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It's All About Food Again, Canning, Saving, Planning Freezer Meals, Prepping

November 5th, 2022 at 01:01 am

Yesterday, that is.  I put my nose to the grindstone, but I got it done.  10 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.  So I have 13 quarts and 6 pints of canned chicken.  One of my quart jars broke in the canner.  It was one of my grandmother's jars from 1949, so it lasted a long time.  Two bad it took 2 pounds of chicken with it.  I think I'm going to go through and weed those jars out and use them for dry food storage.  There aren't many left, but I don't want to take that risk.

While I was canning those I had two Instant Pots filled with bones, water, and seasonings, making chicken bone broth.  Pressure cooking for two hours is the equivalent of simmering on the stove for 24 hours or more, only you don't have to worry about evaporation and adding more water, just a bit of steam that comes out at the end.  I didn't get as much as I should have because my son wasn't paying attention when I asked him to fill them up to the max line and instead he just covered the bones, which is what we do when we make a whole chicken, but not what I do when making broth, which he's never done.  I should have checked, but I was so busy with other stuff, I didn't.  Not really his fault.  I know he has ADHD and was having a no focus day.

I still got a good amount of broth at 8 pint and a half jars and 8 pint jars, but I could have had almost double that.  I have enough bones to fill both Instant Pots again, so will be doing that and canning it tomorrow.  I was too wiped to do anything today.  I went to bed at 10:30 and slept until 11:07 this moring, waking up once at 6:30.  I was exhausted.

I did manage to get some of the dishes done.  I had to soak 8 cups, though.  I am not happy about that.  They all had milk residue in the bottoms so I know it was one of the menfolk.  Time for the rinse out your glass lecture.  It can never be the womenfolk since we don't drink milk outright and only consume it in stew, gravy, or loaded baked potato soup, and I've switched to using broth as much as possible instead of milk in the first two.

And I'm up for making a real dinner tonight, even though I am pretty sore from canning.  We've been going through my freezer dinners at breakneck speed.  I'm pretty sick of baked pastas and baked casseroles and rice under enchiladas, etc.  Today is just chicken, mashed potatoes (and gravy for those who want it, i.e. not me) and green beans.  Simple, but really good.

Broth canning isn't near as time consuming as chicken canning, so tonight I will thaw out a bunch of ground meat and tomorrow while it is in the canner I will throw together some meatloaves and some meatballs for the freezer.  I've been craving spaghetti, though, so I'll save out some meatballs for dinner either tomorrow or the next night.  Depends on how early I get the canner going, because if the stove is full I won't be able to cook spaghetti.

I found out that a restuarant supply store currently has chicken breast on sale for a box at $76, works out to $1.90 a pound.  I don't usually buy chicken breast, but I am out nearly out of the last batch of ground chicken I made, so I can grind it.  I am not up for deboning anything again anytime soon.  I just mix it in with my meatloaf and meatballs along with sausage and hamburger which have enough fat in them to counter the dryness of chicken breasts.

I can also make up my version of hamburger tater tot casserole, only I use homemade hashbrowns instead.  I have a lot of hamburger left from our steer and I want to buy another one in June or July, so we really need to be using it up, not just because we have it, but because we need the space in the chest freezer.  I can work tacos back into the rotation.  I can also can hamburger.  We haven't eaten very much pork from our half a hog either, so I need to work that into the rotation.

It's been forever since I made up a meal plan, just because we were eating takeout for so long and then freezer meals and crockpot meals that were basically pour and dumps, so I didn't have to think about real cooking.  But since I am finally well and truly well after the broad spectrum "if you stay on it too long it can kill you and also burst your achilles tendons," antibiotic, I should get back to real meal planning, especially before I make my Winco run and go to the restaurant supply store.

I also need to go through my canning jars tonight and see what I have left.  I keep taking my jars up to the kitchen and telling Mom they are for me to use the next day and then she keeps using them, so I will keep them down here until right before I can tomorrow.  I don't want to run out of jars and have to buy more, especially with my wide mouth pints.  She only has regular mouth pints, but when she runs out she takes mine. Oh, well, you can't argue with a stubborn 83-year-old.  Or it's not worth it anyway.

I'm off to gather my jars, have dinner, meal plan and freezer meal plan and then tomorrow shop accordingly.

 

Groceries in Bulk and Piecemeal

November 2nd, 2022 at 11:42 pm

I know I haven't posted my payday report for last payday yet.  I have it on the agenday.  This is more of a brain dump, rant, food prepping/canning to save money in the long run, sort of thing.

I went through the grocery ads online this morning.  I can't really do them with the paper in my hands anymore, becaues the mail delivery has gotten so bad that for an ad cycle that starts today, I have gotten them as late as next Monday, but it is usually Friday or Saturday.  They should be coming in the mail on Tuesdays.  I guess if they didn't have 20 pounds of straight to the recycle bin politician flyers to deliver for the past few months, not to mention Christmas catalogs no one ordered, maybe we'd get the rest of our stuff on time.

They didn't even deliver the mail on Thursday.  I know because Mom put out a letter to be deliverd on Wednesday night with the little flag up and the flag was still up at 9:00 p.m. and our letter was still in there to be picked up.  Then on Thursday we put the letter back out in the box and when it still hadn't been picked up by 6:30 p.m. took it back out and the mail showed up at 7:00 p.m.  That was annoying.  We didn't get any mail on Friday or Saturday and none picked up, so they are obviously not coming to even look if the flag is up for outgoing mail.

We ended up taking our letter to the post office on Monday, since we can't rely on our carrier.  Our mail is supposed to be delivered by 2:00 p.m. according to the delivery schedule and has been up until September when it started fluctuating wildly.  I put in a polite, but formal complaint, too.  It should not take me that many days to try to mail a letter, it shouldn't take that may days to get the grocery ads, and I'm not sure we're getting all of our regular mail, either.  I haven't got my statements from my one credit union that only does snail mail twice this year and Mom has had the water bill go missing once and the garbage bill twice.  So I mentioned that, too.  You hear about carriers just tossing mail when they don't want to deliver it.  I wish they'd toss the political flyers, not the real mail.

Anyway, back to the grocery ads, there weren't a lot of good sales.  I guess after two good weeks of sales I wasn't expecting much.  There were a couple of buy one get ones where they don't tell you the  price.  I don't pay attention to those, since they are usually full price, they just jack up the price of the first one so it covers the price of the second.  And I'm not going to make an extra trip to the store on the off chance I am wrong for a meat that I am iffy about to begin with.

So while that store did have a good salmon sale, it was for Atlantic salmon, which no, not when I live on the Pacific and that is so much better.  And a decent t-bone steak sale, but not when I have very good sirloin sale steak in my freezer.  There are decent produce items on sale, but I'm not sure it was enough to being me in.  They had good pork items, but since I have half a hog in the freezer we have barely made a dent in, there is no point in that.  So the main 3 stores are just meh this week.  I'll have to buy produce somehwhere, but that's all I need to buy.

Which means I'll be going to Winco.  I've been wanting to make it over there anyway, since I want to stock up on canned green beans and get 40 pounds of Roma tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce to can.  If they don't have 40 pounds available I will take 20.  I can get 20 more from another store if I have to.  I also want to get some fresh peppers to make some chili this week and they have the biggest choice in peppers, and some cilantro.  And they have bulk herbs and spices and wild rice blends.  And everything is just so much cheaper there with that kind of stuff.

I plan to go to TJ's as well, to see if they have turkeys yet.  No one is advertising turkeys and the one place I did see mention of it was with one store saying to order your turkeys now.  This would be a store that normally would be doing one of those things where if you spend $150 you'd get a free turkey by now.  So I'll look this weekend if they don't have turkeys.  I'll probably switch to one of the back up plans, either the Cornish game hen plan or the duck plan.

Yesterday was the last day of the .99/lb sale for chicken thighs.  It'd been selling out every day like crazy so every day we've gone it has already been wiped out by 9:00 a.m.  Mom got there at 7:30 a.m. when they opened yesterday and was finally able to get what I needed, which was 40 pounds or 8 value packs.  I figured I'd lose at least 5 pounds to skinning and deboning.  It filled 3 gallon sized Ziploc baggies, so maybe more than that.  At least I can use that to make bone broth.

It wasn't as bad with the chuck roast last week, which they at least had until 5:30, before they sold out, but .99/lb chicken is way easier to stock up on for some budgets than $3.99/lb chuck roast.  The butcher says people are really worried about the gas shortages and whether or not truckers will even be able to haul food next week the way things are going, so they are stocking up like crazy.  They are worried about even having fuel for their own gas stations over on the east coast by the end of next week for their store brand.  We are more protected here because of the refineries, but even so it'll come here eventually if things don't change soon.  Crazy times.

I spent from 9:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. skinning and deboning and cutting up the chicken for canning.  I ended up sleeping in, because I am on day 2 of caffiene withdrawal, but tomorrow I will get started on canning the chicken and getting a bag of bones in each Instant Pot.  I'll have one more bag of bones to do after that, but I will have some beautiful broth when I finish.  It should be 21 quarts or so, but I am not sure how I will actually divvy it up yet.  I know I want some in pints and some in 24 oz and some in quarts, so we'll see how it goes.  I might actually divide the bones up into four batches.  I think there is enough and then I could have 28 quarts' worth, however I do it up.

Pints are great if you just want to pop one, warm it up and drink it.  Doing that was great for me when I was so sick I couldn't eat.  All I could do was drink and barely that.  It got at least a little nutrition and hydration into me.  The 24 oz size is what I use in a batch of homemade enchilada sauce.  1 quart is what I use to make soup or to make skillet lasagna or sometimes 2 if I make a double batch.  Sometimes I will make my pasta in it if I am doing it in the Instant pot. It makes a fantastic macaroni.

I picked that cucumber finally and one green and one yellow zucchini.  The plants aren't dead yet, we haven't had a frost.  There are still a couple veggies growing really slowly.  The green beans did die when it hit 37, but they aren't planted two feet off the ground.  We are still having days in the 50's with a few sunny hours between rain showers, so I guess I won't give up on them until they give up on themselves.

Busy and Productive

October 24th, 2022 at 05:08 am

I took advantage of being on my second round of prednisone in a month and it has coincided with one heck of a meat sale at Fred Meyer this sale's flyer cycle.  They had chuck roast on for $3.97/lb, a price I thought was long behind us, but was secretly hoping we'd see again.  DH went and got some on Saturday and I spent a few hours cutting up seven large roasts and this moring I canned them.  We used the double decker canner and got 13 quarts.  I would have needed another roast to get a full canner at 14 jars.

When using the double decker canner, it takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes to can and up to 3 hours if you are starting with meat that you pulled out of the fridge and not stuff that has been sitting out while you cut it all up the same day.  No more than 90 minutes set out, but that does take a lot of the chill off.

Once I had the canner full, I sent DH to the other Fred Meyer and he was able to get 12 roasts there.  8 for canning and 1 for dinner tomorrow and 3 for the freezer.  He also got us 2 value packs of sirloin steaks for the same price per pound and some nice grapes.  I don't know if I will go back for anymore on Tuesday, but I'd like a total of 8 in the freezer, because that is how long it took this sale to come around again and we like to have chuck roast once a week.

I'll have to check how much money is left in the grocery envelope, but I think I have enough for 5 more roasts and I don't have to buy anything else between now and Friday, which is payday and refills the grocery envelope.  My mother got 12 for her freezer, but she got smaller ones that she could cut in half and then repackage and freeze.

After that was done, it's the first day it's been comfortable to go outside in a couple of weeks, first because of the Chilliwack fires giving us the worst smoke I can remember, it was like walking through fog, and then it rained for a few days and washed it out of the air.  Everything started drying out around four p.m. yesterday and was nice today.  So at 4:00 p.m. today we went out and worked for 2 hours.

My son and I were able to get the green beans picked, about 3 meals' worth and there won't be much more than that.  Then we harvested the the basil.  I still can't believe the basil was still going.  We had one night at 37, but most are in low 40's and with the beds two feet off the ground it makes a difference.  I got one of those fancy biodegradable grocery bags full of basil and then pulled the plants.  I'll be dehydrating overnight and tomorrow and maybe even some more.  It's a lot of basil, but should be enough for the year.

After that we picked all of the tomatoes off the plants, colored ones and green ones, cut up the plants to take to the green dump and then pulled out the base and roots.  They were still flowering, and there were still green branches and leaves, but there was a lot of dead branches and mildew all over many of the branches and there was no time for anything to grow.  No blossom end rot.

I picked the last of the cayennes, which was the last of the peppers.  Several of the plants are still alive and some even have flowers, but they have seen better days.  Between what I harvested and dried a week ago and this week, I will have enough to make my own cayenne powder for the year.  Maybe two years, so I might not have to grow it next year and can save that space for a different type of pepper plant.  My pepper production has sucked two years running.  I blame it on no bunny poop.  I still need to contact that rabbit rescue about getting some.

I've still got cucumbers and zucchini growing.  I don't know what the heck is going on there.  By all rights they should be dead.  They've slowed their growth down, but they are still going.  I've got several zucchini and two cucumbers that should be big enough to eat by the end of the week.

Once I finish with the basil, I am going to harvest and dry sage and then do some oregano.  No thyme, this year.  The thyme hasn't recovered very well yet from not getting watered like it should have this summer.  It is coming back though.  I can pick a sprig here or there as needed, but no big harvest.  I will also dehydrate all of the tarragon, parsley, and oregano, then pull the plants.

They are still pretty small and I will just plant new ones in the spring.  Normally I would either transplant them or leave them, but the are in the way of where I want to plant garlic and I am not sure a transplant would take before the first frost or the first hard frost hits.  It usually hits on Halloween or the first week of November.

