Monday, September 29, 2008

$25 a week UPDATE II

Ok, well...we did pretty well. I didn't keep a strict tally on everything every person consumed but our shopping budget held very well. We did splurge for a birthday dinner on Monday and some sleepover junk food for a birthday party that definitely did not fit in the $25 Budget (and I understand that those who actually have to live on this amount would have to forfeit those luxuries).

Here are some ways our family saves on eating...
*We rarely eat out (and when we alcohol, appetizers, or desserts (unless there are coupons, special deals, etc. involved)). We also like to hit places that have 'Kids eat free nights' and we share meals a lot.

I find that even when we feel pinched for time...I can make an easy meal in heading to a drive-thru does not save much time and definitely doesn't save money or our health.

*We do not buy a lot of processed or 'easy-to-prepare' foods (with the exception of Kraft mac and cheese and nutrigrain bars). I cook...every day.

*We eat a lot of eggs, oatmeal, and pancakes for breakfast. Cereal is really expensive...eggs, flour, and milk are not.

*We drink a lot of tap water.

*I buy items on sale (as opposed to when I need them). When ground sirloin is on sale...I stock up and freeze. Mac and cheese goes on sale at least once/month so does applesauce and nutrigrain bars.

*I buy a lot of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables (especially out of season stuff). It is packed at the peak of picking and freshness. And it doesn't go bad it you forget about it (we end of throwing a lot of fresh produce away because people forget about it).

*Take as few people to the store with you as possible. The more people, especially little and/or hungry people, the more likely you will impulse buy.

*I plan...and plan...and plan some more. I read the store ads before I head out, I plan several meals before I make my shopping list. I ALWAYS make a list. I take about 30-60mins per week planning meals and shopping lists. And I shop about every 10-14 days (with the exception of the mid-trip milk and banana run).

What are your food budget tips? Please share.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


All my kids used pacifiers. And all of them gave them up without too much stress. But after a couple months pacifier-free...our 3yo has started to suck his thumb and finger. It is clearly a coping mechanism...he does it when he's upset or going to sleep.

Should we discourage it? We can't hide his hand or throw it away? Our dentist was already worried about his front teeth with the pacifier.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

$25 a week UPDATE

So, I have determined that we could eat for $25 if we needed to but it would grow tiresome....always having to be vigilant on the budget. I have found myself wanting to just pick up lunch after work but stopped myself because I didn't want to blow my per diem on a sandwich that I could make at home.

The other interesting concern is budgeting the money. If I break down all the staples....spices, flour, coffee, rice, ketsup.....per serving they easily fit into the limited budget...but you would have to lay out the $6 for it when you buy how does that effect the rest of the week's money. (I do take advantage of Meijer's 15%/5% off days EVERY time...and use those days to stock up).

Its a lot of planning (more so that I have had to make myself do since I can spend what I want at the grocery each visit).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Family Fitness Friday

As Fall officially begins next week...take some time to enjoy the amazing weather! Walking is a great way to exercise for all ages. Hiking in the woods or in the city can provide many opportunities for learning and family bonding. Talk about the many colors and why the environment is changing. Bring a bucket or canvas bag with you, so the little ones can collect special treasures.

Today, you can head to Meadowbrook Park in Urbana for a Jazz Walk.

In Illinois, you only have about 6 weeks left to enjoy many of our state parks before they are closed (please help us save them!!). Kickapoo is a great place to venture to...only about 30 mins from CU. Hiking and kayaking are just some of the things to do. Closer to home, Busey Woods is great.

Heading to your local orchard is also a great place to walk around. In CU, that's Curtis Orchard or Arthur's Great Pumpkin Patch.

There are also slews of fall festivals...walk around, enjoy some music (dancing is fabulous exercise) and food. See your local paper for event info.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

$25 a week

I read an interesting article in our local paper about eating for $25/week (per person). That is how much people living on food stamps are given..that is less than $4/day. My family would receive $643/month.

So, the Illinois Food Bank is challenging people to try to eat for $25 next week, Sept 22-28, The $25 Challenge. If you don't want to take the challenge, consider donating $25 to the bank or make a food donation. The challenge is not to just eat for $25, I think I could do that easily, but eat healthily...that is a challenge.

There is a symposium entitled "Running on Empty: Hungers Impact on our Community" Tues night at 730pm at the Champaign Public Library.

I love food-related challenges so I think I might try it for us (although Monday is a birthday here, so we have restaurant plans). I will try to blog about it here but you can read other participants here.

Please feel free to post your frugal eating ideas and recipes here!

For more information, click over to the Eastern Illinois Food Bank.

Information on:
Food Stamps (LINK program)
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC for the Farmer's Market

Monday, September 15, 2008

What am I missing?

