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Posts tagged with: groceries

All about the Money – Tracking

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We got all settled this past weekend, and it is glorious!  Everything is unpacked, we have far more space then we’d anticipated and the kids are fully engaged in building a fort up in the trees and tending the animals.  The twins’ 15 year old brother (they have additional siblings who were fostered and adopted elsewhere) came to spend our first couple of days with us and they had a blast!

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My view from my kitchen.

Now it is Monday and I’ve been busy with work all morning.  Tomorrow I head out of town again for work, so I wanted to get this post done and ready for Wednesday.  Here’s what I’m thinking, a weekly recap of where my money (household operations account) is coming and going…

Here’s a small example of what I’m thinking, this is how my money has been spent since Moving Day, Friday, April 15th:

Week of 4/15-4/18
Category Amount Balance
Moving Day 339 339
Auto – Gas -55 284
Savings -100 184
Food – Eating Out -100 84
Birthday Present -20 64
Debt -40 24
Child Support 150 174

I started with the balance in my household operation bank account on Moving Day and went from there.

You will see my gas was high for just covering a weekend, but I filled my car and History Buff’s car up on account of the multiple trips we both made for the move. (I typically fill his tank up once a month and he covers the rest.)

We ate out three times due to the move. And I received $150 in child support from the little ones’ dad.

I also transferred my first 30ish% in savings. I know there is A LOT of controversy about the percentage post; however, one thing is certain, I MUST save.  This housing situation, as generous as it is, is only temporary, and getting to a good place savings wise is number one on my priority list right now.  I will write a full post on how that is going to look for the time being, but right now, first thing I do when I receive money – 30ish% to savings.  Balance as of today in what will be my primary savings account = $100.

Now what this doesn’t show is the $300 I spent on groceries when we moved in, I have been saving a little bit at a time for the past few months in anticipation of the day when 1) we moved and 2) we no longer received food stamps. The total in that savings account was just shy of $700 the day I went grocery shopping. So I anticipate being able to live off it until mid-May as far as groceries go. I am keeping it separate from my operational account so I don’t spend it, I just transfer it to the account at time of checkout.


Confessions of a Cheese-aholic

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When I shared my surprise grocery budget buster (CHEESE!) it seemed like a LOT of people could relate!

So in the spirit of my money saving tricks series, I wanted to give a little update on how we’ve been doing with cutting back our cheese consumption (not that these are “tricks,” but you get the point)….

First, I’ve made a big list of our family’s favorite go-to dinner ideas. I used to have a list I kept of meals, more for inspiration than anything else. But it got lost awhile back and I never made a new one. This was an important first step because of a couple reasons: (1) it still gives me inspiration when I need a quick dinner and it seems like there’s “nothing to eat” (even with a full fridge/freezer), and (2) I can reference it to find lots of meals our family loves that do not include cheese. This coincides nicely with this month because I happen to be trying to do a clean eating thing, so a lot of our normal meal rotations (enchiladas, lasagna, etc.) that are cheese-heavy aren’t being consumed anyway. We’ve been doing lots of grilled meat, steamed veggies, and a slice of homemade bread/toast. Simple, easy, and delicious (healthy, too!)

Second, I’ve tried to use cheese as more of a “garnish” than a main component of a meal. Instead of making homemade macaroni and cheese (emphasis on the cheeeeeese), I might make a homemade pasta salad with just a sprinkling of parmesan on top. It helps that its so hot out right now because we’ve been craving “lighter” foods anyway.

And last, when I do indulge in cheese (which I have tried to do more sparingly than in the past), I have actually measured it out. This was a tip I got from you guys (in comments on the first post) and it has really helped. It’s so easy to just “eyeball it” and round up on cheese portions! This has really kept me in check.

The other day I allowed myself a little snack of brie with crackers. Instead of taking half the block of brie (like I wanted), I sliced off just the tip (heh), wrapped back up the brie, and put it away. No cheating with extras!

IMG_3360Excuse the horrific photo! We all know photography is not my forte!

Of course, now that I’ve written this whole post about cheese…..I want some! Ha!

Overall, though, I think we’ve done well limiting our cheese consumption. I’ve gotta tell you – I think the girls have taken it harder than me! Allow me to share a little (true!) story….

One day I was in the kitchen trying to get dinner together. One of my daughters has really taken an interest in cooking and will often come into the kitchen with me, push her little toddler chair over, stand on top of it, and watch me prepare food on the counters (chopping, mixing, etc.). So, I thought nothing of it when, one evening, she pushed her chair over to see what was happening. I had left the cheese unattended on one counter while I was turned around (my back to her) chopping up veggies on the kitchen island. I scooped up the veggies and turned to go back to the rest of the dinner stuff. Imagine my surprise when I turn to find dear daughter had the entire 1 lb. block of cheese and was gnawing chewing on the corner of the block. I had to laugh at all the little teeth marks. When I took it away, she started shrieking “SHEESE!!! SHEESE!!!” (toddler translation:  cheese! cheese!) while reaching for more!

Since then I’ve had to carefully guard the cheese during any dinner prep!

Although we haven’t had a great deal of cheese in our meals lately, we really haven’t missed it too much. I think it has certainly helped our grocery budget, too. Of course, this month we seemed to run out of every personal hygiene item in the world (seriously – shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, toothpaste, deodorant …ran out of everything at once!). I hate eating up our grocery budget with non-food items, but it only happens once every few months (and generally we don’t run out of everything at once!). Since my envelope mishap I’ve been guarding it closely so we’ll see how the rest of the month goes.

Here’s one last cheese-related trick/tip for you….

A long time ago I learned that you can substitute cottage cheese in place of ricotta for lasagna! Cottage cheese is much cheaper than ricotta and when its cooked, you seriously cannot tell the difference at all! I’d share credit, but I cannot even remember where I learned this (I’ve been doing it for years and no one is the wiser).

Share your tips with me! I just saw Jordan (from this blog) share a tip on Facebook about making homemade macaroni and cheese using sweet potato puree, which makes it healthier and also cuts down on the amount of cheese used.

What have you done to save money on groceries lately?

 


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