Saturday, January 14, 2012

Preparation Pays

For the last year or so I have felt like I fallen off the face of the earth. Out there in space was and is college classes, caring for family and home, and volunteering both in my community and church. What wasn't always there was preparation. It showed in my stress level and believe it or not, our budget. It wasn't that I didn't know how. I was just lazy. Yes, even with all that going on. I really am a lazy person. Wait ... I am an efficient person. That's better. Being efficient allows me to indulge in "laziness."

My efficiency comes from organization and preparation. Part of that preparation involves meals. When I do not prepare in that area, it costs me. Lack of preparation creates pieces whereas preparation creates peace. I saw it today because we all need reminders even if we know the stuff. There were three things that reminded me I had let things fall to pieces.

First, I created a menu that included all three meals and snacks for the entire week. I like to do this while waiting for kids at school or appointments - good use of time. I took into account any sales and our family schedule for the coming week. I start school again next week. I will be gone from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. twice a week. I put all of my classes except the on-line one on just two days so I can be home (college is an hour commute one way) with my youngest and take care of the home and family.

Second, from my menu I created a grocery list making sure I knew what I already had on hand. Buying more of an item you already have is not going to help the budget. What does help the budget is sticking to the list. For an impromptu person like myself, this is the hardest for me.

Third, you need to be flexible and alert. It is rather hard when the little people have you up all night but try at least. For example, I originally had sticky chicken on my menu instead of grilled pork steaks. However, I found pork steaks reduced for quick sale. I freeze meat I buy that way if I will not be using it in a day's time so I am all about checking that area of the meat department. The pork steaks would cost less than the chicken I originally had down so grilled pork steaks it is.

Sales can be good deals, but it is NEVER a good deal if you don't have the money. Period. I saw all kinds of sales that sent my fingers itching, but I didn't have that budgeted so I kept on walking. I did find a sale on cereal that I took advantage of in the respect that I was able to buy three boxes instead of one for the same cost. It was an unadvertised sale - so be alert. Check out the day-old bakery for deals on breads. Just don't buy if it was not budgeted.

So I was reminded of how helpful those three things are when grocery shopping - plan a menu, make a list and stick to it, and keep an alert eye open. The result for me was spending $160 for the week's meals out of the budgeted $200. With other stops and shops for milk, I still have just over $20 left. Not bad for the eight of us still at home including a bottomless pit for a son.

So what did my $180 buy? It bough some junk food and some convenience items. It bought enough meat to carry over for the following week. It bought some special items like soy and raw milk. The soy is for a dairy allergy while the raw is for lactose-intolerance. It also allows me to make my own butter, cream, buttermilk and yogurt. Here is what I bought for my menu next week ...

1 lb shredded cheddar cheese
1 lb shredded Mexican cheese
3 lb pork steak
3 large boxes (21-28 oz) of cereal
2 lb frozen peas
2 lb frozen mixed vegetables
3 lb grapes
pint of blueberries
12 oz blackberries
2 half-gallon soy milk
5 lb apples
1 honeydew melon
1 cantaloupe
5 lb red potatoes
1 bunch celery
1 head iceberg lettuce
2 lb baby carrots
2 bell peppers
2 lb bananas
30 ct eggs
2 cans spaghetti sauce
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can olives
5 lb ground beef
1 lb bacon
3 lb chicken breast (bnls/sknls)
5 lb boneless ham
pint of sour cream
2 cans apple juice concentrate
4 cans biscuits
20 ct flour tortillas
2.5 lb polish sausage
24 ct American cheese slices
1 lb Provolone cheese slices
1 48 oz jar Miracle Whip Light
1 40 oz jar peanut butter
2 6-ct boxes kettle corn
1 24 oz bag salad
2 12-oz bags Kluski egg noodles
1 box vanilla wafers
1 bag pretzel rods
1 bag potato chips
1 bag tortilla chips
2 extra-large take-and-bake pizzas
3.5 gallons raw milk

Remember to plan ... make a list (and stick to it) ... be alert and flexible

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