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June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

Our June grocery goal was to eat through our fridge and freezer as much as possible and for the most part we reached this goal. I am super proud of our progress! Up until the last week of June we kept our spending under $300 […]

Our Favorite Board Books

Our Favorite Board Books

To compliment our summer reading lists for first and third graders I made the below list of our favorite board books for younger kids. We still read many of these books to our kids even though they are way past the board book phase!   […]

Summer Reads for Rising 3rd Graders

Summer Reads for Rising 3rd Graders

Summer is upon us and since I get a lot of asks on what my kids are reading I thought I would put together a summer reading list for rising third graders to compliment the one I created for rising first graders. This is a list of books for kids that are able to read chapter books on their own but need a bit more of a challenge than what the first chapter books offer. This list is by no means exhaustive so please, leave a comment with books that your rising third graders love to read as well!

 

This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

 

Choose Your Own Adventure: These classic books each take you on a different adventure. There are multiple choice pages where you choose which direction the story will take next. My kids like to try all of the different paths to see which ones work and which ones don’t for multiple readings per book.

 

 

 

Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue: I came across this series when looking for cat books for my 8yo to read and she loves them. They are about a girl whose mom is a super hero. My daughter loves the adventure and I love that they are low key and well written with an emphasis on family.

 

 

Unicorn Academy: My 8yo loves these books. She is a huge fan of unicorns and I found these better written than some of the other mass market series that are out there. The books go through adventures with girls learning how to care for their unicorns which are all unique with different needs.

 

The Secret Garden: This unabridged classic is a favorite in our house. My kids loved to listen to the descriptions of the places that Mary went and the mystery of the garden kept them enthralled.

 

Please note: There is some colorful language at the start of the book but I spent quite a bit of time talking about it when we first read it to make sure they understood it wasn’t ok to use the words in the book. We do this for a lot of books and I am a firm believer that talking about inappropriate language or content and how times were different when the books were written and how we have changed is much better in the long run than not exposing children to those discussions at all. We also talk in the same way about modern issues as a way to keep the dialog open.

 

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912These graphic novel series are a favorite in our house. They tell about history in a way that kids like and the pictures are not too graphic. Our favorite is the one on the Titanic since that seems to be a fascination in our house.

 

 

A Biography Series for New Readers: We also love these biography books and have read several. They are great because if your kid is into something, like Hamilton the musical or is covering a subject in school like the elections you can find a book in the series to supplement what they are interested in.

 

Magic Puppy Series: My daughter the animal lover really likes these books. They are about a magic wolf puppy that has to live with humans to survive. The are similar to other mass market paperback books but if your kid loves puppies, these are the books for you!

 

 

Of course, there are many other books out there that will fit the bill but this list is what my kids are into right now.

 

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

With summer starting I thought I would make a list of some of our favorite book series to read over the summer. I just graduated my third kindergartener and a lot of the other moms in my youngest’s class have been asking me for book […]

May 2022 Final Grocery Spending

We are working on our grocery spending for 2022 and our goal for May was to do a low spend month. Unfortunately we ended up a little bit swamped during the middle of the month and we both spent too much money and I did […]

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

Our 2022 spending goals have already gone a little bit sideways with me leaving the workforce in March. I left my job for both health and family reasons and it has thrown our budget into a hurricane of uncertainty. For now our goal is to spend as little as possible across the board so I can continue to not work through at least the end of the year. I read over our 2022 Spending Goals and for the most part we have been sticking to them except for me bumping up my 401k. June is a good time for us to review and revise our goals and this year is no exception.

Below are our goals for the year with a new recap:

  1. Max out IRAs – Mine is done. My husband still needs to max his out but we may have to wait until we get his bonus next year.
  2. Increase our 401k contributions – We increased my husband’s by 1% in March and hope to keep it there until the end of the year. I no longer have a 401k since I am not working.
  3. Save, save save. We reinstated our automatic savings, upped our investment amounts and increased our kids’ college savings amounts. Now that I am not working we may have to reduce our regular savings BUT we do have a nice chunk in our cash emergency fund already so it should be ok.
  4. Decrease our grocery spendingWe have been working on this all year. We did both a pantry and freezer clean out, tried a no spend month and meal planning. This is still a work in progress but we are doing another freezer clean out for June and are making progress.
  5. Be more mindful of our spending – We continue to work on our mindful spending. I have been resisting the urge to buy clothes for the kids and trying to do laundry more often but they are growing so fast it is hard to keep up. We are also not shopping as often which greatly reduces the temptation to pick things up randomly.
Free Lunches.
Free Lunches.

