Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Warning: HUGE POST! Break down of my $50 Grocery Trip/Meal Plan

Matt and I decided to try and cut our grocery bill in half for the next two weeks. We normally budget $100 every 2 weeks. This $100 is for not only our food but also our household items.

First I looked through items that we already had in our pantry and freezer. It is amazing what accumulates there and what you already have that you are able to make meals from. I knew we wouldn't be eating something fancy every night, but who really needs to eat that way anyways?

This is my meal plan for this week and next...

Breakfast- Pancakes from scratch.. no Bisquick needed:)
Lunch- Sandwiches and tomato soup (we still had lunch meat)
Dinner- We had chicken tacos w/ homemade tortillas and cream corn that I made from a can of corn and a little cream cheese that we already had.
Breakfast- Eggs and breakfast potatoes
lunch- Sandwiches and chips
dinner- sausage, red pepper and spinach frittata w/ apple slices (we already had the sausage and spinach in the freezer)

Breakfast-leftover frittata w/ toast
lunch- ham and cheese tortilla w/ chips and salsa
dinner- Beans and cornbread

Breakfast- a little splurge- Matt had Bible study w/ a couple guys at McDonalds this morning so he brought me something home:)
Lunch- leftovers or another sandwich
dinner- mixing leftover beans w/ some potatoes and cheese to make burritos w/ rice (not the fancy kind... just plain rice:))

Breakfast- eggs, bacon and toast
lunch-leftover burritos
dinner- Chicken stirfry w/ veggies and rice ( already had some veggies in the freezer)

breakfast= cream of wheat
lunch- leftover stirfry
dinner- shepherds pie w/ homemade biscuits ( 1/2 beef used for the pie and the other 1/2 for our pizza Friday night- a lot of times you don't need to use a whole pound for meals.. even only using 3/4 a pound and putting a little bit back each time will add up for future meals)

breakfast- eggs and leftover biscuits, maybe bacon
lunch- leftover shepherds pie
dinner- homemade pizza w/ hamburger and maybe some red pepper and onion (had a few onions leftover still)

breakfast- probably pancakes again.. normally what we have on Saturday mornings
lunch- leftovers or a sandwich or sometimes just a snack depending when we have breakfast
dinner- probably will eat out, my dad will be in town... we usually eat out once a week

breakfast- something fast most of the time.. I might make muffins from what I have in my pantry since my dad will be here..
lunch- usually sandwiches or again something easy..
dinner- chicken and rice w/ either a veggie or bread

breakfast- cereal or cream of wheat
lunch- leftover chicken and rice
dinner- Breakfast for dinner! depends on what we have at this point- maybe eggs, biscuits and gravy..

Tuesday- again probably cereal or cream of wheat.. or maybe some waffles I have in the freezer
breakfast- oatmeal or something similar probably- possibly leftover biscuits
lunch- peanut butter and jelly and some chips or fruit
dinner- chicken pot pie w/ homemade bread ( I made homemade chicken pot pie last week and froze half of it.. so we are going to eat the rest of it)

breakfast- eggs and toast
lunch- leftover chicken pot pie
dinner- pasta w/ veggies and chicken, homemade garlic rolls (I will be making the pasta as well and the sauce will come from some tomatoes I have frozen in the freezer)

breakfast- cream of wheat
lunch- leftover pasta
dinner- I'm on my own.. I'll probably just look around, maybe have some scrambled eggs:) Matt is going out of town and I'm not that particular:)

breakfast- probably cream of wheat again.. lol can you tell we like that stuff?:)
lunch- not sure.. my mom will be here! since I will be going to the grocery store the next day this is when I usually just start looking around and eating whatever.. Since I don't have any children eating yet I am still able to do this without feeling to guilty:)
dinner- probably out

