Food, Frugal

My Grocery Strategy

My grocery strategy

Today I’m going to share my grocery budget tips! I LOVE saving a bit of $ wherever I can and here’s what I found works for me. I’m pretty fussy about doing things how it works best for me. I have tried other methods but I can’t make them stick. One thing I forgot to mention in the video is to use cash whenever possible! This makes my budget so much more real to me. I know, I’m weird but I’m saving money so it’s all good!

 

 

Frugal

Going Old School Update

This is what remains of January. Whew! It was a close call.

I’m not gonna lie…I made it through by the skin of my teeth!

The challenge was a $300 pay cut in household expenses for the month. So…we got food, basically. And animal food. Gotta feed the critters too. Instead of having a nice fully funded month I had to get crazy creative with meal planning and shopping. And not eat out. Like, ever.


A normal month is:

$450 for grocery and house

$150 for animal food and supplies

$50 for eating out

$50 for entertainment

$100 for online Going Old School (again)purchases (using a debit card and tracking each item)


In January I got:

$250 for grocery and house

$50 for animal food and supplies


Yeah… wanna know how it went?

Well, the first thing to go were all the extra categories like eating out and entertainment. Then the fun began…


Week 1- feeling good about myself and carefully putting together a meal plan and eating soup for 2 meals a week 🙂

Spent $50 at Grocery Outlet….avoided looking Wal-Mart in the eye and sped by Starbucks

Spent $30 at Restore on bunny cages (they were $5 each!!!)


Week 2- feeling OK about it all, still confident I’m gonna really show my husband my amazing will power.

Spent more than I wanted on the week’s groceries . Only $63 left! Oops!

Had to stock up on animal food. For.all.of.them. So I basically took food from our mouths to keep our animals alive. It’s ok, we’ll be fine.

$0 in the animal category. It’s midmonth ya’ll.


Week 3- Taco week! I visited my cousin and she gifted me some grass fed frozen hamburger. Worth its weight in gold! Grocery outlet had taco kits for 99 cents. Boom! Week made.

Unfortunately, the cats need more litter…..ugh! Animals steal $20 from groceries….


Week 4- I refuse to go to the store even though we are out of many of our staple items. We will make it!!!

Animals have totally had to be supplemented at this point. $50 just isn’t enough in this category.


 

Final verdict:

We went over budget for a few unforeseen incidentals (nonfood items) but on the edible items I stayed the course! I had $5 left for edibles so it is totally possible to cut back on food items IF you are decently stocked with items at home for 1-2 meals a week

We also found some good hay and bartered eggs to bring animal feed down just a bit- another savings!

We got a few sales and side jobs that were above our normal income and were able to have a night out after all! Yay!


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The humble casserole-another budget friendly meal!

What I learned:

If you stock up on items that are a great price then you save more (duh) kinda basic but it’s worth repeating.

You need a chest freezer. Close to date items that are discounted can be frozen for later and you can buy more meats when they are in sale and save a TON.

Stay.out.of.the.store. Yeah, it’s pretty simple but it works!

When you shop – stick to the list! Simple. Effective.

Use coupons or other money savers (rebates) if you have them. If not, just know your prices and aim for 50% off every item you buy. Think clearance, buy one get one, etc.

Don’t have a “I deserve to splurge” attitude. Know what you want (in my case a new kitchen) and recognize that it is worth the temporary self denial

It’s actually a wonderful way to teach yourself discipline. Really, it is. You don’t need a pastry every Friday. You don’t have to get a $5 coffee every morning or to eat lunch out every day. Really, you’ll live!

If you have to cook it you kinda lose the desire to eat so much. If you don’t have many snack available (snacks add up) you eat healthier and it takes a bit more effort to get something between meals. My kids made themselves a lot of quesadillas! I just didn’t really snack much and I actually didn’t miss it since I am a boredom snacker.  I just had to do something else instead of snack.

