Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Sad Attempt at a Eulogy for my Grandma

I can't even be close to concise, eloquent and thorough in this brief blog where I'm borrowing internet at a Panera at the cost of one small cup of coffee and a chocolate chip 'muffie' for the Little Guy. This is my sad attempt at combining sorrow, brevity and profundity. Underline the word sad- twice.

What can I say about my only Grandparent that will sum up the 35 years of memories, sadness, and even a strange elation for her that she gets to see those who've gone before her and her pain is gone?
My Grandma (Gram to her family) was so loved. She was cantankerous with a gentle voice. She was vain without being obnoxious or even annoying. She whined when she needed to and often guilted when she thought it was necessary. She was silly and sweet, and giving to those she loved. And there were many of us that she loved. She worked hard to save so she'd have something to leave her family and have a nice funeral.
If you weren't family then you had to prove yourself trustworthy first which was a bit more daunting for those people who were romantically linked to her loved ones.

Reading over this it just seems like a lame list of vague personality traits. It doesn't show you the drawers stuffed full of every scrap and scribble of memento she'd ever received from a child or a grandchild. You don't see the pantry chock full of outdated food that no one could throw away because, "It's still perfectly good and we might need it someday." You haven't heard the chuckle in my mother's voice as she tells the story of the time my Grandma killed a groundhog that had gotten in the chicken coop and served it proudly for dinner. Even though no one thought it was tasty my Grandma gobbled it down with proud glee having both solved a pest problem and procured a free dinner for her family.
A child of the depression my Grandma was ever thrifty and resourceful. I loved to listen to her talk about making jelly out of watermelon rind and turning trash into food. I loved that she occasionally drank her Sanka out of a bowl instead of a cup and that she would make me hot chocolate on the stove with real milk that sometimes developed a slimy skin on the top. To this day I prefer my chocolate milk with a slightly scalded taste and I relish the memories of my burned tongue as I could not wait until it cooled to drink it.

Now that we are facing such scary economic times I know I will miss being able to pick her brain for ideas. I will miss the sight of her folded crochet project set in the corner by her rocking chair. I know I will have a thousand questions to ask her in the next few years. I know that there will be times when I slip and forget that she's gone and remembering will be a small shock. I will miss her- so much.

This Mortal Coil

I'll be brief. Because I'm sitting at my son's gymnastics class borrowing internet and he just loaded his diaper. Yay!

Our internet is down. I don't know why.

We've been on business trips with the hubby. We've been on field trips with the preschool. And the last two days I have spent saying Goodbye to my 90 year old Grandma who left this world for a better one yesterday morning. Whew!

I'll be back with lots to post when I get my internet access back. Either that or I'll be buying lots of coffee and toddler danishes so I can borrow panera internet.

Time to change the diaper before class.

Oh this glamorous life I lead.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Recession Dieting?

Check out this NY Sun article on food rationing.

Do you think maybe this could be a turning point for the obesity epidemic in the US?
Food has been so cheap here for so long.

And I'm wondering if I should begin to stockpile grains or just use up what I have and save now.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My 5 Budget Busters

Kyle at tagged me for this post.

This is my briefly thought out list of my top
5 Budget Busters

1. Impatience- My husband who is a natural researcher, hand wringer and big thinker when it comes to any purchase over $50 knows all too well how impatient I can be. I don't like to dilly dally about any decision big or small. We work well when we make decisions together because he makes me slow down and I make him 'pull the trigger' when it's time to purchase. However, when I'm on my own it's a different story. Thank Goodness my wants are usually small.

2. Poor Math Skills- I never have like liked math. My brain tends to want to shut down when I have to figure out price per ounce or what 35% off of the sticker price will be. This is one reason why I try to do my research with the grocery store circulars and coupons before a planned outing to a big chain grocery. I frequently have my figures scribbled out beside the item on the paper to see if a purchase is a worthwhile buy. If it's just a quick run into a grocery for something I try to stick with Aldi or Save-A-Lot where the price is generally better. But, still I've made poor purchasing decisions too many times because I didn't want to mess with math.

