Monthly Archives: February 2011

Days 25 – 28, $399.47

Although barely, we did it!! And I am so thankful for March 1st! Here is my spending since the last post and total for the month: 

$392.74 = total from last post

$6.73 = Frozen veggies from Whole Foods

$399.47 = Total money spent on groceries and eating out for the month of February!!

Other than the fact that I am shocked that we were able to reduce our grocery/eating out budget by more than $700 dollars, I am relieved that this little experiment is over. Callie keeps asking me when I can go to the grocery store and buy more of this or get her favorite snacks…well dear Callie, I am going to Whole Foods and Costco in the morning!!

However, many things have changed and I have learned much during this process. I have stretched in places that I never thought I would. To me, life is to be experienced and I am learning more and more what that looks like for me. Learning is one of my top 5 core values and if I were to judge Frugal February by that alone, then it was an amazing success. Here are a few things I learned during February:

1. Okay, so maybe I do like to grocery shop…retail therapy anyone??

2. I am becoming one of those people…you know those people who clip coupons and put them in the 3-ring binder. I’ve always said that I would NEVER do that…I used the excuse that “they don’t make coupons for the types of food I purchase”. I have discovered that they do make coupons for some of the foods I purchase. You have to be willing to do the research. As Callie says, “Mom, coupons are like real money!” Amen! And no offense to you if you are one of those people…I have envied you for a long time and just joined you!

3. I NEED accountability!! In no way, shape, or form would I have stuck to the $400 budget if I had not been blogging to an audience of my peers. There were several days when it would have been easier to go out to eat or pick up something easy from the grocery store, but knowing that I had to give an account of my spending was all I needed to say no to those urges.

4. My nanny was an amazing woman. I have no idea how she cooked three meals everyday while rasing 6 children and working on the farm. I think of her often as I cook each day and wonder “how would she have cooked this?” or “what did she put in her chicken casserole?”. The legacy she left me will continue on for generations. She loved us through food and although not always best for your waistline, some of the best memories I have as a child are sitting on the old wooden bench in her kitchen smelling fried chicken cooked in lard with banana pudding for dessert.

5. Meal planning and shopping ahead was a major part of what helped us be successful. Last minute trips to the grocery store almost always result in spending more than you planned to spend.

6. My children do not like budgeting…I want what I want and I want it when I want it. However, they have been troopers this month and have complained very little. They tried new recipes, although they did turn their noses up at my homemade chicken pot pie…I thought it was pretty good!

7. $400 divided by 28 days equals $14.29 per day. Wow! That is amazing. I easily spent that for most dinners in the past. Moving forward, my goal is to keep each dinner around $10 to $12.

Well, tomorrow is March 1st. A brand new month with a brand new budget. Almost makes me giddy! How much money are we going to budget for March? Considering the fact that I did not buy any meat during February (we cleaned out our freezer), I will be purchasing meat and ordering from our coop this month. That alone will add about $200 to our budget. Therefore, we are giving ourselves $700 for March. We will still save $500 per month from the $1100 we used to spend. I am looking forward to having more money to spend, but somehow, I think I will spend it much differently than I have in the past.

Thank you for joining me in this enlightening journey. Frugal February might be ending, but the Frugal Gourmet is alive and well. My dedication to nourishing my family with organic, wholesome foods has not changed and thankfully, God has given me new ways to do so. I am humbled and thankful! 

I will keep you posted on how I spend my $700!

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Days 20 – 24, Frugal Fatigue

Well, it’s official…I have frugal fatigue. As much as I hate labels, if the shoe fits, wear it. I am very close to the finish line and I am so ready to go to the grocery store and spend more than $5.  Here is my spending since the last blog:

$379.20 = total amount spent from 2/1 – 2/19.

$3.45 = Chick-fil-A lunch for Callie at school

$10.09 = bananas, yogurt, and dye-free jello

$392.74 = total spent this month

That means we have $7.26 left for the next 4 days…that is an average of $1.82 per day. I feel like the train in the children’s book that keeps repeating, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”! It is amazing how much money we have saved this month. We are pondering how much to allow ourselves for the month of March. I can guarantee it will definitely be more than $400!

