I first came across the idea of menu planning and grocery tracking blogging on TheFrugalGirl. It has been a helpful tool for me to organize our budget and menu!
goal budget is $125/week or $500/month – Monthly Running total currently: $365.14
No grocery picture this week! And this was a total bust of week for meal planning. Mr. Bird was traveling, little bird was sick early in the week, and now I have a cold too. We will get back on the meal planning bandwagon SOON!!
Dinner |Dinner with my parents. We got takeout from a new local/organic restaurant. Super delicious, and we all really enjoyed it!
Dinner | We had the last meeting of our marriage group and as a celebration, we did a potluck dinner.
Dinner | Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans
Dinner | leftovers
Dinner | takeout pizza (my Dad was in town helping with Little Bird)
Dinner | takeout again (I was feeling so miserable, and Mr Bird got home late from his trip, Little Bird had a slice of leftover pizza)
Dinner | planning to make breakfast for dinner **Really hoping I stick to this, because 3 nights of takeout would make me so sad.
What did you eat this week? How do you handle being sick and getting meals on the table?
- La Croix sparkling water. Every now and then I like to spice up what I drink, and every now and then Aldi brings this in as a special buy $3.99 for an 18 pack. It is SO much better than most other seltzers, although Polar is hard to beat. Whole foods and a few other grocery stores as well. My favorite flavors are grapefruit, orange and berry.
- YouTube Channel Clean & Delicious. A reader shared this with me a few days ago, and I am totally hooked! This gal has some great recipe videos, but she also has healthy dessert video and healthy meal prep videos. I never would have thought to turn to youtube for some cooking help, but I am super impressed!
- My ridiculously expensive pair of Cole Haan Tali Bow Flats. This was a TOTAL splurge a few weeks ago. But this pair of shoes is SUPER cute and super comfortable. I got them in a black,gray and beige snake skin print, and they go with everything! So, while not frugal in one sense, I think they are going to serve me well in the long haul, and wearing them makes me smile, so that is worth something too right
- Microsoft OneNote. I have been a long time user of Evernote, and have really loved that app for personal use. However, at work I got a free copy of OneNote, and have really been enjoying all of its features. I was able to easily create a digital bullet journal and have been able to keep impeccable notes and tracking for work.
- Mini Succulents I purchased a mini succulent terrarium on Etsy a little bit ago, and I am really loving look at these tiny plants. So far they are all still alive-which is a huge feat for me! The tiny cactus is just so cute.
What are you loving this week?
My friend shared this recipe with me-it is super delicious and is a make ahead and freezer friendly meal! It has all the flavors of Thanksgiving Turkey dinners. I think she originally got the recipe from Rachel Ray, and then slightly adapted it, and then I adapted it a little more!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion chopped
3 celery stalks (with leaves) chopped
2 cups chicken broth/stock
1 box of chicken or turkey flavored stuffing
1-2 lbs of ground turkey
1 egg per each pound of turkey
Salt and pepper
Heat butter and oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender about 10 minutes. Add the stuffing to the skillet and then add the chicken broth. Let the stuffing mixture cool in a bowl. ONce cool, add the turkey and egg and mix together. You can form into loaves or, press into a 9×13 pan. Bake at 400 degrees: 30 minutes for 9×13 pan and 45-1 hour for a large loaf. Serve with store-bought turkey gravy.
I love that this recipe can be cooked in 30 minutes! That is just about all the time we have on a weeknight to heat things up. We eat this with mashed potatoes and broccoli or green beans.
What are some of your favorite weeknight meals?
I first came across the idea of menu planning and grocery tracking blogging on TheFrugalGirl. It has been a helpful tool for me to organize our budget and menu!
goal budget is $125/week or $500/month – Monthly Running total currently: $254.54
Aldi : 53.50
weekly total: $69.90
Underbudget! I am totally not surprised. It was slim pickings the end of the week, and we did some serious pantry/freezer eating. We are doing pretty well in terms of budget. I have 2 shopping trips left this month. I looked at the calendar, and this is a tricky month because I counted my end of feb shopping trip towards March, making this month 5 weeks.
