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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 […]

Thursday Mini-Channel Share Day

Thursday Mini-Channel Share Day

I thought I would share some of my favorite up and coming YouTube channels today. I am noticing a lot of Food Bank haul unboxing videos trending in my feed and I thought I would highlight a few. Many people rely on food banks temporarily […]

2022 Garden Supply Purchases

2022 Garden Supply Purchases

For 2022 we are really expanding our garden and possibly adding in some chickens later in the year. We are garden zone 8b in the Pacific Northwest located in the Seattle area. Our weather is wet a lot of the year and we have been effected by wild fire smoke in the summer. Our last frost date is mid-May so a lot of our summer crops are either planted around Mother’s Day or I baby them with some sort of covering if I get impatient. We did purchase some new supplies as part of our expansion so I thought I would list out what it is we are using. We are not affiliates with all of the companies listed below except for Amazon. Some items were bought at Costco but if I can find a similar one on Amazon I will link it. Enjoy!

 

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.

 

Seeds:

I get most of my seeds from Territorial Seeds. They are a PNW company located in Oregon which is close enough to Washington that a lot of their varieties are bred to grow in our climate. I also have bought some of my rarer seeds from Baker Creek.

 

Click the link below to go to their sites:

 

Territorial Seed

 

Baker Creek Seeds

 

Garden Supplies:

This year I bought several large Birdies beds from Epic Gardening as well as some netting, inoculant and frames from Amazon. We bought our fertilizer from Costco I believe a couple of years ago. Epic Gardening and Territorial Seed both have natural fertilizer listed on their sites but I have not tried them so I don’t know how well they work. The best thing to do for fertilizer is to test your soil and check with your local garden store (not a big box one) to see what they recommend.

 

Epic Gardening

 

Click the picture or the name of the product below:

 

Raised Garden Beds – These ones on Amazon are similar to the ones I bought from Epic.

 

 

Hardware Cloth – We bought this to line our beds with to prevent rodents from digging up from the bottom.

 

Row Cover – This is to help fight the cabbage butterflies that decimated our brassica plants last year.

 

Cloche – These are used to cover our summer crops I planted a little early and protect them on cold nights.

 

 

A-frame plant support – We are using these in the beds for our vining plants to extend the space.

 

 

Inoculant – This helps our beans get a head start on growing.

 

 

Craft Sticks – I use these to label plants. They are biodegradable and break down after about a year or so. The kids also use them for crafting.

 

Seed Starting Tray – I needed more of these. I put the pots or cups inside so I can water from the bottom.

 

Grow Bags – I use these as an inexpensive way to add extra garden space where I can’t necessarily put beds in year round.

 

 

Pruning Sheers – I needed another pair of these. I did buy them at Costco but here are the ones I bought at Amazon.

 

 

The only thing missing from this list is soil. We do a mixture of bags of soil from Costco and if we need more than enough to fill a few pots we will either go pick up a truck load or have some delivered. The best thing to do for soil is ask around maybe in your local gardening group on Facebook and see who has the best soil in your area.

 

We are very excited to see how our garden will do this year and look forward to showing everyone our progress. This week I am getting the large beds in and ready for soil hopefully over the weekend. How is your garden coming along this year?

 

Thank you for reading and happy gardening!

Low Spend April 2022 Grocery Spending Mid-Month Check In

Low Spend April 2022 Grocery Spending Mid-Month Check In

Our spending goal for April was to keep our grocery budget under $600. We have been spending between $1000 and $1300 for the past year so cutting our budget down to $600 was quite a stretch. Part of why I wanted to cut our bill […]

5 Year Blogiversary

5 Year Blogiversary

I started my blog in late March about five years ago so I thought I would write a little bit about it for my 5 year blogiversary. I started Oscoey as something to do while I was home with my kids as sort of a […]

Gardening Update: 04.04.22

Gardening Update: 04.04.22

Hello spring! I am very excited for the garden this year. I have been out in it every day checking things out and seeing what is coming up. One of the beautiful things that has come out of our gardening over the past few years is the joy the kids and I have for finding the first signs of spring and delighting in the timing of new things popping up throughout the season. Every year we watch the asparagus bed like a hawk until the first few spears start coming up and it has become a right of passage into the end of the school year.

