Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

Here are some of the ways that I saved money this week:

This pony bead fish is perfect for religious settings like Sunday School or VBS, or as an ocean or beach...

1. Made a cute Sunday School Craft for 12 kids for less than $2

My church class has been studying early Christian symbols, so when I saw this really cute craft, I knew my kids would love it.  Luckily, I had found a huge box of beads last summer at a yard sale for $1, so there was no need to rush out and buy brand new ones.  (My daughter donated some yarn for the necklace part, so the only thing I had to buy were pipe cleaners for $1.)  My class really had a fun time and they looked super cute wearing their Christian symbols home:)

2. Organized my “homeschool” room

I have four wall shelves full of homeschool supplies that somehow get into disarray periodically.  So this week, I organized the mess and found lots of things we had forgotten that we had bought at the beginning of the school year.  This actually saved me money because my daughter needed graphing paper and I remembered that I saw some in a pile of notebooks that I had just organized yesterday. Happy student=Happy mama!

3. Prolonged refrigerator lifespan

Surely I am not the only one who has broken refrigerator shelves???! I love my refrigerator because it has everything that I love, including a working ice/water dispenser, but it is getting old quickly.  Over the past few years, the door shelves have started cracking and my cheese/meat drawer has a broken side that needs TLC daily.  After almost breaking the drawer off for the hundredth time, I realized that I could simply switch my cheese/meat drawer location to the bottom drawer and move my fruits and veggies up into the cheese drawer.  This worked wonderfully! Hopefully this will prolong my refrigerator’s life for a few more years:)

4. Ground up my own chicken

Ground chicken is crazy expensive!! I think most brands are almost $4 per lb, which is silly, because whole chicken breasts are just $2 per lb. Luckily, I remembered my dad had a meat grinder, so I saved $8 by grinding up 4lbs of chicken breast myself.

5. Thrift Store Finds

legothrift

We found some great deals at the thrift store this week.  I snatched up this beautiful quilt for my daughter for $3 and a nice size bag of Duplo blocks for my son for just $3.

 

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Goals

Goal Update Week 4

1. Walk 500 miles this year

walkingdvd

I walked 8 miles this week. So my total mileage for this year: 32 miles down and 468 miles to go.

2. Eat less than 30 net carbs a day

I did this 6 out of 7 days this week.

3. Add twelve new products to my Teachers pay Teachers store this year

I added one new product this week about famous composers and actually sold a product as well:)

4. Have two date night a month Accomplished

We went out for sushi and watched The Accountant at home (we really liked it, but we enjoy action movies)

5. Have two family game nights a month Accomplished

6. Read at least 2 non-fiction books each month Accomplished

Books I have read this month:  Living Your Strengths by Don Clifton, 7 by Jen Hatmaker (a must read), The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas by Linda Dobson, The Everything Guide to Homeschooling Book by Sherri Linsenbach

7. Have one no spend week a month Accomplished

8. Buy nothing new

 

legothrift
These were not the actual Duplos we bought, but are one of Ben’s many creations

 

So far so good!

This week at the thrift store, we bought a set of Duplo blocks for $3 and a beautiful twin size quilt for $3.

9. Five dollar weekly challenge

 

charity
$20 bought all of these items to donate this month!

 

My mom had lots of coupons for toothbrushes and toothpastes, so we used those at Kroger and got a nice variety of items for just $.38 each.  I also added some pantry items that we had gotten for free/cheap over the past few months that we will not use to donate to my church’s food pantry.  Overall, I have been amazed at how much $5 a week can buy for charity, especially if you have coupons and find great sales.

 

 

 

Recipes

Low Carb Stir fry (Gluten Free)

sautee mix

This is one of my favorite go to recipes that I love to make if I am in a hurry or have no leftovers for lunch. As long as you like zucchini, mushrooms, and smoked sausage, you should love this recipe.

Ingredients

1 large or 2 small zucchinis

8 oz. package of mushrooms (either sliced or whole)

1 large link of smoked sausage (I prefer skinless but that is just me)

garlic salt and pepper

oil (any kind will do)

Instructions

1. Cut the zucchini and the smoked sausage into half inch slices. (You can cut the mushrooms in half if you like smaller bites or leave whole if they are small. Also if your zucchini is large you can cut the slices in half to make smaller bites.)

2. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. When the oil is hot, add in the zucchini and mushrooms first and stir to coat them in the oil.

4. After a few minutes, add in the smoked sausage.

5. Sprinkle on a few dashes of garlic salt and pepper and stir well.

6. Continue to stir the mixture occasionally and make sure nothing is sticking or burning.

7. Everything is done when the veggies and the meat are slightly browned and the veggies look tender.

8. Serve hot and enjoy! This also makes wonderful leftovers:)

Weekly Menu Plan

Low Carb Menu Plan

I found a huge package of mushrooms on clearance this week, so I have a couple of recipes planned that feature mushrooms. I also am trying out a new low carb recipe that I will share with you if it turns out ok, it sounds delicious at least.

Monday- Buffalo chicken bites (new recipe) and stuffed mushrooms

Tuesday- Hamburgers and either zucchini fries or homemade sweet potato fries

zucchini fries

Wednesday- Fathead pizza and veggie dippers

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Thursday- Spanish “rice” bake and green beans

mexi rice

Friday- Low carb stir fry (recipe coming Wednesday)

sautee mix

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Thrift store deals

I found two pairs of like-new pajama pants for my son for just $1 each and scored two almost brand new Captain Underpants books for $.50 each…Tra La La Laaaaa! **Captain Underpants humor:)

This also led to a great life lesson for my son.  When I brought home the books, I reminded him that just a few weeks ago he spent $5 of his Christmas money on a new book and that if he had just waited and found the books at the thrift store he could have gotten ten slightly used books for the same price as the brand new one….It was like a lightbulb went off in his head:)

2. Snow day

We had a couple of snow days last week (which is rare for North Alabama), so we saved money by staying home and enjoying the snow while it lasted.  We made snow slushies and miniature snowmen:)

3.  Got electrical work done for free

I cannot even begin to think of all the money I have saved by asking my wonderful dad for help over the years.  He has helped us to install our laminate floors, redo two bathrooms, install a huge pantry, remodel our kitchen, put on a new metal roof, fix numerous car issues, and the list goes on and on.  This week he fixed a light switch that had been shocking us for awhile in like 20 minutes flat! ** I might could have done this myself by following a Youtube video, but I am sure it would have involved multiple hours and a shock or two!! So thank you Daddy:)

4. We Love Kroger!

I received a free cream cheese, a free Larabar, and a free bag of cheddar popcorn all due to simply having a shopper’s card to their store.  They also had six packs of bottled sodas for just $1.49 each and Boston butts for $.99/lb.

5. All of the usual things that I don’t usually list

Like saving stamps by paying bills online, making all of our meals at home, using the library to supplement our homeschool days, etc.  It might be boring but it saves a lot of money over time:)

What have you done this past week to save money??

 

 

 

Goals

Goal Update Week 3

1.Walk 500 miles this year

I was a slacker this past week and only walked 6 miles.  So my total mileage for the year: 24 miles down and 476 miles to go

2. Eat less than 30 net carbs a day

I did this 6 out of 7 days this week

3. Add twelve new products to my Teachers pay Teachers store this year.

I am currently finishing up a study guide on composers that should get listed this week.

4. Have two date nights a month

One more to go!

5. Have two family game nights a month Accomplished

6. Read at least 2 non-fiction books each month Accomplished

I actually read four!

7. Have one no spend week a month Accomplished

8. Buy nothing new

So far so good!

This week at the thrift store, we bought two pairs of pajama pants for just $0.99 each and two Captain Underpants books for $0.50 a piece. **Needless to say, our bedtime reading contains lots of potty humor:)

9. Five dollar weekly challenge

I decided to go simple this week and bought rice and beans. **Five dollars bought 50 servings of rice and beans (that’s just $0.10 a serving)…that makes me smile:)

 

 

Homeschooling

Learning with Pinterest (Snow edition)

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This week we had a snow day, so we decided to focus our science and art on all things snow related, like polar bears, the Arctic, snowmen, and Eskimos.  Luckily, between Pinterest and our library we had a ton of really cute ideas to choose from.

Books we read:

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Snow Bear by Jean Craighead George:  A cute story about a little Eskimo girl that befriends a baby polar bear.  The pictures are especially pretty.

