Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Comparing the cost of baby food

My son is 6 months old and he is eating about 3-4 ouces, usually twice a day.
He has tried apples, bananas, cantaloupe, pears, peaches, avocado, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes.
So far, everything has been homemade, and I'd like to keep it that way as loooooong as possible. I do not want him to realize the other stuff might be sweeter. I don't want him to learn the taste of preservatives yet.
I have been asked a few times recently if it is really worth the time. And if it actually does cost less, all factors included. For me, yes.
I have worked hard to find deals on fruits and vegetables, to buy them when they are on sale, make a lot and freeze the extra. I am not worried about buying ALL things organic, but some I do (same with our food).
I have also spent time at different stores and on line checking into what it would cost to buy baby food jars (taking into account when sales happen and how coupons would factor into the equation). I've done my research and I'm convinced. Not just from the cost perspective, but also in knowing that I am aware of exactly what I am putting in his mouth, and at least for now, I have control over that (except all the things he gets his hands on and puts in there when I am not looking...).
Here is a look at my most recent food: sweet potatoes.
I got them at Wal Mart when they were $.93/lb. I bought 2.97 lbs for a cost of $2.76. I wasn't totally sure how they would go over, so I didn't buy more at the time, but most likely will next time I go back to the store.
My husband did much of the work this time as I was out on a run and getting ready for a meeting (yes, dads can help too!).
The potatoes cook for a little over an hour (just took a few minutes to clean them and wrap them in foil before cooking at 400 degrees for a little over an hour).
They cooled for a bit. This is all time to be multitasking...
He peeled the skins very easily, chopped a little bit, added them to the processor, added some water as needed, and pureed away!
I should get about 16 feedings (comparable to stage 2 jar size amount) out of what was made. This works out to be $.04 per ounce! That is truly unbeatable! And this has been my experience. Total amount of actual work time? Maybe 30 minutes (probably exaggerating a little long here, but just in case you are a bit slower than me, not likely, but just in case).

I don't know how sure he is about it just yet, but i think I might mix it with some apples to begin with since he really likes the apples and this should help to adjust it to his likes but still get the vegetables.
I DEFinitely recommend making your own food!

Monday, June 22, 2009

More about Setting Goals

Last week I started taking a closer look at why and how to set some goals. Why set goals? It’s just smart to set some. So, how do you go about setting goals? It’s simple. It's all about being SMART.


We have talked about being specific, measurable, and attainable. Now we will look at the final two: realistic and timely.

Realistic: This does not mean that you don’t challenge yourself to set bigger goals. But it does mean that the goals are in fact “do-able” and workable. If you do not have the tools to accomplish a goal, then it is not likely a realistic goal.

For example: An unrealistic goal might be “I want to build my own house” whereas a realistic goal might be more like “I want to take some free classes on how to build things on my own since I have never touched a tool before in my life.”

Timely: Putting an end point on your goal helps give you something to focus on. Especially if you are a procrastinator at heart, this is an important one for you! If there is no end time, there is no urgency to get started or to keep going. This will help to give you a better picture of where you are going and when you are going to get there.

What goals would you like to work on? Has this helped you in setting some goals for yourself?

Here is one ultimate goal I have: I would like my house to be ready for someone to stop by at any point of the day. I will do this by working on my organization and finding a home for everything, especially the little things. I will spend a little time during each nap that my son takes to make sure things are put away, making sure I do not have to step over anything to walk through my house.
"By the end of this week, my house will be clean enough to have guests over (what would I want my house to look like if I was trying to sell it?), always, and I will work to keep it this way by continually putting things back into the spots I created for them."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How to set attainable goals

It’s the end of June. It’s just as good a time as any to set some goals. Getting ready to start a new month. Getting ready to start the second half of the year. Maybe you’re on summer break and distracted with kids being home. Maybe your life is no different in the summer. Whatever the case, and whatever your life situation, it can never hurt to set some goals.

We’ve just looked at how to make goals specific and how to make them measurable. Now for the “A” in the word SMART: attainable.

You want to make any goal you have attainable. The key to setting goals is being able to achieve them, not to set the standard so high and ridiculous that you could never in your wildest dreams even try to accomplish it.

An example of a general and non-attainable goal might be: “I want to lose 30 pounds this week so I look good in my bathing suit this weekend.” An attainable (and safe) goal would sound more like: “I want to lose 1-2 pounds each week for the next 6 months so I can ultimately lose 30 pounds.”

