The Final Day….

September has finally come to an end.  The budget, well….I went over about $150 and didn’t quite stick to the calendar of meals, but overall I think it was a success.  Of course I was hoping to not go over the one hundred dollar budget, but there was no way I was going to tell my kids “sorry, no apples and bananas for you”.  However, I did buy a lot less than I normally would have, when Thing 1 only ate half an apple I would save the other half for him to eat later.  Normally I would just toss it in the “chicken” pile.  The chickens definitely went without this month, other than their normal feed it was some slim pickings.

Strangely, I didn’t miss going to the store all the time, I realized it was just some habit I learned and it became normal.  Now, well let’s just say I don’t even want to peruse the aisles looking for stuff, I want to get in and out and be done with it.  Walking past aisles is a big component to keeping to a budget, out of sight out of mind, right?  The list was also key, that and sticking to the list.  Our garbage can was only 3/4 full on garbage days, this went down from us having to shove as much in, stomping on it to get the lid to close and sometimes even having an extra bag next to the normal can.

As for the calendar of meals, well, in theory it’s a great idea, however, the meal I plan for two weeks from now isn’t always what I want, so you have to allow for some changing of days.  Weekly meal planning would work much better for me, and in fact, the only reason I did then whole month was because I was trying to use up what we had on hand and make sure I had enough to last the whole month.  We didn’t buy any meat, none, but we were gifted some meat from two people.  Even without those generous gifts we would have made it.  I still have the meat that was going to be used on those days, and it will get used.

My pantry is not as empty as I thought it would be, in fact, it’s still really quite full.  The freezer was getting down there, and I liked it.  Then Mr. Housewife went to Costco…. he did good though, Bought mostly stuff for the twinadoes and non food items, but there were a few.

One goal was to not go out for meals at all, I failed.  I believe I went out twice and then Mr. Housewife and I went out once, so really, it wasn’t a complete fail.  Our normal month consists of going out more like three times a week rather than month.  I missed eating out, but I plan on that getting scaled back as well, it’s just not necessary.

Next month I will be purchasing foods that are on sale, I’ll ease up on the budget, but there will be no free for all grocery trips.  This is all a work in progress, Rome wasn’t built in a day…

To end the month we are having leftovers from last night, I thought that was fitting.

Butternut Squash Soup

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The other day I made butternut squash soup, even though I got the eye roll from Mr. Housewife.  He did not seem to think it was going to be something he would like, his idea of it was like eating pumpkin pie in soup form.  Wrongo!!  For one, I do not use ginger, nutmeg or cinnamon in this soup, I like it to be savory with only the sweetness from the butternut.  To top it off I added some spice roasted chickpeas.  They are super addictive when you pop a few in your mouth so be sure to make extra.

There are so many videos, tutorials, etc on how to peel a butternut squash.  I used a sharp peeler, but you could also just pop the thing in the oven until it was soft and use in the soup, then you don’t have to worry about peeling.  I’m telling you, keep it simple for yourself.

For the Recipe:

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 onions, chopped

2 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (reduce if you don’t want that little zip in the soup)

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. paprika

4 c. butternut squash, cubed (this does not have to be exact, just grab a squash that looks like all the rest and call it good)

1 tbsp. garlic powder (or you could use a few cloves of garlic)

8 c. chicken stock, homemade preferred, but if you don’t have it use the Better Than Bouillon (love this stuff)

Roasted chickpeas (recipe at the bottom)

In a heavy pot heat the olive oil and add the onions.  Get them good and happy for a few minutes, then add all the salt, pepper and spices.  Let these hang out and get nice and caramel in color, don’t rush this, just let it happen.  Once the onions have a nice caramel color add the butternut squash.  Give it a good stir, add the garlic powder and let cook for 5-7 minutes.  You just want to let the squash bet coated in all the flavorful goodness and let the garlic powder get warm and mingle with the rest of the party.  Now add the chicken stock.  The squash will be nice and tender in about 15-20 minutes of cooking over medium heat.  After about 10 minutes give the liquid a taste to adjust seasoning to fit your taste, I always end up adding more of pretty much everything, however, I would rather have to add since you cannot take away.  Then continue to cook until squash is soft.  Blending time!!  Because I’m lazy I use the emulsion blender for this, taking the soup out to put in a blender then putting it all back in just means more work, no thank you.  However, if you don’t have an emulsion blender, well, looks like the normal blender will have to do.  Most people like to add some kind of cream coconut milk to this, however, I’m just not a fan.  I think this stuff tastes fantastic as is, but you are most welcome to add some if you feel the need.  Lastly, get yourself a big bowl, ladle a few scoops and top with the roasted chickpeas.

