September Groceries & Menu: First Trip

I have a love hate relationship with the grocery store.  I love to save money on food and other things my family needs, but I really hate taking the time to go get it done.  So early last week I decided that I would start planning my menu and grocery list for two weeks. That’s right, I will buy two weeks worth of groceries and make it last.  During the week I do not have a regular grocery trip, I will supplement with a quick produce, milk and bread trip if any of that is needed.

Let me tell you, this has been great for my sanity.  You see things have been pretty crazy around here between end of summer trips, school starting, planning our homeschool year, bills, budgets, college costs, and the list can go on.  Not to mention I was missing my thyroid medicine too much and began feeling really tired and groggy.  I am now making sure I get my medicine every day, and I will get my levels checked next week.  We have our first month of school planned, and I feel much better.

So, last week I planned the menu, made the list and set out for our first trip of 2 weeks worth of groceries.  I budget $150 per week, and will continue putting that much into my grocery account each week, which will give me my $300 for every two weeks.  I will adjust the budget along the way as needed for the recent steadily rising food prices. Meat is really going to be a big budget problem this year.  So I will be really trying hard to stock up when there are sales of the meat we use a lot.

September Groceries 1

September Groceries 2

September Groceries 3Those cans of chicken, tuna and beans are for hubby’s lunch and dinner.  He’s trying to eat less.

September Groceries 4

September Groceries 5

September Groceries 6

I did all my shopping at Walmart for the week using price matching and $10.00 in coupons to make my final total for this trip $232.85.  Under budget so far for the month of September.  That’s a good thing!

I feel like I didn’t have to spend too much more time planning for 2 weeks of meals and a two week list.  I was even able to add a couple meals to the freezer, which will be an upcoming blog post, but we gotta taste them first.

So onto the menu for the two weeks:

Breakfasts don’t change much around here, so you may always see some of the same items.

french toast
cereal
oatmeal
eggs and toast
muffins
fruit and yogurt

Lunches

Cheese Quesadillas
Sandwiches
Cheese, crackers and fruit
Smoothies
Noodles
Leftovers

Suppers

Sloppy Joe’s, chips and pickles
Scalloped Potatoes with ham
Coconut Lime Chicken
Lemon Chicken in slow cooker with rice and a veggie
Meatballs, hashbrowns and corn
Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Mashed potatoes and corn
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake
Chicken, Broccoli Rice Casserole

Leftovers
Meals out of our house X 3

Extras

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Pudding
Banana bread
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Phew, I made it and so far we haven’t had to add anything, but never fear that if we do, I will keep you updated so we can keep the budget totals correct.

How often do you grocery shop?  How do you prepare for your trips?

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Meal Ideas For Busy People

By now most schools have gotten started, and along with all that comes the activities, appointments and after school commitments.  So what do you do to keep your family out of the drive thru or from hitting that convenience store for a quick lunch?

Drive Thruphoto credit

You read these great tips I have found for freezer meals and amazing and healthy lunch ideas!

You guessed it, I’m in the same boat as you.  Things get pretty busy around here when school gets started (we are starting Monday), and I don’t have time to be in the kitchen all the time worrying over meals, while I need to be helping the girls with school ….. or washing and folding the never ending laundry.

I found several great articles on lunch ideas, freezer meals and slow cooker freezer meals.  I will be trying some of these over the next couple of months as well as using some of my favorite recipes to help my family stay out of the drive thru.

I will be sharing my experiences, opinions and recipes with you guys, as well as pictures of my work, good or bad.

I will also return to sharing my grocery shopping trips and amounts with you guys again!  I didn’t know everyone liked them so much, but I have gotten so many emails asking for me to start doing this again and I am happy to oblige.

Lunch Ideas photo credit

Rock The Lunchbox has great ideas in pictures to help you get started on packing those lunches.  You can check the boxes towards the top to see ideas for different dietary needs.  There is also a place to print some coupons for healthy lunch additions.

Think Outside The Sandwich is a video over at 100 Days of Real Food.  You will find some great ideas in this video as well as a recipe index for many real food recipes.  You might also find 10 Recipes to Freeze For School Lunches and 10 Ways To Switch Up Your Kids Lunch very useful as well.

The Humbled Homemaker has 5 Easy Real Food School Lunches Ready In 30 Minutes For Less Than $5.

20 Non-Sandwich School Ideas For Kids featured allergy free and gluten free ideas and pictures for getting those lunches packed.

Don’t Waste The Crumbs has a great read on Making Your Own Healthy Homemade Lunchables.

freezer slow cooker freezer meals

New Leaf Wellness shows you how to prepare Five Freezer Slow Cooker Meals in an Hour, as well as Seven Slow Cooker Recipes In an Hour and also How To Stock Your Freezer In Four Hours or Less.  

There is also a list of 25 Freezer Meals That Don’t Require any Cooking Ahead of Time, complete with links to the recipes.  I also found this article on Freezer To Crockpot 101 very helpful.  