It is not healthy to lose 30 pounds in a week. And it is not attainable. If you set goals that you really can achieve then you are more likely to follow through to completion.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to set measurable goals

So, you’ve decided you want to make some changes. You want to set some goals. You are beginning to think about what they could be. Maybe you are a little overwhelmed. Maybe you are a bit excited. Maybe you are flushed with all sorts of emotions. Maybe you know exactly where you want to go. But maybe you have absolutely no idea.

That’s why it’s good to set goals. Especially SMART goals.
You’ve tried to make it more specific. Now let’s make it measurable.

You need to set concrete criteria in which you can measure your progress.

If your goals are measurable you should be able to answer the following questions:

How much?
How Many?
How will I know when it is accomplished?

For example: a general goal may be "I'm going to clean my house" whereas a measurable goal might be "I'm going to spend 30 minutes each day for the next week cleaning my house."

You want to succeed.

You’ve got to be able to measure that success.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to set specific goals

So you know you want to make some changes, right? You know you want to set some goals and do things a little differently. But how in the world do you get started. You get SMART. You set some SMART goals.

Step 1: Be Specific.

If you make your goal specific you are more likely to be able to accomplish it. It's as simple as answering the old "W" questions.


For example: a general goal may be "I want to spend less money" whereas a specific goal might be "I want to spend $50 less each month on groceries."

This second one is much more specific because it has an exact number and a category. If it is just a general goal, what are you really working toward?

Think about some of the things you might want to do differently and think about how you can be specific in the goals you are going to set. This is just the first step, but it’s an important one!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to Set Goals

I have been talking each month about my goals for saving and spending. I really started trying to focus on our finances back in March, really trying to figure out where and how we could cut back on our spending. For me, I enjoy setting goals because it helps me to focus on where I am going. From staying healthy to saving money, goals are great.

So why Set Goals? Why not just try to change? Why not just try?

Goals can help you:

be disciplined.
stay focused.

see progress.

remain motivated.

be accountable.

So, how do you go about setting goals? It's simple. It's all about being SMART.
You may have heard it before, but it's a good reminder to look at this acronym. I learned this in college and it has been a great help ever since! In all areas of life.


Each day this week we will look a little closer at each of these, learning how to set better goals. You don’t have to wait for January to come around again for some New Year’s resolutions. Let’s start fresh in July!

Menu Plan Monday - June 15

What an easy week I have!

Sunday-Friday lunch time: covered! we will be away for work, and all meals will be cooked and provided for us! Yippee!

Friday night: probably some pizza or something easy on the grill.

Saturday: Grilled Raspberry Chicken with fresh from the garden salad (hoping the garden has done well for us)

Fresh Herbs

I hate to see things go to waste! Reeeeally!
Our garden is doing great! we had lots of rain, and then lots of sun, and a little more rain. And things are looking REAlly good!
We have sweet basil and oregano growing in our garden, and both were getting very big. They were ready to be cut so they could start growing again.
Don't want to see it all go to waste, so even though we will not be able to partake in their goodness this week, we will being drying some out so it will last.
This is my first attempt EVER at drying out an herb, so feel free to let me know a better way.
For now, our drying has also because somewhat of a decoration. A 2 for 1 deal.
We'll see how it looks at the end of the week...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Keeping a Razor Sharp

This post is not something I have tried, but instead something that has worked great for my husband. Although I am thinking now that maybe I do need to try it.

My husband was listening to Clark Howard when he heard that it is bad for a razor to dry by air because this causes it to dull faster. Clark was talking about a device that actually does the drying in a way that keeps the air from it. But who needs to buy a device when there is a solution around your house?

My husband was then in a conversation with a friend about this when he learned about oil. Yep. Oil. All he had to do was find a small empty jar (or cup or container or whatever you might have and be ok with not using again), put some oil in the bottom (enough to cover the blades when you put the razor in, don't think it really matter what kind), and then store the razor in this new spot after shaving.

He has been doing this for a while now and says he can definitely tell that it is helping. And my husband would know. He would need to shave a few times a day if he always wanted that close-shave feeling...yes, he's that hairy, so he would know about razors going dull.

It works for him. And maybe soon it will work for me. For other great posts and ideas, head on over to We Are THAT Family.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Got My Pampers!

I LOVE pampers. Really love them! I never would have thought I would be such a diaper snob. I do use others, but this is by far my preference. They are soft. They absorb well. They seem to fit great. They don't have purple or Winnie the Pooh. I just like them A LOT.

So when there is a good deal, I jump. And jump I did. And just in time.

I found out about this deal Sunday morning. I was going to try to get to CVS Sunday afternoon. Hoping they would still have some available. I didn't make it until this morning. No one had been to the store I went to yet. How could I tell? The shelves were stocked and no one in the store had any idea what to do with my printout from the web.

