Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Feed Your Family of 4 on just $99 / week!

Meal planning and grocery budgeting.  The bane of everyone's existence. Groceries are the most flexible spending category when it comes to budgeting so it is the area we all work at being the most frugal in when trying to save money.  And yet. It seems so tedious sometimes. 

I've created a week's worth of meals that will feed your family for $99, including all breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and a couple of snack items too.  Whether you're on a tight budget or just looking to tighten up the wallet a bit, hopefully this meal plan will give you a starting place!  
Budget meal plan and grocery list free printable

*Your costs may likely be lower than $99 for the week if you already have a few of the items on hand such as pancake mix and salad dressing.

*The estimated costs are based on my mid-west existence at stores like Kroger and Target.  If you live elsewhere or shop at pricier places, obviously, your expenses could vary.  

*Likewise, if you can get these items at an Aldi near you, you may spend EVEN LESS than $99 to feed your family of 4 this week!

Ready to meal plan and save money?  Here's what we have:

Inexpensive breakfast ideas

Oatmeal ($2 for a container that has 30 servings)
Banana (.25 each. $7 for the week)

Breakfast Costs: $9 total
Oatmeal- $2 for large container
Bananas- $7 (.25 each, x 28 bananas)

Inexpensive lunches

1- PBJ, celery sticks, pretzel sticks
2- PBJ, strawberries, yogurt
3- PBJ, hard boiled egg, yogurt
4- PBJ, yogurt, pretzel sticks, apple slices
5- PBJ, strawberries, yogurt pretzel sticks
6- PBJ, apple slices, celery sticks
7- PBJ, apple slices, yogurt, pretzel sticks

Lunch Costs: $23 total
Yogurt- 3 lg tubs at $2 each=$6
Pretzel sticks- $2 
2 loaves bread- $2
Jar PB- $2
Jar Jelly- $2
Bag of apples- $4
Eggs- $1 
Celery- $2
Strawberries- $2

Dinner ideas on a budget

1- Whole roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, frozen peas
2- Spaghetti with sauce, garlic bread, organic salad w/ dressing
3- Soup, grilled cheese
4- Baked potatoes, baked beans, frozen broccoli
5- Frozen pizza, green beans, baby carrots, fresh or canned peaches
6- Pancakes and scrambled eggs, fresh oranges
7- Tacos, frozen or canned corn

Dinner Costs: $52.50 total
Whole chicken- $5
Bag of potatoes- $3
Frozen peas- $1
Spaghetti- $1
Spaghetti Sauce- $2
Garlic bread- $2
Organic Salad- $3
Salad dressing- $2 (you may already have)
Soup (2 cans)- $2
Bread for grilled cheese -$1
American cheese slices-$2
Baked beans- $1.50
Frozen broccoli- $2
Frozen pizza- $4
Green beans- $1
Baby carrots- $1
Peaches- $2
Pancake mix- $2 (you may already have)
Scrambled eggs- $0 (use the remaining 8 eggs from the $1 eggs you bought for lunch)
Fresh oranges-$3 (about .75 each)
Ground beef- $3
Taco Kit- $3
Sour cream- $1
Tomatoes- $2
Taco cheese- $2
Frozen corn- $1

Now that meals are planned for, there are a few extras you may want.  Sure no one needs coffee but really?  Let's try to work it into the budget.  Along with creamer. If you're able to drink your coffee black, more power to you.  But I've gotta add some vanilla creamer.  Also included are string cheese and popcorn in case someone in the family needs a snack between meals.
Grocery list for families on a budget

Grocery Extras Total: $14.50
Milk- $3
Coffee- $4.50
Creamer- $2
Popcorn- $2
String cheese- $3

Grand total of all groceries for one week for a family of 4: $99!
Feed your family for $99 this week with this free printable menu and shopping list

Honestly when I started planning this post, I was just trying to be under $110.  And it came out even less than $100 to feed our family of 4!  Humbling (we can definitely be spending less than we have been!) and encouraging (holy smokes, we can really lower our food budget and free up money for other things!).

