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

Snickerdoodle Scone Recipe: A weekend and lunchbox treat – Family Favourites Friday recipe

When I first got married, I admit that I was not much of a baker. In fact, my husband could bake and cook circles around me. I could make enough food to keep people alive, but nothing really stood out as a ‘me’ thing. Over time and with lots (and lots) of practice, my cooking and baking got steadily better. My husband attributes this to my competitive nature and not being okay with not being the best in the house, lol. I don’t know, maybe he’s right, but whatever the reason or motivation, pretty much everyone in the house has benefitted from my dedicated practice to improve the quality, quantity and variety of dishes on offer.

For the next little while, I’m going to post a Family Favourite recipe every Friday. Weekends should be delicious, always. The recipe will not always be a dessert, but sometimes, it definitely will be. 😉

Week days are hectic and I’ve never been a big breakfast person, so generally it was cereal and fruit for the kids before school. On weekends, my husband liked a nicer breakfast: waffles, Johnny Bread (a Bermuda tradition), pancakes, bacon and eggs, typical breakfast fare. In the early years, he liked to prepare one of these things for everyone every other week or so. I suppose, being competitive, I didn’t feel good not being able to make anything special for everyone on the weekend mornings too. That’s where Snickerdoodle Scones make their simple, yet delicious entrance.

Just a few notes: I make these on the small side, so that there are more to go around and also leftovers to put into the lunches for a treat during the week. I have also doubled and tripled this recipe at times.

Admittedly, these are in no way a health food, but following the adage of ‘all things in moderation’ their smaller size makes them a perfect fit and lovely with a cuppa tea. Despite their sugary coating, they are not too sweet, just right, really.

Snickerdoodle Scones recipe
Perfection in the palm of your hand, are these right here.

Snickerdoodle Scones

Ingredients

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp butter, chilled and cut into smaller pieces
6-8 Tbsp (start with 6) milk or cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Snickerdoodly coating:
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking liner.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar.
  4. Add the chopped butter and mix into the flour mixture, using either a mixer (like Kitchenaid) or with your fingertips, breaking the butter down into course, small pieces.
  5. Combine the milk and vanilla extract and add slowly to flour and butter mixture, starting with 6 Tbsp. Stir (or mix) until the dough comes together. It should be a very slightly sticky ball, not too wet and not a crumbly mess. Add additional milk/cream if needed, one Tbsp at a time.
  6. In a small dish (I use a 1 cup Pyrex container with a air-tight lid), combine the sugar and cinnamon. You will have plenty left over to use next time.
  7. Roll each ball of scone dough (a single recipe should typically yield 12 – 16 scones, depending on the size you opt to make), in the cinnamon mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet, flattening the ball slightly with your finger tips.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes (a bit longer if you like a crispier, darker bottom), until scones are set and begin to brown.
  9. Cool on wire rack a few minutes, serve warm or cold.
  10. Leftovers keep well for up to five days in an airtight container or ziplock bag. They also freeze and defrost well.

P.S. 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 2 Update: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Last week, I posted this grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read that post here. If you want to skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 2 Update. 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 will pick up later this month when it is available. 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 2 Update:

The second week of May was a bit of a mess for us here. I have been battling gallstones all month and was scheduled for surgery. Friday brought an attack of pancreatitis secondary to gallstones which lead to my admission into the hospital that afternoon and my surgery was fast-tracked to Sunday evening. I came home on Monday morning. Needless to say, our stockpile and freezers came in very handy in keeping the troops fed during this unscheduled interruption. On the upside, I wasn’t able to do any grocery shopping until last night, so this week the total is nice and low! I will likely use that money to splurge to buy the crew pizza for dinner tonight (none for me and my battle-scarred carcass) to celebrate our anniversary (which is today, yay!).

Since I did end up spending about half of my budget last night though, I will list what I got for the money.

