Meal Planning and budgets

I like having a meal plan if only for the simplicity of it. I know what the week will bring and then it’s just simpler.

This week we’ll be having:

Monday: is usually fish or pasta / so we’re having cod from Costco, asparagus and spinach with a sprinkling of goat cheese

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday but we’re having Amy’s cheese enchiladas with beans or rice

Wednesday: pasta night so I think we’ll do spaghetti with sauce and a salad

Thursday: Crockpot Thursday, so I’m thinking a nice soup in the crock pot maybe lentil.

Friday: Friday night pizza, I’ll either do homemade or perhaps we’ll order. It depends on the mood. Usually, I prefer my pizza plus the price of ordering is fairly steep but sometimes it’s a nice change.

Saturday: I thought of grilling something as B got the gas grill ready to go, but I think it’s supposed to rain. Maybe some grilled chicken then or I still have a few cornish hens in the freezer and B bought a lentil loaf from a natural foods store he services in Nevada City.  I guess we’ll see how it goes.

B is gone most of the week traveling for work up to Eureka so he won’t be here. Dinner will just be my daughter and me. My son is at school late so doesn’t eat dinner with us.

Generally eating vegetarian and B has been one for over 50 years, we eat lower on the food chain. I think it’s healthier overall. I’m fairly skeptical of food fads like Paleo, keto, Vegan, whatever. Back in our youth, it was macrobiotics. I remember going to a cooking class in Macrobiotics back then… interesting… but later he died of some sort of cancer fairly young ( 40ish) so that didn’t help much.  I think all things in moderation.

I do like Michael Pollan’s take on using meat as a side, organic and harvested ethically.  I generally always buy organic meat( chicken, beef,) but sometimes bacon slips by and it’s not organic.  Well, I guess if one is trying.

Budget wise, food is still our biggest variable.  Although, total with animal food, Costco, nonfood, wine, we’re still averaging @ $800 for 4 people so I don’t think that’s too bad.

I finished the entryway zones and even washed the front door.

We went to the gym and it was nice to get back to the rhythm. It was closed yesterday for Easter.

 

March in like a lion!

Wow, we are in for quite the storm. Right now it’s really raining and there is wind. It’s supposed to be like this all day. There’s a blizzard warning for the Sierras, so my daughter is not driving to Truckee because it would probably take all day. Instead, she’ll go to another branch closer to home. I’m glad she has this option.

I’m staying home and not going to the gym. I’m going to make a minestrone soup and maybe some chicken. I have the soup in the crockpot so that’s done.

I worked on the budget and things look pretty good. We spent $130 at Home Depot yesterday on garden stuff. I really need to budget garden stuff because every year we have a garden and it’s not cheap with seeds, plants, soil etc.  I’d like to order a truckload of topsoil /manure for the gardens as they really need it. We will see.

We’re getting lots of eggs from the girls right now so my daughter can start selling eggs again. That gives her cash for a coffee or lunch at work. Her co-workers love the eggs.

 

That’s about it.  I’m rewatching Downton Abbey. It’s great for rainy afternoons.

 

Frugal Friday

I made my food only budget $500 this month. There are 5 days left and I still need a few things. I’m at @ $475. So I may come in a little over. But this doesn’t include cat food for our 2 cats, one of which is in decline and probably has either a thyroid or diabetic issue as it’s eating lots of food. But this cat, Ollie, is my daughter’s love, so we buy food. I’m at @ 100 for the month. We alternate who buys so my part is probably @ $45.  Then there’s wine/beer( for hubs, I don’t drink beer) is at @ $60.

So overall, I’m pretty happy with the numbers but I think I can get just food down to $400. I’ll track in February again.

Our electric bill came in great at $237. That’s half what it was last year at this time.  So I’m thrilled.

I just canceled the phone insurance on my sons’ phone so that will drop the bill by another $13. Then next month I’m planning to pay off his phone so that will drop the Verizon bill even more. By about $30 more dollars. I know he should be paying it off but right now he’s starting CSU Sacramento and taking a full load 18 units and his gas /food bill is going way up. We’re probably way too giving to him as we paid his parking pass and will pay this semester’s tuition.  I know, I know, he should be figuring it out himself but we feel responsible.  We’re making a monthly payment so I’m hoping B’s next bonus gives us boost.

My gas in the VW runs $25 every 3 weeks , so pretty good.

With my SS checks coming in we’re able to save for our annual bills and I think that will make a big difference.

I’m still using YNAB. I like it for the most part and I think when we get annual bill categories funded it’ll be even better.

That’s about it for this week.

Homemade pizza tonight.

 

A new year

I’ve been busy meal planning this morning and working on checking what’s in the freezer and pantry. Since we’re doing the Frugalwoods uber frugal month, I plan on eating out of the pantry and freezer as much as possible. I’d like to set a food budget of $400 for the month. I started a spreadsheet, thanks to my tech-savvy daughter for setting it up), that I’m separating food, cat food, nonfood. So the $400 will be food only. So I still need to decide on how much for the other stuff.

I’m making a shepherd’s pie for dinner and then a veggie ham that B got. We haven’t tried it so, I’ll post how it is.

1727-Albert-Einstein-Quote-Out-of-clutter-find-simplicity

I’m trying something new and taking a video of each room. So far it is a great tool and I redid a few things in the entry way and it looks better. I think seeing it objectively is a such an amazing tool.