No grocery picture this week! One of my goals this week was to try to do some baking for breakfasts. I got my act together and made a loaf of pumpkin bread! I used this recipe
from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. She comments that the sugar is the perfect amount and the bread is not too sweet. And I have made it before following her exact recipe and it is perfectly delicious! This time, though, to try to be more healthful, I cut the sugar back to 1 cup.
Dinner |dinner over at friends house. We brought some salad. She made a turkey and stuffing meatloaf which was delicious!
Dinner | beef tacos
Dinner |turkey meat laoves and scalloped potatoes
Dinner | homemade white pizza
Dinner | take out (Mr Bird and Little Bird got slices out, and I had a solo night and did chick fil a drive through)
Dinner | breakfast for dinner (Mr Bird did the planning, shopping, and cooking!)
Dinner | planning on making salmon and rice (but we might end up with take out due to work/timing)
I am extremely pleased that we only did 1 night of takeout. It was unplanned, but definitely nice and needed! My work hours were longer than I expected this week, which made coming home to cook dinner more challenging. I had actually made the turkey meatloaves Monday night and all we had to do was reheat them. So really I wasn’t able to cook dinner any day but Monday. I am thinking this is going to need to be a normal thing going forward.
I am really hoping to get a better grip on some quick week night meals. It is a new challenge for me! I used to work only a few 12-hour shifts a week and could easily spend my days off cooking nice slow and delicious meals! Now that I am working a more traditional 9-5 job, I am struggling to find meals that can be ready in 30 minutes with minimal prep work that night. It’s hard to prep while entertaining a hungry toddler. Make-ahead casseroles are working well, but I can’t seem to be interested in eating casserole more than 1 night a week ( minus leftovers)! I need to remind myself to have patience, and takeout for a period of time while we get into a new groove is okay.
Any suggestions for recipes that reheat well?
What did you eat this week?
Progress has been slow, but steady. I am learning to have patience for myself as I adjust to working a new job and a new schedule. We haven’t done any “serious” downsizing. But we have been doing a better job of tidying up and decluttering every few days. I am pretty pleased that 2 more rooms are done.
Here is the progress so far:
Living Room – We don’t have much in our living room and it’s mostly furniture. A couch, love seat, 2 sitting chairs and 2 end tables. I did finally organize some of my board games and kept the ones we like to play a lot upstairs, and moved some older ones down to the basement. We also went through some of Little Bird’s toys. We keep a few trucks under the chairs as well as some other toys. We moved his blocks upstairs and brought his legos down. So now all his toys in the living rooms can be stored under our 2 sitting chairs.
Dining Room– This was another easy one. We have a dining room table and 6 chairs, china cabinet, small dresser, buffet and book shelf in the dining room. Even though we eat dinner every night in the dining room-it sometimes becomes thecatch-alll for paperwork and miscellaneous stuff. I went through and sorted through old paperwork, and threw away some old cards and tucked everything back in its place. I also sorted through some of our table linens and picked out some old placemats that have seen better days to donate. I am sure there is more stuff in the this room I could find to give away or donate, but I am going to call it done (for now).
Master Bedroom |
Little Bird’s Room |
Living Room |
Do you have any minimizing/organizing goals? Have you made any progress?
See my other mission to minimalize posts
Mission to Minimalize
Mission to Minimalize | update!
Mission to Minimalize | update #2
Five Frugal Things is a great practice of recognizing some of the frugal things in your life. I first came across it on the blog TheFrugalGirl, and have jumped on that bandwagon!
Here is a quick list of the 5 frugal things I’ve done in the past few weeks
- Making homemade room freshener/clothing freshener spray. You can see my post about it here. I make a batch of this every few weeks, and it is the BEST deodorizing spray ever!
