Sticking to a Budget…6 Months and Counting…

July 31, 2013

I’m sticking to doing a BIG grocery trip right when my husband gets paid and then one or two little ones until the next paycheck. One pay period this month, I used ALL of the money budgeted for groceries…we had to get a lot of non-edibles (toilet paper, trash bags, etc.).

The other pay period, I had some leftover money (because we’re eating out of the garden). When I have extra money, I put it back into our ‘Garden’ fund to pay for chicken feed and more seeds to plant.

Next on the ‘Garden’ list was to buy paint for the coop but my neighbor offered some old paint he had – we mixed it up and it looks just fine 🙂 (I would say ‘great’ but we painted it…and it’s just for the chickens…so it’s fine)

Our chickens are 21 weeks old so we are expecting eggs any day now. I expect to see a LARGE difference in our grocery bill after that! After buying seeds for the garden, I am planning on saving up for a riding lawn mower. It is not easy mowing this many acres with a push 😛 Then again, we are covering it little by little with cardboard, newspaper, and mulch so maybe we won’t need a riding one afterall…we’ll see 🙂

We’re trying to eat out of the garden, as always, to save on groceries. Right now, we’re eating corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, snaps, cucumbers, potatoes, and kale. Unfortunately, we ate through all of our carrot plantings (I’m continually planting more but they take quite a while to size up) and it is too hot for lettuce and a lot of kale so we are buying some of that from the store.

We are trying to keep it to a minimum and JUST eating out of the garden. It is not easy eating only what is in season when you always have the option of buying whatever you want at the store, but I think it is a wonderful practice in self control and a wonderful nature lesson as well 🙂

Here are a couple of samples of what we eat. We eat simply – mainly raw, roasted, or steamed…saves on time and ingredients 🙂

supper(Clockwise from the top: kale (from the garden) salad with apples and raisins, bean burger on homemade bread (WAY cheaper than store-bought AND much healthier), steamed snaps (garden), roasted potatoes (garden), oven fried squash (neighbor’s garden) – egg & breadcrumbs))

supper(clockwise from top: kale salad (garden – we’re in a lettuce loll, what can I say?), coleslaw (cabbage & carrots w/some mayo), baked beans made in crockpot w/maple syrup to sweeten), boiled corn (garden), steamed pole beans (garden))

In general, we don’t eat meat and limit our dairy intake so other than beans for a good protein kick, I try to load up their plates with lots of veggies! These are both my 5yo’s plate.

For the first dinner, I had to buy apples & raisins, which are already on the list as we eat a lot of fruit as well, and beans (I buy dried b/c it’s cheaper and healthier if I cook it at home).

For the second dinner, I had to buy apples, beans (dry), and cabbage. However, one cabbage goes a LONG way, since I make many batches and freeze them for future suppers. Hopefully, this will help some of you see how we can eat healthy AND not spend very much money on groceries.

Some meals, of course, are more expensive. For example, when we have stuffed shells or lasagna, I make a ricotta mix with tofu, which is not cheap…but still for that meal, I buy tofu, marinara sauce, and spaghetti squash (lasts us two meals). Not crazy expensive and hopefully, in the years to come, the marinara sauce and spaghetti squash will come out of my garden!

I always hate when people are really vague about how they save money, saying, ‘I cook everything at home’ or ‘I use coupons’ or ‘I eat from my garden’. I like specific examples. I hope this helps some of you to be able to visualize how your family can eat simply and healthily on the CHEAP. Please let me know if you would like more examples.

I’m sure I’ll hear about how your kids won’t eat anything other than nuggets or pizza or whatever. Kids aren’t going to go from eating fried, processed food to eating raw/steamed veggies overnight.

Many years ago, we began introducing our children to salads as a snack WITH Ranch dressing AND croutons! Next, we dropped the croutons. Then, a year ago, we dropped the dressing. We used to eat snaps by steaming and then putting butter in them. Now, we just steam them (no seasoning or anything). It is a process. Don’t expect things to change overnight. Work with your kids little-by-little. Get rid of all the bad food in the house. ALL.OF.IT. Be a good role-model.

By the way, we don’t eat healthy, healthy all the time. We eat pizza about twice a month. However, our pizza is with homemade, whole-wheat dough and they are veggie (kale, artichokes, cream cheese) or pineapple pizzas so again, not going crazy with money or health even when we splurge.