Food Basics:
5x 3lb bag macintosh apples – 1.67 each
2.07 kg red grapes – 2.80/kg
1.5 kg Barlett pears – 2.16/kg
Total spent: $17.36

Shoppers Drug Mart
2x PC snacks (clearance) – $.79 each
2x Danone yogurt (clearance) – $.59 each
1x 4L 2% milk – $4.39
3x 2L Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi – 3/$5
Total spent: $12.80

Grand Total – $30.16

The apples will last almost a week if I’m lucky (except that at one point last night, I did notice that Pax had an apple in each hand, ugh) and the grapes should make it through the weekend. The pears will be gone before Sunday. The PC snacks will last just over two weeks and the yogurt will provide 12 servings (total), or three days of yogurt for my smalls. The pop will last the entire week from Saturday to Saturday. Overall, can’t be sad.

We still have romaine, cucumbers, other apples, broccoli, frozen veg and pretty well stocked freezers, so this week I will need to restock the milk (tend to use 16-20L a week) and pick up berries, but overall, I think keeping to the $60 should be completely doable.

Oh! And I get to pick up our Good Food Box this afternoon, so I’m excited to see what produce we have to work with from that source as well!

Tallies

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual – $65.54

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual $30.16

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $TBD

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

If there is any interest in knowing that I manage to procure for what I spend, I’m more than happy to share my weekly shopping results as well, just let me know. 🙂 Also, I tend to have carry-over from the previous week to the present week, so I don’t necessarily need to buy certain things each week. 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. I think that as long as I come out of this challenge with an average spend of $60 a week for four weeks then I’ll be able to truthfully call the challenge met.

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

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

Money. Some people have so much they never notice where it goes or how much is going. Other people never seem to have enough dollars to get to the end of the month without using credit and wracking up debt. Others of us though, do have enough dollars to get to the end of the month and carefully track where each and every dollar and dime go, updating the spreadsheets or notebooks daily, weekly or at least regularly. I fall into this last category. For the past five or more years, I have maintained an annual budget spreadsheet wherein I have tracked each and every expense, in sometimes painstaking detail. Before the spreadsheet, I maintained our budget in notebook and tracked bills, expenses, and income. For some people, the idea of doing this is sheer agony, but for me? I love it. I like knowing where our money is going, knowing approximately how much we’ll need for this expense in the upcoming year or where our spending has gotten a bit heavy and needs to be cut back in order to stay within our family values.

For years, 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. The fact that I also like to maintain a small pantry/stockpile and shop the sales, while it definitely ensures that I tend not to pay full price for meats, tinned goods or grocery items, it does mean that sometimes, the weekly outlay is more than I have allowed for in my budget. An occasional month of that, here or there, does not have much effect, but when it happens a few months in a row, I know that it’s time to pull back and re-evaluate. I also know that it’s time to start whittling down the freezers and stockpile in order to make room for new products, so nothing goes to waste.

This year, May is my month in which to do this. 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, 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 will pick up later this month when it is available. 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.

I will update weekly with my actual spending on each Thursday.

May 2019 Weekly Grocery and Food Spending Challenge

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual – $65.54

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual $TBD

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $TBD

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

If there is any interest in knowing that I manage to procure for what I spend, I’m more than happy to share my weekly shopping results as well, just let me know. 🙂 Also, I tend to have carry-over from the previous week to the present week, so I don’t necessarily need to buy certain things each week. 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. I think that as long as I come out of this challenge with an average spend of $60 a week for four weeks then I’ll be able to truthfully call the challenge met.

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

Oven-Baked Black Bean Burger Recipe

During this year’s March Break, I posted a picture on the blog’s Facebook page of a black bean burger that I prepared for Miss M, so that she could participate in our family burger night while also staying true to her stated intention to eat less meat. There were a few requests on the FB page for the recipe, so now that the kids are back to school and I’m finding my ‘normal’ again, here it is.

First, I need to admit that while I LOVE cookbooks (to an almost pathological degree) and I have, probably thousands of recipes that I have collected, written and cultivated over the past twenty years, I tend to use them more as loving guides rather than absolute rules that must be followed. While this can be a low-stress way to prepare food, it can also lead to unpredictable results, especially when trying to reproduce an amazing meal. I chalk this up to the whim and whimsy of my particular set of mental and emotional issues. My family chalks it up to the cost of doing business with me. Either way, you’ve been warned. 