- Drinking water. I splurged and bought some La Croix sparkling water this week at Aldi. It reminded me that our habit of drinking mostly water and coffee is frugal. Juice and other store bought beverages can add up!
- No paper towels or paper napkins! I posted about this last week. We do this EVERY week, but it still good to remember that it saves us money, and is better for the environment.
- Planning our finances. Mr. Bird and I have been trying to work toward planning our finances and paying off the last few thousand dollars of our car, and planning to pay off our mortgage in 5-10 years. This might not seem frugal in the moment, but syncing up on finances reminds us of our long-term goals and gives us motivation!
- Homemade bread. I enjoy baking, but often don’t have the time for it, so I frequently buy store bought baked goods. This weekend I made some homemade pumpkin bread which is going to be great for breakfasts.
What frugal things have you done this week? What do you do to keep yourself motivated to be frugal?
Sometimes after a long day, long week, etc. I LOVE to sit and relax while watching a good movie, or TV show. I am super excited because one of my favorite movies is back available on Netflix (Midnight in Paris)! I go through phases where I can find lots to watch on Netflix, and other days where I feel like I can’t find ANYthing! I normally love watching documentaries, but haven’t seemed to find any that interest me recently, so that category is seriously lacking from my list.
Here is a short list of some of the recent great movies and TV shows I’ve been watching.
Midnight In Paris (2011) rate PG-13
A Woody Allen movie, and one of my favorites! A young hollywood screen writer finds himself traveling back into the 1920’s and meeting some of the famous writers of that time. Romantic, nostalgic and quirky.
Woman In Gold (2015) rated PG-13
Based on a true story about art restitution. An elderly Jewish refugee, Maria, fights to ger her families painting back that was stolen by the Nazis before WWII. A feel good movie, with a happy ending.
Finding Dory (2016) rated PG
The sequel to Finding Nemo. An excellent family film, and in my opinion even better than Finding Nemo.
The Great Brittish Bakeoff
I am totally addicted to this show! I have watched most of the seasons live when they come to PBS, but I could watch it over and over again. It is a friendly Brittish cooking competition show, where amateur bakers have various challenges.
Have you watched any good shows or movies on Netflix recently?
goal budget is $125/week or $500/month – Monthly Running total currently: $184.64
Aldi : $63.52
weekly total: $63.52
This was a SUPER quick picture snapped on the conveyer belt at Aldi. Here is what I bought, half and half, 3 half gallons of organic whole milk, 2 packages of goldfish, 4 bagged caesar salads, grapes, egg noodles, 2 packages of ground turkey, 1 package of organic chicken breasts, 1 package of frozen mixed vegetables, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 2 packages of butter, grass fed ground beef, and taco shells I am sure I got a few other things, but I can’t remember them!
Dinner |linguini, tomato sauce and chicken
Dinner | tacos
Dinner | chicken noodle casserole *this was a new recipe, and I am not sure I loved it. I think I would make it again, and leave the mixed veggies out and serve a vegetable on the side. The creamy chicken and noodles were delicious! I just don’t always care for veggies mixed in with
Dinner |Rotisserie chicken, rice, salad and bread (provided by my in-laws!)
Dinner |take out pizza from a local coal fired pizza place (in-laws for the win again here!)
Dinner |Chinese delivery (I had planned on leftovers, but then had a hankering for some chinese food)
Dinner | ?? Maybe takeout, or something easy at home.
So this was a totally crazy week! Mr. Bird was out of town traveling for work monday-friday. His parents came in to help for 3 nights. With my new job and still adjusting to my schedule, this was not my finest meal planning week. But hey, I made an effort and packed a lunch every day. So that’s somewhat of a win!
What did you eat this week? Have you tried any new recipes?
How do you cope with a busy week and meal planning?
This is actually one of the few recipes I have found on pinterest that I love, and consider a success. I have had more than my fair share of pinterest fails.
This recipe is an easy family favorite. It is super quick to assemble, and freezes unbaked. We typically serve with a salad or green beans. This is going to start making the rounds in our weekly rotation again soon with my busy schedule.