Ruth at Living Well Spending Less also has 10 awesome Freezer Meals In an Hour and 7 Easy Tips For Freezer Cooking Like a Pro.

Midget Momma can help you Prep 16 Meals With Fresh Ingredients In About an Hour.

The final link I have for you today has many great recipes, tips and photos in it from Stockpiling Moms.  I think you will really enjoy reading through the whole Freezer Cooking Series.

I hope these ideas can help make meal prep easier for all of you.  I know I got some great ideas from all these amazing bloggers, and I can’t wait to get started and share everything with you.

If you have some recipes, tips or ideas to share, I would love to hear from you either in the comments or by sending me a quick email.  Guest posts are always welcome at Practicing Frugal as long as they meet the needs of the site.

Are you ready to get some meals in the freezer?  Which ones got your attention?

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How Our Family Is Responding To Rising Grocery Prices – Freezing Produce

The USDA Economic Research Service recently published their 2014-2015 Food Price Outlook, and it basically says what we all have probably already noticed at the grocery store, and that is that food prices are rising.

While the USDA ERS states that food prices were relatively flat in 2013, we are noticing the crunch this year as the prices are increasing at a historical norm (about 2.8% per year since 1990), but meat prices will continue to rise due to the Texas/Oklahoma drought and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (pork).

So I have been trying to be a bit more diligent about preparing for the price increase.  While I may have to increase our grocery budget this year, but I am going to do all I can to try not to have to increase it too much.

This summer we focused on getting fresh produce in the freezer, whether it was homegrown, purchased from a farm, or on sale at the grocery store.

It is important for me to let you know that this has been a very busy summer for us, but I have managed to put up a record number of items in the freezer, and I even canned some jelly and peaches.  I must say though, that the pictures of these events went away in a very unfortunate wet cell phone death (not so frugal, but never fail I made do with a free used phone).

rising grocery prices

The first thing I have been putting in the freezer is tomatoes.  Yes, I do freeze them whole until I have enough tomatoes and/or time to process them.  I will be cooking these down for tomato sauce that I will freeze in freezer bags.

rising grocery prices

We then made a trip to a fairly local fruit farm and were able to pick 25 lbs blueberries, 46 lbs peaches and 2 lbs blackberries.  After eating blueberries fresh, adding them to yogurt and making muffins and pancakes, I froze the rest in 2 cup portions in freezer bags. I froze them on a cookie sheet before putting them in a bag, which allows me to use less than the entire package, as the berries do not stick together in the bag.

We also ate fresh peaches before canning peach halves and freezing peaches in 2 cup portions in a light simple sugar syrup.

The enormous blackberries were a blessing after spending several days picking tiny small berries in the wild around our house.  My arms looked like I got in a cat fight after picking the wild berries, but they were very good in blackberry cobbler.  I also used some of the big blackberries for a cobbler and then froze the rest the same way I froze the blueberries.

All in all this was a great family fun trip.  We scored the berries for $1.70 a pound and the peaches for $ .99 a pound.

rising grocery pricesOur garden has produced an amazing amount of tomatoes, okra, and grape tomatoes this year.  My lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini did not fare so well.

I did manage to blanch the okra and freeze it in bags for future use.  I had heard that you can freeze the okra without blanching it (makes it easier to cut without it falling apart), but I have not tried it.  Has anyone done this?  Do you have any okra suggestions for me?   I am pretty new to okra, but have found it easy to grow.

rising grocery prices

Our next project was to deal with 145 ears of corn.  What was I thinking when I asked hubby to order 1 bag of corn, and he insisted we get 2!  Crazy I know.  After my back recovered from shucking, blanching, cutting the corn off cobs and packaging for the freezer, I am really glad we purchased all that corn.  This cost us $40 for the 2 big bags.

rising grocery pricesNow our freezer is looking much more prepared for the months to come.  I’m not done yet, I have a few other things up my sleeve to get this freezer stocked, and I plan to share those with you guys as they come around.

What are you doing in response to the rising grocery prices?  Have any ideas you want to share?

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Educents Back To School Blowout Sale

If you are a teacher, homeschool teacher or parent looking for educational items, be sure to check out Educents biggest sale ever going on from July 30 – August 2, 2014.

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I love the deals I can often find on Educents and think you will too.

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This post contains affiliate/referral links.  I would be very grateful for your support if you decide to use my affiliate links.  The earnings from these links help cover the costs of maintaining practicing frugal.  For more information see my disclosure policy.

Reading PDF Documents and Ebooks On Your Kindle, Tablet, Smartphone or PC

This post was previously posted here, but now includes some updated information due to changes on Amazon.

Did you know that you can read all those ebooks or pdf documents that you download on your Kindle, Tablet, Smartphone or PC by using a Kindle app?  Sure you can purchase or find free ebooks on Amazon, but what about all the other ebooks you download from your favorite bloggers?

PDF Docs and Ebooks

If you’re like me, you may do most of your reading while waiting at appointments or kids activities, and who wants to lug the bulky laptop all these places.  You don’t have to.  You can send these ebooks to your Kindle or Kindle App by email with these simple instructions and read them on the go.

