A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: cooking

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 […]

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 […]

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 so low is because we are very stocked up on a lot of things and need to eat through what we have. We are also focused on building up our savings this year and one of the ways I want to accomplish that is to cut back on our food spending. We definitely have gotten caught up in a not so frugal spending trend with being home during the pandemic. Groceries have also risen significantly in prices and one of the ways our household will combat this is to cut back on our premade foods and use meal planning to streamline our food purchases to reduce our waste.

 

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.

Grocery Haul

So far at the half way point of the month we have $202.73 left in our budget which is getting pretty close. Part of the reason we are getting so close is because I did spend some money on food that will end up being donated to a local retirement living community. We also stocked up on some great deals when I went to grocery outlet and on Costco sale items. Easter is also a month when we entertain so we did have some expenses there as well but honestly we entertain most months of the year and Easter is not a heavy food budget holiday for us. I did however go a little bit overboard and buy three different hams. Whoops! Actually I bought the first one, found the second one for half the price and then found the third one for even less than half of the second one’s price. We put one in the freezer and will cook another on Easter. I am debating whether or not to freeze or return the most expensive one since it was ridiculously expensive but that may be the one we end up cooking on Easter so I am not sure. One of the hams we bought was pretty small so we won’t be using it for when we entertain.

Easter candy.
Easter candy.

We also spent some money on Easter candy this month which we wouldn’t have otherwise spent. Prices were for sure higher on candy and I didn’t even look at any of the cake decorating items since I was sure those would be super expensive as well. I did not spend nearly as much on Easter candy as I have in year’s past but there may have been some bribing to get children to come to the store with me with the promise of buying one item of candy. I am not ashamed to pull my bribery tool out of my toolbox under certain circumstances. We don’t eat a lot of candy in our house (we still have Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s candy in the bowl) but we do like to have some variety on hand and if I am being completely honest, Easter candy is my favorite so we always buy some to last a couple of months.

Cabbage and Peppers
Cabbage and peppers.

One of the skills I am working on this month is using up what was in the fridge. We are trying to eat more cabbage since it is fairly inexpensive and lasts a long time. I have been cooking up batches of it with other vegetables and both my husband and I will eat it over the next couple of days. My daughter it turns out does not like bell peppers but she will eat cabbage if it is cooked the way she likes it. I bought a lot of bell peppers this month as well but both my husband and I love them so I am sure we won’t have too many issues eating through them.

Quesadilla and cabbage.
Quesadilla and cabbage.

Another way we have been eating up leftovers is with loaded quesadillas. I tried an avocado salsa that someone recommended and I love it. We also still have quite a bit of sour cream leftover from March that we are working through which pairs really nicely with the avocado salsa. These have been a great quick lunch to have during the week and I love the variety of eating up different leftovers in them every day.

Fruity Pebble cupcakes.
Fruity Pebble cupcakes.

We did have some room in our budget for cooking projects with the kids. My daughter and I made these gluten-free Fruity Pebble cupcakes which ended up being delicious! I froze about half of the unfrosted cupcakes and we will bring them out in a week or two and decorate them with something else. The recipe made 20 cupcakes which was way more than we could eat in a couple of days. Gluten-free baked goods have to be eaten right away or they will go bad so any time we make cookies or cupcakes we always try to freeze some immediately and eat them within a month or two. Right now I have three kinds of cookies in my freezer, these cupcakes and cake from a birthday party earlier in the year. It is great for those days when you don’t have time to bake but the kids need a special treat.

Groceries
Groceries

We have been documenting our spending on our YouTube channel and the latest post can be found here. I am already thinking ahead to next month where I want to do a freezer/fridge cleanout challenge. We do have a birthday and Mother’s day to think about though so I am not sure if we can pull it off.

 

How is your grocery spending going this month?

 

Click on the picture below to find the Fruity Pebble cupcake ingredients on Amazon:

 

Links:

 

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

 

Gardening Update: 04.04.22

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 […]

March 2022 Spending

March 2022 Spending

For 2022 we are focusing on our grocery spending and trying to find ways to reduce it despite all of the price increases. In January we completed a pantry cleanout challenge and in February I focused on eating through the odds and ends in our freezer. Unfortunately we had some family issues come up in February that we are still dealing with at the end of March and I was not able to post our February spending. I may go back and post it later when I have time but at this point it might be too late. I did not worry about our grocery spending for the second half of February and the first part of March since I was swamped with taking care of my family member so our low spend goal went a little bit sideways.