3. Kids spoilage- My children have too many toys. Those little five dollar toys from Wal-Mart and Target occasionally make their way into the cart- we do get a lot of mileage out of a die cast Thomas train. I have a hard time going to the Goodwill and not buying a toy if it's cheap enough and looks like good quality. I'll even prep the kids before we go into a store not to ask for anything because I'm not buying toys that day. And inevitably I'll decide just to get it for them to make them happy. I like to see their happiness no matter how brief and no matter how quickly that cheap toy will become car fodder and clutter on the floor of the toy room.

4. Gracious Giving- I'm not necessarily talking about charitable giving although I can do crazy with that too. I am a big over buyer when it comes to gift giving. I tend to forget what I've already gotten and as a result end up with too much money spent and too many items bought. As a result I have two filled totes with leftover gifts. They will be given away eventually but I think I'd rather have the money I spent back.

5. Laziness and Luxury- Oh, how easy is it to call Pizza Hut when I've had a bad day with the kids. And my wonderful husband is so nice about picking up a little something from a drive thru for those bad Mommy days. I like that he never gives me grief about the extras but I think I might take advantage too often. My menu planner certainly doesn't completely erase these take out nights but it does help to lessen them. Also, I'm not too much of a keeping up with Joneses for myself but, I like for my kids to look similar to their friends. I will spend more money on them if I can find clothes that they will look cute in. I want them to look nice and although I try not to spend a lot of money- I spend too much. For a Mom who does laundry everyday we have way too many clothes. My children could get by with 5 nice outfits, 2 church outfits and 2 play outfits and they have triple that amount. My big weakness is spending on cosmetics. I have a !hard! time passing up the Clinique/Lancome bonuses. I'm not too snobby to pass up Rimmel and Wet 'n' Wild but I prefer the department store goodies. Now that I've been on a personal product hiatus since January 1st my shopping in this area has dramatically lessened. And I won't give up my tri-annual visit to my hairdresser for a good cut and some highlights. That's one area where I don't mind splurging because even my pinchy husband thinks I look better after a luxury hair appointment.

I'm tagging three blogs to do their own list of Budget busters.

My husband at Cheap Daddy Arcade.

Minimalist Mommy- a great frugality blog.

Rachel at Pursuits of Heart and Home- a fun 'new to me' blog.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Coke, Velveeta, and Library Fines

The $30 grocery challenge came to an end today. A spur of the moment trip to the grocery store to procure cans to pay for my library fines (all on Dave Ramsey's "More than Enough" book which I really liked) ended with me filling a cart with more than I intended to buy.

Two cans of generic beans for the library fine sounds good.
Canola oil discounted to $1.49- sure, since I'm almost out. Mild Taco seasoning on sale? Well, I do have a whole pot of plain black beans to use up. Applesauce in individual containers? The kids love them and I have a coupon. Lite Velveeta- well, it's cheaper per pound than real cheese and it makes great bean dip. A 12 pack of Coke on sale- it's my greatest weakness. Store brand tortilla chips- need 'em for the dip. A jar of sweet pickles that Big Girl has been asking me for- why not? I have a coupon. Organic apples and bananas? We need fruit. Reduced fat shredded cheese- I have a great coupon and it would be so great on a bean burrito. Ground mustard- well, I didn't have any and didn't even know I needed it until I started doing more scratch cooking. I bought the cheapest container. Dole Fruit Juice blends- oh, it sounded so good, on sale and I even had a coupon. Western French Dressing is being discontinued and it's on sale? Well, I'd better get the big bottle. Vegetarian 'turkey' lunch meat? At least it will keep us eating at home. Would I like to donate a dollar to the American Heart Association? Sure. Why not?

Two free kids cookies, a sample of kettle cooked chips, two squirmy kids sitting too close to each other in the fancy rocket shaped cart, a wind blown pale faced mom who didn't have time to put make up on this morning because her two year old is sick and needed love and attention, a quick trip to to the library to return my overdue stuff and pick up some much needed stuck at home with a sick boy diversions such as videos and books, and here I am... $37.52 after coupons lighter.

Look what I talked myself into. Granted it will all get eaten and it's not like I spent hundreds of dollars on jewelry or furnishings that we don't need. But, it's so easy to snowball one or two little purchases into ten, fifteen or twenty when we just let go a little bit.