Honestly though, I have made these, as written below, a few times and they have turned out perfectly each time, so while I do not exactly adhere to all of the exact measurements all of time, I think the recipe is forgiving enough to still be a delicious alternative to a meat burger, even if you add a bit more bread crumbs or a lot more garlic, or toss in some carrots julienne. Lean in and own it, make it your own. The way it is presented here, is how I make them and the 50% of my kids who have tried them (and I) like them.

Oven-Baked Black Bean Burgers

Plant-based, not Vegan.

Makes 4-6 patties, depending on preference (I make 6).

Ingredients

1 can (19oz) Black Beans, rinsed and drained

1 small onion, diced

2 tbsp diced garlic

1 large egg, beaten badly

2/3 cup bread crumbs (about a handful, really)

1 tbsp chili powder (optional, I omit usually)

1 tsp cumin (again, optional)

Salt and pepper (and they’re in a fix), to taste (but don’t taste it raw, just guess)

Directions:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and pre-heat oven to 375F
  2. Rinse, drain and drip-dry beans. Place in a large bowl and mash with a fork (or, if you have one, a handy-dandy pastry cutter does an amazing job).
  3. Add onion, garlic, and spices (if using) to the bean mash.
  4. Add egg and bread crumbs and combine. 
  5. Form into patties and put on cookie sheet.
Perfect bun-sized patties 😍
  1. Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheet, 10 minutes per side.
  2. Toss on a bun, load up with condiments, pile your plate with sides and enjoy!
  3. Refrigerate left over patties for a day or two, or wrap and freeze for later. Reheat in toaster oven or microwave (about a minute on high from cold, not frozen).

Notes: You can opt to pan-fry these in a pan using a bit of oil, 4-5 minutes per side, but that will change the nutrition facts accordingly. I haven’t tried to grill these, but if you’re brave and have a well-greased grill, I suppose you could also cook them that way. Experiment, be creative and have fun with them. xx

Let me know if you make them and how they turn out for you! If you like them, share the recipe with friends and family and spread the love 🌱❤️

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted on one site or another. 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

Do you have a “Plan” or are you like me and “Plan-less” by choice?

A rainbow of smart phones, but do you need a plan? Can you save the money and do without all the bells and whistles?
Smartphone image credit: pctechmag.com

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ll have learned that I am a planner. I live and die by my day planner (or agenda, as my kids call it). If it needs to happen, will happen, may happen, could happen, didn’t happen or happened, it’s in my giant 9″x12″ spiral-bound, monthly-tabbed planner. I record our LIVES in my annual day timers and I take a considerable amount of time finding just the right one (because let’s face it, planner needs change over time, amiright?) and have been known to purchase two within a week of one another when the first one just doesn’t quite “feel” right. This is me. I’ve come to accept that.

But in one area of my life, I live “plan-less” and it’s by choice. I’m talking of course, about my mobile phone. I’ve had one fairly constantly since they were little bricks that looked like this:

Circa 1999 (photo credit: Timetoast.com)

My first provider was Telus. They had a low-cost monthly plan that I could afford ($20ish a month), plus they had a really cute ad campaign). Not that I used the phone much at all, I admit that I often forgot to charge it and when I did have it charged, found that I didn’t really have that much need to speak to people on it when I was out and about. These were the days before texting, wi-fi and internet EVERYWHERE. It was just another device to lose in my purse, feel terribly adult for having and to chat on (or club someone over the head with if they were being inappropriate). Nonetheless, I had a cellular phone then and I continue to have one today.

I’ll resist the urge to bore you with my personal evolution from cell phone to smart phone, but this point of this post is this. I live, survive and thrive, quite happily without a cellular phone “PLAN.” I have never had a data plan, unlimited calling anywhere, or unlimited texting. My monthly cost to operate my smartphone of choice (iPhone 7+, which was purchased outright for me as a Christmas present two years ago, by my lovely husband) in 2018 was $9.42 a month, or $113.00 for the year. For that amount, I was able to text as much as I liked (I text about four people consistently, iMessage the others while in wi-fi range) and take or make the occasional urgent call.

$9.42 per month. I’ll just leave this here.

