Goodbye March, Hello April

We managed to reach most of our goals this past month, or at least get close to meeting them. March turned into a somewhat crazy month between the weather (temperatures ranged from below freezing to 81 degrees), recovery from my second eye surgery, spring break, and starting work at Trader Joe’s.

  • Keep grocery spending under $450. We spent $423.20 on groceries in March.
  • Aim for zero food waste. I had to throw away a head of lettuce that got stuffed in the back and turned mushy, and a small amount of cilantro we didn’t use up. I hate throwing away food, and am glad it wasn’t more.
  • Have one full no-spend week. We had a completely no-spend week 3/19 – 3/26.
  • Have four no-drive days. We had five no-drive days in March.
  • Try one new recipe. I didn’t get to make katsudon with my daughter-in-law due to some last minute schedule changes for her. I did try one new thing: chocolate ganache that I used to frost a chocolate cake. It was super easy and turned out well – recipe is coming up.
  • Walk 40 miles. I couldn’t walk the entire first week of March because of hurting my back, but still put in 32 miles this month. I’m averaging about two and a half to three miles during my shifts at Trader Joe’s.

The Red Trail at Smith Park: uphill all the way to the turnaround. Spring was definitely showing itself!

  • Visit one natural or historical site in the area. Our goal this month was to go to Mammoth Caves National Park, but the only time we could go was during spring break and the park’s cave tours were booked solid. Brett and I decided instead to head to Radnor Lake State Park and enjoy an afternoon hiking around the lake, but the park was closed! So, we went to nearby Smith Park again and hiked the Red Trail. It’s shorter than the others but uphill all the way to the turnaround, so we got a good workout on a lovely day.
  • Read four books. I finished eight books this month, including five I’ve read before (Eat, Pray, Love; Winds of War; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Killer Angels; and Shogun).
  • Study ***** every day for 10 minutes. I studied for at least 20 minutes every day in March.

We put $34.69 into the change/$ bill jar this past month; all my income from Trader Joe’s went into savings.

Work is going well, but it’s honestly exhausting and I’m grateful for every day off to rest and recover. It’s a very physical job and I’ve been getting quite the workout each day I’m there. However, I can feel myself getting stronger, and it’s taking less and less time to bounce back. A real test is coming soon though: I’ll be working 11:00 to 7:00 one day, then have to be back at 7:00 the next morning. I’m hopeful that between a good, hot bath and my heating pad I’ll be able to handle it. I love the work and the people I work with and don’t want to let anyone down.

April’s goals are pretty much a repeat of March’s, but I’m happy with the progress that’s happening.

  • Keep grocery spending under $450. I plan to do the majority of our food shopping at Trader Joe’s this month and get a better idea of how the discount affects our bottom line. Hopefully it will allow us to buy more fun things and still stay under budget. There are still a few things I will continue to get at Aldi and Costco (and chicken livers for Kai’s food come from Publix), but I’d like to do most of my shopping at TJ’s, if possible. I have been seeing lots of new items in the store I want to try, like their bulgogi fried rice with kim chee and the Korean short ribs, and hopefully the discount will make them something we can afford to enjoy now and again.
  • Aim for zero food waste. We will try once again for no food waste this month.
  • Have one full no-spend week. It seems the third week of the month is the best for a no-spend week so we’ll target it again in April.
  • Have four no-drive days. This is a very doable effort.
Katsudon is my favorite Japanese dish (photo credit: Cuisine AZ)
  • Try one new recipe. I will try again this month to make katsudon.
  • Walk 40 miles. I am pretty sure I can do this, between work and walking at the apartment complex.
The very bloody Battle of Shiloh was fought April 6 – 7, 1862 (Photo credit: Tennessee River Valley)
  • Visit one natural or historical site in the area. We plan to visit the Shiloh National Military Park in southwest Tennessee this month. The battle of Shiloh was fought in April, so a visit this month will hopefully give us a better sense of what the area might have looked like then.
  • Read four books. I usually have one book I read during the day, and another at night because the library still seems to send out a bunch all at once and I have only three weeks to finish them. I have greatly enjoyed most the books I have reread so far this year and gotten more from them the second time around. I’m surprised too by how popular many of these books are; several have been on hold at the library and I have had to wait to get them.
  • Study ***** every day for 10 minutes. I am using the Duolingo app on my phone, and it’s very easy to pick up my lessons during the day. I find myself usually doing 10 minutes in the morning, and then another 10 in the evening.

