2 years ago today…

There must be something about the day after Christmas because 2 years ago today was the last time I posted anything on this blog. Here I am again, the day after Christmas, without an idea as to when the last time I posted was until I logged on. In short, I’M BACK!!!

I’m not going to pretend that I will pick up right where I left off because a LOT has changed in these past 2 years. For one, I’m married now, have a acquired a 3rd dog (I’ll have to tell you that story later), have moved back to Tacoma (which is something that I never thought in a million years that I thought I would do), graduated from USC and am now an MSW, a LICASW actually. I have a kid in high school now, too. Lots of changes.

Now that the holidays are mostly over, I find myself reflecting on what to do now. I am thinking about how I am going to clean up my diet after all of the cookies, pies, and other goodies these past couple of months. I am also thinking about how to clean up my finances because I don’t know about you all by I spent a lot of money on gifts this  year. I am grateful that we’ve been blessed with the ability to give nice gifts to the kids and our family members but still, it was a lot. Man, kids’ gifts get more expensive as they get older don’t they? On top of that, my grace period is ovnew year new me BSer and I have to start paying back my student loans (eek!).

Ok, now, please be advised that this is NOT a “new year, new me” manifesto. Those are annoying, no offense. I am making a promise to myself that I will do more of what I want to do from now on. What are those things? Well, cooking and blogging of course. Grad school kicked my ass and sadly I have not been cooking as much as I used to. No cooking, means no blogging. So there will be more blogging, too. Running. I have had “half marathon” on my list of things to do for about 5 years now. That’s just ridiculous and indicative of the how many excuses I have given for why I have not done it yet. This post is already getting long so I’ll spare you those. Travel. Now that I’m back in the PNW I have to make to Canada this time. I say this time because during the 12 years I lived here before I never went (I know, a shame).

For the first matter of business, I will be coming back with a new project to overhaul our finances like I was saying earlier. We are like most American families and have a ton of debt. Most of it is mine from student loans and I won’t tell you how much because I’m embarrassed to but I will tell you I should have about 6 master’s degrees by now with the amount of student loan debt I have. We also have a bit of credit card debt from our wedding. What does this have to do with food? The grocery bill, duh. I am super meticulous when it comes to tracking our bills but other than bills I am lazy when it comes to our spending and that includes groceries. So, to remedy this, I am considering going to the envelope method where I will budget out our expenses and put cash into the respective envelopes. I’m wondering who else have actually done this and have it work. I see a million Pinterest pins from people who explain what it is and how it worked for them to pay off a trillion dollars in debt in a year but are they for real? That can’t be real, can it? Irregardless (I know that’s not a word leave me alone) I am going to try it and see how it goes.

The budget for groceries for our active family of 4 is going to be – drum roll please – $500. Is that insane? No seriously, I want to know. I did a quick calculation in my head, and I think that’s about how much we spend. I am going to take out $200 every 2 weeks and use the last $100 as a buffer so we don’t go over. Whatever is left over I guess can roll over into the next month, or we can save for a nice dinner out or something.

Ok so that’s about it for now. You will be reading a lot more from me and could really use any suggestions on how to lower costs for food for a busy family. That’s if anyone is reading this… Oh well, if you’re not. See you soon!

8 Day Challenge – DONE

I was able to get by with only $20 for food for the last eight days. I barely scraped by but I did it! I was able to use up the food that I already had and actually came up with some tasty meals. I just had to invest some time and creativity.

I learned a few things about my eating and food-buying habits while I was trying to empty out my fridge. Here are a few things that I learned:

1.) I waste a lot of food.

I was almost embarrassed at how much food I ended up throwing away. I had almost a full container of tofu that went bad because it was in the back of my fridge and I forgot about it. I had only used one serving of it for a tofu scramble one day. I also threw away some lettuce that had just gotten too old as well as some snap peas that were a little too brown. All things that I could have used in a meal, I had let go bad and therefore damned them to the compost pile. Sad.

2.) I don’t plan my meals as good as I thought I did.

I love to plan my meals to keep track of my calories and nutrition. I have not been good at planning to minimize waste. A lot of food I had that I did not end up using where items that I bought because I thought I would use them. This past week I got to see the foods that I do tend to reach for on a daily to every-other-day basis. Some of the items I utilized the most where tortillas, black forest ham slices, earth balance, pasta, rice, frozen peas, olives and apples. My organic eggs did not get eaten. Also I surprised myself that a lot of the lettuce that I thought I would use for salad, I did not eat. I learned that if I am going to plan my meals and shopping to minimize waste and to be cost effective, it is going to have to be around the foods I actually eat.

3.) I need to freeze leftovers more often.

I found myself often referring to the freezer for help/inspiration and just about cleaned it out in the process. All I have in there now is some vodka, Greek frozen yogurt, my flour and sugar (we had really bad ants this summer), walnuts, and my chipotle ice cubes (see my post about this). This tells me, I really should utilize the freezer more often. With this new realization, I plan on cooking more beans, more rice, and more pasta dishes and then freezing them for later use.

Last night, since I had some money left over, I splurged and bought all the ingredients for a spaghetti and meatballs dinner including the garlic bread. I was craving it, and it was delicious.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am not going to plan this week’s meals. I am however going to empty out my entire refrigerator tonight, clean it, and take an inventory. I want to make room for all the leftovers plus I want to start out fresh for next week.

I am a huge fan of composting but at this rate I am going to have more rotten food than soil in my bin. I would love to know what you do to save money on food and minimize food waste.