Friday, December 30, 2011

Are children expensive?

You know when ever we visit our family we hear a lot of "2 is all we could afford" which got me to thinking. If more than 2 children are to much of a financial burden for many why is it that we don't find them to be all that expensive?

Lets see how it breaks down...

Food: Well yes the more children you have the more they eat. But since I cover that in several posts on here we won't go thought all the details, but it IS possible to feed a large family economically if you are willing to give it the extra effort.

Clothing: You know just because I have 5 children doesn't mean I have to buy 5 sets of clothing all the time. Actually I only have to buy clothes for 2 of my children, my oldest daughter and my oldest son. The rest of the kiddlets wear hand me downs.

Shelter: Yes many people think they need to have a huge house when they have many children but we are not in that camp. We have a modest 4 bedroom house and we are doing just fine. Bunk beds are a mama's best friend!

Toys and Entertainment: You know this is where I think the majority of people get into trouble. If I constantly bought toys and other random junk for my children we would go broke quickly! My children only get gifts on their birthday's and Christmas. I don't think they are neglected in the least, actually I think it teachs some pretty valuable lessons about what is and what is not a necessity. We also treat our children to cheap/free extracirricular activities as well which I think makes them more appreciated. We feel that children who are in several activities at once (football, dance, etc.) are over extended and fail to see the joy in the activity anymore.

I am sitting here trying to think of what else about having children causes a financial burden on a family and honestly I can't think of any more! I do however see how people can find children to be a HUGE responsiblity and how that responsiblity can be very overwhelming for many. Raising a larger than average family isn't for everyone but it is a HUGE blessing and I would't give back any of my little kiddlets :D

Tips on cutting the grocery budget

So over the years I feel like I have read every single thing ever written on the subject of cutting the grocery bill. I was trying to think of all the tips today and thought I would write them all down to help myself (and anyone else who is curious) remember them all.

*Once a month shopping
*Buy in bulk
*Shop sales flyers
*Coupon on items you will use
*Grow you own fruit/veg
*Can/freeze your home grown produce
*Menu plan
*Join a CSA
* Cut out paper products (papertowels, etc.)
*Make your own cleaning products

I am already planning our garden for this spring and researching local CSA's

Our frugal Christmas

Every year I say that we are going to have a frugal Christmas and then every year we go over board due to poor planning. This year we stuck to our guns!

Gift's for extended family:

***Pillow cases personalized by my kids ($12 total)***

***Handmade "Faith, Love, Hope" Sign ($15)***
~My Brother and SIL

***$10 Game Stop GC ($20 total)***
~11yr old nephews

***Crayon Roll and Coloring Book ($20 total)***

Total for extended family: $67 plus shipping (man does that add up fast!)

Gifts for my kids:
*Blank books (made with yarn and printer paper)
*Stockings (made by me out of their old receiving blankets)
*Art Box (filled with lots of arts and crafts supplies) ($20)
*Purses for the twins (made from scraps of material I already have)
*Crayon rolls for the older two ($20 total)
*Plus tons of stuff from the Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles

Gifts for each other:
*$50 limit per person

We had a wonderful Christmas :D

One chicken Three meals

You know I read a lot of frugal blogs and books in the search for how to save every penny I can around here. Over time I have read several different large family blogs that have all claimed to be able to use ONE chicken for THREE meals. Now for a long time I have sat there and looked at that statement in wonder. How in the world is one tiny little chicken supposed to feed 7 people three times? Well we finally managed it and I thought I would share how we did it

Day one:
Roast chicken with green beans and Mac and cheese
*** After eating the chicken put the bones, cooking juices, and skin in a crock pot fill with water and cook on low all night, and put the leftover chicken in the fridge **

Day Two:
Chicken and Dumplings with a salad
***Use the chicken stock you made over night for the soup, use two cups of stock and flour to make the dumplings. Add in any leftover dark meat from the chicken***

Day three:
Chicken with peppers and Rice
*** Any leftover white meat from the chicken served "stirfry" style with peppers and onions over rice, there are so many veggies and rice no one notices if there isn't a ton of chicken***

That is how *we* did it. How about you???

January's grocery list

Here we go again.....

10lbs chicken breasts
12 lbs ground beef
3 lbs cheddar cheese
1 pckt. Italian dressing
1 cream cheese
2 pks frozen broccoli
8 oz cheese wiz
Fried onion's (Frenches)
Parmesan cheese
2 salsa's
4lbs Mozzarella
green chili's
8oz sour cream
diced olives
dry black beans
1 BIG can diced tomatoes (costco)
lime juice
lemon juice
Tortilla chips
Hot sauce
14oz saurkraut
15oz Garbanzo beans
salad mix
Garlic Pwd
Onion Pwd
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons juice
2 boxes yogurt

Week one Perishables:
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons Juice
2 eggs

Week 2:
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons Juice
2 eggs

Week 3:
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons Juice
2 eggs

Week 4:
2 gallons Milk
2 gallons Juice
2 eggs

January's Menu

I have been working up January's menu today and think I have it done.