We are also taking advantage of the last couple of months of free universal lunches and breakfasts. I linked our latest video below and here.  This program ends in June but I firmly believe that all kids should be receiving lunch at schools for free without the stigma that is attached to it when only low income kids receive it. Getting lunches from the school has helped our budget out tremendously and as I discovered this week, they are giving tons of extra food to help families out over the summer when the program is no longer available. I am really hoping another bill passes so that all kids can have free meals again. Grocery prices have increased significantly over the past year and a lot of families that do not qualify for assistance are struggling.

 

Our budget resets every July since we pay tuition for the kids only 10 months out of the year. We usually don’t get a tuition statement with the exact amount of the payments until mid-June. I put an estimate of the amount when we get the tuition amounts in February and look at our spending for the rest of the year. This year since I am not working we do qualify for a little bit of financial aid but we are still going to have a very tight budget. We knew this though when we decided that I would leave my job and have cut our spending on vacations and activities with the kids (not their regular sports yet). We also did not sign up for summer camp every week of the summer which saved us nearly $5,000. Summer camp is super expensive and this year the prices definitely went up.

Camping at Whidbey.
Camping at Whidbey.

Instead of taking a bunch of expensive trips we are going to be doing day trips and camping out at my dad’s house on Whidbey. Camping out there is nearly free and I absolutely love that the kids are growing up helping my dad build his cabin and develop a place for family to hang out for years to come. We are putting them to work helping with clearing the land and planting some crops for my dad to harvest later. My oldest is also starting her cabin building out there this summer so the kids will help with that as well.

Beach
Beach view.

Some of our day trip ideas so far include hiking, the beach and visiting local parks. Mr. Oscoey has a bunch of PTO to use up so he is going to take some time off as well this summer so we can do some trips as a family during the week when everything is less crowded. I may break down and find a couple of days down in Oregon later this summer but it will depend on how we do for our spending in June and July. For now we are planning on staying local and as frugal as possible.

 

How are you cutting back your spending this year?

 

2022 Goals

 

Garden Update 04.30.22

Free School Lunches

Free School Lunches

The past couple of months I have been trying to raise awareness that the funding for free lunch and breakfast for all kids in the United States was not renewed in March and the program will end in June of 2022. This program has helped […]

May 2022 Spending Check In

May 2022 Spending Check In

Our goal for May of 2022 was to spend as little money as possible on groceries for the month. We are using our local free lunches and breakfasts for the community as well as eating through our pantry items and just supplementing with items from […]

April 2022 Spending Wrap Up

April 2022 Spending Wrap Up

April 2022 was an interesting month for our grocery spending. We started out the month strong staying within our $600 budget but then life happened and we ended up going over it by quite a bit. We ended up spending close to what we normally spend every month but we did have some extenuating circumstances such as switching too healthier eating, Easter and our son changing up his preferred foods mid way through the month.

* This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. *

Groceries

Groceries

Our first haul was pretty simple and full of necessities. We were out of basics like cheese and peanut butter. I also picked up a ham for Easter and vitamins we were out of. The jam and English muffins were purely for my husband and daughter. We still have three of the English muffin packages in the freezer but the jam is mostly gone. My husband loves strawberry jam! We ended up putting this ham in the freezer too since I found a couple of others for a cheaper price. Mother’s day is this weekend and we are celebrating on Saturday. I am not sure what we are having for lunch but it will be small since it will most likely only be my mom coming over.

Grocery Haul

Our second haul was a little bit larger. I went to Winco for the first time in a long time and found some fabulous deals on vegetables and some pantry basics. I also stopped at business Costco and found a better deal on a ham and chocolate milk. We don’t go to business Costco very often and I won’t be back for a while. I may start shopping at Winco for produce though since we got some awesome deals. Costco produce has gone way up in price over the last six months and sometimes we don’t eat it all since there are such large containers. I never buy grapes at Costco for example since we never eat them all. I have found that Target surprisingly has the best grapes in a container the size we will actually eat so I will pick them up if I am in there for something else.

Washable Reusable Grocery Bags (these have held up super well!)

