Monday, August 27, 2012

Menu for the month Monday...

Y'all ready fo dis?!

Our food/grocery budget started over on Saturday.

I realize that I didn't share one other thing with you in my last post about our budget. And that was this: the Sunday paper and coupon clipping has not proven to be work it. Unless you need a new tooth brush for the kids, in which case you can probably find that coupon on line. It is nice to know when things are on sale, but it makes me want to spend more money, not save and the coupons are all for processed crap or skin care products with chemicals in them. That's not how we roll.

Here is the food we have planned for the month!

8/25 out to eat tacos
8/26 (turkey)BLTs with salad- we actually use cabbage in place of lettuce in these and in our tacos etc.
8/27 Lentil Burritos
8/28 Grilled chicken with veggies and mashed potatoes
8/29 Quinoa and Blackbeans- we use trader joes roasted corn and add kale
8/30 Mexican Pile - I'll have to explain this one later...
8/31 Pile! - again, I'll have to explain it later. It's delicious.
9/1 Tostadas- baked
9/2 veggie night- all vegetables all night ;)
9/3 Turkey Lettuce Wraps- I use this recipe for inspiration
9/4 Tuna salad stuffed portobellos topped with cheddar and side salad
9/5 Crock Pot Marinara for a simple pasta bake
9/6 Crock Pot Black beans for black bean burgers
9/7 Pile!- it really never gets old, never
9/8 Crock pot chicken divan
9/9 Homemade Pizza and Salad
9/10 Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans served over rice or quinoa
9/11 Tostadas baked
9/12 Crock Pot chicken tacos- There are a million recipes on the www for this
9/13 Mexican Lasagna- no chicken only beans
9/14 Veggie Night
9/15 Turkey Burgers with salad and potato wedges
9/16 Preston's Birthday! = Party food
9/17 Chicken Parm
9/18 Ouinoa, Black beans and avocado
9/19 Curried Chicken and vegetables
9/20 Pile! and salad
9/21 out of town
9/22 out of town
9/23 (get home) Tostadas are easy :)
9/24 Vegetarian Chili and GF corn bread with salad

See, that wasn't too bad!

As you probably noticed, we make things in big batches and use them for all different meals- for example - mexican pile has mashed potatoes and we are also having mashed potatoes with our chicken. Black beans made in a big batch and portioned out for different meals etc.

As you see, we repeat some things and it's ok. :)

We also have some kind of salad with almost every meal for example; spinach salad, kale salad , romaine lettuce salad or even home made cole slaw on occasion. For our all veggie dinners, we hit the farmer's market, it is truly amazing!

When we go out of town at the end of the month, we will still take some of our food with us, for example; I'll make bread and probably some quinoa salad or pasta salad etc. We are going to my in-laws and with Preston's food allergies it's just easier that way.

Did I miss anything?

What are you eating this month?!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How we make our grocery budget work!


It seems so small, yet like such a large sum of money. 
Doesn't it?

This is our grocery budget for each month.

I finally came to terms with the fact that I have another job.
Household Manager.
It is kind of like being a stage manager, only the stakes are higher.
It's life or death, really.

We eat a lot of organic. We do not eat red meat. We eat a lot of beans. This number includes paper products and cleaning supplies. There are sometimes 5 of us, and sometimes only 3. 
Regardless, the Budget stays the same.

And I am going to share with you how we do it!

I have to start off by saying that I have read a lot of posts on budgeting, freeze ahead meals, meal planning, cooking one time a month etc. But it really seemed like the meals were not very healthy. 

This process has taken about 4 months to refine and nail down, but I have found out a system that works for us, and I am so very excited about it!

Decide when your budget starts and stops, keep it the same every month. Happy Hubby gets paid on the 26th of each month, so that is when our budget begins!

I'll start by saying what all of the other budget blogs say. 

Make a meal plan.
1. Ask family members what they'd like to have for the month, and make a list of 30+ meals that you can hang onto for future months. Also, know your schedule. I teach some nights and it is way easier on us to have crock pot meals those nights. (Really, just about anything can be turned into a crock pot meal these days!)