Be on the lookout for my final post for Frugal February. I will include things I have learned on this journey…the first of which is how much I love to grocery shop. The actual shopping part is not what I love so much. It is being able to fully stock my kitchen and nourish my family. As a wife and mother, to know that my family is well nourished and have healthy food to eat gives me peace and comfort. I have learned this month that God is ultimately our supreme comfort and He will generously supply ALL of our needs!!

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Worth a thousand words…

         

Blessed. Very blessed.

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Days 14 – 19, A Potluck Post

What an amazing week it has been! Spring like weather always puts me in a better mood! My windows were open all day today and my kids played outside for hours. Yes, I am ready for spring and summer. I feel like a caterpillar that has been encapsulated in her cocoon. This butterfly is ready to spread her wings and fly!!

Speaking of flying, where has this month gone? A whole week has disappeared since my last post. I have had a hard time sitting down at my computer this week…I prefer being outside!!

So, I know you have all been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to hear about how much money we have left in our food budget for the month of February. And, to warn you, it has not been easy! We gave ourselves $400 for the month and we have almost reached that amount. Now keep in mind, we have also cooked a meal for a friend who had surgery, prepared food for a baby shower, and went out to eat for a belated Valentine’s lunch. So, we were not just swinging at fast balls…there have been some curve balls in the mix. But, isn’t that just like life? There are always curve balls. Just keep swinging. Eventually, you will get a hit! Here is what I spent this week and where we stand for the month:

$170.70 – the total from my last post (Feb. 1st – 13th)

$73.33 – Costco

$117.23 – Whole Foods

$17.94 – Pei Wei

That puts us at $379.20 for the month thus far…yikes! And we still have 9 days left!! I think we can make it though…I really do! We may not eat exactly what we want for the next 9 days and it may get interesting, but I love a challenge! Anybody up for a potluck dinner?? ( :

So, I have $20.80 left in my budget. That is an average of $2.31 per day for the rest of the month. I am determined to make this happen! My freezer may be empty when March 1st rolls around, but I will be wiser for the experience. Thank you for following! Comments and suggestions are always welcome!

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Days 9 – 13, The Frugal Gourmet Continues

I have fallen behind in my posts and hope to catch up with an overview of the past 5 days. Our monthly total from my last post was $112.03. Here is my spending since the last post:

Chick-fil-A: $6.23

Target: $26.25

LaCocina: $26.19

That brings our monthly total thus far to $170.70. I did have a lot of food in our overflow pantry and meat in our freezers, which has greatly helped this month. Next month will definitely be interesting!! We haven’t decided how much to allow ourselves next month. It will depend on how we do this month on $400.

We have eaten several great dinner meals since my last post. We have had crock pot BBQ chicken with lima beans and corn; fried chicken tenders with french fries and peas; and tri tip steak with marinated onions, broccoli stir fry, and onion rings. We ate leftovers one night and tonight we are going to have more leftovers along with pinto beans and rice…believe it or not, one of my son’s favorite meals!

For my homemade BBQ sauce I use tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, butter, water, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, honey, and maple syrup. Keep in mind that I don’t usually measure much when I am cooking. I experiment and keep adding until I get it “right”. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative in the kitchen. It is the best way to discover new things and you will learn so much in the process.

When I am experimenting with a new dish, I will look on the internet for recipes. Once I have a basic list of ingredients, I add a little of this and a little of that until I have the taste I am looking for…much like an artist mixes his or her paint to create the right hue. I would love to hear about your kitchen creations!!

We have $229.30 left for the month and we are halfway to the finish line. We haven’t hit the wall…yet!! I will make a Whole Food’s trip this week and I will place an order with our coop. It may get interesting!! Stay tuned…

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Days 6, 7, and 8: My Top 5

We celebrated my mom’s birthday on Sunday with her secret spaghetti sauce recipe and GF cupcakes. On Monday, we had leftover chicken noodle soup and almond butter and strawberry preserves on toast. And tonight, we had grilled cajun burgers with homemade slaw. They were delicious! A small reminder that spring is just around the corner. I love to smell food on the grill!

