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Archive for May, 2008

Oh Ouch- Over Budget

May 22nd, 2008 at 02:54 pm

This month did not play out well, LOL. With the monthly budget coming largely to a close on Monday, we are well over budget for the month. It happens sometimes- at least we have been under budget more than not, which makes up for months like these.

A 6 month auto insurance policy was due, and while we plan for that, we also try to keep other expenses down in those months to help compensate. This month was a little different though. We needed $300 in unforeseen auto parts, $200 in home repair supplies, D.T. needed 2 fillings, and then the cat needed her RX meds bought. It just added up to a lot of expenses this past month.

The money is there though. This is why I keep a "pad" in the checking account.

The May-June cycle should be a bit better. As far as I know, nothing huge is looming for that period. The June-July cycle may end up over budget though, so we need to stay well below budget for the next 30 days.

We did really well on groceries this cycle though, only spending $230 for the month and it included a good deal of meat that went in the freezer. I have not yet calculated auto gas for the month, and am not looking forward to doing so. I have not even left the house in more than a week and am going stir crazy. D.T. said the last tank he bought was at $4.07/gallon. It haunts me how much worse it will get before it levels off for a while. Oh well, D.T.'s got to get to work.

Leftovers Revisited

May 13th, 2008 at 09:20 pm

I've generally tried to be very careful about not wasting food, but in light of recent grocery price increases, it's more important than ever.

Rather than suffer through leftovers, I'm trying to use this as an opportunity to be creative. I'm sharing this here because I've found that the family will often be very eager to eat what's prepared, until it's stigmatized because they know it's a re-do Smile Definitely can't tell them!

The secret I suppose is to "hide" the evidence so what's prepared looks like all new materials, even if it isn't.

Case in point: Last night we had a BBQ chicken focaccia. 1 cup of leftover, seasoned mashed potatoes (frozen from dinner 2 weeks back) went into the crust. It was delicious, moist, tender, and filling. The BBQ chicken that was part of the topping was also from that dinner 2 weeks ago- a leftover leg quarter that was chopped and frozen in BBQ sauce. They loved it, and the less the family knows, the better.

One of my favorite re-do's is freezer enchiladas. Enchilada sauce (homemade from a 25c can of tomato sauce and a handful of spices) is strong stuff and can effectively, and deliciously disguise just about anything. Any kind of leftover meat, rice, potatoes, cheese- anything that's been frozen and needs to go is a candidate for enchiladas. If there are corn or flour tortillas in the freezer that are past their prime, don't even bother to roll them, just layer them into a casserole.

We also have freezer pizza from time to time. This is a great way to use up little bits of meat, whether it be the tail end of a package of bacon, a lone bratwurst, a smidgen of kielbasa, ham scraps, etc. 2 oz of this and that becomes a pizza-load of bliss.

This weekend I'm planning on making a taco casserole. There's a small amount of leftover crockpot pork in the freezer, which can be shredded and combined with beans, leftover (frozen) rice, salsa that needs to be used up, and even the crumbly end of a bag of corn chips. Served with cheese and new corn chips, it will hopefully be a good couple of meals and also a big hit.

One of my biggest leftover challenges is my DD's oatmeal- or "ugmeal" as she calls it. She loves oatmeal much of the time, but sometimes I make it for her, thinking she wants it, and she turns up her nose. Since she hasn't touched it, into a 2 cup jar it goes, into the freezer. This morning I did a little digging around and found an oatmeal roll recipe that should work just about perfectly with 2 cups of prepared (brown sugar added) oatmeal. Can't wait to try it.

Another food leftover challenge I'm facing at the moment is the crumbs left in the shredded wheat bag when all the cereal is eaten- there always seems to be a rather large amount. Not too long ago I saw a recipe for cookies that called for grapenuts and I wondered if the "wheat shreds" might be a good substitute in that recipe. I'm not quite ready to try it, but will let you know how it goes when I do.

Although it's not a 100% proposition, I sure feel best when very little goes to waste. I wish that I always felt so optimistic and creative when it comes to this sort of thing, it's a lot more fun than always feeling discouraged by a too tight grocery budget.

Not Very Stimulating Thoughts

May 6th, 2008 at 06:38 pm

Our stimulus payment came Friday and I immediately transfered it to a MMA. I asked DH if he felt badly that we weren't spending it and stimulating the economy, and he said he didn't. His feeling is that we will spend it if we need to. Interesting point, I thought- "need to." I don't get the feeling that the money came in case we needed something, but rather to be spent on something extra as a way of dumping it back into the economy. It got me thinking about how much of our economy is based on fun and frivolous pursuits.

On a side note, I went grocery shopping this morning and found it interesting that there were some huge gaping holes on the shelves. There was no rice at all, and most of the canned corn was gone as well. Now you just know that all that wouldn't be gone if the media hadn't panicked the masses. All I can do is shake my head. That kind of stupidity panic will end up driving the price up more than if people just bought what they needed and risked a real shortage.

At least I didn't want/need corn or rice today, and there was still plenty of food otherwise. We won't go hungry- at least not this week.

Today: A Bright Spot in My Recent Funk

May 1st, 2008 at 07:31 pm

May marks a 3 paycheck month for us- with the first one coming in today. As usual, with a little forethought and planning, we're able to put the first paycheck of the month directly into savings and work with a 4 week break between usable paychecks. Though it's proving to be a tight month financially already (my budget month is mid-month to mid-month), I went ahead and put it all in savings, hoping none will have to be pulled out again later.

We're expecting our stimulus payment tomorrow, which will also go directly into savings- assuming it even shows up!

Got a $50+ rebate from our pay-in-full cash-back credit card.

And the water bill came in today- $40 under budget.

It's nice to have a day when you have some hope that you'll be able to do a little more than just stay afloat!