The grocery envelope sits crumpled forlornly in the bottom of my purse. It was emptied a few days ago when the credit card machine was not working at Goodwill. Now there's just a handful of change in there to put into my garage sale wallet.

Could I have spent only $30 for groceries this month. The answer I believe is yes.
What I lacked was planning, forethought and 'gazelle intensity'. If I truly concentrated all my efforts on my grocery shopping plan I would have packed a lunch for the day that we spent at the Toyota dealership. I would have reheated something from the freezer for dinner after those long busy days instead of ordering out.
I'm disappointed a little but I think we did save some money this month anyway.
I still have a list attached to the refrigerator of stuff to buy next month. My pantry is still full of good fuel to cook with. And I never would have made English muffins from scratch if I weren't fueled by my challenge.

It was worth a shot this month. Who knows.. maybe in a few months when life is less crazy it will be worth it again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sick boy blues.

My baby boy is sick today with a yucky tummy and a fever.

I'm throwing out my menu in favor of extra snuggling and love.

Surely there's something leftover in the freezer that I can reheat.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Living Essentials

I don't normally watch a lot of daytime television but one show that I do occasionally tivo is Living Essentials on the BYU network. The one I am watching today features Peggy Layton who is a food storage/preparation lecturer and cookbook author and deals with making and using dried and convenience foods.
For someone like me who is a visual learner trying to overcome a dependence on convenience foods and make more wholesome (healthier) scratch foods this is a blessing.

Now I'm prepared to try my hand at making my own Rice a Roni and Instant oatmeal.

Here is a link to the recipes on this episode.

Laundry Day Pot o' Beans

I took a few days off of laundry duty and today I am paying for it. So far I've done five loads and I have one more to go. I haven't stripped our bed linens yet. I think I'll do that tomorrow. So, now I'm sitting on top of Mt. Washmore and thinking that I'll go back to throwing everything in the washer again tomorrow. I normally do one load a day which roughly amounts to all the dirty clothes and kitchen/bath towels from the day before. Colors and whites all mixed together- I don't care because I get them done faster. But, today the one reward I'll get from being laundry lazy is to enjoy the hot water soapy bleach smell from soaking whites.

I found this on the website:
"Red beans and rice became a traditional dish on Mondays in New Orleans because it made use of the ham bone left over from Sunday dinner. Monday was typically wash day, and the beans could be simmered for a long time on the back of the stove while the laundry was being done."

Around here the only dried red beans I find at the grocery store are kidney beans.
Today I'm cooking a pot of black beans. I love the rich flavor and they are so good with a splash of lime juice, some chopped cilantro, garlic and onions.

Monday, April 14, 2008

When 99 cents breaks the bank

Meredith blogged about finding groceries in the Dollar Store. I was really excited about finding even more great cheap ideas for our ever stretched grocery budget.

I admit that I've been pretty off track this week with my $30 dollar grocery challenge with all the eating out and whatnot. But, with food shopping I've been sticking to my wallet. After a quick trip to Aldi today where I bought two gallons of milk, a dozen eggs, a bag of salad, and a unneccessary splurge on a 2.99 bottle of wine, I've only got four dollars and some change left in my envelope.

That four dollars will have to buy me a gallon milk in two weeks. As much as I want to peruse the dollar store and come up with my own gourmet menu- this month it just isn't happening. Besides, some of the stuff at my local Dollar Tree and Deals is just more expensive than buying on sale at the regular grocery or shopping at Aldi. I would never pay a dollar for a bottle of spice when Wal-greens occasionally has coupons for .39 cent bottles. Jiffy mix is more expensive than the grocery store too. Dollar Stores are great for many things (stationery and greeting cards to name two) and I'm glad to have them. But, for great deals I'll stick with Aldi or couponing/sales shopping at Schnucks.

Weekly Dinner Menu Planner

Monday- Mock Alfredo Sauce on wheat rotini, salad

Tuesday- Bean soup and scratch corn bread.

Wednesday- Tostadas made with leftover beans and scratch tortillas. Use up salad.

Thursday-Stir fry with crisper veggies.

Friday- Pizza Night- mushroom, mozzarella, onion, veggie pepperoni, and feta.

