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 […]
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 […]
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!
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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:
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.
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!
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 […]
We made it to the end of January with our meal planning and although we didn’t follow the plan exactly, we did do a great job of eating through items in the pantry. Some of the highlights from this week were roasted potatoes, oatmeal and […]
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 items. I am pretty proud of that since I have been working the last year to build up our food storage. We were very short on basics when Covid hit the country in 2020 and it was pretty difficult to navigate the shortages with our dietary needs and a child that is very particular about what they eat. The downside of having a stocked pantry is that it is easy to forget what you have in the back and smaller items get lost. Doing a pantry clean out a few times a year really helps keep down the odds and ends. This week I discovered we have lots of open crackers…like way more than pictured but this was what I thought we could get through this week. We will be eating lots of crackers and cheese this week for sure!
Do you see my wall of soup? That, my friends, is the shelf I am afraid to look at. The bins are conveniently covered by the wall of canned soup I slowly collected over the past six months so they are out of sight out of mind at the moment. Gluten-free soup is very expensive, around $4.00 a can normally, so I wait until it goes on super sale for under $2.00 a can to buy it. I consider this fully stocked on soup since I really don’t eat it very often any more. I will eat a can or two a month for lunch if I don’t have any homemade soup in the freezer but luckily I have been making it often enough I always have some I can heat up. We use the oil all the time but to the right of the oil is a large container of teas that have probably been there since we moved in six years ago. I have not gone through it in a long time and the tea we actually drink is over next to the coffee machine so I should probably clean it out as well but tea is something I have a hard time convincing my husband to throw away because it is “still good”. The lower shelf is the one I have been mostly working through the past few weeks. I know it doesn’t look very empty but that is because I filled it again with items that were just sitting on the counter since we had no room in the pantry such as the case of Double Noodle soup I bought for my particular eater and the beans my husband got me for Christmas. We will continue to work through the lower shelf this week. My goal is clean counters and only items we actually eat in the pantry.
We did pretty well last week with our meal plan and ate up a bunch of items we needed to. i am going to try filming the cabbage soup making and upload it as my first video on the Oscoey YouTube channel which I am pretty excited about! Look for it later this week! We did however get much better about eating up the leftovers this week. We spent the first part of the week eating the food my mother-in-law sent home and the “Broccoli Beef” my husband made with pork and the last purple cauliflower (it was delicious by the way). Unfortunately half way through the week I was very disappointed to discover our 5 pound bag of carrots had a couple of moldy ones in it. I am not sure why, they usually last way longer than a few weeks in the fridge but we pulled them all out, tossed the moldy ones, washed the rest and are trying to eat through them as fast as we can. My daughter loves them steamed so she had them in her lunches this week and I added the steamed ones to pretty much everything I heated up for lunch. We still have about four or five carrots left in the bag but they should be eaten in the next few days.
On Sunday night we had nachos which was definitely planned on. When we did our large grocery shop at the start of the month we bought tortilla chips specifically for nachos. We make two separate trays with half for each person and it works out perfectly. We could probably combine them but our particular eater will not eat from the tray with peppers on it so we have to separate them. It is an easy fix and makes dinner go much smoother. We make our own cheese sauce, add refried beans, cheese, olives, sour cream and tomatoes and it is divine! We will probably have them again in another week or two to use up the tortilla chips. Nachos are also a great way to eat up leftover meat or vegetables you have lying around. In the summer time we slice up fresh radishes and green onions from the garden and add them after cooking them for a little kick.
One thing we had a lot of leftovers for from my mother-in-law’s house was steak and mashed potatoes. We had enough steak for a few days of meals. My daughter ate the mashed potatoes for breakfast and lunch so those went very fast but the rest of us got a little bit for dinner one night along with one of the cauliflowers steamed with butter. Yum!
Since we had a lot of steamed vegetables to eat and leftover steak I made another batch of my gluten-free ramen for lunch one of the days last week. This was probably one of the best bowls of ramen I have eaten for a long time. It was delicious! I will definitely do this combination again the next time we have leftover steak. This was also a great way to eat through the cauliflower and carrots.
For breakfast this week I mostly had toast and some sort of fruit. When you buy gluten-free bread it goes bad pretty quickly so it needs to be eaten the week you buy it or frozen and pulled out a few at a time. I love peanut butter toast for breakfast so I loved it this week. I am also still on my peaches kick but I am down to one last jar so I am not sure if I should open it or wait until closer to when we do another big Costco run. My daughter also wants to eat them so we will probably end up eating the last jar this week.