We completed our third grocery haul in the middle of April. For this trip we went to Costco and Fred Meyer mostly for some Easter items. I found a fabulous deal on another ham, let the kids pick out some fruit and bought some items for the seniors we support through our Buy Nothing group. Although this was a smaller haul we still ended up spending quite a bit of money.

golden beet

Golden Beets

On April 20th I ended up going to Safeway for some healthier groceries and to fill in some holes with items for the kids. They also had a great deal on chocolate milk and beef. We got a gallon of chocolate milk but did not end up getting ground beef from them. We bought some chuck from Fred Meyer instead and ground it ourselves. With the frequent recalls on ground beef we feel much more comfortable buying meat and grinding it ourselves. We have done this for years and I only recently was buying ground beef from the store. This haul probably wasn’t all the way necessary and I think this is where our grocery spending got a little bit out of hand. I am proud that we ate much healthier for the next week or two but I might have been able to make do with what we had for some of it. We are almost done with the chocolate milk. Like I have said before we don’t drink a lot of milk and one of my kids will only drink chocolate sometimes. We take the approach of fed is best with our kids and if the only way we can get calcium in them is with chocolate milk so be it. I just reduce their sugar intake in other ways and it evens out.

Grocery Haul

We did another big Costco haul on 04.29.22 which also included some smaller trips to Grocery Outlet and Whole Foods. Costco was mostly to stock up on some items we were low on like eggs, chicken and produce. We also went to Grocery Outlet searching for fig bars and were not successful but did find some great deals on crackers and I was talked into Kool Aid by my son. I bought some produce at Whole Foods when I stopped their for gluten-free baked goods for the teachers during teacher appreciation week. Some of these items were definitely over the top and this Costco trip was shockingly expensive at over $400. We did buy dog food, TP and a new dog bed which was not included in our grocery total but for what we bought we really didn’t get a lot of food. Prices have gone up considerably and we have had to switch to non-organic produce for some of the items we are buying to reduce our costs. Sugar in particular was way more expensive than I remember. It was a good thing I bought both because we were almost out when I checked at home.

Grocery Haul

Grocery Haul

We snuck one last grocery haul under the wire on 04.30.22 when we stopped at Fred Meyer to once again look for fig bars for our son. We found fabulous deals on macaroni and cheese and Luna bars and some replacement rosemary plants for the ones that were damaged during our snowy winter. I also bought goldfish since Costco was out and sunflower seeds since I have been having a hard time finding these and I was getting low. I have been needing to go to multiple stores for snack items like fig bars and crackers since supply chains seem to be more inconsistent.

Cabbage and Peppers.

Cabbage and Peppers.

Our total ended up being over $1100 just for food items. I did not get everything we bought on camera but I was able to add them all to our total which ended up being close to what we have been spending the past six months or so. We have been consistently up from the $800 or so we were spending every month last spring and in 2020. Groceries have massively gone up in price and it is definitely affecting our budget.

Roasted vegetables.

Roasted vegetables.

I chronicled our spending on our YouTube channel and watching our grocery hauls over the course of the month was pretty eye opening for me. Our goal for May is to do as close to a no spend month as possible but we do have Mother’s Day and a family birthday to contend with. We are also trying to go camping over Memorial Day weekend and possibly have people over so I am not sure if we can do a true no spend month but if we can cut our spending down to the 600 goal for April I will be happy with it.

How has your grocery spending changed over the past year?

 

LINKS:

YouTube Videos:

04.01.22 Grocery Haul

04.04.22 Grocery Haul

04.14.22 Grocery Haul

04.20.22 Grocery Haul

04.29.22 Grocery Haul

04.30.22 Grocery Haul

 

* This site participates in affiliate links and receives a small fee for affiliate recommendations at no cost to you. As always we only recommend products we have tried ourselves. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. *

Luna Bars

 

Reusable Bags –  These have really lasted!

 

Gluten-Free Fig Bars – My favorite!

 

Garden Update 04.30.22

Garden Update 04.30.22

Welcome to the end of April when our garden starts to take off. We have been celebrating the emergence of our asparagus and planted many flowers and I am super excited for the summer when all of our plants start taking off. I am still […]


Newest Post

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 1

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 1

Whew. Another week of meal planning under our belt. We used up a lot of things this week from our pantry, fridge and freezer. We still have so many leftovers that we won’t really need to cook for the next few days but we are having sausage burgers tonight as a break. I did not have a chance to clean out another shelf from the pantry this weekend but it is ok. I ended up going to the grocery store last Sunday to do a major stockup since we were almost out of some basics and I wanted to avoid the store for the next few weeks. Omicron is weighing heavily on our minds this month and we are limiting our exposure as much as possible. That means no seeing friends, no going to the store and we are debating sending kids to school this week. Our school has done a fabulous job at preventing the spread of Covid at the school but there is always that worry in the back of your mind that maybe this time it will spread. Most of the school was tested last week and a lot of the kids were negative. Those that were positive are staying home this week so I am hoping that will keep things contained.

