This pandemic is making me do crazy things. Like math.

Heading into these lock downs and the physical distancing mandates back on March 13th (oh, yes, Friday the 13th strikes again. The irony is not lost on me), I never imagined that I would fall prey to a level any higher than my usual for madness. Last night, that changed when I did something that I always thought that I should do but knew I never really would because, well, tedious. And because too much math. And because just plain UGH.

I have done this type of thing before when it involved very simple variables. Like figuring out that price per hamburger patty when I make them fresh vs. buying pre-made or frozen patties. Easy-peasy, right? Exactly, that’s why I would/could do it and then use the results to artificially boost my ego with just how clever I was. Last night though, I raised that bar, and now I’m afraid I may have overshot and will need to keep at it, because my competitive nature will not allow me to stop.

So, what did I do? I calculated just how much money I save each time I prepare our weekly pizza and panzos ritual at home instead of just ordering pizza from Pizzaville (Sutton location only, if you please) for dinner (seven people). As you know, I’m a sharer, so I’m going to give ya’ll the break down (again, the irony is not lost on me that this break down helped to self-diagnose the beginning of own breakdown. Go figure).

Each week (just about), I prepare six panzos and one large eight slice pizza. This serves seven people dinner and leaves enough pizza for Mr. K.B.’s lunch the following day. When we ordered pizza for dinner (back all those months ago when we did such wild and crazy things), we would order one party pizza and one large from Pizzaville. After feeding seven people, leftovers did not really happen, so this was enough for seven dinners, so lunches. It would cost us $38.40 (no drinks or sides and I always picked it up, so no delivery charges), or $5.49 per person. Which is an unbeatable deal if you’re planning say, like, a wedding or a funeral, but for a typical eat-at-home dinner, that’s a bit rich for my budget, and while I would take it from the “Entertainment” or “Restaurant” line from the budget and not my “Grocery” money, it would still equal just over of $150 a month. $150 for weekly pizza dinners!?! *Hanging head in shame*

To make our pizza nights at home, I make a double batch of pizza dough, grate a bar of cheese, cut up the onions, mushrooms and pepperoni, nothing is pre-made or pre-cut. Last night, I used homemade sauce with tomatoes from the garden, so there was no real cost for it, but typically I do use a large jar of Classico. Here’s the break down:
Ingredient Costs:
Pepperoni: $1.99
Onion: $0.20
Mushrooms: $0.50
Cheese: $3.97
Sauce: $2.00
Flour: $0.42
Yeast: $0.14
Olive Oil: $0.72
Sugar: $0.01
Salt: $0.01
Water: $0.00
Total: $9.96

For just less than $10 I can make eight meals, feed seven people dinner and have lunch for one of them the following day, so the cost is $1.25 each portion. Monthly, this equates to $39.84, so in terms of just cash in hand, making the meal at home saves me $113.37 a month. With everyone one home with me 24/7 and no end to that in sight, this extra $100+ helps to cover the extra grocery and sundry costs we are incurring during this first decade of 2020.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It is more time consuming and labour intensive to prepare all of our meals from scratch. At least that’s the rational I remember using when I used to order pizza or we would head out to a restaurant for dinner. If nothing else though, this pandemic has forced me to re-examine some of my favourite go-to beliefs when I’m trying to get out of doing something I don’t want to do. I mean, when you think about the time spent ordering online, deciding who, if anyone is coming with you, getting out of the house, driving to pick the order up, waiting around the pizza place for it to be ready, driving home, getting all set up and eating, it’s no longer really “fast” food. When I order at 5pm, it was usually ready for pick up around 5:30pm, sometimes there would be a wait, so there was another 10 minutes spent hanging around, and then the 15 minute drive home and by then I’ve already spent an hour getting dinner to the house, and about 30 minutes in the car. It’s 6pm. So, I maybe save an hour by ordering, but it’s cost me in other ways, not just financially.

When I start the dough at 4 pm, in the privacy of our own home, the first panzos are on the pizza stone in the oven before by around 4:45pm, the last one (mine), goes in just before 6pm. I haven’t needed to leave the house, I haven’t even needed to change out of my pj’s if I am so inclined that day, and I’ve kept the money I would have spent safely tucked away for the next time I venture out to replenish my pizza supplies. I mean, grocery shop.