There was confusion, maybe a little frustration. There was a long line forming. There was a long time waiting on hold on the phone trying to contact someone but getting in touch with no one. I tried to be on my best behavior. I wanted this deal, even if it was just for one pack of diapers. I was confused and frustrated with the internet advertising something that no one knew about in the stores. But I was nice. He finally gave me a limit of 3, printing me off my ECBs for each separately (I was very thankful for this as it allows me smaller amounts to spend in the coming weeks).

All in all, I spent $13.93 out of pocket for my 3 packs of diapers.
I had some ECBs to use and also had 3 $2/1 coupons for Pampers.
And I got back $15 ECBs for another day.

Not a bad deal.
Not a bad deal at all!

There is currently some confusion over whether this deal was supposed to happen at all, and whether or not they are going to continue to honor it, so don't run out tonight on my word and try to get some diapers. It is not likely to work so well...sorry!

Why do I register for free things?

Because I get SO excited when they come in the mail!

So often I register, try and figure out in my head when it might come, and then promptly forget all about it. When I see a bigger envelope or box in the mailbox, I get so excited and try to figure out what it is I might be getting.

I know this is silly, but it's fun. And it's all free, so why not?!

Today I got another reusable bag I can use for grocery shopping. Cute. Durable. Green. Free.

It's the simple things in life......

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - June 8

This week will be a week of eating out the fridge. As of next Sunday we we be gone for a week, and the worst thing to do would be to throw out perfectly good food because we don't get to it. No way do I want to pay for food that I cannot eat. Time to get creative.

Monday Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Baked Chicken fingers, salad

Pizza, salad


Friday and Saturday
Creatively clean out the fridge

Maybe a little boring. But simple. And Efficient.

Watch your garden grow

I love finding ways to save money.

I love finding ways to eat healthy.

I love eating good food.

I love finding ways to save money while eating good, healthy food.

Grow a garden! That's how you can do it!

We are not experts. I am definitely not. I did not grow up gardening. I have not studied it, read up on it, spent hours trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. (Mainly because my husband has done the work on the garden. But still...)

You buy the seeds, or even some plants that are already started. Buy the things you know you will want to eat (maybe even all year round if you do good with the garden). Read the directions on the packet, or with the plant. Or quickly look the vegetable up on the internet if you have to. The internet is chock-full of info on how to grow a garden!

It really is simple. We water it on the days it doesn't rain (which hasn't been much lately) and we watch our plants grow. We've had peaches (we did not plant the trees and don't do much for them, but we get good peaches), lettuce, and sweet basil. All very good so far!

We watched our lettuce grow.

We thinned it out some and filled a couple of bowls with fresh-from-the-garden lettuce.

Then we made some really amazing salads with it! I can't wait for all the toppings to come from our garden too. But for right now, the avocados in the stores are so good. And tomatoes. And some slivered almonds and a light dressing. MMMM. I'm getting hungry for a salad.

It really IS simple! And thrifty. And green. (haha. I didn't mean the color when I wrote it. but it is the color green as well!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Food For My Freezer-Peaches!

I love it when I have a seemingly tedious task to do and I find an amazingly simple way to do it!
We have a couple of peach trees in our back yard. They do not get real big, but they are very sweet and delicious. Last year they all came in within about a 2 week span, just before we were leaving for a week! Bummer! We ate as many as we could and then gave a bunch away before we left. I was happy to give them to people who would eat them, but I would have loved to have figured out something to do with them so we could enjoy them for a lot longer (without canning them, I am just not into canning yet!).

Well, now that we have a deep freezer, this is my first though on just about any food...eat some now, store some for later. The part about these peaches I was not looking forward to was their size. They are small. This means a lot of peeling for just a little fruit on the inside. It is good fruit, and it is worth it to get to the middle, but I had been putting it off for a while.

Until I found this info about freezing peaches. Hooray! This made the process SO simple! And now I can enjoy these peaches so much longer this year!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"No Spending" Goals

In this post, I talked about how we were doing halfway through our first month of "no spending." We were spending money, but not on things like shopping, eating out, random desires, etc.

Now I'm back to sum up the month and talk about how June can look as well.

