Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meal Planning.....

So I admit I am usually a pretty organized person but since having children some things have just fallen by the wayside. A year ago when we started this journey I was shocked to see that we were spending $1,100 a month on groceries for just the 4 of us! Oh my! We have since been able to get it down to $500 and it has pretty much stuck there ever since. One of the things that has helped me a great deal with lowering our grocery budget was to meal plan for the month. Now that sounds easy enough but when you have tons of cookbooks and a recipe box FULL of recipes it is a little overwhelming...I mean where do you start? We always ended up having the same old thing week after week and let me tell you it was getting really old! I just didn't have the time to sit down and pull out all those recipes and search for something to make...who does?? So I came up with the binder idea.

I spent one whole afternoon going through every cookbook I had, all my recipe cards, and all those pages from magazines that we all tear out with the intention of cooking whatever it is but never do. Then I copied all the recipes out of the cookbooks, organized all the recipes based on type (Baking, main meal, side dish, condiments, etc.) and put them into page protectors and used dividers to separate them. Then I went through all the main meals and wrote them all out in pencil on a piece of plain paper, then slid that into the front of the binder. There you go a master list of everything your family loves all in one place and easy to find! When it is time to make up the meal plan for the week I just look at the cover of my binder and pick what I want to make and the recipes are right there at my finger tips. Plus is a meal turns out to not be as good as we thought it would (mainly magazine recipes) they are easy to remove and simply erase from the list.

By going through everything I have found recipes he loved that I haven't made since we were newlyweds! DH and I are both much happier with this arrangement! :)

New pregnancy Pics


Here are the much nagged for new pics ;P

This is my belly shot at 24 weeks.....yes I know I am really starting to pop!

Here we have Baby B's (Lacy) face. She is looking directly into the "camera"

Here is Baby A's (Emma) face...again she is looking directly into the "camera".

And this is the funniest one. That is Lacy curled up into a tight little ball. You see that blob on top of her head and arm? That would be Emma's butt. Poor little thing her sister is already making her defend herself! lol :)

Emma: 1lb 10oz
Lacy: 1lb 6oz

Garden update

I really have been busy with tons of projects I just haven't had the time or the energy leftover afterwards to get pics loaded here....but today I seem to be at loose ends with nothing to do so here I am :)

The garden is doing well I guess...it is hard since everything has to be in pots thanks to the African Snail attacks. I don't know why they will not bother anything on the patio but if I put it in the ground they attack like you wouldn't believe!

Lets see...

These are my tomato seedlings...yeah they are small but hey they are growing! lol :) There are 5 that sprouted and I am sure that will be plenty of tomatoes for us so I am happy with that. The half of the egg carton to the front of the pics is the bell pepper seeds I planted....what you don't see anything?? Well that would be because they never came up, still got to try that one again and figure out what I did wrong on that one.

And over we have our watermelon plants...the three pots to the left on the ground are the watermelons. They look pretty pathetic in this pic but they are actually growing really well. They have already bloomed so it will be interesting to see if I can keep them alive long enough to get some watermelons from them. Now just in my defence I didn't mean to start so many watermelon plants...I mean you saw what happened with the bell peppers! But they all came up and then they all thrived so I couldn't kill them! Looks like I am going to have watermelon coming out of my ears if all those blooms turn in to actual melons! Over on the right you see our Basil and flat leaf parsley. They are both doing great and growing like crazy :) Oh and that little pot on the shelf is Thyme...it is doing pretty pathetically but then I don't really use much thyme so I am not worried about it.

And lastly here is my Cilantro. It was doing really well then I tried it in full sun.....yeah it REALLY didn't like that! Back in the full shade and it is growing really well again.
OK that is a tour of my entire patio garden. Other than the bell peppers everything is growing well and doing what I want at the present moment.
Would like to get some onions in there as well but as you can see from the pics it is pretty full out there at the moment and I have no idea where I would put them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dinner Prices

So for a long time I have been reading blogs about frugal cooking and how to stretch a buck when it comes to dinner. I have often wondered how much these frugal dinners REALLY cost and how much of a savings you get from applying their principles. So being the ever "quirky" person that I am I sat down with my grocery receipts tonight and worked out exactly how much tonight's dinner cost.....

Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Romaine Salad:
$5.76 Whole Chicken
$1.02 Potatoes
$0.37 Butter
$0 Romaine (WIC)
$0 Condensed milk (WIC)

Total: $7.15

Not bad for a family of 4 :)

Now as you know one of the basic principles of frugal cooking is to stack recipes so that you use the leftovers from one meal in a totally different meal the next night. Using the leftovers from tonight's dinner I will be making a casserole for tomorrow nights dinner....

