Archive for the ‘Homemaking’ Category

What I Spent This Week (2018.10.19)

October 20th, 2018

Before I married Daniel, I barely drank coffee. I barely liked coffee.

And then he started serving me coffee from Wichita’s Spice Merchant. It was wonderful. I took it with sugar and sipped it all day long at work – until I realized the hypocrisy of telling parents to avoid letting their child walk around with (even just a splash of) juice in their sippy cup. I asked Daniel to wean me off the sugar and he did, putting less and less in my morning coffee over the course of a week or so.

I don’t miss the sugar one bit – unless I start drinking something other than Spice Merchant coffee. Then I need all the additives.

So really, the huge amount of money we spend at the Spice Merchant each month is for my health, right?

Saturday, October 13

We always go to the Spice Merchant on the second Saturday of the month, where our “Second Saturday” bag gets us an extra 15% off our purchase. We got our normal coffee – and then I went a little crazy with the teas. And they had red curry paste, which they’ve been out of for what seems like forever, so I had to get a couple of jars (’cause when you want a red curry, no other curry will do!)

Spice Merchant 2018/10/13

It’s a good thing I went under as much as I did last week. I have $199.85 to work with this week – or at least, I did, until I spent all of $93.08 at the Spice Merchant!

Sunday, October 14

I made an expensive mistake. I forgot to pack Tirzah Mae and Louis a snack for church. And since the snack is about the only thing that keeps them from talking the whole service long… I had Daniel run to a nearby grocery store to get some snack mix while I was setting up my Sunday School classroom.

$11.59 for snack mix and dried cranberries. The kids ate almost half. (My homemade mostly Cheerios snack mix is tons less expensive!)

Tuesday, October 16

Walmart 2018/10/16

I still have lots in the freezer for this menu cycle, so my grocery pickup (once I subtract the training pants and the vitamin D for the kids) is a very
reasonable $22.38.

More Walmart 2018/10/16

I’ve still got $72.80 left for ALDI on Thursday. (Hooray for eating out of the freezer!)

Thursday, October 18


ALDI 2018/10/18

Folks, This feels nice.

What I Spent This Week (2018.10.12)

October 12th, 2018

Last week, Cathy asked if I “shop the ads”.

The short answer is no, not really. Apart from keeping a price book, I keep my grocery-list making process pretty lean. I do look through Sam’s Club’s “Instant Savings” booklet when it arrives in the mail and make plans to purchase bulk of any of the items we regularly purchase at Sam’s while they’re on sale. I also occasionally check ALDI’s sale flyer when I’m making my list for Thursday – but I’m just as likely to skip it. I do typically take a peek at ALDI’s meat selections when I’m in store and buy for the freezer when they’ve got cheap meat. Depending on how much I’ve got in the freezer already, I’ll buy a ham or a pork roast anytime they’re available for less than $1.50 per pound. Likewise, if there’s a good deal on the family pack of chicken breasts, I’ll buy a pack or two, cook them in my crockpot on low and then shred them and divy them into containers for the freezer to use later for anything that calls for chicken.

But I don’t routinely look through the ads and base my lists off of them.

Tuesday, October 9

Some weeks it seems it takes me nothing at all to exceed the $30 minimum for grocery pickup. Other weeks, I’m racking my brain to come up with more for my order. That’s the way it was this week, until I remembered that I need some more canning jar lids for the next time I get the yen to can.

Walmart 2018/10/9

Those come out of my “household – consumables” budget, so my $37.02 order only contains $26.36 in groceries.

Our Sam’s Club order was almost entirely household consumables. Daniel buys the cutlery for his work group’s “snack days” and they need more forks and spoons. And we’ve decided that we’re going to use paper plates and/or bowls for Friday dinners at home so that Daniel and I don’t have to do dishes (or, as many dishes) before our Friday night “reconnecting” time.

Sam's Club 2018/10/9

The only grocery item is our cheese, $6.43 for a 2 lb block.

So we’re at $32.79 so far – $103.11 left for the rest of the week.

Thursday, October 11

ALDI had apples back at $1.49 for a 3 lb bag – which means we bought more apples to make applesauce with. Thirty-three pounds, to be precise.

ALDI 2018/10/11

Beyond that, there wasn’t a terrible lot we needed since a lot of this next week’s meals are already in the freezer.

$39.16 for apples plus miscellany.

So we’re ending the week $63.95 ahead, which is wonderful since we spend a LOT of money on coffee on the second Saturday of each month – and that’s tomorrow!

