No Spend November Update-Thanksgiving Week


We went shopping before Thanksgiving and used our $50 Visa gift card that I won at our recent neighborhood chili cook-off.  We spent a total of $48.88 on the items in the above picture.  I knew I would need to go back for a few items, but as it turned out, I need to get more than I thought.  I ended up going over-budget for the month by $50.

S0, instead of spending $100 out of pocket for November groceries, I have spent $150.  No too bad at all, but we still have another week left in the month.  I really do have enough on hand–just not a lot of fresh produce.  I have at least 10 dinners planned with food on hand.

We have done well with savings so far this month.  I can’t wait to wrap up next week and share our results and lessons learned.


Grocery Haul and No Spend November Update


We have had another successful No Spend November week.  I shared in my post last week, that we only spent $10.92 out of pocket of my allowable of $25/week for groceries in November.  I rolled the leftover that I didn’t spend ($14.08) to this week. So, I had $34.08 that I could spend on groceries this week.

We had a Chili Cook-off at church yesterday, and I signed up to bring a pot of chili.  I had two pounds of ground beef in the freezer.  I needed another two pounds so that I could make a double batch of chili.  I also needed beans, chipotle peppers and mushrooms for the recipe I wanted to use.  I also wanted to get my Thanksgiving turkey since they were on sale for $0.59/lb.

I went to three stores.  I had to stop in at Walmart to look for some office supplies for work (I will be reimbursed for that expense).  I remembered that I had a gift card that had a little over $3 on it.  I decided to buy a few items from my list.  I got chili beans and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I spent $1.45 out of pocket.  So, I left Walmart with $32.63 left to spend.

Next, I went to Kroger.  I definitely wanted to get my turkey and also to get a few other items on the Mega Event Sale.  I found baby bella mushrooms marked down so that helped.   I spent a total of $30.60.  Eeek!  I still needed to get ground beef and it was just too expensive at Kroger.  I only had $2.03 left to spend for the week.

Finally, I went to Aldi.  When I walked in, I remembered that I needed eggs and that they had a great deal on sweet potatoes ($0.79 for a bag).  Luckily, I found a package of hamburger patties with a $3 off sticker.  I spent a total of $5.04.  So, I went over my budget by $3.01.  Not too bad, and I will take that off of next week’s budget.  I will have $21.99 to spend next week.

My freezer and pantry is getting cleaned out and looks pretty bare.  But, I was able to plan 10 dinners.  Some nights will be leftovers, so we could potentially skip shopping next weekend and just shop right before Thanksgiving to get supplies for the holiday dinner.  I have plenty on hand for lunches and breakfasts.  During my next week’s shopping trip, I know I need to purchase potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms (for making stuffed mushrooms–expensive but a tradition), cheese, milk, butter, cranberry sauce, cornmeal mix  and ritz crackers.  If I have to, I still have a $50 Visa gift card I can use–I mentioned that in my original No Spend November post.

Here are my meal plans with food that I already have on hand:

Homemade tomato soup and cornbread

Chicken chili

Chicken barley soup and bread

Dirty rice, green beans

Chicken and rice with mushroom gravy, broccoli

Spaghetti and meatballs

Pancakes and canadian bacon

BBQ chicken, rice and green veggie

Chicken Parmigiana, spaghetti noodles and sauce

Salmon Croquettes, baked sweet potatoes, green veggie

For Thanksgiving:

Turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, stuffed mushrooms and probably either a salad or another veggie.  For dessert, I have a devils food cake and chocolate frosting.

I am finding that there is a lot of temptation right now.  While in  Walmart, I spied the new Christmas line of dishes and “purty” crockpots from The Pioneer Woman.  I also walked through Target and browsed through the Hearth and Hand Collection by Magnolia–Chip and Joanna Gaines.  If I wasn’t doing a No Spend November, I am not sure how much I might have spent–even though I truly don’t NEED anything.

I am very happy to report that we have already put $1500 in savings this month.  I hope that we will put another $1000 aside by the end of the month.

How is your November going?  How have you been saving money?



