Friday, September 18, 2009

The Art of Being Cheap

I have done something that I previously thought impossible. I have learned how to feed my family of five for next to nothing! Now, I don't mean cheap "I'm still hungry Mom" meals, these are hearty meals. I knew that coming into a new mortgage was going to leave us strapped for a little while. The power deposit alone was almost $600! So two weeks ago I began to research meal planning and frugal homemaking and found a host of information on the subject. Using the tips I found, one of them being only shopping the loss leaders at the grocery store, I successfully managed to make a 28 day meal plan and only spent $110. Poppycock you say? I beg to differ! Now just to disclose everything, my meal plan does include one "leftover" day a week and we always have simple breakfasts & lunches. I bought all the meat, veggies, and dry goods I will need for the month leaving me only perishables to purchase each week. I met one of those hurdles yesterday though when I successfully MADE BREAD! Ladies & Gentlemen your applause is greatly appreciated. I went back to the store and spent another $40 on extra produce to blanch and freeze and extra lunch meat to freeze as well. So total this month I have spent $150 and I should not have to spend more than another $100 for the next 2-3 weeks. Even if I did spend that much it would bring me to the grand total of $250 for an entire months worth of food (3 meals a day) for 2 adults and 3 kids. Admittedly, this plan is cooking heavy and is a make-your-own-snacks kind of plan, but I like to cook and my family prefers homemade food to storebought. The reality is that no one may care about this, other than my husband who is in awe of me at this point, but I'm telling you that I have never felt more awesome as a wife or mother than right now. Not only have I been financially responsible but we are eating more whole foods and by proxy living greener since we are using less packaging, but I am teaching all these things to my boys by example. I have found that there have been some unexpected, but happy side effects as well. One of the best things I didn't see coming was the structure that my meal plan has added to our house. No one has asked me the dreaded "What's for Dinner?" question for two weeks now. Another glad change is that I no longer have that "Ugh! What am I going to cook for dinner?" feeling every day at about 2pm. I actually find myself looking forward to dinner time now! I didn't plan for these things but I don't ever want to go without them again. I know that there are plenty of women who do this all the time and don't know any other way. My hats off to these wonderful ladies. Since this is my first foray into the frugal homemaking world I am utterly grateful to them and astounded that I ever did it another way. I'll never revert to my former wasteful and irresponsible ways...pinky swear.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The New Normal

Well, the saga ends...or maybe just slows to a dull roar. We moved into our new home last Saturday. I am so humbled by the effort put into the move by my friends and loved ones. Everyone showed up at 8 am (one friend even showed up a day early due to a work schedule), trucks & trailers galore, and just set to it! I almost didn't have to do anything but just sort of "direct" the events of the day. I am so blessed. At one point the hedges even got trimmed. Ok, so I'm REALLY blessed :) So, things have died down but not really if that makes any sense. I woke up the next day and for an instant I had no flippin' clue where I was. In fact, it still just doesn't feel real. Hubby & I agree that it will take a little while. Its only been a few days however, so to be completely fair we've got the rest of our lives to get used to this house. That's right, I said the REST of our lives! I do not plan on ever moving again. It might be a lofty goal, but hey, a girl's gotta have ambitions. I grew up a migrant. That word might bring to mind legal aliens (or maybe even illegal-depending on your background) and agriculture work, but it very correctly describes my childhood. I am a natural citizen and my parents weren't agriculture workers in the true sense of the word BUT my parents moved us wherever they could find work. In fact I went to 4 schools my third grade year by itself! Since I have gotten married the moving has slowed but we have still moved a whopping 22 times in 15 years. Mostly, because we have always rented and leases are always about a year long and we've never liked any place well enough to want to stick around for another term. There is always a better deal. Some of the moves were to find work, some to improve our standards, at least 3 moves were purely emotional and involved family and more than that involved my mother needing help caring for my terminally ill father. In the end I can say that this has made me a resilient person who does not shy away from new places and people. I recently took a strengths test and discovered that one of my strengths is WOO (winning others over)...perhaps God knew when he "packed my bag" that I would definately need that one, because with that strength moving was never that big of a deal. I hate packing...can I just say that? I always have. Hubby makes it worse because if it were up to him we'd load it all up in garbage bags and haul it on over. The control-freak in me cringes everytime we move because I know that in the end I'm going to be too anal about what to keep and what to shed and ultimately he's going to win. I have to admit this time that I think I did it pretty well. VERY few garbage bags made it into my house. I muse that it may have been the idea that this was our last move or maybe it was the fact that we were moving into our own home, but I really did not have the stress during this move that I've come to dread. All in all, I'm so glad we bought this house. Its definately worth all the drama.

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