Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear Monday: Menu and Goals

Someone has started smiling, and it's lighting up our world.


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He's eight weeks old now, and such a good baby. Eats like a champ, sleeps fabulously (had a 7 hour stretch the other night!), and only cries when he's tired, hungry, or needs a diaper change. What a sweetheart. I love these days.

With all the breastfeeding he requires, I feel like I am eating us out of house and home (amazingly, I am still losing weight!). This week's menu plan is very frugal and comprised mostly of ingredients we already have on hand. It's the end of the month, and my grocery cash envelope was looking scarce! With rising food prices and my incredible appetite, it has been a stretch to stay within budget these days. Since I last shared our Less Project family budget, we have increased the grocery budget to $60/week. Even with that adjustment, staying within budget has been barely accomplished some months. Time for more beans and rice, folks!

Here's the menu plan for this week...

Dinners for This Week:

Monday--Fettucine Veggie Alfredo
Tuesday--Lasagna (from the freezer) with salad

Wednesday--Beans and Cornbread

Thursday-Creamy Corn Chowder and Biscuits --I have been making my biscuits with 1/2 white whole wheat and almost ALL butter (instead of half butter, half shortening) and they have been scrumptious...this week I'm going to leave out all the shortening.

Just out of the oven

Friday--Pizza Night (going to try a buffalo chicken variation) with salad
Saturday--Pesto Baked Chicken Breasts and veggies

And now on to goals...

How I did with last week's goals:
  • Memorize Deut. 8:11-13. Not quite. I half-way memorized the 1st verse.
  • Finish Surrender and read 3 chapters from The Great Omission by Steve Saint. 
  • Do something special for Andrew (need to brainstorm this)
  • Have 2 learning/activity times with Squishy. Only did this once this week.
  • Exercise x 3. Yes!!!! I actually exercised 4 times, since I'm trying to exercise every other day. I'm starting to feel less sore now. :)
  • Walk with the boys x 1
  • Edit 20 photos from February. I edited 10 photos only.
  • Make a triple batch of Taco Meat
Goals for this week:
  • Memorize Deut. 8:11-12 (breaking it down into smaller pieces this week)
  • Read 2 chapters from The Great Omission
  • Have two learning sessions with Squishy (think I can pull it off this week?)
  • Pack Andrew's lunch 3 days this week (and add notes!)
  • Exercise x 3
  • Make a quadruple batch of pizza dough.
  • Clean out the basket on my desk.
  • Edit 15 photos.
So tell me, has your grocery budget been taking a hit lately? How do you compensate for the rise in food prices?

What's one goal you have for this week?

Linked to Menu Plan Monday and Money Saving Mom.


  1. I have a tip for your biscuits. Instead of using all butter instead of shortening, substitute some bacon grease for it. Just save some in a jar in the fridge from when you fry bacon. It makes for really good slightly bacon flavored biscuits, and given the bacon in your corn chowder (which I'm definitely going to have to try soon), I bet they'd go really well together. And as a bonus it's free food (if you'd throw it away otherwise).

    And as for your grocery budget, I'd not worry about it so much now. Your body is using a lot of energy and nutrients producing milk for your baby, and you don't want to stress it out by not providing enough quality food for yourself (although looking at your menu plan, you don't seem to be eating too badly). Maybe look at the cost of formula and add a portion (half to a quarter, perhaps) of that to the weekly grocery budget for snacks or larger portions of food for yourself. This is assuming (of course) that you actually have a little extra money that could be diverted from elsewhere, like savings or debt payoff.

    And I love the huge open mouth smile in the last picture.

    1. Jenny, I have tried the bacon grease idea once before and the biscuits seemed to turn out too dry. I may have to try it again, however, to see if I get a different result. I like the idea of trying it the night we have the corn chowder! :D

      We don't have much wiggle room in the budget (you can read about our current situation here). But we really have more than enough. I just have to get creative and not give in to the temptation to buy more "fancy" foods when we can't squeeze them in.

  2. We have been going through more food, too ... Lil Bit is nursing more, so I'm hungrier and the two older ones are both spurting up {again}. To feed our family of 3 adults, 2 children, and 1 munching baby (and he can put it away!) we spend about $75 a week. I try to do less, but that includes diapers and wipes. However, we do have a decent supply in our freezer and that helps. Every 3 months I give myself about $100 to fill the freezer when meat gets marked down. And I buy my wheat in bulk to grind my own flour (that's about $50/mpnth). And we are now buying 1/4 of a grass fed cow twice a year. So I'm guessing that puts us closer to $100/wk when you count what I bank toward bulk purchase.

    Anyhow, to keep it frugal I have stopped buying pretty much anything that is premade. I've learned to use dried beans in a multitude of places I never would have imagined beans (I'm even goign to try black bean brownies in March). I have a few other tips I'll be sharing on my blog over the next few weeks.

    Glad to have found via Menu Plan Monday! Looking forward to returning.

    And your baby's smile is delightful!!!

    1. Lisa, sounds like you are doing a great job, especially if your numbers include diapers and wipes!!! WOW! Diapers and wipes come out of another budget category for us.