What I Spent This Week (2018.10.05)

October 6th, 2018

I’ve officially decided what to do about our foster care stipend. I’m going to take whatever portion I allocated to groceries the previous month and divide it between the weeks of the current month. So, last month, I allocated $83.60 of the foster care stipend to groceries – which means I get an extra $20.90 per week to spend this month. So October’s grocery budget is $135.90 per week.

Saturday, September 29

ALDI had this-season Gala apples for $1.49 for a 3 lb bag – and I’ve been pretty bored with store-bought applesauce – so we made a special trip to buy 30 lbs for applesauce. My plan is to can one pressure-canner load (7 quarts) at a time as long as there are cheap-ish apples available. That way I don’t have to do any marathon canning sessions (while the house falls to pieces) – but I should be able to still get some sauce that has actual flavor.

Apples, apples, apples

Total cost of apples plus a quart of half and half: $18.03

Tuesday, October 2

Walmart Grocery Pickup was $58.91

Walmart 2018/10/02

Do you ever see anything name brand in my grocery pictures? There are three potential reasons:

  • There is no generic option (Cinnamon Life, now that Walmart stopped making a generic)
  • Daniel asks me, pretty please, to buy the name brand (Honey Nut Cheerios)
  • Walmart made a substitution (the Dole Pineapple in this picture)

If Walmart doesn’t have a particular item in stock for grocery pickup, they’ll sub in an alternate at no extra cost to you (they’ll also check with you car-side to make sure their alternate is acceptable to you). Generally, the alternate ends up being the name brand version instead of the cheaper generic I always buy.

Thursday, October 4

Sam’s Club didn’t have an open slot on Tuesday (first time I’ve ever not gotten my preferred slot!) so I scheduled pickup for Thursday.

Sam's Club 2018/10/04


That left me $20.91 for ALDI – which just wasn’t enough. I spent $26.72

ALDI 2018/10/04

So not a bad week, but not a great one either.

What I Spent This Week (2018.09.28)

September 28th, 2018

I went way over budget ($61.02) the second week of September and have been working to get myself out of that hole. I had to keep my groceries to just $77.71 for this week to come out of September on top.

Monday, September 24

I had an eye appointment right across the street from an ALDI and we needed butter desperately (I made tomato soup using oil and mac and cheese using schmaltz – that’s how desperately!), so I did my ALDI shopping for the week early.

ALDI purchases 9/24/2018

$28.71 leaves me and even $49 for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, September 25

Walmart Grocery pickup was $56.36 – but $4.17 of that was laundry soap and $9.33 was Vitamin D for the little ones, which means $42.86 for groceries.

Walmart Grocery pickup 9/25/2018


I stayed under budget, even with buying formula!

Thursday, September 27

And then we had a doctor’s appointment and all of us got our flu shots – and the little ones were screaming and I had left bottle nipples at home so I couldn’t feed the littlest one her formula except by cup (which she was NOT happy about). So I promised the kids donuts when we went to Walmart to get some bottle nipples.

They desperately wanted to break the budget, suggesting that I purchase all sorts of expensive treats. (I’m not going to lie, I saw a rotisserie chicken that sounded SO much better than the cold beef salad sandwiches I’d packed for lunch). But I stuck to my guns, bought a $2 box of donut holes ($2.15 once taxes were done), and we’re ending September in the black.

What I Spent This Week (2018.09.21)

September 20th, 2018

Results are in, and…

I am officially great at predicting when I’m going to majorly blow my budget.

Also, I am officially terrible at giving weekly updates.


Tuesday, September 11

I spent $96.09 on my Walmart grocery pickup!

Walmart pickup 9/11/2018

Thankfully, $25.07 of it was on diapers. Which means I only have to claim $71.02 for grocery. Still.

I needed more pinto beans, and Sam’s Club has the cheapest around – assuming you’re buying 50 lbs. Which, of course I am! I also got individually packed Ruffles (because it’s ultimately better for me to know that there are potato chips at home that I can indulge in occasionally and in moderation when needed than for me to be picking up entire family-size bags every other week at the grocery store and inhaling them on the drive home. Just sayin’)

Sam's Club Pickup 9/11/2018

After I subtracted my oxygen bleach, it was $62.27

So… with a budget of $115 per week – I spent $133.29 on Tuesday alone. But I didn’t buy any fresh produce, so I still needed to do my ALDI shopping on Thursday.

Thursday, September 13

I spent $42.73 at ALDI – all of it on groceries.

