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Tag: pantry cleanout

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

Our June grocery goal was to eat through our fridge and freezer as much as possible and for the most part we reached this goal. I am super proud of our progress! Up until the last week of June we kept our spending under $300 […]

May 2022 Final Grocery Spending

We are working on our grocery spending for 2022 and our goal for May was to do a low spend month. Unfortunately we ended up a little bit swamped during the middle of the month and we both spent too much money and I did […]

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

Our 2022 spending goals have already gone a little bit sideways with me leaving the workforce in March. I left my job for both health and family reasons and it has thrown our budget into a hurricane of uncertainty. For now our goal is to spend as little as possible across the board so I can continue to not work through at least the end of the year. I read over our 2022 Spending Goals and for the most part we have been sticking to them except for me bumping up my 401k. June is a good time for us to review and revise our goals and this year is no exception.

Below are our goals for the year with a new recap:

  1. Max out IRAs – Mine is done. My husband still needs to max his out but we may have to wait until we get his bonus next year.
  2. Increase our 401k contributions – We increased my husband’s by 1% in March and hope to keep it there until the end of the year. I no longer have a 401k since I am not working.
  3. Save, save save. We reinstated our automatic savings, upped our investment amounts and increased our kids’ college savings amounts. Now that I am not working we may have to reduce our regular savings BUT we do have a nice chunk in our cash emergency fund already so it should be ok.
  4. Decrease our grocery spendingWe have been working on this all year. We did both a pantry and freezer clean out, tried a no spend month and meal planning. This is still a work in progress but we are doing another freezer clean out for June and are making progress.
  5. Be more mindful of our spending – We continue to work on our mindful spending. I have been resisting the urge to buy clothes for the kids and trying to do laundry more often but they are growing so fast it is hard to keep up. We are also not shopping as often which greatly reduces the temptation to pick things up randomly.
Free Lunches.
Free Lunches.

We are also taking advantage of the last couple of months of free universal lunches and breakfasts. I linked our latest video below and here.  This program ends in June but I firmly believe that all kids should be receiving lunch at schools for free without the stigma that is attached to it when only low income kids receive it. Getting lunches from the school has helped our budget out tremendously and as I discovered this week, they are giving tons of extra food to help families out over the summer when the program is no longer available. I am really hoping another bill passes so that all kids can have free meals again. Grocery prices have increased significantly over the past year and a lot of families that do not qualify for assistance are struggling.

 

Our budget resets every July since we pay tuition for the kids only 10 months out of the year. We usually don’t get a tuition statement with the exact amount of the payments until mid-June. I put an estimate of the amount when we get the tuition amounts in February and look at our spending for the rest of the year. This year since I am not working we do qualify for a little bit of financial aid but we are still going to have a very tight budget. We knew this though when we decided that I would leave my job and have cut our spending on vacations and activities with the kids (not their regular sports yet). We also did not sign up for summer camp every week of the summer which saved us nearly $5,000. Summer camp is super expensive and this year the prices definitely went up.

Camping at Whidbey.
Camping at Whidbey.

Instead of taking a bunch of expensive trips we are going to be doing day trips and camping out at my dad’s house on Whidbey. Camping out there is nearly free and I absolutely love that the kids are growing up helping my dad build his cabin and develop a place for family to hang out for years to come. We are putting them to work helping with clearing the land and planting some crops for my dad to harvest later. My oldest is also starting her cabin building out there this summer so the kids will help with that as well.

Beach
Beach view.

Some of our day trip ideas so far include hiking, the beach and visiting local parks. Mr. Oscoey has a bunch of PTO to use up so he is going to take some time off as well this summer so we can do some trips as a family during the week when everything is less crowded. I may break down and find a couple of days down in Oregon later this summer but it will depend on how we do for our spending in June and July. For now we are planning on staying local and as frugal as possible.

 

How are you cutting back your spending this year?

 

2022 Goals

 

Garden Update 04.30.22

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 […]

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 […]

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

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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 4

Meal Planning: January 2022 Week 4

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 the cabbage soup I made on Sunday. I also did another pickup of school lunches and we did a decent job eating through what they gave us. They give you so much food sometimes it is hard to eat it all in a week. I probably won’t go again this week because we really don’t need it and we still have leftovers.

Free Lunches for Everyone

USDA Free Lunches

cabbage soup
Cabbage soup.

This week I made some cabbage patch soup. This is something my grandma used to make when I was growing up and I have been craving it for a number of years but had no idea where she got the recipe from. My grandma passed away a few years ago so I was not able to ask her but I did happen to mention it to my mom in passing and my mom somehow knew exactly what the name of it was and that it originated in a restaurant in Snohomish. Once I knew the name I was easily able to Google it and get the right one. I sort of used the recipe linked below. We were out of a few ingredients and since we were in a pantry cleanout I did not go to the store. I also used my husband’s homemade sausage in place of the ground beef. My grandma used whatever meat (if any) she had on hand so I am pretty used to having different meat in there. We ate this throughout the week and we still have one serving left that I will probably freeze since we won’t eat it today. I am so glad I mentioned this soup to my mom because it is one of my favorites!

Cabbage Patch Soup

oatmealOatmeal with eggs.oatmeal eggs

Can you sense another theme here? I definitely did great job of eating through the oatmeal packets this week. I ended up using two at a time with some of the dried apples and a couple of fried eggs and it was an excellent breakfast full of fiber and protein. I love gluten-free oatmeal packets because they contain way less added sugar than the regular ones. I don’t like a lot of sugar first thing in the morning and honestly the peaches were not a good choice. I also snacked on an apple throughout the morning and that was delicious as well!

peanut butter bagel apple
Peanut butter bagel and apple.

