Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

A couple weeks ago, a group of us sat down and talked personal budgeting.  Some of the girls were impressed that I budget only $600 a month for groceries for a family of 4.  So today I wanted to talk about my grocery shopping process.

First up, have a budget and stick to it.  I grocery shop once a week, so I have $150/week to spend on groceries. 

Next step, is you need to plan.  Planning is key to this whole process.  I first start with a weekly meal plan.  By doing this, I am focusing on what I need to buy for my meals, eliminating putting extra “stuff” on my grocery list – essentially buying what you need.  This consists of going through my cupboards/fridge/freezers to see what I have available, in conjunction with looking through flyers to see what “deals” are on this week.  I have been at this for a while and pay attention to prices so I know what I am willing to pay for items and I also have comparison shopped between stores.  I do try to buy certain items at Walmart and Costco because I have done my research, I am that person with their calculator out at Costco looking at the cost/unit and comparing to pictures of prices I have previously taken at other grocery stores and compare costs.  However, I also do not have time to go to 3 different places to grocery shop per week.  So I keep a list of stuff that I am getting low on where I know significant savings can be made at Costco/Walmart and will buy on the next Costco run, and try to incorporate my meal plan to not include those items if I can’t make it there for a couple weeks. 
Comparison Pricing

The List

A little messy, but none the less it is a meal plan

Ok, so here is an example of my meal planning process for this particular week.  Some of the meat I have in my freezer is a moose roast, shrimp, elk hamburger and elk steaks.  That is my meat for four meals this week.  Whole chickens were on sale at Safeway and I was happy with the price (compared it to Walmart), so that is another meal.  I will have chicken left over so I will make a chicken salad for lunch the next day.  I always have veggies left over at the end of the week so I will make a stir-fry.  As I am planning out my meals, I am making a grocery list.  The list also includes prices beside it, so I can see at any given time where my numbers are at.  I also look at prices in the flyers.  For example, I may love bananas, but apples are going to cost me less this week, so apples it is.  Remember, coupons are our friends and pay attention to deals that your store it putting on.  They may have customer appreciation days (get 10% off your groceries on Tuesdays, spend $100 and get a $10 voucher, etc).

Once I have my list it is off to the store with my willingness to stick to it.  Temptation is hard when you grocery shop, then insert shopping with your kids who want everything.  What I try to do is explain we are sticking to the items on the list and I usually say if they help me out grocery shopping and not ask for things, they can have $2 to spend on something.  This week they wanted donuts for dessert for supper, and they were delish by the way.

OK, we are now going through the aisles, and we are paying attention to prices.  I have mushrooms on my list, so I look at all the different brands of canned mushrooms and go with the cheapest price.  Some items I just can’t go with the generic store brand (which is usually the cheaper price), but if you have no brand/taste attachment go with the cheapest.  It is interesting once you start paying attention to see what the cost variance can be between brands.  Even within brands, like packaging makes a difference.  For example, to buy a 1 litre of milk in a plastic container costs more than a 1 litre cardboard container.  I am also comparing prices on my list to what I am actually paying so I know I am staying within my total budget.

My total came to $127, I was even impressed that I came in $1 over my calculated $126

Again, planning is key because you are limiting your shopping to what you need.  Planning your meals also helps you not to eat out.  How many times have you said, I don’t know what to make for supper so lets’ just go out.  You can also get creative and have fun.  On this particular meal planning day, Bentley really wanted to go out for supper.  We came up with the idea of having a restaurant at our house.  I was the cook and she was the waitress.  We made menus, decorated the table and the men were our customers.  It was a lot of fun! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Second Year Anniversary

I had every intension to write a lovely post to honor my mom on the 2nd anniversary of her death.  Unfortunately, this week work got surprisingly busy and I ran out of time.  Here is a short post to honor my mom and capture my thoughts.

This sums it up.  I long to talk to her.  I just want to ask how she is doing!!!  I miss her voice.

My good friend Carmen sent me this today.  Thanks for this, it is so true.

Our girls trip starts today, so I will be missing the chance to be with my family for my mom's death anniversary and her birthday on Saturday.  My family and Greg and Melayna celebrated her last weekend by having a visit at her memorial tree near the farmers market, followed by a walk along the river.