I might experiment a bit and see if I can fully bake this casserole the night before and just quickly reheat it for dinner. Mr. Bird and I have been getting home from work around 5:15/5:30, which means we have about 30 minutes to pull dinner together before we all get crazy hangry (hungry-angry). The turkey meatloaves and mashed potatoes I made last week were perfect for this, and I am hoping to find a few more options with the same convenience.
- Box of instant stuffing (I use chicken)
- Can of cream of chicken soup
- 1.5 lbs chicken breasts/tenderloins
- 1/4 cup milk
- 6 Tbsp butter, melted
- 6 slices pepper jack cheese
- Grease a 9×13 baking dish
- Place chicken in a single layer in the dish
- Layer pepperjack cheese on top of the chicken
- Mix milk and soup and then spread on top of cheese
- Top the cheese with the whole bux of stuffing
- Drizzle melted butter on top of stuffing (you can freeze at this step if you want)
- Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.
Do you have any great freezer-friendly casserole recipes?
Since Mr. Bird and I first got married we have hardly ever kept paper towels or paper napkins in our home. One of the biggest reasons we first started doing this was cost. We didn’t have a ton of money, and I didn’t want to be spending money on something we were always throwing away! We were lucky enough to have a moderate supply of cloth dish towels and cloth napkins. We had received some as gifts for our wedding but also were given some hand me downs. My aunt one year cleared out all her “holiday” dish towels that she didn’t want to store to use just one time a year. We happily used these all year long to avoid buying paper towels.
I think the key to being able to successfully eliminate paper towels and paper napkins is to have enough cloth. I only have to wash our kitchen laundry once a week. I keep a milk crate easily accessible in the kitchen as a “hamper”. I find that the cloth towels and washcloths do a better job than paper, and are much nicer for wiping and cleaning up Little Bird.
Here is a picture of my “stash”. The OCD/minimalist part of me wishes everything was the same color, size and what not. But the frugal part of me LOVES that most of collection was gifted to us or free hand me downs. I store our cloth napkins in a bowl on our dining room table for easy access. I store my cloth towels and dishcloths in a bin in our kitchen storage unit.
Here is what a basic stash consists of:
24 microfiber cloths – $15 on amazon
5 flour sack towels – $8 at wal-mart
about 24 dish towels – 12 for $24 at amazon
12 wash/dish cloths -24 for $12 at amazon
24 cloth napkins – 12 for $13 at amazon24 cloth napkins – 12 for $13 at amazon
Total for the cloth kitchen stash = $109.
Ok, so while this might seem like a lot! You can slowly build your stash over time, and I bet you might even have many of these things at home to begin with. These cloth items will last you at LEAST 5 years, and you will see savings in the first year. One of the biggest things I had to get over was “saving” something for a special occasion. I now have enough cloth napkins that I do have some that I save for when we have company over (our everyday ones have seen better days). I am often gifted patterned/seasonal dish towels. For some reason I wanted to save them and keep them “looking nice”. Once I got over the fact that they are meant to be used, and that might mean they get stained–things have been going smoothly.
Cost to use paper towels
2 rolls or paper towels per week (average $1.50 per roll) = $3/week or$156 per year
For 5 years that is $780!
(you can head on over to a post growinggreenfamily wrote a few years back with more details of costs savings)
The laundry is definitely something to consider. I love doing laundry, and it fits easily into my schedule to do an extra load a week of our kitchen laundry. I am able to use my soapnut laundry soap without any issues. In fact, I have actually found that my kitchen laundry is coming out CLEANER with the soapnuts than with traditional laundry soap.
A bonus to doing kitchen laundry is that folding towels is nice and easy for toddlers, and is a great way for them to learn to help out!
Moderation is the name of the game when it comes to saving money and maintaining sanity. What are some ways that you save money that don’t feel like an extra burden?
**this post contains some affiliate links, I may recieve some compensaiton should you purchase from the link**