Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Meal Planning Week 3 & 4

Last Tuesday I went grocery shopping and spent $227 for the next two weeks of groceries. This will cover more than two weeks because I bought a 10lb box of lean beef and some pantry essentials which will last longer than the two weeks. We will need to buy some milk in the next two weeks I'm sure too.

Wednesday, we had Perogies fried with onions and some Farmer sausage and our towns famous corn on the cob.

Thursday, I made split pea soup with left over farmer sausage in the crock pot. I LOVE this soup. Unfortunately, the split peas took a lot longer too cook than I planned. The 8 hrs in the crock pot weren't enough. So, I popped one of my back-up lasagna's in the oven... unfortunately I forgot to turn on the oven. Thankfully, the lasagna was still frozen so I could just put it back in the freezer. Since it was after 5 when I realized that, we ended up having to get take-out. The girls needed to eat quickly.  I tried! Unfortunately, that  puts us at our eating out budget for the month. I think with the fall coffee's that are now out at Starbucks, we may go over on our eating out budget.... although we WILL NOT blow this budget as much as we have been in the past months.

Friday, we got to eat the soup I had made for Thursday. I also made some biscuits to go with it :)

Saturday, we had home made pizza! This was a huge hit. I had forgot to purchase mozzarella for this so I had to go out and pick some up. I ended up getting some more milk and chips for a movie this night too. I ended up spending $20. That puts us at $396 so far... hopefully I don't need anything else!

Sunday, we ate that lasagna that I had taken out and forgot to turn the oven on for.

Monday, I was working so Jon looked on my printed menu and made the creamy chicken and rottini primivera. I liked it but it wasn't a favorite. I will most likely make it again though because it is a good way to use leftovers.

Tuesday, we ate tortellini and homemade Alfredo sauce. It was really yummy. I don't measure very often and what ever mixture I did with this sauce turned out really good. Everyone ate more than usual :)

Week 4 -

Wednesday, I used the left over tortellini, chicken and Alfredo sauce to make a casserole. Not sure what it is called but it is tortellini, chicken pieces, mixed veggies and a can of mushroom soup all mixed together and baked. Easy, cheap and a great way to use up the leftover tortellini if you buy those big Ziggy bags from superstore that my family never finishes in one sitting.

Thursday, we ate home made hamburgers and store bought frozen fries. I can never get home made fries crispy so I buy them.

Friday, we had a kid favorite that is SUPER easy. Chicken sausage and apple pieces baked with maple syrup. Mmmmm! We ate it with some mashed potatoes and canned corn.

Saturday, we ate Chicken sandwiches with the left over chicken we had to use before it went bad. It was also a movie night with a guest so we did buy some junk food when we went to get milk. $17.49

Sunday, we tried a new recipe that basically turned out to be pasta with a weird alfredo sauce and tomatoes. Not a favorite for anyone. Plus, Livi hates tomatoes.

Monday, is a busy day for me so I took out one of those casseroles I had froze from week one! We had the chicken cauliflower casserole over some sprouted rice and quinoa.

Tuesday, I made beef stroganoff! It was a new recipe and a big hit! I think I will add some more flavoring and hidden vegetables next time I make it though. I ended up doubling it because in my head it was only going to yield as much as a Hamburger Helper package makes, since it calls for the same amount of beef. I was wrong though. A double recipe made more than enough for two dinners and a lunch or Jon! Leftovers tomorrow! I'm not sure if the noodles I used would freeze well.

So, at the end of 4 weeks of meal planning the dinners I spent $413.49! Awesome! I still have two meals in the freezer, plans to make baked mac n' cheese, 3kg of chicken breasts, a bag of shrimp and 8lbs of beef in the freezer for the next 4 week plan! Super awesome! I will need to go shopping in the next few days to buy milk and bread though. I'm going to try to put off doing a big shop until October 1 so I can start meal planning on a monthly basis to mesh with my budgeting better. I think between the meat, rice and potatoes I have on hand I should be able to do this!

But basically, the $413.49 lasted us a full 4.5 weeks. That's less than $100 a week and only about $13 a day that covered breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2 adults and 2 kids! I'd still like to get it down to under $400 but hey, this is my first try and I'm pregnant. The baby wanted sherbet this month!

Some people have asked for recipes or more details on my meal planning... Honestly, all I did was Google "cheap meal plans" or "low cost family meals" or "easy, cheap meals", copy and pasted some recipes that looked easy enough. I kept in some low cost family favorites and splurged a few times. I also included some recipes for meat that I already had in the freezer, like the whole chicken from week 1. I printed out 13 meals and recipes for each two week period and made sure that they sort of "fit" together... meaning I didn't have us eating chicken everyday for two weeks and that I could use leftovers from one day in a recipe for the next. I kept the meal plan and recipes easily accessible on the fridge so I didn't have to go search through recipe books. I doubled up what I could to put in the freezer for another day too, which I will now use in my next months plans to keep the costs down and not have to cook those days! Win!