It is not a myth. We all do have a price. No, wait. Mine, apparently is $113.37? Putting it that way and in writing makes me think that I may be looking at this issue entirely wrong-headed. This quarantine-brain defect condition of mine is no joke, I tell you. Quickly! More math – $113.37 x 12 = $1360.44. Okay now, that’s better. Saving over a thousand dollars makes me feel WAY better about my choices AND gets me 1/20th of the way to a new (to us) family car. Zoom, zoom!

This one has peppers instead of mushrooms, but the math is the same ūüėČ
Before and after. After is on a full 2020-sized dinner plate, not one of our 1970’s dinner plates (that are a good two inches smaller in diameter). Home panzos are 12 inches long, on average. Baked, not deep fried and SO delicious (if I do say so myself).

Extra veggies because that’s my job, lol. Also, I use the edge of a spoon and sauce to write their names on their panzos, since toppings often vary and heave forbid one get peppers and the other one get meat! Some days, I wonder if my parents ever truly appreciated the simplicity of having an only child to manage?

How is your pandemic grocery budget going? Spending more, less or about the same? Any tips, tricks or strategies to share? Tell me! For us, staying out of restaurants and away from take-away food has been a huge money saver, but I do admit to sometimes wishing that I could hit that virtual “easy” button and let someone else do all the work involved in feeding this crew. Ugh, talk about your first-world problems. Yikes.

Cue the intense privileged class guilt.

P.S. Physical distance with me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.

Also, if you happen to like what you read, please consider signing up to receive updates via email, just in case you decide, like I recently did, that social media is doing your head in but you still want to read things that will make you feel better about your life choices (and stories about my daily life tend to have that effect on people).
xx
~A.

WEEK 4 Update and Wrap Up: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Three weeks (or a lifetime) ago now, I posted a grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read Week 1 here, Week 2 here, and Week 3 here. If you would rather skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 4 results and wrap up.

Preamble
This challenge, in a nutshell came about because while most of our children were younger, our grocery budget was consistent and small. They were small. They didn’t eat much and I tended to avoid the more expensive pre-packaged snacks and sugary treats, juices, etc. The bulk of our budget, honestly, would go towards produce. As they have gotten older and bigger, they eat more, and coupled with increasing prices, my grocery budget has also had to grow. And I allowed it to become overgrown.

This year, April was a grocery budget disaster (I have three grocery/food categories that I track: Groceries, Restaurant Meals and Junk Food, and Health and Beauty (includes household consumables, like toilet roll). I generally, at this point in our family’s growth, would like to stay at $600 a month for groceries and HBA and $75 for Restaurants and Junk Food (includes pop, ice cream, etc). Looking at that figure now, it looks crazy high, but keep in mind that I do generally prepare five lunches each day (kids and husband), seven days a week, six to seven dinners a week, six breakfasts a day seven days a week, plus provide all snacks, treats, and drinks (mostly milk and free water for the kids though, truth me told!) out of that budget. Not to mention toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid, etc. etc. etc. So, overall, it’s not horrendous, just mildly alarming, I suppose. Crunching the numbers (well, getting my spreadsheet to do the math, really), it would seem that I have gone over budget by about $170 each month from January to April. YIKES!

So, this month, I’m bringing sanity and reality back to our grocery budget. Drastic cut backs will ensure that I prepare meals with all of the ingredients that I already have on-hand and use up all the bits and pieces hanging around the cupboards. My goal is to spend no more $60 PER WEEK on groceries, knowing that just about all of that amount will go toward milk and fresh produce (my kids consume, on average, around 18 – 24lbs of apples each week, just to give you an idea of the scope I’m talking about when I saw “fresh produce”).

In the spirit of honesty though, I must admit up front that before deciding to do this, I spent $15 on a Good Food Box (local produce) which I picked up last week. We still have some potatoes, onions and peppers left from that box – see the WEEK 3 Update for a picture of the contents. I haven’t included that amount in any of the weekly tallies though, I guess I’ll consider it a “Happy Spring!” gift to the family, lol.