While I was doing that DH was going over the second half of the potato plot for a second time.  Between the two sides we found several more potatoes.  Around 40 pounds more.  Total potato harvest this year was 143 pounds and 9 ounces, not counting the 2 potatoes tossed for some kind of bug damage.  We saw no slug damage and no mouse damage this year, but we didn't use mulch, either.  Just kept mounding up soil.

I brought in all of the sweet onions from the garage.  I will spend time tomorrow peeling and chopping onions for the freezer in a couple of days and either tomorrow evening or the next day cutting up more roasts to can.

My focus after that will be waiting on a good chicken thigh sale.  Right now .99/lb is still doable.  It is easy enough to skin and debone chicken thighs.  Then I throw the bones and the skins and herbs in the Instant Pot with some salt and pepper to make bone broth with lots of gelatin.  Once the broth has set overnight, I'll scrape off the fat and use it to cook with.  Eggs taste really good cooked in it and herbs don't matter if they get trapped in the fat.  I like using it in stir-fried rice, too.

Anyway, I am completely out of canned chicken, so need to get a lot of that done.  I'd like to get 14 quarts and 21 pints on the shelf for starters.  The pints are good for making chicken salad and the quarts are good for making chicken pasta alfredo for tv dinner freezer meals.  The double decker canner will take 21 pints if I steal the rack for the single level canner.  Then I will wait for the next sale and try to get 28 quarts done.

Somewhere along the way I need to can carrots, parsnips, celery, and potatoes.  I'll need to save out the potatoes I want to keep as next year's seed potatoes and properly store them, and those will be ones with several eyes and about the size of an egg.  Then I will pick out all the large easy to peel ones for canning.  The rest will be eaten over the next several months.  I have burlap sacks coming to store them in and we will keep them in the coolest part of the house not in the basement in the cold season, the back entry way.

DS will be helping with all the peeling and cutting up.  We will soak the potatoes overnight to remove some of the starch and then process the next day.  So, so much to do, but we've got time and my pantry shelves will be full again.  I'll be on prednisone through the 2nd, but we have to go down to Seattle on the 31st for medical things for both kids and won't come back until the evening of the 2nd, so basically just until the 30th, really, because we'll want to come home to empty counters so I'll need to be washing, labelling and putting away full jars on the morning or afternoon of the 31st, not canning on the 31st.  So I have six days, which I have to work around a couple of appointments.  I think I can do that.

I'll prioritize the meat and the carrots.  I'm not sure what I'll do with all the green tomatoes.  I know I will lay out the big and medium sized ones to ripen, but there were a lot of smaller ones, too.  Maybe I will see if my chiropractor wants them.  I have no idea if the little ones will ripen at all, but he might like fried green ones, which we don't.

Anyway that what I've been up to and what I'll be up to, assuming my hands actually work tomorrow.

Back Into Money Saving Mode With Groceries--Tracker at the End

October 4th, 2022 at 11:44 am

We are starting hardcore meal planning and meal prepping to get back into saving money on food, eating better, including a lot more vegetables and a lot less carbs, almost everything from scratch, and slaying the takeout demon and waster of money and tempter of credit card spending.  I spent $301 on groceries yesterday and today from a $500 two week grocery budget.  My goal is to have $100 left at the end of the 2 week pay period to put in the beef fund.  I have 11 days to go.  I think we can do it, but we will see.  And if we don't eat out, we'll probably save another $500 or more.

I started cooking with what we had on hand and eased into it so that I could be at the spot we are today.  Last week I took all of my ripe tomatoes and started cooking them down so I would have a decent amount of sauce to start with and then cooked up a bunch of hamburger and a bunch of garden zucchini and mixed it all up together and doled it all out into meal prop containers with a side of wild rice (no rice for me).  It provided 3 lunches for 4 people for 3 days.  I froze the rest of the very delicious tomato sauce for future use.

The day after that I did a massive grocery shop and then today I picked up a dozen things that the other store didn't have.  Most of today I spent chopping up things and preparing other things.  I cut up 8 bell peppers into slices and dices and 5 onions (mine that I grew, 1 purple, 4 Walla Walla sweets) into slices and dices, 6 things of broccoli, 3 pounds of potatoes, most of a batch of green onions, cut up 1 pound of cheese into cubes for snacking, and shred the other half of the brick, and cooked up 2 pounds of breakfast sausage and some of the diced onion and bell peppers, while the potatoes were roasting in the pan.

I assembled and cooked one breakfast casserole with potatoes, eggs, a little milk, cheese, green and yellow bell peppers, sweet onions, and ground breakfast sausage.  And I have the other one most of the way ready.  It so far has potatoes, sausage, green onions, and cheese in the dish, and in the morning I will saute spinach, add the eggs and milk and cook that one.  The second one will be for my daughter as she can't handle the peppers and regular onions.  We will freeze half of it as she can't get through it fast enough.  I won't be eating either of these because of the potatoes, but saved out some sausage and will just make myself an omelet for breakfast with that, bell pepper, green onions, and cheese.

After breakfast, I will be cooking up a whole lot of polish sausage and kielbasa some for this week and some to go in the freezer for next week or the week after that, not sure yet.  Not really sure if we want to do sausage and peppers for lunches 2 weeks in a row.  But I'd rather cook it all up in one long session now.  Then I'll do enough peppers for this week's lunches.  I'll have to buy more peppers tomorrow, but I'll probably just slice and freeze.  There is a good sale that ends tomorrow, but I didn't have room in my fridge to buy more than the eight I bought until I started making meals and putting things in the freezer or reducing the size of the veggies by slicing and dicing.  If the guys want something to go with the sausage and peppers that is more carby they can have whatever leftovers we will have like mashed potatoes from tonight's dinner or root veggies, or mixed veggies from the freezer, or rice.  Whatever.

While doing that I will have some hamburger thawing to mix with the mild Italian sausage that is already thawed in the fridge so I can get some meatballs made up.  If we have any ground chicken, turkey, or lamb left, I'll throw that in, too.  I want to make enough to have three meals worth of meatballs.  We'll have gluten free penne and meatballs with zucchini for dinner tomorrow night.  I'll want something easy I can just dump in the Instant Pot.

I'll thaw out some other sausage I have that is not from the hog we just got that needs to be used up, along with some hamburger and make up a couple of meatloaves for the freezer and while I am at it I will use the two mild Italian sausages that are from the hog we bought and are thawed out to make meatballs for the freezer.

For dinner tomorrow we will have baked chicken with roasted root vegetables of a large parsnip, a very large sweet potato, two turnips and two yellow potatoes, and purple green beans from my garden.

For Wednesday we will have pork chops, fried potatoes, and more purple green beans.

Thursday will be beef stir-fry with broccoli, onions, carrots, celery, bok choy, water chestnuts, purple green beans, and bamboo shoots if I still have a can. It will be served with white rice.

Friday we will have Butter and Basil Chicken with sheet pan vegetables (they had these at Costco, I don't remember exactly what was in them, but they looked yummy and were mostly low carb), and baked potatoes.

Saturday will be Coho salmon, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.  I might get some corn on the cob, too, when I pick up more bell peppers.  We haven't had any this summer.  Too long recovering from the reoccuring stomach virus.

Sunday will be meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and purple green beans.

I've also got to do some more peeling and cutting up tomorrow.  I need to get cucumbers and carrots peeled, cucumbers, carrots and radishes sliced, and carrots and celery cut into sticks.  I need to make up some French onion dip with plain yogurt for my daughter and make up some green godess dressing with plain yogurt for my son.  I have to finish chopping up the bottom portion of the green onions.

So we have salad fixings, coleslaw fixings, veggie sticks, and pico de gallo fixings on hand to eat at will, as well as fruit for snack cravings for those who want more carbs than me.  My son has plain tortilla chips left.  Sometimes I will throw pico in my eggs.  My coleslaw is not made with sugar, just 1 tbsp of honey in the entire simple dressing, and no vinegar, to keep the carb count low.

Once I get through what I've got planned so far, then I need to inventory the house freezer and see where to go from there, while I am still feeling like I can.  I'd like to get some more meals put together to kill the "I don't wanna cook" attitidude or even the "I can't keep food down and can't get near food" issue that happened so much this summer.  Even if it is just having all the ingredients ready in the freezer to be thrown together it will help so much.  And if I can't throw it together at least the guys will be able to.  I still think it was the medicine I quit taking, but I can't be sure, as I still don't feel right.  It still might be related to my heart.  I will be so glad when I get the results back from the 2 week heart monitor test.

I am planning out some freezer meals to do depending on when certain sales hit, but I missed the boneless skinless chicken sale because I was sick when it hit, so cilantro lime chicken and parsley chicken are off the table until the next one unless I want to thaw, skin, and debone the chicken I already have and refreeze it, which I don't.  So no premaking them, but I can make them for dinner with no premaking if I feel like it.  It'll just have to be a good day where I am on top of things.  It'll probably be 5 to 6 weeks before that sale hits again.  The chuck roast sale went up .47/lb, from the normal cycle.  I think it is going to stay there.  It was the same week I was too sick to leave the house, just at a different store. I was going to buy 8 so I could can, but such is life.

Here's a list of the groceries I bought:

1 large Zoi Greek yogurt

1 large bag mixed vegetable blend

2 steamer bags riced cauliflower

1 lb brick extra sharp white cheddar

2 lb brick medium cheddar

32 ounce Daisy sour cream

1 gallon organic milk

1 half gallon lactose free organic milk

4 dozen organic pasture-raised eggs

2 beef chuck roasts

2 bags cole slaw mix

1 bag spinach

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch Italian parsley

2 limes

2 large cucumbers

2 large green zucchini

1 bunch green onions

1 bunch radishes

5.65 lb of yellow potatoes

4 very large sweet potatoes (3 types)

2 apple juice

3 lb strawberries

2 bok choy

1 savoy cabbage

1 thumb ginger root

4 parsnips

7 turnips

Fresh marjoram

2 red, 2 green, 2 yellow, 2 orange bell peppers

Bananas

Blackberries

Broccoli

1 Elephant garlic

2 lb bag organic carrots

Fresh thyme

1 box yellow kiwis

3 lb bag baby potatoes

6 avocados

Blueberries

Bartlett pears

Cosmic crisp apples

Celery

1 leek

Beechers flagship cheese

18 month cave aged gouda

Feta crumbles

4 oz can sliced black olives

4 cans pumpkin puree

1 Redmond pink Himalayan salt shaker

At Costco:

2 12 packs polish sausage

3 8 packs kielbasa

Italian seasoning

Shaky Pepper

Pink fine ground Himalayan salt to refill salt shaker

1 bag sheet pan vegetables

1 package beef snack sticks

So hopefully only a few little filler items from here.

Price Breakdown on Half a Hog

August 28th, 2022 at 03:08 am

We just came home from the butcher and got everything squared away in the freezer and I've now done the math, so I can give you the breakdown on what we got and what we paid for our organic, pasture-raised meat.  Keep in mind this is not going to be the cheapest stuff you can get from the store, if you even still can.  These animals are not feed lot raised or even raised in a nice barn, but confined to a pen.

They are out there in the sunshine, with little shelters if it gets too hot, too windy, or too rainy.  These pigs walk free and root around in the soil eating anything they find that is good for them.  This is the prime stuff, not the stuff injected with salt water or who knows what else.  These pigs get exercise and their meat is nowhere near the color of what you see in the stores.  They are rotationally grazed, which means they get fresh pasture every 10 days, before any parasite pressure can develop from being in the same space too long.  They are given organic feed, free choice minerals, and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmers gardens.  And that healthy environment and food, that difference, is reflected in the price, the quality, and the taste.

That being said, here is the meat I got.  I could have gotten roasts, but I wanted more sausage, so didn't get any.

38 1 inch pork chops

8 1 inch pork steaks

3 family sized packages of spare ribs

16 country spare ribs (basically boneless smaller steaks)

16.5 pounds of bacon

24 lbs of country (breakfast) sausage

24 lbs of mild Italian sausage

2 hams (they should just fit in an oval 6 quart crockpot for size)

2 packages smoked ham hocks

1 8 lb bag of leaf lard (for making biscuits and pie crusts)

I skipped getting the rest of the lard as it has a porky taste to it and while we don't mind it, especially for deep frying, my mother hates the smell of it.  Leaf lard has no smell or taste to it and doesn't stink when rendering it down.  It would have been about 30 lbs if I had gotten the regular lard.

Hanging weight for the hog was 210 pounds.  Hanging weight is the amount my half of the carcass weighed after all the guts came out.  I was charged $3.50/lb on that, coming to a total of $735.  But that is not the grand total, so don't be pulling out your calculater yet.

Next up comes the butcher fees, which are quite a lot different than when getting beef, because a lot more is being done.  The butcher fee covers the killing, gutting, and the hanging in the refrigerted warehouse, the cut and wrap fee which is based on cutting it up into pieces and how much plastic and paper is used to package the meat, the cure and smoke fee for things like the bacon, ham, and hocks, the bacon slicing fee, and finally the sausage processing fee.  The last involves the grinding down of the meat, twice, a large grind followed by a small grind, then of course mixing the seasonings in.  I got charged twice for that since I had two different kinds and they have to clean the machine in between.  If I'd only gotten one type of sausage, that fee would have been half what is listed below.