Another non-healthy meal we eat about twice a month is quesadillas…we eat these with guacamole (avocado, salsa, lime juice), rice (brown), salad, and refried beans (I make them from dry beans and only use a little coconut oil so they are VERY healthy but VERY tasty). We love the taste on our tongues of a splurge but their little bodies are so used to eating healthy that within 12 hours, their bodies have expelled all of the cheese they have eaten. It seems like a waste of $$ to me but, again, we enjoy it as it goes down!

Non-Food Savings

Another way we are saving on groceries each month is by not buying diapers (woo whoo!) or laundry detergent. Cloth diapering is really working out 🙂

For new readers, I bought 13 cloth diapers off of craigslist back in April with the idea that if I could use them until July, I will have broken even (cost the same as buying diapers from April until July). If I could use them past July, I would be ‘making money’! Well, it’s July and I am definitely continuing! 🙂

I bought 13 because that is how many the lady had for sale but I decided to look for more later. After 4 months of using cloth diapers, I don’t think I really need any more. We use all of them in about 2-3 days and after 2-3 days, it starts to smell so I have to wash anyway. If I had more, I would just want to wait longer and that’s just stinky 😛

I know cloth diapering is different with a newborn because the baby is changed a lot more and is different w/a toddler b/c poops are so much worse, but right now, with a one year old who still gets most of his nutrition breastfeeding, what we have is perfect 🙂

Another thing I bought back in April was Soap Nuts. It is a sustainable product and VERY economical. All of the reviews I read on them were wonderful so I ordered a large bag. If you like your clothes to come out smelling lavendery or citrusy, I suggest using essential oils because using Soap Nuts, your clothes come out smelling…like nothing…which I’m fine with. 🙂 They are incredibly easy to use and clean just as well as other laundry soaps (even on poop stains!).

I know this was a SUPER DUPER long post! If you made it to the end, Congratulations! 🙂 If you missed out on planting a garden this year, all is not lost! Go buy kale, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and carrot seeds! Depending on where you live, gardening year-round is VERY doable! You can save on your grocery bills even when it is cold and snowy 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Sticking to a Budget…6 Months and Counting…

  1. citygirlcountrybloke

    I love specific examples too. I’ve listed my exact spending on my site to see where I can cut down my bill and see how my BTE garden (which I just planted) will impact my grocery bill. Right now, it is not producing but I’ve challenged myself to do it for 52 weeks so I can really track the difference. My kiddos eat exactly what Country Bloke and I eat and I feel really good about myself when they say “Yay, salad”! I feel like I’m doing something right! And I will try that recipe for re-fried beans! Yum!

    Reply
    1. newbiegardengirl Post author

      I think that’s good – committing to 52 weeks. My neighbor has tried MANY times to convince me to spray some type of pesticide or put some type of fertilizer (like miracle grow) on my plants but I am determined to just trust the process. as the mulch has broken down, everything has gotten much greener and is doing just fine without all of the added junk (not to mention not having to spend any $$) 🙂

      Reply
  2. Janet M

    Congrats on budgeting, gardening, and teaching your children (early) to love good healthy whole foods. You might try planting purple hull peas (next year)…they provide a bounty of great protein and are so yummy!

    Reply
      1. Janet M

        Purple hull Peas are like black-eyed peas (are you familiar with those?). We have both planted, but it seems like the purple hull do better here in E TN (maybe because of the amount of rain we get, so probably the same for NC. Black-eyes are a staple in TX, but it is much dryer there. Great fixed a variety of ways…cold salads and hot dishes. If you plant some let me know and I’ll send you some of my favorite recipes.

  3. Nancy Davis

    I enjoy hearing how you save money and pictures of your meals. I am not vegetarian but your meals sure do look yummy. I have been boiling my green beans. I think steaming them would be healthier. How long would I steam them for? I need to get back to making bread. How do you get it all done!!!!! Nancy

    Reply
    1. newbiegardengirl Post author

      yes – steaming is healthier, for sure! i steam just for a little while. i always err on the side of too crisp b/c the longer it sits in the pot (w/ or w/o the lid on), the more it will cook. just poke w/a fork to see how crisp it is.

      Reply

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