      I am surprised that costs $50/month to buy wheat to grind your own flour...that seems expensive! I don't do this yet (but can't wait to). Do you make a LOT of bread? Or is that just the average cost?

      We have a very small freezer that stays continuously stocked, so I am very excited for the day when we can buy a deep freezer and I can take advantage of more sales on meat, etc.

  3. First, let me just say, you have brought two of the most adorable little boys into this world. Honestly, I can't get over how cute they are--and the smiling? It's too much! :) Secondly, I LOVE these menu posts because they always help me with my weekly meals, :)

    1. I have to agree with you about my two boys...haha! :D I am hopelessly in love (and incredibly biased).

  4. Your menu looks great, even if it's lots of eating from the pantry! I totally hear you about the rising food prices. I leave the grocery store feeling down about how everything keeps going up. It's frustrating...I can list the items I buy regularly and how much they've increased over just the past few months. It makes it hard. Thankfully we have one who is now as of this month only wearing diapers at night, so that should help a bit. We've also talked and may just go ahead an increase our budget by about $15/month.

    Your son is adorable!! Love that stage with all the new smiles. My little one is almost 10 months and she melts my heart because she is constantly waving at me!

  5. Love the smiles!! There's nothing sweeter! So happy he's sleeping good too, Weston has slept about 6-7 hours through the night the past 2 nights, I'm hoping it continues!

    As far as food goes, I completely understand! One thing I've been doing this time is consciously eating more high protein foods, in meals and snacks. I snack on nuts and cheese most of the time and it only takes a little to satisfy me. While nursing Paxton I'd just grab whatever but this go round, I'm more conscious of what I'm eating instead of just eating {and eating and eating!}

    And to answer your grocery question, yes our grocery expenses have been increasing for many reasons, nursing, a ravenous 22-month-old, increasing food prices and our desire to eat higher quality foods. But, we're okay with it. We used to view our food budget as an area to save big but lately we've realized that eating well is better for us and our grocery budget is really an investment in ourselves.

    1. Oh, Rachel, I'm so glad your little one is sleeping, too! :D Such a help.

      You know, I think I need to incorporate some nuts into my diet. They seem so expensive, but it might even out in the end...

      I totally agree that eating well is a good investment. One of the reasons I can't wait to start a big garden...and eat well on the cheap!

  6. Yay for smiling babies! I love that stage when their whole face lights up like everything is right in their life and they couldn't be happier. It's so precious. I have a 6-month old and 2 year-old and feel like I've been eating us out of house and home for years. It's tough to keep up, lol.
    Menu looks delicious! And thanks for sharing adorable photos :-)
    (here from MPM)

  7. Your babyboy looks soooo cute!!! My goal for this week; have lots of fun with my two kids (they have a vacation) and don't worry about my housework! ;-)
    Go Alicia, I'm proud of you; looks like you are doing an amazing job!!!
    Love Amelie

    1. Amelie, that sounds wonderful. I hope you guys have a fabulous time. :)

  8. It seems like we've been spending more on groceries lately, too. Growing kiddos and trying to be healthy seem to cost more and more. I've been trying to eliminate anything premade also, and it does help the budget to make whatever possible at home. It sounds like you've got that under control, tho, and hopefully you can have a little more budget wiggle room for food when you move. Love your menu plans, so keep 'em coming! And, CUTE baby!!

  9. Yes, food prices are rising, but fortunately not so much that it's greatly affected my grocery budget. Within the past several months as I have been losing weight, I've really focused on getting a lot of protein (mostly from meat and eggs, some dairy, and a little bit of beans). I really thought when I switched to a diet with a lot more meat, my grocery expenditures would increase a lot, but they really haven't. I can easily chicken breast for $2/lb and 90% lean beef for about $3.50/lb. Sam's club cheese is only about $2.25/lb. I really think that when I eat more meat/protein, I stay much more full and it actually balances out.

  10. Those pictures are THE BEST. And the food looks pretty great too. Skype soon! :-)

    1. Yes! I logged in today but didn't see you. :)

  11. Awwww...your little one looks so cute!! Those biscuits look so good!!

    For January and February, we've spent very little on food - mostly eating out of the pantry and freezer meals we had. This week, I'm going to have to go out and spend again. I'm going to try to implement a Volutmetrics diet. Hopefully that won't cost too much money, but I think it will since it has a LOT of produce!

  12. Higher grocery costs are affecting our grocery bill. I have to watch for sales and stock up on meat and basic necessities. I can't wait until I can get my garden in the ground (I hope to plant my cool season veggies within the the next month). That will help us cut down on our produce costs. I stopped using processed items a few months ago and that helps out some.

  13. Your boys are SO cute, those smiles are great!!

    When we moved to the NW we knew the food was more expensive and were blessed that Chris was able to negotiate his salary accordingly. We spend 90-100/ week for three of us and I feel we're actually doing well with that. I am sure there is a way to spend less if we needed to but honestly I'm not sure how. I shop at Trader Joe's and we don't eat a lot of meat so I think a big part of it is just a higher cost of living here. I hope the upped food bill isn't stressing you out as everyone said you guys need it.


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