The beauty of my pay-as-you-go, non-plan plan is that I am not locked into a contract, there is no temptation or incentive to always be looking for the next phone ‘upgrade’ and I am completely off-line whenever I leave the house, unless I purposefully tap into some free wi-fi (which I will admit to doing at times, although mostly to access my Flipp app to price match groceries).

What never ceases to amaze me though is the almost weekly “Special, exclusive” offers I receive via text message from Rogers. This one came in on Tuesday afternoon:

Sounds pretty “exclusive” to me! Oh wait, just a sec…

So basically, I can go from having everything I need for $9.42 a month on pay-as-you-go (no commitment, fees, or contract), to having more than I need for a minimum of $33.90 (taxes included, extra fees excluded) a month? Now, I’ve never claimed to be a mathematical genius or financial guru, but it sounds to be like Rogers is trying to tell me that I’d be getting a much better deal if I spent $410 a year rather than the $113 a year that I currently spend. Except, I still would not have a data plan and I’d be out an extra $300 a year. Calling it a “no tab Plan” doesn’t change the fact that it is, in fact a “Plan” and by definition, at least in my experience, “Plan” = $$$$.

Look. I’m not a doctor, lawyer or pimp. I do hold a pretty high position, but it is within my family unit and to them, I am always just a holler away. Heads of State do not need to reach me at all hours and when I need to price match a head of lettuce, the grocery store has free wi-fi for when I’ve forgotten my paper flyer at home. I do not feel the need to be online and entirely reachable 24/7. I almost always have my phone charged and with me, but more often so I can take pictures and video of my kids and other absurdities in my day, track my steps (phone and watch sync strangely) and keep an eye on it for texts from any of my people. The ringer, notifications and sound features are almost always in the ‘Off” position. I do not allow apps to flash notifications on my screen when someone posts on Instagram or Facebook or sends me an email. I’ll check everything in good time.

For some people (doctors, lawyers, or pimps, say) it may make real sense to have an expensive data plan with all the bells and whistles, 24/7 access to the internet, maps, GPS, etc. etc. I get that. I suppose, what I really want people to know is that for most of us OVIP’s (Other Very Important People), it is a choice and there are options out there for those, who like me, want to just have what they actually need, rather than what we’re constantly told that we need or inundated with media telling us that it is what we all really want. For me, I would rather spend that $300 on a great day out as a family or register one of my kids for an activity they want to pursue. If I were single, I would rather add that $300 to my travel fund, RRSP or towards an adventure (that I would document using my plan-less phone *grin*).
xx

A rainbow of smart phones, but do you need a plan? Can you save the money and do without all the bells and whistles?
Smartphone image credit: pctechmag.com

P.S. 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.

Money Woes Lead to Money, Whoa! – The Results

A week has passed. Here’s a breakdown of how the ‘no-spend, no-shop’ week went:

Monday

Spent entire $30 budget (plus $0.76 on yogurt, raspberries, milk, eggs, shortening and sugar). Hmmmm. This is not awesome. Will have to make it last and make it work. I know I can do it. Best I stay in the house as much as possible.

Ran all errands first thing in the morning. Returned an online shopping purchase that was not suitable (free, paid-for returns = zero cost to me), picked up above-noted bits and pieces and delivered something to one of the children’s schools. Then home again and stayed put.

While at home, I dug out the glue gun and repaired the kids’ bathroom hand mirror that had fallen apart months ago and as been sitting collecting dust, waiting for me to fix. Done! Made beef stew in the pressure cooker while the vegetarian chilli cooked in the slow cooker, both made with ingredients entirely on hand (no spending!).

Worked in my office, paying bills, updating various projects and compiling various items to sell and items to donate.

In the evening, I had to attend a parents’ meeting for one of the kids sports teams, so a trip to Sutton was necessary (darn!).

Overall, Monday was a win.

Tuesday

Did not drive anywhere = no gas used (yay!).

Hung the laundry to dry from the night before.

Made tacos for dinner, using tortillas from the freezer rather making fresh (preventing freezer burn = no waste = yay!).

Sold two items on Varagesale (budget booster!).

Purchased a few Christmas presents online, budgeted for and free shipping.

