Saturday, April 29, 2017

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

It was a kind of hectic week around here, so anyone who e-mailed me and I didn't respond, please be assured that I'll respond to you here soon.  I just haven't had the energy to really even CHECK my e-mail, so replying just wasn't in the cards much.

My son has been keeping me busy lately and not in a good way, unfortunately.  He's been going through this phase where the self-injury behaviors have been getting worse and worse and now he's also branching out into starting with self-injury (usually smacking himself in the face...he's got a welt on the bridge of his nose right now from doing it) and then just randomly going into full blown temper tantrums, completely with hitting others, on top of it with no reason that can be discerned for the behavior at the time.  I finally had enough after his allergist appointment early in the week because he gets to stay home that day and he freaked out ALL DAY over a plastic shopping bag ripping on him wrong (he likes to tear bits of plastic off and float them on his breath).  After about the fifteenth time he smacked himself in the nose and hour three of screaming and hitting the walls and things, I'd had enough and called the pediatrician for a referral to a mental health professional at the end of my wits on how to help him.  We go in on Monday to see a person who specializes in autism behaviors and things.  I'm hoping that maybe that they'll be able to fix this through behavioral therapy instead of medication, but I'm not sure at this point.  We've managed to avoid all medicines, with the exception of allergy meds, for nearly nine years, and I do feel good about that, but it might be time to consider putting him on some.  We'll see how the appointment goes.  My anxiety level is at about 11 right now...this doesn't help it.

Shani has been going from one hospital to another looking for anyone who would take up her case to fight her cancer and hasn't had much luck finding one and she found out today that she has four tumors in her liver.  I'm trying to convince her that at this point if there is one thing that God has given her with this diagnosis, it was the gift of time.  My dad had heart problems for years, but seemed to be doing pretty well after getting a pace maker put in and then one day he was just gone in an instant.  So, at least she has an opportunity to pack some bags, go down south and be with her daughter and grand children, no matter the outcome and to just seek out treatment down South, if she is determined to fight the cancer.  I'm spoiling the chickens a bit with visits and things and I know it's because I can make them comfortable and happy where I can't do that for Shani.  It's the least I can do for her.

The husband started his new job this week as after he got through his class and passed it on Monday they told him he could set his start date for the new job.  Work was kind of non-existent on the old job front so my father-in-law told him to start Wednesday on the new job.  He really seems to like the new job, and the people he works with seem really nice...they even let him have Saturdays off until the Special Olympics swimming is over with, where normally he will have to work Saturdays.

There are some definitely worrisome disadvantages, though.  The biggest one being that the benefits at the new job go on a 12 month cycle, period, and so if you get hired during that 12 month period you have to make up the months you weren't working so your bulk benefits are right at the end of the year.  Confusing?  You bet.  So, basically, we have four months of benefit payments to make up...not an upper when your husband is taking a nearly ten dollar an hour pay cut to begin with.

He's also going to be on a twice a month payment schedule, so once I found out when he'd get paid, I went and arranged budget billing on the utilities and changed our due dates to accommodate the fact that I'm going to have to pay utilities in the middle of the month because the first pay period of the month we're going to have to use to pay the mortgage (and I pray we can do it that way).  Hopefully once the beginning bumps work themselves out (I pray with every fiber of my being we can make enough to live on until the benefits sort themselves out) we'll be able to start socking money away to move. 

So, anyway, let's get to the money saving things that happened this week, shall we?

1.  The chickens have been very, very happy in their new home and have gifted me with of the hens, not sure which one, has even laid double eggs a couple of days the last couple of weeks.  Which means I've been having eggs to spare lately (some of them seen up top there).   I was even able to trade some eggs with a friend of mine as she knew I had chickens (I asked her for advice when I first got the chickens and was trying to figure things out a bit) and offered to buy some eggs off of me if I had extra.  I gave her a dozen eggs (for free as I just had the extra and I knew she's on a budget too) and she surprised me by giving me a jar of goat's milk from her goats in return (she was insistent I take at least that as I turned down money).  I was impressed that the milk actually doesn't taste gamey at all and is actually really rich and creamy, as  I'd always heard goat's milk was really strong tasting compared to cow's milk.  I've been enjoying it in my coffee for the most part (seen up top in one of my "pretty" jars), which saved me from having to buy 1/2 and 1/2 for the next couple of weeks and my friend enjoyed her dozen eggs as did her kids, so win-win.

2.  I want to thank the people who suggested I use the dough cycle on the bread machine to mix up and get whole grain breads through the first rise cycle.  BOY does that work better than baking the bread in the bread machine.  I made some nine grain bread and it came out fabulously by using the dough cycle and then putting the dough into a loaf pan and letting it do it's second rise in there (seen up top in it's first-slice-taken-off glory).  Thanks again for the tip, all!

