Dec 31 2007

The Better Budget 2008 Challenge!

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[singlepic=61,187,86,,] When I look at my bank account and at my buying habits, I think I was reasonably frugal for 25 percent of 2007.

That 25 percent–yeah, definitely happened toward the end of the year. I’d like this year to be much more frugal than the last.

I’m still new to frugality, and I want to become even better at it in 2008.

To hold myself more accountable and to encourage others, I’ve decided to create a challenge: The Better Budget 2008 Challenge! Woo hoo!

Here’s how I’m envisioning it (subject to change):

I’ll focus on an overall theme to tackle each month. Each theme will relate to areas of the budget we can improve.

In January, we’ll work on establishing an overall budget, for example. Other months, we’ll focus on grocery, entertainment, clothing, etc.

On Mondays (starting Jan. 7, once people start to get back in the swing of things), I’ll issue a challenge for the week. Some weeks will be easier than others, but all will be for improving our frugality and evaluating new frugal ideas.

If you’d like to participate, blog about the challenge in the “before” sense (I’ll post questions and ideas to guide you). You’ll have all week to give it a try.

Then, on Fridays, we’ll blog about how it went, including reactions on how well it worked for you, if you’ll continue with the particular frugal habit in the future, ideas for improving it, etc.

I’ll use a “Mister Linky” so we can see how everyone is doing and offer support and ideas.

I know my overall description for this challenge is vague. I hope by the end of the first week, it will make more sense.

What do you think? Do you think you might want to participate here and there? Ideas for improving it?

I’m looking forward to a frugal 2008, and I hope you’ll join me!

Start thinking about your current budgets now! We’ll be revamping them/setting them up in the coming weeks.


Dec 31 2007

First menu for 2008 (Dec. 31-Jan. 4) $19.58

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Note:  This last week’s menu, during the time the Menu Plan Monday was down.  It includes a baked ziti recipe that I would love to share.

Time for another meal plan from Kacie’s kitchen! Here we go:

Monday:

Since it’s New Year’s Eve and my husband and I will be celebrating it at home, we’re going to eat some snack-type food for dinner. Nothing like eating junk to ring in a new year :)

-Toasted ravioli and marinara sauce ($3 I think, I can’t remember, whoops).

-Chicken fingers and ranch dip ($2.50)

-Chips ($1) and salsa ($1.50) [I don’t think we’ll eat all of it, but that’s what the packages cost]

-Maybe some homemade cookies…we’ll see!

Total (without cookies) $8 (if we eat an entire bag of chips, which we won’t, but whatever)

Tuesday:

Salmon patties ($1.59), corn ($0.39) and twice-baked potatoes ($0.30) for a total of $2.28

Wednesday:

Grilled cheese sandwiches (about $0.20 for the bread; $0.25? for the cheese), leftover chicken and noodles frozen from awhile back $0.45

Thursday:

Baked ziti, garlic toast

While at my mother-in-law’s house before Christmas, I made the best batch of baked ziti I’ve ever made (I don’t know if this is technically ziti, but it’s what I’m calling it). My husband loved it so much, he took a picture. He wanted me to write down exactly what I did, so it will be the same the next time I made it.

-1.5 lbs. ground beef ($2)

-2 jars marinara sauce (I used two Prego jars for this one, wish I could remember the specific flavors!) ($2)

– onion ($0.10)

– garlic

– whatever seasonings you like to add to marinara sauce (for me, I like to add basil, garlic powder, and ground pepper)

– box (16 oz.) ziti-style pasta (I used mostacolli rigati) ($1)

– about 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (? $0.50?)

– 16 oz. container of cottage cheese (I used the fat-free variety) ($1)

– half to whole stick of butter (depending on just how fattening you want this recipe to be) $0.25)

– 8 oz. package of sliced or shredded provolone cheese ($2)

Total: $8.85

The day before I planned on serving the dish, I cooked the meat sauce. I sauted a chopped onion and some garlic, and browned the ground beef. I added the marinara sauce and took it to a boil, and then let it simmer for about an hour. I think cooking this sauce in advance and letting it meld overnight really helped the flavor.

The next day, I boiled a pot of salted water, and cooked the pasta. Once it was done, I drained it and stirred in a stick of butter. Healthy, I know. But, I think it added tremendous flavor to the overall dish, since previously, the noodles didn’t have great flavor.

After stirring in the butter, I added the Parmesean. It started getting really cheesy and delicious at that point. I added the cottage cheese next. I think if you wanted, you could add some shredded provolone at this point. Mmm. Cheese.

Ok, now for the layering.

Put a good several spoonfuls of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 sturdy pan. You’ll want a thick enough layer where you can’t see the bottom of the pan, and then a little extra. Maybe .5 inch? Dunno.

On top, put about half of your cheesy, buttery noodles.

Add a bunch of the marinara sauce to the top of that, maybe slightly more than half of your remaining sauce.

Put the rest of your noodles on top of that.

Add the slices or sprinkles of Provalone, and top it off with the rest of your marinara sauce.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to one hour. You might put a larger cookie sheet underneath, in case your pan overflows a little and drips (mine did).

It takes awhile to make, and several steps, but it really is delicious, and will feed a lot of people. It’ll make good leftovers for whenever you want to eat it next, as well.

Friday

Leftovers!

Be sure to visit Laura for more menus.



Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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