On Sunday, I spent $56.97 at Lowe’s Food and $41.75 at Whole Food’s on Monday for a total of $98.72. That brings our monthly total to $112.03, and we have $287.97 left to spend for the month. I am using meat that I have in my freezer and we are working through our pantry. I am thankful for God’s abundance. I am learning lessons along the way that I will share as the month comes to an end.

I am also very thankful for kitchen gadgets. Cooking is so much easier if you have the right equipment. When it comes to kitchen paraphernalia, I am a self professed geek. Here are my top 5 favorite kitchen gadgets:

1. My chef’s knife, and I like it very sharp

2. My Boos cutting board

3. My KitchenAid Stand Mixer (and my favorite attachment is the grinder)

4. My very large cast iron skillet (LOVE IT!)

5. My traditional Fish Spatula, ideal for cooking eggs (who knew when it is called a fish spatula??)

And even though the top 5 is complete, I have many other kitchen gadgets that I love, like my Cuisinart Food Processor and my Pampered Chef Mandoline Slicer and…well okay, you get the point. When you use appropriate equipment, cooking is easier and so much more fun and you may enjoy it a little more. Here’s to good food and cool gadgets!!

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Days 4 and 5, BB’s and Chicken Feet

As Callie and I heal from the flu, we have been clipping coupons and meal planning. Callie made the comment that coupons were like real money. Then she proceeded to ask me if I could print real money using my printer like I was printing off coupons. I had to chuckle at how she was processing what we were doing to save money! I told her no, but that coupons were the closest thing to real money that I could legally print.

Last night, we had one of my son’s favorite meals, BB’s also known as Burrito Bowls. He loves beans and rice! I used refried beans, brown rice, sautéed onions, salsa, raw cheddar cheese, and tri tip steak to fill up our bowls and tummies. Again, I prepared a deconstructed version for Callie (who didn’t eat much at all) and Sean since they don’t like the ingredients mixed together. We had tortilla chips to compliment the dish. My husband had 3 Burrito Bowls…it is easy to see who Sean gets his appetite from!

For dinner tonight, we had homemade chicken noodle soup. You ask, “What about the chicken feet?” So glad you asked! The broth that I used to make the chicken soup was made using chicken bones from a chicken I baked, 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 4 cloves of mashed garlic, 1 onion quartered, 1 TBLS apple cider vinegar, 8 quarts of filtered water, AND 2 chicken feet. Now, before you stop reading, let me explain. Chicken feet make the absolute best stock. They are full glucosamine chondroitin, calcium, and collagen. The gelatin in the feet create a very rich stock that is nutritious and healing for your digestive system. For more info, here is a great resource: http://nourishedkitchen.com/chicken-feet-stock/.

See, when your grandma told you to eat chicken soup when you were sick with a cold, she knew what she was talking about. Also, homemade chicken broth is a rich amber color, not a pale yellow like most store-bought stock. And it tastes SO much better!! I let my stock simmer covered on low for 24 hours after it boils on medium for the first hour. After it cools, I then strain it with a mesh strainer into quart containers. Another added bonus is that is freezes very well. I used 4 quarts of frozen chicken broth (originally made in October 2010) to make our soup tonight. My house smells so good!! The only thing missing was a Zesta saltine cracker…I’ve yet to find a GF saltine cracker that tastes better than cardboard. Maybe I need to make my own!

So, where do we stand for the month? Our previous total was $3.43. On Friday, we purchased several items totaling $9.88. that brings our total to: $13.31. Twenty-three days left in February and we have 96.7% of our $400 budget left to spend.

Don’t worry, I will need to make a grocery store run to “Whole Paycheck”, I mean “Whole Foods” when I start feeling much better. The “money” that Callie and I printed should help!!

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