 

January 2022 Spending

 

Looking back at my January spending post we aimed to keep our groceries at about $800 a month which was reducing our spending down from about $1000 a month. We do not include items such as cleaning supplies, paper products, dog food and coffee in our total since I track these separately. We do not eat out ever and we have quite a few dietary restrictions which can be expensive. I started tracking our coffee separately at the beginning of the year since I was drinking so much of it and wanted a good baseline for it. I only track the beans we buy and when we go out for coffee, not the cream or milk that we put in it since we use those for other things as well. Recently I have reduced my consumption so it will be interesting to see at the end of the year how that plays out.

One expense besides groceries that has been increased lately is for our larger dogs. Luna (bottom) had some skin issues and required a couple of visits to the vet. We also needed to hire a trainer and buy tons of toys to keep their brains stimulated in different ways. For some reason I totally forgot some of the tricks we used for George (top) to keep him occupied during the teenage puppy months so it was super helpful to get some ideas for Luna. They plus our dachshund are now eating through about 40 pounds of dog food every 2.5 to 3 weeks which is insane to me. We switched them to one of the Kirkland brand foods and they seem to be doing ok on it which is great since it cut our dog food bill significantly. Even though we are experienced dog owners we have never owned a herding dog before and Luna has proved to be a challenge in ways our other dogs were not so we felt hiring a trainer to get through the next few months before she turns a year would be helpful and after one visit we are already seeing improvement.

Gardening
Gardening is one of our go to free but fun activities.

For March my goal was to be at $625 for the whole month since we had inherited some food from a family member and we had stocked up in both January and February. What we actually ended up spending was….

 

Whoa. We really blew past our budget and then some. I looked back at what we bought and we ended up stocking up on some items that were on super sale that we eat a lot at Costco (gluten free supreme pizza I am talking to you), shelf-stable items our picky eater loves and that frequently go out of stock such as fruit leather, and pantry basics that I realized we were low on like oil, beans, spaghetti sauce and bread. Yup. We ate up most of the bread I bought in January and we had to do another bread run at the Franz Outlet. I also went through our emergency supplies and realized we had no canned vegetables or fruit so I bought enough for about a week. We are heading into spring and our garden will be in full swing in about a month or two so I am not as worried about having cans of veggies and fruit on hand. We have a ton of frozen blueberries, strawberries, peaches, broccoli, potatoes, peas and green beans in our freezer and my kids will not really eat canned food so I am hopeful that if we do have some sort of emergency without power we will be ok with just the few freeze dried cans I bought. If all else fails they can just have the dried fruit we have on hand and skip some of the veggies for a bit. I would much rather go without veggies for a week or two than have to use up a month or two’s supply of canned veggies every year but that’s just me.

Cabbage
Cabbage and kale from the garden with eggs for a cheap and healthy breakfast.

At the moment our freezers are full and our pantry shelves have only a few spots where I suspect we will need to stock up either this month or the next so I am feeling pretty good. My goal for April is to keep our grocery spending under $600. It is a pretty tight goal but I would love to eat through some of our freezer again this month to make sure we are rotating through everything in a timely manner. I have some freezer meals we need to eat up, some meals I prepped for lunches and I would love to do an inventory mid-month when we have eaten through some of what we have to plan our spending for May.

Cobbler
Cobbler has been one of our favorite freezer clean out desserts.

I would also love to do a deep clean of our garage fridge which takes emptying most of it out to scrub everything down. I honestly have not really taken an inventory of what is in there since my husband uses parts of it to store things he has made which are never labeled. Maybe this month we can go through it together and clear out what needs to be tossed. We do have a crate of 90 eggs which my mother-in-law dropped off last week that need to be eaten before I can clean it though. I am not really sure what to do with all of those eggs, especially since we had just bought 5 dozen from Costco. I gave a dozen to our oldest daughter and I am toying with the idea of pickling two gigantic mason jars worth of eggs with some of the rest. We do eat a lot of eggs in our family but this is way to much for even us so I will most likely give some away on our local Buy Nothing group.

Cranberry Lake
Cranberry Lake at Deception Pass.

For now we will continue to eat through what we have and keep a running list of what we need as we avoid going to the store for as long as possible. We are trying to keep our expenses down in other areas as well and are taking cheap or free day trips over spring break instead of going on vacation. Last weekend we drove up to Deception Pass on Whidbey Island and had a wonderful time exploring Cranberry Lake. We packed lunches and had a great time. This trip cost us only about $20 total and most of that was from the ferry trip home where all passengers are free.

 

What are your grocery spending goals for April?