Monday, September 14, 2020

Do this 1 thing on Sunday to make the rest of your week easier!

1 simple hack to make your work week easier

Ahhh Sunday nights.  I love my job as a teacher but I still get that back-to-work anxiety setting in on Sunday nights about the upcoming work week.  You too, eh?  After having been a stay at home mom for about 12 years, I entered the workforce full time.  With 2 adults working full time and 2 children in school, mornings can turn stressful.  Yet, stress while getting ready in the mornings is NOT what I need!

About 1 year in to working full time, I discovered that doing 1 simple thing on Sundays made the entire rest of my week (and the mornings!) go much smoother.

It sounds like the simplest trick to getting ready for the week, I almost feel silly posting it.  Yet a lot of people I talk to DON'T do this!

Here it is:

On Sunday afternoons/evenings, I choose my clothes for the entire week and hang them in the closet in order (Monday-Friday).  The kids ALSO do this. 
I sit with my kids and have them choose their outfits for each day of the week.  Theirs go into a hanging divider in the closet.  I forget where I go theirs (the picture below is a closet divider from Amazon) but you can also find them at Target, Walmart, and sometimes even Aldi sells closet organizers!
The top shelf is their Monday outfit (including socks and underwear!), next is Tuesday, and so on.  

For the kids: The benefit of planning clothes for the week ahead eliminates any morning arguments ("But I don't want to wear the green shirt!") because the kids picked the outfits themselves.  This trick also wards off laundry panic ("You have to wash this for me so I can wear it tomorrow!!")l

For me: Planning and laying out my clothes for the week helps me see what I have available and make sure I have enough nice teacher outfits for the week ahead.  Often if I plan to wear a certain necklace, bracelet, or scarf with the outfit, I go ahead and add that on the hanger too.  It stops me from standing in front of a full closet with "nothing to wear" in the mornings!
Laundry mem
From Kayden Hines

For all of us: planning the outfits for the week ahead also allows us to plan for those special days without being frantic.  Oh, the school is doing spirit wear on Tuesday? Cool. We'll throw your logo shirt in the Tuesday divider.  You have to wear crazy socks on Friday?  Alright, neon orange and green socks are in your Friday spot.

If I have a conference on Thursday and need to dress up extra, then I can make sure Thursday's outfit includes a blazer. Staff is told to wear your school themed shirt for Monday? Check.

See?  It's so simple: plan your clothes and set them aside on Sunday.  Yet it prevents morning meltdowns, laundry panic, and work worries.

As we get into the grove of getting up and ready for school every day, this is really helping us and will help you too!  

Are you going to try it out?  Let me know how it works for you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

What I Wish I Had Known As A 1st Time Mom

My oldest child is now 17.  One year left before he's a legal adult.  As cliche as it sounds, it truly does feel like just yesterday I was feeding him in the middle of the night, then potty training,  and then signing him up for Kindergarten.

That first year as a mom was hard.  Bless my heart, I had no idea what I was doing.  No first time mom knows what she's doing!  Here's what I wish I had known when I first became a mom:

  • Babies need fed, changed, and loved. You don't have to do it on a schedule just because your friend does.  Feed, change, love. That's it.

  • You WILL sleep again, but it will be a few years.  

  • You will also eventually be able to walk and stand without pain but it's going to be awhile. Also. You'll bleed for every second of those 6 weeks postpartum.  Your friend who felt the need to tell you that she only bled for 3?'re not going to be that lucky. 

  • You can shove ice inside baby diapers and wear it as a pad. This is both horrifying and wonderful. You're welcome.

  • Breastfeeding is great. Formula feeding is great. Do what works for you and your baby and tell everyone else to bug off.

  • The sacrifices that you're making for this baby right now?  The pain of those?  You won't regret them 17 years later.

  • Some poop stains will not come out. Throw away the outfit.

If you're a new mom: Hang in there!
If you're in the teen-trenches with me: *raises solidarity fist*

What I wish I'd known as a first time mom