Monday, February 27, 2012

Parameters::Limits::Food


Warning: This is more of a philisophical, mind-wandering post, and less of a newsy post. You may not know where you're going or where you'll end up... I know I don't! :)

So, my mind has been on parameters and limits the past few days. I have so much in my brain that I am trying to accomplish, so many ideas and directions my brain wants to take me, so many to-do list tasks to cross off (some by choice, others by necessity) that I find myself having to say "no" to myself and give myself some limits. I just wanted to kind of make some notes here of things... things that I'm doing, wanting to do, experimenting with, just to have a record of them and kind of dump them out of my brain. Here goes:

Food and Budget:

We are devising our new budget now that we are somewhat more settled and have some more regular expenses to use as a guage. We have had a budget for YEARS and I really do love it. I have felt kind of wild and directionless without one as we have made this moving transition, but it was necessary. We had no way to calculate our costs. What would we be paying for water, electricity, health insurance, etc. etc. What would the new salary be? Would there be overtime? And on and on.

And so, we've lived a bit with a cavalier attitude toward our food spending the past few months - since about the holiday season. It was, after all... the holiday season! :) And then the move...

We don't eat out much at all, but again, some of that was necessitated with the move. And then there has been the re-stocking of the pantry since I didn't want to move too much food - mostly just dry goods. So all of that has been out of whack. But there have been many food treat purchases. We like different seasoned almonds a lot, but they're pricey. Despite that, of late, when we were out, we'd just get more. With the move I didn't have all of my regular cooking tools at hand and so more packaged treats made their way in. Not only is it not as good for you, but it's just dang expensive.

I looked at the receipts from February and came to a grand total - and I do feel it is pretty grand for a family of four - of $722. And that doesn't include beer and wine that we've had more often in the house as we've had more family and friends over since our return to this old community. And it was worth it - worth a little celebrating after all the hard work we've been through. But now it's time to settle in and settle down and simply get back to reality. We just can't live like this all the time, especially on a new, reduced income.

So, limits. I have a few goals that I want to be shooting for:

$600 is the goal, with wiggle room to $650 for starters. We'll see where that gets us and how we feel about that number throughout the month of March. I am not much of a coupon clipper and I'm certainly not going to devote a good deal of time to it - I just don't have the time, or the desire at this point really. I find that my selection of coupons is somewhat limited anyway, as I primarily cook with whole foods and we simply don't eat a lot of the things that coupons offer. That said, I do get certain coupons off the internet for brands that we DO use and I invested in a Chinook book, which has pretty much already paid for itself.

The other parameter I want to set for myself is to see if I can make this amount of money work while limiting my shopping to our local co-ops - Missippi Market, in particular, is our closest one -, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's. I wish I could JUST shop at the co-op, but that is just not financially feasible. That said, Whole Foods and TJ at least share more of my values than do the big box grocery stores and the shopping experience is just simply more pleasurable. So, I'm going to set a parameter and see what we can do in the month of March without me stepping foot inside one of the big box grocers. I am thrilled to have so many CHOICES in this area available to me and all of these stores are less than 7 miles from my house.

We're taking advantage of our budget by incorporating meal planning/spending/cooking into our homeschool curriculum as part of our on-going home ec course. The girls helped me with a Kitchen Factory operation this weekend and we prepared homemade vegan mayo, vegan cheez, peanut butter cookies (the recipe is naturally vegan), hummus, and pumpkin muffins.

The cookies are an attempt at limiting purchased/processed snacks - something that Eve decided on her own to give up for Lent.  And another limit is two of those delicious cookies a day until they're gone. Homemade treats always want to get eaten so much faster it seems, but we don't want to eat up all our hard work in an afternoon!

The pumpkin muffins are homemade breakfast options; cold breakfast cereal is a budget killer!

Well, I thought I'd get farther with this post than I have, so I'll stop with this bit for now, though I do have some more thoughts on limits and parameters in other areas of my life. But, I've actually reached my time limit and it's time to take dinner out of the oven.

I'll leave you with a few other pictures of our second clay date! Eve got to try the wheel first today and then Maia and I each took a shorter turn and are enjoying ourselves a great deal. While we waited for our turns, we did some hand sculpting and experimenting with the clay. A good way to start our week!




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