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Tag: frugal

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 […]

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 working on getting my large garden beds in but hope to have them done by the end of this week. I put them on hold for a bit trying to get fence quotes but so far I am having a very difficult time getting people to even show up which is super disappointing. I thought I would do a brief overview of what’s happening in the garden right now.

Fairy garden.
Fairy garden.

Earlier this month the kids and I went to Lowes and picked up some flowers so they could make new fairy gardens. Our neighbors are moving and they gifted us some large pots which the kids very enthusiastically planted. We add flowers every year to their pots but their old ones have been taken over by the hens and chicks they planted several years ago so it was time for new ones.

flower garden
Flower garden.

This year is the first year my son has really gotten into gardening with me and he took it upon himself to finish planting all of my flowers. He did an excellent job of it in a section of the garden that was pretty bare. He even planted seeds which will hopefully sprout. I am not sure how deep they were planted but I always love to see my kids embracing gardening and taking ownership of part of the yard.

Hidden gnome.
Hidden gnome.

A friendly gnome showed up in the kids’ hideout mysteriously one day and they have taken great delight in moving him about to “surprise” everyone the next day. Everyone is in on the joke and it motivates the kids to go outside for a bit. Their hideout under the Hydrangeas hasn’t quite grown over yet but they have been enjoying it nonetheless.

Kale
Kale plant in bloom.

All of our brassicas are blooming right now. They overwintered well despite the snow and freezing temperatures and I have left them to bloom for the bees. I haven’t seen a lot of bees yet this year but it is still pretty cold at night and we usually don’t see a lot of them until May. I did however find a Bumble Bee nest next to my vegetable patch and I am super excited about that!

Squash and Peas
Squash and Peas

I started planting out some of my squash plants super early this year. They were damaged a little bit but I put covers on them and I am hoping they will do ok. I checked them today and they do look pretty good. Luckily the covers are tight enough that the slugs have so far not been able to get in there and eat them which is much better than last year when I lost most of my plants to slugs. I was also successful in getting some pea plants to sprout along one of my fence lines. So hopefully we will have a decent crop for the first part of the summer.

Apple Blossom
Apple Blossom

Both our apple and pear trees are beginning to bloom this week. I am hoping since they have been in the ground for about six years now that we will have a decent crop this year. I will need to cover the apples pretty soon to prevent the apple maggots that are so prevalent in our area from getting to our fruit. We had a particularly bad case of it last year and weren’t able to eat many of the apples we grew. Our apple tree is also not doing very well in general so I am not sure if we will eventually replace it or try to fix it more.

Tulips
Tulips

Of the hundred or so bulbs we planted last year only the ones in this pot did not get eaten. There are however more than I remember planting so I am not sure if they were split by our squirrels or I just am not remembering correctly. These are very beautiful and I am super happy that they survived. I may try tulips again next year in some of my garden beds since I am going to line the bottoms with hardware cloth to prevent the moles from digging up my vegetables. Tulips are very short lived though in terms of blossoms so I don’t know if I want to dedicate that much garden space to them.

Early seedlings
Early seedling plantings.

Last weekend I also planted a bunch of marigolds I got from Costco and the rest of the seeds I started indoors in March. I haphazardly placed them in my existing beds which I don’t recommend but if they don’t end up growing very well I will replace them mid-summer with my fall crops. Here I planted Brussels sprouts and maybe cabbage. I also planted zucchini, spaghetti squash, melons and yellow squash in other beds and pots. I am realizing that I just don’t get enough light in the early spring so next year I may have to change my planting plans.

 

Thank you for reading our quick garden overview for April. Come find us on Instagram at Oscoeyzamph for more up to date garden pictures.

 

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2022 Garden Supply Purchases

 

Low Spend April 2022 Grocery Spending Mid-Month Check In

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 […]

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 […]

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 to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

 

For April 2022 our goal is to have a low spend month with a focus on groceries, activities and other household items. We are going to achieve this through meal planning, shopping sales, eating through our pantry, only shopping for what is necessary and planning low cost activities. As you may know our focus for 2022 is keeping our grocery budget down and working on using what we have. I would love to reduce our food waste and get better at planning ahead with our meals. So far we completed a pantry clean out challenge in January and worked on our freezer for February. March was kind of a wash since we were dealing with family stuff but for April I would love to clear out more freezer space and eat through the meals I have stashed away in there to make room for the garden season this spring and summer.

Budget Planning Tool
Legend Budget Planner

To get a fresh start with my budgeting I bought this Budget Planner off of Amazon. Unfortunately I ended up having to buy two since our puppy ate the first one while I was washing dishes. I have been using YNAB (referral link) for the past six or so months in addition to Quicken but I am finding that YNAB struggles with our method of putting everything on a credit card and paying it off. I am going to try a paper planner for a bit and see if that will help me visualize our money better. Our budget is pretty wonky and uneven from month to month so I am hoping that by writing it down my brain will keep track of it in a different way. I also bought these stickers to go along with my planner as well. At the end of the month I will let you know how it is going.

Meal Planning
April Meal Planning

Another tool we are using to reduce our costs is to work on our meal planning. I took this picture when I was just starting to fill out our monthly meal plan but we have two nights a week when our menu is preset. I put chicken nuggets on for Tuesday nights but really only our son eats chicken nuggets every week. Tuesday night chicken nuggets has turned into chicken night and I have been cooking chicken breast for anyone who wants an alternative option. It really helps our kids to have touchstone meals in their weekly routine and I have found that by having two night a week where they know what dinner will be it really helps with satisfying that itch for routine and predictability in their week. I picked up this Meal Planning Bundle from Mindful Hustle (No affiliation) last fall and so far I am liking the layout of them.

Cranberry Lake
Cranberry Lake

Another strategy we will be using to reduce our costs in April is to do a staycation over Spring Break and do low cost or free activities. Last weekend we took a day trip up to Deception Pass on Whidbey Island and it ended up only costing us money because we drove down the island and took the ferry home. We do have family that lives on the southern part of the island and one of our activities over break will be to spend the day out there. I anticipate this will be our most expensive day since we will be paying for the ferry and buying bagels for everyone. It will still be cheaper than a vacation though!

cabbage
Cabbages June 2020

April is also a heavy gardening month and this year I plan on adding several new beds down the side of my house. Although I did have to purchase new beds, I bought them a month ago and technically they will not count towards my April budget. I will however need to buy soil to fill my beds this month and part of why I am doing a low spend this month is to cover the cost of the soil. I honestly have a lot to do to get our garden ready and we will be spending most of our afternoons and weekends working in the yard this month. Gardening is one of my favorite activities so I am really going to enjoy it!

The last tool we are going to utilize this month is one of my favorite ways to keep costs down, no spend days. I find that the more no spend days we do a month, the better we are at staying within budget. I have been trying to consolidate our grocery trips this year and with gas prices rising I am also working on reducing our trips out of the house as well. We are doing one grocery trip at the start of April to buy dog food and cheese (can you believe we forgot to buy it at the store last time?) but after that we will be waiting as long as possible to go back. We have a well stocked pantry and my greens are starting to grow in the garden so I am hoping we can wait at least a couple of weeks to make any sort of meaningful grocery trip. Our spending goal for April is to stay under $600 for groceries which is very tight for us right now.

 

What ways are you trying this month to reduce your spending?

 

Links:

You Need a Budget

Meal Planning Template

Budget Planner:

 

Stickers:

 

2022 Goals

 

Victoria Part 1: Butchart Gardens

 

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part One: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer

 

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 […]


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