Project Food Budget…quickie version

I am typing this on my mom’s mini-tablet-thingie.  I have limited internet access right now, so this is going to be a quickie.

Goal:  $120.        Actual:  $23 Shop ‘n Save + $50 Giant Eagle ????= $73 for now.

I will have to add in  the rest later.

Please check on the other bloggers listed in my previous food post.


Hi, friends.  In February, I posted my resolutions and goals for 2015.  Half of a year has gone by, and I thought I should give a little update.  I was determined that my goals wouldn’t be forgotten this year, and I’ve been working on them diligently.  If this isn’t of interest to you, simply pass on by.  I understand!  I’ll be back on Tuesday with a Project Food Budget post.

Resolution #1: Be more fun!  I think I’m doing better at this.  I try to say more “yes” and less “no.”  We’ve done some new and interesting activities such as visiting a natural playground and even going to the movies once–a very rare occurrence for me, but it makes my kids SO happy.

Resolution #2: Send more snail mail.  Well, I started out strong, but then I missed a few family birthdays.  (Sorry, guys.) I dropped off of this resolution a little bit, but the last couple of months, I’ve picked up on sending mail again.  It’s fun, and I’m glad that I’ve been intentional about communicating with friends and family outside of digital means.  I love knowing that I’m making someone smile at the mailbox.

Goal #1: I’m declaring 2015 to be THE YEAR OF CLEAN.  We aren’t where we want to be YET, but we’ve made wonderful progress!  This makes me so happy!  Now, if you stop by my house, you will find a mess.  Definitely.  We are deep in the decluttering, organizing process, and that means that piles have been created and disorder reigns, but I remind myself that this is temporary.  Right now, we are working on the basement and ALL of our closets.  I promised myself that I wouldn’t simply keep on tidying like I’ve always done.  It was time to do an overhaul and create clean, simple spaces all over our home.  In late spring, I started researching minimalism and simple living.  I don’t think I could ever be a strict minimalist, but the idea of having only what I truly need and love appeals to me.  On my birthday in June, I promised myself that I would work toward a more minimalist life and living space.  (I like “birthday resolutions,” and you will see below how that has worked for me in the past)  As of July 4, we had disposed of 12 large garbage bags of stuff, and we have a growing box of donations to give to our local shelter.  There have been many more bags in the last month, but I lost count!  “Simplicity” has been a theme in my life and on my blog for many years; however, I had definitely strayed from the concept.  I’m excited to be returning to living my values.

Goal #2: I will return to playing the violin. While I’ve definitely played more in 2015 than I did in 2014, I’m not really keeping up with this goal.  I keep my violin out in plain view so that I can try to catch a minute here and there, but I hope that I can pick up my study this fall.

Goal #3: I will work on the DONA (Doulas of North America) reading list, and I will register for a doula certification workshop) through a recognized certification agency (TBD).  Yes!!!!  I’m thrilled to report that my personal study of the reading list has been moving along beautifully.  I adore every book I’ve read, and each week, I feel more prepared for a career as a professional doula.  More importantly, I am enrolled for doula training in September with ProDoula, and I am excited to make my dream happen.  When I announced my goals in February I wrote, “I’m still not certain how or when a doula business will fit into my family life, but on my birthday in 2014, I made a promise to myself to pursue certification in earnest.”  We’ve been working on having my husband respond to the baby (19 months old now!) when he gets up in the night, and Cory has been able to put him to bed, too.  The little guy isn’t night weaned, but he is willing to accept Daddy instead of Mommy (although a bit hesitantly), so we’ve decided that we are in a good place for me to begin taking clients with due dates beyond my training.

Goal #4: I will take my blog seriously!  Have you noticed that you’ve been hearing more from me?  My blogging pace isn’t where I would like it to be, but I’m so happy with the progress that I’ve made.  Project Food Budget has been especially helpful in keeping me motivated.

So, that’s the update.  Blessings to all!

~*~*~*  Erica  *~*~*~

Project Food Budget (my week 5)

First, an update for last week.  I’m not quite sure how to count last week’s food money.  We were visiting my sister’s family over the weekend, and we contributed to the buying and preparing of some of the meals (the least we could do to help after a new baby!).  We also had pizza out, and there was a fun little ice cream trip.  So…I’m going to say that we were at $135 for the week, and that only works out if I pull some funds from our “fun” budget.  Since A LOT of good fun was had by all, I think this is a fair exchange.


Goal:  $120         Actual: $52 at Aldi + $31 at Wal*Mart + $33 at Moe’s = $116

Yippee!  I am really excited about being under budget.  Moe’s was a splurge–a really fun splurge.  On top of that, I have a complete menu this week with some really tasty things.  As my hubby headed out the door with my list, I was nervous about the money he might spend.  I fully expected to be over our budget since the only thing coming from the freezer is the steak, and the zucchini came from my in-laws’ garden.  Cory hasn’t done the shopping much since I started this project (because I’m being a control freak about it), but generally, he does our grocery shopping after work.  This was an important test, and it went SO well.

This week’s dinner menu looks like this:

Monday:  Out at Moe’s (one of my favorites!)

Tuesday:  Pork chops on the grill and zucchini bake

Wednesday:  Brats on the grill and veggie pasta salad

Thursday:  Veggie calzones

Friday:  Steak on the grill and quinoa salad

Saturday:  Chicken breasts and pickled beet salad

Sunday:  Creamy chicken tacos in the crock pot with corn-on-the-cob

Please take a moment to visit my fellow food budgeters.  I’ve really enjoyed exploring these blogs, and I definitely have some new favorites to visit even after this project has come to an end.

Project Food Budget (a smidge late)


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)


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.





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


{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!