Fall Color

Frugal living, Garden, living, Money

Saturday we spent the afternoon at one of our favorite places.  Back in March, we bought two 1 year memberships to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia.  What a lovely place!  The membership is really an incredible value.  We spend $50 each on the membership.  We automatically got a free admission on each membership for a guest of our choice.  We were able to take our adult children with us on Mother’s Day.  We have visited the gardens multiple times over the year.  We have especially loved going to the Twilight Music concerts.

We are hitting the peak of fall colors here in Georgia right now.  Gibbs Gardens has a Japanese Garden section and the Japanese maples are just gorgeous.   The setting is so beautiful and you truly feel like you are in a watercolor picture.

We have really enjoyed our membership.  There is tremendous value in purchasing a membership.  We don’t need more “things” in our lives.  A membership to the gardens, or a museum or something similar is an experience and provides so much more enjoyment.


Sunday Prep

Cooking, Debt Reduction, Finances, food, Frugal living

I love Sundays.  Lately we have been going to the Saturday night service at church.  It makes Sundays very relaxing.  I really enjoy cooking, cleaning and getting ready for the work week ahead.

Today was a great day.  I worked on our meal plan, took a quick trip to two grocery stores, and prepped meals for the week ahead.  I spent a total of $10.92 out of pocket this week (partially thanks to gift cards from Publix that we got for getting our flu shots at Publix).


I was inspired by Free to Frugal, a YouTuber, to reconsider how I meal plan.   She only plans three dinners to cook each week and they eat the leftovers the other nights and have a standing pizza night on Fridays.  Brilliant!  Most of the time when I plan and cook meals, we end up with too many leftovers and I carry meals over to the next week’s meal plan.

I encourage you to check out Free to Frugal.  She got my attention when I found out she and her husband paid off their mortgage in 5 years.

Here is our meal plan for this week:


Sloppy Joes, chips and salsa

Pork chops, rice pilaf and asparagus

Chili (making to take to church Chili Cook-off on Saturday)

BBQ chicken in the crockpot, veggie, rice

Lunches will be sandwiches, chips, hummus with raw veggies, and maybe some leftovers.  I made my homemade hummus yesterday.    Breakfasts will be cereal with milk, yogurt or homemade egg mcmuffins.

Here is what I did today to prep for the week:

I made the Sloppy Joes.  I don’t follow a recipe and probably make them a little different every time.


I also cooked chicken breasts in the crock pot and then shredded the chicken for sandwiches.  I also made some chicken salad.

I boiled eggs and made egg salad for sandwiches and I cut peppers to have with hummus.  I already have snow peas and baby carrots on hand.

It looks like I will need to go back to the store to get a few items for the Chili to take to the Chili cook-off for Saturday.

Overall, our No Spend November is off to a great start.  I still have the $50 visa gift card to use for groceries if necessary, but I am going to continue to try and get creative with what we have on hand.  I may need that gift card to get supplies for Thanksgiving.

How is your November going so far?  What ways did you find to save money this week?


Use It Up

Finances, Frugal living, Home, Organization

Our Nospender–No Spend November has inspired me to take a look at the inventory of all kinds of products that we have around our home.  I want to be intentional about using up what I already have on hand instead of buying products.

Today I went in my bathroom and cabinets and got out all products related to skin care.  I have shared pictures below of what I have on hand.

Lotions: (21 items)

I found 21 different bottles of lotion.  Most of these I had forgotten that I owned.  Granted a few are hotel or sample lotions, but really?  How did I get all of these?  I am planning on putting a sample size in my purse, taking one to my desk and keeping the small “relax” lotion by my bed.  I hope to use up three of the small sizes and perhaps a couple of the larger lotions.  I hope by keeping some of the scented lotions visible, I will get in the habit of using them after I shower.

Masks: (6 items)

I have 6 sheet masks and one tube of cucumber mask.  I realized after taking the picture that the deep pore peel off mask is for men.  I guess my hubby and I will have a mask evening together!  I am sure I will use all of these in the month of November.  (there is a small bottle in this picture that should have been with skin care)


Toners/Eye Makeup removers: (9 items)

I have four toners–1 large Garnier micellar water, 1 small IT cosmetics micellar water, and Estee Lauder small toner and a larger Thayer’s witch hazel.  I have 4 small bottles of eye make-up remover. I also have a large spray bottle of Timeless HA spray.  I completely forgot that I bought that.  It will be nice to start using that spray again.   I know that I will finish the IT Cosmetics micellar water, two of the small bottles of eye make-up removers.

