Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Busy Saturday to Tuesday-Cooking!

Hubs and I went to Maine Source on Saturday and I picked up some meat and veg-a pork shoulder, 5 lbs. ground beef, 10 lb. bag of onions, 4 lbs. of green beans(@ .79¢ lb.), 6 ears of sweet corn and 3 packages of mushrooms.  I also went to Weis(PMITA)Markets for their Fantastic Friday sale and got two whole chickens(@ .75¢ lb.).

Add in that the cuke plants have been in overdrive while we were gone AND the kids didn't eat a single one(though they picked 5).  I picked another 5 on Friday plus there are SEVENTEEN more out in the garden still.  8-O

So on Sunday(and Monday)I was in food prep/cooking mode.

I tried really hard not to run the oven as it's been typical August weather here(hot and muggy).  I did have to acquiesce on Monday evening though to make the mac and cheese.  College Boy had requested it before going back to college.

Sunday, the pork shoulder got put in the smoker outside.......

That was put in the crock pot last night to perk away overnight and will be pulled pork sandwiches this evening for dinner.

I also prepped, blanched and divvied up the green beans into dinner sized portions and froze all put one bag for later.

One of the whole chickens I bought on Friday got dumped into the freezer and on Saturday the other had a can of beer shoved up it's ass and grilled to within an inch of it's life and served with boxed stuffing and fresh corn on the cob.

I defrosted chicken breasts on Saturday in the fridge and with the addition of Marsala wine and all those mushrooms I bought, I turned this into Chicken Marsala over Noodles and served it with Tossed Salad on Sunday.

I also took a London Broil out of the freezer on Saturday as well and set to marinating it in the fridge for two days.  It was grilled and served along with spinach souffle and homemade mac and cheese(at the kids' request)on Monday.

As for the 5 lbs. of ground beef--1 lb. was reserved for hamburgers for lunch on Tuesday and the other 4 lbs. was turned into WV hot dog chili on Sunday........

I've portioned this big pot of chili up into 4 containers-2 in the freezer for later.  1 container will be heading to school with College Boy on Wednesday.
This hot dog chili is a family favorite now and I especially like it as I can just add beans, green chiles, cumin and more onions to a portion to turn it into Mexican chili, so two different flavor profiles quite easily.

On Monday while making the mac and cheese for dinner I portioned off 1/4 of the bechamel sauce I made and also did a small pot of Cheese and Cauliflower Soup(CB's fav)for him to take to school with him, as it starts with the same recipe.

And all those cukes?
Besides being an addition to the salad served on Sunday I turned 7 of them into pickles.........

Three jars of bread and butter pickles(2 pictured)and a large Tupperware container of my mother's "Almost New Pickles"(a vinegary type pickle)which is not pictured.

After making peanut butter cookies for College Boy to haul back to school with him later today and finishing the sauce for the pulled pork for dinner I am taking a break from cooking for a few days.

Wednesday the Daughter and I are getting a pizza from the local place that does the "sweet sauce" pie that is a fav in this region as Hubs and CB will be gone.  We'll have salad with that.

The rest of the week I hope to get by on leftovers, BLT's using farm market "real" tomatoes and whatever else folks can dig out of the fridge/pantry.

I am done cooking for a bit.

What's been cooking at your house lately?


Monday, August 21, 2017

This Week on the Dining Table

The  "Do I Really Have to Cook Again?!?" Edition--

I am easing back into cooking again at Chez Sluggy. I tried to come up with meals not involving turning on the oven last week and will keep that trend going this coming week too.

Just one of the many foods I cooked on Sunday.......it's still the weather to smoke meats!

Moving On....

Onward to the meal planning!

