Confessions of our frugal failure & Our Personal Challenge….

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I’ve briefly mentioned that our family is working our way to eating more whole/real foods.  Well, I’ll admit that we’re having a harder time than I thought breaking our old habits.  Granted, we had already started  eating less store packaged/canned foods & had been doing this for a while, but over the last year, we’ve managed to fall back into some old habits of not planning ahead enough that we’re not stopping to grab something “quick” to eat through a drive-thru a couple of times a week.  Being a frugal person, this always kills me to know how much we were spending each time our family of 5 did this, but I was  at a loss as how to stop this vicious cycle since our schedule would remain the same for quite some time.  I know better.  I think we’ve all fallen back into bad habits & then felt at a loss as to how to get back out of them again.  Right? 

 

Well, Brian & I were discussing this very thing yesterday & have decided that we have GOT to change things.  And we’re going to to just that.  Since I do the majority of the grocery shopping & cooking of meals, I know I can do this.  I just have to change my thinking again & get back into my frugal mindset.  I love cooking/baking for my family, so this is not a problem.  The problem comes in when I don’t plan ahead and make the best use of my time to prioritize making sure that dinner is always prepared ahead of time so that I can either throw it together quickly that evening or in the Crock Pot™ in the morning. 

So, for the rest of the month of July, we are going to pledge to not eat out and to keep our grocery budget, including mostly whole/real foods (with as much as possible from the farmer’s market).  Our normal grocery budget for our family of 5 is around $400/month.  I try to keep under this as much as possible and would love to get it down to $300 during the summer months with all the fresh fruits & veggies available playing a more vital role in our meals.  This is always an issue since I have a husband & 2 out of 3 kids that prefer to have meat & potatoes over fresh fruits & veggies.   This amount will no include our bulk food order that we will place at the end of the month.  Since we are still trying to build up our whole grains, healthy oils, etc., this is still planned for separately.   I also do not use coupons since most of what I buy is either Aldi’s store brand, dairy, fresh/frozen fruits/veggies, or from the Dollar Tree™ (toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoos, etc.).  That being said, we should be able to easily stay under our budgeted $400.   So far this month, I’ve spent $105.26 on:

10 lb russet potatoes

10 lb frozen chicken breasts/thighs

10 lb frozen wings

3 gal milk

4 lb carrots

2 bunches of celery

3 lb onions

4 pints blueberries

3 green bell peppers

10 (8 oz) blocks cheese (different varieties)

4 bags frozen peaches(for smoothies)

3 qts. Heavy whipping cream

1 small container of Greek yogurt (to use as starter for my homemade yogurt)

1 bunch romaine lettuce

1/2 gal buttermilk

 

Yesterday, I went to the farmer’s market & spent $25 on:

fresh corn on the cob

okra

watermelon

 

Grand total for the month so far:  $130.26.

What we’ve eaten so far this week:  Taco salad, spaghetti with sauce with fresh mushrooms

Plans for the rest of the week: Still up in the air, but I’m planning to use some of the chicken I just bought as well as some beef we already have (a grass-fed beef we had slaughtered last fall), plus some of the fresh corn, carrots, mushrooms, etc. 

I will need to pick up some more lettuce at some point because I plan to incorporate a few more salads during this hot weather.  I want to keep my oven/stove time down to a minimum to keep from heating the house up any more than necessary.  I will also be utilizing my Crock Pot™ as much as possible, which I will set outside on the back porch to cook so that it will heat up the outside & not the house.

 

July Goals/Challenge Recap:

  • No eating out
  • All Brian’s lunches will be from home (he will have a small allowance for picking up drinks on the way home this week & next week since he is working 3rd shift & sometimes needs a little boost to get him home – this will not be included, but I will track it)
  • Utilize the Farmer’s Market for fresh fruits/veggies
  • Keeping at or below our budget of $400.
  • Pack snacks to take in the car if I think we’re going to be gone long enough for everyone to become hungry
  • Buy as little prepackaged items as possible, including fruits/veggies in the stores with their plastic packaging, to keep down on waste

recyclingbetter

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One thing I haven’t really discussed, but should, is the fact that our local county FINALLY has a decent recycling program!  Now, instead of just paper, cardboard, some glass, & cans, we can recycle most plastics, glass, etc.  It’s wonderful seeing more than half of our waste going to recycling now like it should instead of just to the landfill.  I always tried to reduce/reuse/recycle as much as possible, but I can only do so much.  Now, we should average about 1 bag of garbage to every 2 bags of recycling.  I also now have a compost bin (Yay!), so I’m hoping to continue to reduce our waste even more!  There is so much that is either recyclable or compostable that our waste should be almost nothing. 

So, follow my family & I as we embark on this journey & challenge.  We’ve done it before & used to be very good at it, so I know we can do it again!

Our Newest Journey

I hinted about a new journey that my family & I have embarked on, and it’s time that I share it with you.  For several years now, I’ve been wanting to make a change in our eating/baking habits, but my dear hubby has been against it for a variety of reasons, one of them being hat he’s a picky eater.  His tastes have changed a bit over the years, but it is very hard for a tiger to change his stripes.  But, through God’s timing, we finally started this wonderful journey about two months ago.  It’s still a slow process since Brian is not the only one who is picky in our family.  Two out of three of our kiddos are picky.  It does make for some interesting meal times around here, even with our rule of “everyone has to take at least one bit of everything that’s fixed.”  But, this journey is going better than I anticipated!  Everyone is really enjoying all the delicious goodies that I’m baking for them!  Would you like to know what I’ve been up to & what changes we’ve made? 

Here’s a hint:

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Yep!  That’s a L’EQUIP Nutrimill Grain Mill" target=_blank>Nutrimill Grain Mill, and I’m absolutely head over heals for it and all the, fresh,  delicious (& health(ier)) creations it’s allowing me to make! I’ve made some delicious breads, as well as cornmeal, cookies, bagels, & tortillas from the fresh whole wheat (cornmeal for cornbread) that I get from my new grain mill!  My baked goods have a wonderful, fresh taste to them that they didn’t have before.  Not to mention the fact that we are now eating foods that are even less processed/bleached, as well as we are eating the WHOLE grain, which means we are getting all of the natural nutrients that God intended when eating wheat.  Most people don’t realize that even the “whole wheat” breads/flours in the store are so processed that there’s really nothing nutritionally left in them.  Here is a great article about the benefits of grinding your own wheat, and here’s one more article on grinding your own wheat.

 

Here are a few of the delicious goodies that I’ve made for my family so far:

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Freshly ground cornmeal for cornbread!

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Fresh homemade whole wheat tortillas!

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Fresh homemade whole wheat bagels!

 

I’ve also made loaves of bread, hoagie-style buns, and cookies, but I don’t have pics of those, for some reason.  But, needless to say, my family is loving the new, fresh taste of the foods that I’m making.  This is just the beginning of our journey to using whole grains.  I’m also in the process of adding in other whole grains, but I’ve got to take baby steps and do things slowly.  I’ve also picked up my first bulk food order this week and am excited to really begin this journey.  Whole grains are not the only changes that have been going on.  For a while now, I’ve also been adding in more fresh fruits and veggies, as well as steaming veggies.  For years, I’ve already been doing more baking and Crock Pot ™ cooking than frying, and grilling when we can.  But, my hubby has bee and always will be a meat and potatoes man, and two of my children are just like him.  But, they are learning right along with him to try new things, and some of them they are evening enjoying.  Baby steps.  Stay tuned for future installments.  I hope to see more and more whole grains in my menu planning in the future.