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

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.

 

 


Deep Dish Rhubarb Pie Recipe

Despite my best efforts, I lose a majority of scraps of paper that I commit very important information on. This has led me to ditching random scraps and jotting everything down in notebooks. Since this recipe still only exists in scrap paper form, I’m adding it here so that I can’t possibly lose it. I’ve hung onto the printed off email for 11 years now but my lucky streak could end at any moment. I know my limitations.

This recipe was emailed to my husband by his mum, at his request, when we first got married. I’ve pretty much used it ever since. We have some amazing rhubarb plants that provide us with lots of organic rhubarb year after year with zero effort or cost to us. They are givers and we are grateful receivers. I use the rhubarb to make pie, bread, and an altered version to apple cripple top. It’s all good, all the time.

Farmer Miranda with the rhubarb harvest, August 2017

Deep Dish Rhubarb Single Crust Pie

Preheat oven to 400F

Prepare filling and then the pastry.

Filling
9-11 cups 1-inch sliced rhubarb
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 grated orange peel
8 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold shortening (can use part butter, part shortening, if preferred)
4-5 Tbsp very cold water

Washed stalks then chopped and ready for pie.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all pie filling ingredients well. Transfer into a deep dish (When I don’t draw a blank and screw it up, I use a 5-qt cast iron dutch oven, without the lid).

Roll out your pastry large enough to lay on top of the rhubarb flat to the sides of the pan and up slightly over the top edge of the pan. Crimp to hold the pastry to the lip of the pan as the rhubarb cooks down. Using a sharp knife, slice a few vents into the pastry.

Bake at 400F for 40-60 minutes (depending on how “done” you like your pastry.

Enjoy!

Notes: Combine all pastry ingredients (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer) until a dough forms. Having chunks of butter or shortening in the dough is perfectly fine and in some cases preferable, as it will help to create a bit of ‘flake’ in your crust. Roll out about 1-inch larger than the circumstance of the pan you are using so that it will sink with the filling as it bakes.

For a regular pie, reduce your filling ingredients to:
3 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
3 Tbsp flour
dash of salt

For a double crust pie, double your pastry ingredients and use a traditional pie plate.

 


Are you in on the craze of the season? Just stop. Please.

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Are you in on this Hatchimal craze?

I’m not. My kids are not. And if they were, I’m afraid that they would be sorely disappointed. Because Christmas is NOT about getting the latest fad or the most expensive doodad. It’s about sharing time with your family, giving gifts that hold true value to the recipient, not just over-advertised, over-hyped and over-priced poorly made and likely soon-to-be recalled pieces of garbage.

Sound harsh? Yup. I probably am. But I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle to raise good humans, people who care more about other people and the world we live in than they do STUFF.

A lot of people pay lip service to raising kids with manners, a lot of people complain about the quality of education their children are receiving, a lot of people are so worried about keeping their children HAPPY, that they are not actually doing anything to prepare their children for reality.

The reality that people are not ALWAYS happy. That not everybody is going to give you what you want. That sometimes people say NO and you need to accept that and move forward, not throw a fit or fall apart. The reality is that you really can’t always get what you want, but, if you try sometimes, you just might find, you’ll get what you need.

And yes, I realize that I am quoting The Rolling Stones to try to get my point across, but hey, they had it right. So why fight it?


Fussy eater making you crazy? Try these and watch the magic happen.

Generally speaking, I won the kid lottery when it comes to eating. For the most part, my kids eat what I make and don’t complain too much. Notice the ‘too’ in that sentence. I mean, sure, Deacon may gag and dry heave at those chunks of tomato in the gorgeous sauce I serve with spaghetti and meatloaf may have the power to turn his sunny mood positively foul and Paxton may burst into tears if his food is so much as kissed by ketchup, but overall, they’re all good and will power through whatever I’m serving.

But, I am also well aware that not all parents are so lucky. So many, no, too many parents have a daily battle on their hand with a picky eater and by the sounds of it, kids today are taking being picky to Olympian heights.

And I’m a helper. And a bit of a foodie. But also kind of an asshole. So I took it upon myself to seek out alternatives that make WHATEVER you are serving suddenly become the best thing ever.

Without further ado, may I suggest:

1. Forget Roadkill cuisine. Try this instead.

Not just any possum in a can. Oh no. This is CREAMED possum in a delectable COON FAT gravy and delicately garnished with sweet potatoes. Yummy.

Not just any possum in a can. Oh no. This is CREAMED possum in a delectable COON FAT gravy and delicately garnished with sweet potatoes. Yummy.

2. He can count by twos and tie his shoes…

Not feeling the possum? Looking for lighter fare on a chilly fall evening? Well, step on over and grab your bowl of Ready-to-Serve REAL TURTLE SOUP. Mmmmm. Franklin. Double Yum!

Not feeling for possum tonight? Or maybe looking for lighter fare on a chilly fall evening? Well, step on up and grab your bowl of Ready-to-Serve REAL TURTLE SOUP. Mmmmm. Franklin. Double Yum!

3. Pasta with an identity crisis with a side of Oh God.

No? Resistant to the possum AND the turtle. Well, fine then. How about a wonderful plate of Tenderoni?

No again? Resistant to the possum AND the turtle? Well, fine then. How about a wonderful plate of Tenderoni and liverwurst? The kids will devour it, everybody loves it and hell, it saves work, worry, time and money. It’s a miracle in a box, really.