  • I allowed myself $5 per week between the drugstores in town and Target. I never went over, and only once did I even come close. I am changing this a little for June and challenging myself to $15 for the month between all of these stores.
  • Our garden is blooming quite well, thanks to all the rain we have had. We got to eat some salads this past week with lettuce and sweet basil from our garden and have started picking peaches as well. Can't wait for more fresh food. It tastes so good and fresh and saves us so much in grocery costs.
  • I don't know of any more great coffee deals coming up, but I do enjoy the Target brand Espresso, so I will have to watch for it to go on sale sometime soon.
  • Our menu plan for May worked great and I am following another one that I made for June. We will also be out of town (with all meals provided for us) for a week in June so I did not have to plan for these days and this will help our grocery budget even more!
  • Well, we did eat out once, as I talked about here, but we don't plan to again for June. It's not that hard, really, but I do miss Chick Fil A a bit. And it's a bit more challenging to plan meetings that aren't just grabbing a bagel and coffee at a local shop.
  • Still keeping very detailed records of all the purchases I am making, and this helps me to see how I am doing as the month progresses, so I know this will continue for June as well.

Other small ways that we are trying to save:
  • Reusing ziploc bags
  • composting (saves on paying for our trash to be picked up since we don't have to put it out as often and it will help our garden)
  • making our own coffee, and trying to drink less of it so it lasts longer
  • using white washcloths as towels to clean instead of using paper towels
  • I made my own "wet jet refill" so I don't have to pay for the name brand cleaner
  • borrowing movies from friends instead of renting or going to a theatre
I hope this helps to inspire you in some way. If nothing else, it has inspired me to look back and see all the changes we have made to try and live and more simple and frugal life.

May Budget Review

This helps me to see how I have done, whether good or bad...

April was a pretty good month, and I tried to do even better in May, for obvious reasons.

I spent more in May and saved less, but overall I think I had a better month. I mentioned how I thought my numbers were a little off for April, so I could be saying I spent more when I really didn't. But I really did not "save" as much as I did in April. I talk about this saving dilemma here.

My savings % was down to 42% this month. Again, I talk about this in my "dilemma" and why it is a dilemma for me...I would love to be at 50% or higher, but I know there may be other factors involved at times. I did spend $8 less than my goal for the month, though, so this I was happy with!

We had plenty of food, we did not eat out, we had people over a few times, and we still had some food in our pantry and freezer at the end of the month, so I know I am doing better at being able to provide us with more for less, and ultimately I am happy with that.

May Goals Review

Back on May 1 I set some goals for me and for my family. I'm a little delayed getting back to this, but I want to make sure I look back at how I did with those goals, and even though we are already a little into June, I want to make sure I set some new ones as well.

1. My first goal was to plan a month of meals all at once. No, I didn't make them all at once, but I did plan for the whole month right from the beginning, trying to find the best deals on things that I could buy early (knowing I would cook it later).
This worked great for me, and I am doing this again in June. One thing that is helping me even more now is that we were able to purchase a chest freezer, so now I can cook more in bulk and buy more in bulk when I see a great deal!
I also said we were not eating out for the whole month. We last until the 29th, when my husband wanted to take me on a surprise date. We used a gift card he had gotten for Chili's so we paid $2 for the meal plus our tip, still not too bad. We are planning to not eat out again in June.

2. Clutter is still an issue for us and I hate it! Every time I feel like we do a little bit to get rid of some, more pops up than there was before. My husband says "this is a process and you need to be patient" but I say the process is taking too long. We seem to create clutter faster than we can get rid of it!
I need to work much harder and more diligently at this one in June!

3. I think we did pretty good with evaluating the purchases we were both making. We did buy a freezer, but we had saved enough on groceries and knew it was a good deal.
I know we will need to constantly evaluate the things we are buying and the reasons for buying them.

Not bad for the first month of really trying this. Keeping similar goals for June. Don't want to go crazy trying to change too much at once!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Savings Dilemma

Here is the dilemma: my savings percentage.

I try to keep good track of my receipts so I can look at all that I am spending, and all that I am saving. I know I am saving by spending less, but I know that it helps me to look at the bottom of a receipt (one from a store that keeps track of how much was saved based on sales and coupons, etc) and track how much I saved versus how much I spent.

I am getting ready to finalize all my spending from the month of May and officially write out my goals for June. As I have been looking over my last month of spending, I know I have done a lot better at spending less money (while still getting everything we need) but my savings percentage has gone down a good bit this last month. I know a part of this is that, ultimately, I do a lot of spending at Wal Mart because I feel like I can find the best deals there. And more than that, I often end of buying store brand because it is cheaper than buying a name brand with a coupon. So I didn't really "save" money that would be recorded into my savings, but I did save because I spent less. And I was able to buy more over the course of the month because I spent less on individual items.

