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What’s for breakfast?

One of the most common questions I am asked when I mention my ridiculously low budgeted amount for groceries is 

WHAT DO YOU EAT????

The second question is usually “Are you an extreme couponer?” No, no I am not. I used to coupon, but with 5 kids, one in high school and 2 homeschooled, I don’t have time for that. I wish I did. 🙂

Naturally if you are not spending a fortune on groceries, people assume you are eating crap. I can assure you, there is no crap buying here. Why buy crap when you can make crap for free? 

Okay, that was in poor taste. Sorry. :hangs head in shame:

I was talking about chocolate chip cookies. Promise. 

Let’s get back to what we eat. I think one lie that I bought into for many years is that we need variety. I used to stockpile 12 different kinds of cereal. I think I stopped doing that, because I stopped couponing and then I just couldn’t get a good deal. My kids love Fruit Loops, but they don’t need Fruit Loops. If they want Cocoa Crispies, they buy Cocoa Crispies with their own money. 

I’m really good at going off on a tangent. Variety. Focus. We pretty much eat the same thing for breakfast most of the time:

  • Cream of Wheat (my husband’s current kick) There are 24 servings in one box, so it lasts about a month. – $4 (at the most)
  • Oatmeal – With my cholesterol issues, oatmeal is my breakfast of choice at least 4/5 of the weekdays. Our local grocery store has it on sale for 69 cents a pound in the bulk section. I buy the thick cut oats and stock up when it’s on sale. 
  • Cheerios – I keep one box on hand, because my teen likes it and it lasts about a month. A large box is about $3.50
  • Eggs – $7 for 5 dozen. One will last a full month.
  • Potatoes – $2 for a 10 lb bag, unless it’s on sale in a larger size. I buy two for a month. I like to make this at the beginning of the week, then the kids or my husband can just pop it in the microwave for a quick breakfast. Her prices and portion sizes seem to be a bit higher than mine. I make 10 servings from one recipe and calculated that each serving costs about $0.50
  • Pancakes – I use this recipe. We rarely have pancakes, but when we do, it’s a weekend. 

The above is what we generally eat. We always have fruit, veggies and yogurt on hand. Every once in a while we will make omelettes. Charlee, the baby, likes to eat bananas and cottage cheese for breakfast. Piper sticks with toast. In our house, everyone is on their own schedule and pretty much on their own for breakfast. 

I’ve found that keeping breakfast simple makes the mornings easier. Us Dixons are creatures of habits anyway and once we find something we like, we usually stick with it.

While we don’t have an enormous amount of variety in our breakfasts, as individuals, we don’t indulge in a lot of unhealthy breakfast items. Every once in a while I throw in a surprise breakfast item. In fact, I plan on making this for my husband this week. I just want to know if it’s good.  

What do you eat for breakfast? 

Update: That HUGE grocery shop

Last weekend I alluded to a HUGE grocery shop and dangled a carrot in front of my friends. I said I would be back to share how it went. Then life happened and I am not making excuses, but… 

Well, yes I am. School happened. A high schooler. Yikes! Two home schooled kiddos, yi yi yi. Several doctor appointments, and working my little side job. I am not a waitress in a cafe bar. Although that is not a bad idea. 

Yeah, so anyway, In this post, I mentioned that I would like to switch to a huge monthly shop for non-perishable groceries. I planned out an entire month of meals, which was a whole lot easier than I thought. If you want to know how I did that, I can tell you… later… again. I use Plan to Eat to plan our meals. Try it, you’ll like it, then come back and thank me. You’re welcome. 

I checked my list and deleted all the items I already had on hand. I only planned side dishes for the first week of the month, because I fully anticipate returning to the store each week for produce, salads, cottage cheese, etc. 

Our first stop was at our local produce store. We stock up on a week’s worth of produce and a month’s worth of bulk here. We gravitate mostly towards items that are on sale. Our fruit consisted of apples and bananas last week because those were the least expensive. The total amount for produce for the week and bulk for the month (mostly rice) was $50. We filled 6 bags. 

Our next stop was at Winco. Let me tell you, it got a little stressful here. One reason is because I was using the Plan to Eat “app” on my phone. I set the dates for the full month and started on the non-perishable foods. After that, I switched the dates for just the week so I could get all of the perishable foods we needed just for the week. Before this, I did not realize that when you toggle between dates, your items will show back up on your list. I will definitely need to come up with a better system. I typically have a good memory, so I knew what I had already picked up, but we had 4 kids with us, and it was a busy day at the store and I felt like I was in the way of everyone. I haven’t decided how I am going to handle this on future shopping trips, but I trust I will figure something out!

Total spent for a month’s worth of staples and the weekly perishables: $200. I didn’t get EVERYTHING I needed, because some of the stuff wasn’t on sale and I knew it goes on sale every other week. So I will check the prices on those things when I return for our small weekly shop. 

