Friday, March 1, 2013

It's Da First of Da Month!

wake up wake up wake up .. it's the first of the month...
get up get up get up so cash your checks and get up...

Some people track pay day closely.  They jump up for joy when the bank accounts flood with income.

Not me.

I don't even know when Andy's pay day is.  And I only know when mine is because I'm partially responsible for calling in payroll but I forget since we call it in two days before the actual pay day.

But what does excite me?

The first of the month.


Because that's when our grocery budget gets reset and I can shop for fruits, veggies, meat, frozen food, Trader Joe's snacks, and desserts without a care in the world.

Scratch that.  Andy just advised me to be super careful for this month since we'll be spending so much on vacation.

Speaking of which... March is an exciting month for vacations!  Our trip to LA and Arizona are both this month.. and that means a lil over a week (sort of.. includes a work meeting in MB again) long vacation with family and friends and babies!  While in LA, we don't have much planned except to go to Disneyland, eat a lot of stuff we don't have here in Spokane, and hopefully get wai-puo to buy Jordan and me some birthday gifts.  I'm also planning to attend a Bokwa class my hs friend is teaching while 29-30 weeks pregnant, but it should be fun and I'm excited to see what it's all about as she's been raving about it on Facebook for almost a year.  Meanwhile, our trip to Arizona will be our annual reunion with the same group of friends who came precisely a year ago to hang in LA with us.  It was so much fun to live like a tourist, going out to eat almost everyday, to all the places we love or hadn't yet been to in LA with them, and to have our three kiddos meet.  Just one year later, there will be a new baby, three toddlers running around, and two pregnant women.  And to top it off, one of our friends' sister is leaving for her mission that weekend so her missionary farewell is that Sunday as is Easter.  I foresee lots of money dropped at Last Chance, gaining too much pregnant weight, and very little sleep.

To recap on our last month, we spent approximately $375 on groceries.  That is an improvement for us but slightly cheating considering Andy's mom bought us some groceries while she was here.  But in general, I feel good about moving forward and controlling our grocery costs because I consulted with some friends and have pinpointed our weaknesses.  Fruit and drinks.  You see, I love fruit (and it has sort of rubbed off on Andy as in - we demolished a pineapple in one night recently).  Andy loves drinks (he can finish a thing of orange juice in one night and an afternoon - no joke).  He probably sacrifices his love of empty calories drinks more than I do of fruit, but as a result - I have to look more earnestly for sales, scour different store weekly ads, use coupons (not extreme, just basic ones that are available to me) and make trips to Winco (which is quite far!).  I've also learned that fruit at Costco is not always cheapest (even though one would think!).

Overall though.. I feel optimistic and good.  I have also been extremely good about using what we have to cook dinner and don't feel as wasteful as I once did.  The freezer is not overloaded, nor is the canned goods cabinet, but on the downside, our food storage isn't the greatest it's been before.  At least we'll have a huge garage next year to get on top of that!

I've also learned, if you really want something ethnic like Indian and don't have all the ingredients, just buy the premade sauces and mix it with some grilled chicken and frozen naan from Trader Joe's.  It's much easier AND cheaper than trying to make everything from scratch and the plus side - your house won't stink.  I've also tried a bunch of new recipes that are all basic and require ingredients that we mostly have.  That has helped me not whimsically need more stuff that costs more!  I've also been creative in combining recipes or substituting with what we have.  For example, tonight I made a pesto cream pasta with salmon, assorted seafood (clams, scallops, shrimp), broccoli, and tomatoes based on a cream sauce recipe I found and then adding in my own spices and pesto.  It was actually quite yummy! I decided that canned diced tomatoes would have to do since I didn't have the luxury of time or money to go get some grape tomatoes.

I'm also keeping tabs on how much the cuts of meat I use most for cooking cost per pound, because truth be told, I have no idea what is cheap and what is not.  If someone labels something with a "sale" sticker, I'll pick it up thinking, what a steal without realizing I'm probably getting ripped off since I don't know the basis for cheap meat by the pound.  I feel empowered now and it's good knowing I can walk around a grocery store, look at prices, and react with - that's a good deal or that's a rip off!

Either way, the grocery budget success has me in a great mood and I feel positive about March even in lieu of our travel plans.  I also am quite happy looking at these photos of Andy's day off this week.
The boys decided to bust out their stocking stuffer head lamps first thing in the morning. 
 Daddy made us egg in a basket for breakfast and Jordan decided it was necessary to keep his headlamp on throughout breakfast.  We also had smoothies (not pictured) and I have learned to make them the perfect consistency in my Vitamix.  
The weather was beautiful (for Spokane) so we went to the driving range, ran around trying to fly a kite (not enough wind),
 Found some easter eggs golf balls tucked under all the grass that had been smothered by snow now melted...
and practiced our golf swing while looking out into the open range.  Can you tell?  Jordan is quite excited for golf season to begin again.  


bruinjack said...

I've gotta say that fruit is our big budget buster, too. Not just because my husband and I eat a lot of fruit, but because our boys will not touch anything else if they see that fruit is coming.

Lauren said...

Finding a budge balance is tricky with groceries! I feel like I have definitely improved since we go married, but I still have weeks where I spend WAY more than I usually do, and sometimes I'm left wondering what in the heck I bought that sent me over the edge?? But in the last couple of months I have become a BIG believer in coupons. I'm not the greatest at it, but it is fun to save like $20 just b/c you planned ahead and shopped with coupons.