3.  I harvested lettuce not once, but twice from the hydroponic garden this week (the second harvest seen up top as well).  I can't believe how fast the lettuce recoups on the hydroponic garden.  I have to say I'm impressed and happy as the weather outside hasn't been really adequate to plant seeds yet (ground still really cold and we had rain showers all week), so I'm happy being able to harvest something from somewhere at this point.  Here's hoping I can get some seeds in tomorrow or something.  I'm hoping to at least get peas and some root vegetables started this week as they need so long to grow.

4.  I was able to pick up freebies at the store this week while shopping.  Shopping ended up being 100.00 this week, unfortunately, but we were out of a lot and the cats were out of dried food and the chickens were nearly out of their food as well (I learned that I needed to up their protein since they were older birds, which is probably why they were blowing through their feed so quickly, so I got a higher level of protein feed and that seems to be cutting down on the amount of feed they are blowing through, so yay for that).  The biggest purchases this week on the human food front were getting seedless watermelon for 2.50 a piece (Carrs has them on sale this week) and getting gold potatoes for .88 a pound (also on sale at Carrs).  I got enough potatoes to last for a while and we've enjoyed the watermelon the last few days with dinner and for snacks.

5.  Freebies at the store this week included a free thing of salt, a free loaf of french bread from the store bakery (which my husband likes to eat for snacks and things, so it's definitely getting eaten), a free thing of sparkling lemonade, a free thing of powdered gravy mix, a free thing of hot dog buns and a free doughnut.  The doughnut  and the lemonade I had for lunch after shopping as I was starving by the time I got done running to the feed store and everything else (not an ideal lunch on the nutrition side, but it worked).   The Monopoly game is going to be ending soon and I am going to miss it as the free product coupons I've won have been really nice to get.

6.  I mended a zipper that was coming apart at the seam on my son's back pack.  I am determined to get the backpack to make it through the rest of the school year.  The zipper is separating slowly but surely and things, but so far, so good and luckily with the snow gear no longer in the back pack the load on the back pack is pretty much non-existent so I'm pretty confident the backpack will make it.

7.  A benefit to the husband's new job is that my husband found that the airport is a REALLY expensive place to eat and packing lunch is really easy there as they have an actual break room with a fridge and things.  So, I'm thrilled that I'll be able to pack him lunch on a regular basis, which will not only benefit his general diet, but also will help us save money.

So, it's been...years, since I really thought of packing lunch on a daily basis where you can reheat food and things being an option.  Anyone got some good recommendations and things to make/pack to help add some variety to my husband's lunches?

8.  I made up a batch of onion soup mix and put it into the cupboard to use later on.  I've found that having that stuff home can't tell the difference between the store bought stuff and the home made stuff in a recipe and making it at home is a lot cheaper than buying a box of the stuff!  And since I use it a lot in crock pot meals, it is so worth making it in decent quantities.

9.  I was actually able to pull out the grill this week!  I cut up one of the lamb roasts I got for cheap into rib loin chops and grilled them.  They came out yummy and made enough for two meals!  Not bad for a 2.00 roast :).

10.  I used up a bunch of carrots that were getting a bit old, some old potatoes from the fridge and some turnips from the freezer, along with one of the few corned beef briskets I had in the freezer and made a corned beef dinner earlier in the week.  I pulled out 1/2 of a loaf of home made bread that I had thrown in the freezer earlier after I defrosted it on the counter for a while and voila!  A meal of essentially left overs and castaways that filled us up and tasted good.

And there you go folks.  Some of my adventures this week.  How did you do?


  1. Wow!! Lots of food freebies for you! Last week I got my free mac and cheeze from kroger, but they didnt have the popcorn yet. I won a half gallon of tea, and I chose unsweet so my husband. Could take it for work. My mom gave us a corned beef she couldn't use before she left on a trip, so need to figure that out. Never mind done one before.

    I pack my husbands lunches 90% of the time. Its mostly leftovers sometimes sandwiches and chips. He doesn't eat fruit. A piece of lettuce on there and it feels more special than meat and cheese.

    I am sorry you've had it so rough with your son. No matter what happens, you have done an incredible job with him, as loving, unselfish, caring and as patient as a mom could be. If he has to take medicine, no, its not anyone'sfirst choice, but it might help, and even better, may not be a permanent thing. I am sure it will work out well for you all!!!

    Our week has been ok, my oldest won 2 cakes as the school carnival, so thats been wonderful! We had our biggest yard sale ever, and made more than ever, so that we let ourselves have dinner out, and also it will pay for gas, food and part of the hotels on the way down to flordia this summer. I got sunburned though, even though I put on sunscrean twice. I wont be using that brand again. My youngest is having trouble breathing all of a sudden, and a sore throat so keeping an eye on that.

