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Tag: gardening

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 […]

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!

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 […]

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 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

 

Gardening Update 11.07.21

Gardening Update 11.07.21

A lot happened in the garden since my last post in July which can be found here. We had a large crop of green tomatoes, lots of greens, successfully grew two nice sized pumpkins and many other vegetables. We continued to battle pests throughout the […]


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