The weather cleared up in the afternoon, so I went for a walk. A half-hour out of the house and in the open air was good for my soul (no monetary savings, but great gains for my mental health!).

Hanging laundry and weeping willows. Same, but different.

Wednesday

Followed the menu plan, used the slow cooker and added rice for my non-potato eater. All lunches were made at home (x6).

Volunteered at one of the kids’ schools, so had to use the car. While out, also picked up much needed UV light bulb for the water treatment system. This was a budgeted for purchase.

Logged onto the library website to confirm due dates for our borrowed items to ensure no overdue fees will be incurred.

Thursday

This is always a high car-usage day. Tutoring, soccer, yoga (Miss M, not I), so my limited use of the vehicle was blown to bits today. I did however make everyone lunch and dinner, (well, I provided leftovers, since our fridge was over-flowing with them so it seemed less than thrifty to prepare yet another meal when we were so well situated for a ‘choose your own adventure’ meal night).

As always, I didn’t use the clothes dryer and hung the clothes to dry (or hanged? I don’t know, I didn’t kill them, I just dried them. Sigh. Whatever).

Overall, spending is at a all-time (ok, recent) low although I am BEYOND annoyed that the  printer ink that I ordered last week (before this spending freeze) has been held hostage by Canada Post for the entire week now. And before you ask, I did send (maybe a snarky) Tweet to CP requesting my inks release. This was my follow-up Tweet:

Annnnnnnd, no replies. Go figure. No answer to go with my no ink situation.

Friday

Jumped in the minivan to attend the Remembrance Day assembly at one of my smalls’ schools. So glad that I could be there, but it chokes me up every single time. I guess that’s a good thing, proves my heart has not yet turned completely to stone.

Did NOT follow the meal plan today (although I pulled everything out of the freezer in time to do so). Mr. KB came home WAY early from work (fire in one of the adjoining offices – all was fine, no worries) and suggested (or perhaps just said) “pizza?” And I jumped on that like it was the last train to Clarksville and said “I’ll order!” Frugal challenge FAIL. But oh so delicious in my belly, nom nom, so = WIN?

Saturday

Back on track(ish). Made dinner (used Friday night’s plan) WIN!

But…

Also headed out afterwards to pick up eggs, Diet Pepsi (stop judging me), and butter – damn you Shoppers Drug Mart and your “One Day Only” sales. Either I spent on Saturday, or spent almost $7.00 more buying the exact same items on Monday. So, I justified the heck out of it and spent the money. Still though, used two free product coupons, so the total was under $19.00. I have decided to call it a ‘winnish’ and just give myself permission to live my life.

Used the minivan twice today, once to Mass and once for my rogue shopping trip. Could have combined the trips into one (heading to SDM after church), but the children were acting particularly punchy and kicky, so decided it was probably best to feed them sooner rather than later (4:00pm Mass means we’re close to dinner time when we get home). Survival of the small people = WIN Cost of that survival = Extra trip out in vehicle.

Sunday

Mr. KB came up with the awesome idea of taking the kids up to Orillia to walk the boardwalk and explore. It was chilly but such a nice day to be out. Then he treated us to lunch (so I didn’t hurt the budget – yay!).

My smalls failing at being small but winning at being strong, smart and caring humans. 4/5 of my ❤️

After that, it was home to work around the house and bake some goodies for the week’s lunch prep. Also, made dinner using up the rest of our chicken and potato leftovers, along with some frozen veggies with a side of baking powder biscuits, we had a pseudo-chicken pot pie.

Conclusion

While I did manage to reduce our weekly shopping greatly, I did exceed my $30 goal. That said, between not needing to gas up the minivan and not spending $200 on groceries, I feel really good about how much I was able to help our budget. This week, I will need to replenish some of our fresh food options, since we are starting to run perilously low on apples (since the kids tend to go through approximately 24 pounds of them a week, including core weight, lol). I will also continue to use what we have on-hand, in the freezer and find creative ways to ensure that our food waste continues to be as low as possible.

While not using the clothes dryer is a bit of a pain, I know that I will see the savings on our next hydro bill from not running it six times a week (although always during off-peak times, it still really adds up).

