Friday, September 14, 2012

Organizing Food

Something happened when we started getting a paycheck and summer was in full bloom.  I think most people call that something, "lazy."  After years of having to be so careful with money, we suddenly had plenty.  And it was hot.  What did we do?  We let someone else cook for us.  I'm not saying I didn't cook at all during the month of August, but I am saying that if it was near a meal time and we were already out, we bought the meal.  My good, working husband also bought lunch every day--and he didn't limit himself to the dollar menu!  We bought ice cream cones.  We bought milk shakes.

Butterfinger Blizzard.  Every time.
It was so unusual and fun.

And expensive.

A big part of our organizing our money was to organize our food.  I made a sacred pact with my husband that if I had lunch foods for him, he would not buy lunch.  I made a similar pact with myself: if it was meal time and we were anywhere near home, we would get home and eat.  We would plan our eating out and not let it rule our food budget.

With my student budget style, I went grocery shopping once per month, with a few extra outings for fresh (WIC) foods.  Other than that, if we had vegetables, it was out of a can or frozen in a plastic bag.  Free fruits from neighbor trees were bottled in season and lasted us all year.  I ONLY bought in-season produce and even then, I had to be careful.  Trying a new recipe was always tricky because if it didn't turn out, I didn't have an alternative meal.

Now, we have decided to keep our budget strict.  It is tight enough that I will have to cook, but it also gives me leniency to try new recipes without it being the end of the world if it doesn't turn out.  I will buy goat cheese and fresh grapes whatever the season!

With a bi-monthly check, I'm going to begin shopping more, but buying less each time.  I'll use the weekly ads and coupons to make a weekly menu, while also slowly building our food storage back up.

This was last week's menu and I have to say, it worked pretty well.  I'll make a few adjustments--Tuesday, for instance, needs to be a packed lunch so "left-overs" won't work on Tuesdays.

Eating from home is a much better option for our health and our pocket book, but it is more than that; it makes me feel like a better mom.  As the kids stand next to me, stealing bits of chopped carrot or grated cheese, stirring the pot and straining pasta, I know they are learning healthy food habits that will effect the rest of their lives.

**Update:  I totally burned our dinner last night.  We went to McDonald's.

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