Week 4 Update:

This fourth and final week went fairly well. Now that I’m well and truly on the right side of my gallbladder (the side waving goodbye to it!), I was able to reflect on some of my grocery shopping behaviour and I have come to realize that I may suffer from a semi-severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to great ‘stock up’ prices. Coupled with my resistance and aversion to paying regular price for groceries (or if I’m being honest, paying regular price for anything really), is one of my greatest struggles when it comes to strictly adhering to my (self-managed) grocery budget.

For example I have enough salsa to last a good while, but the one that we like does not go on sale terribly often, and while it is not a super expensive fancy brand, I do have that aforementioned aversion to ‘regular price’ so the it went on sale during Week 3, I bought 2 jars.

Similarly, when I check my weekly PC Optimum points bonus offers and receive a good offer and I find that I can pair it with a sale or good price-matching opportunity, I struggle to let it go and not take advantage of the offer, knowing full well that the item in question is definitely something that we not only will use, but it is something that we regularly run through quickly (like breakfast cereal, berries, milk or apples).

But I’ll stop the blathering and get to down to the nuts and bolts, the brass tacks, spill the tea, give you the skinny, ugh, just stop me – here are the numbers.

Tallies

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual: $65.54
Result: (- $5.54)

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual: $30.16
Result: +$29.84

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $86.46
Result: (-$26.46)

May 23 – May 30th – Goal: $60.00
May 23 – May 30th – Actual: $70.69
Result: +$10.69

Monthly wrap up:
Spending Goal: $240.00
Actual Spent: $252.85
Difference: $12.85 – OVER BUDGET

Average Weekly Spend: $63.21
Average Weekly Overage; $ 3.21

So, I did not make my $60/week goal, but I’m still going to let the Fresh Prince dance for this one, because going over budget by $3.21/week is the equivilant to three heads of lettuce or four pounds of apples, which I cannot begrudge or regret at all.

There are so few who do a happy dance with as much aplomb as the Fresh Prince, amiright?

Now, I still am housing a very well-stocked pantry and full freezers that I would like to cycle through, so I will need to think on a good pantry/freezer challenge to tackle for June or July, we’ll see how the rest of this week goes.

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

WEEK 3 Update: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Two weeks ago, I posted this grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read Week 1 here and Week 2 here. If you would rather skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 3 Update (spoiler alert, I bent the budget).

This challenge, in a nutshell came about because while most of our children were younger, our grocery budget was consistent and small. They were small. They didn’t eat much and I tended to avoid the more expensive pre-packaged snacks and sugary treats, juices, etc. The bulk of our budget, honestly, would go towards produce. As they have gotten older and bigger, they eat more, and coupled with increasing prices, my grocery budget has also had to grow. And I allowed it to become overgrown.

This year, April was a grocery budget disaster (I have three grocery/food categories that I track: Groceries, Restaurant Meals and Junk Food, and Health and Beauty (includes household consumables, like toilet roll). I generally, at this point in our family’s growth, would like to stay at $600 a month for groceries and HBA and $75 for Restaurants and Junk Food (includes pop, ice cream, etc). Looking at that figure now, it looks crazy high, but keep in mind that I do generally prepare five lunches each day (kids and husband), seven days a week, six to seven dinners a week, six breakfasts a day seven days a week, plus provide all snacks, treats, and drinks (mostly milk and free water for the kids though, truth me told!) out of that budget. Not to mention toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid, etc. etc. etc. So, overall, it’s not horrendous, just mildly alarming, I suppose. Crunching the numbers (well, getting my spreadsheet to do the math, really), it would seem that I have gone over budget by about $170 each month from January to April. YIKES!

So, this month, I’m bringing sanity and reality back to our grocery budget. Drastic cut backs will ensure that I prepare meals with all of the ingredients that I already have on-hand and use up all the bits and pieces hanging around the cupboards. My goal is to spend no more $60 PER WEEK on groceries, knowing that just about all of that amount will go toward milk and fresh produce (my kids consume, on average, around 18 – 24lbs of apples each week, just to give you an idea of the scope I’m talking about when I saw “fresh produce”).