$85.00 Butchering Fee

165.90 Cut and Wrap Fee

$36.23 Curing and Smoking Fee

$12.00 Sausage Processing Fee

+_6.00 Bacon Slicing Fee

-----------------

329.24 Total Meat Processing Fee

Add that together with the hanging weight fee:

$735.00

+329.24

-------------

1064.24 Total for Hog

This brings the total per pound to $5.07/lb. for organic pastured pig.  Which is incredible for that type of meat.  And let's face it, I can't even get regular bacon, pork sausage, or ham for that price anymore where I live, and you probably can't either, except maybe a picnic ham around the holidays.  Sometimes not even pork loin chops, let alone the real ones with the bones.  Pork shoulder you can get for $1.99/lb, sometimes ribs for $3.99/lb.  But there is stuff injected into that pork shoulder and often any chops before they are cut.  It's $8 a pound for organic bacon and $7 a pound for regular.  Today's prices, with all that inflation, are horrible.

One 1 lb organic, pasture-raised pork chop of the same size as the ones I got runs for $9.28/lb.  It cost $22.49 for a package of 2 country ribs.  Mine had 4 and cost $7 less based on weight comparison.  This was from the same farm I got it from, only in the store, so the best comparison.  The sausage from the same place is $10 a pound on the rare occasion it isn't sold out by 10 a.m. and was out of my price range to buy it that way  So I think I did pretty good there buying it this way.  If inflation continues as it has been, I wouldn't be surprised if in a year we aren't paying $5/lb for all cuts of pork.

This should last us a year.  We don't eat a ton of pork, mostly breakfast types or to use the sausage in meatloaves or meatballs, but it'll be nice to change up the chicken, beef, and seafood.  It works out to 380 servings, give or take how much broth we get from the hocks and ham bones.  That works out to 95 meals for 4, so we could have pork 1.82 times per week.  I haven't had bacon in so long.  I've been eating a lot of turkey bacon because it is so much cheaper, but really, it just tastes like ham to me.

Honestly, the size on some of those chops and steaks, I could probably cut them in half and have even more meals from them.  A hog from the butcher stays good up to two years in a deep freeze, so I could cut part of the chops or steaks off, cook them, and then use the cut off part in stir-fry in another meal.  I'll have to think on that, but no one needs to eat a one pound pork chop or steak, that's for sure.

Now to start saving up for next year's beef.  And maybe another chest freezer, so I can stockpile chicken, too.  Bulk buying off the farm, organic and pasture-raised, saves me so much money against buying it from the store, when and if I can even find it.  I don't have the energy to raise them myself anymore, not even the 8 weeks for Cornish cross, but I know a farmer who will raise them for me next summer.  52 chickens in the freezer would be very, very nice.

Pork!

August 26th, 2022 at 09:50 am

Our hog half is finally ready to be picked up, so DH and I will be going down on Saturday to pick it up.  DH was invited to go salmon fishing on Saturday, but he had to decline.  It's a little bit of a bummer, but the only other option was to take time off from work to go and he is too slammed to do that.

I am thinking about making it a date for DH and myself and going to Outback for a meal.  I miss Kookaburra wings so I would eat that, the veggies it comes with, some rye bread, and a sweet potato on the side.  DH would probably get a steak.  Or I could just buy some of that on sale steelhead trout, some sweet potatoes, some rye bread, and pick some zucchini from the garden and still not have spent as much as at Outback and feed four people instead of two.  We will at least be in the car along for the 40 minute drive there and the 40 minute drive back. 

DS and I will need to go through the freezers tomorrow and make things more compact and throw out anything with freezer burn and of course take out anything that needs to thaw out for dinners for the next few days, preferrably large things that take up a lot of space.  It shouldn't require a ton of space, but I want to make sure enough is cleared.  I don't think there will be much that is freezer burned, since we went through two of the three freezers a month ago.

I'll do a break down of the cuts I got, the final price, and the hanging weight once I know it all.  I've paid for the meat, just waiting on the cut and wrap fee until I get there.

 

I'm Finally Going Whole Hog! Plus Medical Expenses, Etc.

July 28th, 2022 at 11:32 pm

It has taken forever, between our first upright freezer breaking down, to having it replaced after many months when no one could repair it, which also took months because they were on backorder, to me ordering the hog, to the butcher dates being pushed back several times, to today, when my hog is actually being butchered.  It will be about 3 weeks before I actually get it, since they have to hang it for a while and then have to cure and smoke hams, bacon, and hocks.  But I will have it before the end of August, so that makes  me very happy.  I wanted it before fall, so this is great.  This saves a lot of money on meat in the long run.  Now I can start saving up for a beef.

I'm still trying to locate a pasture-raised lamb that has never been fed grain, but it is harder than you would think.  I may have to look outside my county.  Hopefully the next one over has some.  Otherwise I will have to give in to those who ate grain early on, but then switched to grass only.  As long as it is organic grain, I can deal.

The garden is doing well.  The onions need to be ringed, but they are growing nicely.  It'll be nice not to buy them at $.1.29 each.  I resent that so much, because before I could get them at 25 cents each.  I planted so many I think I may not have to buy them for 8 or 9 months.  I will probably braid all the yellows and the reds, but the Walla Walla sweets I will chop and freeze.

The garlic is pretty dry, so I think I another week and it'll be done.  Now I have to decide if I want to clip them or keep the stem on and braid them.  I love the way braided looks, but we don't really have a good place to hang them unless DH puts in a hook in the hallway or we hang them on a rod in the laundry room.  Neither place is convenient.  I will cut some up small and dehydrate it.  Then I can grind it for powder as I need it.  If I make it powder and keep it in a jar, it tends to clump badly or go hard.  I think I have enough garlic for a year, but we will see.  It's going for $1 for one head right now when you used to get 4 or 3 heads for $1.  That's outrageous.

The zucchini is quite small, about a dime in circumference for the largest and about 3 inches long.  I've got itty bitty cucumbers starting, but the vines don't want to climb the trellis yet.  I've got several green tomatoes coming on.  The green beans are about 8 inches tall, having been planted so late.  I'm still getting strawerries and the blueberries are starting to blush.

It'll be a while before I get more to harvest, but when I do I won't have to buy produce for some time.  I'm thinking about getting a CSA box in the meanwhile, since that is also cheaper than buying them from the store right now and I can pick out of several boxes of what I want, whether it be just fruit, just veg, or a combo, and there are different sizes at different price points.  They also have meat boxes and milk and egg boxes.  That's pretty neat.

I do want to get a box of nectarines to cut up and freeze, and two boxes of tomatoes for canning as I never have the space to grow enough.  I'll probably get 40 pounds of yellow potatoes and 20 pounds of carrots to can as well.  I'm not sure when, though.  And I will be buying chuck roast this week to can as it is $3.99/lb at Fred Meyer this ad cycle.  I'd like to get at least 14 quarts canned during this sale.  I'll do more if I can get it and my hands can take it.  I am almost out of that.  This sale seems to repeat itself somewhere around every six weeks, so I'll have a chance to do more.  These are still pre-Covid sale prices.  I use canned beef a lot during the winter, because it, canned potatoes, and canned carrots make a great quick stew.

I'm still waiting to see if there will be a good sale on boneless skinless chicken thighs.  I may have to just buy regular thighs, which do go on sale, and skin and debone them myself.  It's more work, but I can then make stock with the skins and bones, so I do get more out of it.  I need to make a lot of stock as I am completely out of canned stock.  It's an economical way to do both.  I can't get pre-Covid sales prices on the chicken, but the new sale is $1.29 per pound if you don't want to get the stuff injected with stuff, which is about what it was not on sale pre-Covid.

When I do go to Winco I will pick up some turkey sausage and turkey chorizo.  It is still pretty cheap at $2.99 a pound.  Way cheaper than pork sausage, which I will have a lot of with the hog, because I didn't get any roasts in my order.  I'm going to buckle down and start making the largest items from the freezer instead of what I feel like.  We've got some beef ribs and soup bones that take up a lot of space, so I need to deal with those.  We have some freezer burned pork that is meant for crab bait, so we need to get that to DH's boss, so he will have it when they go out crabbing.  It can sit in his freezer instead of ours.  And we will eat up the rest of the roasts from our beef.

I'm not sure how much room we will need for the hog.  When she first told me it was about 400 pounds, but that was six weeks ago.  It could easily be 600 pounds by now the way hogs eat, since she wasn't able to butcher on time.  I guess I'll know soon enough.  Funny thing was, I wanted a hog around that size originally, so I guess I get what I wanted.

When I go buy the meat later today, I won't have to buy any produce.  I still have plenty from last week.  2 watermelons, the first good cantaloupe I've seen this summer, 1 and a half bunches of bananas, 2 golden kiwis, WA state red cherries, 4 peaches, and 4 nectarines.  The latter two are still ripening.  I also have a nearly full bag of salad mix, a full bag of spinach, a green cabbage, a purple cabbage, a napa cabbage, 1 parsnip,  2 sweet potatoes, 2 stalks of celery, half a bag of Russet potatoes, a full bag of gold potatoes, 1 cucumber, 2 shallots, 1 yellow onions, 1 walla walla sweet onion, and 4 carrots.  I foresee cabbage rolls in my future as well as a root vegetable dish.  I need to use up the parsnip and the sweet potatoes before they go bad.

I scheduled DD's cavity appointments.  I wish we had been able to do them sooner, before she loses her insurance, but such is life.  I'm pretty sure the COBRA is just medical, not dental and vision.  We have spread it out over 3 appointments about six weeks between them.  The first one will cost $367, the second one will cost $258, and the third will cost $261.  That will allow us to cash flow fixing her teeth.  Then maybe after that we can get her the $400 night guard.  So $1286 all told.  We don't want to do it first because it will effect the shape of the mouthguard by small amounts and it might not fit right.

If we don't cash flow, we should have enough in the Medical Fund to cover it.  I put $500 in it every 2 weeks.  Of course we spend it a lot through the year, but I should have enough by September to pay for the first appointment.

If MIL gives us $10,000 like she did last year, I am going to dump $5k into the Medical Fund and $3K into the Emergency Fund and $2K to start saving for my son's education.  It's not much, but it's a start.  While he finished high school through homeschooling, he doesn't have the piece of paper.  So he needs to get his GED before going to the technical college.  You can also get an actual high school diploma through the technical college, so we might do that.  He'll have to test and see if he has enough knowledge to pass as that was a while ago.  He may have to take some more math to get into the program he wants, but everything else is where it should be except possibly his essay writing.  He always hated that because of his dyslexia.  He doesn't have the problem with numbers, only letters.

Insurance now covers the coating that takes out the blue light on computers and makes it easier to read things on white paper, so he'll be getting that with his new glasses this month.  Another expense, but one that the money is there for already, as are mine, if I decide to get them.  I may just wait until January when I can get both frames and lenses, not just lenses.  Or I might get contacts if the prescription hasn't changed much.

Bits and Pieces

April 30th, 2022 at 07:22 am

I ordered my hog so that's taken care of.  She's going to give me the original price of $3.50 per pound even though she raised her prices last month to $4.00 per pound to account for higher feed costs.  She just felt so sorry for me with the whole freezer saga.  I've kept her updated as we went along.  She said the hog's butchered weight should be around 170 pounds.  A bit smaller than I've gotten before, usually around 200 pounds, but I don't care.  Cut and wrap is .89/lb, plus extra if we want sausage which we do.  They don't charge extra for bacon.  We don't eat as much pork as we do chicken, beef, or even seafood usually, so a smaller amount is not as big a deal and it means I should have room in the freezer for a fall lamb.

DH's boss if cleaning out his freezer because he is going halibut fishing on Tuesday.  We are getting lots of wild Pacific salmon and possibly some cod as well.  DH didn't say how much, just that his boss said a cooler full.  Depends on the size of the cooler, I guess.  So we should get that on Monday.  I will never turn down free wild Pacific salmon.  I'd turn down farmed Atlantic salmon in a heartbeat, though.  I am a salmon snob, but how can you not be living in the coastal Pacific Northwest?

I spent $49.40 on chicken thighs today at Safeway.  They were .99/lb.  I bought 8 packages with 10 thighs each.  That is 80 pieces of chicken.  That portions up to 10 meals for my family or $4.94 per meal or $1.23 and a 1/2 cents per person per meal.  Can't beat that anymore. It was just nice to see a pre-late 2020 price on chicken again.

Speaking of prices from before then, I haven't made it to Fred Meyer to get the $3.97/lb chuck roast for canning yet.  I will probably go on Monday.  We've eaten almost all of the roasts from our beef that we bought last summer.  There's still plenty of beef left, though.  I have a lot of hamburger, quite a few steaks, and some ribs.  I think there is some brisket, too.  Oh, and soup bones.  I still have soup bones.

I called Virginia Mason today and got an appointment for my daughter with ENT doctor who specializes in Rhinology.  Her nosebleeds have gotten so bad that she is waking up every morning with blood running down her throat and causing so much stomach distress.  Because of the high iron content of blood, if you swallow a lot of it, it can cause nausea, vomitting, and troubles with the other end of things as well.  And the clots she's been passing lately have been frightening.  The ENT here just seems to have no clue about anything, so seeing a specialist seems the right course of action.

We were able to make it on the same day she sees the endocrinologist and the day before she sees the internist who specializes in chronic diseases for the first time.  We are staying in Lynnwood, which is pretty close to Seattle instead of at the Inn at Virginia Mason, because no one wants to sleep on those beds again.  Especially me with my deviated discs.

Mom fell yesterday and then again today.  I honestly don't know how this woman has not broken a hip, given herself a concussion, or died.  I keep telling her to slow down and she just won't.  If you looked up the word stubborn in the dictionary, my mother's face would be right next to it.  One of these days it's going to happen when no one is here.  DS is staying home while we go to Seattle because we don't feel she can be left alone for nearly two days.  He doesn't mind.  He's not much of one for car travel.

