$40 a Week Grocery Challenge - Part 3

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

We came from here:

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1050992/#new

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

My Publix yesterday had rotisserie chickens for $ 4.99 - that is several meals worth of meat!

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

They are good, but - let me go ahead and say it - DH has decided that he's not wild about chicken. Even fried chicken, he says, which I thought just about every fried food-loving person on the planet liked. So I've been trying to have chicken less. We'll be doing turkey, beef, and tuna this week.

You know, some of his complaints may have to do with the fact that I seldom spice my cooking enough. Chicken is bland, rice is bland, pasta is bland. Or probably it has more to do with his not being able to salt it all. I'll just have to weather the storm.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Seasoning goes a long way....but not gaving chicken as an option sure makes it hard!!

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

Well, we're still up the creek and have just stepped in a patch of quicksand. We got our property tax bill today, which I was expecting, and it is more than $400 more than what we expected. They have double charged us for garbage service that had more than doubled by itself. The only thing we can imagine is that they are considering my mother's house (a tiny three room house) twenty-five feet from our door as a separate dwelling that needs garbage service all on its own. She has no kitchen, eats all her meals with us, and we pay most of her bills. She generates maybe two grocery store plastic bag sizes containers of trash a week which we put into our can. I can't call them because I would cry. My mother has offered, but she's not the property owner. DH will likely get very angry. I was just going to squeak by getting it paid as it was. I'm just heartbroken now.

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

you can always file an appeal for property taxes...not difficult at all just give them a call and ask how to go about it. I'm sure it's routine for the girls answering the phones and they will be pleasant about it

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Small setbacks like that can really throw a budget out of kilter. I agree with araness, just get the appeal process started.
Good luck.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Pillita here are a couple ideas that have worked in the past for me and may be worth a try.

Many people have studios, workshops, etc on their property often quite separate from the main house. Twenty five feet from your house is certainly very reasonable for one of those. You mentioned your husband has a band, there's your excuse. It's his studio. Do they really have to know someone is living there? And furthermore, what exactly constitutes a separate residence? I know people all over this town that have upstairs apartments, garage apartments and "guest houses" rented out with a single utility bill.

You should be able to call the zoning board and get the answers. I'd do that and then get my story ready for the tax assessor. It would be different if you were renting that cottage and making a killing. I don't see anything wrong with a little white lie to help your poor mother and yourselves when you're down and trying so hard.

Usually there is a period of time to dispute the assessment prior to the bills coming out and even if you've missed the opportunity for this year, you definitely need to get some relief for next year. If you cant budge them about separate houses, get hubby to scrounge some materials and build a covered walkway between the two and call it a spare bedroom. I'm not kidding. Those kinds of tricks are called routine survival here.

I got a horrendous tax bill one time and got on the phone to the assessor's office. They had discovered they had made an error and "fixed it". They thought they were going to bill me for an expensive new trailer that my daughter moved there for a total of 10 months. I told them that the thing had been gone from there for about 4 years and they had to go "fix it" again. You never know ...it might just be a mistake.

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

We got an estimated tax bill two months ago and there was no sign of this on there. They know she lives there because they came by one day last winter and asked. DH will call them tomorrow. I'll have to be patient until he finds out what they say. There are a number of people on our road that have guest houses. I can probably do some poking around on the website and see if they've applied that to all of those. I know that there are all sorts of things being done on the municipal level due to this down economy. I can only hope that it is a mistake. I've no objection at all to paying what we owe, but this seems excessive.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I don't know how things there are, but it is my understanding that here at least they have to give you sufficient notice of any changes in your taxes. They sent me a notice in July stating that mine would be going up from 700 to 900.
You should appeal it immediately.
Go down to their office with the papers they sent. Maybe they do not understand that your mother does not have garbage or whatever.
does she have separate sewer or water?
does she have separate electric?
Does she have a separate mailing address, those things may make a difference.
These kind of places are doing every crooked thing they think they can get away with to get more money out of people.
very sad.
If anything maybe you can appeal it by saying they didn't give you sufficient notice.
If worse comes to worse, and you have to, offer to pay what you would have owed and then ask if you can add the remainder to next years. That way you can put back a little extra each month through the year to pay it. Or pay it when you get a tax refund?
You can also call your state department of revenue or some such office and ask questions there about what your county is allowed to do. File a complaint with them that you didn't get notice on the increase. or whatever other complaints you have.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

I agree they should have given you notice.