4. Chiquita’s outfit isn’t the only thing that’s slammin’ here.

The perfect storm is this. Right here. You've got your fruits, protein, and dairy groups all present and accounted for. That they look like little displaced penises will only make mealtime more jovial.

The perfect storm is this. Right here. Ham Banana Rolls. They give the ham top billing, but really, we all know that the bananas are the star of this show. You’ll be serving your little humans a full serving of fruit, protein, and dairy all in one convenient roll. For good measure, the Chiquita Banana sweetens the deal by adding some prepared mustard to the meal. That the end result looks like little displaced penises will only make mealtime more jovial. I mean, kids love bananas and anything to do with bums and burps. Really, this is a meal primed for hours of dining hilarity.

5. Only if I can follow it up with kidney pie and haggis, please.

I don't know about your house. But around here, we can't get enough of that organ soup. Mmmm. Mmmm. Good. Now, the Libby's isn't quite as good as the Campbell's, but in a pinch, the kids will suck this back like you've just passed them an ice cold beer on a hot summer day. Except, you wouldn't do that. Because that would be wrong. And we all know that. We also know that there is not a kid around who would touch this soup with his brother's mouth.

I don’t know what is a popular go-to meal at your house. But around here, we can’t get enough of animal organ soup. Mmmm, mmmm, sumptuous. Now, the Libby’s isn’t quite as good as the Campbell’s, but in a pinch, the kids will suck this one back like  an icy beer on a hot summer day. Except, we wouldn’t let them do that. Because that would be wrong. And we all know that. And while we’re busy be honest, we also all know that there is not a kid around who would touch this soup with her brother’s mouth and her sister’s stomach.

6. Bodacious breasts and a meal? Oh yes, please!

Now, this one wouldn't normally make any list I would make in relation to kids, except that right at the end of the product description, it saves itself from omission by adding these two little words: "Or Food."

Now, this one wouldn’t normally make any list I would make in relation to kids, except that right at the end of the product description, it saves itself from omission by adding these two little words: “Or Food.” So, I suppose that this is really just an all-around superfood. See, Mom rubs this cream on her chest to irritate the fuck out of her boobs, causing them to swell. This makes Dad happy (which once her boobs hurt, Mom could care less about and actually makes her feel quite stabby, thus leading her to suggest that Dad feck off and go rub some on himself – whether he accepts the challenge will vary from family to family). But the children? Well, the children, sweet and innocent that they are, still must eat. Having used the cream once and suffered the painful, swollen side effects, Mom decides to take Sears up on their claim and feeds it to the family for dinner, possibly spread on Ritz. Because after all, it is “Bust Cream or Food.” Nothing like a plate of trauma pie for dinner.

7. Potatoes? Yes. Fudge? Hell, Yes. This? Oh no.

Ah, feck it. Just bake them a potato (don't worry if they hate potatoes, we have a plan) then crack open your jar of Potato Fudge and drop a big 'ol spoonful all over it.

Ah, feck it. Just bake them a potato (don’t worry if they hate potatoes, we have a plan) then crack open your jar of Potato Fudge and drop a big ‘ol “swirl” all over it. Is it good for them? Who knows. Kraft brought out both chocolate or butterscotch flavours, and in true Kraft fashion, even provide you with a few recipes to choose from. Fudge Nugglets anyone?

8. Enough people enjoyed this enough that it needed to be canned and marketed?

Still crying because your delicious Lasagna casserole is yucky? NO PROBLEM! Just crank open a can of new and improved Buzzard Gizzards (in a cream sauce, of course), and watch the tears fade away. They won't be able to gobble this up fast enough!

Are they still crying because your delicious Lasagna casserole is icky? NO PROBLEM! Just crank open a can of new and improved Buzzard Gizzards (in a cream sauce, of course), and watch their tears fade away. They won’t be able to gobble this up fast enough!

9. Ugh. Oh, and for the record, fish don’t have fingers.

Fish sticks are yucky and make you hide under your chair? Gotcha covered, small human. Sit on up here and dig into your delicious SPAM Sticks. Because nothing says yummy like tinned meat fried up nice and rectangular.

Fish sticks are yucky and make you hide under your chair? Gotcha covered, small human. Sit on up here and dig into your delicious SPAM Sticks. Because nothing says yummy like tinned meat fried up nice and rectangular.

10. Time to lube up those arteries and veins, kids! Have at it!

You know what? Just forget it. Picky eaters are just more determined, have longer stamina and know our weak points. Just throw it all aside and let 'em eat butter. Lots and lots of butter. Because 'butter is slippery' just like these little con artists crying into their broccoli are slippery. They have no idea how good they have it with the meals you're offering up.

Yes. This. Finally. This should solve just about everything. Quit pushing all of those fruits, veggies and whole grains and just let ’em eat butter. Lots and lots of butter. Because ‘butter is slippery.’ Much like these little con artists who crying into their broccoli that they are ‘full and can’t eat anymore’ only to turn around five minutes later and ask for a cookie because they’re “sooooo hungry!”

So, go ahead. Offer up a few of these bad boys and watch your kids beg for your ‘noodle surprise casserole’ or extra cauliflower. Because once they understand that possum and liver soup are on deck, it makes what’s in front of them so much better!

#ParentingWins