Monday, October 28, 2013

Early Frost

We had some random frosts, a little earlier than expected.  Luckily, most of my lettuce survived until I could put it in the garage (the benefit to container planting!)

The temperatures today reached the high 60s/low 70s, so I am expecting that the containers will be able to move back outside soon! 

I believe I am left with six lettuce plants.  That's not bad, I just hope I have enough time to grow them out to get a decent yield- at least enough of a yield to pay for the baby plants!

I have to admit, I'll be a little relieved when the growing season is officially over.  It's been a rough year.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Menu Planning Saves Money

So just the other day I posted on how eating meals based on leftovers can save money- we ended up getting five various meals off that Turkey Breast, by the way.  Yes, we threw a little away, but hey, there is only so much turkey you can eat, even when you love it and it's delicious.

I want to share another way we have money with meals- by meal planning.

We had Breakfast for Lunch the other day.  Lunfast, if you will, because Brunch is so done already.  It's also fun to make up words.  We made sausage, but knew that Tim and I would never eat an entire package of sausage.   Luckily, we had planned to make our own pizzas the next day, so we kept back some sausage for that purpose.   I had already frozen some small packages of hamburger just for such a purpose, so we thawed a bit of that too.

After making the mini pizzas, we had leftover hamburger, sausage, jalapenos and pieces of onion.  I tossed all of these leftovers in an airtight container and tossed them in the fridge.

Tonight's dinner?  Spaghetti!  Ohhh what a spaghetti sauce it was too, with two kinds of meat, chunks of real onion, small pieces of jalapenos- and of course, my other assorted spices.   Not the smallest piece of sausage, hamburger, or any other piece of food went to waste between Lunfast and the next two days.

When you know you won't use all of something- say you won't use a pound of hamburger in spaghetti sauce or an entire package of sausage on a pizza.  You can easily package and freeze it in to smaller portions, or you can save that effort and the freezer bags (or food saver bags, which are expensive!) by planning a menu based on "paying forward" extra amounts of food, the way the sausage appeared in three meals, the hamburger, onion and jalapeno in two- even the mozzarella cheese, which often ends up having small amounts thrown away, showed up in two meals, rather than being crammed in the back of the cheese drawer until it turns green and I find it.  Believe me- I never find it before it turns green, no matter how clean the fridge is.  Yuck.

Plan your weekly menu and take a second look at it.  Do you always end up with too much hamburger?  Plan hamburgers for dinner one night, spaghetti for the next, and split the package of beef!  Woo hoo.

Rather than toss out that leftover onion from the pizzas, can you add them to salad for the next meal?  See how you can save food, money and your time, by organizing your meals in advance!


Monday, October 7, 2013

A blog correction!

For some reason, most of my recipe posts were not being filed correctly under the label!  That should have been rectified now, so all recipes will be found under the tag "Recipes".



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Time, is on your side- (12 Months of Christmas Post)

Welcome to October! If you haven't been following along, be sure to catch up on the other 12 Months of Christmas Posts here.

October is a good time to look for those gifts you need to purchase.  You're still beating the rush, you're leaving yourself plenty of time to compare prices and if you need to purchase anything online, you've got a lot of built in time for shipping, delays- anything that might cause you stress on say- December 21st.

If you are looking for custom pieces, say something made by a local artisan or on etsy, you are giving them plenty of time to get an item made, have it proofed, do any last minute changes, etc.

Looking for your purchased items now gives you the opportunity to do price comparisons.  Often you can find comparable or better prices online, saving you time and gas money- why run to four different stores to find that perfect item when you can order them online and have them delivered to you?

Planning ahead and buying online can also help you save money- sites like Ebates are shopping portals that give you cash back, while sites like swagbucks is a search portal that awards you points that can be redeemed for all kinds of perks- amazon gift cards, paypal, etc.


Save Money- Eat Leftovers!

I decided to cook a turkey breast today.  Now, turkey is one of those items that I often find myself thinking "Gah, that is so expensive!"  I paid around $11 for a 4lb turkey breast.

That makes me cringe a little, not going to lie.  Then I sat myself down and said wait a minute- let's take a look at these numbers.

Tonight we will have Turkey, potatoes and homemade bread.

Day 1:

Turkey- $11
Potatoes- approx. $0.50 (I paid $2 for a five pound bag and suspect we will not cook more than a pound of potatoes tonight)
Homemade Bread- I'm going to randomly say $1 here for easy math- the cost of the ingredients for each loaf of bread is negligible.

The total of our meal tonight will be $12.50. 

But wait.  We always have leftover turkey, and on the menu tomorrow night is Shredded turkey in salad!

Day 2:

Turkey- $5.50
Romaine Lettuce- $1.49
Cheese- $2.00
Cucumber- $0.69
Tomato- $0.22
Croutons- $1.00
Onion- $.25 (one onion out of a bag we purchased)

The meal tonight will cost $10.52

But wait!  We won't use that whole package of cheese, we will only use half.  We will only use half the head of romaine.  We will use a small fraction of the cucumber and half the tomato.  There will be perhaps a fifth of the bag of croutons used- so our real meal cost looks like this:

Turkey- $5.50
Romaine Lettuce- $0.75
Cheese- $1.00
Cucumber- $0.15
Tomato- $0.11
Croutons- $0.20
Onion- $.25 (one onion out of a bag we purchased)

So our real meal cost is $7.96

We still have turkey leftover.  Sandwiches time!

Day 3:
Turkey: $3.66
Romaine- $0.38
Cheese- $.50
Homemade Bread- $0.50
Tomato- $0.11
Chips- $1.25 (half a bag)

Our meal cost is $6.40

We will still have turkey leftover.  So do you see how the cost of your ingredients goes down each meal when you do a little planning ahead?  By using the turkey for three meals, instead of that original meal costing us $12.50, it will end up costing $5.16.  Day 2, instead of costing $7.96 drops to $6.12.  Day 3 is $6.40.  If I can stretch leftovers until Day 4 (which with only two people, I definitely can), all those meals drop again!

So for $23.90 (before tax) I end up with:

4lb Turkey
Loaf of Homemade Bread
Bag of Potatoes
Bag of Onions
Head of Romaine Lettuce
Bag of cheese
Bag of Potato Chips
Roma Tomato

None of these numbers include coupon prices!

At the end of THREE meals, I still have most of the bag of potatoes, most of the bag of onions, a small amount of lettuce, a small amount of cheese, half a bag of chips, half a cucumber, half a loaf of bread and some leftoever turkey- We can easily get 4+ meals off this one turkey breast- Day Four could be a few chunks of turkey with some macaroni and cheese- which costs less than $1.00 a box.  I have some beans that I canned from a package of dry beans that will be a quick warm up side dish as well. 

Or I can go out and spend that same amount of money for a single meal.

When you plan something like cooking a turkey, ham, pot of soup, etc.  Try to consider ways you can use the leftovers that will make them fresh and new- and different.  The worst is to throw out your leftovers after one meal- instead of paying $3.66 a meal for the turkey, I would end up paying $11 for it.  While it is still a better value than going out to eat, the real value comes in the leftovers.