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Tag: budgeting

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 3

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 3

For Meal Planning this week I pulled a bunch of forgotten items out of the pantry once again. We have a lot in there and honestly I could probably do this clean out for another month or two with only some grocery shopping for fresh […]

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 2

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 2

Meal planning this week was mostly about eating leftovers and using fresh produce that needed to be eaten. We did our last major grocery run on 1/02/22 so after a couple of weeks some of our produce was looking like it would go bad. I […]

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

 

Meal Planning: A New Start

Meal Planning: A New Start

This past year I realized we have fallen down a hole of eating not so healthy foods more often then we should. We totally fell off the bandwagon of both eating well and keeping our grocery costs down. The pandemic has really split our routine […]

Covid – 10 Months and Counting

Covid – 10 Months and Counting

We are about 10 months into dealing with Covid and things don’t seem to be letting up any time soon. I was looking back over pictures from the year today and I was struck by how sudden everything was last Feb/March when everything shut down. […]

Three Year Blogiversary and Reflections on the Past Year

Three Year Blogiversary and Reflections on the Past Year

Oscoey’s three year anniversary passed in March and as much as I wanted to write a post about it we were dealing with Covid-19 and still adjusting to working from home, teaching our kids and being home together all the time. Oscoey was something I started when I was home with the kids as a way to stay home and maybe make some income off of it. To date I have made exactly zero dollars off of the blog but that is ok. Writing the blog and joining the personal finance community on Twitter has been a fabulous learning experience. I have met so many people and grown from where I was at with blogging when I first started. There were so many mistakes (paid advertising with minimal blog posts out much?). So, so many. Below is my first blog post and looking back it seems as though in an effort to maybe bolster how many posts I had I posted three posts my first day! Wow. Looking back I probably should have split those up a bit but hey, we all have to start somewhere.

 

Welcome!

 

My posting has been somewhat sporadic and since I am now a working parent time is very limited so that probably won’t change much. Working from home has given me back the 3-4 hours I was commuting but my workload has significantly increased which makes for longer work days. I am now regularly 9-10 hour days which includes some fabulous overtime. I have also been happily turning the extra time and money into outside/gardening time with the kids as often as I can and our garden is looking great!  I would love to do the blog full time without working a traditional job but unfortunately that is not possible at the moment. I have run our numbers many many times and in order for us to feel “safe” with only one of us working (Mr. Oscoey isn’t ready to leave the workforce any time soon) we need to continue to both work and save as much of our income as we can. My kids are happy at their school and my job is pretty good with excellent benefits so that makes things much easier.

 

New garden pots have brightened things up a bit in the front yard.

 

2019 was a really rough year for our family and we strayed quite a bit from our Financial Independence path by taking on some debt and keeping a blurry and somewhat blind eye on our budget. Honestly though, our family needed that break from the grind and most of our extra spending was in the travel department which I 100% do not regret. We were not able to take a vacation for many years due partially to a strict budget but mostly the difficulty of doing anything with a high needs child so once we discovered said child could actually travel a little bit with some accommodations we went a little wild. We made so many memories last year. Our kids love travel now and are pretty bummed that everything closed down this spring. Our last trip was in December when we went to our beloved Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C.. We saw the lights, we went ice skating and we walked around the harbor checking out the sites. We were scheduled to go back this weekend but it looks like the earliest we will be going will be next winter so we will miss out on all of the flowers.

 

Butchart Garden lights in the winter.

 

One thing 2019 taught me is that we need to set aside a larger portion of our budget for travel expenses and another is that it is perfectly fine to drop the ball sometimes. Last year I dropped the ball with our budget but this year I have come back with more determination to bulk up our savings, increase our investments, pay down some debt and set aside larger amounts for travel. So far we have been pretty successful in this department. We have significantly increased our savings, paid down a large chunk of our debt and I am maintaining our investment amounts through the end of the year. I am hoping that by this time next year we will be at our increased Emergency Fund goal, have paid down the two debt items I am focusing on and will be ready to shuffle that extra money into our investment accounts. Part of our savings currently is set aside for travel but maybe, if things are looking better with Covid infection rates in our area we will cashflow a smaller trip at the end of the summer and/or a trip to Victoria in December. For now we are trying to be content with travel consisting of rotating from the front to the back yard and exploring our neighborhood during our daily walks.