Saturday- Leftovers or spaghetti and corn.

Sunday- Bisquick Pot pie.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

$30 Grocery Challenge Update

This has been a bad week for keeping up the grocery challenge. Eating out has been such an easy fall back on busy and weary days. I'm still trying to keep it together grocery wise though.

I found a Schnucks gift card in my purse. It was a Christmas gift from Hubby's work. I still have about $16.99 in my grocery envelope too. Schnucks doubles coupons up to .40 cents. I spent some time this morning looking through their add and finding coupons.

2 cans of Popeye Spinach- .88 (.44 a can after doubling coupons)
1 can of Veg-All veggies- .44
2.5 lbs. of green grapes (for preschool)- 4.90 (1.99 a lb.)
Better N Eggs egg product- 1.83 (after coupon)
BOGO Purex Laundry Detergent- 3.99 (for two bottles or 1.99 apiece).

Total after coupons 12.68

I really needed milk but the cheapest milk there was $3.59 a gallon! The eggs were pricey too with the cheapest dozen going for $2.22. The Better N Eggs had a pull off coupon on them or I would have skipped eggs altogether.

I guess I'll be making a trip to Aldi tomorrow to get the cheaper eggs & milk with the $16.99 that's left in my grocery envelope. I really need to find a way to reduce our milk and egg intake even more. I'm even getting low on powdered milk that I use for cooking. I haven't priced it lately to see if the price on it has gone through the roof yet.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Taking Stock of our Inventory

Springtime- ah, the fresh breeze, the beautiful flowers, lovely green grass and the beginning of yard sale season.

I've been taking stock of our children's wardrobes and making a list of what we'll need before Spring next year. A few school items for Big Girl and some long pants for Little Guy are on my list. I'll also be looking for high quality Christmas presents.

It's so easy for me to get carried away buying great clothes because they are dirt cheap. But you can waste money on unnecessary things at garage sales just as easily as at a high priced department store. Money is money no matter how little you spend and clutter is clutter no matter how much you pay.

Cottage Cheese Query

I'm the only one in my family who will eat cottage cheese plain. So, in the past I've thrown a lot of moldy cottage cheese in the trash. Well, I'm trying my best not to throw out any food this month and needed a way to use up this yummy staple besides making lasagna (which we just had.)

This site has a ton of recipes that use cottage cheese. I'm intrigued by the pancakes, cheesecakes, and the mock alfredo recipe. I'm out of eggs and low on milk so I'll have to stick with something simple.

Friday, April 11, 2008

One big decision made - one big $chunk$ taken.

After a long few days of searching and researching and test driving everything from ten year old 'nice' beaters to a brand new Yaris (nice, basic and very fuel efficient) we have a car.

Hubby is now the proud owner of a 2003 cherry red four door Toyota Echo. He did the Kelly Blue Book research and the Consumer Reports research and the Echo is fairly fuel efficient. I won't get into the graphs and scales of fuel economy that he had going- he's an engineer after all.. but, we haggled and got the price to right where we thought it should be and now it's ours.

I'm relieved. I'll worry tomorrow about our funds and my grocery challenge which has taken a back seat while we've been so very busy driving around looking at cars.

Happy Hubby took the kids to Lions Choice to celebrate with ten cent kiddie cones.


And now I'm going to celebrate by taking a little nap. We used a free Redbox coupon for Beowulf tonight after the kids go to sleep. I've got to prepare for the cheesy horror. Though I don't doubt that it will be more entertaining than trying to read Beowulf in ancient English like when I was in college.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dilemmas- Decisions- Debt-free car shopping.

How much do we spend-- basic replacement of the car we lost for just a few grand- although that car was 12 years old already. Do we upgrade for a newer car with less mileage and more fuel efficiency? And take a bigger chunk out of our funds?
How many bells and whistles do we need? Does it need to be a four door? How many dents and dings are acceptable before a car just looks too hoopty? How much do we haggle?

Oh, we are so not going down the road of car payments because our mortgage is enough of a debt. But, I am beginning to understand why it would be a lot easier just to pick out a new one and have a monthly payment.