I am really hoping it doesn't rain tomorrow so we can get more work done on the garden.  It's just been one thing after the other and I feel like we are never going to get it finished.  I so wish I could just get down on the ground and weed.  It is really hard depending on other people for things.  I guess in that way I am like my mother.

Grocery Store Tracking--Winco Foods

April 28th, 2022 at 02:27 am

So I went to Winco on Sunday and I had a few surprises, but I guess I shouldn't have been since it has been in all the other stores, it just took a long time for the shortages to catch up to Winco.  The wall of deals at the front of the store was missing it's stacks of canned green beans, corn, potatoes, and all beans but black beans, and fruit.  In it's place they had Chef Boyardee and Nally chili and tomato products.  It was shockingly noticeable.  The regular canned good aisle was obviously lacking stock.

On the bright side their was plenty of chicken.  Thighs, legs, wings, breasts, and whole.  It's been a while since I've seen that, especially wings, which have been missing for 18 months.  I still can't find pork sausage though.  And the cost of cheese has gone up 70 cents a bag or brick.  Oh, and I did find 5 pound bags of French fries, for the first time in 18 months, so grabbed two.  I will go back once the freezer is set up and has been running for 24 hours.

Anywho, here's what I bought along with their prices and some analysis.

2 Franz buttermilk breads at $3.98 total

2 5 lb bags Winco fries at $7.96 (She made an error here and only charged me for 1 of the fries)

2 boxes honey nut Chex at $5.16 total

1 box of cinnamon Chex at $2.58

1 sleeve Orowheat crispy Englis Muffins at $2.18

4 packs of Winco CoJack Cheese Sticks

Bananas $2.46

4 Roma tomatoes at $1.01

1 jalapeno at 13 cents

1 2 lb bag shredded CoJack cheese at $6.48

1 bag of party size Tostitos tortilla chips at $3.68

1 bunch cilantro at 48 cents

1 large sweet potato $1.85

4 onions $3.14 (She made an error here and charged me for sweet onions and not yellow onions).

5 lb bag of red potatoes at $2.98 (They didn't have a single bag of yellow potatoes although there was a sign for it).

Red grapes $3.75 for 2.23 pounds

4 containers of chicken thighs at $35.23

Total money out $96.21

There were 10 chicken thighs per container, so I divided that up into 5 bags of 8 pieces, which is what our family eats at a meal.  It works out to $7.05 per meal of chicken.  I used to be able to get chicken thighs for .99/lb, but the new normal at Winco is $1.59/lb for the same meat.  Legs were cheaper at $1.29/lb, breasts were $1.99/lb, whole chickens were $1.19/lb  and wings were $3.48 per pound.

I came out ahead on the cashier's errors, but I didn't even see them until today when I was going over the receipt.  Winco's policy is that if the cashier makes a mistake in your favor you get to keep it and if they make a mistake in their favor they'll correct it.  It might even be you get the item free, but I can't remember.  But since I came out ahead, I won't bother going back about it.

Grocery Spending Tracking with Commentary

April 7th, 2022 at 11:23 pm

I haven't done one of these in a while, but I think I did pretty well.  The sales at Fred Meyer were pretty fantastic, though.  I walked out of the store with six bags of groceries for $212.  It was a little less than that but they have program where you can donate the change to the local food bank, so I always choose that option there.  They say it really, really adds up, because most people don't want to deal with coins.

6 bottles of Miracle Whip at $3.99 each if you bought six.  This will give DH enough for 6 months.  Since it has gone up to almost $7 a jar, this was something I was not going to pass up.

4 containers of onions and chives whipped cream cheese for $3.99 each.  It's less than the new normal price, but more than it used to be by 50 cents.  However, there is a shortage on cream cheese, and my kids like it on their bagels, so I stocked up a bit.

I got a 15 pack of large tortillas for making breakfast burritos.  I wanted to get the large double pack that has 20 each, but they didn't have it.  I was four short for the number of burritos I want to make.  Not the best price either, but I'll have to go to Costco for that when I get more.  They were $6.49. It might be time to start making my own tortillas sice I do have a press now, which will be much easier than rolling them out.

2 bags of Dave's Killer Bagels at $5.99 each. Not on sale, but not bad.  These are softer than typical bagels and the kids like them a lot.  DD has problems with harder bagels.  This might also be something I need to start making myself. It can't be any harder than making soft pretzels.

2 bags of Simply Cheetos, the crunchy ones. Talk about shrinkflation.  The bags are half the size and they don't weigh as much.  They were on sale, though, at $3.49 per bag.

2 packs beef sausage (Paleo) at $4.49 each.  These were on sale and are for meal prepping.

2 packs polish sausage (Paleo) at $5.49 each.  Also on sale, and also for meal prepping.

2 packages of mild Italian sausage at $7.19 each.  These have gotten so expensive, it might be time for me to go back to making my own sausage from ground chicken, turkey, or pork.  These are used in making the breakfast burriots for meal planning.

1 Cook's picnic ham at .79/lb.  It came to $5.68.  I would have bought more but there was a limit of one.

Chuck roasts were on sale for $3.99 a pound so I bought two.  $13.66 and $14.29.  We have run out of pot roasts from our beef.  Again, I would have picked up more, but I like the flat ones and I like them to be at least 3 pounds.  They mostly had the tall ones, which tend to be a little chewy, even when pressure cooked.

Red grapes were on sale for $1.48/lb.  I spent $2.31.  They are very good, too.  Sometimes that is a crapshoot at this time of year.

1 bag of spinach at $1.99.

1 chub of turkey breast $9.09

1 chub of turkey ham $7.30

Fresh green beans.  I got 1.5 pounds for $2.69.  This is for meal planning lunches.

2 packs of blueberries on sale for $3.99 each.  These also were very good.  This is also a crapshoot at this time of year.

1 box of kiwis on sale for $4.  This was a tremendously good sale and it was a good sized box.

1 small red onion $1.03.  Ouch, these are getting so expensive.  Probably should have bought the non-sale produce at Winco.

2 red bell peppers for $3, for lunch meal prepping.

1 head of iceberg lettuce $1.99  It's been $2.99 for a while now, and the leaf lettuces were tiny, so it was the best bang for my buck.

1 green bell pepper for 99 cents for lunch meal prepping.

3 large yellow onions for $1.91.  Double ouch.

2 green zucchinis for $1.39/lb totalling $1.81.

1 bunch organic bananas at .69/lb.  At least some things haven't changed.  I paid $2.18 for the bunch.  The regular ones were .59/lb, but were pretty green.

I bought 2 large crowns of broccol for $1.39/lb totalling $2.21.

1 small bok choy at $1.99/lb totally $1.71.

1 head of green cabbage at .89/lb (up about 20 cents from a year ago, but still cheaper than what it is now not on sale).  I spent $2.51.

2 yellow summer squash at $1.39/lb and spent $1.31.

1 head cauliflower at $1.39/lb and spent $3.39.

 2 English cucumbers at 2/$4.  The regular ones were cheaper but really small and kind of beat up so I went for these.

6 paper bags at 48 cents.  We are still not used to bringing our own bags again.  This was a small expense that did not need to happen.  I need to get back in the habit, now that our own bags are allowed again.

So I saved $67.24 according to the receipt, which is pretty darn good for six full bags of food.  The total was $211.27 with 73 cents of change going to the food bank.

I could not find French fries, but their is potato shortage nationwide, so these have been pretty hit and miss.  That's why we are planting more potatoes this year than last.

I also bought 25 pounds of hard white wheat this week on Amazon.  There was a $3 off coupon, so I got it for $56.

So all in all this week, I did pretty well.  I still have to go to Winco for cheese and to see if the have French fries, but will do that on the way back from the chiropractor to save gas.

I'm debating a Costco run, too, for more tortillas for next week, some frozen broccoli, a rotisserie chicken, some seasoned potatoes, some chicken spinach ravioli, and some tomato sauce.  Maybe on Friday.  Or I can have DH pick it up on his way home from work.  Costco can be a lot as it is huge and I can only walk so long without it starting to really hurt my herniated discs and there aren't always ride on carts available.  I might put it off until next payday, except the rotisserie chicken.

We'll be meal prepping a lot, so we can have consistent portion sizes for breakfast and lunch, and for weight loss, so that DS and I only have to cook all that up for a week and then only have to worry about dinners for the rest of the week, which DS helps me with most nights.

Hopefully, I can put together a full meal plan as I know some of you like to see that as well as the grocery tracking.

Grocery Shopping Tracker with Commetary

April 7th, 2022 at 11:02 pm

I haven't done one of these in a while, but I think I did pretty well.  The sales at Fred Meyer were pretty fantastic, though.  I walked out of the store with six bags of groceries for $212.  It was a little less than that but they have program where you can donate the change to the local food bank, so I always choose that option there.  They say it really, really adds up, because most people don't want to deal with coins.

6 bottles of Miracle Whip at $3.99 each if you bought six.  This will give DH enough for 6 months.  Since it has gone up to almost $7 a jar, this was something I was not going to pass up.

4 containers of onions and chives whipped cream cheese for $3.99 each.  It's less than the new normal price, but more than it used to be by 50 cents.  However, there is a shortage on cream cheese, and my kids like it on their bagels, so I stocked up a bit.

I got a 15 pack of large tortillas for making breakfast burritos.  I wanted to get the large double pack that has 20 each, but they didn't have it.  I was four short for the number of burritos I want to make.  Not the best price either, but I'll have to go to Costco for that when I get more.  They were $6.49. It might be time to start making my own tortillas sice I do have a press now, which will be much easier than rolling them out.

2 bags of Dave's Killer Bagels at $5.99 each. Not on sale, but not bad.  These are softer than typical bagels and the kids like them a lot.  DD has problems with harder bagels.  This might also be something I need to start making myself. It can't be any harder than making soft pretzels.

2 bags of Simply Cheetos, the crunchy ones. Talk about shrinkflation.  The bags are half the size and they don't weigh as much.  They were on sale, though, at $3.49 per bag.

2 packs beef sausage (Paleo) at $4.49 each.  These were on sale and are for meal prepping.

2 packs polish sausage (Paleo) at $5.49 each.  Also on sale, and also for meal prepping.

2 packages of mild Italian sausage at $7.19 each.  These have gotten so expensive, it might be time for me to go back to making my own sausage from ground chicken, turkey, or pork.  These are used in making the breakfast burriots for meal planning.

1 Cook's picnic ham at .79/lb.  It came to $5.68.  I would have bought more but there was a limit of one.

Chuck roasts were on sale for $3.99 a pound so I bought two.  $13.66 and $14.29.  We have run out of pot roasts from our beef.  Again, I would have picked up more, but I like the flat ones and I like them to be at least 3 pounds.  They mostly had the tall ones, which tend to be a little chewy, even when pressure cooked.

Red grapes were on sale for $1.48/lb.  I spent $2.31.  They are very good, too.  Sometimes that is a crapshoot at this time of year.

1 bag of spinach at $1.99.

1 chub of turkey breast $9.09

1 chub of turkey ham $7.30

Fresh green beans.  I got 1.5 pounds for $2.69.  This is for meal planning lunches.

2 packs of blueberries on sale for $3.99 each.  These also were very good.  This is also a crapshoot at this time of year.

1 box of kiwis on sale for $4.  This was a tremendously good sale and it was a good sized box.

1 small red onion $1.03.  Ouch, these are getting so expensive.  Probably should have bought the non-sale produce at Winco.

2 red bell peppers for $3, for lunch meal prepping.

1 head of iceberg lettuce $1.99  It's been $2.99 for a while now, and the leaf lettuces were tiny, so it was the best bang for my buck.

1 green bell pepper for 99 cents for lunch meal prepping.

3 large yellow onions for $1.91.  Double ouch.

2 green zucchinis for $1.39/lb totalling $1.81.

1 bunch organic bananas at .69/lb.  At least some things haven't changed.  I paid $2.18 for the bunch.  The regular ones were .59/lb, but were pretty green.

I bought 2 large crowns of broccol for $1.39/lb totalling $2.21.

1 small bok choy at $1.99/lb totally $1.71.

1 head of green cabbage at .89/lb (up about 20 cents from a year ago, but still cheaper than what it is now not on sale).  I spent $2.51.

2 yellow summer squash at $1.39/lb and spent $1.31.

1 head cauliflower at $1.39/lb and spent $3.39.

 2 English cucumbers at 2/$4.  The regular ones were cheaper but really small and kind of beat up so I went for these.

6 paper bags at 48 cents.  We are still not used to bringing our own bags again.  This was a small expense that did not need to happen.  I need to get back in the habit, now that our own bags are allowed again.

So I saved $67.24 according to the receipt, which is pretty darn good for six full bags of food.  The total was $211.27 with 73 cents of change going to the food bank.

I could not find French fries, but their is potato shortage nationwide, so these have been pretty hit and miss.  That's why we are planting more potatoes this year than last.

I also bought 25 pounds of hard white wheat this week on Amazon.  There was a $3 off coupon, so I got it for $56.

So all in all this week, I did pretty well.  I still have to go to Winco for cheese and to see if the have French fries, but will do that on the way back from the chiropractor to save gas.

I'm debating a Costco run, too, for more tortillas for next week, some frozen broccoli, a rotisserie chicken, some seasoned potatoes, some chicken spinach ravioli, and some tomato sauce.  Maybe on Friday.  Or I can have DH pick it up on his way home from work.  Costco can be a lot as it is huge and I can only walk so long without it starting to really hurt my herniated discs and there aren't always ride on carts available.  I might put it off until next payday, except the rotisserie chicken.