We picked up 20lbs of ground meat from a friend and spent $50 there. This will last us at least 10 weeks, but usually more like 15. They also blessed us with a few different cuts, which I found out when I thawed some ground meat yesterday, only to open the package and find some tenderloin. That will teach me to read the package. 

Pizza was on the menu tonight, but Chad and I talked about it and decided that instead of going to the store to buy the toppings and sauce, we would see what we could make from what we have. We are barbecuing the tenderloins we thawed yesterday, making a potato salad (thank you, mom, for the mayo!), and grilling some zucchini that our friends AND the neighbor gave us. 

During the past week, I went to the grocery store one time and that’s because my daughter wanted to buy herself a cake. I found some marked down meat, a pound of ground lamb and a sirloin steak, and paid $8 total for those. 

So our total spent for the month, so far is $308, but some of this stuff will last past a month. I am excited to go pick up our perishables tomorrow and see how little we can spend. I am also interested in the time we save. I think we spent a total of 3 hours last week grocery shopping. It’s hard to tell, because we also went school clothes shopping and those trips tend to run together. 

Update next week? Same time, same place? Maybe? 

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

We are a family of seven. Our ages span from one (the baby) to 48 (the daddy) and we cover a lot of ages in between. We are for sure not lacking in love or companionship. There is something we do lack, though. Guess what it is? Ding, ding, ding! Yes, correct! TIME!

It just seems that there is not enough of it. I know this isn’t true, because if I had to wait 24 hours for something, I would think that’s too long. 24 hours is a long, long time. I guess, then, it’s up to us how we use that time and are we using our time wisely? Well, yeah, I think I am. I don’t watch tv (much), so I can’t give that up. I’ve toyed with the idea of giving up Facebook, but I don’t want to do that, I just don’t. So where else can I save time and why do I want to save some?

I told Chad the other day “I just wish we had more time for fun, how do we do that?” He looked at me blankly as he often does when I ask him a question. I don’t blame him. I ask a lot of questions! So I came up with my own idea. I will have to redefine what fun means. 

Dictionary.com defines fun as: 

noun
1.

something that provides mirth or amusement:

A picnic would be fun.
2.

enjoyment or playfulness:

She’s full of fun.
 
What if fun was something different? What if fun was laundry and dishes and dirty diapers? I’d be having fun always and I wouldn’t be bemoaning the lack of fun in my life. Right? Right! 
 
Yeah, I didn’t think so either and we quickly nixed that idea, although it was fun, for a moment, to redefine all the fun things we do in life. “Look! Dog poop! How fun!” 
 
Sometimes the things we do just seem to take forever! Grocery shopping, weekly, 2-3 hours? UGH! it’s insane. Then at the end of the day we throw our hands up in the air (sometimes) (did you sing it?) and wonder where the day went. 
 
Here are 3 things I have put into practice in MY life to cut down on how long things take:
 
  • Delegation: Simply put I have started delegating jobs to my family members. I know, I know, I am a little slow to get on the boat, but I’m on! If it takes mama 3 hours to do things, guess how long it takes six of us to do those same things? Yes! Just 30 minutes. Oh, it’s amazing. I’ve only delegated a few things, and right now, since it’s new, it seems like I am spending time REMINDING others to do their job, but they do them and that’s an auto-win!
  • Auto-pay: We have been using You Need a Budget for a little over a month. Whoah! It’s a whole new way of looking at things. We were fortunate that we started out with a good cushion and were able to start out living on last month’s income. We were 100% buffered from the get go! Last month, I paid all of our bills on one day. The rest of the month I didn’t know what to do with my time and getting the mail was fruitless, because there never was any. 🙂 Well, to save even more on time, I set up auto-pay on everything that can be auto-paid. That’s pretty much every bill I have. Since we are fully buffered, I no longer have to worry about the money being in our account when payments are debited from our account. It probably doesn’t save a lot, but it’s not my worry anymore. 🙂
  • Grocery shopping: This is a huge chore for us. A few months ago, I was in the grocery store at least every other day. We have been using Plan to Eat since the end of March. I have been planning our menus weekly and shopping one day a week. I *might* run into the store one other time during the week, but honestly, it’s rare. Even going once a week is still taking a tremendous amount of time. For September, Mr. Dixon and I are setting up a menu for a complete month, but we are only planning for two weeks and then we are going to double it. We will buy all of our non-perishable goods once a month, then we will only have to go to the store for produce, milk and bread. We buy all of our produce from Chuck’s produce and all of our non-perishables from Winco. Since we won’t typically be doing both stores in one day, I am anticipating a huge time saver! I also think this will be a money saver. If I make spaghetti, I typically only use half the package. Then it sits and sits and I buy something else, because I never want to repeat a meal. Now I will use the whole package in one month, therefore saving a meal or two. 

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all this extra time. Do you have any ideas? mwah ah ah!

What are your time saving strategies? I would love to hear them!