My husband is a born researcher and hand wringer. I am much more impulsive. "Hey, this looks ok, it's cheap enough, let's buy it and get on with our lives." Between the two of us I don't know what we'll end up with.

The only thing I do know is the house is a mess of toys and anything else that they can reach and pull down. Dinner is planned and prepped (wheat noodles with broccoli in a Thai peanut sauce) and those hairy sweet potatoes finally got made into a pie for dessert.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

And then life happens- $30 grocery challenge.

While Driving home Monday night my sweet husband got distracted for a minute and the guy in front of him braked suddenly. Thank God no one was seriously hurt and hubby was well protected by our air bags. Long story short- we're now a one car family who needs two cars.

The last two days have been busy dealing with selling our wreck to the salvage yard and searching Kelly's Blue book for a decent commuting car for hubby. I'm so thankful that we hadn't yet sent our extra 'chunk' to our mortgage yet but now that extra 'chunk' is going to be sunk into a 'new' car. Emergency fund, Goodbye.

The grocery challenge update- We ate at a nice sit down restaurant (after car shopping)
with a gift certificate that was in my wallet. It was $9.00 out of pocket for the remainder + tip. Today (during more car shopping) we stopped at Taco Bell for lunch and spent $5.00. That leaves my grocery tally at $2.99 for the month.
Somehow I don't think I'm going to make it since that won't even cover a gallon of milk.

I have lasagna roll ups already prepped for dinner and hubby is out car shopping. I'm praying he finds the right one at the right price.

This little mishap has done three things for me:

1. I was so sad about our car. It was the last thing I bought with my working money before we had kids. It was technically my first car and I was attached to it. This is a good reminder not to cleave to material things. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." Matthew 6:19

2. Be so thankful that we have the money right now to buy another work car for hubby.
After this purchase we will have to- (have to) tighten our belts and prepare for another financial blow. No more nice cushion.

3. Made me talk with hubby about replacing our lost money and discuss an increased budget tightening. I didn't realize how many little money leaks we had. I can nickel and dime us to the poor house with trips to the Goodwill. Hubby asked me not to buy the kids anymore new clothes for awhile. I just went through their drawers and I can safely say that we are all set until school shopping starts. I've pulled the cloth diapers back out for days when we're just staying at home too.

Although $30.00 was a very lofty goal I think I might have made it if we didn't slip up with our little 'surprise.' I'm not giving up though. I'm so charged from the good food we've been eating and the fridge clean out. The fact that we actually need to save money is just another reason to keep it up.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Weekly Menu Planner--- ?

I realized this morning that I was out of a plan for our menu line up. Somehow this week I'm less excited about figuring that out. Somehow needing to do something makes it less fun for me than wanting to do something.

Monday- Breakfast- kids and I ate reheated pancakes and a handful of dried cereal (milk to drink)
Hubby microwaved a veggie patty and put it on two stale-ish heels of bread. (and then asked me nicely to go buy some bread- hence the trip to Aldis)

Lunch- Hubby packed pizza leftovers. Little Guy ate at daycare. Big Girl and I had English muffin
sandwiches with the last of our fancy sharp Vermont cheddar and the last two pieces of veggie 'lunch meat'. Water to drink

Dinner- Brown Rice stir fried with a beaten little egg, soy sauce and frozen green peas. There will be leftover heated pea soup that will go nicely on top for the adults. Pudding for dessert.

Tuesday- Breakfast- kids- yogurt with cereal- milk & coffee (Mom). Hubby- half of Big Girl's yogurt and some cereal. Mom- small bowl of cereal.

Lunch- Kids and Mom- leftover spaghetti and rice with leftover pea soup on top.

Dinner- Restaurant food.

- Breakfast- kids and Mom- cereal with milk. Hubby- microwaved veggie burger.

Lunch- Taco Bell.

Dinner- Lasagna roll ups, roasted asparagus, doggy bagged rolls from our restaurant meal and leftover pudding.

Thursday- Breakfast- Mom & Kids- yogurt with cereal or oatmeal mixed in. cocoa/milk to drink.

Lunch- Grilled cheese- cream cheese/pb celery sticks with raisins- watered down juice

Dinner- Thai peanut noodles with broccoli.