 

The Importance of Walking in the Wood With Kids

 

Gardening Update 11.07.21

 

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 4

 

January 2022 Spending

January 2022 Spending

In January we attempted to do meal planning for the entire month and complete a pantry cleanout and eat through items in our freezer. Whew. It was a lot to keep track of and I am pretty proud of our progress. I was planning on […]

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 am also remembering why I am not so good at meal planning. We are very last minute with our meals most days and never know how much of something will get eaten the first night. Our kids tend to eat a lot some weeks and then not very much the next and it is hit or miss whether or not our particular eater will try something we make. All of this makes it hard to plan out meals but we are working on it and hopefully with practice we will get better at it.

broccoli casserold
Broccoli cheese casserole.

We cooked way too much food the first couple of weeks of January so there were tons of leftovers to use up this week including this broccoli cheese casserole from last weekend. Although this casserole was very tasty, my daughter preferred other leftovers and didn’t eat much of it. It was also super not good for you with tons of cheese and butter so we probably won’t be making it again anytime soon. We are trying to eat healthier and unfortunately gluten-free noodles don’t freeze very well so we had to eat it all this week. This did however use up some of the ham and broccoli that which was great.

eggs and pearseggs and pears

Can you see a theme here? I ate a lot of eggs and pears for breakfast last week. The pears were part of the produce that needed to be eaten before it went bad and I am trying to keep up with my protein in the morning. Eggs are one of the quickest ways to get protein in first thing in the morning. Over easy eggs are my favorite but sometimes I like to eat scrambled eggs with a little bit of mozzarella mixed in. One of the things I have been trying to do is eat something fermented or pickled at a meal or two a day. This week it has been pickles and Spanish queen olives. Usually I would have had kimchi as well but we are out and it takes a while to make more. The baby bell cheeses also need to be eaten up since the kids lost interest in those after eating about 2/3 of them. Why am I not surprised?

Apples and oranges
Apples and oranges from the school.

So I must confess on Friday I broke down and went to the Franz Bread Outlet near me and went a little bit overboard on bread. I went on the way home from picking up lunch kits from our local school. In case anyone didn’t know, The FDA has approved free lunches and breakfasts for all kids age 1-18 in the U.S so if you are experiencing food insecurity and do not know about this program I would encourage you to look up the different school districts in your area and see how they are providing them. We go to a neighboring district because the pickup times work better for us. Some schools will only provide a days worth of meals and others will provide meals for 5-7 days at a time. We only get them occasionally when the kids are home since the kits include lunches that kids can make themselves which is super helpful for those weeks when the kids are home and the adults are working. The variety they provide has also helped our particular eater find new thing they like so I love that as well. Please see the below links for more information:

Free Lunches for Everyone

USDA Free Lunches

bagel and broccolli
Pizza bagel and broccoli.

I stopped at Franz because I wasn’t feeling so hot and I realized I didn’t have any gluten-free bread that I could toast. Have you ever been to a bread factory just before lunch when they have super fresh bread 4/$5.00 with a free loaf for every $10 you spend? I did and I went a little bit overboard. I was just going to get gluten-free bread for me and bagels for the kids but they had so much fresh bread I went a little crazy. Keep in mind that I can’t eat any of it since I am gluten-free. All of it was $1.25 each. Such a steal! I got a variety of bread, rolls, English muffins, bagels and one single pack of donuts for the kids. 8 items of gluten filled joy for $10 and then a loaf of gluten-free bread and a pack of gluten-free bagels for me for another $11.00 plus the lady gave us three free items off of the free rack and a pack of animal cookies for my daughter. It was a crazy amount of bread for only $22! I put most of it into the freezer, gave some to my oldest daughter and we opened up the bagels to make pizza bagels for lunch. We won’t need to buy bread for a very long time!

soup
Ramen with vegetables.

I was feeling very run down last week with lots of work stress and just general stress from everything going on in the world right now. One of my go-to comfort meals is some gluten-free ramen with leftover vegetables, fresh tomatoes and seaweed. This week I ate some steamed broccoli, tomatoes, grated carrot, seaweed and I added an egg while the noodles were cooking. Usually I add some kimchi to this as well but we need to make more. I love the saltiness of the ramen in the middle of the day. I have a hard time getting enough salt but lately I have been working on it and I have found that a salty lunch really works well for this. This is a pretty big bowl of soup to and it keeps me full until dinner time which helps with the afternoon snack cravings.

tofu soup
Tofu soup.