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There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow! by Lucille Colandro:  Ben especially liked this book.  This lady keeps swallowing random things and eventually spits out a snowman.  Silly, but cute:)

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Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan:  We actually own this book because we love it! Its an adorable story about a little girl that keeps rebuilding the same snowman throughout the winter and finds a fun way to save it to make a new one the next winter.

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Cupboard Bear by Jez Alborough:  This was a new rhyming book we found at the library and really liked.  This story is about a polar bear that has a really realistic dream about snow turning into ice cream.

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The Hat by Jan Brett:  This is a silly story about a little hedgehog that gets a sock stuck on his head and tries to convince all the animals that he is happy and warm, when all he really wants is to get the sock off of him.

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Way up in the Arctic by Jennifer Ward:  This was a really cute rhyming book that introduces different Arctic animals as it counts up to ten.  Ben especially loved it because the numbers were hidden in the pictures, so he enjoyed finding each one.

After we read all of these great books, we picked out some crafty art projects from Pinterest to do for fun.

This one was a really adorable Eskimo that we made using a coffee filter and cotton balls.

 

 

 

 

eskimo
Ben’s Eskimo

 

 

We also found this cute craft that gives a window view of a snowman outside in the yard.

 

art projects for christmas | Kindergarten Kids At Play: Fun Winter & Christmas Craftivities
Pinterest version
snowmanart
Ben’s version

 

After we read our books and did our crafts, I asked Ben some questions to see what he retained.

1. Name three animals that are found in the Arctic.

2. What kind of a home do Eskimos live in?

3. What is an igloo made out of?

4. What does a Polar bear eat?

5. Is the Arctic warm or cold?

6. Is the Arctic at the North Pole or South Pole?

**I am always amazed at how many facts children’s storybooks contain!

After we did all of our school work we headed outside and made what I call “Southern snowmen”….or otherwise known as miniature snowmen:)

 

Then we finished our day with homemade slushes made from fresh snow and Kool-Aid…the kids might have had 3 or 4….

benicee
Yum

 

Well that was how we worked a snow day into our homeschool routine and made some great memories along the way!

 

Weekly Menu Plan

Low Carb Weekly Menu Plan

I have missed posting my menu plans for the past two weeks, so here are a few of the meals we have eaten lately:

1. Pork loin in the crockpot, buttered steamed carrots, broccoli and cheese (This was probably my easiest meal this week. I simply sprinkled the pork loin with garlic salt and pepper and cooked it on low in my crockpot for 6 hrs.  Then I steamed the broccoli and carrots in the microwave. Added butter and salt to the carrots. Added a little Velvetta cheese to the broccoli and boom dinner was served. Quick and easy)

2. Buffalo chicken dip, Beanitos (chips made from beans, sounds weird but strangely delicious), sliced bell peppers with ranch dressing

3. Hamburgers, roasted sweet potato fries, sautéed mushrooms

4. Chicken spinach casserole (basically spinach dip with chicken, topped with cheese), sautéed zucchini

5. Meatloaf, green beans, brown rice

6. Taco salad minus the taco shell

7. Low carb burritos, veggie dippers

**These are my favorite low carb tortillas because they taste great, are only 5 net carbs a piece, and contain 11g of fiber per tortilla.

 

Recipes

Low Carb Chicken Parmesan (Gluten-free)

chick parm

I happened upon the idea for this recipe while I was trying to find an alternative way to make my daughter’s favorite meal, Chicken Parmesan, gluten-free.  I tried many different ways to make the breading, but they all turned out to be either gummy or weird, so I decided to try something more simple…just parmesan cheese…and it worked out really well. (I sometimes use just parmesan cheese and other times I might add in a little Pamela’s baking mix or brown rice flour to give it a thicker dimension, but the parmesan cheese works just as well on its own)

Ingredients

2-3 large chicken breasts, sliced thin

1/3 cup of oil (for frying) **You may need more depending on how big of a skillet you are using. You need to have a thin coating of oil (like a 1/4 inch) on the entire bottom of the skillet.