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

We don't get a notice, we received ours a few weeks ago and it's gone up humm around 300-400 $. I'm not going to fight it since the increase is for the ISD. 99% of our schools where damaged by both Rita & Ike and still aren't up to snuff and hopefully this tax increase will go a long way to repairing or rebuilding. LOL besides I'd rather them not come out and "reevaluate" the house since we've made tons of improvements I'm pretty sure it would go up even more.

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

They voted year before last to institute county-wide garbage collection. In 2007 we had to actually mail a check for $125 (for a year) in to start the service. We were told that thereafter it would be added onto our property tax bill and it was last year. It had gone up a bit, but what doesn't go up every year? I was prepared for a small increase this year as well, but what they've done is to charge us for two units of garbage collection.

DH says that he will take care of it.


This message was edited Nov 4, 2009 7:47 AM

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

Enough about that for now. I'm trying to put it out of my mind for just a bit.

I went to the grocery store and spent $40.63. Here was the breakdown:

Tues/Wed: Turkey Tenderloin ($7.88 - half went into the freezer for another meal); Stir-fry Vegetables (zucchini - $1.56 - 2/3 saved for later in the week, olive oil - $3.29); Cookies (flour - $2.99)

Notes: I did get King Arthur flour. I'm mixing unbleached white with whole wheat and I was out of the white. The price on it has gone down. Not that long ago, it was running four dollars a bag, but it has dropped to three. My receipt indicates that it was on sale and I saved forty cents on it. I got what Publix called turkey tenderloin. In actuality, it was just part of a turkey breast and was very tough. Wal-Mart carried Jennie-o turkey tenderloin that actually looks and feels like pork tenderloin. I'll make sure to get it next time. I had cabbage, eggplant, and rice on hand for the stir-fry. DM had bought cookies and shared with DH so I didn't have to bake any.

Thurs/Fri: Roast Beef ($3.76); Sauteed Peppers (on hand); Cheese Bread (mozzarella - $2.99 - half saved for later in the week); Strawberry Cake (strawberry preserves - $2.99 - the rest can go for PB&J sandwiches for DH)

Sun/Mon: Tuna Sandwiches (tuna - $0.95 - had one can already, cheddar - $2.99 - half will go in salsa); Squash/Tomato Salad (yellow squash - $1.10); Salsa/Chips (corn chips - $2.79, pretty much everything left over like squash, cheese, etc. will go in the salsa)

They had Publix brand corn chips on sale for 2/$4.00, but there wasn't a bag left in the store. The cheese, bacon, roast, squashes, chips, and flour were all sale items.

Sunday Breakfast: Bacon ($2.00); Blueberry Muffins (on hand)

We spent $3.16 on sodas (two for me and two for DH), $1.95 for a box for saltines, and tax was twenty-three cents.

There were other items on my list that I was not able to get, but all were ingredients in which we were getting low, like butter, baking powder, and brown sugar. I knew that I could wait another week, so I did.

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

Pill have you ever checked out Kraft foods website? They have very budget friendly recipes..on I like I actually found on Dave's called Take Out Lemon Chicken..be very easy to swap out turkey or pork (for those of you who eat it). It's one of my easy go to meals on nights I have cake class or don't feel like cooking. It calls for bell peppers but any veggies that you have on hand will do, lemon jello (I use SF) soy sauce, corn starch and chicken broth.

Ok back to trying to organize the kitchen..I'll take pictures as soon as I'm not embarrassed by how messy it is. I'm so ready for this little project to be over I hate a messy kitchen.

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

Take your picture and then I'll take one of mine. It will make you feel much better about what you have.

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

Well, we're stuck for paying it. I checked the County Commission website and they've actually made it illegal for her to put her two little bags of trash a week in our can. So it's going to cost us roughly $10 a week to put our trashcan out to be picked up once a week. Thanks for listening.

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

ok please please keep in mind that we are very far from done...no doors, the trim hasn't been painted and the cornice board type thingies above the cabinets are still open as we haven't put the insert back in (Open to ideas for that btw...)

I tried to break it down while putting things in cabinets to things we use the most often being easy to get to (i.e. towards the front of the cabinet) The pantry has lots of space but it's not very assessable when you pile things in so I try to keep it pretty clutter free. Since most of my flour, sugar etc I buy in bulk in 25 lb bags (which I transfer to industrial buckets) for my cake decorating I keep all of that except a small amount on the stand with all my cake stuff.

Thumbnail by araness
Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

This is the vinegar & cooking wines

Thumbnail by araness
Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

Spices & tea

Thumbnail by araness
Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

Pantry...