But I like to SAVE. I like to see that my savings percentage is more than 50% because then I feel like I have definitely saved more than I have spent...although in the end I am probably able to buy more for my dollar if I am picky about how I spend it instead of just looking to use more coupons.

Oh, the dilemma...I guess it's not really a dilemma, I think I just don't feel as good about May as I should, even though I know I did good, it does not look as good on paper...

Oh, well...

Stockpiling Chicken

At one point in my life I was a vegetarian.

I just bought over 30 lbs. of chicken!

I was just talking yesterday about wanting to find a good deal on chicken so I could stock up. Today is a new day for Food Lion deals and they have a special on split chicken breasts. Yes, there will be bones we will have to eat around, but I think it is worth it for the price.

I also found some whole chickens marked down. So, all my meat was between .66/lb and .99/lb. I got just under 31 lbs. and paid $27.99. I was needing to fill my new chest freezer and this was a great opportunity. Should last us a good little bit of time. Hopefully until the next great deal comes along.

WFMW - Thrifty Alternative

My son is a little young for this special edition of Works For Me Wednesday, but I still wanted to participate!! And I still think this is a great idea for keeping a young one occupied.

Ever keep old stuff lying around because there is an ever so slight possibility that you may one day use it? I do! And I love when I find new uses for things.

I saw someone else do this first, so I am not taking the creative credit for it, but I was very happy to have all materials on hand.

My son is 5 months. He loves grabbing at things. His coordination is not the best yet, but getting there. Because of this, he often grabs things and quickly loses them because he has not mastered the grip yet. Not so bad, but when he is playing in the car seat while in the back seat of the car, and I am driving, I cannot help him when he loses all his toys. And when we are out for a walk in the stroller, I don't want to stop every few seconds to pick up a toy. (I don't care that it falls, or that it might get dirty, or that he might put it back in his mouth. I just don't want to chase after a ball rolling down the hill, just to turn and see the stroller chasing me down the hill.)


Took some old shower curtain holders, looped them together and added a toy (sometimes even two) to the end of it. Very easy to keep toys attached to car seat and stroller. PLUS, added benefit: he can now reach the toys SO much better!

I'm sure I could have found somewhere to buy something like this that would look much cooler, would have all the "stroller moms" jealous and would make my kid grow up to be an astronaut...but old shower curtain holders work just great for me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How to Get Started-Part 6- Things I've Learned

It's Tuesday. I think it is good to do tips on Tuesdays. It just sounds good.
I have been doing a series about how to get started if you are just started to try and save money. Trying to make it simple, obviously. I think one of the best things about helping others it that you can learn from their experiences.

If you need to catch up on this series, you can find the previous posts here:
Start Small
Start Reading
Start Researching
Start Finding Coupons
Let Others Work For You
Simple and Practical

Today I wanted to hit on a few things that I've learned along the way. Granted, I have only been really working at this for about 2 months, but it always helps to hear what has and hasn't worked for others. At least I think so.

The coupons come out in cycles. In this past Sunday’s paper I saw a lot of new coupons for the same products of coupons that I had just discarded because they expired. So they will come back, don’t feel like you have to use it just because you have it and it is going to expire.

Don’t use a coupon just because you have it, but really try to wait until your coupon matches a store sale so you can get the best deal possible. There is always a good deal, but don’t be afraid to wait for the best deal.

You should not pay for anything that has to do with cleaning. If you work it right (laundry, bath products, cleaning spays, etc), you may only pay tax. If you paying more than this, it would be even cheaper (and greener) to make most cleaning products yourself. (I am just starting to look into this) This is my biggest stockpile right now and I can say with all honesty that I have probably paid just pennies for most of the items I have.

Other people love (and are great at) finding the best deals, so I don’t have to do this part. I just need to remember who does it best and bookmark their site (and thank them for their hard work!). I shouldn't spend my time doing what has already been done well.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday Wk of 5/31

I have been working on my menu plan for the month of june over the weekend, and I am excited! Excited for the meals, excited for the fresh lettuce we are getting out of our garden and juicy peaches off of our trees, but also excited for a week away of NO COOKING! Yay!

But on to this week. We have a lot of evening activities this week, so I needed easy meals for dinners.

Sunday: Salad, Mandarin Orange Chicken (from the freezer)

Monday: Tomato Soup and Salad

Tuesday: Chicken Macaroni Bake and probably more salad

Wednesday: Raspberry Chicken (hope the weather is nice for grilling, ready for the grill!) yes, probably more salad again, ooh so good, fresh salad!

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Maybe a day at the lake???

Head on over to orgjunkie.com for more great menu ideas!