Sunday, August 23, 2009

Homefront happenings

Well here I am, slacking off again! Well, not right now, as I'm finally blogging again. But I'll admit that other things have definitely taken priority these past few weeks! I've been busy with Familia meetings, errands, dance classes, church, you name it! Rita took her first ever dance class this past Thursday! It was such a joy to see her look up to her teacher in awe and learn how to tap and ballet herself across the room. As I watched her, I remembered fondly my dancing days as a little girl. Such great memories! Unfortunately she's currently screaming and throwing a fit in her bedroom, not wanting to go to sleep, but I digress . . .

Ellie and I spent some quality time together this afternoon while David took Rita to Lowe's to get some new lights for her "princess" aquarium. I read stories to Ellie - well, until she got bored with them, that is (which wasn't long). Then she explained to me how her toys worked and insisted on listening to the baby in my tummy (AS IF!!!) with her toy stethoscope. Hee hee.

Joshua now has two teeth as of a few days ago! He's also sitting up on his own. I can't believe how fast he's growing! I love having a little boy; he is so precious to me! And it's just as much fun going through all the stages with the third baby as it is with the first.

Our fall is going to be really busy! We're starting kindergarten (homeschooling) with Rita after Labor Day. It should be an adventure! Homeschooling is something I've always wanted to do, and I can't wait to get started. I've been using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with Rita since June and she can now read entire sentences by sounding out the words. We'll be continuing with that book and then using Five in a Row for reading when we finish it. We'll also be doing math, handwriting and religion.

Also, this week Rita will be starting with a K4J club, which should be fun.
We'll be continuing with our children's adoration hour at a local parish once a week as well. The kids and I really love being able to make a weekly holy hour, and it's nice to get out of the house too. And I'll be starting Familia!
We've already had our first planning meeting and I am really excited about it and looking forward to learning more about my faith and how I can better pass it on to my children.

In other news, David's grandmother passed away this past Monday of a brain tumor. We were able to attend the funeral Friday and spend time with his family afterward. It's sad for me because both of my grandmothers are gone, and now both of his are too. His grandmother was sort of like a grandmother to me too, and I even called her "Grandma." We will love her and miss her always, and cherish many fond memories of her in our hearts. Rest in peace, Gladys.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Grocery Trip and Garage Sale

My total for grocery shopping Saturday morning was $87.90. That included a few of things that were not on my list initially, that I remembered we were out of at the last minute - oatmeal and orange juice. And I also got some lunchmeat because it was on sale.

My sister in law Robin and I had a garage sale this weekend, Thurs-Sat. It was pretty successful, and we ended up making over $500 between everyone, thanks to some extra things that her parents and our inlaws, and another sister in law (Melinda) sent our way. So I came home almost $200 richer!

Here are some before and after pics:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My System

I thought I'd blog about my "system" as far as meal planning/grocery list making/shopping goes. Over the years I've continued to perfect my system and it is still a work in progress. But I'd like to share what I've done with it so far. It is a long and tedious process, which some may think is way too much work, but my goal is to save money so I'm willing to put in some extra time if it means that we will stay within our food budget. I budget $500 a month for our family of five - my husband and I, a four year old and two year old who eat like teenagers, and a nursing infant who, while not yet eating solids, weighs 20 lbs at 4 months of age and causes his mother to have a voracious appetite. For July I only spent $492, which is an incredible accomplishment for me, so I was rather proud.

Every Friday night I write out my meal plans for the coming week (starting with Saturday and ending with Friday) and make my grocery list. Then I do my shopping on Saturday mornings while David is home with the kids.

Step 1: Coupons. I have a coupon holder where my coupons are organized by category. I go through these, throw out the expired ones, and look to see which ones are going to expire in the next week. I set those aside and then see if there are any sales where I can use them to actually save money (vs. buying the store brand or a cheaper brand, or nothing), which leads me to step 2.

Step 2: Store circulars. I gather the store circulars for the week and look through them for good deals. If one of my children has made them into a paper airplane, it's ok because they can also be found online.

Step 3: Inventory. I look through my freezers, refrigerators and pantry to find things that can be used in meals, and I write them down. For example, last week I found a ton of chicken about to hit its use-by date on clearance, and I bought all ~10 packages and froze them. This week's list looks like this:

dry beans
pearled Barley
lasagna noodles
bowtie pasta
chicken broth
Italian dressing
frozen corn
frozen chicken
frozen pork chops
frozen stew meat

Step 4: Meal Plans. Using the coupons, store circulars, and inventory list as my guide, I write out a meal plan for the week, keeping in mind anything we may have going on in the evenings during the week. For example, this Tuesday evening we are going to a play, so dinner will probably need to be something in the crockpot so that dinner prep doesn't make our getting ready to leave the house even more rushed. Also, I'm now doing meal plans for breakfast and lunch as well, although I'm a lot more flexible with those than I am with dinner.

So this is my meal plan for this week:

Sat: B - eggs and toast
L - lunch at Robin's house
D - Beef and Barley Soup with Beans

Sun: B - eggs and pancakes
L - chicken bowtie pasta salad
D - sandwiches

Mon: B - oatmeal
L - leftovers
D - Papa John's night (lg pizza for $5.99!), salad

Tues: B - oatmeal
L - egg salad sandwiches
D - Busy Day Italian Chicken (in crockpot), salad

Weds: B - oatmeal
L - egg salad sandwiches
D - Potato soup in crockpot

Thurs: B - oatmeal
L - Leftovers
D - Pork chops, mixed veggies, rice

Fri: B - oatmeal
L - Leftovers or sandwiches
D - Cheesy vegetable chowder and homemade bread

Snacks this week: homemade peanut butter cookies, homemade muffins, homemade granola bars, homemade pomegranate popsicles

And here is my grocery list for tomorrow:

Plums (on sale)
Green grapes (on sale)
Other cheap fresh fruit
7 Roma tomatoes (usually the cheapest kind per lb)
2 avocados
3 onions
Pomegranate juice
Coffee (free with coupon)
Veggie broth
Beef broth
Parmesean cheese
8 oz can crushed pineapple
Chocolate chips
2 cans evaporated milk
3-4 gallons of milk (depending on the dates; on sale)
cottage cheese
Frozen cherries

I'll report back with the total amount I spend!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A New Start

Well, I've decided to revive my blog. I really love writing, and if some of my friends who have as many or more children than I do can blog, so can I! I'm going to start with a goal of blogging every Friday and Sunday at a minimum. If I'm able to do it more often, then it will be a pleasant surprise. As most of you know, since my last (and first) blog post, we have moved to a new city and had a thrid child, Joshua, who is now 4 months. Things are still wild and crazy at our house, but we're adjusting! Sometimes (ok, most times) the laundry doesn't get folded the same day it gets washed, and the trash can may be overflowing before it gets emptied, but we have the three biggest blessings any married couple could ask for!

My sister in law Robin has also revived her blog, so I am using her as inspiration. She suggested that I post my weekly meal plans here, as she is doing. For right now we are only doing meal plans for supper, so here is my plan for this week:

Mon. 7/27 - Crockpot roast with carrots and potatoes, salad
Tues 7/28 - Honey mustard chicken, mixed veggies, diced potatoes
Weds 7/29 - Pizza, salad
Thurs 7/30 - Busy day Italian Chicken, salad
Fri 7/31 - Crockpot potato soup with lentils
Sat - go shopping!