Tuesday, May 28, 2013

cheap eats

Ok so it's been awhile since I've blogged about saving money, notably through couponing.  Probably because since starting my part time social work job a year ago, I just don't have as much time.  I used to coupon while I babysat my little fella - while he napped of course, but I don't sit for him anymore (boo) so I'm not as disciplined carving out that time to coupon at home.  Because when I'm at home alone I peruse facebook.  I clean and cook.  And cook and clean.  And go through things to sell that my kids have outgrown but then think better of it and hide it in the back of the closet.


That's not to say I'm not still trying to save money.  I gotta.  So I cut a few coupons for items that I know always have them available (General Mills Cereals, yogurt, hygiene items, to name a few) and regardless of whether or not I have coupons I ALWAYS look through the circulars.  I don't shop for only what I need for that particular week.  Yes I always need produce, eggs, bread, milk, etc.  But I always have my eye out for a great deal on things we consistently go through and then I stock up so I don't need it for awhile.

I have a cousin that has $20 to spend this week for food and she is discouraged.  And rightfully so - that is a tight budget with 2 children at home full time.  But I think she can do it and here is my idea how.

This would be easier if I knew she had some pantry staples like dry pasta, rice, bread, etc.  But I'll assume she has nothing just in case.

With a $20 budget you can buy -

Gallon of whole milk $3.50 - pour some out for you and your husband into a pitcher and thin with water to make skim milk and keep the rest whole for your kids.  This will increase your milk.

Eggs $2.00 (or $2 worth of fruit or frozen veggies if you aren't egg eaters)

Chicken sale pieces $3.50

*Bread $1.00

Peanut butter $2.50

*Jelly $1.00

*Bag of crunchy pretzels $1.00 (or similar snack for kids)

Pasta x2  $1.50

*Sauce $1.00

*Oatmeal $1.00

*Cereal $1.00

*Bag of rice $1.00 (or a $1.00 worth of potatoes from store)

TOTAL - $20 (that's how fast $20 goes!)
If you DO have some items in the pantry like pasta, oatmeal, sauce, rice, etc -- I would use that money then to buy a big jar of applesauce, bag of carrots, a few apples and maybe a fruit that's on sale that the kids love.

* - Buy these items at the dollar store

Breakfast and Lunch Ideas                    

Peanut butter and jelly sammies
Egg salad sammies
Leftovers by the end of week


Pasta x2

Chicken boiled to get every last scrap of meat off so you can make 2 meals from it.  Serve with rice or potatoes.  Better if you do in fact have a few pantry items like bbq sauce to flavor the chicken.

Hot peanut butter sammies with milk

Breakfast for dinner with whatever leftover breakfast items you have by the end of the week

YES this is a boring menu.  YES this is very unappetizing.

But when times are tight, you make due.  It will hurt when your kids beg for Goldfish and you can't spend the $2.  But this doesn't mean you're poor or broke.  This is a season of frugalness.  A season when you need to pinch your pennies.  But every day that you can look at your babies beautiful faces under a roof where there is love, and put food in their tummies even if yours is rumbling a bit...you are blessed.  I am not making light of your situation, it is so hard!!!  We had weeks when my kids were really young, before Kevin changed jobs, that it actually hurt me to tell Kevin we were having pasta or eggs again.  I felt like I was letting him down.  But in actuality, I was holding up my end of the bargain - to stay home and keep my kids safe, especially our little Bailey who has CF and when she was young we were petrified of her getting sick.  She didn't catch a cold for two years!  I held up my end.  We didn't go into debt having food - or furniture! - we couldn't afford.  I held up my end.  I taught them their ABC's and 123's while also keeping myself out of the loony bin...I held up my end.  AND SO ARE YOU.  AND SO IS YOUR HUSBAND.  Life is hard.  Maintaining a family and a home is hard.  Soak up what's easy.  Lovin on your babies.  Praying to God for His help.  Sometimes we were blessed in our grocery budget by being invited to dinner by my inlaws or a playdate with friends where my kids enjoyed some fun snacks.  Keep your eye out for opportunities that are free and fun, to enjoy and take your mind off what's hard.

Staying home with littles is a season.   It's not forever.  You can take that $20 this week and spend it quickly, and I get that you will still be stressed and wished you had 5x that much to spend (and it would still go quickly!).    But just try really hard to enjoy whatever is good and true in your life, and know that someday you will have that $100 to spend, and it will feel good but knowing you made the right choices for your family since the time they were littles...feels better.

Good luck!

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