Week 4 Wrapup

I DID IT! I passed my test. I'm now a LCSW and I think it's a pretty big deal. I really have to thank my husband and Miss G's baby sitter because they both really stepped up to help and watch her more so I could study. I am really proud of that. AND on Thursday night instead of going out to eat Mr C and I actually made dinner. Look at us sticking to the pantry challenge.

I'm also really proud of my pantry challenge this week. I did really well with it. I did spend $60 at Publix on Sunday like I said in the meal plan. Further since this was month 2 of the challenge we were really getting to a point that we needed things. So, I did stock up on Publix BOGOs that I knew we would soon need.

I have to tell for frugalities sake we didn't save so much money over the month but when you look at our pantry we did make an effort eat up some food that had been hanging around too long.

So my goal for February is to ax everything is going that I know we don't regularly eat.  I hope to post when I finally get it organized. I also hope to do this project while organizing the freezer. I love it.

What we did eat. Well, we stuck to the plan for once. Mr C and Miss G had the barbeque on Sunday. I had corn chowder.

Monday: we had baked spaghetti pulled from the freezer.

Wednesday: Mr. C cooked black bean burgers w/ french fries.

Thursday: We together made pad thai.

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: We ate lunch out. I headed to Nashville and Mr. C ate boxed pasta.

So, as we are about to end out this adventure I think we are finally getting the hang of it. =)

We are not done with odd foods. I am going to make my meal plan for this week out of odd foods and then next weekend I'm axing what we don't eat. I know Good Cheap Eats is ending this week but I'm continuing until next weekend. This will be hard for me. I have some hoarding tendencies but I know we'll be better off if I do declutter.


Pantry Challenge Week 3

So, even though this month's goal is to clean out and organize our pantry for the Pantry Challenge at Good Cheap Eats my mom decided to contribute by cleaning out her pantry and sending food home with us. I did tell her it was ok and let her know that anything that wasn't eaten in the next couple of weeks is going to the food bank and she agreed. Therefore we got a large influx of food. I tried to build some of the meal plan around it.

The theme of the next 2 weeks is quick meals. I am taking my LCSW exam next Thursday, which was goal 1 of 2012. I am talking quick and easy foods to make.

Normally, I really try to make sure we're eating well balanced healthy meals with a variety of flavors along with plenty of veggies and with as many organics as we can afford. But this and next week the emphasis is on quick!

I think we did really well this week. I did run to Publix and spend about $65 but a lot of that was Miss G and food for our life group (bible study). Yup in my disorganization I volunteered to feed our life group the weekend before my big test. So, even though it was painful and I had to do a lot of cognitive rehearsing I threw frugality to the wind for this meal.

I did see that Boston Butt was at Publix for $1.99 (which is actually decent for publix recently but sounds really expensive) and went from there. I definitely focused on quick rather than cheap but I think it'll pay off in the long run. I think the meal is going to cost me about $35 total. I told Mr C I probably could have just pizza for that price. Oh well.

Other than my expensive Sunday night meal all of our dinners did actually come from the pantry this week which makes me happy. =)

Monday: Sesame oven baked tofu and chicken with broccoli, mixed veggies, and brown rice

Kyle: Waffles a la Kyle ie. the best waffles you have ever eaten! Recipe coming next week

Crockpot: Thursday night soup with pintos, kale, carrots, mushrooms, and green beans. This was really GOOD!

Sunday: EASY Cooking for the life group Southern Plate style BBQ Sandwiches, chips, coleslaw, and Butterfinger Cake.

By the way Mr. C says he hates pulled pork but liked this one.

Look at how everyone else is doing over here.

Pantry Challenge Meal Plan Week 4

It's here. The week of my LCSW exam so this won't be a long blog. I spent $60 at publix on Sunday and $20 at CVS this week. Not a great week for savings but I guess that's about average for us now. At publix there were things that I thought about not getting but if I would have waited for another week well they wouldn't have been on sale so I just decided to go ahead. I am still planning our meals from the pantry but we are really starting to actually run out of things around here. Which honestly is a good thing. So my shopping is really centered around things we need. And I'm proud that while at the store I worked on controlling stocking up on stuff that wasn't a great deal. I got what we needed and left. As far as cooking:

Baked Spasagna with broccoli from the freezer.
Lentil Cassarole from $5 dinners
Mr C is making Turkey burgers and sweet potato fries.
I made pumpkin yeast bread in the bread machine for breakfast. Since it really wasn't very good I'm not going to link it.

That's it. I told you that we are doing simple and quick. And everything here was from the pantry. yay! Wish me luck on my test.


Pantry Challenge Week 2

So, we are still theoretically on the pantry challenge. I am really trying to eat from the pantry and follow my meal plan but life has been throwing me some serious curve balls this week. For example, I ate out twice on Friday...so here I was going to type to you an excuse about it being a long week but even sounded pathetic while I was formulating it.  I honestly was not accountable to myself or you about my challenge.

