Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cooking on the budget and more...

The budget for food was actually pretty easy to stick to this week. Thank goodness for Price Rite, it has ridiculously reasonable prices for fruits and veggies. I also tried to stick to the more wholesome, less processed stuff. It required much more forethought than needed in cooking frozen chicken nuggets, but I liked it!

Some of the things I've tried this week are plantains (fried and baked) which I really liked, but hubby was seriously disgusted. I also tried a new coating for homemade chicken nuggets... corn flakes :) Phoebe LOVED them! Payton is hooked on wagon wheel pasta with tomato soup and parmesan cheese grated on top (I make the soup with milk instead of water... I know it's still processed, but it makes me feel better - ok?!?) We've also been eating more salad. I used some leftover corn on the cob to make a little salsa... corn kernels with chopped tomato and oregano.

I'm sticking with the pancakes and applesauce as a "go to" for rushed days and Payton's making it easy by requesting a toast sandwich every morning for breakfast. BTW... Payton graduated Preschool 3 last night!! OK, so she's going into the same class next year because of her age, but she did amazing :)

Tomorrow Phoebe is graduating Kindergarten and going into 1st grade... that's "real school!" OMG... when did my little girl grow up?? She's become such the little writer, artist, actress. She's so amazing! They both are. It's insane to think that she can now read her little sister a book at night. She loves to read and write... I actually had to put a ban on paper this week because she uses too much of it at a time. She doesn't waste it and she draws phenomenal pictures, but she draws a LOT.

Anyway, between all of this I've also taken to the great outdoors. Ok, actually just yard work. I've never done yard work. I've never wanted to do yard work. It was always the thing that needed to get done and I would wait until my poor hubby would finally do it on his very rare moment off. This year, I decided to help out and take a little stress out of his life. So I mow the lawn and cleaned the side of the driveway, planted a little garden, tamed the damn raspberry bush and I'm finally scraping the garage to prepare it for painting!! I feel pretty proud of myself, and he's pretty proud of me too, which helps :)

So, I'm going to go watch a little mindless television and hit the hay. Tomorrow is the first day of the summer for the girls and I have to figure out what we're going to do. I'm a little excited and a little scared... we'll see how long it takes to before I just let them play on the computer. lol

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Food on a Budget

I'm sure that my family has the same issues as every other family, including debt. I know this is like a swear word, but hey, it needs to be said. Admitting you have a problem is the first step on the journey to overcome it, right?! So, yes, like most American families, we have accumulated debt. We have a mortgage, and car payments, credit cards, gym memberships, the cable/phone/ internet multipack, etc. Does anyone remember that commercial when the guy is riding around his perfect yard on his beautiful riding lawn mower, saying "I'm in debt up to my eyeballs"?

The pressure came when we decided to put the girls into private school. That was another big chunk placed on top of everything else, but we kept spending. Now, don't get me wrong, we aren't going into foreclosure, waiting for the repo guys to come take the cars, or living off processed foods on sale. Well, ok, the kids do love the processed foods, but I'm starting to feel guilty about giving it to them whenever they ask. We were in need of a change, though.

A few years ago I bought Chef Hubby the book "A Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey and since then it's been collecting dust. Recently, I decided to break it out and maybe find a solution, and I think I did. It talks about budgeting and all the fun stuff that we've never done. I know, budgeting... another swear word, right? To be honest, I've never been on a budget. I mean, we've pretended that we were on a budget, but with credit cards, it simple to sneak in things that you really can't afford. So what does that mean - no more credit cards!

Simple enough. Create a budget. Wow, what a shocker. It's tight, but definitely doable. I'm excited!! I like a challenge and I've decided that in our budget we will be getting only $100/week for groceries for our family of 4. I know that doesn't seem like a difficult task, but at the same time, I want to improve the quality of food we're eating and limiting the amount of processed foods.

I think this first month is going to be really easy since I inventoried our freezer and holy crap, it was stocked! I had no idea how much meat we actually had in there. It's because I only buy meat when it's on sale and then I stock up. Just a snip it of the contents:

  • 4 - split chicken breasts
  • 2 - 1.5lb bags chicken breast
  • 2 - corn beef briskets
  • 1 - 1.5lb pork tenderloin tips
  • 1 - 1.5lb pork tenderloin
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (2 - 1/2lb pkgs, 1 - 1lb pkg)
  • 6 - jenny-o turkey patties
  • 7 - black bean chipotle burgers
  • 3 lb bag of french fries
  • 2 pkgs of french bread pizzas
  • 1 pkg filo dough
  • 2 frozen pie crusts
  • 2 lbs frozen berries
  • 2 lbs frozen haddock
  • 2 lbs frozen turkey meatballs

See what I mean... and there's more! It's insane!! Anyway, it's still going to be a challenge because, I have a hubby who's a chef. He loves to create especially when we are entertaining, which is what we love to do. Now I've informed him that we will be creating "Iron Chef" style... lol. He's on board and we are super excited to get this started. I've decided that I will be starting to post how we're doing.

So, now the journey begins. It's day 1 and what's for dinner? I'm thinking that we might have to throw the meatballs into the crockpot with some sauce, make up some pasta, and create a side salad with the romaine lettuce, croutons, and parmesan cheese we currently have. Yes, this month is going to be the easiest, but at least it will get me into the habit of planning meals. Oh, by the way, if we do happen to go out to eat - that also counts as groceries. Trust me when I say that I will be second guessing my mid-afternoon coffee runs.