Maybe you don’t have a Kindle and want to read these books on your computer.  You can do that too?

First you will need a Kindle or a Kindle App.  The Kindle App can be downloaded to many smartphones, tablets and PC’s by searching for the Kindle App in your app store.  For more information on Kindle reading apps, you can go here.

Next you will log into your Amazon account and click on “Your Account” at the top right of the page, to be taken to your account information page.

Now scroll down and find the digital content area and click on “manage your content and devices”.

content and devices

Next you will look to your right and find “settings” and click on it as shown below.

settings

Scroll down to “Personal Document Settings” and find the device you want to send documents/ebooks /PDF’s to.  Jot this email address down (it will end with kindle.com) or add it to your contacts in your personal email account.

Now scroll down to “Approved Personal Document E-mail List” just under where you find the email list.  Make sure the email address you will be using to send these documents/ebooks /PDF’s to your Kindle or Kindle App is listed.  If it is not listed, be sure to use the “add a new approved email address” feature to get your email address listed.  This is a security measure to help prevent spam on your device (I have never had any spam).

SENDING TO YOUR KINDLE OR KINDLE APP

Place the kindle or kindle device email address in the “to” field on your email or select it form your contacts list.  Remember this email address ends in kindle.com.  Place the word “convert” in the subject line and your documents will be changed to kindle format. Now attach your document (ebook) to the email as you would any other file. Making sure to do only one ebook/document at a time.  Now it may take a bit for these to send, but when you open your Kindle app on your device, you should find the items in your cloud under books or documents. Your app must be open for the files to download.

Keep in mind that the documents/ebooks that you send to your Kindle will be in the cloud. This means that any Kindle or kindle app devices on your amazon account will be able to download this ebook/document to their device as well.  Generally this is not a problem, my kids don’t want to read frugal ebooks, but you should know in the case of reading important or private documents.

That’s it!  You can now read those ebooks on your Kindle or device with a Kindle app.

I’m so happy to be able to take all those ebooks I have collected over the last few years with me wherever I go.  I can read about frugal living, homeschooling, faith, recipes and so much more while on the go.

If you have any questions you can feel free to ask me, I can try to help you out, or you can go to Amazon for help with the Kindle Personal Documents Service.

Happy Kindle reading!  Have any questions?  Feel free to link up any free ebooks that you think our readers will enjoy.  Due to spam settings on the blog, you will have to make a seperate comment for each link.  

Want to share this article?  Feel free to use the buttons below to share on Pinterest, via email, on twitter, facebook and google.  I love it when you share my blog posts with your friends!  It gets me excited to know you are enjoying the content here.   

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I have recently found a couple ebooks that may be a great help to some of my readers. Please remember I do make a small commission from the sale of these books through this website and want you to know that I appreciate all purchases made through any of the links on my blog.  Your support helps me maintain this blog.  Thanks to you all.

Until July 31, 2014 Home Educating Family Association is giving this ebook – Focus on Special Needs to my readers for FREE.  The price of $2.99 will come off after you add it to your cart.

freeebook404

Facing unemployment or know someone who is unemployed?  Check out this ebook.

and for those with that sewing machine they don’t know how to use!

Sewing School 101

{this moment}

I’m joining SouleMama for {this moment}.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

this moment

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Using What You Have, but First You Must Find IT

One of the biggest tips in living a frugal lifestyle is to use what you already have.  Well that’s all just fine and dandy if you can find it!

post it pile

Not long ago I was ready to add page markers or flags to my grocery list when I realized that a few years ago I got a bunch of post-it products on clearance combined with a coupon, making them almost free.  Not long after that there was a rebate that when combined with coupons resulted in more free or almost free post its.

At the time my oldest was infatuated with these types of things, so they were often included in gifts to her or just given to her for her desk.  I wasn’t working at home at the time, so I didn’t need them.

Fast forward a few years, big girl is off to college, I’m homeschooling the little girls, I work on this blog, and I need some page markers.  I remember all of those freebies I got and set out to find them in her room.

I found the mother load!

Score one for momma, she won’t need page markers for a long time, and the little girls were so excited about those cute little pads!

Just don’t tell big girl!

Getting Organized

So what do you do if you cannot find some of the things you already own?

It’s time to consider working on getting organized.  A lack of organization is as big of a frugal train derailment as a lack of planning.  I mean really, if you can’t find the things you know that you already own and you end up going out and buying more, you’ve spent money that could’ve been used somewhere else.

Take some time each day (15-20 minutes) to work on areas in your home that need help getting organized.  Tackle a little bit each day until that project is complete.  I promise you will feel so good when you get one area organized, and you know where things are.

You will most likely find things you forgot you had.

Be sure to sort things into piles for trash, donation, yard sale, ebay or even craigslist ads.

Take a look at a series I did a couple years back on Taming The trash with Organization.

Have you ever spent money on something you knew you had but couldn’t find?  

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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