 

Hiking in the woods near our house.

 

Hawaii has been repeatedly requested over the past couple of years as a travel destination but the thought of flying that far with a child with a narrow comfort window and the inability to express themselves fully filled me with a sense of doom. We were however able to successfully fly to San Francisco and made one of our trips to Canada successfully without massive sickness at the border so I have some hope. I am tentatively planning on going to Hawaii in early 2021 but it depends on where we are at with a cure/vaccine for the Corona virus. Ideally we would go to San Francisco again first since it is a smaller flight just to get the kids used to flying a little bit more but I am not sure if that will happen.  I would also like to travel somewhere new next year but I am not sure where that would be.

 

Spiral Beach

 

The last three years (and counting) of blogging have been great and even though I don’t have a regular post schedule I am going to keep up with it. Writing is a good outlet for me and I love to talk about personal finance, our vacations and what is going on in our garden. I have ideas for a few more posts so you might see me around more in the near future, especially since working from home allows me more free time. I would love to regularly update the “Fabric Crafts” section of my blog but I have not been super motivated to stitch and my sewing machine is currently on loan to the oldest. In the mean time please enjoy some of my top posts.

 

Dried banana chips are one of my son’s favorite foods. I have some in the dehydrator as I am writing this! This recipe is super simple and you can make as many or as little as you want.

 

Dried Banana Chips

 

My grandma’s fruit salad recipe is by far my most popular post, even with not so great photos. My grandma passed away last year and every time I check my post stats seeing this recipe up there reminds me of her.

 

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

 

For some reason this post always pops up in my top posts for the week even though it is pretty old and outdated. We did pay off my student loans that year and increase both our savings and investments which is great.

 

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

How “Sleeping in” Until 5:30 Costs us $300 a Month

How “Sleeping in” Until 5:30 Costs us $300 a Month

I really love the idea of small changes over time adding up to huge improvements later on in life. When we first started our journey towards better financial health way back during the 2008 financial crisis we made many small changes that reduced our spending, raised […]

Our Not-So-Frugal San Francisco Trip February 2019

Our Not-So-Frugal San Francisco Trip February 2019

Mr. Oscoey and I have always loved San Francisco. We went there once many years ago by ourselves for a whirlwind 18 hour trip and had always wanted to go back but never found the time or money. Last fall (while I was laid off […]

A Declaration of More Family Travel

A Declaration of More Family Travel

Travelling has always been something that we have wanted to do as a family but we have never actually done much of. Before we had the youngest we took 2-4 small trips a year spread between Oregon, the Washington Coast and Vancouver, BC for a weekend or so with a relatively tight budget. Our cheapest trip was probably the first one we took with our oldest and our two dachshunds (Oscoey’s namesakes) to Cannon Beach where we stayed for two nights for under $300.00. Our budget was very tight for so long that when we finally started having a little bit extra real travel was so far out of our minds we just continued to take the same trips until we had to take a break.

 

Oregon Coast
One of our last short coastal trip when our 5yo was just under a year.

Our younger kids also really enjoy a pretty set routine and traveling threw them way off so we decided to take a break until they were old enough to communicate better with us. It is much easier to find out what is bothering a three year old versus a one year old and waiting cut down on traveling with crying children which is not very fun.

 

Oregon Coast with Zoey.