You appreciate what you have. I knew I could start over in a month and be “fully funded” but the challenge was set and I really wanted to “win” …yes, I’m silly competitive like that. Funny thing is when is had less I needed less. I stopped feeding the consumer bug and it just quit bugging me!

Overall, I feel like this challenge was a success even if we did overspend on animals and non edible grocery items.  I can definitely cut back when I need to and I feel a sense of control over our spending again.

Here’s to a new month and a new budget! Happy February!

DIY, Frugal

DIY Extravaganza

Here area few of the things we like to DIY around Henneke Farm:

Laundry soap (you can find that post here)– super easy to make and very cheap so this one is a win.

Shampoo-  most homemade bar soaps (you can find that post here) work very well on hair *bonus* they are a hair/body bar in one.  My family still gets shampoo and I buy the sulfate free kind when it’s on sale but it ain’t cheap! Bar soap does the trick and keeps cost down. *extra bonus* They are totally customizable to your needs and taste.

Toothpaste-  don’t tell my dentist but my teeth feel way cleaner and stronger after trying the homemade tooth paste. *WARNING* it taste terrible (but it works)! My youngest daughter has some yellowing and loves that her teeth are cleaner with my paste.  The taste has kept the other family members away- they refuse to be converted!

Gatorade type drinks – We add some lemon/lime juice or other flavor enhancers (my watermelon jelly that didn’t set is my favorite) to plain old water.  My kids actually really like this. To kick things up a notch we add ACV and to sweeten we add stevia.  We do occasionally get a gatorade or similar drink for a treat but on regular days this is our main “flavored” drink.

Paper towels (except for camping, road trips and my cast iron cookware) I buy a $3 rag bag from the thrift store and use them as my messy towels.  When they get icky I wash them and when I can’t stand the looks of them anymore I give them to the boys to use when they are fixing machinery in the shop.

Sauces- Most can be recreated easily with minimal effort.  I do buy sauces but only if they are a steal.  Other wise my blender can puree tomatoes and a bit of butter and flour in a sauce pan can make a dandy base for creamier sauces.

Spice mixes – Kinda the same deal. If it’s a steal, sure. If not, I have my spices on hand to mix up most flavors that my family likes. Plus, you can usually find recipes for rubs and seasoning blends online.

Some clothing – I don’t sew a lot from scratch ( I HATE patterns!:/) but I do alter many of my things to fit my daughter when I am done with them.  I also add bits and pieces to outfits to make them more complete/modest.

Animal pens/feeders –  We were blessed to have a ready made farm to step into but there have been a few items that we have had to build for ourselves.  My husband made a simple hayloft in the goat barn.  My son made a feeder for the chickens.  With help from my son I made an enclosed chicken yard.  Yep, we are a DIY family!

Girly stuff- Hair masks,(you can find that post here) scrubs and simple beauty aids are easy and fun to mix up in the kitchen.  Recently my 8 yo made her own lip balms (you can see that post here) completely on her own! Nice 🙂

Gifts- Not all homemade gifts are a hit (can I get a witness?) but we really wanted to give something personal this Christmas so we set off on Craftpalooza (you can see that post here) this year and it was super fun as well as rewarding to give our handcrafted items to those we love.

Hope you are having a lovely Monday!

 

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DIY, Family, Frugal

Going Old School (again)

Ah, the budget. A thing ever one loves to hate. We, here at Henneke Farm, have put it off for a while. We were still in new house mode where everything needed repaired/updated ASAP.  Then we had a family vacation followed by 2 emergency trips out east. Now we were scrambling for financial air so it’s back to square one. Hello Dave Ramsey!

We have been debt free for several years now and I can’t tell you how awesome that is. Truly, you have to experience it to know. We pay cash for everything so no worries about credit card bills. We live on a modest amount (for all 5 of us & 25ish animals) so we aren’t doing terrible but there was a lot of room for improvement.

Here is a snapshot of the system we had during the “haze”

I go to store and call husband from parking lot-

Me: “I’m at the store, what can I spend?”

