.  1) To empty the house a bit so it looks nicer and is easier to keep clean while it is for sale. 2) Rob does not have a job, so we are not going to qualify for a loan.  So, we will have to sell this house, get the money, and THEN buy a new house.  This will leave us in the camper for a couple of weeks at least.  It will save us a lot of money if we can pack things into that trailer for free, even with buying a lot of bins so mice can’t get into our more fragile things.  Rob got a lot of boxes from the grocery store and I am packing empty canning jars in them.  Moisture and critters won’t bother glass jars.

We have made a hard decision to sell this place, but in the end, we should be able to buy a house free and clear, which will save us a lot of money.  That is the bright spot in this situation for me.  It will be much smaller, and probably won’t come with property, but we won’t know exactly what we will have to work with until we sell this one, so I’m trying not to think the worst.

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Rob got these flowers for free from Fred Meyers.  I trimmed off the “problems” that caused them to be free in the first place, and arranged them in my vase I got years ago from a glass blower.

I spent $51 at the grocery store this past week.  I was able to get 5 bricks of cheese (2 lbs), soda to take to the family dinner, salad ingredients, some milk, and some other things.  I was pleased with the amount of food I cooked from my storage.   I’m also pleased with the fact that my food is nowhere near gone.   We had guests on Friday, and ended up with 24 people at the family dinner Sunday.  (I did not bring all of the food, but did bring a bunch of it).  I love being able to entertain without worrying about a big grocery bill.

Rob went to an accountant this year, although he’s been doing the taxes himself the last few years.  This is because we sold some timber and want to make sure the taxes are handled correctly. We don’t want a costly mistake coming back to haunt us later.   The accountant told him we would probably need to hire a study done to determine the value of the timber when we bought the place.  It would be between $800-$1,000 for the study.  Then they would take the amount we sold it for, minus the amount it was worth when we bought it and the replanting fees, etc. and we would only have to pay taxes on the gain.  At the last minute, she mentioned that if he could come up with the original listing where the timber was valued for the sale, she could legally use that.  Amazingly enough, he had it in his files, and we were saved all that money!

We checked out library movies and books.  We’ve been watching t.v. shows on Amazon Prime.  I cleaned out the cereal cupboard.  It was full of crackers and cereal, some of which were just bits in bags.  People have already been eating those items up, since I put them right in front of their little fingers and eyeballs:)  We took a small walk along the Willamette river on Thursday while we were waiting for the girls.

 

My January Use-It-Up Project Update-Jan. 29

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This week, I continued my project of deliberately using up items in my freezers, pantry and basement that needed to be used.  Some items are getting old, so I am specifically targeting them, and using other food storage to the max!

We had popcorn. I buy it by the 25 pound bag.  Mine is a few months old, so is in no danger of going bad, but it’s sure nice to have that crunchy, buttery treat on occasion.  I have a large plastic food-grade bucket I keep it in, then transfer a reasonable amount into a Tupperware container to keep in the kitchen cupboard.

I dug way back into one of the freezers.  I found 2 packages of steak from last year’s beef. One was t-bone and one was another kind–rib steak, I think.  I am thawing them in the refrigerator for our family Sunday dinner at my sister’s. We may add some marinade today and then Rob will BBQ them Sunday at her house, along with a couple of packages from her freezer. I like to use all old meat before the new to prevent freezer burn, but obviously missed these 2 packages. They came to light after I removed some other items from that freezer.  From that same freezer, I found an older loaf of gluten-free bread which I will make into crumbs today.  I also found a few more packages of peaches from 2014.  I thought they were gone.  So– you guessed it–Ja’Ana made another peach crisp. She just loves peach crisp and was very excited when I found those old peaches.   Yum!  These peaches were a little browned, getting kind of old, and really needed to be used, so we just added a little extra cinnamon and it turned out great.  We ate most of it for dinner last night–so no waste!

