Fifty Bucks Til Friday

My place of employment, as of 2019, is switching to a new payroll schedule. What that means for me is that when I got paid last Friday, I only received one week’s worth of pay instead of two, and have to make that stretch two weeks til 1/18. After that, everything will be back to normal. (I could have put in for an advance, but I didn’t realize I had that option until it was too late.)

So, I’m in a better position than the folks at TSA, but it’s still going to be a bit tough to make it to the 18th without going into my savings. Welcome to the “$50 Til Friday” Challenge!

Fifty bucks is what I have today, Saturday, after already buying some groceries, having some heating oil delivered, and reloading my train pass for next week. Any other food, gas for both cars (I think they are both low), and any unexpected thing will have to come out of the $50.

With the new groceries and what I have on hand… it’s going to be a squeaker. I have supplies to make banana bread, chocolate chip cookies or muffins, and gravy. I have one pack of pork chops and another of chicken breast. I have some frozen chicken marsala from Christmas Eve. I have a lot of carrots and some frozen green beans. Lunches are pretty well covered, and breakfast. It’s the dinners that are going to be tougher.

Also, I’m out of olive oil.  So if I go to Blue Moon today, that’ll be $15 or so, right out of the gate. But I need it to make gravy and to cook meat. I could get it at the regular supermarket… I guess.

One thing I should have done was go to Aldi instead of ShopRite. That would have stretched the money further. But I love doing my easy-peasy grocery pickup.

The kids and I went to Aldi for the first time ever last weekend. I was a little shocked at just how low the prices are. It seems incredible. We bought some apples, cereal, eggs, and canned goods, and everything seemed fine. If the prices are low simply because, you know, the food is just basically thrown in there and it’s not as nice as a regular supermarket, OK. If it’s because they are a non-union shop (see this article), then maybe I’ll just keep going to ShopRite.

One thing I’m definitely going to do after the 18th is order food through Philly Food Works. My online cart is already filled with Brussel sprouts, apples, mozzarella cheese, and onions.

Oooh, I just remembered that my last farm paycheck (for one day’s pay) will be coming any day now. There was a delay because they accidentally took me out of their payroll too early. So that will probably give me the oomph to get over the finish line or deal with the inevitable Thing That Must Be Bought That I Forgot About.

Tonight I made the pork chops, plus homemade rice a roni, honey-glazed carrots, and baked potatoes.

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Last weekend I was already thinking about this paycheck challenge. ShopRite accidentally gave me a freebie package of ground chicken, so I used that plus the beans I had on hand (black and chickpeas) to make white chicken chili for the first time (well, white except for the black beans and blue tortilla chips). It was very pleasant to light some candles in the kitchen, play some music and put together the chili on a gray day, and to have it simmering in the Crock-Pot til dinner time. It came out pretty good for a first attempt, and hubs and I ate it for several meals. (The kids tried it and rejected it but I was expecting that.)

That was all I got around to cooking. I did a lot of laundry. My new plan is to do laundry a little bit at a time during the week, and leave the weekend free for other things that take more brainpower.

Also last weekend, we went to Once Upon a Child and scored snow pants and two pairs of shoes for Sebastian, and two shirts for Gemma, all for $33.

Now it’s Sunday night. I spent all day in the kitchen: gravy was first, then banana bread (using honey), then chocolate chip cookies, then buffalo chicken dip for the Eagles game. I happened to have everything on hand I needed for the dip. That was dinner for me and hubs; kids had chicken cutlets and applesauce. I’m beat! So we’ll have spaghetti tomorrow night, leftovers Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday are still unplanned.

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Cookie recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. I haven’t had one yet but the dough sure was good.

By the by, I did make stuffed shells finally, on New Year’s Eve. I thought they were pretty good. Would have been better with fresh herbs. I like this recipe because it includes garlic in the filling. Many recipes did not and I just don’t get those people.

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OK, one more food picture. One night recently I made chicken thighs with adobo seasoning. I had read on Twitter that thighs are where it’s at and chicken breast is overrated. Judging by everyone’s reaction to these thighs, I must agree. These were the biggest hit I’ve had with the kids in a long time. A loooong time.

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***

This week, I started parking at the train station that is slightly closer to my house than my usual station. I had been avoiding it all these years, mainly because a young woman was abducted from there (and later killed) back around 2000. But I realized that if you pay $1, you can park in the portion of the lot right by the station, and there are spots in the front row open when I get there. This has freed up 10 minutes of my morning, and that alone is priceless. But it’s actually probably saving me money in gas, and the lower fare leaving from that station almost makes up the cost of the parking. I also realized I can take a little back streets route and avoid two lengthy lights. It’s seriously like a 2 minute drive. In case you can’t tell, this was the highlight of my week and I’m still excited about it.

And… I’m now considering whether I should walk to this station when the weather warms up. Google says it’s a 15-minute walk but I wonder if it’s even that long. Now that would save gas and add some exercise. I’ll have to test that out.

Even if I don’t start walking, I know someone who will: Aidan. He is definitely going to have to start walking to school when it gets warmer out. (Right now he just walks home; I drive him in the morning.)

Currently reading: The Giver series by Lois Lowry (halfway through) and a Pioneer Woman cookbook.

Watching: Nailed It!, Tidying Up (with Marie Kondo), and Unsolved Mysteries. On Pluto, there is a whole Unsolved Mysteries channel. So we watch like four episodes a night, how can we not?

I was going to write about 2019 goals but that will have to wait til next time. I did take all my Christmas stuff down this weekend though!

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