We'll be meal prepping a lot, so we can have consistent portion sizes for breakfast and lunch, and for weight loss, so that DS and I only have to cook all that up for a week and then only have to worry about dinners for the rest of the week, which DS helps me with most nights.

Hopefully, I can put together a full meal plan as I know some of you like to see that as well as the grocery tracking.

 

 

Too Much Snow

December 28th, 2021 at 04:23 am

We've been snowed in since early Christmas morning, but today they finally plowed our road, so I will be able to get out tomorrow to take DS to the doctor and go to the store.  I need to buy some stuff for the pantry challenge, mostly fresh produce, but milk, yogurt and sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, cabbage, apples, and oranges, which will all last a month.  I will have to buy some dairy and fresh greens during the challenge, but I hope to keep it to that.

I am assuming, of course, that DS's doctor is able to get in.  Then the next day I have an eye exam that I had to wait month's for, so hopefully the eye doc will make it in as well.  Other parts of the county are still unplowed, so if they live outside of town or up on the hills, it may be a problem.  I need the exam yearly to make sure my retinas aren't turning yellow due to the drug I am on for fibromyalgia.  As well as an eye exam for glasses/possibly contacts if my perscription hasn't changed too much.  Insurance will only pay for lenses or contacts, not both.  I will go with glasses if too much has changed.  I'd just like to have contacts for the days I go out and have to wear my mask for a long time.  Glasses fog up no matter how carefully you put your mask on.

My family and I have made a pledge that we are going to try to all eat better in the coming year.  Of course we all hope for weight loss, so there will be a lot more vegetables and a lot less sugar and if we have sugar it will be honey in homemade items, not storebought.  I used to do this so much and would really like to get back to it.  In fact, I need to make a batch of bread tomorrow as we are down to two slices, which DH will have for his breakfast.  I'll have to go to the recipe category on my blog to find my bread recipe as it has been so long since I made any.  I know it is techincally not January, but I'd like to get in the habit now.

I don't remember if I mentioned it, but after two years being gluten free my daughter healed her gut and is allowed to eat wheat again, which makes my life so much easier.  We will still use gluten free pasta, but she is actually able to eat regular bread now, thank goodness.  We just can't overload her system with it by her eating it every day.  I make an awesome gluten free pizza crust, so we may stick with that, but the great thing is that if I run out of gelatine, I could just make a regular one.

Not really much else going on.  I did a little spending and bought two gallons of unscented hand soap and some OTC meds off Amazon that haven't been in the stores for a while.  That is the household envelope and the medical fund respectively, for the money.  Altogether it was $103.49.

Tonight I plan to work on setting up the January budget.  I still don't know when the raise will show up as it wasn't on the last paycheck.  DH might have some overtime, this week which will show up on the paycheck on the 7nth if it does, so I still won't know proper amounts, although we can probably figure it out from the pay stub.

DH has to go to California for a week for work.  It sucks.  I thought his travel days were over.  I hope that we are able to make it.  It is hard for him to go when my daughter and I are both at somewhat disabled.  All I can hope for is that I don't have a flare up of either of my autoimmune diseases and that my son will not have a manic episode while DH is gone.  It is pretty well controlled now with meds, but he still spirals once in a while.

I'm going to miss him so much.  When he was going back and forth to Alaska for years and years, it was all we knew, but now that he has been here for the last few years, I don't have the hardened attitude anymore.  But at least we have video calling now.  At least I will get to see his face while he is away.  I hope I am feeling better by then.  I wish this anti-depressant would start working already.

Getting Ready for the Eat from the Pantry Challenge

December 24th, 2021 at 01:01 am

I plan to do one big shop before January with the last of December's grocery envelope money.  I'll probably go on the 30th.  I'm figuring out my produce so we can make it through the month without going to the grocery store for more than milk.

I can buy lettuce for the first two weeks.  The vacuum sealed bags from Costco will last two weeks sealed, so we can eat one the first week and one the second week.  We can get celery and bok choy for stir-fries for the first two weeks, carrots for the full month, frozen broccoli for the full month and frozen cauliflower if we can find it.  Otherwise I may have to blanch and freeze two heads of cauliflower.  We have plenty of home canned and non-home canned green beans to go through.  I'll buy cabbage and break into it on week 3.  I'll also buy some green onions for week one and some radishes for the whole month, eating the greens in the first week.  I'd like some parsnips and turnips as well and a couple of sweet potatoes. We do not need potatoes, we are still working through what we grew.  I will need onions, though.  And two bags of mixed veggies for making stir-fried rice.

For fruit, we'll have apples and oranges for the last half of the month and for the first half I can buy 2 pineapples (there is a sale and hopefully they look good), using 1 the first week and 1 the second.  For the first week I can buy bananas and golden kiwis.  We have home canned pears, nectarines, peaches, and plums as well as store bought canned pineapple.  I'll need to buy avocados in various stages of ripening.

I am going to make as much of our bread products as possible.  Now that my daughter's gut has healed, we have reintroduced wheat into the diet and it seems to be going well.  We still use a lot of gluten free things and will continue to do so, but she can have the occasional sandwich or hamburger bun or dinner roll made with wheat flour now.  Or pizza.  We try to keep it to twice a week.

I need to buy enough eggs to make it through the month and I need to see how much chicken is in the freezer and possibly a couple of hams.  We don't have to worry about beef, although I might buy some more bacon.  I need to check the freezer for that, too, and see how much sausage we have.  We have some salmon and we have spot prawns in the freezer, too, so will do that a couple of times.

We'll need tortilla chips and I'll need to see how much cheese we have as I'll need enough for a couple of pizzas and a lasagna.  We have lots of gluten free pretzels, but I'd like to have a couple of bags of potato chips and I'm sure DD will want her Simply Cheetos and I want to make sure we have the ingredients to make cookies.  Oh, and we need peanut butter.  We have lots of rice.

I can't think of anything else.  I'm going to work on a meal plan for the month of November and that might make remember some other gaps to fill.

I'd like to keep as much of the money for groceries as possible.  I budget $400 every two weeks, so if we can keep to the challenge, except for milk, that would be really good.  I've managed to keep around $600 in the past because I didn't plan as well ahead of time, but still did pretty good.  The main thing was making sure there were enough snack things to keep the other 3 happy.

But our goal in the new year is to improve our diets over all and a month without eating out will help with that by cutting out a lot of sodium.  We need to eat more vegetables because we have been skimping lately, especially green ones, or in the case of cabbage, red and green ones.  I will start my Aerogarden going tonight so that we will have salad greens by the start of week 4, maybe even week 3.  Some varieties of lettuce grow faster than others.

I hope that a month without eating out will put us back on track all the way around, nutritionally and financially.  And then continue on from there, maybe only getting take out once or twice a month.  I have to get past my too tired to cook mentality, which I feel all too often, but then when I force myself to cook, I'm almost always just fine.  It helps that I've been sleeping better since I got the adjustable bed frame.  I can elevate my legs a little and my head a little and it makes a world of difference.

If anyone wants to join me on the eat from the pantry challenge, go ahead.  There's a bunch of us doing it over on the Sutton's Daze facebook group and on youtube.  The goal is to stay out of the grocery store as much as possible for the month of January and save as much of your grocery budget as you can.  You can make exceptions for certain foods.  Some buy produce only, some buy milk and eggs only, some only buy bread.  You set your own challenge according to your ability.

 

 

What a Busy Week

December 5th, 2021 at 01:07 am

There were appointments every day this week and man was it exhausting.  I had two physical therapy sessions, one regular therapy session, one doctor's appointment for me, and one doctor's appointment for DD, who has bronchitis and a negative Covid test.  I've been put on prednisone for 10 days to try to help with some of the inflammation I've been having due to the rheumatoid arthritis acting up so much in this cold weather swing, so I am feeling semi-decent, even if I do look like a puffer fish.

Last night DH and I to Costco and did a big shop.  I used the ride on cart and we filled that basket, plus the basket of another shopping cart.  I haven't been to Costco in months.  We spent all but $50 of the grocery budget in one go, but I have lots of fruits and vegetables, some carne asada and two types of raviolis.  And 4 cases of PH water, which was nearly $50 of the cost. 

And 2 cases of Charmin.  It's the first time they've had Charmin in a couple of months according the cashier.  They had a limit of 5, though we only got 2.  We might go back for more later.  I like to keep 5 cases in the house during cold and flu season and we were down to one.  Charmin is the only TP we can use that doesn't have some harsh agent in it that causes a rash.  Well, that and MD but we can't find that anywhere for the last few years.  They might not make it anymore.

I was really excited to find some uncured paleo bacon (no sugar) and some uncured paleo Candian bacon.  And also a turkey and a roast beef deli meat pack with no sugar.  I am going to restart my diet on Monday.  I am not doing paleo, I just like to keep my high carb intake down to one meal a day, no more than 60 grams, and the other meals to be no sugar with lots of low carb vegetables.  I got a couple of salad kits, a Ceasar (won't eat the dressing or croutons, but others will) and a chopped Meditarrean salad mix that had a lot of crunchy veggies in it like cabbage, broccoli slaw, carrots, and non-romaine lettuce.  So I will mix those together.  I love salad and I make a simple dressing that has very low carbs, but tastes good.  I also stocked up a little on Kerrygold butter both salted and unsalted.

After that we headed out to storage with the truck to start bringing in our outdoor Christmas decorations.  The elk takes up almost the whole bed of the truck, but we were able to put the flat large ornament under it and tuck some other small things around it.  We had the bottled water back there, so there wasn't a ton of extra room.  Tonight we will be going back out to bring in the lamp post, the icicle lights, all the the other things like the star, the angel, the Cardnial, the Santa face, and the candy canes.  Plus the extension cords.

After we got home with the elk and put the groceries away and rested, we headed out to Lowe's.  We picked up a large room space heater for us and another one for Mom.  It has made a tremendous difference and I am no longer worried about the pipes freezing.  We heard from the furnace people and it might actually be two more weeks.

We picked up some more lights while there and got a new standee yard decoration.  This was a bear dressed in a band uniform sitting on a drum, so we call him a little drummer bear.  I try to buy one standee a year.  And we bought new lights for the bushes, because the solar ones just did not work well last winter.  Too much bad weather and too little sunshine.  We forgot to buy clips for the gutters though so we will go get those tonight when we go back out to storage.  Then hopefully tomorrow we can get the decorations up.  It's supposed to snow on Monday, so I'd like that done first.

At some point this weekend I'd like to go look for a freezer, too, now that the money has been refunded to us.  So thankfully that whole freezer saga is done.  Only took them 5 months.  If we can at least get one ordered that would be nice.

Oh, and we bought an electric blanket for DH since his quit working.  It should be here from Amazon on the 6th.

It has been spendy, but everything was either budgeted for or was saved up for, so it's all good.

I hope DH gets a decent Christmas bonus this year.  It would be cool if we could dump some more money into the EF.  They generally give a cash bonus and a 401K bonus.  Or you can choose to have the cash bonus go into your 401K, too, in which case the government doesn't get their greedy little paws on a huge chunk of the bonus (bonuses are taxed higher).  Last year the take home bonus was around $500, I think, but the year before it was $1500.  They supposedly did a lot better this year than last, so I am hopeful.

They are supposed to give out raises at the end of the year, too.  Not everyone is getting one, but it was strongly implied at DH's performance review that he would be.  I don't think any raise could keep up with runaway inflation right now, but anything would help.  It's not like DH doesn't have a good income, but when you put 15% into retirement and tithe 10%, that only leaves you with 75% to live on and that does make it tight sometimes.  It is like how we were living when we were paying down debt for the most part.

I guess that is the trade off, though.  Sacrifice now, so we don't have to sacrifice when we are in retirement.  I guess it just feels super tight because we had to set aside most of the money MIL gave us for medical expenses instead of just being able to use it.  But DS needs braces and DH needs a crown and I need a new mouth guard because mine is starting to crack.  Mine will only cost $400 though.  The crown will be $1500 and the braces I don't know yet, but I've got $6000 set aside for that.  I hope it won't cost that much, but that is what we paid for DD, although her teeth were way worse.

We need to get DS separated from the grocer's union so he can go get a restaurant job.  Did  you know that if you take a non-union job after joining that union that they can sue you?  That sucks.  He does not want to go back to work at a grocery store.  All the fast food places are hiring and they are non-union.  The McDonalds nearby is over $15.69 an hour for regular shifts and $16.69 for overnight shifts.  He was making $17.79 at the grocery store, so that's not too big a cut.  Plus he won't have to go outside much.  He had to get the carts at the grocery store and was always getting soaked, even with the rain jacket.

If he can get a job there it would be ideal.  Either that or the DQ that is a block away from the McD's.  He needs to start earning money so that he can get a car and then start saving up for school to become an electrician.  But first he has to get his GED.  Now that he is properly medicated for ADHD and BiPolar, he's got a chance of focusing long enough to do that.  Although I think McD's also has a program for getting your high school diplomma so he might be able to do that, too.  I'd prefer that to the GED, but at this point I just want him to finish.

Finally went to the Grocery Store--Grocery Tracking Spending

November 2nd, 2021 at 05:57 pm

Last night I went to the grocery store for the first time since right before I had the Delta variant of Covid (yes, I was vaxxed, yes, I got it anyway).  I still don't have a lot of strength in my body, but I used my walker while DH pushed the shopping cart.  We went at 8:30 p.m. which was nice because there were barely any other customers in the store.  DH has been doing all the shopping, but he's not great at picking out produce.