Enjoy!

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Roasted Chickpeas:

1 can garbanzo beans (I’ve actually started cooking dried and putting then in the freezer in place of canned)

generous drizzle of olive oil

1 tsp. paprika

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse and dry your chickpeas well, if they are wet they won’t crisp up.  Place on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle olive oil over all the chickpeas, then sprinkle all the seasonings.  Mix well so they are evenly coated.  Pop in the oven, let cook for 20 minutes.  Then give them a good shake and cook for 15 minutes.  After this 15 minutes give then yet another shake.  If your oven is like mine and heats hotter in the back than the front be sure to rotate the pan when you give them a good shake.  Test one of the chickpeas to see if they are nice and crisp, if they aren’t quite there, give them another ten minutes.  These keep well in an airtight container, but I’m telling you, they are so stinking good they won’t last long.

One Week To Go….

One hundred dollars for the month just didn’t happen for us.  As I had stated in the beginning I was not going to have the twinadoes go without items like fruits and vegetables.  Well we ran out of both by mid month so I had to buy those items, and that quickly took me over my budget.  That was a little sad, that buying food items that everyone should be eating was so expensive, I even shopped the fruits/vegetables that were on sale.  The entire time I was tossing apples, bananas, celery etc. in my cart I kept thinking to myself, what if I really didn’t have the money to pay for this, that I had spent all that I had for the month and we were going to have to wait a few weeks.

One big thing even Mr. Housewife noticed so far, our garbage has decreased by half, at least.  Seriously.  Today is garbage day and our can isn’t even filled, normally we are stomping on it trying to get it all in.  The hens didn’t have as many scraps (I use that word loosely since I would buy them extra fruits and vegetables that were meant for them) from our meal preparations because I was using everything I possibly could.  They sure became very appreciative of the scraps they did receive.

At first I sort of missed going to the store every other day, it had become routine.  Now, I’m loving it that part will become permanent.  The waste that was happening in this house was out of control, we won’t be going back to that either.  Some items I will buy a little extra to save in the freezer just to have on hand, but for the most part, no more of that.  The new idea will be to purchase what we are going to use within that week, that has cut down our waste incredibly.

Thing 1 came with me to the store one time this month, and boy was it ridiculous.  After shopping so frugally, seeing his wild hands going at full speed tossing items he “needed” into the cart was frustrating.  I found myself telling him no, and sticking to it.  Did I say no to everything, no.  They do need to learn limits at the store, that not every want is going to be satiated.  They will learn, in time.

So far I’ve gone over about $50, which in truth isn’t bad in my mind.  I still have a week to go and I do need more fruits for the twinaodes, and us now that I’m not really limiting, so it will probably be more like a two hundred dollar month.  That total wasn’t where I wanted to be, but it sure is a lot less than the $2200 of last month so I’ll take it.

And Then I Went Over…

I can’t believe I went over my one hundred dollar budget.  Uuuggghh!!!  Part was buying treats for my sick Thing 1 (and Thing 2 since you can’t buy for one and not the other) and then more treats again today when Thing 2, my step-daughter and I went to the Farmhouse Market to pick up some fruit and vegetables.  If I subtract the added treats I would be over about $8.50 with eleven days to go.

How am I consoling this defeat?  Going out to dinner with a friend…. However, I did inform Mr. Housewife that we are still sticking to the rest of the planned meals for the month, and they are still having spaghetti and meatballs with homemade baguettes.

How does one stick to a strict budget?  The only meat I purchased was landjaeger for my little Thing 2, but that was almost ten dollars (so if I count that as a treat then I still have $1.50), the rest was fruit, vegetables, milk and bread.  This was a real eye opener for me.  My mind keeps thinking about what if this was truly my reality and I had one hundred dollars to feed my two kids for the month.  With time I have no doubt I would figure it out, but we would go without a lot, A LOT.