Let me tell you about the shining star at our house, Mr. C. He followed the plan, cooked entirely from the pantry on his night, and stayed at home all day with Miss G when the sitter couldn't watch her on Friday. Yup, he's husband of the week. =)

 (No sarcasm I really mean that he is I just LOVE this picture. I know that little people model big people but even at this age?)

I can tell you that I spent about $40 between the organic grocery store and Target and it was because I was stocking up on foods for Miss G. She doesn't eat exclusively organic but follows the contaminated list from the environmental working group.

Basically if it's in the clean 15 I will purchase at Aldi but if it's the dirty dozen I go ahead and get it at Earthfare or Publix's greenwise line. I can tell you that this has effected our budget and anyone who tells you differently is just not telling you the truth.

Isn't funny how much your priorities change when you have a kid? Do I care if I'm eating pesticides? A little but not enough to pay the increased price for organics. Do I care if Miss G eats them? Oh yes. Yes I do.

So, how do I navigate this process of buying smart organics? Well, I was carrying the list with my coupons and that worked but I would keep searching for it. Then I made a list on my phone BUT now I have recently seen on the environmental working group's website they have apps for your phone. LOVE IT. This will streamline the necessary shopping SO much.

Back to the challenge I will say that this week cooking wise was kitchen disasters. I'm talking ruining meals and breaking multiple dishes. I'm proud during this I actually adapted and made Pasta Roni from our pantry rather than run for the border like I wanted to.

I did make this kale soup which was really good and I will definitely make again.

Oh, not food related but definitely frugal, and I got some Fabulous prices at Target Toy Clearance, not too much for Miss G but all the other kiddos I buy for are set for 2012 birthday and Christmas gifts. YAY!

*One last but not least thing. Happy Birthday Mom!!!! It's my mom's birthday today and I have to say this year I definitely have a increased appreciation for all the time when I was young she spent taking care of us. My mom worked, made sure my sister and I were loved, and couponed before it was cool. I think I'm now in awe about how she juggled all of these things. Happy birthday to my mom and aunt. she's a twin you know. =)

For them I made Southern Plate's Chocolate Velvet Cake with Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Icing. Not as good as Christy's but hopefully it'll do. =)


Reading Through the Alphabet in 2012

As I mentioned in my goals that I would really like to read myself through the alphabet. I think it would be a fun challenge for me to put down my computer and increase my time reading. This is going to be the post I update with my progress. =)

Reading Through the Alphabet.

A- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
C- Clinical social work licensing examination study guide
D- The Dirty Life:A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love
H- The Happiness Project & Home Vegetable Gardening -a Complete and Practical Guide to the Planting and Care of All Vegetables, Fruits and Berries Worth Growing for Home Use
M- The Money Saving Mom's Budget
O- One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler
P- Preparation for the Social Work Licensure Exam 2011
R- Revelations (with my bible study)
S- Southern Plate
T- Twilight

Reading Through the Alphabet

 Part of my reading through the alphabet is follow Booking it over at Life as Mom.

One bite at a time

I really went into this book thinking I wasn't going to like it. I am horribly unorganized at home and work. I wish I was better about it but really came away with a couple of things that I think I'll work on changing. For example, Eat that Frog, week 1 is really great...essentially you do the thing you most dread everyday in the morning and get it over with. I am really working on eating that frog...I'll let you know how it goes. I can tell if you were to follow the book for the whole year you would come out the otherside much more on top of things. I can already tell you I'm probably not disciplined enough to make 52 changes this year. I will try a couple of them like:

*Setting a morning routine

*Being a lifelong learner

*Starting a garden

and (attempting) *to have a daily to do list

And I've been reading on my own...

Southern Plate

Love, love, love her. Christy Jordan is a local food blogger of the same name from here in Huntsville. When I do my grocery shopping I hope to run into her because she seems like the kind of person that would welcome you even though she doesn't know you. Her recipes are not for dieting but every one I've made have been really good. She tells stories of her family before each recipe which are charming. Now, this book is a loan from the library but I would love to have it for real (hint, hint, hint kyle).


Eating from the Pantry- Week #1 Fail

Since this is my second month of eating out of the pantry I knew I was going to have to go to the grocery store and shell out more than I did last month. Honestly we were out of pretty much out of everything at our house that is a staple, you know milk, produce, even our poor dogs were out of dog food. Even my husband, who thinks I have a grocery store addiction said it was time to go.

So, I went I have to tell you it wasn't pretty.

We ended up going to Walmart, Target, Aldi's, and Publix. My grand total was about $130.

Now, I NEVER shop that many places, you can chalk all of that up to poor planning. Yeah, not a great week for eating from our pantry or saving money.

I will tell you that this was the first time I went to Aldi's and was excited about produce and milk prices there. I think I'll be stopping by there more regularly.

I also really didn't follow the meal plan at all.

So, all in all, total failure.

I can say is there is always next week...


Goals for 2012

Yes, I know these are a little late to put out there but hey if I'm serious about them, they can be a little late.