All meals are in the order they will be served:

Spaghetti and Bread
Layered Dinner Casserole and Bread
Mexican Chicken with corn and Rice (crock pot)
Tortilla Soup with Salad and bread
Pizza and Salad
Taco's and Spanish Rice
Roast with green beans and rice
Black bean chili with rice
Hamburgers with homemade fries and corn
Spaghetti and bread
Creamy Chicken with green beans and rice (crock pot)
Sheppard's Pie with bread
Cheeseburger Pie with corn and bread
Taco's with Spanish rice
Stone soup with green beans and rice
Crunchy Chicken Parmesan with green beans and bread
Pizza and Salad
Spaghetti and Bread
Vegetable Chowder with bread
Taco's with Spanish rice
Broccoli, rice, chicken casserole with green beans
Fall off the bone beef with mixed veg and rice (crock pot)
Spaghetti and bread
Chicken chili verde with corn and rice (crock pot)
Minestrone soup with rice
Pizza and salad

As you can tell by this menu we are trying to cut back on our meat so there are several soups and vegetarian meals (isn't Dh going to LOVE that!). We are also attempting to provide a "filler" with every meal (rice, bread, beans).

December's cooking projects

Part of simplifying my monthly meal planning was to also do as much work ahead of time so that meal time was easier on all of us. With that in mind I tried to do as much prep work in advance as I could. Here is the list of the prep work I got done in December:

*25 Sausage biscuits, from scratch, in the freezer
* 4 spaghetti sauces in the freezer
* Pizza sauce, from scratch, in the freezer
* Pizza rolls assembled and in the freezer
* 4 batches of Cinnamon rolls assembled and in the freezer
* Pizza crusts baked and in the freezer

Once A Month Shopping ~December's Grocery List~

Once the menu was planned it was time to get the grocery list done!

11 lbs ground beef
2 roasts
2 whole chickens
2lbs Chicken
4 packages of pepperoni
2 LARGE cans of tomato Sauce (the #10 cans from costco)
Garlic Pwder
5lbs Carrots
10lbs frozen mixed veg
3c. Pearled barley
4pk Tortilla's
5lbs Mozzarella
3pk Hamburger buns
1 box lasagna noodles
2 BIG boxes of Pancake/Biscuit mix (Costco size)
2 Bottles Syrup
3 Large jars applesauce
1 Oats
3 dz eggs
3pk hot dogs
2 cases soy milk
50lbs flour
4 OJ Concentrates
Sausage (enough for 31 patties)
8 boxes Graham crackers
Goldfish (BIG Box)
1 big bag chocolate chips
Veg oil
4lbs bacon

Week 1 Perishables (actually will be week 2 since week one is he first week when I do the shopping):

Week 2 Perishables:
3 dz eggs

Week 3 Perishables:
Cottage Cheese
3 dz eggs

Week 4 Perishables:
3dz eggs

Month meal planning

When looking to simplify our lives the first thing I looked at was our grocery shopping. Meal planning each week and then doing weekly grocery shopping was taking up way to much of my time and was leaving my entire family crabby. In a attempt to simplify the process we decided to try monthly meal planning and then doing one large shopping trip per month (with a few small shops for dairy and fruit thorughout the month).

As I prepared for my first once a month shopping trip I worked up a menu for the month of December. One that has cheap, big, simple, healthy meals that when able can be turned into a meal for the second day as well

December's meals (all meals are in the order they were served):

1 Spaghetti
2 Pot Roast
3 Beef and Barley soup (leftovers from day 2)
4 Beef and Barley soup
5 Roast chicken
6 Chicken noodle soup (leftovers from day 5)
7 Mexican Casserole
8 Pizza rolls
9 Taco's
10 Leftovers
11 Sloppy Joes
12 Spaghetti
13 Chicken and rice
14 Pizza
15 Leftovers
16 Roast chicken
17 Chicken noodle soup (leftovers from day 16)
18 Lasagna
19 Hamburgers
20 Taco's
21 Pot roast
22 Beef and barley soup (leftovers from day 21)
23 Beef and barley soup
24 Leftovers
25 Chicken and rice
26 Pizza rolls
27 Mexican Casserole
28 Sloppy Joes
29 Pizza
30 Spaghetti
31 Leftovers

There you go a whole month planned out!

There was also muffins, pancakes, baked oatmeal, scrambled eggs and fruit for breakfast. And Leftovers, PB&J sandwiches, lunch meat sandwiches, and hot dogs for lunch. Plus as much fresh baked bread as my family could eat.

I'm back and ready to go!

Eight months ago we welcomed our 5th child to our family and I freely admit it threw our family for a organizational loop. Just when we were starting to get our lives back in order we received orders to move from Hawaii to New Jersey. As you can imagine moving a family of seven (5 of whom are 7yrs or under) halfway across the world took a bit of time and patience. We are finally settled in the our new house in New Jersey and our lives are back on track, well as much as they can be under the circumstances!

Since our lives have taken such a dramatic turn lately it is only reasonable that our blog would as well. Our upcoming posts will be centered around simplifying our lives, finding the balance between family time and the structured running of a large family, becoming more self sufficient, my feeble attempts at crafting, and of course balancing the budget.

I have missed you all and hope that our blog is a help to someone out there :D

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