 

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.

 

Tulips
Tulips are coming up.

Last fall I ordered all the things and have a very ambitious planting season ahead of me. One of the main items I ordered were five new gigantic garden beds along with this hardware cloth to put in the bottom. We live next to the woods and rodents are tunneling in all of my other garden beds so for the new ones I am going to try and keep them out. I also ordered these beds from Epic Gardening (no affiliation) and although they are very expensive they are super long lasting and excellent quality. Last year I put one of the smaller ones up and I was super happy with it. This time around I bought the tall ones in the hopes that they will help keep the rabbits out. I also bought this cloth tunnel hoping to deter the cabbage butterflies this year.

Kale
Kale plants.

All of the kale and collards I planted last year did great over the winter despite being squashed by all the snow we had. We are still harvesting a little bit off of them even though they are starting to flower. I planted a bunch more of the winter greens mix I have in a few different areas throughout the garden. I did this last year and the slugs got most of them so this year I was a little bit more generous with my seeds. I will also do another sowing in a few weeks and twice more nearer to the end of summer. I got about a dozen nice plants from my efforts last year which is more than enough for our needs.

Garlic
Garlic planted last fall.

My garlic continues to do well although it is probably time to fertilize them. I did sneak some beets, fennel and parsnips in amongst the rows and I honestly can’t tell if they sprouted or not. Most of the seeds were planted last week so I will give it another week before planting more. I planted over a hundred cloves of garlic last fall and it looks like we will have a bumper crop this year. One of the reasons I had to buy more beds is there is not enough room in my current beds to plant what I have before the garlic gets harvested. I am hoping to take out some grass for next year so I will have more room.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb

My rhubarb still seems small and I am not sure why. I planted this last spring and it immediately died from something, I think maybe a dog or a rabbit or something, I can’t remember. I was surprised when it came back over the summer. I will probably fertilize this as well and make sure it gets enough water this year. Hopefully it will continue to grow and maybe next year I will be able to harvest it. We haven’t grown rhubarb before so if you have any tricks let me know.

Rosemary
Rosemary bush.

Both of my rosemary bushes are doing poorly this year and I think it is due to the large amount of snow followed by the deep freeze we had over the winter. The brown areas are still pliable and may recover but I am concerned about how they will do next year if we have another year of massive snow. We got about a foot over the course of a week this winter which is highly unusual for our area. I will try fertilizing these as well and keep them well watered. We have had a very damp winter and spring so far so I have not been watering them since our soil is very saturated this year but I will keep an eye out for when things start to dry up.

Peas
Baby Peas

Some of my baby pea plants are coming up as well. I am going to put covers on these in the hopes that the slugs will leave them alone and plant more this week. I bought some trellising for my pea, cucumber and squash plants this year and hopefully I will be able to extend my harvest with some strategic shade.

New planting area.
New planting area.

I know it doesn’t look like much but the kids and I are working on clearing out a large area down the south side of the house to put all of our large garden beds in. I am going to cover this whole area with either cardboard or landscape cloth and mulch anew to keep the weeds down. This area is weedy every year and this year I am determined to keep them to a dull roar. We will be taking down some trees as well which will allow much more light into the back yard. This will also allow for some natural succession with the native “weeds” such as the stinky bob pictured here.  New vegetables we are trying this year are sweet potatoes, horseradish, and tons of flowers. So far I have some seeds started and I direct sowed peas, spinach, corn (I know it is a long shot), and my winter greens mix.

chocolate mint
Chocolate mint peeping up through the soil.

Our gardening goals this year are pretty ambitious but I find such joy in it that I don’t mind. What do you have planned for your garden this year?

 

Helpful links:

Gardening Update 11.07.21

Indoor Seed Starting Resources

 

Epic Gardening

 

Territorial Seed

 

Products (click image):

 

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

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 […]


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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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