Monday, September 24, 2012

My absence

Well, where do I begin? I guess I should explain my absence (to whomever I am talking to…do I have any followers? Big smile if I do!) Hubs and I have been on a house fixing mission here on the farm. We took on the very labor intensive and tedious task of landscaping the two houses here; our house and my parent’s house. Nothing like 1000 brick pavers and 16 tons of river rock to make you jump up and scream for joy….


And did I mention we didn’t use a front end loader to scoop the rock?? That’s right, all shoveled by hand. I have some nice muscles though and feeling good as I am about 10 pounds lighter. But alas it is all done and the house has never looked prettier!


We decided since the outside of the house is getting a makeover, what about the inside? So, we decided to redo the floors. We went with hardwood (laminate) in the living room and carpeting in the bedrooms.

As if we hadn’t enough to do already, in the middle of both of these projects Hubs and I made the switch to once a month shopping and making normally store bought items from scratch.  And let me tell you now…. Best decision ever. I can’t believe for all these years my laziness has overcome me and I have bought it all readymade at the store. 

Now, this may not seem like a huge issue, but for us it was. I was a die-hard couponer. I would cringe if I missed the Sunday paper and be bored stiff on holiday weekends when there were no coupons. I clipped, cut, filed, and organized my way through savings…. Or so I thought. I was OCD about keeping track of my savings at first. We saved nearly $3000 one year. But I wasn’t really spending less…. Well, the second year of keeping track of my spending I noticed that again we weren’t saving much. So I started really paying better attention to my couponing habits. I had to make weekly store visits to catch these sales. And I was deviating from my list. So, I tried to stick to strictly to a coupon list. If I didn’t have a coupon I didn’t get the item. Well, it may have just been me, but that didn’t work either. I was still deviating.  We plan weekly menus, because I shopped weekly. So I went to two week menus. That helped a little. But in the mean time I was still purchasing a paper for the coupons. Then, for reasons I can’t even remember, I went a whole month without clipping coupons and going on “coupon adventures.” I hit a state of just-get-what-I-need-and-get-out-of-the-store-quick. I really got a slap in the face when I came across a pile of unclipped EXPIRED coupons. Nothing but wasted money. That was the kicker. So I stopped buying a paper and just printed coupons if there was one available. Then, sales were starting to…well, how do I put this nicely…. They just sucked. No coupons to match up and if there were, I’d have to buy 5 just to save a measly quarter. In the mean time, I kept running across “make this from scratch” links on Pinterest.
So Hubs and I had a mission… find a way to save on our food budget.

I planned a whole months worth of menus.  Some were things we always fixed, like tacos or hamburgers, and some were new recipes, like crock pot potato soup (Campbell’s condensed soup, you were a crutch to my laziness!). Then we went through all our saved pins, cut and pasted recipes for the made from scratch items into separate word documents. Then, I made a list of the amounts of “stuff” I needed. This was a super tedious task here. If you are reading and you know of a better way please tell!!! I made a word document and cut and pasted just the ingredients of all the stuff we wanted or needed to make. Regardless if there were repeats. Then I cut and pasted that list into another document and took off all the measurements. On this list I used the “sort” option to sort it alphabetically. Then I took of the repeat items. I printed that list out and went back to my list of measurements and added up the amounts I needed and wrote it next to the item. (Example- Flour: 37 cups) Then, and I am horrible at math but I managed to do it, I converted those amounts into pounds or ounces as needed per item. (I needed 17 pounds of flour)  Once I finished this task….two days later… I had my shopping list. I added the other items we needed that we were out of completely or running low on that we couldn’t make it a month without needing to purchase.

*****Let me stop here and say…invest in a big board or some chalkboard paint on a wall and make a divided list: one side says “OUT OF COMPLETELY” and the other says “RUNNING LOW ON.” Since doing this we have not made any unnecessary purchases. (That last bit of shampoo and conditioner really lasts a long time strangely enough….)****

Now that I had my list of items we hit the store. We did have quite a few items on hand, like certain meats, and spices so that shortened our list some. But we since we weren’t normally from scratch makers we had a ton of stuff in the baking isle to get and the start up on a few spices and ingredients brought our cost a little bit. I looked at it as an investment. I needed a teaspoon or tablespoon of this, but now I had it on hand and didn’t have to buy it the next month when we made the item again.

We spent $278 dollars for all the stuff we needed to get through the month. (I have learned to freeze milk! And it isn’t nasty nor does it change flavor or consistency at all!!!) We have been to the store twice since our first big shopping adventure on September 1st. Once was because my math was off and I didn’t get enough of an item and the other was for cold meds (can’t exactly plan when you are getting a cold). And, a round of applause here…we bought ONLY what we needed and nothing more! I didn’t use any coupons, and bought a bunch of store brand items.

The most comforting thing about this: that total included a month’s worth of diapers for our toddler and we didn’t go store brand on those.

Our testimony here is: Once a month shopping can be done!
Just to show off... here are the banana nut muffins we made... They were knock you down delicious!
I have never once in my life made them from scratch!! This is why I am so proud of us for making the switch.

So, keep an eye out for the posts giving all the info of the foods we made from scratch.

God Bless Y’all!
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