I am really trying hard to stay on top of food spoilage. This week our lettuce rolled to the back of the fridge and froze, so in future I will try and keep food away from that wall. We had burgers last night which was when I realized what happened. We ate the frozen lettuce on burgers and will recycle the rest of it. I had only just purchased it for $2.50 a few days ago. Fortunately this week they are on loss leader for $1 a head but that is my $2.50 of mostly unused lettuce out the window.
This year instead of saving all my freebies for Christmas I intend to use those that are grocery related each month to stay on the budget track. So far this year I have used:
January: $20 in PC points and $5.49 in four litres of free milk
February: $20 in PC points, $25 free Loblaws card from bread fixing incident and $1 coupon
Total so far this year in grocery freebies and coupons is $71.49. I hardly use coupons anymore as online printed ones are not accepted by my local stores and you rarely find any on items you already buy. My focus now is to maximum points for grocery freebies.
I am on a mission to clean our stand up freezer as it needs to be defrosted due to it being left partially open in December. Fortunately we didn't lose groceries but there was a pretty heavy duty frost buildup. I keep saying I am eating it down then find another sale and fill it back up. This time I am serious and taking pictures of defrosting food as proof.
This lot was defrosted Friday - ham and corn chowder which originally wasn't that great but I added a few ingredients and it turned out much tastier for a quick Friday night meal. Ground beef, a small amount of sliced olives and homegrown frozen tomatoes, all ingredients for Saturday night's casserole as we had friends over. I also defrosted some bread for grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with Friday night soup. We rarely eat bread these days so I try and have a little in the fridge ready for defrosting or toasting.
Sunday morning I defrosted 4 frozen bananas and made these banana pineapple pecan muffins, also using up some pecans left from Christmas baking. They were very tasty...I had one this morning with tea.
In other dollar and cent news - our monthly healthcare premium went down from $150 a month for the two of us to $75 a month effective January. Eventually they will slowly eliminate the healthcare premium in BC as most of the Country no longer pays a premium. Our healthcare costs will likely rise as we age so part of the savings is still going into the health fund and a bit into the travel fund.
In other reducing bill news we get our electric bill every two months. This bill was $426.89 which is our highest one of the year. In the exact same timeframe last year the bill was $508.32. The electricity rate has gone up 15% from last year so this was a real surprise that we got a lower bill. Our electricty powers our heat pump but we use natural gas for heating our water, BBQ and fireplace. The cost of natural gas actually went down about 15% from last year. Our bill last year was $108.04 for the same two month timeframe. This year it was $101.34. So total energy bill savings year over year for the first two months of the year work out to $88.13. We tend to use the fireplace more now when we feel it is too cold in the house. We also have maintained one degree lower temperature on the heat than last year. We put on sweaters, use an electric blanket at night and have bought a tiny heater for the bathroom for shower time. If we didn't both have arthritis I would lower the heat even more but since we work and live from home comfort is a necessity. For comparison our summer electric bill for two months is around $205 and natural gas around $80 (they have a minimum threshold charge so should be lower but isn't).
This time of year I like to look at every single bill to see if we can trim the fat. We finally cancelled our alarm contract since we are home almost all the time and can no longer justify the expense. We also changed the type of chequing account hubby has which should save a couple of bucks a month. We did the same for the Company and managed to lower 3 of our monthly bills there too. So even when, after years of frugality you think you have gotten all your bills as low as they go look again as they have a tendency to creep up over time.
Exactly two months today we embark on our adventure to Italy and France with two of our four adult kids (the others will go with us on later trips). Every member of the family has a passport now and Euros are safely tucked away until we go. The countdown is on!