We love the Oregon Coast and Portland. They are some of our favorite places to go and it is pretty easy to find pet friendly accommodations. We have not taken George yet but Zoey loves the beach and is like a puppy again running around in the sand. If you go slightly north or south of Cannon Beach and book kind of last minute you can usually find a decent Airbnb with a kitchen for a reasonable price. We are super frugal and cook our own meals when we are on these short weekend trips and that drastically cuts down on the cost. We basically spend in food for our trip exactly what we would have spent at home for groceries plus maybe $20 extra for special treats such as chips, a small amount of candy and maybe ice cream one night as a treat. You don’t have to spend a lot on food to make a trip special. Just buy something you wouldn’t normally buy and that makes it special in your kid’s eye. Hint: Pringles are never present in our house but I always buy a can before a beach trip and the kids love it!

 

Golden Gate Bridge

Our first big trip as a family (sadly without our oldest) was to San Francisco in February. We had been talking about going for a long time and then when we heard that Paine Field was opening up and that tickets were ridiculously cheap we decided to take the plunge. I was super nervous since it was the kids’ first plane ride but we ended up having an awesome time! Look for a future post on our not so frugal trip to San Francisco! The most important part about San Francisco was that it proved that we could finally start broadening our reach when it comes to travel. Our kids did great and although we were all exhausted the last day we came back with so many memories and it expanded our kids’ world so much I would do it again in a heartbeat. The shared experience of the trip was a huge bonding moment for our family and brought us out of the winter funk that we were in with the endless cycle of school, work and weekends filled with housework and birthday parties. None of those things are done alone as a whole family and spending several days alone together was priceless.

 

McNary National Wildlife Refuge.

This spring we took a short trip to Eastern Washington which is something we have wanted to do for several years but it never “worked out”. This year with my new determination to actually take some of the trips we have been talking about I decided we were just going to do it and see if it worked. The drive was about five hours for us which is the longest our kids have ever been in a car and I fully admit my expectations for the amount of crying we would endure were pretty dismal. Luckily our kids did pretty well. Our son was a little bit cranky for the last bit on the way home but otherwise he was able to sit still (with breaks) for the whole trip with minimal fussing which was a huge relief!

 

Columbia River

One of our stops was the Petrified Forest on the Columbia River. I was really excited to go hiking and explore but the weather ended up being really yucky and cold which we were not prepared for so we ended up walking around the visitor center for a little bit and then heading home. Our kids were tired from swimming that morning and not impressed with rocks that used to be trees but driving out there again would make an excellent day trip so we plan on going back at some point. We haven’t done a lot of exploring around our state with the younger two kids but several trips are definitely on our radar.

 

tulip fields
Tulip Fields in the spring.

We also made it out to the tulip fields this spring. We hadn’t been in a couple of years and I put it on our calendar so that we would remember. Usually we go to Roozengaarde but this year we ventured to Tulip Town since the owners are retiring and it may be the last year. Going to the tulip fields this year inspired me to start thinking about Holland as a travel option. We are a few years away from International travel (besides Canada) and I know it will take a while to plan so I am starting to gather ideas.

 

Overall our Declaration of More Travel has gone well. We are headed to Victoria, B.C. this summer and most likely will do our traditional beach trip at the end of the summer. I am already looking ahead towards Thanksgiving and Christmas break.  At some point this summer I want to sit down as a family and make a list of where we want to go in the next year. Bringing the kids in as part of the process makes it fun for them and I might even start talking about how to create a travel budget as part of our goal to have financially literate children and because our 5yo really, really wants to go to Hawaii and that is going to be a very expensive trip for sure!

 

I wish we hadn’t hesitated so much about taking our kids places but in reality the timing has worked out perfectly and I am really glad we are now becoming a family that travels, even if it is mostly free local day trips. Building memories doesn’t have to be expensive!

 

How are you getting your family out more and exploring your world?

 

A not so Brief Hiatus…Part 2

A not so Brief Hiatus…Part 2

A few months back I wrote my first post after going back to work (A not so Brief Hiatus) about the gap in blogging while I went back to work. I didn’t blog for eight months last time which was almost the entire length of […]