  2. My heart goes out to you with the problems you are experiencing with your son. I pray that the new doctor will have some alternative that is just right for your family. God bless you - as that is not an easy situation.

    Glad your husband seems to like his new job. Cutting pay and benefits is always rough - but you will get into the groove soon. YAY on him getting to take his lunch. There are always gives and takes!

    I have to say 1 - 10 were ALL good things that happened in your life this week. So glad to hear it! Great savings.

    God bless

  3. I''m sorry your son is having more trouble. I think you are wise to try the medicine route. It really helped some of my kids. You can always stop if you think it isn't working.

    My husband is really self-reliant in the lunch department. I bought him an insulated lunchbox with an ice pack. He freezes that each night when he empties his lunchpail. There were little plastic containers in the lunchbox, so he fills some or all of them each night after dinner, or in the morning. He puts in leftovers from dinner, or rolled-up lunchmeat, cheese slices, home-canned fruit, a Coke, some chips or crackers, etc. Whatever we have he likes. We put the filled containers in the fridge, and he grabs them, the ice pack, non-refrigerated items and is off in the morning. He makes a Stanley thermos of coffee each morning, and takes that ever day.

    I hope your week is good.

  4. I usually make extra of dinner for hubby to take leftovers for his lunch. I find that it works best if I take out his lunch portion before we eat. I will also make up a batch of sloppy joe or taco meat and freeze it in portion sizes. On those nights there aren't leftover I have something to pull out for his lunch. It saves a ton of money by packing his lunch!

  5. You've had some amazing accomplishments this week, Erika. Way to go! I love how many freebies you have been able to get with the monopoly game. What a great way to stock up the pantry.

    I love that you were able to trade your eggs with a friend for some goats milk. Trading with people for something they have a surplus of makes a lot of sense to me! It allows both your families to have more variety in your diet without extra expense.

    Aside from the already suggested leftovers, you could make some homemade potato salad or pasta salad for your husband to take in his lunches. Keep a container of boiled eggs in the fridge to use for egg salad sandwiches, deviled eggs or just a plain boiled egg (can be used for quick breakfast item too). Make a large batch of soup, chili or stew for dinner and use the leftovers to take in lunches. He could take a plain potato to bake in the microwave at work with separate containers of topping. If he doesn't like frequently repeated meals, freeze lunch sized portions of leftovers for him to choose from later on. So many options when he has access to a microwave! Oh, and make sure to bake enough treats for DD, DS & DH to take a homemade goodie in their lunch each day. ;)

    As for medication for your son, I'm not sure why you are so against medications. If you have a headache, do you not take something to help it? Then why wouldn't you consider meds if it will help your son deal with life? Honestly, once my daughter was on the right meds, it made a huge difference with how she was able to interact with and tolerate the world around her. It just might take some time to find the right combo, so don't be too quick to give up. You won't regret it.

  6. It is wonderful that your husband can take his lunch to work now. Since there is a microwave where he can re-heat things, left overs are now an option. One way to make sure you have some for his lunch, is to pack a portion in the container before you serve everyone their supper.
    My hubby is an over the road trucker, so I pack him a "love lunch" on his first day back on the road after time at home. I make sandwiches with the lunch meat touching the bread and the lettuce & veggies in the middle. This helps the bread not get soggy. "Cuties mandarin oranges travel well, so they are a great fruit to include with lunch (when then are on sale, of course). I also try to throw a surprise candy bar in the lunch bag too, for a special treat.

  7. Erika, you have made the right decision to hold off on the medications until they were absolutely necessary. Running to pills to solve every little problem always backfires. You have been prudent, wise and cautious especially since your son has allergies. Be proud that you have managed so long without drugs.

    Only an experienced tightwad would see the bright side of an expensive work cafeteria. It forces a nontightwad to agree to carry their lunch. If it had only been a little bit expensive, they would still spend the money. Sticker shock is advantageous. You will save quite a bit fixing lunches and you will make it part of your everyday routine.

    What you have accomplished since you have been blogging is amazing. I LOVE THE PICTURE YOU POSTED AT THE TOP! It looks like something from a fancy magazine and to think everything in that basket is something healthy you have achieved for your family for pennies. Good job!


  8. For lunches....check out the Shelton house blog. She has some really neat ideas for homemade lunches.
    I also loved your picture. Good luck with getting help for your son.

