Project Food Budget (a smidge late)

PFB2015

Good morning, friends.  Yesterday simply did not allow for blogging, but here I am with my shopping news for the week.  This week is atypical because we are doing some traveling.  I’m sure that I am going to have to add some food costs after the weekend.  Nonetheless, it was exciting to be UNDER BUDGET!

Goal: $120          Actual: $88 at Wal*Mart

I had a few things in the freezer, so I didn’t have to buy meat this week.  That helped a lot.  I did include my multivitamins (kids’ next week).  I also bought some extra snacks for a long car ride and ingredients to do some baking.  I had to stock up on both all-purpose unbleached flour and whole wheat flour.  I hate shopping at Wal*Mart.  I really, really, do.  I went at 8 o’clock in the morning, and it was still crazy busy.  BUT…I kinda had to.  Aldi doesn’t seem to carry whole wheat flour, and I didn’t have time for two trips, and my only shopping opportunity (without four kids in tow) was early Tuesday morning before Aldi even opened.  So…off to the craziness that is Wal*Mart.

Here’s the short menu:

Monday:  Unexpected dinner at Grandma’s house (I had an English muffin at home!)

Tuesday:  Chicken stir-fry with rice

Wednesday:  Fish tacos with mixed veggies

Thursday:  Leftovers and maybe a treat out

Weekend:  ???????

Let’s see how the other bloggers did:

Project Food Budget : Q&A (Week 3, Week 8 official)

PFB2015

Hi, friendly readers.  I’m back with another installment of Project Food Budget.  I had a few great questions from readers concerning our food budget, and I thought I would take some time to answer them here.

1.  Do you count cleaning supplies in your grocery budget?

The short answer is no, but it is a little more complicated than that.  Since the last time I did Project Food Budget, I began making my own cleaning products.  I have a multipurpose cleaner, a disinfectant, and a window cleaner.  The ingredients for these cleaners are simple household items that I do include in my grocery costs.  They are essentially food products anyway.  They include water, vinegar, baking soda, sometimes lemon, tea tree oil, and a little dish soap.  The ingredients are extremely inexpensive.  They are not affecting my budget much at all.  However, every now and then, I like to buy Method brand window cleaner.  I love the mint scent.  It smells so clean and fresh, and I like to “treat myself” to one every now and then.  I buy it at Target, and I do not consider that in my food budget.  Paper towels and toilet paper tend to get scooped up into the general food budget because I buy them at Aldi when I’m doing my grocery shopping.

2.  What about diapers?

No, I don’t include diapers in my food budget.  Again, I buy diapers at Target when I’m not grocery shopping, so it is easy to not include them in my total.  Plus, they are expensive and would blow my budget.  Because this project is focused on food expenses, diapers would skew my numbers.  One last note on this topic– we use cloth diapers about 75% of the time.  When we are out and about, I tend to reach for a disposable diaper. I just prefer not to carry around a poopy diaper in my bag when I’m out all day or traveling.  We also use disposables over night (unless we run out).  Cloth diapers are an investment, but they do save you money in the long run.  We’ve used them for 3 of our 4 kids, and many of those first diapers are still being used by Baby #4.  Now that’s savings.

3.  Do you only include suppers in your food budget?  This is a really important question!  When I got this question from one of my very loyal readers, I realized that my posts definitely made it look like I was keeping a tally of dinner costs only.  Oops.  No, my goal and total expenses include suppers, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks.  I only list the suppers because our lunches and breakfasts are rather a la carte affairs.  We don’t all eat the same thing at the same time.  Typical breakfasts for us are eggs, oatmeal (with various toppings), English muffins, breakfast sandwiches on English muffins or bagels, bagels with cream cheese, sometimes cold cereal, fruit, or yogurt.  Lunches are often sandwiches–tuna or peanut butter or egg salad or sometimes turkey.  We like hummus, raw veggies and fruit.  Sometimes I make soup or grilled cheese.  Just simple things.

Let me know if you have other questions.

Here are my stats for the week:

Goal: $120         Actual: $18 at Giant Eagle + $110 at Aldi = $128  (Edit:  Messed up the math.)

I’m a little bummed that I went over again.  On to next week!  Let’s see how my blog friends did.