Friday- Breakfast- Oatmeal

Lunch- Vegetable soup and crackers

Dinner- Pizza

That's about as far as I can get right now..
What I do know is soon I'll have to make sweet potato pie and Friday night is pizza night.

I'll post more later when I have time and after a good look through our food stores.

I am daydreaming about salad lately.

$30 Grocery Challenge Spending Tally-

A grocery trip to Aldi took a hefty chunk out of my budget for the month.

Before Aldi today: 22.55


Animal Crackers for preschool snack day- 1.19
Cheap wheat bread- .99
Gallon of Skim Milk- 3.19 (note to self: .20 cents cheaper than S-A-L.)
Tax- .19

Total: 5.56

New Balance for the month- 16.99

I still don't trust myself to make decent sandwich bread. As we get to later in the month I may get desperate enough to try making it.

As for the animal crackers- I know I could and probably should have made scratch cookies. However, the last time I labored over pretty (and tasty) frosting heaped cookies I watched over half of them go into the trash can with only a bite or two out of them. This will hurt much less.

We're good on milk for at least another week so I don't intend to do more grocery shopping until then.

Gotta go clean something.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Blog Day Afternoon

You know- I've been thinking that my blog has become my journal and perhaps I should save some of the minutiae for a written diary. Nah! This is more fun so sorry if I'm boring anyone to tears. Look away if you must- I'll understand. On with my blog post:

I love my Freecycle bread maker! Since I'm trying to be as miserly as I can until we get to the end of the month I'm trying to make as much of our food as I can. Today I made this English Muffin recipe. I needed a bread to make pbj's for kids and for hubby to make his breakfast burgers with.
The dough came out perfect and none of the ingredients were anything that I needed to get from a health food store.

I didn't have a big enough round cutter so I used a lid to a mulling spice container. It worked ok but next time I'll just shape the dough with my hands.

They fried up great with just a spritz of cooking spray.

Here they are. They seemed to shrink in diameter after I cut them. Next time I'll make them 1/2" wider.

They taste just like English Muffins- only better. My kitchen smells wonderful and there is a delightful crunch crack noise when you walk across the stray grains of corn meal. MMMM.

Today was lovely and a great time for doing lots of yard work. My Big Girl got completely dirty playing and helping. She knows me well too. When I told her she was filthy she stomped away from me loudly chanting, "No bath. No bath. No bath." Muddy little stinker.

We found a cute little friend hiding under the water hose. Little Guy was fascinated. He kept pointing at it and saying, "Ribbit. Ribbit."

My blessings are many.

Good Times.

It's a beautiful weekend here in sunny St. Louis. Hubby and Big Girl spent the better portion of yesterday outside working on our drainage pipe issue. He took big chunks of concrete from our driveway repair and filled in the ditch he dug out with the rocks to help with soil erosion. The rest will get tucked under the bay window areas where our sneaky house cats like to hide when they find a way out of the house. I love it when we find a use for things that normally would go in the garbage.

I'm itching to go outside and sprinkle flower and herb seed but the dirty dishes from all of this eating at home has the made kitchen a complete disaster.

Today for lunch I reheated the last three of our veggie dogs. When I want vegetarian baked beans I normally buy Bush's Vegetarian beans (sale stock up). We have no Bush beans. This is what I did instead:

Quickie Beans

1/3 diced onion sauteed in a tablespoon of oil. 1-2 tbs. of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of catsup mixed into cooking onions. 1 tsp. of onion powder. Add a drained can of kidney beans. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until it's thickened and bubbly.

This was so good and easy that I think I'll never want to buy canned baked beans again.

Now all of our bread is gone and the dirty dishes are piled up. To work I go.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What we've been eating

This was my tentative menu for last week. I was a day off so we skipped leftovers night.

Monday- cheesy veggie dog Pigs in a blanket (great scratch recipe for biscuits)- salad with lots of tomatoes. Cooked apples

Tuesday- Incredibly Easy Split Pea Soup, Bread and butter
*update- This soup recipe is easy and delicious! It makes a large pot too.*

Wednesday- Sloppy Joes (made with re-hyrdrated tvp. I was going to make a scratch sauce but found one can of Aldi Range Master sauce in the back of the pantry- green beans - orange slices

Thursday- leftovers smorgasbord - skipped because I was a day ahead.