It was great to be able to pick out my own produce again.  I found a beautiful yellow pineapple that smelled delicious and also picked up a bag of the tiny oranges (think cuties or halos or the like) to see if they were good yet (they were).  I had one of my 10% off Covid coupons with me.  I have one left now.  Originally we had eight because they gave you one every time you got the jab which was twice per person for a family of four.  They are good until the end of the year.

I ended up spending $168.45.  32 cents of that was bag fees.  They recently have allowed us to start using reusable bags again, but of course we forgot them, since it has been so long without we just aren't in the habit anymore.  Now they charge for bags again, but they weren't before this went back into effect.  So we have to get the bags back out to the car again.  The coupon savings was $18.68 and the club card savings was $8.65, for a total savings of $27.33 or 14% of the order.  If DS was still working there we would have gotten an additional 10% off the order, but oh, well.  We still did great.

Here's what I bought:

14 pounds of non-GMO fed free range chicken

3 organic broccoli crowns

1 red onion

2 yellow onions

1 small bok choy (not baby, just one with fewer stalks on it)

4 turnips

1 pineapple

2 large garnet sweet potatoes

1 huge head of elephant garlic (for planting in the garden)

1 small purple cabbage

1 2 lb bag of mandarin oranges

1 small box of organic baby romaine

2 very large parsnips (weighed in at just over 2 lbs)

12 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 large bag of Tostitos

1 medium container of Daisy sour cream

1 large Haagan Daz vanilla ice cream

1 medium Haagan Daz chocolate ice cream

They did not have the Siggi Icelandic yogurt in plain, so we will have to make a trip to Whole foods.  The nutritionist wants her eating skyr for digestive health and wants her to add honey and fruit at home so she is in charge of the amounts that go in the skyr.  She loves that brand so not an issue, but I'd just as soon just buy the honey version.  Which they still didn't have at the first store.

I will be making chicken stir-fry again this week.  I haven't made up my meal plan yet, I need to sit down and do that, but I know a couple of things that I will be making.  I would have made it up yesterday, but I had one of my crowns come off and it was very distracting and painful.  I see the dentist today at 3:00.  It was going to be 5:00 but they had a cancellation.  I didn't sleep very well, so hopefully I can be alert enough to drive by then.  I had some caffeine so hopefully it will kick in soon.  Right now my left eye doesn't want to stay open.  If not, I'll have my son drive me.  It shouldn't take long, they just have to make sure the site is clean and glue it back on with dental cement.

I need to put one of the packages of chicken in the Instant Pot and cover it with water and put in seasonings to make some broth.  The Instant Pot has made making broth so much easier.  You can do in a couple of hours what can take up to three days of simmering to make bone broth.  Although I make meat and bone broth, so DD has soft chicken to eat for a few days.

I did manage to fold one load of towels yesterday, but there are two more baskets of laundry I need to get to.  So I should probably stop procrastinating and get on with it.

 

Freezer Issues and Hog/Chicken Fund

October 18th, 2021 at 01:11 am

I don't know if I've talked about the freezer debacle or not, but the freezer we bought last December broke down in late July and we have been put through the wringer with Frigidaire ever since, trying to get them to honor their warranty.  For a long while it just felt like they were trying to run out the warranty.  Plus no one in town fixes Frigidaires anymore unless you've bought it from them.  We didn't buy it from any of those places.  We would have, but no one other than Home Depot had freezers when we bought it due to shortages.

Well, I felt from the beginning that the door didn't match up right, but at least the freezer was working, even if the light kept coming on saying it wasn't at temp, but it was still at freezing so we dealt with it.  Then in July thing started thawing out and it started running all the time and then it sounded like an airplane was taking off every couple of hours, which definitely sounded like the motor or a belt to me, so I unplugged it.  So we managed to split what was in it between our small chest freezer, our one fridge freezer, and two shelves and the door of Mom's freezer, and whatever we would eat for the next few days went into the fridge to finish thawing out.

And that started the hours on the phone trying to get it sorted.  First it took a month to find someone who would repair it for us under warranty and they were in Seattle.  So twice Frigidaire sent them a repair order for the model number of our Freezer, but with the word refrigerator on it.  So because those didn't match, they repair company rejected it.  Of course it took a week for them to receive the order, a week for them to reject it, and a week for us to try to resolve the problem with Frigidaire.  So that's six weeks.  Then we finally escalated it to someone higher up and she completely erased everything that was in the computer under our names and restarted from scratch.  She made sure everything lined up, model number matched freezer, sent it off to the repair place and...one week later, they recieved the work order and it said our model number and...refrigerator.

So the repair shop is saying they don't match again and they can't fix it until it does.  So back to Frigidaire and talked to the same woman and she escatled it higher and that someone went and yelled at the repair shop that it was on their end this time and to pull their heads out and fix this.  So we finally got a person scheduled and they came out on Monday.  And I was right.  The door wasn't hung properly and the gasket was irregular and not fitting right.  And the motor had burnt up most of the way and it was a good thing I unplugged it when I did.

So now it is going to take a while for the parts and they will be back on November 4th with a new freezer door and a new motor and hopefully then we will be back up and running with a little over a month of warranty left.  So while they didn't quite run out the warranty, it was close.  I mean, we still would have gotten it fixed as they started the ticket before it expired, but this took forever and I am quite frustrated by the sheer idiocy of the whole mess.  I am also frustrated over how much we had to do, instead of Frigidaire just calling them the first time and getting the mistake corrected, we had to do all the work of calling back and forth between the two places.

But I won't believe it is over until the freezer runs again.

On the bright side, the lady who raises pigs, pushed our butcher date out until November 12th instead of October 12th, which should give us enough time to see whether the repaired freezer is working.  She said if we have to we can push out to the December 12th date.  She sends hogs to butcher every month and what isn't bought by regular people is sold to stores.  And we can keep pushing it if it turns out the repairs don't work and we end up buying a new freezer, even if that means the end of next summer or something after we save up again.  She's very good to work with.

I hope we can get it for the 11/12 butcher date, though.  I will feel a lot better with both a steer and a hog in the freezers and I can work on buying organic chicken for whatever space is left.

I had $175 left in the grocery envelope due to having to not buy any beef anymore, so I added that to the Hog/Chicken Fund.

$1013.00 Starting Balance

+_175.00 Amount Added

---------------------

$1188.00 New Balance

And once we have all of the pork and chicken in the freezer I will start saving up for both a lamb and the next steer with leftover grocery money.  It will be nice not to have to go down the meat section at the grocery store anymore.  Doing it this way really works for us.  We have better quality meat at lower than grocery store prices, especially beef.  $4.50 a pound for grassfed ribeye steak is looking very good right now.

I am also thinking about buying some emu steaks.  We've had ostrich, but never emu.  They are supposed to taste very similar, but emu is half the price of ostritch.  We like ostritch but don't consider it affordable.  We've found a place that ships it, but with shipping delays they say it could be partially thawed by the time it arrives, since they are way across the country and freezer packs or dry ice only last so long.  I'm hoping to find some place closer.  We do have an emu farm in Oregon, but all they seem to sell is the oil, not the meat.  It's hard to internet search it when these two places seem to have all the results lead back to them.

If I do order I want to make a smaller order to make sure we all like it.  Smaller orders are harder because they thaw out faster.  Larger orders have a lot of frozen meat to help keep the bulk of it frozen longer.  We'll see.  I think that's for something down the road, maybe when the shipping gets back to normal.  We will see.

 

Grocery Spending Tracking, Garden Purchase, and the Sweetest Stray Cat

August 6th, 2021 at 09:19 am

I finally made it to the grocery store for a decent sized shop.  DS and I went to Whole Foods since today was his day off.  It really isn't as expensive as some people think.  Like all stores it depends on what you buy.  For organic, it can beat some of the other stores and some of their prices were lower than for regular produce or gluten free items in regular stores.  I never find moldy produce there which is beginning to be more and more of a problem at one store I shop at.  And it has more selection than say Trader Joe's, which I haven't been in in at least 9 months, because they were so draconian in their Covid practices.

I mean, the employees at TJ's were always rude, like shoving their way in front of you to stock something instead of waiting until you moved out of the way or rolling their eyes when the store layout had changed and you asked them were something was now, or when they discontinued an item that you bought a month before but they would lie and say that was discontinued months ago or a year ago.  I've had a couple of them knock me off balance because they just run into you.

But their Covid practices were what really pushed it over they line.  They were like 8 steps beyond what every other grocery store was doing.  I swear I expected to end up in the disinfection scene from New Earth on Doctor Who or something.

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htkUa_fVwCA and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htkUa_fVwCA  But they were inconsistent on enforcing it between registers.  And I got one too many rude cashiers when I asked why the other cashiers allowed you to stand in front of the plexiglass instead of making you wait 8 feet from the place where you could watch your prices ring up or start bagging your food, I was done.  They were just snarling and one even swore at me and I swear I was polite.  I've worked in the service industry, so I don't ever talk disrespectfully to employees even if they are being donkey hats as it gets you nowhere (and I never talked to customers that way either, no matter how exhausted I was).  If you have rules, everyone should follow them, not just one sole cashier.    There is nothing they have that I cannot get elsewhere anymore.  Plus their parking is, pardon my English, utter crap.  I was willing to put up with it when they were the only game in town, but they haven't been that for a long time.

Anyway, here is what I bought at Whole Foods:

2 uncured sliced meat selections (think chorizo, cappicola, etc.)

1 organic watermelon

2 jars of soy free Hoison sauce (first time I've found this)

2 whole organic rotisserie chickens

5 organic nectarines

1 2 lb bag organic French fries

1 box Lundberg's organic Spanish rice

4 boxes Jovial gluten free brown rice penne pasta

1 box almond flour crackers (gluten free)

1 jar organic dill pickle spears

1 box Vital Farms pasture raised butter (cheaper than Kerrygold)

1 box gluten free pancake mix

1 box gluten free organic cereal Cheetah Chomps (like Fruit Loops in concept, but healthy)

1 box of strawberry applesauce (4 shelf stable pouches)

1 small box organic baby spinach

8 Siggi's skyr yogurt (various flavors)

1 pint organic grape jelly

10 pouches organic baby food

1 box Annie's gluten free white cheddar and shells pasta

1 box Annie's gluten free cheddar and rice pasta

1 half gallon bottle of organic lemonade and iced tea (mixed)

1 pineapple

1 bag with 7 colored bell peppers

1 head of cauliflower 

1 lb sugar snap peas (which they rang up as a serrano, I see, which is a lot cheaper)

1 bunch green onions

1 6 inch piece daikon

2 heads of broccoli

1 large bok choy

3 lbs of dark red cherries

I spent $211.95 and that grocery cart was full.  I didn't buy much meat because we have a ton in the freezer.  I will have to go to one more store to buy milk, bread, gluten and soy free bread, uncured hot dogs, and then Whole Foods was sold out of ginger and black plums so I'd like to get those, too.  I shouldn't have to buy much else during the next two weeks, depending on how the fruit lasts.  It seems to not last as long with days in the 80's and 90's like right now.  The garden is producing lettuce, raspberries, zucchini, patty pan squash, and cucumbers now and it looks like I will have a lot ready by next week.

Oh, and the organic baby food pouches are because my daughter's gastropaeresis is acting up again, which makes it very hard for her to digest fiber.  This allows her to have some fruits and vegetables in a pureed form.  And since it is all organic, it really isn't that much cheaper to do it myself.  The convenience factor is worth it, though I will still puree any food I cook for her that can be pureed.  Right now having a soft food diet gives her digestive system a chance to rest without sacrificing nutrition.  It is very easy for her to become malnourished and I don't always have the stamina or freedom from pain to do it all myself anymore.  That particular yogurt was also for her.

I did order a shade cloth from Amazon last night for the strawberries.  It cost $30.46.  It's 10 x 13 and the two beds together are 12 x 4.  They are hooped so while I probably only needed 8 feet instead of 10 for the sides, this was what was available.  The strawberries are really struggling in this unrelenting heat and they are in the garden bed that gets the most sun during the day.  Watering well just has not been enough and I don't want to lose them.  I will move them next spring to a bed that gets shade during the hottest part of the day, assuming those beds do get built in late August and September as planned.  I know at least one will, but I don't know if all four will.  The potatoes and tomatoes are thriving, but I don't know what is going on with my peppers this year.  They are stunted.  I need to fertilize with fish emulsion.

There is the sweetest  young cat coming by.  I think she is descended from Mrs. Norris, a stray cat that was pregnant a couple of years ago, because it looks just like her.  This is the most beautiful tabby in the traditional grey and black stripes.  I think it is about five or six months old.  It is just shy of the lanky teenage cat stage.  It looks healthy and like it is eating, and I saw it with a mouse once, but there is no collar and when you pet the friendly little thing it has a lot of flea poop that comes off its fur, so it is infested.

It is what I call friendly/wary, which makes me think it has been recently dumped or got loose, but was raised among humans until then.  I am putting out fresh water for it, but mostly the neighbor is looking out for it.  It'll wind around my legs and loves to be pet, but it will not let me pick it up.  I do wash with soap anywhere it touches me, though, as soon as I go in.  I'm not getting flea bites or taking fleas into the house.  Any clothes it touches go straight into the washer.

I wish I wasn't allergic to cats and DS wasn't.  I haven't had one since the cat I got when I was ten died when I was 26 and I do like my ability to breathe.  But this cat just makes me want to adopt it.  It is beautiful and sweet and has such lovely eyes.  I'm afraid I might fall in love with it.  It is hard to be the cat person you are when it makes you miserable to have one in your home.  The neighbor is looking out for it and will probably adopt it or at least bring it in for the worst part of the winter.  She's a soft touch and all of her cats for the last 3 decades have found her, not the other way around.  I might buy a flea comb if it gets really comfy with me and see if I can't help it.  And maybe a flea collar.  Do they make break away flea collars these days?