Husband: “not much”

Me: “so….like you wanna eat beans this week?”

Husband:”no, you can get real food just not much”

Me:”I need dollar figures, I’m not a mind reader”

Husband:”about $50″

*I go into store and buy half of aisle 9 because we are out of everything

Repeat that about 3x a week for 2-3 months. Fun, right?!

Yeah, not so much. So we sat down and wrote it all out. My husband, who is techy printed out the budget. I am hands on and I had to write mine….to make the numbers “real”, you know. Then came the debit card verses the cash system debate.

My argument : I can keep better tabs on spending if I have cash and I’ll spend less.

His argument : It’s better to use a card because all purchases are accounted for online.

This went on for a while. It was a nice cicular discussion that tends to flow around itself and arrive exactly back at the beginning everytime. *sigh*

We ended up settling on the cash system with a challenge. I could use the cash from a recent sale for all of the food/household/animal purchases this month. Here’s the challenge – the money I would have taken out stays in the bank and I have a about $300 less than I normally would have to work with. Challenge accepted!  One week down…3 more to go!

My homemade cash system. I just cut down tabbed dividers to fit my wallet and added a cover made from a plastic folder. On each category I wrote the total for the month and when to withdraw it. I’m an old fashioned girl living in a high tech world!
DIY, Frugal

Book Jacket DIY

My tattered little travel bible.  Its cover is sadly worn.

Have a beloved book that could use a sturdier cover? Have no fear, you can easily (and in expensively ) update your book’s look and also up its durability. I am working on a new cover for my bible. I have two with worn soft covers that are needing a little more protection. My larger one I did a while back and my smaller travel size is getting its make over now. Here’s the process…

Cardboard jacket and my tattered bible.  They are soon going to be best friends!

I cut a cardboard cover to match the size. Hello, stuffing box! I purposely used a thinner cardboard to make sure it was flexible.  I planned on using a thicker fabric and small books can be tricky to work into their jackets when completed.

The chosen fabric.  A simple but sturdy yellow and gray floral print.  I liked the detail and shadowing on this fabric.  Had I thought it through more I would have picked the prettiest section with the most yellow and I would have flipped my cardboard over to the white side to keep the floral print nice and bright on the finished product.

You want to give your cardboard a healthy smear of plain old white glue and then place your chosen fabric on top. Make sure you have some excess on the fabric, especially the cover sides. You need to keep weight on it as it dries to keep it from bubbling up. Make sure your weight is distributed evenly.

Glue, cardboard and fabric sandwich 🙂
I use my DeMarle (BONCook) baking mats to keep all that stickiness in one place and not on my countertop.
The tin is to distribute the weight of the brick so that there are no lumps as it dries.

You can check you cover periodically to make sure is smooth and test dryness. During the drying process you will want to “try on” your jacket by placing it over your book and locating the creases where the cover bends. As you form the jacket around the book it should naturally crease in the right spot. You can use a ruler to neaten the crease and add more pressure. This should be done before it’s fully dry as the cardboard is softer and shapes easier. After you crease it leave it to dry fully (again, weighted)

Next you will cut two pieces of cardboard half the size of each cover and glue them onto the fabric. These will be the flaps that hold your book’s original cover in place. I *should* have spaced these pieces out 1/4″ as it needs a little gap to go around the edge of the book’s cover. Yes, that 1/4″ inch matters. I’ll show you how I “fixed” it but you can leave a 1/4″ gap and not have to fix anything! 🙂

My two end pieces that will become the flap that holds my bible cover in place.

 

The end pieces have been added and the edges of the fabric glued down.  DO NOT glue the fabric on the sides of the flap.  Those pieces are left out so that we can create the pocket that the book cover will slide into.

Leave to dry. When dried you can trace your book jacket (not flaps) onto cardstock or an old folder and cut it out to make a nice clean inside to your book jacket.  You can just glue it in place and again, weight it to dry.

