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Archive for February, 2007

Chicken - 4 ways

February 7th, 2007 at 04:07 pm

Yesterday I put a while chicken in the crockpot for dinner that evening. It was actually a rather large chicken - we normally do not buy them that large. I ended up with 4 meals with this one chicken.

1. Roasted chicken from the crock pot. I season the chicken with seasoning salt and cook it on aluminum foil balls in the crock pot.

2. I used part of the leftover chicken and made chicken and wild rice soup for later this week. I was also able to use celery that was starting to get flimsy that I probably would have thrown out in a few days.

3. Chicken salad sandwich for lunch today. Again, I used up a little more of the celery that would have gone to waste.

4. Chicken for my youngest DDs lunch for today and tomorrow. To save a little $ I pack my DDs lunch everyday for daycare.

Cook once - eat 4 times. I love it!

My Financial Ratios

February 6th, 2007 at 02:59 pm

I read on www.moneysmartlife.com about the 5 financial ratios you should know to keep you on track.

Out of curiosity I did 3 of the calculations to see where I stand. The calculates below do not use my DH's data since we have seperate accounts/bill responsibilities.

1. Liquidity Ratio=Liquid Assets/Monthly Income. Target: 3-6 months.
Mine calculated to 1.23. Yikes - i guess I am the defination of living paycheck to paycheck Smile Of couse I would like to think that if something did happen to my job, some of my monthly expenses (like daycare) would be less or nothing.

2. Savings Ratio=Savings per year/Annual Gross Income. Target 8/25% depending on age.
My savings ratio calculated to 5.26%. I am hoping to somehow save an additional 1,420 this year to raise my percentage to the minimum 8%. Once I get my car paid off I should be able to put a little more in savings. Also once the girls get out of daycare in a few years I should be able to save a much higher percentage.

3. Debt to income ratio=Annual Debt payment/Annual gross income. Target is less than 30%.
Mine is only 12% (I don't pay the mortgage). However if you calculate in my daycare bill (which feels like debt) it is over 37%.

Here is the article if you want to read it:
http://www.moneysmartlife.com/2007/01/31/stop-comparing-your-finances-with-others-five-financial-ratios-to-keep-you-on-track

10 ways I save money on food

February 5th, 2007 at 06:09 pm

None of these items are new ideas or rocket-science, but maybe they will help someone, or stir up other ideas.

10 ways I save money on food (in no particular order)

1. Meal planning – I plan my meals a month at a time. This is a bit time consuming when I do this at the end of the month, but I think in the end it does save me time. I have been doing this for 4 months now and it seems to be getting faster since I use a few of the same meals each month. Of course the monthly meals are flexible depending on what comes up during the month and what may be on sale that week. This saves me money by not going to the store every few days – instead I go once a week. I would like to stretch that to one big trip every two weeks, but I haven’t got myself that organized yet.
2. Watch weekly store ads. I watch the weekly ads for sale items and stock up on stuff I use often.
3. I normally buy the store brand (with a few exceptions)– not name brands so coupons don’t do me much good. I will use an occasional coupon if I come across something I normally buy, but I don’t go out of my way to get a Sunday paper to stock up on coupons I won’t use anyway.
4. I don’t buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If I need a chicken breast I will buy the pieces with the bone and skin. I don’t really enjoy taking the bone and skin off (yuck!), but there is a huge price difference between the two types – especially if it is on sale. I also try to use dark meat pieces in some recipes – even cheaper.
5. I get my beef for free. My family (who are farmers) gives us a side of beef every Christmas. This is great for the budget, but not so good for the waistline since we end up eating red meat for dinner 3-5 times a week.
6. Eat leftovers! I try not to throw out any food - It feels like I am just throwing money away if I have to do this. I can normally finish up leftovers by bringing my lunch to work.
7. Soup. Once a week I make a big pot of soup. Soup is very economical to begin with and usually pretty healthy. On Saturday I made a vegetable beef soup using free beef (steaks that had been sitting in our freezer for a year), leftover veggies, leftover V8 tomato juice, and a few other items I had on-hand. It was wonderful! I freeze individual portions for my DH’s lunches – a lot cheaper than buying a packaged soup, meal or eating out.
8. Freeze meals – I don’t do the extreme once-a-month or once-a-week cooking. I tried it and it just didn’t work with two little ones running around the kitchen all day. However, I will try to make a little extra of my casserole or whatever I am making to put a meal in the freezer. Last night we had meatloaf. The recipe stated it would make 8 servings – we have 2 adults and 2 kids that don’t each much. Instead of making one loaf I split it into two and froze the second one. I now have 1 meal for March ready to go without much more additional expense – all I need is a side dish. I also freeze individual cookie-dough balls for quick fresh baked cookies – much cheaper than the pre-packaged stuff. (This also doesn’t help my waistline since I end up eating the cookie balls straight from the freezer)
9. Drinks – I try not to spend a lot of money on drinks. We don’t buy popsoda unless it is super-cheap. I also buy the girls frozen concentrated juice instead of the ready-made juice.
10. Make more things from scratch. This is a new one for me this year – I have been making brownies or cakes from scratch instead of a mix. I have also made a few quick breads, biscuits and muffins. I need to research how to make things a little healthier – maybe using whole wheat flour.

That’s my list – hopefully it will help someone. Any other tips?