Thumbnail by araness
Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

You have so much storage! The house I owned when I moved here and got married had so many cabinets that some were left empty. I'll likely never have that again. Our whole house is 864 square feet, so the kitchen is small. Also DH didn't cook, so he didn't waste any money (or amenities) in the kitchen. Cheapest stock cabinets they make. We replaced one wall with open shelves for dishes. That was my choice, but it skimped on food storage.

The spice and tea cabinet looks very neat. One of my big peeves is ease of use. I want something in the most convenient place that it can be and that is seldom the case. Where is the stove, refrigerator, and work space in relation to these cabinets and are you right-handed or left-handed. I never knew that made a difference until I moved in a house built by a tall left-handed man.

I'll take some pictures when I get home tonight and show you what I do and why. That might give you some ideas and in turn hopefully I'll get some ideas for myself. We painted one wall and put in the open shelves, but have done little else in the last four years, I'm ashamed to say. The remaining cabinets, which I wanted to take out, have yet to be painted.

I was out buying plants when I should have been saving money (so sings the grasshopper).

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

these cabinets are pretty much the same, and I refuse to sink more money into this house since we won't live here but another 4-5 years. We've already put in a new roof, new A/C, painted the entire inside, new floors in the kitchen and downstairs bath, vinyl siding, new insulated porch cover in the back, list goes on.

LOL see I always complain about the lack of space, I keep telling him that he picked this house I'll pick the next one and if I don't like the kitchen I don't buy it.

The spice shelf is a trial, it's warped on the bottom so the all tend to gather in the dip (like an old mattress) so I use the boxes the smaller on on the bottom shelf are the most commonly used, Crazy Jane, Seasoning Salt, Oregano etc the white plastic on the second shelf are the ones that I use but not daily. And then our bulk stuff we get at Sam's that we use pretty much every day is on the bottom shelf. We buy tea via Amazon on a monthly auto ship since we don't drink coffee (the coffee maker is upstairs in a linen closet) water & hot tea are pretty much it year round. DH drinks a lot of Crystal light but I find it gives me the munchies.

Ripley, MS

I made something good today and frugal too
http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/corned-beef-cabbage/1490.html

I did not have any bacon so just made it from cabbage and corned beef out of a can. only added margarine and salt and pepper. Easy fast and good too!

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

If your mother is living at the same physical address, I don't see how they can charge you for two trash pickups at one address. If her address is separate than yours, then they would for sure charge for that.
that just seems like a rip off to me, besides that- none of their business!


for lunch today I stirfried some onion and green pepper in olive oil, tossed in some spice, and then some cooked drained speghetti noodles I had leftover from last night.
I added some spice and a couple tbs of margarine and some tomatoes chopped up with some parmesan cheese.
It was really good, and cheap and fed both of us. Great way to use up any leftover pasta or veggies.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Someone gave me some homegrown okra and zucchini yesterday; I cut them into pieces, added a chopped onion, some garlic, half a can of chopped tomatoes , a little olive oil and some seasoning and roasted it for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. A great vegetable side dish or vegetarian pasta sauce!

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

I'd never thought of roasting okra. Was it crisp or soggy?

I guess the county recognized multiple dwellings as an untapped revenue source. I understand now why the guy from the property appraiser's office asked repeatedly about our guest house. If he'd realized that my sister was living in at the time, I guess I would have gotten charged for three units of garbage collection and disposal. It seemed unfair to me too. Same electric, same water, same septic, same address, but that twenty-five feet of flowerbed and grass apparently makes all the difference. DH called the tax collector who referred him to the property appraiser who referred him to the garbage service (like they can do anything!). He even called the county commissioner. I'll give him an A for effort. Guess I will be baking cookies tonight.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

The okra was not really crisp but it didn't develop the gooeyness that happens when you cook it. It had about the same consistency as the zucchini. It was a very nice dish.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Scalloped tomatoes and tomato and okra casserole are old southern staples that are practically free if you can get the fixins from the garden.

Toast some stale bread and cut in cubes, slice and saute the okra with some onion. Mix it with chopped tomatoes and top with some more of the cubed bread. Bake until bubbly and a bit more. Delish.

Scalloped tomatoes are done the same way with a bit of onion and the toasted bread cubes. You can add a can of drained corn to make it even better. I like basil in mine.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

well if the address is the same, what would matter if 10 of you lived in one house or if there were 10 houses.?
the trash still gets picked up at one stop, and I would refuse to pay it.
But then again I have been known to pursue these kinds of things to the last dime LOL

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

They set it up in such a way so that you don't get credit for paying your property taxes unless you pay that in with it.