Chicken and Rice Casserole with potato cakes:
$0.84 Frozen Veggies
$1.39 Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
$0.50 Rice
$0.94 Cheddar Cheese
$0 Chicken (leftovers)
$0 Potatoes (leftovers)

Total: $3.67

Again REALLY not bad for a family of 4 especially since this meal will also serve as lunch for the next day.

Plus I have the bones and skin from the chicken cooking in the crockpot right now to make chicken stock....so I am also getting 4+ cups of chicken stock for "free".

Thanks to the Happy Housewife for both these recipes and teaching me how to cook a whole chicken in my crockpot. It was yummy and I will defiantly be doing it again!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Today is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. I know I will be lighting my 3 candles tonight.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Disposables, AIO's, or Pre-folds? What is cheaper???

I had always used disposables without thought to cloth diapering. I think the yuck factor and just plain uneducation on that matter worked against me on this topic. But when my youngest was about 12mths I discovered the world of AIO's (all in ones) and pocket diapers and I was sold! I love my AIO's and set out this time to cloth diaper the twins. Being the ever frugal person I am though I couldn't in good faith buy a bunch of AIO's without first doing the price comparison for all the different options out there.

So you lovely people are now going to be privy to my research :)

*Price breakdown for first 3 mths (changing the babies every 2 hours when fed)
DISPOSABLES: $254.40 (cheapest diaper brand made)
AIO's: $480 (birth to potty training)
PREFOLDS: $167.40 (diaper covers and Indian prefolds)

*Price breakdown for 3-6mths (changing babies every 4 hours when fed)
AIO's: $0
PREFOLDS: $47.70

*Price breakdown for 6-9mths (changing babies every 4 hours when fed)
AIO's: $0
PREFOLDS: $137.4

*Price breakdown for 9-12mths (changing babies every 4 hours when fed)
AIO's: $0

At 12 mths I could use the AIO's I already have so we shall stop the comparison here.

AIO's: $480.
PREFOLDS: $352.50

So you can see that disposables are almost double the amount of the AIO's while prefolds are the cheapest option. We shall be buying the prefolds this time around and learning all over again the quirks of cloth diapering :) For these comparisons I used www.cottonbabies.com for the prefold information and the local commissary for the disposable prices. For more info on the debate between cloth diapers and disposables please check out this site.

***Disclaimer: These numbers are based on diapering twins, and based on disposable pricing in my area. Prices will differ based on where you live so you will need to do your own comparison to see what works best for YOUR family***

Having twins on a budget...

Sounds like an oxymoron right? How can a person buy 2 of everything and not spend a complete fortune? Even more difficult in our situation since we got rid of everything under 9mths when we moved this last time. But it is possible and we are managing to do it so far.

First off I am playing a game with myself to see how much "stuff" I can get used. So far I have not bought anything new for the twins and am very proud of myself. Thanks to craigslist.com I have gotten 2 like new swings for $50 each (retail $200 each!) and three trash bags full of 0-3mth clothes :)

For a grand total of: $220 for everything so far.

Could I have done better well sure but concidering what I could have spent I think that is a pretty decent number considering we now have almost everything we need for the twins for the first 3mths.

We are missing some big ticket items:
*2 infant car seats ($120 for both). We could do without these and just use the convertible car seats we already have but I am going for convenience over thrift on this one. These will be bought new since you should never buy a used car seat unless you know the seller since you can not be sure it wasn't in an accident.
*Double Stroller ($98). Again we could use the double umbrella stroller we already have but I am going for one that the car seats will snap into for convenience. Also will probably be bought used unless I get lucky and stubble over one in the next few months.
*Cloth diapers. ($????) Not sure of the price on these since I am still doing some price comparisons on AIO's and pre-folds...another post to follow on this topic.
* 2 Bouncy seats ($30 for both) I have seen several of these listed on craigslist for $15 each. When I have the time to deal with arranging meetings and pick-ups I will be getting these used.

And that is it folks not to bad of a list! We will of course need to get clothes from 3-9 mths but I am not to worried about that at this time. I will continue to look on craigslist and see what comes available. It is so cool that you can get a whole trash bag FULL of like new clothes for $15! A frugal Mommy's dream come true!

20 week baby pics :)

As you can see things are moving right along over here! Lot of pics from my last big ultrasound :) Baby A was 14 oz and Baby B was 13 oz. Both are growing like little weeds and getting VERY active in there! This ultrasound confirmed that they are indeed identical girls, daddy is still dealing with being the only man in the house with 5 women.

Here is Baby A in profile....so cute!

And Baby B....again SO CUTE!

And then one of my favorite shots....4 little feet :)


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