If you want any specific recipes that I made this month, let me know and I'll email it too you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012



My girls started 4 yr old preschool on Monday. This was a big step for our household. We are entering our the school system! This is still really hard for me I think. These are my babies! Can they really be ready for school? Is this going to be good for Sofie? Is Livi going to feel too much pressure and responsibility? Will they both be successful and make good friends?

So far, both girls are loving it. Livi is excited for the projects she gets to do at school and is very excited for her turn at show and tell in a few weeks. Sofie excitedly runs in to the classroom and plops herself down at one of the activity tables exploring the activity. I kind of think I'm imaging it but I think I'm seeing Sofie develop already! She seems to be responding more to questions and talking way more! After just a week? I kind of feel like she is just a walking miracle sometimes.

I'm pretty happy with this school so far. They seem to be doing a lot of different activities that are challenging each of my girls. There is so much more parent involvement here too, which I love. The preschool that Livi went too for a few months last year is not even comparable to this school. This is so much better for my girls. Sofie's TA seems to be pretty in tuned for Sofie too!

Livi is watching out for her sister, as I expected, but I think staying close for her own feelings of security too. It's not all for watching out just for Sofie's sake. This week she has started out playing with Sofie for a few minutes before going off on her own, but for each circle time she always finds Sofie to sit beside her. I think it is interesting that she searches for Sofie during transition times. She loves her sister and I love that Sofie is a comfort for her :) She will figure it out though, make friends and feel confident in her new surroundings.

What am I going to do with those 2.5 hours, three times a week? Well, for the first few months, I'll be trying to nap! And after the baby comes... well, I'll still probably be trying to nap!

This month also started our extra curriculars! Gymnastics is something we've all been looking forward too. Sofie is in the parent and tot class right before Livi's class. Sofie did A.MAZE.ING! By the second week she blew me away. She ran with all the kids for the warm up game, did most of the stretches, and walked on the balance beams with just holding my hands! I was so impressed. Livi, unfortunately didn't get to enjoy her first class. She had an EPIC meltdown just as class was starting. I felt so bad for her but we had to stick to the consequence. She was removed from the situation kicking and screaming. It was terrible. I think her melt down was caused by numerous things... too excited for gymnastics to sleep well, she had to wait an hour through Sofie's class first, and then she wanted to go on the slide, which is reserved for after class. Cue epic meltdown to proportions we have never seen. The following week was much better though :) She did great, waited patiently and got put in the group with 5 year olds! I was proud of her :)

Music class starts next week. We went to a demo class today. Sofie loved it as usual, even though there is a new teacher. It will be different but I think Sofie will flourish! She jumped in singing with two feet! This class is so great for Sofie and excellent for her speech development.

This is going to be a busy fall with preschool, gymnastics, music, a speech development class I'm taking to help Sofie, and all the doctor appointments for the pregnancy and a few for Sofie. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Meal Planning Week 2

If you are interested Week 1 is posted HERE.

Week 2 has been going great too!

Wednesday was a left over day so I didn't have to cook!

Thursday Jon wasn't home... He ended up going out for dinner with a friend. Us girls stayed home and baked some cookies to serve some guests coming the next day and ate Brown Rice Past Spaghetti with Mushroom sauce. I had bought prepared sauce and added some shitake mushrooms that I fried in some margarine. It was a bit of a treat dinner for me :) Livi doesn't like mushrooms though.

Friday we spent $39 on Vereniki, drinks and rolkuken at the MCC Fair. That is traditional Mennonite food that is SERIOUSLY delicious.

Saturday we invited ourselves over to Jon's mom and got dinner out of the deal!

Sunday, since I work a few hours on Sundays, Jon gets to cook. He chose the Black Bean Skillet from my list of meals posted on the fridge. It is another family favorite, vegetarian and filled with protein! He made a double batch so he has two left over lunches in the fridge and two in the freezer!

Monday we ate a broccoli, cheese and rice bake that I thought was okay but no one else did. I may need to alter the recipe if I want to serve it again.

Tuesday we had we had butter garlic shrimp pasta. Another family favorite that we haven't been able to eat because my pregnancy hasn't allowed fish in the house until now.

I made it through the first two weeks and I have food left over for a few more meals! I've still only spent the $149... although we were skimping on the milk consumption for the last two days. Time to go grocery shopping!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meal Planning Week 1

Over this summer, with me feeling TERRIBLE because of this pregnancy and the move, I have been pretty my the worst home maker ever. My house was never clean, unless people were coming over, and I didn't make a meal that took more than 6 minutes of prep. We spent SO much money on groceries and eating out this summer... I'm not even going to write how much we actually spent because it is just embarrassing. 

From what I can gather from the 5 or 10 minutes I spent on Google trying to research, I found that the average family of 4 last year in the States, two adults and two young kids, spends between $500 and $1200 on groceries per month. Since the dollar is basically on par and our eating habits are so similar to the States in Canada, I'm going with these numbers. According to last years USDA Food Plans I should be spending $537.90 for a thrifty plan and $1045.70 for a liberal plan. 