2. Write it on a calendar where everyone sees it. Highlighted so there is no doubt. We use a calendar template printed for free from the internet. On big paper.

3. Make a list of ingredients you will need for each meal.

4. Go shopping at the beginning of the month for the whole month, other than produce.

5. Keep a weekly allowance for weekly fresh produce and "uh oh, I forgot" items. This is usually $25-$30 per week for us. 

Here is my plan written and highlighted.

Go Shopping
1. Buy big and buy in bulk, you will need to freeze things. Don't worry, we just have a regular tiny freezer too! Costco/Sams/warehouse shopping is so very much worth it!

2. Compare prices. Things are not always less expensive in bulk. You can keep receipts or write down prices to recollect what a "good price" is.

Yes, that IS 25 lbs of brown rice flour... I make our GF bread.

3. Compromise. You don't always have to buy name brand, and it's not always "better"

4. Know your ingredients. We rarely buy crap boxed cereals or snacks. Other than tortilla chips and tortillas. For snacks we have fruit or veggies with peanut butter, homemade granola bars (they're so easy to whip up!), breakfast bars, baked oatmeal, muffins, smoothies, eggs (cage free organic etc), grits, pancakes with honey etc. We don't need all of the chemicals in the products that come in a box.
Make big batches of pancakes, breakfast bars, muffins, whatever and freeze them, it'll save you!

5. This will seem contradictory to what is listed above, but buy treats. This month it was ice cream and spinach artichoke dip. We mindfully ration it out. We believe this keeps us from feeling like we are confined, and we then won't run out to buy worse food like french fries and frosties! lol

I should note too, that we don't use paper towels, they're too wasteful. We washcloths from Ikea with color tabs that are used in their absence and washed daily. We also use cloth napkins, since I make them! However, I assure you we wipe with toilet paper ;) We are not THAT far gone.

More on 4 and 5 in a minute....

Try to hit all of your shopping in 1-2 days to get all of the effort out of the way! 
Prep and put it away:

This is so great for us, no moldy cheese and this amount lasts 2 months.

This amount lasts two months. It is about a once a week treat, if even that when we buy it. 
Freezing it in the muffin tin works out to be the right portion size.

We buy lots of onions from costco. These last us 2 months. We chop them and keep them in jars.
We also chop some and freeze them (in a little water) like the artichoke dip.

Here are old classico jars we use for chopped onions and excess beans.

We buy dried beans and sometimes sub them for meat in recipes- we get the 20 lb bag of dried pinto beans from costco. We make them in the crock pot. Super duper easy!

Here is our teeny freezer packed up!

On the night you do all of your grocery shopping, plan something so very easy or eat out!

Like chicken hotdogs in tortillas with cheese!

Keep your receipts with a log to track your budget and keep tabs on prices. I write mine in my everything notebook. 

And that, my friends is how we feed/wipe/clean a family of 5 on the tight budget of $500 per month!

Check back on Monday for this month's meals!

What are your budgeting tips and tricks? 
I'd love for you to leave them in the comments as there is always room for improvements!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sock Monkey Towel Hooks

I realize that I have not yet posted photos of full rooms, only glimpses of our bedroom here and here and our entry/mudroom - which those photos are terribly outdated...

One day, I am making that promise now... Please hold me to it!

I guess the point that I am trying to make is simply that you've never seen Preston's room, but the theme is traditional sock monkeys...

We wanted to run with that theme for the kids' bathroom as well, only make it more fun with more modern sock monkeys in brighter colors.

This was the only room that we hadn't painted and it was a very cold blue that made me feel not so warm and cozy.

Here is the before photo:

The photo actually makes the bathroom look better than it really is :P

I painted the wall straight ahead a color called Exotic Isle and made some hooks for the wall for the kids to hang their towels. Oh I as so tired of towels hanging over the banister, over chairs, balled up in corners and on door knobs.

I decided to make something similar only square and with fabric! 
This Sock Monkey fabric is by Moda

In use! 3 kids' and the dog's towels hanging up = one happy mom!