~So.. basically I plan on making a lot of my bread items from scratch- pasta, pizza dough, rolls, biscuits, tortillas.. although I did buy one bag of tortillas just to have around for roll-ups or snacks...
~We just buy bags of white or brown rice and eat that.. sometimes I fancy it up and sometimes I don't...
~I make my beans from a bag of pinto beans and this recipe from Pioneer Woman.. DELICIOUS! and such a cheap dinner!
~also, make use of your freezer!! stock up when frozen veggies are cheap or chicken or whatever... freeze extra muffins, breads, dinners, soups.. its so nice to have in a pinch or when you decide to try and stretch your budget!
~also.. we don't buy a bunch of junk food or pop.. I do always buy tortilla chips b/c I love chips and salsa! I also like to have crackers on hand to have w/ some peanut butter for a snack or granola bars, yogurts, popcorn, fresh fruit..
~in my freezer I also usually have extra desserts such as cookies or as of late little mini homemade apple pies.. SOOO GOOD!

Here is what the rest of my grocery receipt looks like:
eggs- $2.08 (18.. and we still had some leftover from the last shopping trip)
tortilla chips- 1.78
tortillas- 2.18
can of pineapple- 1.14 (for a pineapple upside down cake I'm making for our church group)
Applesauce- 1.42 (snacks!)
pizza sauce .92
cream of mushroom .88 (more than I normally pay!)
tomato soup .58 (always have tomato soup in the cabinet for a fast meal!)
milk- 3.08
sour cream - .94 (I have the best recipe for sour cream pancakes.. they are delicious! I'll post sometime)
cheese- 2 packages @ 1.98/each
grapefruit- 4 for .33/each
bread- 1.38 ( a price match deal!)
apples- 4 lbs for .69/lb (another price match deal!)
2 red bell peppers (2 for $1- price match)
flour- 1.28 (price match)
potatoes 1.88 (10 lb bag of russet- price match)
maple bacon 2.50 (this was a price match also.. but I usually like to pay no more than $2 for bacon)
bag of frozen chicken breasts- 3.88 (price match- great deal!)
can of corn .38 (price match)

In addition we spent about 8 dollars in household items...
our total came to 46. 56 leaving us just few dollars to pick up some extra hamburger at our local meat market.

This post is huge so I'll leave it at that for now. Hope it was somewhat helpful!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grocery Shopping Techniques

I used to be really serious about trying to save money at the grocery store, clipping coupons like crazy, checking the ads, going to multiple stores... and now I'm trying to get back into it. The only difference is now we aren't receiving the Sunday paper and I have a little one and so going to multiple stores just isn't as easy or convenient. The last two shopping trips I have made have been to Wal-Mart and I decided to try out this whole price matching thing. The first time I was successful at saving money by price matching ads but it was a little hectic going through the check out. This last time I had a much better system. I put a basket inside my grocery cart and all items that I wanted to price match I put inside the basket. Then before I got in line I organized myself so that items from the same ad were by each other, etc.. Before I go to the store I also circle the items I plan on price matching so that they catch my eye a little easier. Using these new techniques made the check out much quicker and much less hectic.

I still feel like I can do better though and I'm going to try to get better at getting coupons offline. I'm also considering trying to go to Aldi- a discount grocer- to get some of my groceries. SO here are my questions.. what are your techniques for saving money and grocery shopping and if you are an Aldi shopper, is it worth it? What do you buy there? I tried Aldi once before when we first moved here and had a really bad experience. lol. I didn't have any quarters to get a cart and no bags to put my groceries in and I just felt lost and out of my element. But I keep hearing that I MUST give it another try. So should I?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Project 365: 18-24/365

18/365: Not a great pic of me.. but here's Gracie and I after our day out together. I didn't have Issac (the little boy I babysit) today b/c of the holiday.

19/365: I made this chocolate cinnamon cake for our Community Group tonight.

20/365: Gracie in her very first cloth diaper!

21/365: Gracie and Issac enjoying a little tummy time..

