Monday, January 4, 2016

This Week...Beyond Money 12/28 - 1/3

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.
* Ray cat discovered the cilantro plants. I now have loads of cilantro stems, minus the leaves.
* The lettuce isn't quite ready to harvest yet.

* One morning for breakfast, I made a dish I hadn't made in 6-7 years. It was one of my "decadent" meals during the recession. PBJ tortillas. I spread peanut butter and jelly (use a very small amount as it melts) on a tortilla, topped with another and browned each side over a medium heat. So delicious, and so cheap.
* Trucker made me French toast one morning. So yummy. He's the best.
* I stopped at the salvage grocer, but kept my spending to $24. I got: 1 4-pack of toilet paper (100% post consumer recycled materials; $.99), 1 large jar hot salsa ($.99), 2 jars of peanut and coconut butter (This stuff is incredible! $1.49/each), 1 jar chocolate hazelnut butter ($1.49; this is the same kind I saw for sale at the grocery store for $14.99 a jar!), 2 4-oz bars of Baker's premium white chocolate (I personally don't consider white chocolate to be chocolate, but Trucker loves it, and I love him, so I bought it. $.99), 2 small jars of mayo ($.20 each), 2 11-oz bags of 8 o'clock coffee ($2.49/each), 2 6-oz bags of french vanilla coffee ($.99/each; I would have gotten more of this coffee and not the other, but we don't drink a lot of flavored coffee. We will cut this in with unflavored), 2 1-lb bags of pasta ($.69/each), 1 can of refried beans ($.59), 9 cans of soup (Trucker sometimes uses these on days I work; about half of them were organic brands).
* I made caramel apple galettes. I made my yummy pie crust (the one I use for homemade pop tarts is based on a recipe from King Arthur), rolled into rough circles, spread with goat's milk caramel (on manager's special for $1 a bottle), and spiraled apple slices in the middle. I folded up the edges, dusted with cinnamon and baked at 325 til golden on the bottom.
* I cooked 10 pounds of chicken in the slow cooker. I strained the water off to use as broth for soup making. I divided the meat up into meal sized portions to make for a lot of good meals.
* I used all the bones, skins and other weird bits along with veggie scraps for stock making. The fat from the top of the broth was saved for cooking. While it is not super healthy to eat in large amounts, in reasonable amounts it is fine and it is free.
* I made chicken pot pie. I covered the bottom crust with shredded chicken, then a very thick layer of mixed veggies gotten through various frugal means (Carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bell pepper, potato), then poured on a can of turkey gravy (got last year on an after-Thanksgiving sale for $.10/can; I got a dollar's worth for days I'm trying to pull dinner together quickly, since that is the same price or a little lower than it would cost me to make). I sprinkled some cheese and seasonings over that, topped with the other crust and baked at 425 til golden brown. This is a great way to use up leftovers of all sorts.
* We made stir fry one night. We used some of the chicken and cooked the rice in chicken broth. I used a variety of veggies from the frig.
* The next day I made tacos to use up leftovers. I used the rest of a container of chicken (about 1 cup total), the leftover rice and an orange bell pepper ($.25 on manager's special). I served on flour tortillas with sour cream and the last of a head of romaine.

Food Preservation:
* I froze a lot of chicken in meal-sized portions.

* We went on our $3.18 coffee date and got a reward for a free bagel. We will save that for another day.
* The first snow that was more than a light dusting was on New Year's Eve. Even more reason not to go out. Last thing we needed was to drive with drunks trying to remember how to drive in the snow.
* I went bowling with my parents, sisters, and sister's fiance. Everyone brought their own shoes (I found a pair for $2.50 at a thrift store; rental was $3). We rented two lanes for an hour for $20, instead of paying for two games each for 7 people at $3. Afterwards, we went out to eat at a hamburger place that had HUGE meals. We split meals and were full.

* We rearranged the booth. The shelving we had there didn't work because they were plastic and not sturdy enough to support all of those heavy glass pieces. So, we cleared off three sets of shelves from the house and used those (saved $90 over purchasing shelves at Big Lots, plus two were even bigger than the Big Lots ones). Then we brought back the two plastic shelves from the booth and used those for storage for cake pans I sell on etsy and other items.
* I organized my baking cabinet. It had gotten a little crazy. Now everything is organized and I know exactly how many of each item I have (and I can definitely stop opening containers of baking cocoa now that I know I have three open!). I also found some things I didn't realize I had, so I can use them soon.
* I walked the 3 mile round trip to the library to return items on time (and avoid fees), to save a tiny bit of gas money, and to get some exercise.

Waste Management:
* I saved veggie and meat scraps for making stock.
* I composted lots of weird things.
* We reused items for shipping items.

* No work for me this week since we are on holiday. How will I ever get used to waking up at 4 AM again?
* Trucker ate free meals at his job.

* I worked a lot on both my Etsy store and the antique booth.
* Trucker got a few more publications.
* I submitted another freelance article.

* We took a few walks around the neighborhood.
* I took a 3 mile power walk one day while carrying a bag full of books each way.

* I brought my family apple galettes for dessert after we went bowling together.
* My dad fixed the window on Trucker's car since the arm had worn and it would not close all the way.

How was your week?

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