Organizing Groceries & Saving Money!

This year, I have decided to work on my organizational skills when it comes to groceries and shopping.  I think I do really well keeping our grocery budget (just food) at $60 per week for our family of four but I really wanted to plan better.  Yes, I stayed at or under the budget each week but sometimes I would have to “borrow” from the next week’s budget to get something I forgot for this week, etc.  Sometimes I was making 3-4 trips a week to get groceries and just like a lot of you folks, I just don’t have time to do all that!

I decided to pick a month and do my menu planning and grocery shopping before the month began.  Yes, I am a wimp so I picked February because it was the shortest month… 🙂  It was to be an exercise in self discipline, planning ahead with menus and only making one trip to the grocery store (be it a LONG, overwhelming trip). I began this process last week by sitting down and organizing my menu planning and taking an inventory of my freezer, fridge and stockpile.  One of the things you have to be careful with when you stockpile is making sure you actually use the stuff you purchase.  So I developed my February menu by using most of the foods I already have on hand and then I made a list of what I would need to complete the month.  My biggest challenge has been planning for the fresh fruits and vegetables.  At the beginning of the month (the first 10 days or so), it’s easy to plan bananas, apples, salads, etc. but what do you do the rest of the month?  I decided to depend on canned fruits and vegetables (store-bought and self-canned at home from our garden) and dehydrated fruits and veggies for later in the month.  As for milk, our church buys milk and orange juice each Sunday for the breakfast they serve before Sunday School.  Our family has been blessed to be given the leftovers each week so we rarely have to buy milk or orange juice.

So today, I gathered the grocery coupons I have been accumulating, my sales ad (Kroger), my reusable bags and my two children and headed to Kroger.  Not long after walking in the door did I realize I had left my grocery list at home!!!  What a way to start this commitment to organization, huh??!!  ugh….

Once I entered Kroger, I began my regular routine – I stopped by the Manager’s Special section first and ran up on some really good buys.  Then I circled around to the bakery Ooops! cart where they put marked down breads and finally, we stopped at the produce overripe section.  I found a box of 8 organic kiwi (normally priced around 2/$1) for .49!  I bought 3 boxes.  Yes, they will need to be used very soon but they will dry very nicely in my dehydrator for the end of this month’s snacks.

With the help of The Krazy Coupon Lady (absolutely amazing free couponing website), I knew which items were on sale and matched them with good coupons to get some great deals.  Surprisingly, it only took me an hour and 30 minutes, start to finish.  I ended up with two carts filled to the brim!  At the checkout, my total was $301.03 before the sales and coupons.  My total after discounts was $145.31.  (And as an added bonus, I had a $100 gift card as a gift from our church that helped bring our total out of pocket to $45.31.)

And for those naysayers who complain that people who stockpile are silly (putting it nicely), let me share this story.  A family came by our church last Sunday night after Bible study and needed food.  Our church’s food bank has been dwindling since there is so much need in our community right now (as in most communities).  They specifically asked for children’s drinks and a bag of sugar.  My husband (who is a minister) called me and asked if we had anything to give to them.  Praise God our stockpile was there.

It has been a challenge preparing for this month but I will let you know how it’s going as the month goes.  For those of you who are interested, here are some photographs of my menu plans for the month.  (The third week of the month, we will be at JBC for homecoming so I didn’t plan many cooked foods for that week.)  You may notice I only plan 3 lunches and 3 dinners for our family.  The rest of the time, we eat leftovers or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, whatever is around that’s convenient.

By the way, I’m teaching a class on how to do this on Saturday, February 25th.  Here’s the link for more information or to sign up!  http://ibloom.co/events/savemoney

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Goin’ Camping & Canoeing!

You would’ve NEVER seen me going on a camping trip before I lost that weight.  We are also going canoeing the first of next week….  yep… ME!!  Isn’t that crazy?  Just wanted to share.  Losing that weight has not only changed my body but it’s changing my mind and spirit. 