Planning out my Yearly Food Needs to Lower the Grocery Budget

February 10th, 2021 at 04:13 am

Every year I make up a food preservation plan, which is an overarching pantry plan, really.  I keep the previous year's plans so I can see what I planned before, what I actually achieved, and what I might want to do more or less of.  This includes a canning plan, a dehydrating plan, a freezer plan, and a long-term staples plan.  It's really quite in depth and when I make them up, I feel like I've got a really good handle on things for the coming year.

This year I will need to fill 1,316 jars, 626 quart jars, 28 pint and a half jars, 573 pint jars, and 89 pint and a half jars.  I have around 750 reusable canning lids, but will need to buy more and maybe some metal ones if I can find them.  I prefer metal ones for waterbath canning, but reusable for pressure canning.  They are supposed to be back in stock now, but there was huge shortage during 2020 due to people growing and canning a lot more food because they were worried about food shortages.  I think I have enough jars, but if I need to, I can store the culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, and teas I grow in take out soup containers or spaghetti sauce jars.

Knowing how much I want to do, helps me to plan how much of what I am going to plant in the garden, how much freezer space I will need, and how many mylar bags and food grade buckets I need to have on hand, and of course the aforementioned jars and lids.

All of this, if I can achieve it, should cut our grocery spending by half.  That is assuming a good growing season and a good harvest year.  It is worth it to me even though it is a lot of work.  When you have to eat gluten free and you don't want a ton of processed food in your diet, and you prefer organic, you have to find other ways of doing things so you can actually afford all that.

In my case, it turns me into a prepper, at least with food.  Not a crazy one, mind you, but like what our grandparents and great grandparents did, because they had to.  I will be most comfortable, especially in these days of pandemic, to have a year's supply on hand.  That is my ultimate goal.  We have been building it back since the year we had to use it almost all up when DH was unemployed for 10 months.

Anyway, if you would like to see my 2021 Food Preservation Plan I made a video of it. 

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iDcIjsSbTI and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iDcIjsSbTI  Maybe it will be helpful to anyone else who wants to build their own plan.  Mine is for a family of four adults.

 

Grocery Spending Tracking

February 6th, 2021 at 06:52 am

I'm dead and my body is killing me, but we managed to make it to 3 grocery stores.  I was really careful to just get what was on the meal plan that I didn't already have, plus some gluten free desserts for the freezer.  I took $100 of the grocery budget and put it into the Beef Fund and that left me with $300 to spend during a two week period.  We have lots of meat in the freezer, so I barely bought any.

First up we went to Haggen and bought 3 tortilla chips, 2 buckwheat flour, 3 Campbell's cream of mushroom soup (for DH, no one else will touch it due to MSG and soy), 1 gluten free bread, 2 packets of gluten free doughnuts (maple and cinnamon sugar) and 1 packet of gluten free chocolate, cream-filled cupcakes for my upcoming birthday in a week, 2 1/2 gallon bottles of milk, 1 regular potato bread (for DH), 2 uncured ham chubs, 4 cucumbers, 2 greem onions, 2 radishes, 3 lbs of bananas, and 1 each red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.

I had a $10 off if you spent $50 or more and I also returned 3 milk bottles and got $6.00 back.  They charged us $121.96, but when we got out to the car we realized that they had not given us the markdown price on the hams, so back in we trudged and I got $9.20 back.  So the true price there was $112.76, which was very close to what we'd calculated.  DS tries to keep a running total, but their scales were a little off so we kind of had to guesstimate.

Then we stopped at Whole Foods and I just got a few things:  1 green bell pepper, soy free and gluten free Worcestershire sauce, soy free and gluten free BBQ sauce, clemintine oranges, regular oranges, zucchini, and veggie chips.  I only spent $25.23.  I forgot the gluten free penne, though.  I do have other gluten free pastas, so I don't think I will try to pick it up.  I can use tagliatelle in place of it in the chicken Alfredo the kids like to have made up as tv dinners.

Last we went to Winco and I really should have just bought all of my vegetables there, they are so much cheaper.  I bought 15 pounds of potatoes, 2 large Zoi full fat plain yogurt, 1 package dill, 2 bags of mixed vegetables, 1 whipped topping (for waffles next week), 1 box of DH's store brand Lucky Charms, 2 boxes of Honey Chex gluten free cereal, 4 yellow onions, 2 sweet onions, 1 lime, 1 store brand cream of mushroom soup (for DH to try, it is 86 cents a can, much cheaper), 8 jars alfredo sauce, black grapes, 4 garnet sweet potatoes, 1 pineapple, 4 roma tomatoes, 4 ambrosia apples (not in stores for very long), and 1 bunch of celery.  I paid $61.15.

So altogether I spent $199.14 out of my $300 budget.  I have $100.86 left if I need to pick up a couple of things before next payday, but I will try my best not to go back to the store for anything, but I may have to for bread, milk, and eggs.  It would be cool, if I could add an extra $50 to the Beef Fund on top of the other $100.  But I won't count my dollars before they hatch.

More Challenge Planning

December 30th, 2020 at 02:49 am

So I sat down with everyone today and had them tell me what they absolutely needed to have in the house, that we didn't already have enough of, to get through the January Eat from the Pantry Challenge.  The kids said gluten free chicken tenders and cheese.  The husband said hamburger patties, condiments, and hot dogs.  I said bacon.

Then I sat down with the grocery ads and worked out what I was going to buy for this last shopping trip before January hits.  I was really surprised with how little I need to actually buy, but I guess that comes from keeping a really well stocked pantry.

Tomorrow DS and I will do Costco and Winco and maybe Trader Joe's for the hot dogs.  There is one package in the freezer so I'd only need to buy one and I am not sure that is worth me going with their ridiculous overkill to get in and through the store and their constant parking lot issues.  A mask, six feet apart, and plexi-glass is sufficient everywhere else, but they go nuts with it well beyond that.

I'll just send DH on his own right before closing.  I'd just as soon not step foot inside Trader Joe's until the pandemic is over.  The employees were always a little rude at our store, which I understand is not the norm, but they've gotten much worse.  I try to be patient and kind to store employees always, even when we are not in crazy times, but I also expect that in return.

Once I am done shopping and have a little energy again, which may not be until the next day, I will make up a meal plan for the month.  I will be making up some freezer meals as well as the month goes along.  For instance I will make two lasangas at the same time but put one in the freezer, two pans of enchiladas, two pans of leftover tater tot casserole.  I will make enough meatballs for 3 meals and enough meatloaf for two, always freezing the extra.

Sometimes I will also sit down and do up four bags of fajita meat with four bags of bell peppers and onions, or 4 bags of chicken shawarama meat for the Instant pot or 4 bags of stir-fry veggies and 4 bags of stir-fry meat pre-marinated and ready to thaw and dump in the skillet.  Just anything that makes my life a little easier when I don't feel like doing all the prep for cooking and would rather get takeout.  Plus I only get stuff dirty once.  Now with the new freezer ready, this will be so much easier to do.

DS has agreed to help me as well as to make some individual tv dinners of chicken and brown rice pasta Alfredo (usually penne, but sometimes fussili), Cheesy Tomato rotini or farfalle, beef taco macaroni, and regular mac and cheese.  And I will make some soups ands stews for the freezer that can't be canned due to flour or milk like baked potato soup and beef stew for sick days, or that have ham in them (too much fat for canning plus the preseving salts).  Although that will be more like just freezing the leftovers.

I also want to do up some breakfast burritos, omelets, and breakfast casserole bakes.  It wouldn't hurt to have gluten free pancakes, waffles, and French toast available either.  And some cauliflower pizza crusts already cooked and then frozen for easy use.

I have lots of plans, but limited stamina, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm sure it will take me quite some time to put all these things in the freezer bank, but if I have enough for just two meals a week it will be so helpful.

Moving was Much Easier Today--Grocery Spending Tracking

December 18th, 2020 at 08:28 am

As my back starts to calm down it is getting easier to get around and even to stand in one spot, although that is the hardest thing for me.  Sitting up straight still hurts, but not to the point that I can't do it, so I am back in my computer chair instead of the recliner.  Standing in one spot hurt less today, but still hurt too much to scrub the dishes.  I'm hoping by the weekend I can pick that task up again and empty the sink.  DH is trying his best, both kids are sick, so it is what it is.

I have also lost 5 pounds in the last four days, so I am sure that is helping a lot with my back.  I can tell it is from my stomach because of how my clothes fit, and that is what is pulling on my back, so it is a good thing.  I hope this degenerative athritis helps me to actually stay on the diet this time.  It is so much better already and I know that for every pound I lose it will only feel better.  I was able to do some walking today, albeit at the grocery store.  I did one shop on Tuesday before the sales I wanted went off and then two shops today.

Tuesday I spent $82.45 at Fred Meyer and bought 2 chuck roasts, 1 Justin's honey peanut butter, 2 small picnic hams (will fit in the crock pot or the Instant Pot), 6 pounds of hamburger, 2 packages of chicken thighs with 20 thighs between them), 1 steelhead trout, 1 pound shrimp, and 2 pineapples.  I didn't buy anything that was not on sale.

Today we went to Whole Foods first to get some lemon and peppermint extracts, garlic sauce, 4 packages of Birchbender paleo waffles (gluten free), and gluten free Jovial brown rice pastas that were 2 spaghetti, 2 penne, 2 fusilli, 2 farfalle, and 2 tagliatelle, 2 bags of soy free tater puffs (tots) and 2 bags of soy free hashbrowns.  I spent $89.28 there and used my Amazon Prime discount.  Gluten free pasta is about $5 a box.  If I ever find my pasta maker in storage, I will make it from scratch, but until then this will do.

We only eat pasta once a week, so this plus what I already had at home should last us 3 months if we go into a full fledged lockdown again.  Plus we don't know if we will need to quarantine before and after DD's surgery, either.  I'd like to not have to worry about shopping.

Then tonight we went to Haggen and it cost $101.48.  I got 4 of the huge bottles of organic ketchup, 6 bags of the Perdue gluten free chicken strips, and 2 of the bottled half gallon containers of milk.  Each bottle has a two dollar deposit that we get back when we return them.  Of course I forgot to take the 3 empty bottles we have at home with me.  I wish gluten free was not so expensive and one day I will learn how to do my own gluten free chicken strips, but right now it is good just to have a couple convenience foods that the kids can eat.

So all told I spent $225.67.  I have $77 left in my grocery envelope, plus some change that I just don't count, but use.  And I sent DH to the store last week and he spent around $97.  I remember what I sent him for was 20 pounds of potatoes, 5 pounds of onions, 2 pounds of carrots, 4 scallions, grapes, some deli meat, Jarlsberg cheese, 1 loaf of gluten free bread, and 2 loaves of potato bread.

We get paid a day early on the 24th and I won't spend anymore between now and then, so I think I will sweep that extra grocery money into starting the Bulk Meat Envelope for the side of beef I want to get at the end of next summer, followed by half a hog, and a whole lamb if I save enough.  It makes sense to save it out of the grocery budget, although I may have to save more than that.  In 8 months I should have enough for the beef if I can put aside $200 every 4 weeks, which puts me at August, which is when a lot of butchering is done.  I might have a little more since there will be 1 or 2 three-payday months.  Probably more in June and July and August because of the garden produce.  Anyway, that is the plan.

Feeling a Little Better--Focus on Preparing

October 28th, 2020 at 11:05 pm

I've been on antibiotics for five days and this morning I did not have to reach for the nasal spray first thing in the morning.  I'm still a little stuffy, but I can breathe without the assistance of Afrin and I can't remember the last time that happened.  I have a really puffy face from the prednisone, but I've only got to take it for two more days and then that will go away.  I'll be on the antibiotics a while longer, though.  I still feel a little disassociated from my body though, like that floaty, above your head feeling you sometimes get when you are sick.

I sent DH to Fred Meyer last night to get the $2.88/lb sirloin steaks.  I just didn't feel up to making it over there at all this week.  We made up one package for dinner and then we will grind up the other six tonight.  I'll start working on cutting it up when I'm done with this entry.

This week boneless, skinless chicken is on sale for $1.99 a pound, so I want to get 14 pounds for canning and another 14 pounds for grinding into burger.  I know I can get it cheaper skin on and bone in, but I don't have the stamina for that this week.  I like to have a mix of ground meats, especially for meatloaf and meatballs.  I plan to do some turkey when they go on sale here next month.  I can break down a whole chicken, so I reckon breaking down a whole turkey shouldn't be that different.

I'm also waiting for another .99/lb pork shoulder sale so I can grind it and make some homemade sausage.  It's been a while though.  The sale progression from week to week tends to be chuck roast at $3.99/lb followed by chuck roast at $2.99/lb, followed by sirloin steaks somewhere between $2.99 and $3.99/lb, followed by chicken legs and thighs at .99/lb and boneless skinless at $1.99/lb, then we get a couple weeks of pork sales.  It had been .99/lb for a long time, but mostly I am seeing $1.99 and $1.49, so that might be the new normal, but I am not sure I want to wait it out because I'd rather have it on hand before the election.  It is $1.99 this week, so I could do it.  Then we can just stay out of the stores until everything has settled down, if it settles down.

I'm starting my aerogarden going today.  I will buy produce the day before the election and then if things get dangerous, I will have lettuce growing by the time we run out of produce that isn't canned.  Plus with the chard, which will overwinter here, we won't have to worry about greens.  I know I sound paranoid, but my state has had rioting for months and I do think the election will be another trigger point.  We are hunkering down and staying as safe as we can during the month of November.

