Friday, June 26, 2009

Time to get back to frugal meals

With summer upon us and the oppressive heat that it brings, I declare that it is time for this family to get back to eating frugally. In this house, frugal eating usually means that the meals I prepare will not require a lot of heat from the oven/stove, because I prepare simple meals. I mentioned in yesterday's post that we have been spending more money than usual, grocery budget included. We have certainly not gone for broke, but a little belt tightening is in order. With that said, this evening meal has turned into a concoction of our remaining CSA vegetables, whole wheat pasta, a can of white beans, roasted red peppers and some homemade dressing. Yes, the family will be disappointed that I chose to forgo our normal pizza night, but saving a few dollars seemed to take precedent.

I am not complaining though. Meals like the one I made tonight are the meals I prefer. Simple, made from whole ingredients, cheap and most importantly, healthy. I figure that the grand total for this meal, about $5.00 for 4 people (my youngest is still at camp). Better yet, we will have leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

Every few months we get stuck in a rut, we rely a little too much on convenience foods for a few weeks. By doing this, we blow our budget and ask ourselves why did we do this? I would love to say that this is the last time we do this, but it won't be. Life gets hectic, kids get sick, husbands have to work late, etc. These little conveniences in life are sometimes a lifesaver. However, I would like to try to make a promise to myself, and most importantly, to my family, that I will be more careful about what I feed them and how much it costs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Great "Free" Activity

Today, between an orthodontist appointment and a doctor appointment, my kids and I found ourselves with an hour of time to kill. Thankfully, on the way to the clinic, we spotted a great place to fill in our extra hour, all for free. We went to an exotic pet store, Hoffer's Pets.

Let me start out by saying we have been to Hoffer's many times. My middle child, Hannah, loves animals. We even had her 7th birthday party at Hoffer's. So, we were well aware of what we would find in the store, a well known Milwaukee treasure that never fails to please. Hoffer's is like a zoo. There are exhibits of animals that are not for sale throughout the store. For example, in the middle of the store is a tree with water surrounding it with turtles and alligators living together peacefully (I am not an animal expert, so I have to assume that the alligators are not turtle predators). There is another exhibit with big, beautiful tortoises. Other animals that we saw were snakes, rabbits, ferrets, birds, and large goldfish (which the kids can pet) and a man made coral reef. The one downfall to this excursion was my daughter's unwillingness to accept that we are NEVER EVER going to buy a rodent, reptile or bird as a pet. She spent the majority of our time at the pet store begging and pleading. Telling me that they deserved a better home. I disagree.

I am very grateful to have driven by Hoffer's and to have been reminded of it again. The last month has proven to be expensive, we seem to be hemorrhaging money this month. I need to get back to frugal living and utilizing all the free activities that are available to us. I am always open to suggestions from others about ways to fill my days with free or inexpensive activities, so if someone is reading this with an idea, send me a note.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Summer Schedule

The second week of summer is proving to be much easier than I had thought it would be. Here is a glimpse of the schedule that I have been maintaining for this week:

7:30 Breakfast
8:00-11:30- Summer School
12:00- Lunch
12:15-1:15 - Workbooks and Kumon Math work (Kumon is the greatest math program EVER!!, I highly suggest it to anyone who has a child struggling with learning math facts)
1:30-4:00 - Outings (library, pool, friends homes, errands)
4:00-10:00 - T.V. time, dinner, reading, etc.....

My youngest daughter has been at Girl Scout Camp all week, so we will see if this schedule holds once she is thrown back into the mix.

This week has been so hot. I don't want to let the kids outside during this heat wave for safety sake, so I have been trying to keep them occupied with cheap activities (library). We have a blow up pool that we need to set up for the kids, I regret that we were not able to set it up in time for this unexpected heat wave, but, I will be sure to have it set up for the next one.

Now that summer is here and I have more time at home, my intention is to get back to regular "frugal" blogging, photos included. I enjoy the blogging and always feel a little more organized after I am able to write my thoughts out, even if my current thoughts include dinner or how to save money on electricity.

I am going to sign off for now, need to crawl into bed and read "On the Road" for book club. I have about 4 days to read 300 pages, OUCH!

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm back

Well, I am finally back to blogging after a week long vacation with the family. We traveled to Massachusetts last week. Friday we piled into our car and traveled this great country of ours with 3 kids in the back seat. I have to be honest, I was a little concerned about such a long car ride with 3 kids, but, they proved to be very well behaved without a lot of fighting.

This vacation was taken with a budget in mind. We were very fortunate to be able to use a timeshare that cost us $189 for the week. With the timeshare we get a full kitchen, so we made all of our breakfasts and dinners in our unit to save money. On the days that we were not taking advantage of the pool, we were sightseeing, so we ate lunch out on those days.

Last week was the first time we had traveled to New England. We all loved it. The countryside is beautiful and the history is so rich. We took a day to go to Salem and learned so much about a very short but dark period in our nations very early history. My kids enjoyed learning about it, as did my husband and I. In all honesty, we did not adhere to a very strict budget the day we were in Salem. That was a choice almost out of necessity if we wanted to get a full Salem experience.

Another area that proved to bust the budget was the fuel. Driving from Wisconsin to Massachusetts and back again is not easy on the fuel budget. We had to fill up several times. We also did a lot of sight seeing several miles away from our resort, because of that, we used more gas than we had originally intended to. I would be a liar if I said I don' t regret that, I do. Not only was it bad for our wallets, it is not exactly "green". But to dwell on that would be pointless because we had a great time with all the sightseeing. I have decided that in the coming weeks, I will be more aware of my gas consumption at home so that I can even things out a bit from vacation.

The last area in which we saved a little money was lodging while traveling to our destination. On our way to the coast, we had to stay in a hotel because we had gotten late start, and we lost an hour going from Central time to Eastern time. But, when it was time to return, we left early and decided to drive straight through. It was a 15 hour trip, but gained that lost hour and were able to return home at a decent hour. It was worth it to sleep in our own beds that night. I dreaded the return trip, fearing that 15 hours in an enclosed space with 3 kids was going to be brutal. But, they proved to us that they can spend time together without fighting. I was so proud of how well my kids behaved on the way home, they really behaved better than they had to considering the less than perfect circumstances of their back seat accommodations.

So, this years family vacation is over early and we had a great time. However, I do feel this is the best place in my blog to emphasize one point. The best part about traveling is coming home! There truly is no place like home.