ALDI 9/13 - Sometimes you just don't have time to arrange things

And sometimes I just don’t have time to arrange the groceries to look pretty once I get home :-)

So I ended the week $61.02 in the hole.

Monday, September 17

I sent Daniel to Walmart to pick up prescriptions for the kids and I – and to get us some ice cream. Sometimes I just feel the need. $4.30 for two containers.

Tuesday, September 18

Another ginormous Walmart order – $75.24

Walmart grocery pickup 9/18

But, just like last week, I get to subtract diapers (as well as some storage bags and plastic wrap.) After I take out those, I’m at a more respectable $41.68 for groceries. – and that 25 lb bag of all-purpose flour should last me at least a month :-)

I didn’t do Sam’s Club this week – the block of cheese from last week is still unopened in the fridge and Daniel’s Sun Chips to keep at work will wait until we’ve got more to order from Sam’s.

Thursday, September 20

Knowing that my budget was in the red, I intended to shop strictly by my list at ALDI this week.

And I almost did.

ALDI haul 9/20

But there were hams for $1.19 per pound and I don’t have any ham in my freezer right now (a rare event, let me tell you!)

And I had some extras I needed for lunch (I’d packed lunchmeat and mustard since we didn’t have any bread or easy-to-eat-while-out fruit or veggies in the house.)

Purchased to be eaten quickly... ALDI 9/20

So I also bought some bread and sliced cheese for our sandwiches, some mandarin oranges to go along with them, and some trail mix for a pre-storytime snack. (Also pictured? The bread for pizza bread Thursday evening – I’d forgotten to include it in the previous picture!)

That was $68.06 minus $4.29 for the scrub brushes I’d bought for kids’ activities. So $63.77

Okay, time for some quick math (see kids, math does come in handy in your future life!)

*Under breath* 63.77 plus 41.68 plus 4.30 Wait – am I actually going to do this in my head? I suppose, now that I’ve got the numbers down on screen it’s easy enough. Five, carry one. Seven, carry one. Nine. Ten.


Folks, this would be lovely if I weren’t in the hole already.

To review…
Week 1: $18.48 below budget
Week 2: $61.02 above budget
Week 3: $5.25 below budget

I’m still $37.29 in the hole for the month.

I’ve got one more full week in the month and I need to keep my purchases down to $77.71

Can I do it?

The good news is that I’m working my way through the first cycle of my new fall menu and putting a half dozen or so entrees in the freezer each week – which means the second time through the cycle should be a) less work and b) less expensive. Also, now that I’ve bought beans and flour and chips and ramen (another “because mama needs something on hand just in case she wants to sulk in a corner with hot food”), I’m not going to need those again for quite a while.

The bad news is that we’ve still got one more week in that first four-week cycle – which means I’m still trying to double up (and don’t really want to make too many substitutions).

Even so, I think I’m up for this challenge. Bring it on!

What I Spent This Week (2018.09.07)

September 9th, 2018

Online budget accountability is great… until you meet a stressor that is likely to be both hard on the budget and hard on blogging.

Like, for instance, getting a new foster child and then immediately getting a stomach bug. And then traveling to pick up a newly butchered beef.

I’m speaking purely in hypotheticals, of course. :-)

So the rest of August was…

August 11 – Gas Station (snacks while traveling) $6.79
August 14 – Walmart Grocery Pickup $35.49
August 14 – Sam’s Club Pickup $21.50
August 15 – Walmart for Formula $27.89
August 16 – ALDI $59.94
August 21 – Walmart Grocery Pickup $21.79
August 23 – ALDI $39.01
August 26 – Sam’s Club Pickup $21.78
August 28 – Walmart $28.48
August 31 – Walmart $37.14
Total $299.81

My budget of $123 per week times 3 weeks means I had $369 to spend – so I came out ahead by $69.19 for those three weeks and $186.36 for the month.


Lest I get too confident…

I started off September by spending $500 to buy a quarter of beef (197 lbs) from my uncle.

Since I’ll be eating that all year long, I’m going to do a bit of alchemy to spread the load and reset my weekly budget a little lower at $115/week.

Wanna see my work?
$500 minus $186.36 for August = $313.64
$313.64 divided by 43 weeks from September 2018 to June 2019 = $7.29/week
$123 minus $7.29 = $115 (always round to allow yourself the most wiggle room – in this case, down)

And now onto this week…

Wednesday September 6
Shopping was weird this week because we traveled up to Lincoln on Sunday to get our beef and came back down to Wichita on Labor Day – which meant I was in no state to do a grocery pickup order for Tuesday morning. So Wednesday it was.