Another favorite  breakfast of mine is peanut butter toast with apples. This time I added a little bit of honey since local raw honey really helps with my allergies. The Seattle area had poor air quality last week due to some air stagnation and the honey helped with my sore throat. I needed to use up the bagels I bought so I had the last one with breakfast one morning and the others toasted with butter with my cabbage soup. They were pretty good but for some reason these gluten-free bagels were not salty at all. I am wondering if that is why they were at the Franz Outlet. I am going to eat through some frozen gluten-free bread I found in my freezer when I cleaned it out yesterday this week but I fully anticipate needing to go back to the outlet next week for more gluten-free goodness. We are set on regular bread for a few months but I may break down and get another pack of donuts for the kids if they are under a dollar again.

potatoes broccoli Kielbasa and apple
Potatoes, broccoli, Kielbasa and apples.

So this meal was a slight cooking failure. I pulled the potatoes out of the deep freezer earlier in the week to make fried potatoes but they just didn’t work out the way I wanted them to and they ended up more like mashed potatoes instead. They were still tasty though. We still have some of these leftover that I am hoping to eat up this week. I steamed the broccoli and the Kielbasa together and totally left them on the stove too long while I was trying to fix the potatoes so the broccoli was a little bit (I mean a lot) mushy but it was still edible and we ate it no problem. The Kielbasa was one of the items from the fridge I needed to eat up this week. This was an experiment buying Kielbasa in a large pack from Costco and honestly next time I will split the package up in to a few meals and freeze all but what we will need that week. I probably could have frozen these as well but I am trying to reduce our freezer this week so I didn’t want to add more to it.

sushi bowl
Sushi bowl.

Well since we had the ingredients leftover from our sushi bowls last week we just “had” to make them again this week. This time I remembered to take a picture before I dug in and I must say they are very pretty. We seared our salmon this week and ate it with some sprouts my husband started a week or two ago and it was delicious! This is definitely a highlight of the week!

Pancakes
Pancake stack.

We rounded out this week with pancakes and bacon for breakfast this morning. My husband made some gluten-free ones this time not from a mix and they were very good. My daughter and I had them with maple syrup and my son had Nutella on his. I didn’t get a picture of the bacon but it was pretty good too.

Freezer
Clean Freezer.

Looking back I didn’t get a lot of pictures this week. We had our usual Friday night pizza and ate a lot of the same thing just different ways to eat through what we had. The week is kind of a blur for me since I worked so much all week and didn’t really have any free time. Yesterday however I did clean out our main freezer in the kitchen. This is what I would call a working freezer and we use it all the time. I try to not go into the deep freezers very often since they tends to get freezer burn the more we open them so in our main freezer I keep open packages and things we use a lot, like frozen peas and bread. I only had to throw out a couple of things from this freezer when I cleaned it out which was pretty impressive to me. I last cleaned it over the summer so I am surprised there wasn’t more. We are going to try and eat up some things in this freezer this week. I moved items we won’t be eating to our largest deep freezer so what we needed to eat up wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. If I had to choose another fridge I would definitely get one that is side by side instead of a french door fridge and a drawer at the bottom. It is too easy to just dump stuff in the bottom drawer and forget about it.

meal plan
January 2022 Meal Plan.

We finished out the month for Meal Planning and overall I would say we did a great job. We are not good at conforming to a meal schedule so the fact that we were able to mostly stick to the plan for the month is pretty great. We did however really only plan a few days at a time but it did help us learn how often we needed to cook and that we are cooking way too much. For February I am going to focus on our freezers. We are finishing up our storage room downstairs hopefully today and moving our smaller freezer down there. We will use it for mostly meat but it does need to be cleaned out very badly. I sort of cleaned it out last summer when we bought our big one but we never defrosted it or got to the bottom so I am a little nervous about that one. Most of the items in there are unlabeled since my husband froze them and has (or had) them memorized so I am not really sure what is in there. I am hoping that by eating through our freezers this month we will have room to hopefully buy half a cow next year and get some of our gardening goodies into there for next year.

Garlic
Garden garlic sneak peek.

My goal this week is to make enough room in the other freezers to completely empty our small one and defrost it. I am sure we can do it, but it may take more than one week. I am also hoping to avoid the grocery store this week. I still need to tally up our grocery spending for January and see how we did. I am not anticipating that we did a great job with spending. We spent way too much stocking up the first weekend of the month to have reduced our spending but we have not even started using some of the items we bought and should be good on those for another month or two. I am however setting a low spending goal for groceries this month and will try to get a post out later this week about it. We are only really out of a couple of things I will list below and aside from the usual fresh vegetables and eggs I might be able to stretch the groceries out a couple of more weeks, maybe even the month if we can plan it well and stick to it. I am going to take stock this afternoon and consult with the family to see if it will work. We are also going over to the mother-in-laws again today for a Lunar New Year lunch so I won’t know how many leftovers we have until later on today.

Grocery List for Feburary

  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • Kidney beans
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Dog food
  • cucumbers
  • lettuce
  • frozen peas (stock up item)

 

Look for another post later this week outlining our grocery budget for January and February. I am also working on some goals for 2022 and getting some content up on YouTube. Until then, happy pantry cleanout!

 

Meal Planning: A New Start

Stitching Update 07.20.21

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

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 […]


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