 

What I wanted to eat through this week.

Last weekend I went through the pantry and pulled some items I wanted to eat through this week. Below is a list of what we had:

  1. Snack items: Croutons, S’mores Goldfish, lentil crackers (3 servings), chocolate graham crackers, veggie Straws (maybe a couple of cups) and Peanuts – honey roasted and regular
  2. Meal type items: Banza Mac and Cheese (3 packets left), 2 cans corn, 1 can carrots, oatmeal
  3. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  4. Junk: M & M ‘s and a single giant marshmallow
  5. Fridge/freezer items: 1 Bagel, fancy chocolate, spinach bites (2 servings), veggie broth, chicken breast, ham, milk, chocolate milk and egg nog.
Items left from last week.

I wanted to take tons of pictures and videos this week of how we were using up our items but honestly I only got pictures of most of the meals. Above is what we have left from what I wanted to eat through this week and it is kind of misleading because we did eat quite a bit but there are still small amounts left in these containers. I may put them all into smaller containers today and then show what is left next weekend but my kids immediately lose interest if I move them to smaller containers and they have been snacking out of the bags all week.

 

What’s left:

  1. Snack items: Croutons, lentil crackers (1 serving), veggie straws (maybe a cup) and Peanuts – regular
  2. Meal type items: Banza Mac and Cheese (2 packets left), oatmeal (not gf)
  3. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  4. Junk: All eaten of course!
  5. Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate, spinach bites (1 serving), ham (1/2 gone)

Overall I would say we did pretty well. We should eat through the spinach bites, lentil crackers, veggie straws, peanuts and more of the dried fruit this week. The croutons were a hard sell and I can’t eat them as well as the freeze dried strawberries and raspberries. Most of us are not fans of the Banza mac and cheese so I may just donate it since it doesn’t expire until March of this year. My Buy Nothing group supports a local senior center and the Banza may end up in the donation bag this month. We have other mac and cheese that the rest of us like so I am not worried about running out any time soon.

Soup ingredients.

One of my favorite ways to use things up is to make veggie soup. I made a batch last weekend and we ate about half of it throughout the week and froze the rest. The broth I used is some I made in the fall with garden scraps. When I was blanching my greens to freeze I put all of the ribs from the kale, beets and chard into a pot with some onion and carrots and made a bunch of broth to freeze. This batch had a lot of beets in it so it was super sweet. I have been pairing it with a can of tomatoes to pare down the sweetness and this batch of soup was delicious! I will probably pull out some of the soup in the freezer for meals not this week but next week. I like to eat my freezer meals within a couple of months of freezing so we are constantly rotating and to reduce the possibility of finding it in the freezer years later.

Veggie soup
Veggie soup for lunch.

We ate the soup for dinner and a few lunches with crackers and a little bit of sour cream. I only used one can of the corn in the soup but it was still a little bit sweet from the beets.

corn and peas
Steamed corn and peas for lunch.

Using up our other can of corn for lunch. We are without a microwave and my son does not like corn so I put his peas in a ramekin to steam along with the corn and it worked really well! Don’t do this unless your ramekin is oven safe though. Plastic would not be a good choice.

Mac and cheese chicken corn and peaches
Using up the Banza, corn and chicken for lunch.

Our kids were home last week so a lot of what we ate for lunch was cooked and not their usual sandwiches for lunch. We ate the Banza mac and cheese for lunch with the corn and I added some of the cooked chicken breast as well. The adults in our house usually don’t eat a lot of meat so this week was a bit much for me with all of the ham and the chicken breast. I had to cut way back on my meat consumption as the week went on. I wanted to point out that I cooked one standard chicken breast and it lasted for several meals for just me. Nobody else wanted to eat it. We don’t eat a lot of chicken breast at our house so my kids weren’t really into it and my husband is more vegetarian than me so he left it for me to eat. I will say however that it was really nice to have a little bit of protein readily available to throw on my meals when I needed it. I may cook one a week more regularly since I struggle to get my protein in.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal for breakfast.

