Monday, March 11, 2013

Saving Money and Monthly Grocery Shopping

There are always ways to improve, right?  I ran across a blog, Blissful and Domestic, a few months ago and was impressed that this family lives on approximately $14,000 a year.  One of the ways they save money is by planning ahead and doing one big grocery shopping trip a month.  I liked the idea of that.

I bet I run to the store several times a week for one item and walk out with $100 of stuff that I didn't know I "needed".   The author of the blog does her meal planning for the month - when I say meal planning, I mean all three meals for each day.  I am not that organized.  I seldom cook with recipes but we tend to eat the same type of meals so I had a fairly good idea of what we would need for the month.

If I were to make an estimate, I would guess that our monthly grocery bill, thanks to needless purchases, run about $600 - $700 or more a month.  I knew that we could eat for much less and I am always interested in feeding my girls food that is healthier and less processed.  So, the first month I focused on not going to the grocery store at all.  For an entire month we ate  what was in the pantry.  By the end of the month I was getting creative but we did it.  This month I sat down and made a shopping list that allowed us to buy groceries for the whole month.  My budget was $400.  I did some research and found out that all kinds of dairy products can be frozen... milk, cheese, cream, butter, etc.  My deep freezer is full of enough dairy products to get us through the month and tons of frozen veggies and meat.  The best part, I am under budget!

I've also started baking a lot of things I would normally have purchased such as bread, granola bars, and any other baked goods.  My first attempt at granola bars weren't great but I'll keep trying.  They turned out way to sweet... so they were a success for the girls but way too much sugar (in my opinion).  I like to bake and doing it myself costs so much less and I know what is going into the food.  That's a win-win situation.

One of the things I am most proud of and has been the most helpful was making my own mixes.  I made a huge batch of pancake mix, brown sugar maple instant oatmeal, and "cream of" dry soup mix. After a few months I think I'll be able to stream line the process even more. I'm not sure but I suspect I over bought for the month.  What do you do to cut your grocery costs? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Crocus in the Snow

Have you ever stopped and really taken in the beauty of a crocus?  I am always amazed by its strength and beauty.  The gorgeous delicate petals are unbelievably bright and seem so fragile but have an amazing inner strength. They are the first sign of Spring and a new beginning, even when snow is still on the ground.

I have a dear friend who is like the crocus... strong, beautiful and has a gentle soul.  I painted her this painting  to remind her of the times we have spent together.  Kammy is moving to start a new chapter of her life.  I am so proud of her  but I am sad that she is leaving and will miss her.  She has become part of our family. Psalm 16:9