I spend $34.13 for grocery pickup at Walmart on Wednesday afternoon. All of it was groceries.

Walmart pickup 9/5/2018

Thursday September 7

Then it was right out to ALDI the next morning for more groceries – $62.39 worth.

ALDI 9/6/2018

I didn’t add things up and just happened to end up $18.48 below my budget – but it’s not going to last because I have a GINORMOUS Sam’s Club order coming up next week.

Complicating matters, we do receive a stipend to reimburse expenses for fostering – and some portion of that will be added to my grocery budget to cover the expense of formula. I expect to look over our foster care related expenses and determine how we allocate that stipend at the end of each month – and I won’t necessarily include that in my expense reports. So things might look wonky here and there :-)

What I Spent This Week (2018.08.10)

August 10th, 2018

Tuesday August 7

Tuesday is grocery pickup day and I got pickup from both Sam’s Club and Walmart.

Notice, no cheese

I ordered a 2 lb block of sharp cheddar cheese from Sam’s Club for $6.30 – but I only ended up with razor blades. I need to start actually reading the confirmation emails – sometimes they also let you know that something’s out of stock! So no grocery from Sam’s Club this week.

Walmart purchases

Then there’s $66.39 from Walmart – but the diapers ($47.77) make up the bulk of it. Once I subtract the diapers and my multivitamin ($4.26), which belong in “Household – Consumables” and “Pharmacy” respectively, I’m down to $14.36 for groceries.

But don’t be thinking I’m coming out ahead this week – a beef went to the butcher this week and a quarter of it is mine. I don’t know the bill yet, but I can guarantee you it’ll be more than the $108.64 I have left for the week.

We’ve also been out of town part of this week, so I mostly cooked to clear the fridge. Next week, we’ll be at home and will be filling the fridge back up.

What I Spent this Week (2018.08.03)

August 3rd, 2018

I’ve been doing a rather terrible job of keeping my grocery budget under control of late (only in part because we’ve added children to the family since the last time we increased the grocery budget). So, inspired by Kristen’s “What I Spent, What We Ate” feature, I’m going to try a little bit of this online accountability thing.

We’ve upped my grocery budget significantly this year (for our new fiscal year of July to June!), and I’m now at $123 per week

Tuesday July 31
I got grocery pickup from Sam’s Club and Walmart.

Sam's Club purchases

$22.58 from Sam’s Club – all grocery.

Walmart pickup

$35.71 from Walmart – including Vitamin D for the little ones ($9.33) and a couple of spray bottles ($2.10), bringing the grocery total down to $24.28.

That leaves me $64.71 for ALDI on Thursday…

Can I do it?

Thursday August 2

I kept $64 in mind as I shopped, adding the cost of items (always rounded up) as I added them to my cart.

Our ALDI haul

My mental math told me I was buying $57 worth of groceries. The check out total said $56.18

My mental math wasn't bad

Not shabby (as far as keeping to the budget AND as far as mental math goes.)

What was left after lunch

I hadn’t made and packed a lunch for us for after our ALDI and library trip – so I picked up lunch stuff for us at ALDI. This is what was left after we were done :-)

Picking up more thoroughly, less frequently

July 23rd, 2018

Homemaking does not at all come naturally to me.

I am a messy, if ever a messy was. I’m a piler, a clutterbug, a have-everything-spread-out-in-front-of-you person. I lose myself in projects and forget to budget energy to finish all the way to clean-up.

Which means that my house has perpetually been a mess.

I hate it.

The living room BEFORE

**The living room before naptime**

I hate walking in to a messy room. Hate looking at piles of stuff. Hate not being able to find what I’m looking for. Hate tripping over junk or having grit all over my feet from unswept floors.

But for years and years I’ve felt powerless against it.

Before I had kids, I figured that the messiness was a matter of discipline and once I applied myself to fix the problem I’d manage to get and keep things clean.

Then I had kids and I tried. I really tried. But I never managed to get things even picked up.

I was picking things up all. day. long. and never making headway.

I was tripping over things, banging into things. I had bruises all over from falls caused by the clutter.

And I was anxious about anyone coming over because the floor was perpetually covered with junk.

It was terrible.

The dining room BEFORE

**The dining room before naptime**

Worst of all, I felt so defeated.

I had always assumed that if I tried, if I just applied myself, I could keep a clean house (or at least a non-messy one). But I was trying and I couldn’t do it.