Here's what was planned last week--

1. Sunday--Meal at Chris' house
2. Monday--Eating-Out
3. Tuesday--Easy Meal at Home
4. Wednesday--No Clue Yet
5. Thursday--No Clue Yet
6. Friday--No Clue Yet
7. Saturday--No Clue Yet

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--BBQ Turkey Breast,Corn on the Cob, Tomatoes, Fruit Salad, Ice Cream(Mmmm)
2. Monday--Bowl of Soup and Zuke Fries
3. Tuesday--Spaghetti and Meatballs, Garlic Bread
4. Wednesday--TV Dinners(I had pork chop, taters and apples)
5. Thursday--Kielbasa on Rolls
6. Friday--Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches, Green Beans
7. Saturday--Beer Can Chicken, Stuffing, Corn on Cob

Last week saw 6 nights of home cooked dinners(1 night was tv dinners tho), 0 nights of leftovers and 1 nights of Eating-Out.
The Daughter had made dinner for us when we got home on Tuesday and had bought TV dinners so I didn't have to jump back into cooking for another day too. 8-)))
I managed to do Kielbasa on Thursday as it was an easy meal(didn't make anything to accompany it though), we had pork chops and green beans in the freezer still for Friday's dinner and I had bought two chickens on Friday so roasted chicken on the grill for Saturday.

I made 1 trip each to the Bakery Outlet, Weis Markets, Maine Source and the Shursave Market.  $106.07 was spent last week, bringing food spending in August to $214.44.
There are 10 days left in the month so I think I'll make my under $420 goal for August. 
Go me.  ;-)

My savings percentages last week and for the month so-far? Last week was 57.15% and the monthly is 49.21%(without Rite-Aid trips added in).

Leftovers going into this week........roast chicken, stuffing, pork tenderloin,

Here is this week's "food plan".....

1. Sunday--Chicken Marsala, Noodles, Salad
2. Monday--Marinated Steak, Mac and Cheese, Veggie of some kind
3. Tuesday--Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Cole Slaw
4. Wednesday--Take-Out Pizza
5. Thursday--Chicken Salad Sandwiches
6. Friday--Leftovers
7. Saturday--BLT Sandwiches

This week will see 5 new meals cooked, 1 nights of leftovers and 1 night of Take-Out/Eating-Out.

What I need to buy for this menu?  Rolls, Cabbage and Carrots(or a bagged Cole Slaw mix).  College Boy leaves on Wednesday so it's just Daughter and I for dinner that night so we'll get a pizza.  The end of the week will be using up leftovers mostly or I'll dig something out of the chest freezer that I can prepare without turning on the oven.

What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten last week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?


Sunday, August 20, 2017

College Boy's Summer Savings

I feared for the worst when Hubs and I took off a month ago for our Road Trip.
Feared for College Boy's progress toward financial/saving success.
If you remember, CB has only recently taken baby steps toward handling money well, and we had a sit-down heart to heart talk with him over money and how things would work this Summer.
That post is HERE.

I figured that once we left on our vacation all his good intentions would fly out the window and he'd stop putting his paychecks away to save.

But my fears were for naught it turns out!
College Boy didn't regress back into his spendthrift ways when I wasn't there to oversee his saving progress.

In fact, he withdrew his pay from that stupid "pay debit card" his employer loads up with his paycheck each week while we were away and had tucked the cash into an envelope in my computer desk awaiting my return and me putting this all in the bank..........

He was almost up to $1,100 saved by the time we returned!

This past week's check was spent on a new cell phone(and service)and a new keyboard for the computer he bought earlier this Summer(he hadn't bought a keyboard with it and was using an old one we had which shit the bed recently).
He'll get two more paychecks(one before leaving and the other once he is back at school)before ending his Summer employment which should get him close to his $1,500 goal.($2,100 total with $600 being spent on a planned purchase of a new computer, so $1,500 in cash.)

And that's even with his hours being cut at his job for a couple of weeks.

It's noticeable this Summer that he's being more thoughtful with his spending, even when I wasn't home to ride him about it. lolz

Now to see if he can hold it together when he gets back to school and doesn't fall off the spending rails when confronted with all the bad, bad temptations living away from home in his first apartment situation will present.

It's nice to see your kids "grow" up. 8-)


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Income & Spending Report.....July Update

* As Hubs retired effective July 1, I am no longer doing my 2017 Savings Challenge.
We ended that on June 30th.  The goal was $17.5K saved for the half of 2017 that Hubs was working.
We actually saved $21,100.42 all totaled, so $3600.42 over goal!

Now that we are living on savings and an annuity(no annuity until October)I am still going to keep track of our monthly spending and income, and hopefully we'll still be able to live BELOW our means and I'll have some leftover monies each month to tuck aside.
But this money leftover at the end of each month, at least for now(as we find our new financial "normal")won't be saved toward a yearly Savings Challenge.