We would be kissing organic food goodbye.  So long honeycrisp apples, hello fujis.  The Kit Kats my twinadoes love to sneak into the cart while we are waiting in line, farewell.  It would be bare bones, hell who am I kidding, we wouldn’t be able to afford bones (checked those today and they were marked $3.99/lb).

My hat goes off to all that truly do make these budgets work, you are amazing.  The rest of the month will be interesting, but with a little more determination we can do it.  We will never go back to $2200 a month, ever, that was just ridiculous and shameful.  Instead, we will be on a reasonable budget for our family with an allotted amount we set aside to help those that are not as fortunate as we are.

Week 3

We are coming to the end of week three, I was really hoping I could get away with not going to the store at all.  No such luck.  We ran out of milk, eggs (uh hello chickens time to step up your game), half-n-half, and a few other things.  But here’s my dilemma.  Do I count the items specifically bought for the twinadoes?  I started this with the intentions of not letting their needs (notice I say needs) to not be met.

Graham crackers, apple juice and a few other items are not really “needs” but they are items that they have come to expect and know to be available.  Thing 1 is not feeling well and has come down with the first cold of the new school year, so of course I have to make sure he has some treats, right?  He requested a doughnut from the store, and I couldn’t bring something back for him and not Thing 2, right?

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My total, using store coupons was $49.42.  That includes all the little extras for the twinadoes.  So do I count it?  What say you?  If I use this total I will still have $6.98 to bet me to the end of the month.  I’m torn….

Week 2 Grocery Trip

I really wanted to try and skip going to the grocery store this week, but alas, I needed to go.  Three things on the list, bread, eggs and yogurt sticks.  Honestly I thought I was golden with this trip, that I would be out of there for roughly $15.  How the heck did it end up being $23.44?  Granted I got two loaves of bread, two dozen eggs and two packages of yogurt sticks, but yowza I was shocked.

Going into the store I had $29.85 to spend ($4.85 carried over from last week), leaving I have $6.41.  This is so eye opening to me, sticking to a budget is hard, really hard.  I have cravings for stuff I just can’t afford and it sucks.

Last night I had my first urge to go out to dinner, but I stuck to my meal plan and had blt’s.  Mr. Housewife already came in and asked if I wanted to leave the kids and go out to an adult dinner tonight.  Then he said “I’ll leave it up to you”.  We are twelve days into this and I don’t think he thought I would make it this far, but I have.

Next month we are going to ease up on how strict the budget is, haven’t quite decided an exact amount, but we are going to eat from sales.  That means I will go by what the stores have on sale each week as a way to save money on food.

I’m a little on the fence as to what to do for November and December.  Those are the prime holiday months, and around here that means lots of really good food, eating out, socializing and making lots of goodies for our friends.  I’ll have to think about that one, what do you all think?  Should I continue on a budget through the holidays?

How are all your budgets coming along?  Any great tips you care to share?

One Week In….

Monday was the last day of the first week of my $100 dollar a month challenge.  Nobody complained about the dinners and I only went to the store once, spending $20.15.  To be honest, I was kind of giddy that I had money left over to carry to the next week and even more giddy when I realized I probably won’t need to go to the grocery store this week.

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I’m really thankful to the calendar I made for the month of meals, it’s keeping me on track and pretty much keeping the work to a minimum.  It took about two hours to do it from start to finish, and it included going through the freezer to take inventory of the meat we had as well as the pantry.  I finally get the whole meal planning thing, it’s totally making sense.  Next month I’m thinking of trying a once a week shopping trip meal plan where I use the store ad to shop sale items only.

The other bonus to all this is the lack of food waste.  Because I’m trying to make sure everything lasts in order to fulfill their use in my meal plans we don’t have much waste, in fact, so far we’ve had none.  I love that!  Everyone gets enough to eat, but we are not overstuffed, we are just right.  Before I would make so much food, then we would all overeat but still leave tons of leftovers that would usually get tossed.  It’s a new me I’m telling you….

My goal for this week is to stick to the meal plan and do what I can to not go to the store.  Today I’m making homemade baguettes to go with our cheese and canned fished dinner.  I honestly don’t want to run to the store for crackers, and yes I know that whipping up some baguettes is not something most people would do.

For now I need to go start some bread….

http://food52.com/blog/10044-dan-leader-s-4-hour-baguette