Then I was either reading Mystie Winkler’s blog or listening to her podcast and she said something that I decided to implement. She encouraged mothers to not clean up amidst their children’s play. Don’t try to clean up the Legos while the children are playing with them. Choose a time, before lunch or whatever, that you clean up and do the clean up then – not all through the day.

I figured I had nothing to lose. It was worth a try. What I was doing was clearly not working.

The living room AFTER

**The living room after naptime cleaning (20 minutes for the whole house)**

I chose naptime. Getting a handle on things for my own sanity was more important for right now than teaching the kids how to pick up after themselves.

So I stopped picking up while the kids were awake. Once they were asleep, I picked up the living areas.

I quickly realized that picking up wasn’t all I needed. I made a point to sweep the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen each day. That way, all the little scraps of paper and crumbs of food and broken pieces of crayon would be dealt with daily.

And, wonder of wonders, my house started being picked up.

Even at its messiest, it could still be picked up and presentable within a half an hour’s time.

No more four hour cleaning sessions just so I could feel comfortable letting someone sit in my living room (yes, that’s how bad it was!)

The dining room AFTER

**The dining room after naptime cleaning (20 minutes for the whole house)**

Picking up more thoroughly, less frequently is definitely working for me!

When labels mislead

February 10th, 2018

I have a deep, dark secret. It’s bound to have other dietitians ready to throw me out of the club.

I don’t read labels.


I generally buy food based on price and count on my general tendency towards minimally processed ingredients for ensuring that I don’t end up with too much sodium or added sugar in our diets (although, who am I kidding, we get plenty of added sugar in our diets – I know it’s there because I’m removing it from my sugar bins by the cup- and spoonful.)

Anyway, there is one item where I routinely read the label (or at least read it when I’m deciding between stuff – then I go on autopilot.)

I read the labels on cans of fruit.

We eat canned fruit almost every day. If we were to try to get our 3-4 servings of fruit per day from fresh fruit alone, it could get pretty expensive (or pretty unvaried during certain seasons); but by using a combination of canned, frozen, dried, and (seasonal) fresh fruit, I can feed my family a good amount of fruit without breaking the bank.

But since I feed my family canned fruit on a daily basis, I have nutritional criterion for what I buy. I want as little added sugar as possible. What’s more, I want as little added sweetener as possible.

So, when possible, I try to get fruit packed in water. If that’s not available, I’ll go with fruit packed in its own juice or in extra light syrup. If fruit is packed in some other kind of juice, I want the concentration of that juice to be the same as the concentration of straight juice (so no using half the water to reconstitute fruit juice – that’s the nutritional and flavor equivalent of heavy syrup.) I only buy fruit in heavy syrup as a treat (for instance, you can’t buy canned plums any other way – and I have fond memories of my mom’s home-canned plums so I pick some up a couple times a year.)

Then came Splenda – and fruit canners decided all their dreams had come true. Unlike other artificial sweeteners, Splenda is heat-stable AND replaces sugar molecule-for-molecule. This means that they can use Splenda to get the same results as sugar (sweetness and better fruit texture) without the extra calories/added sugar that consumers don’t want. Perfect. They started using Splenda in their canned fruits.

I am not a fan.

Not to say that I’m not a fan of Splenda in general. It is a wonderful substitute for those who need to reduce sugar and still want to make their own recipes (so, it’s a great choice for diabetics who want to be able to eat their favorite dessert without having to make the rest of the meal completely carb free).

But even in the absence of the calories from sugar, I don’t want my children to grow up thinking canned fruit should be as sweet as it would be if it were canned in heavy syrup. I want to train their taste buds to think that water-packed (or “own-juices-packed”) fruit is “the way canned fruit should taste.”

But then I started using Walmart grocery pickup, where reading labels isn’t as easy as scanning visually while you’re tossing a can into your cart.

At first, I bought the Great Value fruit labeled “No Added Sugar.” But that was packed in Splenda. No go.

I switched to fruit “With 100% Fruit Juice”. It contains an extra 3 grams of sugar per serving (that’s 3/4 teaspoon) than fruit canned in water would.

But last week, I saw that there was a new item available: Great Value canned fruit packed IN WATER.

“Hooray! At last!” I thought, as I added it to my favorites and ordered some cans.

My hooray turned to disappointment when I looked at the label before I opened the first can of peaches.

These were not peaches packed in water. These were peaches packed in Splenda. They’d just changed the name of the “No added sugar” variety.


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