Thursday, October 28, 2010

Update: 30 day Spending Fast, Both a Success and a Failure

Wow. I have not been a very good frugalista these days. Lately, I have been consumed by the need to spend green.  However, it has been on useful items... like Halloween Decorations. Hmmph... On a different note I have been able to slim the down the grocery budget significantly by only buying what is necessary and using what we already have. I have come up with some interesting food combinations. It's a good thing my husband isn't picky.

As far as my picky toddler? Well she is still picky. I have found the Mac and Cheese recipe from Deceptively Delicious to be just about the easiest and tastiest thing in the entire book. It has however

Deceptively Delcious Recipe - Pita Pizzas - Succes/ Fail

Wow, I didn't really expect this. However, I didn't expect M to be in the mood she was in. I also couldn't locate 4" pitas and thus when I cut through the cheesy goodness the spinach oozed out. She started shaking her head no immediately. What is with the color green? Why does it scare some kids so much?

I also think that M wold pick these Pizzas apart anyhow, as she usually picks at her food.

I loved them. I will make them again for myself anytime. Happy that I found this great idea!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Confessions of a Couponholic - Either I Can't Stop Spending... Or Stuff Really is Exspensive.

So I have been putting off updating the ol' blog this week. I guess it's because I am so ashamed of the fact that I could not adhere to the very goals that I established and set forth. I blame two realities in the failure of my plan. A) I really do have a spending problem. Ouch. That hurts to say. B) In order to purchase healthy, wholesome food for your family a budget of $25.00 is definitely not realistic. Who in the heck was I kidding?

The shopping list was compiled in advance as I stated and a majority of the items were fresh produce which was prepared in order to achieve my secondary goal of sneaking veggies into our daughter's diet.

I spent $61.94 on fresh items for the week but this did also include broccoli and cauliflower to be steamed and butternut squash and sweet potatoes to be roasted. These items are for the Deceptively Delicious recipes and will be used throughout the weeks; so it's hard to say that this upfront cost will be consistent. I also spent an additional $18.32 on items that Maddie likes to eat since she seems to be very particular and not taking to my new take on her menu. Yes, this does include cans of Spaghetti O's and Campbell's Soup. A kid does have to eat!

So a grand total of  $80.26, roughly $5.00 over what our usual budget is. I attribute this to the additional pantry items that we had to purchase. However, if I truly was a person that could only survive on a $100.00 a month food budget I just don't see how it could be done in a manner where you could eat healthy too.  I am so thankful and grateful that my parents are the urban farmers that they are as well. I highly doubt that I could obtain organic produce and still maintain my family's budget of $300.00 per month for food.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Deceptively Delicious Recipe - Grilled Cheese - Success/Fail

Again, another attempt at a child friendly dinner that happens to have a hearty does of veggies was a semi-success - semi-failure again.

I used a little less margarine and a little more cheese. I also used hearty wholegrain for ours, and regular wholegrain for M's sandwich. My husband probably took 3 bites before he stopped and asked, "What kind of cheese is this? " It paired nicely with Muir Glen Creamy Tomato soup.

M stuck her fingers in the cheesy goop a few times and licked her hands off. She then opened up the center of the other pieces. This may have been because I burned the bread using margarine to toast the bread instead of olive oil. whoops. Maybe I will have better luck next time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Deceptively Delicious - Macaroni and Cheese 1 - Success & Fail

Success? I loved everything about this recipe. From the texture of the noodles, (al dente - Barilla) , to the creamy sweetness of the sauce.

Madeline somehow KNEW there was something other than Cheese in it. However, she did scoop in a few bites. The next day I melted a slice of Kraft American cheese in it and she ate a few more bites than she did the day before.

I portioned out the servings in freezable containers. I hope they freeze well and that she will give it another shot soon.

Next time I try to make Mac & Cheese for her I am going to do Great Northern Bean puree in good ol' Kraft Macaroni. I think we may be able to better trick her that way.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Household Budgeting: When Budgeting is a Bore

Who can say that they enjoy budgeting? Me? Nope. I even hold a finance degree and have held several Accounting roles in the past. I did have my spreadsheets and I knew how much we were SUPPOSED to be spending. However, neither my husband or myself actually adhered to the guidelines that had been set.

The key to having any type of household budget is to pay yourself first. What does that mean? We set aside a predetermined amount to be transferred to savings via a payroll transfer. The remainder is used for household bills, mortgage payments, and household expenses. My husband and I keep separate accounts and each pay for bills separately but evenly. For example when my daughter was in daycare he paid the mortgage and insurance, I paid for daycare and utilities. My advice to all women is to have their own account. You never know when you will need to have your own money.

Using a spreadsheet from sites such as 10 Free Budgeting Spreadsheets  helped us determine what bills are revolving and what we really are paying for everything.  Browse what you think will work for you. Then, the kicker is for you to save ALL your receipts. At the end of the month separate the receipts by type and enter into the spreadsheet of your choice. That should help you determine where you need to adjust your discretionary spending.

For example after using the same method we determined that we could not afford pet insurance. Though we love our pets very much we just knew that we could not afford the $90 + per month payment and cut it out. We exercise our pugs and feed them well, so they have remained healthy. Their shots are taken care of at pet clinics that run on the weekend at the local pet store.

Confessions of a Couponholic: The Goals and Rules of the 30 Day Spending Fast

The 30 day spending fast is to commence on Monday, September 20th. A full inventory has been done of the kitchen and pantry and recipe plans have been made.

Fresh items will be purchased on a weekly basis. This includes milk, yogurt, and such. If making a recipe from Deceptively Delicious changes to the recipe will be determined on a case by case basis and. If an exact ingredient is needed it will be added to the weekly budget along with the other items to be purchased. A weekly budget of $25 dollars for such necessities has been set. Any surplus of the budget will be transferred to savings at the end of the 30 days.

Recipe plans have always helped us budget in the past. However, in the past we budgeted $75 per week for food. I guess that number was part of the reason that I felt so compelled to spend!

I hope to learn to make weekly meal plans and stick to what we need rather than what is on sale! I also hope to learn to feed my picker toddler in a manner that enables her to meet her taste and nutrition needs!