I wish I'd asked sooner about okra. I'm letting the rest of mine go to seed. This year I had one whole row planted early which produced all summer and one row planted later when I found more seeds that I'd tucked away and forgotten. That row didn't start producing until almost the end. Next year, I'll have two whole rows from the beginning. Okra loves the sand apparently and does very well here.

I was going to take pictures tonight, but am just beat. Emotional stress, I'm sure. Between the $400 property tax hit and the $300 annual leave payout that I won't be getting now next month because the State has decided that it cannot afford to give its employees after all, I've taken a $700 hit today on a budget already stretched almost to the the breaking point. I've not yet had to pay anything late and perhaps I shouldn't be so worried about that, but I just hate having a $50 fee added to already astronomical balances. I'm thinking of doing an experimental menu next week and see if we can eat entirely out of the freezer and pantry without having to buy anything. I once went a whole month one time without wearing the same clothes twice just to see if I could. Sometimes that kind of thing can be fun. I think we're okay on t.p. and pet food so the absolute essentials are covered.

North Augusta, ON

You've not yet paid anything late? WOW...I can't remember the last time I paid anything that wasn't late...LOL
I hear ya though...I've got phone calls today from both Hydro and Phone companies threatening to cut me off if I don't pay up full this month! $400 hydro, $200 phone. Plus I have to come up with $500 for heating oil...gonna be doing some seriously fancy book keeping to figure this one out. That's a thousand dollars they all want and I only have $1200 coming in...

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Pillita ~ just a thought... if your home is still financed, you might talk to the financial institution. Many banks will pay the property taxes and add them to the unpaid balance on the property. I was shocked to learn that but in many areas the property taxes are so high that is the only solution. It might be a viable option.

North Augusta, ON

Yes, that's what I did when I had a mortgage. The bank included the property taxes (2900/yr) in my payments. I never had to worry about it. Almost made me regret paying it off but my bank still does it, takes so much a week and puts it towards the tax...like paying a loan but without getting the loan.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Here in Florida often both property taxes and home/flood/hurricane insurance are included in the mortgage. I think it is a very good suggestion to check into that.
I'm sorry about your setbacks but I do believe it is very admirable that you are not paying anything late. I too cringe at the thought of all that interest and penalty money adding up.

Ripley, MS

I do not have to pay property tax anymore as I am disabled. We paid it for a few years after I became disabled, not knowing that.
I took my papers to the court house and we do not have to pay any more land taxes.
I thought since my husband was still able to work we would not qualify, but we do.
I am so sorry to hear you are struggling to get these bills paid.

Here is looking to a brighter day for us all

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

When we went to refinance our house a couple of years ago to get a better interest rate, they rolled it into a home equity loan instead of a traditional mortgage for some reason. I believe the rules say that if you owe more than 80 percent, taxes and insurance have to be included with your mortgage. But I guess since ours is not a regular mortgage, it wasn't. I'm just mad about it because it doesn't seem fair and it was sprung on me suddenly.

The loan officer saw DH a couple of months ago and said she'd check on whether she could get us a better rate since they've dropped even further, but she couldn't.

Keystone Heights, FL(Zone 8b)

Amen to that.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

I agree that I think they should have let you know about this ahead of time.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Chicken fajitas tonight. I buy a pre-spiced mix that is storebrand, saute it with kidney beans (cooked from dried), salsa (bought in huge container) and whatever chopped veggies I want (calabacita squash was on sale so that was one of the veggies), and then I let folks choose either flour or corn tortillas (bought in large packs of 80 for $2) and then top with assorted raw veggies and shredded cheese. It's fairly frugal and feels sort of fun and festive and is pretty healthy too.

Yesterday I cooked up 2 jack-o-lanterns (cutting off any bad bits) and froze in 6 ziplocs plus held a 7th portion out for making pumpkin muffins tomorrow. Since I would have bought pumpkins anyway for Halloween, the puree feels like a freebie. I use it in pumpkin muffins, mostly, but also pumpkin bread and a cold dessert made with instant vanilla pudding and pumpkin pie spice.

When the oven's on tomorrow for the muffins, I plan to cut up 1/2 loaf of the whole wheat bread that didn't rise well and make croutons for using on top of salads.

I bought a banana pepper plant for 75 cents the other day and a friend gave me a cayenne. Both are beginning to produce but I don't really know what I will do with them. I guess the logical thing is to try my own salsa but if someone has advice on that, I'd be appreciative.




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