Upcoming events in April will be Brett’s birthday and our son’s return at the end of the month for another visit. Otherwise we plan to just keep on doing what we do now, and try to stay healthy and save as much as possible. Spring weather in Tennessee can be unpredictable, but we’ve got our fingers crossed for more warmer, sunnier days!


11 thoughts on “Goodbye March, Hello April

  1. We made a special trip to TJ’s yesterday to get some of their gourmet jelly beans for our daughter-in-law who doesn’t have a TJ’s anywhere near them. Of course, we loaded up on some other goodies while we were there. Those tiny ice cream cones they have are one of my favorite things from there.


    1. We love those little cones too! The coffee ones available now are really good, but our favorite flavor is the pumpkin-ginger, available in the fall.

      I’m excited to try so many new things, and it helps me talk about the products to customers as well.


  2. Must be hard to resist the temptation of buying too much at TJs when it’s in your face every day. One month in do you think you will stick with the 2 days and not add the 3rd? That 12 hour turnaround will be tough but I guess doing 2 shifts back to back like that means you are done and dusted with your work commitments for the week. Have to say your life demonstrates that just because we are no longer young we are still useful.


    1. I want to shop there every time I work! But, we’re sticking to our regular shopping schedule so instead of buying I’m racking up ideas of what to buy.

      My two days/week schedule is good for as long as I want it. I am extremely sore when I finish my shift, but notice I am rebounding more quickly these days. Those two back-to-back days may do a number on me though. Unfortunately, the first day I work is the last day of the work week, the next day the first, and I’m scheduled to go back three days later.


  3. I so want to have your work schedule because 1) get paid to exercise, and 2) it has fabulous grocery items with an employee discount! I just think that is fantastic! I injured my back picking up a case of Gatorade at SAMS yesterday, and now I am having to take hot baths, etc, so I totally understand about the back issue. So happy you are getting to see your son and the grandchildren so much! Yes, the weather has been kinda crazy this spring. I love state and national parks so your trips sound awesome!


    1. Cindy – that’s what I tell myself when I’m feeling tired and sore, that I’m getting paid to exercise! It’s still hard though, but getting better and easier as time goes on. Also, I found out last week that I receive an extra $10/hour on Sundays (!!!) so am hoping I can pick up a couple of those shifts each month. Of course the discount is another great thing – it allows us to try so many things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

      I am thrilled with how much we are getting to see our son and his family. There’s lots that I’m not crazy about here, but having them so close makes it all worthwhile.


    1. Hi Milena – I am keeping the language I’m learning to myself for now because once I reveal I seem to give it up. So, I’m hoping that this time I can stick with it longer. So far, so good!

      I actually don’t enjoy cooking all that much any more, and am thrilled to be able to afford products from Trader Joe’s that taste good and are quick and easy to prepare. I still make some favorite family recipes now and again, but most make too much for my husband and myself. If I cooked the way I used to we’d be swamped in leftovers!

      Currently I’m reading The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. I read it years ago, and am really enjoying it again. It’s a HUGE book though, so it’s going to take me a while to finish.

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  4. Every time you try something different at TJ’s, I hope you share with your readers. I enjoy rice cakes and just finished off TJ’s organic dark chocolate rice cake thins. Just enough sweetness for a nice treat. Now, I must try those little cones you enjoy. Nothing but admiration for you in the stamina department.


    1. I have not tried those chocolate rice cake thins – they sound delicious. My new favorite snack right now is the cocoa peanut butter marshmallows. I don’t even like marshmallows, but these are so good, and I’m not tempted to eat more than one or two a day. The tiny ice cream cones are fantastic – right now they have coffee flavor (swoon!) but we loved, loved, loved the pumpkin ginger ones that were available last fall.

      I’m not so sure about stamina – I’m completely whipped by the end of my shift, and asking myself the last couple of hours, “Laura, is this really what you need to be doing to yourself.” The work is exhausting, but it’s such a great place to work.


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