I used and old folder to line my book jacket and now I am using a ruler to put a crease where the books binding will go.  I want to make sure I have the flexibility to open it!
It’s dry and now it’s time to make our side flaps into pockets.

Almost there! Ok, I’ll show you how I fixed my oopsie and then we’ll finish this book!;) Get the pun? Long post? Book? Hehe…ok, back on task!

I had to force my 1/4″  curve in there and that made my cover off by just the *{tiniest}* amount. Still, if I had spaced the flaps out 1/4″ I would have given the jacket enough room to bend around my book.

Ok, time to wrap it up. Bring in the hot glue!

Fold your excess flap fabric in. And hold it…hold it…!

Add a bit of hot glue. *Pro tip* use a butter knife to get in that tiny space and make it smooth!

One finished corner! Three to go!


Project complete! You can see the bit of fabric at the corner where I miscalculated the curve of the cover.  I’m going to see what I can come up with to dress it up a bit but I’m very happy with it!

So there it is.  Your kinda-long-but-totally-doable book jacket DIY 🙂

Happiest of New Years to you!

Continue reading “Book Jacket DIY”

Frugal, Home, Life, Organize

Tidy and Thrifty*bring in 2018!

If selling a house has taught me anything it’s that you can always use a healthy edit. This is true for our inner lives as well as possessions. I like to dig through cupboards and closets periodically and just get a little ruthless with the items hidden within. Has it been used in the last year? Do you love it? If either of those is a no then it’s probably something you really don’t need. Well, I love gathering as much as I love purging so this is an almost endless cycle at times. I’m working on a new edit system so we don’t get a pile up. It helps to keep things from coming in the house so that it doesn’t become clutter in the first place.

I always love a good container too. If I find some thing that fits the bill I will use it no matter what it looks like. If I find something that fits and is cute I will love it forever.

Here are a few of my finds from my latest thrift trip. They are of the functional variety, not the cute kind *sigh*

Gloves! And hats! And scarves! Oh my! Love these hanging organizers for those little items.
Napkins, we need them, OFTEN. Now they can stay on the table:)
The farm animal closet holds all of our extra small feeders and medicines. I found a small wire basket to keep the bunny water bottles in place.
Junk drawer organizer? I think, yes:)
Old samsonite to keep my sewing notions in one place? Yes, please!

I usually go there first if I’m in need of something then go to the next expensive place. The order is: thrift store, Dollar Tree, Walmart, Amazon – (that’s my money saving buying progression) so now you know another one of my budget secrets. 😉

Happy New Year everyone! I hope it’s fresh and bright and tidy and filled with blessings!

DIY, Frugal, Sew

I’m SEW happy!

For those of you that sew you know the angst of not having a running machine or not having the time to complete your projects.  Well, I finally had a bit of time on my break where I did not feel like death and got to knock a few things off the list. I made a skirt for me, 1 for middle girl and 2 for little girl. I also made a “sower’s bag” to hold all my seeds and plant markers for my garden. But the project I’m sharing today is this:
This little bag was lovingly created from an embroidered piece that I had been hoarding…um, SAVING for a special little project. I am going to be using my travel size bible more as it fits in my purse and I made this bag expressly to hold bible, pens and index cards for taking notes. I love it!

Here’s how I did it:

I knew I wanted a lined bag so I started by cutting a piece of chambray to the same size and sewing right sides together.
Here it is with the 2 pieces right side out.
Next I pressed it with the iron (*important step*) and did a top stitch all around the edge. I also tucked the open end in and top stiched that so I had a complete square- embroidery on one side and chambray on the other. I don’t have a picture of it but after that I just folded the square in half and sewed up the sides to create the bag.
Almost done! Here the sides are sewn up and it’s time to put in the zipper!
I hand stitched the zipper as this is a smaller project and I have much better control with my hands. And it’s done!
Blurry picture but here is my little bag in use for its intended purpose! Love!

So if you are cruising the thrift store and find a sample of something you love you can create a unique piece that’s all you.

Happy crafting!