Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Planning Monday with a Twist

It's that time again, time to lay out my meal plans to share with you all. This week there is a bit of a twist. The hubs and I have been spending a lot of time on our finances lately, and decided to try and drastically slash our grocery budget. We are going to eat everything we have, with a few exceptions, and try not to buy much of anything until we've exhausted our stores. That means we are buying produce but trying not to buy much else. Of course we'll need staples like flour, rice, milk, butter, eggs, and the like. We're aiming for $50 a week to feed two adults and supplement one baby. So, here we go!

Monday: Penne with Tuna, garlic, and mozzarella and salad

Tuesday: Pan seared Fish with rice and salad

Wednesday: Homemade veggie pizza and salad

Thursday: Beef Bolognase and salad 

Friday: Leftovers or Eggs (we both work late Fridays)

Saturday: Chicken Tacos with all the fixings and Spanish rice

Sunday: Stuffed Chicken breasts, potatoes, and salad

Lunch options: Cheesy pasta with tuna (I make that on Monday for the week), quesodillas with beans, boiled eggs and toast, salad, misc leftovers

Breakfast options: cold cereal, hot cereal, yogurt, fruit, toast, bagels, eggs

Snack options: yogurt, fruit, cereal, cheese, boiled eggs, tuna, crackers, nuts

I will be giving you weekly updates on how our grocery budget slash is going. We are also slashing our eating out budget and working to keep our electricity budget down. More on all that later on.

Peace and Love to your Littles,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Become a Savvy Thrifter

For my first installment of the Living on Less series (LOL for short) I chose one of my very favorite past times, thrift shopping!

Thrift shops, you may love them or hate, but they are going to be your new best friend! Thrift shops are seriously one of the cheapest, absolute best resources for buying pretty much anything (with a few exceptions). I am an avid thrifter with twenty years of thrifting under my belt, yes mama started me young, and I am going to share my wisdom with you all. I hope that I can help you discover the many treasures hidden in your local thrift shop.

Thrifting 101

Find all your local thrift shops. You may think that Goodwill is it, but you may just be mistaken. Check out: thethriftshopper for listings of all local thrift shops. You never know what awesome shops you've been missing. I know I found a few great ones that I never knew about.

Once you've found your favorite shops, learn their schedules. It is essential to learn the best days for good finds, when they get "donations" of new goods from local retailers, when they have sales or weekly specials, and if they have coupons or discounts for students or seniors.

Make sure you know your measurements and sizes before shopping. Since these clothes are used, they may run differently than new merchandise. You should take a list of your own measurements and those of anyone you may be shopping for. I keep them on a little post-it in my wallet. You will also need a mini measuring tape which you can get at your local hardware store for a dollar or so. This will enable you to buy some items with the "ick" factor of trying them on.

Now, I will share with you my personal 10 thrift commandments:

1. Never go on Saturday. Seriously, just don't. If you don't believe me, try it and you'll never go back.

2. Don't buy socks, underwear, bras of any sort, lingere, or sleepwear because, let's face it, that's just nasty!

3. Measure or try before you buy. Most shops do not allow returns, and some don't even allow exchanges so purchase with caution.

4. Dress comfortably and be prepared to spend lots of time looking through the racks.

5. Inspect every inch of every item. Be it clothes, toys, or housewares; ensure that you look the item over thoroughly prior to buying. Look for stains, tears, rips, missing pieces, excessive wearing, or irregularities. Not all items are the treasures they seem to be.

6. Be prepared to haggle. Some shops, though not all, will allow you to bargain with them on items that are in less than perfect condition.

7. Shop in the rich neighborhoods. Rich people=expensive junk. It's pretty simple. This principle is not perfect, but it tends to work the majority of the time.

8. Check back often. Items come in everyday.

9. Number eight lends itself to number nine, buy it if you love it. Most likely that awesome vintage leather bag will not be there tomorrow so buy it now or be sorry. I don't know how many awesome deals I've missed because I put it back.

10. Have fun! Thrifting can be serious business, so allow yourself to have a good time. Take a group of girlfriends along and be silly. You may find just what you're looking for.

There you have it, you can now thrift with ease. Pretty soon you'll be surprising yourself with all your finds! Leave your thrifting tips in the comments.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Manufactured Homes and Minivans

Yes, I feel like a hillbilly for writing this post just in case you were wondering.

The hubs and I have been talking a lot about houses lately. Our conversations have consisted mostly of "Holy Sh*t we cannot afford anything in this city!" Unfortunately for us our beloved hometown has a very high cost of living for a suburban area in Indiana, so we can't afford to buy a decent house. When I say decent house what I mean is a house that is not literally falling down. Even with the housing market the way it is, a modest ranch home with a small yard is priced in the $170,000's which may not seem like a lot to some people but it is a lot to us. Being a mostly one income family with student loans, car payments, rent, a child, and no trust funds we are in need of a cheaper option.

I stumbled across a blog about living simply, which I cannot find a link for anymore, and they talked a lot about ultra tiny manufactured homes. I am not up for the challenge of living in a super small home, but manufactured homes have come a long way since I was a kid. Check these babies out!
A classic ranch
Solar energy efficient model
They even have SMART homes (You can actually walk through one at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry)
I love all the options they offer, especially the eco friendly models. Also the fact that you get to customize everything from start to finish is a major plus! Most of these homes are around $100,000 or less which includes transportation to site, onsite construction, and even sewer and water lines. When you walk into your home it is completely done (it is even painted) and ready to live in! What more could you ask for? Most of the land outside the city limits is priced super cheaply as it is pretty rural. We have always wanted a nice patch of country to call our own. Now, we just have to buckle down and save some more money!

You may be wondering what minivans have to do with anything. Well, I've decided that with my limited trunk space (I drive a hatch-back) I can barely tote around one child's things. What happens if we decided to have another or our child has lots of friends? My answer is a mini van! I am totally going to be one of those moms. When I pay my car off in two years, I will looking into a minivan of my very own. Hopefully, I can park my minivan in the drive way of my very own manufactured home. Yup, I never thought I would ever say that. :)

Have any of your expectations changed drastically since you have children/got married? Have you surprised yourself?

Peace and Love to your Littles,

Friday, July 1, 2011

I am This Week's FFF Guest Poster!

I am proud to have my story featured on The Fearless Formula Feeder blog as their Friday guest poster! Check it out and show your FFF pride:

Peace and Love to your Littles