Wow. I apologize for the out of focus picture but dinners this week were pretty hectic and I probably was in a hurry. Don’t let the blurriness fool you, this was one of the best meals I have eaten in a long time. My husband made Broccoli Beef only we were low on broccoli and had pork to use up from the sausage making so we substituted cauliflower and pork. It was so good! This will definitely be on regular rotation in our meal planning in the future. We had enough leftovers for two family meals plus several lunches. My daughter has ice skating at dinner time on Thursdays and we were able to put some this heated up in a thermos for her to eat on the way home and it worked really well.
I ended up using the whole box of pancake mix this week because the puppy got on the counter and ate most of what I made for breakfast on Friday morning. Luckily the kids had already eaten theirs but I missed out on pancakes that morning. We ended up making them again this morning for Sunday breakfast and I got to eat them finally! We will probably make a different kind next week so the kids don’t get tired of them but these are a great easy meal. We still have about eight boxes left of the mix I got on super sale at Grocery Outlet a couple of months ago. I bought about 15 total so we have used about half of them so far. I figured they would last six months or so which is pretty good.
On Saturday night we had a meal planning and pantry cleanout fail. My husband asked me if I wanted sushi and I figured we would use what we have to make it but it turns out we were out of a lot of the ingredients such as cucumber, fish eggs, wasabi and I am sure others I don’t know about. I found out after he came home from the store so it was too late. The sushi was very good and I did not get a picture of my sushi bowl but I did take a picture of some of the ingredients we used. We buy the salmon frozen from Costco and my husband makes the eggs. It is pretty good although I always put way too much wasabi in my gluten-free soy sauce and am steaming all night. I love it though!
Let’s take a look at what we used up in the past week. Above is the photo I took of what I was hoping to use and honestly we did pretty good this week. Another item we ate up that I didn’t even put on the list was some ice cream I bought last summer. We tend to eat ice cream very slowly and don’t always eat it before it goes bad. We still have half a container of Mermaid ice cream left that I will give the kids a serving of once or twice a week until it is gone. We also made pudding out of some milk since we have so much milk right now. Instant pudding is a quick way to make dessert and use up any extra milk that you have lying around. I always keep a couple of boxes in the pantry for just this purpose. Pudding is one my my particular eater’s foods they are working on eating since the texture is one they don’t like and by getting them involved in making it the chances of them eating it are much higher. Pudding is also a great way to get milk into kids that won’t drink it.
Items left from January week 3:
- Fresh produce: rainbow carrots, potatoes, tomatoes (my husband bought more gah!)
- Snack items: One bars
- Meal type items: oatmeal (not gf)
- Dried Fruit: strawberries, raspberries, apple chips
- Junk: Halloween candy – still
- Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate, Baked Alaska, cookie dough
The focus on this week is crackers, oatmeal and more crackers. I took this photo yesterday and we have already eaten the rest of the pancake mix, one pack of oatmeal, the fruit cup, and some crackers. I ended up throwing up the unsalted sunflower seeds which are hard to see but they expired in 2018 so I felt very comfortable tossing them. They were in no way sealed all the way and it just didn’t feel safe to eat them. We will probably have oatmeal again tomorrow morning along with some peanuts or sunflower seeds. We also ate up one of the boxes of Maple One bars and this is the last one I pulled from the pantry. One of my kids gets half of one a day as part of their morning routine. I know they aren’t the best but they also have a bunch of vitamins that we are somewhat lacking in. We need to eat the squash and will find a way to cook the riceberry rice. My mom gave us some for Christmas and I realized we still had a pack from last year. I am not really sure how to cook it but I am sure we will find something.
Items to use up January Week 4:
- Fresh produce: rainbow carrots, squash, potatoes, brussels sprouts, tomatoes (my husband bought more gah!)
- Snack items: One bars, crackers, more crackers, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fruit cup
- Meal type items: oatmeal (not gf), pancake mix, cheese sauce, rice
- Dried Fruit: strawberries, raspberries, apple chips
- Junk: Halloween candy – still
- Fridge/freezer items: fancy chocolate, Baked Alaska, cookie dough, mermaid ice cream
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 […]