  9. I never feed bought food to my chickens. You can throw out a few seeds to get greens for them. Mine have thrived and given me eggs with golden yolks. Take the yolks and put them on a pie pan and put in the oven after you have turned off the oven from baking. Crush well and they have plenty of calcium right there. There is protein in every scrap of meat left from your table. Some greens are very high in protein. You do not need to spend one penny on chicken food! Pull something green from your yard to feed them if you don't free-range them. Keep bartering with the eggs! Wise and frugal! I keep a bowl on the counter to place all peelings, seeds, and cores for chickens. Edges and corners of sandwiches go there, too. I pour a little grease from meat cooking there because chickens need the oils just like people do.

  10. For my husbands and daughters lunches, they get leftovers, if there is any. Or sometimes for my husband I will take leftover meat and turn it into some kind of sandwhich. For instance, leftover roast on a bun with a slice of pepperjack cheese. Then if we are out of leftovers I will make a sandwhich, meat or pbj for the hubby. Sometimes I will buy him those cheap nasty frozen burritos. Sometimes I will do egg salad. Sometimes I just pack the daughter some canned soup in her thermos. Then for my daughter she gets a dairy (yogurt, string cheese, cut up cheese), a fruit or veggie (grapes, orange, cucumber slices, etc.) and then a treat, which is usually something homemade or chips or whatever "junky crap" we have. Sometimes popcorn. The hubby works a hard, dirty, 12 hour shift so I give him a whole lot more junk. Plus he has to eat his salt and sugar so usually his lunch box is very full.

  11. Hi Erika. I'm a mother of a 23 year old daughter who has struggled the same way you have with your son. Your story sounds almost exactly like mine. A long story short, the meds ended up not helping my daughter much other than putting her in a zombie like state. I'm not saying that meds wouldn't help with your son as they have helped lots of children. Mine however, was a huge no-go. I was totally at my wits end and not to mention, completely exhausted after so many years of this. As a very last resort, I had decided to go to a naturalist who specialized in this sort of thing. He had excellent reviews with a "no fail" practice under his belt. I thought to myself IMPOSSIBLE! I still went to see him. My daughter was 21 at the time. They did tons of different tests which included blood work, xrays, MRI's, mental ect. The results were horrifying! Her brain and her system was overloaded with metals and toxins and had been since she was little. She had allergies due to all of the gluten that she was consuming (she would only eat potatoes, doritos and bread), mixed with the toxins and metals.......put her body through complete chaos. So we started to slowly detox her, very slowly. As time went on I noticed subtle little changes such as she would try a vegetable or fruit (but only tasting it to the very tip of her tongue lol!), she would utter a word hear and there, her skin started getting better, her anger issues became less and less and then it happened.........she uttered the word "Mama" and hugged me. I cried and cried, then cried some more! It's been a year and a half and she is now doing 5th grade work! She is talking, talking, talking! I asked her once if she could remember why she would get so angry at times? She told me "Mama, you would take me to get the shots and I would always feel yucky afterwards but I couldn't tell you. I wanted to eat what you were eating but the only thing that tasted good was the potatoes, doritos and bread. But now everything tastes good! I couldn't tell you that either because I didn't know how, but now I do know how." My heart sank, it sank it so hard to know that I was actually hurting her, when I thought I was helping her. Basically, we slowly started detoxing her (and it is still a work in progress as it takes time and only under a doctor's care), we stopped all allergy shots and flu shots because in my daughter's case, we were actually destroying her immune system. Some kids can handle immunizations and other shots, other kids cannot. Now that I look back, even after getting the flu shot she was still getting sick and the shots didn't lessen the symptoms either. Allowing her to fight off colds and flus naturally helped build her immune system up (this was a tough one for me to do because she would put everything in her mouth). I stopped using commercial cleaning products on my carpet so much and went to using just bleach, dish soap, water and old fashioned elbow grease. It's been a work in progress. It has been a year and a half now and the child is eating everything in sight and experiencing new smells, tastes/flavors, speaking, writing, doing 5th grade level school work and is all around very happy. At this point, we don't know if she will ever be where she needs to be for the age of 23 due to the length of time she has had the metals and toxins in her brain and system (its still yet to early to tell if major damage was done) but I can tell you this, she is a far cry from where she was. In fact, what she has accomplished so far is nothing short of a miracle! And to this day......the girl will not touch a potato, a Dorito or a piece of bread lol! I know that every child is different, I just wanted to share my story with you and to let you know that there is hope. Never give up Erika, our babies need us to fight for them. It will get better :)

  12. Erika, this is my first time to comment, but I wanted to share what I do for lunches for myself and my husband. I freeze portions in wide mouth pint jars. Things like spaghetti, chili, stroganoff, soups and stews. They are always ready to go and when you get ready to eat, just take the lid off and microwave right in the jar. Because I don't have always have access to a refrigerator, this food will keep just fine all day in my backpack. If I don't get a chance to eat that day, the food is still partially frozen when I get home and I can take it again the next day. The main thing is to not overfill the jars before freezing or they will break.