22/365:Friday night after a long week... a little computer time before we went to bed:)

23/365:We all went to the grocery store today and I was able to buy 2 weeks worth of groceries for $50! We aren't going to be eating steak every night but we certainly aren't going to go hungry either. We had a goal to spend only half of our normal grocery budget so that we could send the other half to help w/ meals for people in Haiti. After realizing now that we can do it I will hopefully be able to cut our regular grocery budget down some each week...

24/365: Gracie and I went on a walk w/ some friends from church this afternoon. It was a little cold but it was soo nice to get out and get some fresh air!

Friday, January 22, 2010

For Danielle:) and anyone else interested...

My friend Danielle asked me some questions about which type of cloth diapers I am using and so I thought that I would just post real quick about that and my experiences so far...

I have some Indian and Chinese prefolds and a couple Bummis covers. I also have some flats but I have no clue how to fold them yet! My friend recommended the prefolds and flats to me because of how inexpensive they are and since you can use them w/out having to get different sizes all the time. I purchased everything from Little Lions. I might also try and use cloth wipes but haven't ventured there yet.

Gracie has been in cloth diapers for 2 days and so far so good:) Only one time did the cover get dirty and nothing has ever gotten on her clothes. I'm getting the hang of the folding and using the snappy and it really doesn't take that much longer to put them on. Even Matt has been helping some:) It gives me some sort of satisfaction every time I put a cloth diaper on her since I know that I am saving money! We haven't used cloth diapers at night yet.. it might be fine but I would like to get a more absorbent cover first before we start that.

I did my first wash load yesterday. This is how I did my cycle based on what my friend told me. 1st cycle just a cold rinse, 2nd cycle a warm wash and 3rd a final cold rinse... They seemed to come out completely clean. I have a nylon bag that I use to line a kitchen sized trashcan which is where I keep all of the dirty diapers until I'm ready to wash. I'm hoping to be on an every other day wash cycle w/ the diapers. I was told that until they start solids you dont have to mess w/ rinsing the diapers yet. When we hit that phase I plan on getting a diaper sprayer which I hear are great!
The main thing I need to get figured out is just a little better system. With using cloth diapers I feel like there is a little more going on in the changing process and I really wish I had a changing table to keep everything on and stored. Before we mostly just used our bed w/ a changing pad to change diapers. I'm hoping to find something used and inexpensive that could serve as both a dresser and a changing table in Gracie's room. I started searching on Craigslist yesterday.. hopefully I will come across something.

If anyone else uses or used cloth diapers what was your system? I would be curious to know. Also which detergent did you use to wash the diapers? From what I hear it is important to use one free of perfumes, dyes, etc... Did you use cloth at night also? Any other tips or suggestions?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just some thoughts...

Its been almost 5 months since I stopped working at my job. (It's gone by so fast!) Most days now I am at home caring for Gracie and the little boy I babysit. Right now Matts car isn't working very well, seems like every time he takes it somewhere he ends up getting stuck so for the most part he drives my car. (plus I don't know how much I'd be getting out w/ a 2 month and a 4 month old anyways!) A lot of people ask me if I'm just stir crazy and truth is I have come to enjoy and appreciate this much simpler, quieter life.
I was talking to Matt yesterday about how much less I am "wanting" things. I used to be in and out of stores all the time, mostly just window shopping but I would leave thinking that I needed this, this and this for the house, for my wardrobe, for my kitchen.. I just never realized how much stores and ads get to you, how they make you feel so dissatisfied with what you have.
THe past 5 months have been a great time of reflection for me, a time to really see and think upon the person that I am and the person that I want to become. I am Gracie's mom. It's still crazy to think about. I love my mom, have always looked up to her, always asked her for advice and have watched how she handles situations. Now I'm going to be that person to Gracie. It has really made me take a step back. I know that she is still very little but I am already seeing that she is growing so fast and it will not be long before she starts imitating the things that I do.