Also wanted to share real quick about a program I’m testing for a software developer.  You know how I shared with all of you about www.myfitnesspal.com and how it’s helped me TREMENDOUSLY in losing weight?  Well, I wanted to share about another site: www.ProductiveBalance.com.  This site has really taken the stress factor out of my life.  If I have 4-5 things to do on my list for today, I put them in order of prirority (by assigning points) and linking them to my core values (which Productive Balance helped me set up, too). At the end of the day, I can see where the things I checked off as accomplished affect my life as a whole.

Example: I put 15 minutes with each kid (I call them Mommy Minutes) each night as an action item on my to-do list and attach it to my core value of
“family relationships.” At the end of the week, I can look back at how much I worked towards building up that core value and which values I have neglected.
Helps me figure out where to spend more time to maintain balance.

I also homeschool & am setting up sessions (to-do lists) for each of my kiddos to keep them on track.  It’s highly recommended for kids with ADD/ADHD, too.

Productive Balance has been great in my weight loss journey. I add my workouts as high priority items and if I miss them or half way do them, I see
that on the charts and I know where I need to focus in the future. Fantastic tool. If you’re interested in trying it – try it free for 2 weeks and tell them
Tammy Lanham sent you, you’ll receive a special offer. (I know…. I carry that kind of clout!! HAHA!!) If nothing else, it’ll really help you develop your core
values. We’ve all got them but most of us have never written them down and really looked at them.  I was leary about the $8 per month but once I started
using it, I found I would pay 2x or 3x that, now.  It’s been fantastic.  Just wanted to share.

Have a fantastic weekend…

God bless!

 

Day 3 – still sober

I’m amazed at how God is faithful.  I know He is and has always been – I tend to be forgetful.  I’ve been making wise food choices and sticking to my commitment to working out every day for an entire 48 hours, now.  I know it sounds silly but I’m very proud of myself.  You’ve got to remember, for me, this is like a drunk trying to stay sober.  I eat when I get emotional or when I’m under stress.  Over the past 48 hours, my kids have run fevers of over 104 and I’ve been cleaning up vomit.  I had the potential to really fall off the wagon.  I’m not setting any longterm goals, I’m making it through THIS day first.  I was frustrated yesterday because I usually try to have a quiet time in the mornings and because my children were sick, I was unable to do so.  My husband came home on his lunch hour so I could run & get some groceries before  the snow storm hit and when I turned on the radio, I heard the song “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns.  Try reading through these lyrics with MY eyes – the eyes of someone without the strength (on my own) to lose this weight…

Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he’s holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
“Boy, you’ll never win,
You you’ll never win

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
and the Voice of truth says “this is for My glory
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

Oh, what I would do
to have the kind of strength it takes
To stand before a giant
with just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound
of a thousand warriors
shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out
my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
time and time again
“Boy you’ll never win,
you’ll never win.”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
and the Voice of truth says “this is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

But the stone was just the right size
to put the giant on the ground
and the waves they don’t seem so high
from on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
when I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
singing over me

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
The Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
And the Voice of truth says “this is for my glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)
I will choose to listen and believe (I will choose to listen and believe)
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

I will listen and believe
I will listen and believe the Voice of truth
I will listen and believe
‘Cause Jesus you are the Voice of truth
And I will listen to you.. oh you are the Voice of truth

So, I’m not listening to myself because myself tells me I’ve done this a thousand times before and it never works.   I choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth that tells me I’m doing this for His glory.  I will not be afriad.  I covet your prayers.

PART 2: 

Snow Storm’s a Comin’

Whenever I hear the words “snow storm” I go into a nesting mode… I feel like I should have my home ready for anything that might happen.  It should be clean, organized, all the laundry done, the dishes done, the fridge full of easy to prepare foods – you never know, right?  What if it snows 3 feet and every neighbor in the area loses their electricity except us?  I HAVE to be able to feed and sleep all of them here, right?  I know it’s a little insane… 🙂  Seriously though, you never know what the weather holds so I’ve been organizing and cleaning.  This morning, I watched this news story and realized how very unorganized I am (and I only have 2 kids).

http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/the-bateses-and-their-18-children-23906649