 

Grocery Spending Tracking

September 9th, 2020 at 04:11 am

I had to stagger my grocery shopping because of my knee, so Friday I went to Fred Meyer and Joe's Garden and today I went to Haggen. Here's what I bought:

Fred Meyer:
2 bags of Simply Cheetos Crunchy
2 big bags of corn tortillas
15 cans of Stagg Laredo chili
2 containers of onion and chives cream cheese
1 jar tahini
2 jars salsa verde
1 4pk Activia yogurt
4 packets gluten free cheese raviolis (Three Bridges)
1 cream of tartar
1 poultry seasoning
1 gluten free rolled oats
2 3 pound chubs ground beef
2 3 pks ribeye steaks
1 bottle of shampoo

Total cost was $131.24. Of that $3.58 was non-grocery spending.

At Joe's Garden I spent $25.41 and here is what I bought:

Dill
1 head of lettuce
1 8 lb Green cabbage
Cilantro
8 Zucchini (not getting enough on my plant)
1 Red onion

At Haggen I spent $150.41, $16.43 of which was non-grocery spending. This is what I bought:

2 cans of garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1 gluten free candy bar
1 gluten free yellow cake mix
1 gluten free cornbread mix
1 gluten free popcorn (grown away from wheat, corn can be contaminated otherwise)
1 box gluten free, soy free bouillon cubes
1 4 pk Virgil's root beer (clean and amazing)
2 Niman Ranch uncured Fearless Franks hot dogs
2 Jack Mountain breakfast sausage 8 pks
1 pineapple
1 canteloupe
4 golden kiwis
1 therapy gel pack (extra large ice pack)
1 container with snaplock lid (for making chickpea "tofu")

Made an Amazon Order and a Kitchen Investment

September 9th, 2020 at 12:43 am

I placed an order with Amazon today for 3 pounds of chickpea flour and 10 pounds of garbanzo beans, Washington grown and everything (Palouse brand). I found out you can make tofu from chickpea flour instead of soy, which opens up so many worlds right now. We used to eat tofu, it was honestly one of the only ways I could tolerate any bean but lima and black (which I can eat in small amounts without texture issues), but we had to give that up when soy allergies were discovered. It made it virtually impossible for us to have any vegetarian meals that were filling enough, or any real meat substitute. It looks really easy to make.

Then I purchased a restaurant grade French fry cutting machine that has plates for 3 sizes of French fries (including McDonalds size) and 8 or 6 wedge cutters. We have found one brand of fries that isn't made with soybean oil, but that could change at any moment, and plus they are only in stock half the time, so this is a real game changer. It will make canning easier, too, because I can wedge them and cut them from that point, which will be less wear and tear on my hands. They do sell one that is two plates instead of five for a lot less. It sure beats those little ones that don't have any suction cups on the bottom. With this we can make our own fries for the freezer. I am so happy with this purchase.

I also bought a container of elderberry gummies and a thing you can put inside your face mask to hold it away from your nose and mouth for breathing, but keeps the mask firmly in place. I don't remember the exact change, but it was just over $228 all told.

In doing some research today I found out that Pacific cream of chicken soup is gluten free. They use rice flour for the thickening agent. And their maltodextrin is from corn, not barley, making it gluten free as well. And Amazon has it cans as well as the boxes and the cans store longer, so I am very happy with this. I didn't buy any, but I will next payday. And I found a recipe for making homemade tater tots. Which means I can start making turkey and chicken tater tot casseroles again. The kids love those. It's a great way to use up leftovers, too.

Garden Produce is Coming out my Ears

August 19th, 2020 at 03:14 am

It's been a rough week because I twisted something in my knee, the knee formerly known as the good knee, and it swelled up with a ton of fluid which made it hard to walk. I've been icing it and finally took some water pills to help with the excess fluid and the pain has eased up a little. I hope I didn't tear anything. If it is still bugging me next week I will go to the doctor. My doctor isn't in this week. It's finally easier to walk today and I was able to get out to the garden.

The weeds are ridiculous, but I was able to get some of them pulled and I got my first green bean harvest. It filled up a dishwashing basin that is 3 gallons. I think that is enough for a canner load and there is enough out there for another one in probably two days, maybe one.

I've also harvested 60 odd cucumbers so I need to get to pickling. I picked up some dill and garlic so I can do that tonight. I think I will get at least one canner load of pickles and do some refrigerator pickles as well. I'll can the green beans tomorrow. If I have the energy, though, I will snap them tonight. That will make tomorrow go much easier.

These cucumbers are amazing. They are so sweet they taste almost like melon. Which makes sense since botanically they are pretty closely related. It is nice to be noshing down on a cucumber every day. I love this time of year.

I also have some red tomatoes. Just two, but one is not far behind it. I can wait to pick them and eat them. I'll probably make a nice pico de gallo with them. I like that better than salsa. I just need to pick up some cilantro since mine has flowered and will soon go to seed.

The strawberries look like they need another picking and I've got to harvest herbs and tea flowers and dry them. I can't believe how much the garden exploded in just a week.

It looks like the potatoes I planted first are starting to die back. Maybe in another week or two I will be able to start digging up potatoes. I hope we get a lot out of it. I plan on canning most of them since I don't know if any of them are keeping potatoes. I waited too long to get seed potatoes and had to buy and sprout organic ones from Trader Joe's. I have no way of knowing if they are determinate or indeterminate, either. Next year I will be better prepared. I hope.

I am thinking about getting an electric weed eater, the kind that plugs in. We have battery operated ones, but the battery pack makes it too heavy for me to operate with my arthritis. This is also my problem with gas powered ones. Plus those ones are too long for me. I want to get a shorter one with a cord. I always hated dealing with a cord when we had one in the past, but it was so lightweight and it was short so fit my arm length better. That one is long gone, but they don't cost too much and since my husband and son don't get around to it when I need it done, it might be the best option. I have enough in my allowance envelope, even after buying a new laptop. I had been saving for almost a year.

Oh, yeah, I got a new computer! It was $600 plus tax. It has a DVD player in it, which is pretty hard to find anymore. It is not touch screen, which takes some getting used to, but I really like it. My old one is still going, but the DVD player has been broken for almost two years and the speakers don't work well, so I had to use regular speakers.

I figure I will continue to use that one for writing and for video editing because it has the software and I will use this one for everything else, which is basically watching videos and movies, and doing research. I couldn't justify a big expensive computer like my last one was if that was all I was going to use it for even if I had enough money to buy one.

We are still eating out too much. It is hard to cook when I am in pain. I need to try to push through and do it, but I just have no motivation.

Went to the Grocery Store

April 13th, 2020 at 06:15 am

Today was the first day I've been outside since April 3rd. I didn't even realize it has been that long since I only sat down to figure it out. It was too cold to work on the garden this week and I am still weak, even this many weeks after "recovering" from the flu or Covid or whatever it was I had back in early February. The more I read, the more I honestly think it was Covid.

Anyway, DH and I went to the grocery store. It was nice to get out and do a little walking around. We wore masks and gloves. There are a lot more people wearing gloves now and way more people wearing masks. There were people without masks, but now they look like the weirdos, not us. While everyone was keeping their distance, I noticed how much bigger a distance it was from the unmasked. It was nice to have a conversation with someone not in my family even if it was minimal with the checker.

They had toilet paper and bleach (the real kind, not the splashless), so I bought one 9 pack of Angel Soft, 1 of those little square boxes of Puffs tissue, and 2 bottles of bleach. Now I can get some serious cleaning done. It's been weeks since I was able to find real bleach and while vinegar does a decent job, I feel better using bleach.

We stocked up on fresh produce, a big ham that we will cut into thirds (two for the freezer) and then slice up for sandwiches, and bread products. I also got a couple fill in ingredients for some recipes that will help with using up some things in the fridge.

I think we should be able to stay away from the store for another 2 weeks now.

It's Not the End of the World, but You can See it From Here

April 3rd, 2020 at 05:16 am

I cracked my daughter up today when I started singing "This is the dawning of the age of Apocalypse." I've been listening to so many parody songs about Corona virus that I am quite surprised no one has done this one.

Yesterday I sold that rabbit in the grocery store parking lot and then we went in and did a shop. I was able to find chicken so I bought 8 family size packages, 4 of legs and 4 of wings, about 3 pounds per package (bone in). We eat chicken twice a week usually so I was very happy to have that. There were no thighs though, which is my favorite, but I guess you take what you can get these days. And we found elbow macaroni, both regular and gluten free. I took 4 of the regular and one gluten free. There were about 15 boxes of regular and 2 of gluten free, but lots of spaghetti, egg noodles, and a dozen boxes of penné. I haven't been able to find any macaroni in weeks, so that made me happy, too.

I was thrilled to find a tomato sauce that was not Hunts. I've never been able to stand Hunts tomato sauce or ketchup. It's so sweet and cloying. This was the store brand but the organic version. They had 8 cans and I took them all. We use 2 cans in our macaroni so that is four meals worth. They did not have non-organic sauce that was not Hunts. They also did not have tomato paste except the most expensive kind that comes in the tubes. But I have paste. There were several cans of diced tomatoes. Nowhere near full, but way more than sauce. I still have tomatoes I canned last summer, so we don't need them. They did have several types of ketchup, too. We got 3 bottles of our preferred brand which is enough to get through the month. DH and DS use a lot of ketchup, but they may need to start cutting back.

We got enough milk for the month. I was able to get organic non-fat but DH had to go standard for his 2%. Their use by dates are May 5th. They did have the bottled milk, but they aren't accepting bottle returns until the Apocalypse is over.

They had the Laredo Stagg chili. We got all 11 cans. There was a ton of chili in the other flavors and brands. They must have just gotten a shipment in because chili has been one of the foods that have been consistently low last month, it was one of the first things to go after toilet paper, tissues, rice, and beans. DS eats a can for lunch each day when we can find it. He doesn't like any other kind of chili but homemade which I make when we can't find the can.

There is still no toilet paper, but we don't need it. I was just checking for others. I did manage to find a small box of Puffs. They had about 20 but with a limit of one or I would have gotten 2. 2 small boxes equals one big one. Still, with my skin as sensitive as it is during allergy season, I was happy to even find one. We still have 3 boxes at home, but with 3 of us with severe allergies we go through it fast and who knows when I will see it again.

I got 3 cans of chicken and stars. They had 2 flats, but I am the only one who eats it and only when I have a queasy stomach, so just wanted a couple on hand. They didn't have chicken noodle, cream of mushroom, and cream of celery, but did have one flat of tomato soup. Didn't get any of that though as I have tomato soup that I canned last summer. Just heat up and add milk. And we still have cream of mushroom for DH.

I did get some fresh fruit. I got strawberries that were in plastic containers, grapes that were pre-bagged, and some green bananas. They did have yellow ones but we still had 4 ripe ones from the last time I bought green bananas. I also got a lettuce for week one and then a cabbage for week 2 for greens and some bagged celery and bagged green onions. Normally I hate buying so much plastic, but it is a little safer now than open bins of fruit. I am using gloves, but still.

DH will likely have to go back after 2 weeks for fresh fruit and greens, but that's a quick in and out. We have enough other foods for the rest of the month, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and radishes, which last a long time. I am really hoping to stay out of the store myself until May. I am so incredibly grateful for that sale on sirloin steaks and chuck roasts in early February right before I got sick. I stocked up big time at $3.49/lb for the steaks and $3.99/lb for the roasts and we didn't eat any of it, because I was too sick to cook in February and early March and we kept getting takeout. Ah, takeout, remember that? Seems like a hundred years ago.

We have some pork, bacon, sausage, a little lamb, 2 20 pound turkeys (one is for Easter) and a 14 pound ham. I will cook that ham eventually then bag it up into portions to use in pinto bean soup. There are also two salmon that DH caught last year. So other than chicken we just didn't need to buy meat. I am a bulk buyer by nature, as I buy a lot at really good sales and then we eat off that for three months or so. I obviously can't do that now, there are limits and rightfully so, but I am so grateful I could do it then.

I have this habit of bulk purchasing because my father went on strike twice when I was a kid and because my mother had done this, we had food while my dad couldn't work at the mill. He took a job at a gas station, but that was an enormous pay cut. I have always remembered this and it came in very handy to have this habit when we lived in the mountains and going to a store was a one hour expedition just to get there. Then when DH lost his job a couple years back and couldn't find a new one for 10 months, we had plenty of food to get through it. And now this disease comes. If we go into a full lockdown until the end of April we are good. Right now we can still go to the store and the doctor and the pharmacy, but that may change if things get worse. I hope they don't, but practically, I think they will.

The garden is coming along slowly but surely. Of course we can't plant yet, but when we can I want it to be ready to go, go, go. Hopefully we can get some work done on it this weekend.

Tomorrow is payday. We still have a payday. DH still has a job. I feel so awful for those who don't, but so much gratitude that DH does. And it looks like DH is going to be getting that promotion. They have started having him sit in (on the phone) on the meetings so he can be up to speed when the other guy retires. We had thought that was going to fall through and go to someone else, but apparently that was never the case. The old guy who has the job now will be retiring in a few months and is more or less just working a little and taking his sick leave and then vacation days after that while the virus is so bad so DH is already taking over some of that work, too.

I hope all is well with everyone out there in SA land. I know not everyone is in a good situation. I wish all of you were close enough to help if it gets bad enough. All I can do is pray for you and pray for the rest of the world. Except for Adam Schiff. He can f right off.