My budget on the app on my phone has been set to $500 for groceries since I started budgeting. I have made that budget in the past... not this summer. I think we can cut that number down though too with meal planning and learning sales. I don't know how to sale shop at all yet. That is step two. Meal planning is step one. When I meal plan, I generally make my budget. I have never actually crazy, low-cost meal planned before though. I decided that September was a good start off point! 

So, last week I made a plan for 13 meals, mostly low-cost and all easy! I chose to do a 2 week plan because I just don't have the time or energy to go shopping weekly. I printed out all the meals with recipes and directions if needed and posted them on my fridge. I went shopping and spent $149. I stuck to the list pretty closely but did pick up a few easy quick meals and snacks... like a frozen lasagna, some chips and sherbert.

I was a little unsure of how much of some things to buy. For example I have no idea how much milk we go through in a 2 week people or how much sour cream we would need for tacos and quesdillas. I figure I might need to get Jon to grab a few things on his way home from work once or twice in the next 2 weeks.

Wednesday I made two Chicken Cauliflower casseroles. One for that night and one for the freezer. We eat it over rice that I have a bunch of. Delicious! Not the cheapest meal but I had cauliflower that needed to be used and a flat of mushroom soup on hand.

Thursday I made Sweet Potatoe Quesidillas. This is also a meal that I had all the supplies from previous shops. Tortillas were in the freezer and the sweet potatoes had to be used.

On Friday I had a whole fryer chicken in the freezer that needed to be used so I made a herb roasted chicken that had been marinating since the night before in the slow cooker over potatoes and carrots. I whole chicken's are pretty cheap to buy.

Saturday was a leftover day! No cooking!

Sunday we had an easy meal day... Jon was cooking :) He chose Chicken Salad Wraps. It was made with canned chicken which I was hesitant about but it was really cheap. I gave it a shot and it was really yummy! The kids even liked it :)

Monday I made another family favourite, Black Bean and Beef Taco Salad. Super easy and yummy! At the same time I did all the prep for two simple Shepherds Pies, everything but the potatoes. I froze one and left one in the fridge for Jon to finish for Tuesday when I wasn't going to be home most of the day.

Tuesday, today, Jon finished the potatoes for the Shepherd's Pie!

Tomorrow is going to be another leftover meal day! No cooking!

So far, week one of meal planning is right on target! I have another week to go to see if these meals and groceries last us. Friday is the MCC Fair that we usually go out for a Vereniki dinner for, so that will be our one big eat out meal in the two week period!

I'm excited about this plan and can actually see it working, as long as I am diligent! But could I actually cut our groceries to under $300 a month! I'm going to just go along with this meal planning until I feel really on top of it before I start sale following and possibly even couponing! My boss needs to teach me about couponing... her last two weekly shopping trips cost her $0.19 and $0.25. How the heck did she do that!??!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Reveal

My mom really wanted to give us a 3D ultrasound. She is fascinated by the technology so as much as the gift was for us... if was for her :) We invited my Grandma along to who was just as amazed. The 3D stuff was really neat but I was mostly excited to find of the gender.

The verdict is in....

It's a GIRL!

I was convinced I was having a boy up until a few weeks ago when I started having a few dreams of having a girl. I have a bit of a weird connection with dreams. They, more frequently than can be explained by coincidence, come true or been true with out my knowing. Friends used tell me dreams that were bothering them and I would matter-of-factly know what they meant. As a child I even knew my grandparents had been in a terrible crash before my mom had got the call. Weird stuff. Anyway, dreaming it was a girl totally threw me from being certain I was having a boy! 

Then, the technician checked three times and told us we were having a girl! I don't think it has quite sunk in yet. I was so convinced we were having a boy. There is still a seed of doubt in my mind that the reading was correct even. I won't be getting rid of any of my girl clothes though! 

I'm very excited about having another girl! I always said I had just wanted girls. Being raised in a house mostly of girls I didn't think I would know how to raise a boy. With being convince I was having a boy, I was actually very excited to have a little Mama's boy :) Plus, I really love our boys name, Cohen Timothy. I guess I'll have to let go of that.

So, without further ado...

Evelyn Jane (probably)

Evelyn is just because we like the name and it is kind of a traditional older name like Olivia and Sofie.

Jane is for Jon. Jane is sometimes considered a female version of Jon. There isn't a good female version of Timothy (Jon's Dad's name) and we wanted her to have a name some what after his side of the family. Livi's middle name is the same as mine. Sofie's middle name is a combination of our two closest grandmother's and now Evelyn's middle name is after Jon. It doesn't hurt that Jane Austen is my favorite author either:) 

Livi has decided that her nick name is Eva (EE-vah). I thought it would be Evie (Eh-V-ee) but I think Eva is sticking. We'll see how it plays out I guess. I get my house of girls! I hope they have the special sister bond that I get to have and know many other sister's share. There is nothing like having sisters!