Friday- Pizza Night (mushroom and veggie pepperoni)- ice cream for dessert. I made a scratch wheat crust with my breadmaker.

Breakfast- Blueberry pancakes made with Aldi baking mix, one egg, some vanilla, instant milk, and leftover yogurt (plain yogurt with honey and blueberries mixed in) that Big Girl turned her nose up to. Half a pack of frozen veg. sausage.

Lunch- Store brand white cheddar mac and cheese, broccoli from the freezer, leftover hot dog/hamburger buns, and re-heated sloppy joe mix.

Dinner- Planned: Ravioli from the freezer- leftover corn from the fridge (had planned on glazed carrots)- bread.
Instead we had fried potatoes that needed to be eaten, veggie patties, and fresh bread. Not that nutritious but very good.

Oatmeal with raisins and brow sugar, leftover fried potatoes, sliced apples/oranges.

Lunch- Scrounged leftovers- veggie burgers on bread.

Lunch -Beanie veg. Weenie- corn bread- (make bbq beans)

This seems like a long boring list- I know. But, I thought someone would be interested in what we've been eating. This is hard.. today Hubby suggested we go to Taco Bell for lunch. But, I'm determined to make it to the week of the 22nd when we'll be out of town for a few days and I can eat out and buy food for our hotel room. When we come back from our short trip, I'll once again pick up my grocery money envelope to see how far we can stretch a buck. It's exciting to see the bulky boxes and plastic bottles start evaporating into the recycling bin as we use them up. Too much food clutter.

Friday, April 4, 2008

"What's in your wallet?" Tally for today.

Beginning Monthly Balance: $30.00

Pizza Hut- 1.00 tip

Save-a-Lot- Gallon of FF Milk ($3.39) and 3.26 lbs. of apples (2.87) + tax= 6.45

Ending Balance for the remainder of the month: 22.55


And now I have to go make some bread in my breadmaker because we're running low and I didn't want to part with the $ for bagged generic wheat.

$1 Lunch- $29.00 left in the Grocery budget

I was starving while running errands this morning and knew I didn't want to spend any of our grocery money on junky snacks. Then I remembered that I had a gift card for Starbucks (a Christmas gift) in my wallet. That's much better than any old crumby granola bar. I got a Skinny Vanilla Latte (so good- without all the slimy aftertaste) and three mini vanilla scones. The latte and one scone were enough to tide me over until lunch time.

Once a month or so when I don't have the toddler with me, I try to do something special with my Big Girl when I pick her up from pre-school. Well, today was that day but I really didn't want to take a major chunk out of our grocery money. Then I remembered that she had a free coupon for a personal pizza from Pizza Hut's Book It Program. One small pizza, a scone each, and two waters was just enough for the two of us. And she felt proud of herself for providing our lunch. I left a dollar tip.

On the way out to the car I found stray coupon for a free RedBox movie. So, tonight after our homemade pizza (yes, twice in one day- we like pizza) we're watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.

Spring Swap Giveaway Winner

The winner by random preschooler drawing is: Rachel.

Please send me an email so I can mail your goodies.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Grocery Wallet Challenge Thoughts-

Beyond how much money I would budget for groceries for the month ($30) I didn't plan anything out. So, I'm starting to realize the things that won't go into my grocery cart this month. There will be virtually no prepackaged and ready to eat/heat foods. Unless I have a coupon that makes a convenience item almost free it stays on the shelf.
This is good for me because I rely too heavily on convenience items and less on my creativity in the kitchen. Homemade almost always tastes better and is better for you so we'll be eating better as a result.

I also didn't think about what I should cook first so as to minimize waste on food that I've already purchased.

Two dinners into the challenge and I realize that I have a handful of foods that will go to waste soon. My first challenge is to clean out the perishables in the refrigerator as much as I want to clear out my pantry.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Enter to Win Spring Give Away.

Ok, I finished my Spring Swap Shoebox for my Swap partner.

I have a few 'Springy' leftovers. There's some fun stuff in this little box.

I'm going to the post office in a few days.
If you want to win this little package then please leave me a comment on this post by 8 AM CST on Friday April 4th so I can put it in the mail.