The issue now is to cover all the bills with just the annuity payment each month plus some liquid savings(checking account cash)until October.
October is when Hubs turns 59.5 and then we can access the 401K retirement savings.  Until then things will be tight here at Chez Sluggy, so all the leftover monthly cash will get tucked aside to pay irregular bills that will be popping up in August and September.

Got it?
OK, let's move on.

Though nothing will be put toward it the rest of 2017, the 2017 $17.5K $AVING$ CHALLENGE Totals are still available
Check out the Savings Challenge page tab at the top of the blog for the specific numbers HERE.

On to the July report--
I have 2 goals for July.....
The 1st is to actually finish the month in the black and not the red.
The 2nd is to try to have a little cash leftover at the end of July to apply toward irregular bills that are coming due the next two months.

I have to report that we finished up July in the black.....barely.
The extra amount we ended the month of July with?.......$154.88


The income in July was the monthly annuity payment and Hubs' last paycheck(which was only for 1 week of work, his last).
We had -$17.60 left over from our income after our monthly expenses were deducted.
Other monies received in July totaled $172.48.  This was interest made on non-retirement accounts.
I am thankful for the small crumbs of interest in July.  If not for that little bit we'd have been negative at the end of July.

This brought us to our gain of $154.88
Since we have no debt, this will get put aside to apply to the irregular bill coming due in August--the homeowners insurance.

As for the expenses this July, here are the good and the bad side of things....


*  Phone charges and internet were approximately the same as last month(Within $1 or so).
*  The water bill was $7.62 less than in June.
*  The gas card bill was $40.88 lower than last month.
*  The cash withdrawals were $220 lower than in June.


*  The electric bill was $17.46 more than last month's mostly due to the washer/dryer running more and the kids having the a/c units in their rooms turned on all month.
*  The credit card bill was $43.94 higher in July compared to June.
*  The medical bills were $5.72 higher this month over last month's bills.
*  We had to pay deposits to have the electric and water put in our name at the LA house which came to $600.
*  I have a c/c charge for $153.41 for replacement clothing for me(mostly underthings and a Winter coat).
*  We had to pay the July health insurance premium of $1577.66(this use to come out of Hubs' paycheck automatically).  We haven't set up using the health insurance account through his employer yet to pay this bill so it came out of our monthly income.
*  I sent a birthday check to our eldest son for his July birthday.
*  We had a small bill for electric at the LA house.

The Food Budget costs for July are in another post, which is located HERE.

So we end July in the black with $154.88 to apply to the house insurance bill due in August.  That bill amounts to $668, so I just have to eek out another $513.12 from our August income to cover that along with all the regular monthly bills.

FINAL THOUGHTS on July---July kicked our asses mostly.
Between a high credit card bill, the utility deposits in LA and having to pay the health insurance premium OOP there were lots of irregular/variable bills last month.  These combined cost us $2100 or so over our usual "nut".  Making some interest on our accounts made the difference between making enough this month to cover all the bills.

THOUGHTS going forward into August of 2017----
August will be tight this year, I won't lie.
Between still paying the health insurance premium out of regular income and the yearly house insurance premium being due this month AND having a reduced income(just the annuity payment), August will be a "squeaker".  I am SO glad I have that $154.88 leftover after paying July's expenses to put toward the August bills!  That just might mean the difference between staying in the black for August.

The one good thing about August and September bills will be that all the Road Trip expenses put on the credit card(some due on August's bill and some due on September's bill)will be paid out of our savings and NOT our August income.  We planned and saved for this trip so it won't impact our regular bills/income.

So how was your July financially?
Did you spend less than the income you had in July?
Did you stay within your budget or not?
What did you do with any money leftover at the end of the month?
Did you pay off any debts or put extra toward your mortgage principle or into savings, in an emergency fund or a retirement account?
Or did you blow it on a want?

If you posted your financial progress on your own blog, leave a link in the comments so we can go check out your progress too and celebrate or commiserate with you!

I hope this year was the one were you cleaned up your finances and paid off your debts.
That you planned to set something aside if you didn't already or increased what you banked now for your future self.
Or paid extra on the principle of your mortgage if your house isn't already paid off.

Live below your means and keep some change for a rainy day....because no matter how sunny it is in your life now, dark clouds come along and you'll be glad you have that umbrella to keep you dry.