Overall, I try not to talk too much about politics here but...I am completely fascinated with the current election. I am a devoted follower of Anderson Cooper on CNN (I really just like to listen to him say cute..tell me more about the powerful winds blowing in Texas).

But what I am missing is what people love about Sarah Palin. If you are one of her followers, please tell me. She obviously has made a major impact on this election.

I admit, I like her attitude...that she is a mom...she is very likable as a person (although I probably wouldn't be friends with her...I try to stay away from non-related stark conservatives). She has held public office.

But come on...the term 'flip flopper' is very accurate for both her and McCain. And she just doesn't come off as intelligent to me at all (how many people got fired over the Charlie Gibson interview?).

And really, her becoming president if McCain is elected is a reasonable assumption and overall, I would say that putting someone in office that is less than brilliant is frightening, but we've had that person in office for 8 years.

I'm just baffled me out.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Let me tell you a secret...I am a crier. I thought it might be hormonal...being pregnant and nursing for so many years...but I think it is just who I am. So, yes, world...I cry...a lot.

I cry at TV commercials, TV shows (any show), movies, books, speeches, reading blogs, almost every time I head home after spending time with my mom, brothers, or best friends, every time after vacation, every wedding I see, every time I hear certain songs, as I write blogs about crying.

I accept this about myself...and I wear waterproof mascara.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Morning Quickies...

*My two little ones are very interested in smoking. "So what is smoking, Mom?" This has come from a couple weeks of pointing out no smoking signs. I realized they had no idea what smoking was. So we had a discussion about my honest manner. Our 4yo is so concerned he had to tell his grandfathers 'no smoking, you will get sick and die!'

*I am still sad that Kickapoo Park might close....write those emails!

*We realized last night that we are really adults now...trying to watch MTV's Video Music Awards. Not only had we not seen any of the videos...we didn't even know most of the artists. The host was a British comedian Russell Brand...his best line was about Bristol Palin's baby daddy...It was the best birth control have unprotected teenage sex and they send you to the Republican National Convention...that guy's never having sex again.

*Curtis Orchard has lost its appeal for us. Through the years, it has gotten a bit commercial and expensive. And now...they took away the kids favorite part. My littles ones still liked to run around but we didn't particularly enjoy ourselves.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Things I didn't know...

Republicans are really delusional.

I thought this might be so but I know and love lots of really nice Republicans. What world do they live in that they think our survival of the fittest (richest) plan is working out?

Republicans tell jokes.

I had no idea.

Republicans can be very mean.

What was with all the harsh jabs at 'our opponent's' character?

Marriage is sacred...for some.

Allowing and encouraging knocked-up teenagers to get married but making it illegal for a committed and mature homosexual couples.

Running as the 'hot chick' is good for women.

First, Sarah Palin is hot? Barack can't help if he's incredibly good looking...but why run on it?

McCain has experienced many victories at war.

I forgot...was he in WWII? What other 'wars' have we won? Did we start this 'war' in Iraq so we could win it? And what is victory going to look like...cause Obama should get in on that so he can say he won something.

They actually may have made a good choice.

Palin can deliver a speech well. She hit that rural, think Obama Biden is a Muslim terrorist, white voter that unfortunately helped elect GBII. I don't think she hit it for women though...

Ignoring policy talk will win over the undecided voters.

Why not spend the time talking about your family, things we already know about McCain, and the DNC. (she did pretend that Republicans will do anything to help people with disabilities).

That if McCain is our next president, I want to move to Canada.

Note: The Daily Show with John Stewart was so great on Tuesday....perfect!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

School Days

So, its is on!

Our 11yo just loves middle school. She finally got her locker combination down...memorized her lunch code...met all her teachers...made some new friends. Although there hasn't been a lot of talk about academics...she is doing well. She went to the mall the other day with her girlfriend...oh, help me!

Our 4yo LOVES school. He goes to 'morning' school with me...which he likes and really enjoys being an inside man. Then he goes to 'bus' school...which he just raves about. Hey, the bus pulls into the driveway. Right now the schools balance each other. He likes them both and looks forward to school everyday...and I mean EVERY day (it was a long 3-day weekend).

Our now-3yo loves his half-day of school too. I think he's still trying to be a big kid (he's the youngest in his class). But he is busy...although playdough is still the main activity of the day. He is exhausted come 4pm though...and we are enjoying having him to ourselves a little bit. He does ask to go to 'bus' school with big brother or walk over to our daughter's school...he really wants to do all the activities of the others.

I love teaching again. I am so busy but its all good for now. It makes me go to bed early (9pm on Sunday!).

My hub loves that he's not in school this year!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Birthday Season has begun!

The request from the newly 3yo:
I want a cake with...
chocolate chips
chocolate frosting
monsters (that are not too scary)
a girl named Nee (???)
Care Bears

Here is the result.