Face Wash: (5 items)

I have one package of cleansing cloths, a partial container of Colleen Rothchild’s Radiant Cleansing Balm (I love this stuff but it is pricey–I only buy during sales), one IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser (so nice!) and 2 Aveeno cleansers.  I am not sure if I will actually finish any of these–I like to rotate what I use.

Skin serums/Moisturizers: (15 items–one is pictured with masks)

I have 8 bottles of serums, 5 moisturizers, a bottle of Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle repair and a tube of Retin A.  I want to finish the bottle of vit C on the far left, the small open sample of moisturizer and the brown bottle of Estee lauder night repair lotion.  I am actually running really low on regular moisturizer, but I hope to be able to make do with what I have for the month of November.

Special items: (5 items)

This picture has some special items.  Paula’s Choice Resist, Nivea Serum, Bare Minerals Neck Cream, another neck tightening treatment (can you tell my neck has been something I am worried about?) and Palmer’s fade cream.  I complete forgot I owned the Bare Minerals cream and the Paula’s Choice.  I will get those back into my rotation.  I already use the Palmer’s and Nivea serum regularly.  The Tight Neck is something I only use every few weeks.

61 total items!!  And this is only one category–skin care.  This doesn’t begin to cover all of the personal care items I have–hair care and make-up.  And don’t even get me started about cleaning supplies!!!  I plan to post about those categories as well.

It will be interesting to see how much I can use up in November.


Easy Homemade Hummus

Cooking, food, Frugal living, recipes

I like to make homemade hummus.  It is less expensive than the pre-packaged hummus, you can control the ingredients and it is really convenient to have the ingredients on hand and be able to make hummus when you need it.  It literally takes just about 5 minutes to make.


Easy Homemade Hummus

Easy Homemade Hummus


  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas (drain and reserve liquid)
  • 1/3 cup Tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • juice of one lemon (I use fresh or bottled if that is what I have on-hand)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or just regular table salt)
  • 4-8 dashes of hot sauce


  1. In a food processor combined drained chickpeas, Tahini, garlic gloves, lemon juice, salt and hot sauce.
  2. Process.
  3. While hummus is processing, slowly add reserved liquid, a little at a time, until hummus is smooth.
  4. Serve with any of the following: pita chips, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, celery or grape tomatoes.
  5. Enjoy!





Nospender–No Spend November

Cooking, Debt Reduction, Finances, food, Frugal living, Home, Money

If you have read my few articles in my little blog, you will see this is not the first time I have mentioned a no spend challenge.  Or as I like to call them, “low spend”.

Every so often, I like to try and “use it up, wear it out or do without”.   My goals for this “Nospender” month are simple.  Try and use up things I have on have on hand and only buy what is absolutely necessary.  It is a good way to search the pantry and freezer and use up things that have been pushed to the back.  Also, it is fun to get creative to use up things that you may not know why you even purchased!  By the end of the month, I may even end up with some extra money to go towards my saving and debt reduction goals.

So, here are my rules:

  1.  Purchase no clothing items.
  2.  Purchase no home decor or household items.
  3.  Limit grocery purchases to a maximum of $25 a week.
  4.  Spend no money on entertainment.
  5. Basically, freeze all spending except the minimum necessary for groceries.
  6. Stay out of the Dollar Tree and Ulta!

I recently won a chili cook-off and got a $50 gift card as a prize.  I also have approximately $15 in Publix gift card monies that we received when we got our flu shots.  I will use these gift cards to purchase groceries and non-food essentials before resorting to the $25/week allowed amount–if I can get by without spending the $25 from my budget that would be even better!

I do anticipate some challenges:  I have a chili cook off at church so I will need to purchase some ingredients.  And, there is a little holiday near the end of the month—THANKSGIVING!  I will need to purchase a turkey but I will try and use other things I have on hand as much as possible.  Normally, I like to purchase several turkey when they are on sale in November, but I probably won’t be doing that this year.