Another meal we ate a lot of was oatmeal. I discovered I could cook a large pot and reheat the rest when I needed to on the stove in just a few minutes. This was super handy since I was missing my microwaved bowl in the mornings. I bought a 25lb bag of gluten-free oats from Bob’s Red Mill a couple of months ago and we have been working through it. I really want to make one of the oatmeal bakes we love but it takes a dozen eggs and I am not sure that the ones we bought at Costco last weekend will last the month if I use that many all at once. For reference, we go through one to two dozen a week since eggs are a huge source of protein for us. It is slightly silly of me though, because there is nothing stopping us from getting another five dozen from Costco when we are close to running out but I want to avoid the store as long as possible.

ham, mashed potatoes and green beans
Ham, mashed potatoes and green beans.

One meal that lasted for several days was the ham we baked on New Year’s Eve. We ate about half of it last week and will try to finish the rest this week. I did put the bone in the freezer to make broth at some point in time but I am not ready yet and I want to eat through some of what we have before I make more. We ate it with mashed potatoes and green beans or some other vegetable. It was delicious!

Feta and tomato pasta
Feta and tomato pasta.

One meal we ate this week that has become a staple in our house is feta and tomato pasta. You basically put a bunch of tomatoes, garlic, some feta and olive oil in the oven and then stir it in with cooked pasta. It is super easy to make gluten-free and most of us love to eat it! The pasta lasts a couple of days in the fridge so it is perfect for lunches.

feta pasta
Feta and tomato pasta.

We pared our pasta with green beans and some steamed Kielbasa. Our selective eater will not eat pasta so they were given the Kielbasa, rice and seaweed so they could eat their “sushi” along with us. I always snag a little bit of seaweed when the kids eat it since it is so healthy and a great source of Iodine.

broccoli cheese bake
Broccoli cheese bake.

Wow. We ate a lot of pasta last week now that I am looking back. This week I will try to make more roasted vegetables and see what else I can come up with since one of our kids doesn’t like pasta. This broccoli cheese bake my husband made was delicious! We ate it for dinner last night and I already have it on the meal planner for tomorrow night. We are skipping a night with it tonight to avoid burnout. I am a huge fan of casseroles and I am loving that we are eating them more often.

Pantry cleanout items
Pantry cleanout items for this week.

I gathered some of the items we want to use up this week. Yesterday instead of going through another pantry shelf I went through under our bathroom sink and oh man did I throw a lot out. We had tons of stuff that expired two years ago and opened items we weren’t using up that were just old. I don’t think I have really gone through that cabinet in at least three years. I did find this dish soap that I bought for bubbles when my youngest was about two that is still good. I filled our soap dispenser by the sink with it and we will use it up as we go. I also discovered one of the pears we bought last week went bad so I am going to try and make fruit leather this afternoon. I make it with pears and whatever berries I have in the fridge and my kids love it. It is super easy to make too!

Items to use up this week:

  1. Fresh produce: pears, butternut squash, blackberries, broccoli, rainbow carrots
  2. Snack items: Croutons, lentil crackers (1 serving), veggie straws (maybe a cup) and Peanuts – regular, One bars, fruit cups
  3. Meal type items: oatmeal (not gf), pancake mix
  4. Dried Fruit: freeze dried Raspberries and strawberries, apple chips, dried cranberries
  5. Junk: Crumb cake mix, Halloween candy…ug
  6. Fridge/freezer items: Baked Alaska (freezer), fancy chocolate, spinach bites, ham, cheesy broccoli bake, tomato sauce
Meal planning
This week’s meal plan.

We started to write out this week’s meal plan as a family at dinner last night. I will probably add more in on Tuesday when I know where we are at with leftovers. The kids don’t like to commit to lunches and breakfast until usually the night before so I usually fill those in as we go. Since the adults are all working from home we usually try to eat leftovers for lunch or something fast like soup. Muffins have been requested and if I have time today I will make some of those as well. A batch usually lasts a day or two and I know you can make a bunch and freeze them but I just don’t know if gluten-free flour will hold up in the freezer as well as regular. I am almost out of my one to one Bob’s Red Mill flour and I probably only have enough for one batch of muffins right now. I did order more and hopefully it will come in the next week or two but who knows with all of the road closures around us. We do have ingredients to make our own gluten-free flour mixture so I am not super worried about running out but I like to have the pre-mixed kind on hand since it is easy.

 

How are you reducing your food waste? Does meal planning work for you?

 

Links:

Bob’s Red Mill

Feta Tomato Bake

 


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