On Saturday we were invited over to my mother-in-laws for lunch and she made us so much yummy food! My favorite was this tofu soup which was super simple but flavorful. She sent some home with us so we also had it for dinner as well. We are super spoiled because she sends us food all the time (even during the pandemic she would randomly drop it off) and all of it is delicious. My kids love her homemade Pho best of all. They eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every time she cooks it! We had some hesitations about going over there since Omicron is spreading fast but she lives alone and everyone is vaccinated so we decided to go. Our kids are tested for Covid at least once a week and they have been negative the whole time. My husband and I have been mostly isolating with the occasional quick trip to the store so our risk was low. It was kind of strange because the kids had a blast just getting out of the house and playing with different toys for once. They are old enough now that we were able to let them play in the front yard while the grownups talked in the kitchen too which is so amazing.

gluten-free crumb cake
Gluten-free crumb cake.

The pantry cleanout item I am the most proud of this week was the gluten-free crumb cake I made on Friday. I have pulled this box out of the pantry many times over the past four months or so and then put it back so it wasn’t cluttering the counter. I have no idea why I never made it but now that I have I can say it was pretty good! Next time I will swirl the crumb topping in more but otherwise we loved eating it. I am pretty proud that I finally used up an item I had been trying to use up for months. Phew.

fruit leather
Fruit leather and raisins.

Another item we needed to eat up was some fruit I bought for fruit leather and the grapes my daughter insisted she would eat. Newsflash, she did not eat them all as we had hoped. On Saturday I cooked up the pears, blackberries and a couple of apples on the stove until they were tender. I blended them up and put them in the dehydrator with some washed grapes and now we have fruit leather! My son loves fruit leather and this is an easy way to make it without all of the plastic packaging. I am going to get a recipe up on the blog for fruit leather soon! The grapes are still drying as I write this since they take a lot longer to dry but hopefully the kids will eat them. I know better than to buy grapes at Costco since we never eat them but I was hopeful as always…

Items to use up this week.

I should probably give an update on the items I used up this week from my goal last week. For one, the dish soap ended up not cleaning anything to save it’s life so we ended up throwing it out. I am sure it was too old to work any more. We ate up the craisins, ate and made fruit leather out of the pears, made the crumb cake, ate some peanuts, and some of the One bars so overall I would say we did a great job. My focus was on fresh produce and leftovers for the second week of January so overall we did pretty well.

Goal items used up this week:

  1. Fresh produce: pears, blackberries, broccoli (one meal left), rainbow carrots (we ate tons of these)
  2. Snack items: lentil crackers, veggie straws, peanuts – regular, One bars, fruit cups
  3. Meal type items: None
  4. Dried Fruit: dried cranberries
  5. Junk: Crumb cake mix, Halloween candy my son eats a piece or two for dessert every night
  6. Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate – still lots left, spinach bites, ham, cheesy broccoli bake, tomato sauce
Meal Plan
Meal plan for week 2 of January.

I filled in our meal plan for the rest of the week last night. I have not started on this week’s since I was cleaning this morning instead of cooking. I need to look through the pantry and fridge and see where we are at for the week which I probably won’t get to until tomorrow honestly. My husband is making some sausage tonight or maybe tomorrow so that will also affect what we eat for the first part of the week. I may do a mid-week post on how things are going but I have a feeling this will be another weird week. Things I know we need to eat up are listed below.

Items to use up January week 3:

  1. Fresh produce: cabbage, broccoli (one meal left), rainbow carrots, potatoes, tomatoes
  2. Snack items: peanuts – regular, One bars, fruit cups
  3. Meal type items: oatmeal (not gf), pancake mix
  4. Dried Fruit: strawberries, raspberries, apple chips
  5. Junk: Halloween candy – still
  6. Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate, sausage, steak, Pho, mashed potatoes, Baked Alaska, cookie dough
Items to use up this week.

Looking at this list I realized we have cookie dough in the freezer along with most of a Baked Alaska that I don’t remember when we started. We should probably eat that this week. The cookie dough will probably be fine for next week but the Baked Alaska really needs to be eaten. I know I have soup in the freezer that we should work through but one of the issues I am having is that other people are not as on board with eating up older items as I am and I end up eating it for every meal. Does anyone else have that issue? As soon as I make room something else fills it’s spot. I am hoping that by focusing on planning out our meals this month we will get better at using things up though!

 

How is your meal planning going this month?

 

Recipe links from the blog:

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dried Banana Chips

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

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 […]


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Never miss a post on our blog! When you subscribe, we'll send our latest posts plus helpful tips related to our blog's topics.

You have Successfully Subscribed!