Up close and probably the truest green to the color on the wall:

Washing the towels, the hooks look lonely but still adorable!

fabric cut to size
modpodge on top of fabric
rustoleum enamel in gloss on top 2x
hooks screwed into the blocks and studs or anchors 

And here's what we get!

I'm loving this sock monkey bathroom. It needs a little more TLC and paint :) 
but nothing is ever quite done!

Tell me where you could use some hooks in your life?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cloth Cocktail Napkins/ Cloth Dessert Napkins

I have been showing my shop some love lately...

I have added new cloth beverage napkins and cloth dessert napkins both with over cast edges.

These would make lovely personalized cloth beverage napkins for a wedding, as a hostess gift or stocking stuffer. Yes, I just said stocking stuffer, it is August after all.

Take a peek at these adorable mason jar napkins:

Here is an order of 72 count order of dessert napkins that I recently completed:

Here the cupcake ink is drying in my sewing studio/bedroom:

New set of baby pink cloth dessert napkins! These would be the sweetest at a baby shower, bridal shower, tea party, bachelorette shindig... really, these would be cute for anything:

Cutting and hand stamping cloth cocktail napkins :)

If you are interested in making a purchase or you'd like to place a custom order, please visit my shop:

Thanks for letting me show off my fresh inventory!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Easy Quinoa Salad

2 Cups Cooked Quinoa
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Diced Roma Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Frozen Corn- 
(We use the roasted corn from Trader Joes)
1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
1/2 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion
1/4 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
2 Teaspoons Basil

I run hot water over the corn and peas to defrost them, then drain and throw all ingredients together in a bowl. SO stinkin' easy and delicious!

It is best if it sits over night. You probably have everything in your kitchen already, if not just try adding something different and let me know how it turns out!

Cilantro would be good...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

DIY nightstand from old wood- a free project!

Some people see these old shipping crates and think, "junk."

I see these shipping crates and think, "victory!"

I found them on craigslist, and sent my amazing, willing, forgiving and oh-so-compassionate Happy Hubby to break them apart and bring it home to his creative wood loving wife. 
Wow, I did just type that...

I know pallet projects are all over the place, and I love it!
They are cheap, they reuse/recycle (I'm a huge fan!), and they are so darn cute!

My side of the bed has sadly been looking like this for awhile:

Yikes! That's embarrassing! 
Looks like a dorm room. 

Needless to say I was eager to turn free loot from the pile of crap above into a functional less of an eye sore nightstand... 

So, we got to work.

we cut.
we screwed.
we sanded.
and sanded.
um, and sanded.
we painted.
we sanded.
we sealed.

and here she is...

The shelf to the right is going to go soon...

We are looking less like a dorm room! Yipee!

Not bad for free huh?!

free wood.
white ceiling paint left over.
spare screws.
left over poly-acrylic. 
(Yes, it yellowed a little, which was fine for this project.)

I'm considering adding a little something to the front of the shelves... 
we will see how that goes, you know you'll hear about it when it happens ;)

It compliments our homemade headboard and our luxurious pin tucked duvet cover from old Rit dyed sheets

Happy, happy homemaking- one project at a time!

Do you have any free projects or pallet projects you'd like to share? 
Post a link in the comments, I'd love to see 'em!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Menu Monday

I have been a meal planning fool. I have to be when there are 3 children in our care and we have implemented a tight budget! So I have decided to celebrate all of my planning by blogging about it!

We don't eat gluten, soy, or red meat, and only clean and organic poultry, fish and eggs. On $500 per month which includes paper products etc.

Monday: Ground turkey, bean, pumpkin concoction in the crock for lettuce wraps and sautéed summer squash with basal and parmesan.

Tuesday: Grilled BBQ chicken, steamed artichokes, and grilled sweet potatoes.

Wednesday: Tuna salad stuffed mushrooms topped with cheddar and spinach salad.

Thursday: Black beans, quinoa, roasted corn, kale bowl topped with avocado.

Friday: Black Bean burgers and salad.

Saturday: Sandwiches and cold quinoa salad since we will be on the road!

Sunday: Taco Casserole!

Hope this inspires your meal planning this week!