In the spirit of honesty though, I must admit up front that before deciding to do this, I spent $15 on a Good Food Box (local produce) which I picked up this week. I haven’t included that amount in any of the weekly tallies though, I guess I’ll consider it a “Happy Spring!” gift to the family, lol.

Week 3 Update:

The third week of May was a tad bit rollercoastery. Recovering from surgery, celebrating our wedding anniversary, having a long weekend (yay Victoria Day!) and celebrating a birthday (my baby girl is now nine!), I definitely faced some physical and budgetary challenges.

Also, I did end up buying pizza for the gang on our anniversary (Mama can’t eat things as lovely as pizza so going out for dinner seemed silly and cooking on my anniversary while also juggling a soccer practice? Um, no thank you. I did though decide to take that from my ‘gift’ category, since who says that every now and then pizza isn’t the greatest gift ever? It would appear that when in doubt or feeling sheepish, I call food a ‘gift’ and slide it right into that budget category, but perhaps that is an issue to explore another time?

Blah, blah, blah. Just stop procrastinating and spill. How did the spending go? Well, in a word, it went OVER.

Did not make special shopping trips, but still, spending money 5 out of 7 days is not cool.

What I did notice from the list above is that 48% of the entries are for produce, 24% for breads and grains, 14% for dairy and just 5% each for meat, fish and salsa. All this means is that of the 21 entries, 10 were for produce (although multiples of each item were usually purchased). This is not pertinent to the budget, more something that caught my interest and confirmed what I thought. This family runs on produce and bread. Lol! We also received our Good Food Box last week, which while not a ton of produce, definitely helped and much of it is already gone.

Tallies

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual: $65.54
Result: (- $5.54)

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual: $30.16
Result: +$29.84

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $86.46
Result: (-$26.46)

May 23 – May 30th – Goal: $60.00
May 23 – May 30th – Actual: $TBD

As usual, I do have carry-over from the last week into this week, so I don’t necessarily need to buy certain things each week. This week I will need to buy milk, as I haven’t been stocking up on it (no PC Optimum bonus offer, no milk stock up – hurumph!). I also check the upcoming flyers as soon as they are available and if something (like berries or lettuce) is one sale this week but will be priced higher next week, I will buy it a day earlier in order to avoid the higher price. This week I also have berries, pop and yogurt on my list (with some nice PC Optimum bonus offers), so I’ll be picking those up over the next few days.

If I can keep the spending to just under $60, I think I’ll have met the challenge’s objective and will be in good shape to move onto June’s challenge (which also involves food – go figure).

There are so few who do a happy dance with as much aplomb as the Fresh Prince, amiright?

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

My week of food – a pictorial post

Every night this week I have Epicurized our dinners and the results have been very well received. But instead of reading my blah, blah, blahs, I’ll just post the pictures that I’ve been sharing on Instagram and Facebook, and a few that I didn’t share anywhere else at all. ūüėČ

Monday

imageUsing Epicure’s Chicken Bouillon and the Three Onion Dip Mix to jazz it up.

Tuesday

IMG_2878.JPGThe picture says it all. I wish I had a picture of my kids inhaling dinner that night though!

Wednesday

imageI hear you, I do. You’re all like “What the holy Hell is¬†that?”¬†Well, I’ll tell you what it is. It is cabbage roll casserole (without the complicated cabbage rolling part but with¬†tonnes of deliciousness). If anyone wants the recipe, I’ll be posting it later this week maybe? For now I’ll just say that it is a gluten-free friendly meal that appeals to gluten-free and gluten-full people alike ūüėČ Epicure’s contribution to this meal? The fabulous Italian Salad Dressing mix – used it dry, saved a ton of fat and calories by not using salad dressing (needed to save those calories for the cheese – shhhh!)