Next, I think I may try to cut back on the dishwasher to every other night and wash the dishes by hand on the ‘off’ night. I know that it will save a ton of water and an hour of running the dishwasher and hot water heater (the ‘normal’ cycle takes an hour in this ancient machine). Bottom line, there is still work for me to do in order to tweak and boost and stretch the budget. 💁🏼‍♀️

~A.

P.S. 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). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

 


Money Woes Lead to Money, Whoa!

Yes, I’m exaggerating. I don’t have actual money ‘woes’ (bills are paid, everyone is well-fed, clothed, entertained and the future is being saved for) but I did notice that some of my budget categories are climbing a lot faster than I can juggle the money around make them all happy again. So, in the grande scheme of woes, this is a small one, I’ll admit, but it causes me stress so I’m pumping the brakes and saying “whoa!” to the spending.

Of course, right before Christmas is a wonderful time to stop spending, that I realize, but with climbing food prices, gas prices and growing children, I think it’s time to revisit my days of yore when needs and wants were very clearly defined and gratification was delayed in the name of frugality.

This week is now a “no shopping/out of pocket spending” week. There are regular bills that need to be paid and I have allowed $30 for fresh produce and milk (if we run out), but nothing else. All meals will be prepared at home using what I have on-hand and I have already worked out the menu for the week (posted below). Between the gas savings and the grocery/household purchase savings, I think that we should (conservatively) save around $250 just by staying out of the grocery store, taking fewer trips in the minivan and using up some of the stockpile in the freezer.

I have also implemented a few other cost-savings strategies. I have set up our drying rack, so the clothes dryer has already been dormant all week (save for once, yesterday, when I did use it to dry a comforter cover that is too large for the rack). Our dryer is 21 years-old, so you know it’s a hydro hog. I also decided a while back, to stop spending the big bucks are ready-to-eat baby carrots and bought a few big bags of regular carrots (at a fraction of the price). Peeled and chopped, the kids will eat them in their school lunches just as happily as they ate the pricier ones. Taking advantage of all of the various berry sales, price matching (and coupling them with Driscoll’s coupons) has also helped to procure fresh produce for far less.

I admit to having hit the ‘Easy Button’ for dinner a little too often in the past couple of months, but I’ve tossed that button out the window now and have a solid plan in place (the plan mostly involves me not being a lazy numpty and making ALL of our meals, pretty sophisticated plan, yes?).

Dinner Menu Plan (including vegetarian options)

Sunday – Pasta with vodka sauce and garlic bread
Monday – Beef stew and vegetarian chili
Tuesday – Tacos and taco salad w/o meat
Wednesday – Chicken, potatoes,  peas and corn
Thursday – Tuna casserole
Friday – Burgers (choice of beef or black bean patties), fries and veggies
Saturday – Pizza and panzerotti night
Sunday – Spaghetti with garlic bread

Lunches are always homemade, various sandwiches, bagels, cereals, salads or last night’s leftovers. Yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables and applesauce (and whatever Halloween candy the kids have managed to hold on to – lol!) are included for snacks.

So, this week started yesterday (Sunday) and will end next Sunday. I’ll post the update on Monday (even if I fail miserably) and I will be sure to include the other cost-cutting measures that I remember or figure out to try throughout the week and whether or not any of these measures resulted in any savings (real or imagined).

~A.

P.S. 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). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

 

 


Live update: I’m eating this plate of marshmallows

Live update:

I’m eating this plate of marshmallows for lunch because:

a) I’ve made myself sad writing a different blog post and like an idiot did so without first checking to ensure that I had any scrap of chocolate in the house;

b) the bag was already open, so I’m being super frugal by eating them before they go hard, stale and nasty (housewifing win right there);

c) because the kids are at school so I don’t have the set a good example for ANYBODY; and

d) today, until 4pm, this is what passes for adulting in my world.

Live update, Part 2

Just sitting here in the ‘wick, living my best life ya’ll. #SorryNotSorry #NotEvenABit

The marshmallows have been eaten. And I’m not even sorry.

And don’t even bother hatin’ on my Diego plate. It’s vintage, circa 2007, no chips or cracks and believe me, we have thrown this sucker around plenty. Beat that.

❤️
~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, 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 mockery.