Anyone interested in joining me?  Let me know if you plan to have a no spend month or even a week.  I will check in regularly and let you know how it is going.

Whats for Dinner?

Cooking, Debt Reduction, Finances, food, Frugal living, Home, living, recipes, Uncategorized

Now that my daughter’s wedding is over, we are getting ready for the next big thing….more to come in a future blog post.  Needless to say, we want to get back to basics with our budget and start aggressively saving money again.

To help with the budget, I need to get back to meal planning.  I thought I would share our menus.  Most of what we make is budget-friendly and doesn’t take too much time.  Often, we will spend a couple of hours on Sundays prepping for the week.

Here is a list of the meals we made this week.  I have included links to recipes.

Olive Garden Copy Cat Fettuccine Alfredo

Who doesn’t love this dish at Olive Garden?  And so much less expensive to make at home.  It is still easy enough to make on a busy weeknight.

Tomato Basil Soup

I picked up this soup starter at Sprouts.  Yummy!  Super easy.  I made cornbread to go with it using the recipe from the back of the White Lily cornmeal mix package.

Chicken Fajitas and Mexican Rice

We love Mexican food.  I prepped this dish on Sunday by just cutting up the vegetables in advanced.  It made it easy enough to make on a weeknight.  I didn’t have time to let the meat marinate as long as the recipe called for, but it was still really good.  The Mexican rice was good, but I may try a different recipe next time.  Avoided another restaurant meal!

Chicken with Cream Cheese Sauce

This is a recipe I found in a magazine years ago.  I have tweaked it a bit and added wine to replace some of the chicken broth.  The family loves it.  The grape tomatoes and parsley really brighten it up.  Delicious!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is another soup starter I found at Sprouts.  Quick and easy and I love that the ingredients in the soup starter are things that you can actually pronounce.  These soup starter recipes make enough for leftovers for lunch too!  Really budget friendly.


Spaghetti and Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

Talk about short cuts!  I found the meatballs marked down at my Kroger. The spaghetti and olive oil are from a haul from last fall where my Kroger had slashed all of the Taste of Italy products to super cheap.   I had bought the Marinara sauce when it was BOGO at Publix.  I picked up a loaf of bread and made a salad.  Done!

We also had a leftovers night this week.  When you cook this much, you are bound to have leftovers one night.  We just take everything out of the fridge and everyone chooses and serves themselves.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas and inspires you to eat at home this week!Save



Becca’s Wedding

Faith, Finances, Holidays, living, Money

My daughter got married a few weeks ago.  It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful, fun reception.

Here are some candid photos to enjoy.


I plan on posting and update on how we did with our budget in the near future.








Menu Plan Monday-Chef’d Edition


This week’s menu includes a few dinners from Chef’d.  We are trying their Weight Watcher’s menu.  I will let you know the results.

This meal plan is for more than a week, in fact, I think we have enough food on hand to go well into the first week of April.  I like to try and eat from the pantry and freezer every few months just to make sure things get used up and not forgotten.

Breakfasts:  cereal with milk, steel cut oats, granola bars, fruit, muffins, homemade applesauce

Lunches:  leftovers from dinner, sandwiches, soup


Fettuccine alfredo, green salad with balsamic orange vinaigrette

Pork Rigatoni with kale, edamame (Chef’d meal)

Pork Low Mein (Chef’d meal)

Dirty Rice, brussel sprouts

Apple Cider Chicken Salad (Chef’d meal)

Mushroom Risotto (Chef’d meal)

Pork Cacciatore (Chef’d meal)

Japanese Chicken (Chef’d meal)

Bean Burritos (The Prudent Homemaker’s recipe)

General Tso’s Chicken


Pork Chops, potatoes, asparagus

Crockpot chicken and dumplings, broccoli

Breakfast for Dinner–eggs, turkey sausage, toast, grits.

Chicken and rice, peas

I think I could come up with a few other meals from our pantry, but we want to make the Chicken and Dumplings for my sister-in-law who is coming to visit on April 3rd, so we will have to go to the grocery store to get a few items to make that meal.

What is on your menu plan this week?  Is anyone else trying to use up things on hand?