Miss you mom.  Always in my heart, never forgotten. 


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pinterest - Thanks for Making my Life sooooo Nummy

I am not the best cook, I started cooking later in life and have had many hard lessons learned.  I do really enjoy pinning recipes on Pinterest, some work out, some not-so-much.  What makes a recipe a winner in my house, all 4 family members must love it, they finish their meal and request it for supper at a later date.  What I particularly look for is a simple, quick to prepare recipe using common ingredients that I usually have in my fridge, and a healthy recipe is a bonus.  I also like to prepare meals in double batches so I can freeze one for another time, usually when we have hockey and need a quick eat and go meal.  Some of my favorite pins are for my slow cooker, usually a meat, soup or chili.

Here are two recipes I think you should try.  These two picks are inspired by our healthy meal we had last night at Carmen's birthday celebration.  My whole family loves them and I am sure you will too!

1.  Biggest Loser Pancakes - these are a healthier version of a pancake and taste like French toast.

Biggest loser oatmeal pancakes. They say... once you try these, you will never go back.-tastes like French toast!.

2.  Banana Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins - These are made with no flour or oil, so a healthier version of a muffin.  I have made them without chocolate chips and they are pretty good, but I think I like with chocolate chips better.  I also will add some walnuts!

Banana Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins -- no flour, no oil, and 100% ridiculously delicious! ||

Monday, June 22, 2015

Juicy Boy's MisAdventures

I think one of my favorite things to do in the summer time is walk my dog.  Mainly because I know how much he LOVES it.  It is very routine in our house, after the kids go to bed Juice will start giving me the “please mom” look.   As soon as I grab his leash and give it a little jiggle, he is stuck to me like glue and follows me everywhere in the house till I am ready to go. 

Unfortunately, this summer I have been getting annoyed with other people and their dogs, and one night a couple of weeks ago took the cake and I came home feeling deflated.  More on that to come…

Juice and I have a standard walk that we do.  We are fortunate to live by a lovely creek with an amazing walking path.  I love it as most of our walk we don’t have to worry about crossing streets and driveways.  However, for some reason people feel that they should let their dogs go off-leash in the creek.  I wish people would realize how dangerous this could be.  How do you know if my dog is friendly towards other dogs.  Of course Juice is super friendly, well socialized with other dogs and has never got into a fight.  However, my dog is one tough cookie.  His toy of choice is a 40 pound rock.  Have you ever seen those strong man competitions where they flip over the big tires.  That is how Juice plays with his rock.  And, he also has a 100 pound American bulldog for a girlfriend.   I think he could hold his own if he needed to.  So you get your little chihuahua off-leash that comes over to my dog and tries to bite Juice, I have no problem with my dog retaliating.  However, then my dog gets the bad wrap because he is a bully breed.

Anyway, we have dog parks, take your dogs there if you want to go off-leash please.  We have city bylaws that your dog needs to be on a leash in public – follow it people.  I have had multiple encounters with walking Juice and dogs being off leash, but most dogs are friendly and socialized.  However, I have had two scary situations now with other dogs.  The first situation happened last year.  I was walking Juice and we were in the residential part of our walk.  I look over on the other side of the street, and there is a big, big Rottweiler.  Did I mention that he was big? And then I notice he is off-leash and his owner is nowhere to be seen.  Fantastic! Of course, it had to be a Rottweiler, couldn’t have be a sweet, innocent little shitzu.  So this dog looks up at us and lets out this low, strong “woof”.  And starts heading towards us.  I was like OMG, this is a big dog, we might as well call him a bear because he was that big.  I kept walking to not alarm Juice and he starts following, so I turn around and strongly say “stay” and put my hand out.  And sure shit, the dog listened.  Halleluiah!  I really didn’t have a backup plan, so glad that worked.  We got to the end of the street and the dogs owners had come out to get him.