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I made soup from some broth that didn’t seal when I canned it last week.  I also used some of the meat bits from when I made that broth.  In that soup, I also used some canned carrots, onions from my garden, home-canned tomatoes, the last of a celery stalk that was pretty wilted in the refrigerator drawer, and some potatoes that were getting pretty shriveled.  It came out great and we had it both Wednesday and Thursday nights.  There is still a little left.

We used green beans and frozen broccoli for our vegetables this week, along with the vegetable soup.  We also had salads several times.  At the beginning of January, we got a lot of lettuce.  We are just finishing it up now.  It was very reasonable at Costco and Cash and Carry, when we bought a 3-pack of head lettuce, or a 5-pack of Romaine.  I figure that we ate about 8-10 heads of assorted lettuce this month so far.  Those 2 kinds of lettuce keep a long time for me.

I was able to use up a head of cabbage from our garden that has been stored in the fridge for 4-5 months now.  I simply put the heads in plastic grocery store bags, and refrigerated them.  I have great success with using cold-storage with carrots and cabbage, and still have both.  However, they are getting to the point of needing to be used.

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The big girls cooked twice.  Tuesday was Rob’s birthday and they made Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, beans and birthday cake.  They got out the sparkling cider I had in the garage (also needing to be used) and made it into a celebration. On Thursday, we had leftover soup and Lovana made muffins and salad, and we had J’s peach crisp.

I am making progress with my project.  There are a few empty spaces on the pantry shelves and one of the freezers is starting to have quite a bit of empty space.  I promptly filled that space with some bread we were given, though!  (6-8 loaves)  I targeted that extra bread by making French toast one morning.  I made a lot and have been just having the kids warm it up each morning.  I am going to make another batch soon.  That space will empty quickly, because bread is so bulky,  and then I can see what is in the back and corners better so I can get it out of there.  The freezer that has the chickens and beef is starting to show some space.  Frozen bananas keep getting turned into smoothies (we’ve used at least a gallon in the last 2-3 weeks).

I will continue this project in February.  Now that we’ve decided to sell the house for sure, I have even more urgency to clear some of these items out so that we have an easier time moving.  I also want to be wise, though, and have plenty to use at our new place–so, as always–balance is the key.  In fact, we have pigs that will be pork in another month-6 weeks and will need room for that in one of the freezers.

I’ve decided to join in with Erika at The Make-Do Homemaker and try to keep the grocery shopping at $50/week.  I anticipate that there may be weeks when I can keep it even lower than that, as it is not uncommon for me to go a couple of weeks without shopping.  This week, for instance, we stocked up on cheese (5 -2lb bricks) because it was a good deal.  We also got some milk and a couple of other items.  The only 3 things on my list so far for the coming week are celery, Parmesan cheese and ground ginger.  I may need to add salad stuff, as we may run out.  Any extra $ will be saved for re-building the stockpile after we move.

Saving Money–Week Ending January 24, 2016

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This week, Rob brought me this beautiful bouquet.  He is the kind of guy who often brings me little surprises, but we have been on a tighter budget lately than sometimes, and I was kind of surprised when I saw such a lovely arrangement.  Later, he shared with me that there were quite a few flowers on the end of the check stand and the check-out clerk asked him if he wanted some flowers.  He answered that he wasn’t planning to buy some right then, but they were very pretty, and thanked her.  She said that they were giving them away because they thought they were getting too old to sell.  He gratefully accepted a bouquet and brought it home to me.  What a blessing!  As far as we can tell, there is one slightly droopy flower–hardly noticeable.

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Ja’Ana attended a formal dinner in this beautiful dress she and Rob found for her at Goodwill for $12.95.  It still had tags on it and fitted her perfectly.  She used a sweater shrug she had already and other accessories she borrowed or already owned.  The dress is floor length, and looks very nice on her.  She had a great time.

I kept on with my project of using up things that needed to be used.  We had scalloped potatoes, peach cobbler, and I canned beef broth from some bones that have been piling up in the freezer.