Summer Evenings

I love summer evenings.  Most of our evenings this season are wide open.  We have no set obligations.  Cory’s work schedule has left him with almost all day shifts (yay!), so we have long stretches of family time.  It’s been marvelous.  During the school year, we have evening activities on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and Cory is usually prepping for classes or grading papers every night of the week.  His summer job is blessedly without prep, so summer feels like a dream.

A long-anticipated event occurred earlier this month.  We put up a hammock!  Cory has been wanting a hammock for our entire marriage, and we finally have a great spot for one.  We also have a nice, new fire pit–made with stones we’ve discovered around our property, and the kids have loved having “campfires” from time to time.  Of course, we’ve made s’mores.  I’ve never been a big fan (looks like a bellyache on a stick to me), but the kids adore making them.  I have to say yes once in awhile, right?

We still have lots of work to do in our yard, but it is feeling more and more like a beautiful extension of our home.  My childhood memories are loaded with images of summer nights–going for walks at dusk, listening to John Prine and Rod Stewart in the picnic pavilion that my dad built, catching lightening bugs and trying to feed them grass, going up and down on the swings while the sun set pink over the river.

I think about the process of making memories, and I wonder which images will stick in my children’s minds 20, 30, 40 years from now.  Will pictures of these nights in the yard come to mind when they swing in the twilight with their own children?  I hope so.

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Project Food Budget: My Week 2 (Official Week Seven)

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{I wrote this post yesterday–Tuesday–as planned, but right before I hit “publish,” I lost my internet connection.  Sorry this is late.}

It’s a good thing that I was under budget last week because this week was tough.  We were out of basically everything.  We had been traveling over the weekend, and the first shopping trip after a time away is always a doozy.

I had hoped to blog about my Aldi “techniques,” but with a very busy weekend followed by an equally full week, I’ll have to save that post for another time.  Our groceries came from Aldi and from Wal*Mart this week.  I did the bulk of the shopping this morning (Tuesday) at Aldi, but Cory planned and purchased the ingredients for Monday’s meal–a quick trip to Wal*Mart.  Several of the things he bought will last more than this week alone.  For example, he bought apples and rolls that we didn’t entirely consume on Monday.  I’ll have to make another stop at Shop ‘n Save for peanut butter, but I’ve already factored in the cost.

Goal: $120         Actual:  $114 (Aldi) + $36 (Wal*Mart) + $4 (Shop ‘n Save) = $154 (EEEK!!!)

And here’s my plan…

Monday:  Roethlisburgers.  Fruit salad.

Tuesday:  Free meals at Chick-fil-A for Cow Appreciation Day {Yes, we all dressed up like cows in order to earn free meals for each of us.  See extremely awkward photo at the end of the post.}

Wednesday:  Lasagna.  Tossed salad.

Thursday:  Fish tacos.  Parmesan cauliflower bites.

Friday:  Pork chops.  Roasted brussel sprouts.  Rice.

Saturday:  Chicken salads.

Sunday:  Roasted chicken.  Mixed Vegetables.  Mashed potatoes.

Wondering about the Roethlisburgers?  Well, we are Steelers fans.  A few years ago, a Pittsburgh restaurant came up with a sandwich that they named The Roethlisburger after the quarterback, Ben Roethlisburger.  It’s a blend of ground beef, ground Italian sausage, scrambled eggs, and American cheese on a sub roll.  On Monday, exhausted from aforementioned traveling, I told Cory that I didn’t have any ideas for Monday’s dinner.  After work, he stopped by the store.  For some reason, The Roethlisburger popped into his head, so he decided to make them for us.  He also bought some fresh fruit and chopped up a salad.  The whole meal was delicious, and I didn’t have to do a thing.  Even better!

Please stop by to visit the other bloggers who are working toward great food on a purposeful budget.  Have fun!

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It’s back!!! Project Food Budget

PFB2015

Hey, readers!  Some of you may recall my participation in Project Food Budget 2.0 a few years ago.  (You can read those posts by clicking on the category with its name.)  I committed to a full year of weekly blogging about my food budget.  It was an eye-opening experience.  It required discipline in shopping AND in blogging.  I loved what it did for our bank account, but I didn’t always love how Warm as Pie became so focused on food and money.