I am only 4 months into it... but wow.. being a mom is pretty incredible!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cloth Diapers and a Video!

Anyone out there use cloth diapers? I just got some and am anxious to give this a try! Just curious about others experiences?? I'm hoping this works out so that I am able to save some money! I'll post about my experiences as well.

Also, I meant to post this awhile ago but our January video is up on our church website. Go here if you would like to check it out!

And just for fun.. here's another pic of my little sweetie!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Project 365: 11-17/365

11/365: We had dinner w/ our friends Cole and Opal tonight and their son Issac (the little boy I babysit). I took these Garlic Rolls and this is what was left. Not a great pic but they were very tasty! (link to recipe)

12/365: Aldo, our dog, just chilling in "his" chair...

13/365: My little girl all bundled up for some outside time.

14/365: Chicken Ranch Pizza for dinner... YUM! (recipe link)

15/365: Matt putting the final touches are on chicken pot pie! And for the record.. it was delicious! (recipe link)

16/365: My mom, sister and brother in law came to visit this weekend. This is my sisters puppy in his little coat:)

17/365: Matt and I got to go on a date today! We had lunch at Houlihans where we had coupons for a free appetizer and dessert. (YAY!) This is the dessert.. cappuccino chocolate cake.. SOOO GOOD!! We also saw the movie Sherlock Holmes and we both really enjoyed it!

17/365: My little sister Andrea w/ Gracie before they headed back home.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Project 365: 1-5/365

So I'm trying out this Project 365...take 1 pic a day for a year. So far so good:) Expect to see lots of pics of Gracie! What can I say I'm a first time mom?:) I'm hoping to make Sunday my upload day. If anyone else out there is doing this leave a link...I'd love to see!

January 1
Homemade biscuts w/ gravy...starting off 2010 w/ my fave breakfast!

January 2
Friends from Colorado stayed the night as they traveled through...here are the kids!

January 3
A very snowy Sunday in De Soto. We had to meet upstairs for church b/c the basement was freezing!

January 4
I started watching Issac this week. He and Gracie are good buds:)

January 5
Gracie loves kicking her feet way up in the air and grabbing her toes!

Project 365: 6-10/365

January 6
Matt has been shoveling all week... I think that he has a slight obsession though w/ snow shoveling:)

January 7
Gracie can sit in her highchair now! We haven't started solids yet but she loves her chair!

January 8
Gracie turned 4 months old on Monday the 4th but we forgot to take the pic. So here it is a few days late.

January 9
An evening ritual for us is Matt playing guitar and everyone singing. Gracie loves it!

January 10
Our neighbor brought us a delicious plate of chocolate chip cookies today! Perfect snack during the KU game... to bad they lost.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's new at our house....

Well I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years! Life isn't exactly back to normal around here, but we do have a "new" normal I suppose you could say...

Starting on Monday Matt began working at a Health Club part time (3 days a week) and I started watching a little boy during the day. He is 2 months old, 2 months younger than Gracie. I didn't really know what to expect but so far so good! I even made it out w/ both babies on Tuesday. Don't know how much I'll be doing that but it went pretty good.

Gracie turned officially 4 months on Monday! And today marks one year since we found out that we were pregnant w/ her! I remember January 7th, 2009 like it was yesterday... crazy that it has already been a year and that we have had her w/ us for four months. Lately it seems like she is constantly doing new things. She loves playing w/ her toys, LOVES smiling, is really starting to laugh more and more. She grabs everything and everything goes into her mouth:) She is such a sweetheart. She still enjoys our company during the night.. we haven't been able to break that yet... but I don't really mind so much.

Here are a few more recent pics and then on Sunday I am going to be posting a string of pics. I'm trying out this Project 365. You take one pic a day and then post the pics w/ at least one sentence explaining your picture. My upload day is going to be Sundays so I guess if you are interested you can get a glimpse of our first week of 2010.