We had a work party here on Saturday.  5 men and young adults came over to help clean out the barn.  There were a lot of heavy things that needed to be moved, so they came to help Rob do it.  I worked on burning piles, but didn’t get very far.  The younger guys had a blast burning up lots of debris and worked on the slash piles for a while as well.  Then I went in to finish up the lunch I had mostly pre-made on Friday.  I made split pea potato soup, green salad, quinoa salad, chips with home-canned salsa, home-canned pears, and blueberry crisp.  We were very thankful for their help.  Feeding them lunch was the least I could do, and I was able to use items I had on hand.   If we had needed to hire people to do what they did, I shudder to think how much it would have cost.

I sorted out some home-school curriculum that I am finished with.  I put some for sale on E-bay with Rob’s help and put some in a box to take to a used homeschool book store.

We finally found Tillamook cheddar cheese for sale for $5.49 for 2 pounds.  It’s a little higher than it has been before, but still the best price I’ve seen for quite a while.  In fact, we just used our last brick from last time it was on sale.  I got 3 today and will get a few later in the week.  Milk is also on sale for 99 cents for 1/2 gallon.  We will get a few groceries this week, but don’t need very many.  I will stock up on cheese with any extra money I decide to spend.  It keeps a long, long time in the fridge.  I’m delighted to get my cheese supply back up.  I think I have mice for children sometimes–they eat a lot of cheese!

My January Use-It-Up Project–Update Jan.23

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This week , I was able to use many food items that have been lurking around for way too long.  I feel that I am making progress on my project to use things up, but it’s like cleaning–the more you do it, the more you see a need.  I will definitely continue this project in February as well.

Having such a nice stockpile has served me well this past week.  We are having a group of people over today, Saturday, to help with some barn and outside clean up.  I will be serving lunch to them.  I also am taking a bunch of food for the family Sunday dinner.  I love to cook, so have enjoyed getting these foods ready.  We have been able to stay away from fast food, as well.

Ja’Ana has been loving peach crisp lately and made another one.  We ate that one up. She has used all of the frozen peaches, that we can find, that were older than from this past summer.  She used some canned peaches to supplement, and I will now rotate the newer peaches into the house from the shop freezer. I made a blueberry crisp from some home-canned blueberries that were several years old for the work party today.  I  think I originally canned them to make blueberry sauce for pancakes, but  used frozen ones and forgot about these.  There are a few jars still down there, so I think I will try to make cornstarch-thickened sauce soon.

I made split pea-potato soup from stored split peas (not old at all) and some potatoes that need to be used.  I’ve had them a while and they are starting to sprout, etc. I put home-canned carrots in it.  There again, in a year of abundance when the garden produced a huge crop, I canned carrots and haven’t used them because I prefer fresh ones.  I also made scalloped potatoes with those potatoes.  There are only a few in the bottom of the bag now, and I’ll deal with those this morning in another batch of scalloped potatoes or some potato salad to take tomorrow.IMG_2072

I made some bar cookies with some outdated sweetened, condensed milk.  I used to buy a few cans and keep it on hand, but haven’t used a can for a few years.  The cookies are addictive, and I may make them again since I have a couple more cans on the shelf, also outdated.

I canned a lot of beef broth (7 quarts and 15 pints), using up soup bones that had been building up for the last 2-3 years.  This will make the broth handy, and I will use it more frequently in this form.

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I used up 1 home-canned jar of soup from 2011, and one cardboard carton of soup from the shelf that also needed to be used.

I cooked another Sweetmeat squash from last summer’s garden.  A couple have recently rotted, but there are still more than I think we are going to be able to eat, storing nicely in my cool, dry front room.  I froze some of the puree and used some in cooking.

Overall, I’m very pleased.  I can see a few gaps on the pantry shelf now.  I can tell that one of the freezers has a lot more space in it.  I have brought many full jars up from the basement, and taken many empty ones back down.  This week, I hope to re-organize a few areas and see what else I can find hiding in the stockpile.  I am looking forward to a day when I can completely empty one of the freezers.  I’d like to shut one off to save electricity when it’s not needed.