So, I had quite a few goals that I wanted to do this year. I just got really inspired by everything I read on every blog and decided that I wanted to do that too...for example: reading, crafting, photography...things that I think are super pleasurable but not for me and this season of my life, i.e. having a toddler and working full time, pretty unrealistic. So, I sat down and though what are some things I actually want to accomplish this year... My overall goal is to get better control of myself. I know there is a learning curve to this working mom thing but man this is hard. It has been much harder to adjust to than I ever could imagine. I think if I set some goals for myself that force me to allow downtime then I think I will be better able to better accomplish my ultimate goal...be a better wife and mom.

This is how I'm going to do this:

1. My LCSW. This is the license for social workers and it's a big deal. I've been working towards it for almost 3 years now and I'm really hoping this resolution will come to fruition in January. When it does it will make a BIG impact on my life.

2. The Country Music Half Marathon. I imagine I will be wogging this one (wogging is a term i stole for Little J. walking+jogging=wogging). I know for myself personally that physically activity controls my stress.

3. Continue to save money (coupon/bargain hunt) BUT here's a new twist...resist those great bargains that I don't need. I LOVE good bargains but spending $2-3 here and there really adds up. I am working on being happy with enough. I know lots of people put dollar amounts in the goals but I think this one will make much better impact on our overall budget. Sticking to what we need will actually give us more wiggle room than any great deal ever will.

4. Start a garden. I have been talking about starting a garden for the longest time. Last year Mr. C actually did one but i can't take any credit. It was his from conception to produce but this year we are starting a modest garden in the back yard. I envision this to be a large project that will help with stress and frugality.

5. Read through the alphabet. Now, I know this sounds strange but I am planning on reading a book for each letter of the alphabet this year. I will tell you that I'm not going to be terribly disappointed if I don't accomplish this one BUT I think that this is a fun one that will keep me motivated to read for pleasure throughout the year. Reading really helps me get out of my own head and definitely assists in stress management.

That's it...Like I said I have so many other hopes that I would like to do but I want to set realistic expectations for myself because my ultimate goal for the year is be a good wife and mom.


Pantry Challenge Part Deux

So, last month I told you I was giving myself a break from couponing so I could focus on my family and celebrating the season (and to save a little cash). I decide to do this by only buying necessities at the grocery store. I have to tell you it went really well. We a lot of meals that had been hanging around too long and made a dent in our pantry. We are just about through our veggies both canned and frozen and mid month I actually had to go buy flour but other than that we actually still have lots of foods hanging around here. So, I'm going to go at it again and at the end of January I'm donating everything that's still in our pantry that we won't obviously use. I am this month going ahead and buying this I know we need but my hope is to make a meal plan for the whole month and stick to it. Last month I was doing this alone but this month I am following Good, Cheap, Eats blogger, Jessica Fisher as she feeds her family of 8, yes 8 on the pantry challenge.

I can tell you as I spent my day taking inventory I already know I'll be spending more money this month and there will be some food we say goodbye to forever come Feb. 1 but that's ok. I'm ready to get this place tidied up. Our pantry isn't full to the brinks but is so disorganized that food falls on you. At the end of the month I'm going to clean out and organize all of our food supplies and finally put into action our Cansolidators, a gift from my sister in law that I LOVE because I've wanted them for a while but am WAY too cheap to purchase them. Anyways, here is what we are eating...

Monday: Tilapia, balsamic glazed carrots, oven roasted potatoes, bread machine rolls

Kyle Cooks: La Choy teriyaki chicken

Kyle's Lunch: sandwiches

Bridget's Breakfast: slow cooker oatmeal

Friday: Cream cheese kale lasagna with focaccia

Saturday: Falafel, greek chicken, hummus, & tabbouleh

Sunday: Homemade pizza with ceasar salad

Monday: Jambalaya & Cornbread

Crockpot: Chili

Kyle Cooks: Turkey Burgers/ Boca Burgers, sweet potato fries, fruit

Kyle's Lunch: hot dogs

Bridget's Breakfast: pumpkin bread with fruit

Monday: Spaghetti with breadsticks and salad

Crockpot: Sweet potato/chicken Curry

Kyle Cooks: Corn Chowder

Kyle's Lunch: leftovers

Bridget's Breakfast: cheese toast

Monday: Baked Ziti from the freezer

Crockpot: Rice and beans

Kyle Cooks: waffles, scrambled eggs, fruit

Kyle's Lunch: hot dogs

Bridget's Breakfast: Pumpkin Oatmeal from the freezer

Saturday: Fried rice, egg drop soup

Sunday: chicken fingers, french fries, green beans

Monday: shrimp with grits and salad

Crockpot: Crockpot Chicken with black beans and cream cheese

Kyle Cooks: sloppy joes

Kyle's Lunch: leftovers

Bridget's Breakfast

*Just an FYI I work full time Tuesday-Friday so I leave off the days I don't cook or know we already got stuff planned.