The winner will be decided by random drawing.

First Day out shopping during the Wallet/Grocery Challenge

Little Guy and I stopped by Target today to kill some time before pre-school pick up.
(always a bad idea if you don't have a shopping list).

I had to keep reminding myself that I couldn't buy food. And since I'm on a personal product hiatus I couldn't buy that stuff either. One whole section of the store was off limits to me today. Which was freeing and weird.

I'm pretty sure I spent less. Our 1.00 popcorn/pop combo was a no go today. But, the toddler was pretty disappointed. I reminded him that we have popcorn at home.
Anyway, I got out of the store only spending $27. A lot of that was for small toys- like a new mess free bubble blower that the kids can share.

One side effect of our very restricted grocery budget is the extra dishes that get dirtied. The apples I cooked left a pan and plate dirty although everyone loved them and asked for seconds.
Last night's homemade pig blanket dough dirtied lots of dishes. However, the pigs in a blanket were a hit with everyone. I will use that biscuit recipe (I added some whole wheat flour and wheat germ) again.

On with my day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Book Review: Have a Natural Christmas 1980

This small book is filled with simple ideas for homemade Christmas presents and extending a simpler holiday so you can get more joy out of the season.
There are simple instructions for making scented sachets, needlepoint stockings, checkers sets, and for making a wooden doll house that looks a lot like the one I used to have.

I'm all for a more joyous holiday season where how much money you spend (or save) is not the main goal. However, what draws me to this book are the simple yet delicious recipes. I haven't tried any yet (but will do so soon). But, I'm looking forward to making John's Fritter Batter, scratch corn bread, vegetable chili, apple and raisin dressing, wheat germ bread, and simple onion soup.

Here's a recipe for whole wheat pie crust:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oil
4 tbsp. ice water

Mix with a fork until a ball is formed. Press into a greased 9 inch pan making a fluted edge on the outside. Prick with a fork. Fill and bake.

I found this little gem at the Goodwill on our last shopping trip.
You can see what it looks like here. Apparently, Rodale press published this yearly. I do not know if it's still being printed. They are definitely worth a look if you find one at a yard sale or a thrift store.

Waste Not- Want Not- Waste Not

This food challenge is already making me a little nervous about what we'll be eating at the end of the month.
Big Girl asked me for an apple (a snack she eats almost daily) and all we came up with was three partially mushy ones. Well, previously I might have just thrown them in the garbage or outside for squirrel food. Today, I cut off the gross part then peeled and chunked up the good part to cook.

I now have cinnamon and honey stewed apples with raisins to serve for dessert tonight. And it counts as a fruit too.

*sorry for the lack of pictures. our camera is experience technical difficulties.*

Weekly Menu Planner

Monday- cheesy veggie dog Pigs in a blanket (find a recipe for biscuits)- salad with lots of tomatoes. Cooked apples

- Incredibly Easy Split Pea Soup, Bread and butter
*update- This soup recipe is easy and delicious! It makes a large pot too.*

Wednesday- Sloppy Joes (made with re-hyrdrated tvp and a scratch sauce - green beans - orange slices

Thursday- leftovers smorgasbord

Friday- Pizza Night (mushroom and pepperoni)- ice cream for dessert.

- Beanie Weenie- corn bread- (make bbq beans)

Sunday- Ravioli from the freezer- glazed carrots- bread.

The "What's in Your Wallet?" Challenge Begins..

Photo taken from

My $30.00 for a month of groceries challenge starts today. The biggest obstacle will be for me to keep my children fed nutritiously without using up our precious dairy and fruits too quickly. That is where the bulk of our money will go this month.
To prepare I've started researching and downloading the food pyramid to make sure we get the required amounts of each food group without going overboard. I have to really start trying to get a cup of veggies into a little boy that won't eat a vegetable unless it's in a sweet potato pie or cooked in a can of sodium heavy soup.
I sent hubby to work with a baggie full of half the candy in our kitchen. Since we have no holidays or parties to go to this month I don't think our candy stock will be refilled.

So far this morning Little Guy has filled his dairy quota with a cup of milk and a cup of yogurt and one third of his grain quota with fake cheerios.