This week is the entry way zone and laundry room. So I’ll work on those two areas.  Not a lot to declutter but simpler on the eye by removing a few things and repositioning a few.

This week I have a fasting blood test for insurance and then next week is my regular labs. We’ll see.

 

Looking at the new year and budgets

We had a delightful Christmas with lovely thoughtful gifts. A couple of favorites were the knitted cotton dish cloths by my daughter, a thrifted Japanese vase from my son, and this wonderful print from my husband.

IMG_1147 the lights are just a reflection of twinkly lights in the living room.

This was taken from a picture of me looking out at Lake Tahoe in 1977 or there abouts. It may have been one of the first times we were up there. Jason, our first boy, was sitting with me but you can’t see that in this picture. My son stylized the picture and added Lake Tahoe. How cool is that? All in all a lovely day.

So on to budget stuff for the new year.

My plan is to get all the annual bills fully funded with our Social Security.  Since we just opted to start SS even though B is working still.  All that money will go to annual bills and EF.  We looked at all the numbers and it still made sense to start this now.  I started mine early anyway but that amount is pretty small since I never worked full time and that was one of my main reasons for working at the library.  Anyway, now I get an increased amount called spousal something.  Wow, I didn’t know that was possible.  So the budget looks good for saving 100% of this money even though the monthly amount will be scary when full retirement comes.  But we need this to go forward.  The only thing I might do around July is to pay a chunk of the Santa Fe off. Right now, that’s a big payment but almost the whole amount is going to principal. It’ll be under $10,000 soon, so I’ll decide then.   Other than that, just keep going. We know there’s no way to pay off the mortgage so that’s a given. We’re planning to sign the Subaru over to my son and take him off our auto insurance and that will decrease that substantially.  Hopefully, we can do that before the next 1/2 bill rolls in which is March.  So who knows how it’ll play out, we will just do the best we can.  When we add in part b and supplemental insurance after B retires that will affect the monthly amount too. So that will need some research since my chemo drugs, when I’m on them, can run over $10,000 a month so we better have insurance to cover them.

Well, I’m off the gym this morning and then I’m in the Living room zone this week. I’ll take down the tree and put things away through the week.

Dinner is YOYO 🙂

 

Friday things

I went and helped set up books for the bake and book sale tomorrow.  Then I left to take my son to pick up his Subaru that had some sort of oil leak but it was covered by the warranty we got when we paid for the engine to be rebuilt.

Then I went to the store and picked up cream, cat food, wine and a few other essentials for the weekend.

Tomorrow I am going over to the book sale early to help out and then leaving around 10 or so since we’re driving up to Chico so B can pick up his motorcycle. It’ll be a long day but I’ll get thru it. He’s been set on a Triumph which is what he had in college. Then reconsidered and found a brand new Honda Rebel. It’s a smaller motorcycle and that may be a good thing.  It won’t hold resale the same as a Triumph, but that’s not why he’s buying it.  This money comes from the many bonuses he has had over the years that usually has gone to bills. So it’s his turn.

 

Speaking of budgets, things are okay. The bills are getting paid but we’re still not putting away money above and beyond the 401 k that is taken out automatically.  In the next 2 months we have property tax and house insurance so 2 really big annual bills. Sigh… I really hope we get a handle on this as retirement looms out there.  But I am optimistic we will have it sorted as we go into those years.  We have to get rid of the car payment and that will free up some money.  But he gets a reimbursement for the car so it’s a double edge sword.  Still, I hope by mid-year next year the Santa Fe is paid and then we can look at the last car loan for him in these last 3 years.

I am trying very hard to be as frugal as I can and only buying essentials.  Even so, things do come up.

Dinner is Friday night pizza.

 

Five Frugal Things Friday

It’s been a good week overall. I’m happy with the reorganizing and decluttering I did.

  1. Ate our meals at home and shopped at Grocery Outlet for things to get us through till I shop Costco next week.
  2. I’m trying to do only 2 very small loads of laundry a day,( white and dark). Although that may not seem frugal, it’s frugal with my time as I keep up on it and it’s not huge loads.
  3. Read 4 books this week free from Netgalley. They’re e- books but fun. Most were  cookbooks but one was a self-help called 30 days to Joy ( or something like that). What I liked about it was her take on just do what brings you joy.  I thought that was very simple and yet we need to read or hear that.
  4. We want to update our kitchen someday( when we have money) Ha….. Ha… but in the meanwhile, I decided to paint the cabinets again so at least they look better.  So, instead of groaning we can’t afford to remodel, I bought a high gloss white paint and voila!  It’ll do for now.
  5. All the bills are in for the month and budget done. Unfortunately, we will have a very expensive auto repair on my son’s Subaru.  He needed the head gaskets done to the tune of $2500. Plus an accelerator problem. We offered to put it on our CC so he at least has a car. The other option was to sell it as is but then he wouldn’t have a car. So it’s cheaper to fix a car than buy a new used car. So, that won’t be frugal to charge it but it will be cheaper in the long run as hisSubaru will run for a good long while.

Tomorrow we’re going to Home Depot to get the boards for the last garden bed.  I budgeted a small amount for this since it’s now or not plant. In the long run, it’ll be frugal when we have lettuce, etc.

Tonight is Friday night Pizza!