Thursday

imageNot Epicure’d but rather to prove a point about how we’re feeding our children and making up bullshit self-serving excuses why. I posted this picture on Instagram with the following blurb:
This is our after school snack around here. Total cost? $1.57 and a little bit of prep time. Number of kids happily munching away on REAL food? Six. No chemicals, no added sugar, no hormones, just fresh fruits and veggies. Now, if it were a party, I’d probably be mixing up a batch of Greek yogurt Epicure Summer Berry Dip Mix for an extra special treat, but honestly? The kids are thrilled with their snack just the way it is.¬†#DontTellMeYouCantAffordHealthyFood¬†#CheaperThanOneSmallBagOfChips¬†#thekeswickblog #Epicure¬†#RealFoodGrowsHealthyKids #FrugalEating¬†#CheapEats”

Thursday Dinner

IMG_2892.JPG

Friday – Pizza Game Strong

imageSo, that’s been my week in food. It’s been a pretty stupendous week, from a food perspective anyway. ūüôā

And now, here are all the other places to find me (when I’m not hiding under my bed or behind my kids) come and hang out with me at:
Facebook 1  Facebook 2  Instagram  Twitter  Pinterest

Have a wonderful weekend, remember to wear clean socks and underwear, and never leave home without an emergency toothbrush, toothpaste, mascara and lip gloss in your purse. No matter what happens, with those few¬†things in hand, you’ll have the world by the ‘nads. You know, like MacGyver but prettier and with whiter teeth. ūüėČ

 

 

 

Another reason why I love living on the fringe of Keswick proper (and once again, I narrowly escape the po-po and lock up)

The other day my four smalls and I were on our way to Tae Kwon Do when what catches my eye on the grassy part of the roadside?  Something red.  Very red.  And lots of it.

I jam the brakes bring the van to safe stop, slam it into reverse carefully and cautiously back the van up.  And what did I find?

TOMATOES!¬† Tonnes of them!¬† Dummy here was too excited to take a “before” picture, so here is what was left after I took all of the ones that looked completely intact ūüôā

And yes, I know.¬† Before those of you who actually know me and my long history of hating on tomatoes that were not in the form of Heinz ketchup, let me explain.¬† I’m a grown up now!¬† I still won’t eat a raw tomato under threat of death, but I do make a pretty good homemade sauce and will totally not hurl if a slice of one finds its way on to my hamburger or sandwich.¬† I eat it.¬† I deal.¬† It’s called maturity people. But I don’t have a lot of it, so please don’t test me on it. I will fail.

Anyway, this is the bounty I recovered:

Free Keswick tomatoes – about 10 pounds of them – wooooo¬†hoooo!¬† I left about twice this behind for being less-than-perfect.¬† I can really be a judgmental bitch sometimes (or maybe that’s a mental bitch – I dunno – I got free tomatoes!)

and I abracadabra’d them into about 10-12 cups of diced tomatoes (frozen, not canned) and about 10 cups of yummy, delicious sauce.¬† For basically free – just a little time and effort (and a whole lot of excited energy – LOL!)

Sauce for days! Mmmmmm¬†mmmmm¬†good! Even my Deacon licked his plate clean and he’s my boy that always asks for his spaghetti without sauce! Chef Boy-ar-who?

But before all of this sexy sauce making and tomato dicing occurred, I committed a minor Criminal Code violation.¬† Well, technically I did and then I undid it pretty quick-like, but if you cut through all the bullshit, I done did it.¬† I stole bananas from the grocery store.¬† But then I went back and paid for them.¬† So I’m either a really honest person who made a mistake or a really crap thief with an attention deficit disorder.¬† Or both.¬† Or neither.¬† Does it matter?¬† Really?¬† I mean, I didn’t have to do any hard time, the police weren’t called, there was no cavity search and no one was hurt –¬†hell, even the store was paid in full for the $1.75 worth of bananas that I had stashed under my stupid Wal-Mart special stroller and promptly forgot about while paying for the over-priced pull-ups for Ms. M.¬† So really, who was hurt?¬† Other than me?¬† Paying too much for overpriced pull ups was painful (but not as painful as I imagine a cavity search would be, so I’m counting my blessings, honestly!), but I’m not the type to hold a grudge, so yes, I returned to the store and paid for the bananas that my babies were going to consume the next morning.¬† I just couldn’t stomach the thought of feeding them all that bad karma with their legit and innocent Cheerios, you know?

Unstolen bananas just look cleaner and taste better, you know?

So, what have you found, scored or unstolen this week?¬† Everything counts, everything makes a difference to your bottom line – your financial one or your karma one ūüėČ