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups of parmesan cheese (the powdered variety that comes in a shaker) **more may be needed depending on how much breading you prefer, you can also do half parmesan cheese and half rice flour or half parmesan cheese and wheat flour, if you aren’t gluten-free)

1/2 tsp of garlic salt

1/4 tsp of black pepper

2 cups of spaghetti sauce (Classico’s Tomato and Basil has the lowest net carbs of any non-specialty sauce I have seen)

2 cups of mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

1. On a large plate or a shallow bowl, mix together the parmesan cheese, garlic salt, and black pepper and set aside.

2. In another bowl, beat 2 eggs and set aside.

3. Make sure your chicken breasts are sliced really thin, less than a half-inch is ideal.

4. Begin to heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

5. While the oil is heating, coat the chicken in the parmesan mixture, then dip into the egg mixture, and then coat the chicken again in the parmesan mixture. (The double coating really helps the breading to stick better)

6. After the chicken is breaded, place into the hot oil. **It should be somewhat sizzling, if it is making a lot of noise and popping sounds, you might need to lower the heat to prevent scorching.

7. After about 3-5 minutes (depends on how thick the chicken is), you can use a spatula and peek at the underside of the chicken to see if its golden brown.  **One trick I use when making this recipe, is to make sure the first side is really cooked well before I try to flip it, otherwise the breading might stick to the pan.

8. If the underside is a dark gold color, then use a spatula to flip the chicken over to the other side.  **This breading is not like other breadings, so you need to make sure you really scrap the bottom of the pan while flipping the chicken, in order to make sure it doesn’t fall off.

9. After about 3-5 more minutes, you can start to check and see if the inside of the chicken is still pink.

10. Once the chicken is golden on both sides and no longer pink inside, you should transfer it to a large casserole dish.  **Some of the breading may have fallen off in the transfer, if so, simply scrape it out of the skillet and place it on top of the chicken in the casserole dish.  Trust me the flavor is still there and it doesn’t matter if it is sticking to the chicken or not!

11. Then top the chicken with spaghetti sauce and then finally add the mozzarella cheese on top.

12. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is well cooked and slightly golden.

13. Let the dish cool for 5 minutes before you serve it and then enjoy!

**We always serve this with a side salad…yum!  Another variation that I sometimes do, is add some pepperoni on top of the cheese before I bake it or even other pizza toppings would work.  I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as my family does. Let me know if you try it out!

 

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

Here are some of the things we did last week to save money:

1. Made homemade pizza and dessert for Family Game Night

We had a subpar pizza experience this time due to a new brand of flour, which yielded a really thick dough, but everyone ate it anyways and we finished up with homemade oatmeal candy.

2. Lowered our electric bill by $50

We heat with wood downstairs, but use wall heaters upstairs during the winter.  I have found if we only turn the heaters on after 7pm and turn them off around 3 am, we still stay toasty and our electric bill is considerably lower this way too.

3. Upgraded our guinea pig house 

We have a really chubby guinea pig named Waffles that knocks her house over all of the time because she likes to jump when she is scared.  To solve this problem, we have been putting a small hand weight on top of the house, which has worked out fine, but I have always feared that it will somehow roll off and crush the poor little darling!  I really did not want to spend $20 on a new guinea pig house when technically the one we already had was just fine, but luckily we saw a really big one at the thrift store for just $1.99 and scooped it up:)

4. Bought used children’s books

I picked up four used children’s books this week for only $1.75.  Whenever I come across a book that is both in great condition and one we have really loved, I always pick it up and add it to my gift stash that I collect throughout the year to give to my neices and nephews for birthday/Christmas gifts.  They always love the variety and I know they are really great stories because my kids have read them again and again.

5. Found a dry dog food that our dog will actually eat!!!

This was probably the best money saving thing I have done all week.  Our beloved dog, Sadie, had been sick for a few weeks and would only eat small amounts of soft foods at a time.  We finally got her to eat again by offering wet dog food, but that was quickly getting expensive when her appetite came back, so we tried to switch her back to her favorite dry food to no success.  This past week, I came upon a small bag of Gravy Train dog food that apparently makes its own gravy when water is added, so I decided to try that….it worked! She was a little unhappy at first because she thought it was dry dog food but then she realized it had a gravy coating on it and promptly gobbled it up:)

So what have you been doing to save money lately?