Last week, I randomly ventured over to Emily Levenson’s blog–host of Project Food Budget–and I was surprised and quite pleased to see that she was doing the project again.  In fact, it started on June 1st, so I was late but not too late.  This time, Project Food Budget is running only 12 weeks.  I think that is a good balance.  I will have the experience of focusing on my budget and building a community with other bloggers, but my blog won’t get invaded by tons of money talk.  (Any other fans of Little Women?  I can just hear Meg March saying, “I despise all this money talk.  It isn’t refined!”)

I will be posting each Tuesday to share the news on my weekly budgeting, meal planning, and shopping.  This is my Week #1.  Everyone else is on Week #6.

Goal: $120         Actual: $99

My true budget (set by my hubby) is $150 for food per week, but part of the reason I’m doing this project is to cut down on spending.  Therefore, I’ve made my own budget $120.  When we eat out, we mentally divide that expense and subtract it from the food category and the “fun” category.  So my new budget also leaves a little wiggle room for eating out from time to time.  I’m shopping for six eaters–one of whom is just a little guy who doesn’t make much of a dent in the budget, yet.  I try to choose natural options–organic when I can swing it.

My shopping day is Monday, and I chose to go to Aldi.  I have been an Aldi failure for years, but in the last few months, I’ve improved my Aldi-shopping skills.  Some pep talks from friends, inspiration from my sister, and quite a few practice runs have brought me to the point where most of my shopping happens at Aldi.  I only have to grab a few things from the grocery store later in the week.  We also have the benefit of a Nickles Bakery outlet nearby, so we get our whole wheat bread at a very low cost.  VERY!  Our bread of choice is only $1, and it is over $3 at Wal*Mart or Shop ‘n Save.

Okay…blah, blah, blah…enough of the boring stuff.  We have a busy weekend, so I’m only planning four dinners (hence the low budget).  Here’s my menu:

Meatless Monday: quesadillas with cheese (of course), black beans, yellow bell peppers, lettuce, and tomatoes.  Peach-Mango Salsa.  Homemade guacamole.  Tortilla chips.  Applesauce.

Tuesday:  meatball sandwiches.  Mixed veggies.

Wednesday:  quiche with ham, broccoli, and cheddar cheese.  Watermelon.

Thursday:  pecan crusted tilapia.  Rice.  A mix of green beans and yellow wax beans.

While you have food and budgets on your mind, I hope you’ll visit my fellow Project Food Budget bloggers:

Emily Levenson

McGinnis and Bean // Red Pen Mama // Seeking White Space // facepalmmama // Gardening in High Heels // Melissa Firman // Copy & Post // Rachel Olive Miller // Shea Lennon // Erra Creations// Two Eggs Over Easy//Rainaldi

Edited to add a new blog to the list.  Edited again to add another blog that I somehow missed.

This Girl of Mine

This girl of mine is four years old.  Charlotte is such a fun little girl.  She is a wonderful mix of tough and tender.  She loves being girly with me, but she naturally enjoys the things that her brothers do and love.  I took these pictures at her oldest brother’s playoff baseball game earlier this month.  She wanted to wear eye black like the guys, but she loved twirling in her pony dress along the sidelines.  These photographs reminded me so much of this blog post from 2013:  Funny Girl.

Happy fourth birthday, my love.

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Teacup Tuesday: Camera Crisis

Hi, friends.

I haven’t done a Teacup Tuesday in awhile.  Fortunately, I took this picture last Tuesday.  Why is that fortunate?  Well, my dear camera is broken.  As I haven’t been to a camera professional to discuss the problem yet, I don’t know just HOW broken it is.  I’m really, really hoping that it is fixable and an inexpensive fix at that.  I use my DSLR camera so much that it feels like an extra limb.  I take photographs almost every day.  In fact, I celebrated my birthday last week, and I had decided to do a photo-a-day project for all of the next year.  Sadly, my camera broke on day 3.  Sad.

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This is my newest teacup, and I adore it!  I love the clean, whiteness of it–the silver edges, the soft pastel flowers.  The tea is Salted Caramel!  Oh yum.  My mom sent me the tea bag in the mail, and now I can’t remember the brand.  It was such a welcome change to my usual tea choices.  Thanks, Mom!