After that night, Mark and I discussed what I should do in the future if we are approached by a dog.  I am glad we talked this through as this helped with my encounter a couple weeks ago.  So per usual, Juice and I were on the path.  I always stay to the far right of the path, and Juice runs on my right in the grass.  That way we aren’t taking up much of the path, and any leashed dogs we pass on the path are far enough away from Juice that we can carry on our run undistracted.  So, we are jogging along and we approach a mom with two little dogs, and her daughter around 10-12 years old is walking with an English bulldog (on leash).  We jog by them, but then the bulldog decides to lunge at Juice.  Since I am in between them, I get tripped by the bulldog/ bulldogs leash and go flying into the grass.  Luckily I still have the leash in my hand, but the girl lost control of her leash when I tripped on it.  The bulldog lunges again at Juice, and not a nice, please let me smell your butt, but a teeth showing, biting growling encounter.  I think I tried to kick the bulldog, he lunged at Juice again, then (the pg version) of what I yelled at the owner was “Control your dog or I am letting go of mine”!  This is what Mark and I had decided on if we ever got into this type of situation, and also what they had taught us at obedience class.  First, in this instance, me holding Juice back is actually causing him to be in an aggressive, defensive state.  I wouldn’t care if the other dog was being  controlled by his owner and couldn’t physically injure Juice.  I would hold on for dear life to him.  But that was not the case, he was in our faces.  Also, I am not going to give the other dog the advantage and beat up my dog because I am restraining him.  Luckily, the owner got ahold of the bulldogs leash and she apologized.  I couldn’t even look at her, I just got up and continued jogging.  I stopped a bit later and made sure Juice was ok.  I actually didn’t start crying till I got home and saw Mark.  Anyway, in this case, the dog was on leash, but really, bulldogs are strong, a 10 year old should not be walking it if they can’t control it. 

It just sucks because I am now a bit paranoid to go out with Juice.  I was lucky I wasn’t hurt when I fell down and lucky Juice wasn’t hurt.  I will still continue on my adventures with Juice, but I will definitely be more cautious now.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

 What a wonderful Mother’s Day.  It started off with waking up to the pitter patter of little feet coming from downstairs, followed by little giggles.  I peeked open the door and asked if I could come down, but no I was instructed to stay in bed.  So I relaxed, for like a ½ HOUR, my time to reflect.  Perfect.  I was then treated to breakfast in bed, a sweet homemade card, and a beautiful bracelet.
 We then headed to the pool for a couple hours.  We have been doing this every Sunday for the past  three weeks.  I love it because it is such great family time, and Mark actually puts down his phone!  Ha ha.  But we have mainly been pooling it up because the kids are in swimming lessons and it has been a rough start and they HATE it, but we are making progress. 

One of the first families I noticed when we got to the pool was a young family, the kids were about 2 and 6 months old.  They stood out because the mom didn’t have any hair and was quite pale.  It is obvious that she is sick.  It made me sad because she was about my age, if not younger.  I ended up talking to her for a bit because Bentley was obsessed with her 6 month old. I wished her a happy Mother’s Day, and asked how her day was going.  Even though she is sick, she had such a positive attitude and was so full of life.  It made me feel sad, it made me feel inspired, it made me feel lucky.  I think the best way to describe what I was feeling is simply grateful.  Grateful for my life, my health, my family.

After our swim, we had a quick lunch and off to downtown to meet up with my brother and his girlfriend to celebrate our mom.  We had a lovely but windy walk, I said a silent prayer to my Angel Mom, then had a speedy ½ mile run with B in my arms getting her to the bathroom because little one had to PEE. 

In the late afternoon we celebrated another important mom, that of course being Mark’s mom Wendy.  We had them over for a barbeque and hopefully she felt loved and appreciated.

It was a truly lovely and busy day.  So blessed to have my two sweet and sassy munchkins.  My heart is complete!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lifestyle Sistas - Photos of Me

My friend Deena and Christy are part of this series (see picture below) and I thought it would be fun to join in on this one.

I think this link-up intrigued me because I have been doing a lot of work on my self esteem the last year, learning to be comfortable in my own skin, love what God blessed you with (in my case a bootylisious booty!).  This is a lot of work, changing the way you view yourself.  It really takes a lot of training your mind to not think so negatively about yourself.  I think it will always be a work in progress.  However, I believe it is working because as I went through my pictures, I was having a hard time narrowing it down to my top five.  No, I am now not conceited, but I am trying to see beauty in myself.  So when I look at a picture, I first think of what I like about it, whether it be physical, or emotional.  And if I can't come up with anything positive, I just delete it.  Anyway, here are my top 5:

Our Engagement Session - Pure true love

Our wedding - I think this pic is so elegant, and I like my butt
Karter looks so in love with me here!
My favorite hair day ever!
I think I look super cute here!
Me and my sweet girl
Ok, that's six, not five.  Lol. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Last of the Firsts

A year of firsts has come to an end tomorrow on the anniversary of your death.  First birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas without you is now behind us.  It has been a hard year, but it has also been a year of courage, a year of growth, reflection and healing.  To say I am over your death would be a lie, but I am beginning to function with life without you.  On the eve of your death, I feel the urge to write you a letter.  Here it goes:

Dearest Mom,

I know you have seen me shed many tears over you this last year.  I can’t help it, I miss you so much.  I need to, I need to cry, to feel sad. I still sit here and can't believe you are gone.  I think back to this night a year ago when they called us in to palliative, that you were dying.  I remember hanging up the phone in shock.  How could I be in shock?  Silly I know, you were in palliative care, where people go to die.  I think until that moment when I received the phone call I didn't believe you were dying. I have stuck by and believed in you no matter what you were battling throughout the years, and this was no different.  I didn't want to stop believing in you and your power to overcome.  Losing you that day, that was the hardest day of my life.  I pray we did everything right for you and helped you let go peacefully.

I hope that you approved of your funeral and felt love from all that attended.  I remember when we started pre-planning your funeral you said you didn’t want one because no one would come.  Boy, did we prove you wrong.  I know I didn’t give a speech, I just couldn’t, I wasn’t strong enough.  I hope you understand.

It was so hard cleaning out your apartment.  I couldn't be in there alone, and even if Greg made a trip out to the garbage, I had to go with him. Thank you for giving me guidance as to what you wanted us to do with your belongings once you passed away.  It helped make the process easier knowing you approved with what we were doing.  I hope you felt we respected you and your belongings.  I loved going through all your old pictures and special trinkits you had kept from your childhood, precious treasures for us to now cherish forever.  Oh, and we found your cigarettes - busted!  Lol.

A couple months after you passed, I received a text from our daycare lady.  She said Karter was really sad and she asked him what was wrong, he said even though he knew you were in heaven and not sick anymore, that he missed you and started crying.  I had been so consumed in my own grief I forgot that others are grieving too.  I apologize for being so wrapped up in myself, that I didn't comfort and support others as much as I should have. 

I was hoping to somehow feel your presence after you passed.  I felt like I needed a sign that you were ok, or feel some sort of connection to you.  I was waiting for some sign to know that you were around.  In the late fall, I was spending a morning making lasagna’s, chili and pasta sauce.  Definitely something you would have come over to keep me company.  At one point, it was like you were there, I opened my mouth and started to speak to you and turned to the chair at the table where you would be sitting, but you weren’t there.  Even though I physically couldn’t see you, I could feel your presence.  It was such a calming feeling, I had the best day after that.

Then, on August long weekend we were at the cabin, and I went inside to grab Mark and I a drink.  The thought popped into my head “oh, I better check my phone, I am sure mom has called to check in to see how the weekend is going”.  I rushed to my phone and checked it.  But, of course you hadn’t called.  I went outside and shared with Mark what had happened.  He looked up in the sky and said “Aww, hi Grandma Donna”.  Literally, a minute later we had a mishap with the fire in the fire pit, I don’t want to go into details, but I really believe you were watching over us at that moment and was our guardian angel, the outcome could have been a lot worse.

I have felt sorry for myself a lot this year.  A common thought was I am too young to lose my mother.  But, this year I have also seen a six year old, and a nine year old lose their mother.  That is just tragic.  I have been able to start to transition my way of thinking from poor me, to how lucky I was to have you in my life for so long. 

I so wish you could have been at Karter’s first hockey game, I know you would be his biggest fan.  I also know now you have the best seat in the house to watch his games.  But a part of me wants to see you, and see your face light up with excitement when he scores a goal. 

Now that you are gone I have no idea what is going on in Young and the Restless.  Melayna mentioned we should watch it tomorrow when we have a celebration in your honor. 

In closing, even thought the year of firsts is over, I will still continue to grieve and miss you always and forever.  But I will try my hardest to do it with a smile on my face.  Love you to the moon and back Mom.  Oh, and say hi to Elvis for me!