This month, I am challenging myself to stick to my grocery budget.
Since September was the only month we actually didn't overspend on food due largely to the many meals we received in the name of Selah's birth, this will be a true challenge for me and my family. I don't know if our numbers are actually realistic or what we have to adjust in order to meet them. For the entire month (not just for the first half, as in other months), I'm going to make a concerted effort to meet our budget goals even when it feels uncomfortable. I'll report back each week with what we spent, where we spent it, an abridged recap of what we ate.
Let's talk numbers. Of course, these may be high or low for you, depending on the area you live in, the size of your family, and how you choose to eat. I've said before that we don't meet these numbers easily (we are a family of EATERS plus I just love shopping for food), but this month, we will try to and then go from there.
Groceries (this is just food): $425
Toiletries/Cleaning supplies: $25
Eating Out: $50
We are subscribed to a CSA though the end of October, so that's $62.50/month right away. When I think about the vegetables I've thrown away because they didn't get used in time, I realize we've thrown away money. I'm happy to support something my family and I believe in, but wasted money is still wasted- throwing away food means I have to buy more with actual cash that could have gone to better uses. I digress.
Okay, we also visit the farmers market nearly every week and hit the same stands + sometimes an extra or two. We love supporting our local farmers and artisans and are forming great relationships with some of them. We don't have a set budget for these trips but typically spend $20-$30 a week on this trip. I'll report each week with what we actually bought.
Tim buys his own food to keep at work- typically things like bread, peanut butter, honey, and beans. He estimates that he spends somewhere around $40/month.
So. $425/month minus $62.50 minus $40. We are left with $322.50 to spend on groceries for the month or approximately $80/week. That is not a huge number, but it might be doable.
We will find out, right?
I will be using food leftover from previous months' purchases. I promise I didn't stockpile in anticipation of this challenge. I did pick up a few items last Friday to last us through the end of the month, but I've actually been doing the opposite of stockpiling- eating through our freezer and pantry, motivated to actually meet our budget this month. (I wasn't actually sure we would, despite all the gifted meals!)
We can accept free food (when eating at someone else's house, for example), but we won't be purposely mooching off of others. We will always bring something to share or at least offer to do so, if that is more fitting.
The reasons for these two allowances is that they are part of our real life. This month is still real life. We will use the flour we already have on hand, eat at others' homes, and invite others to eat in ours.
This week, I am flying solo all day through the kids' bed times one day (um, hello necessary Chick fil A trip?!), working out most days AND breastfeeding (hello, appetite!), and going with my family on a long weekend beach trip. Just a few budget challenges to start the month off right.
What are your budget challenges this week?
(I'll be posting what I bought & how we made it work on October 8th.)
We've been going over our grocery budget every month this year.
I gave myself permission to pick up whatever strikes my fancy because I was pregnant, or because I needed it to fulfill my anxiety over having the "perfect" foods, or because I just needed the stress relief. Grocery shopping is my retail therapy. I don't shop for shoes, generally (thredUp credits may change that!). I shop for fancy food.
Guess what, people? I'm currently a full-time stay-at-home mom again, at least for a while. (I'm currently working on side job prospects, but no set plans yet.) That means, of course, less income, so all of those splurges won't get so easily absorbed. I've been talking and thinking about where I can find an outlet for myself that feels like me. Even better if it stretches me.
I have a few plans in the works for this, but you guys, let's talk about food right now. You know I LOVE to talk about, shop for, make, eat, and serve food. At the top of my list is feeding my family with satisfying, nourishing food. I think another way I can nurture my family is doing all those things without over-spending our hard-earned money.
I've seen quite a few blog posts on tips and challenges to eat well on a limited budget, but I have yet to find out if I can pare down our budget (and stick to it!) while eating in a way I am happy with.
In my dream world, all of our food would come from local farms or fair trade coops, but at the moment, eating "perfectly" is not in our budget. Actually, the attempt or perceived need to be perfect has been a contributor to my unhealthy issues with food.
Part of this challenge will be about the balance between sticking to our budget and eating in a way that is respectful of the earth, the people who grow it, and my own body. <---All of those things are important to us, but so is being able to pay our bills, staying home (at least part time) with our kids, & funding businesses that are creating jobs and ethical products we believe in.
How is a family on a budget supposed to balance all that? I think part of it has to do with throwing out "perfect." Other parts, I'll find out during the month of October.
Want to follow along? Come back on Monday for my Grocery Budget Challenge Guidelines!
Be warned that this post may be bit all over the place. I am currently waiting for the coffee to brew and taking an opportunity to write while I can.
Intuitive eating is going well. I'm planning to write more about that "soon." Soon is relative these days.
I'm starting to understand why some moms wake up at 5 am to get their "me" time. I've been running on days when my husband or my mom can watch one or both of the kids (sometimes Nolan rides along in our Jeep stroller), and I come back feeling so refreshed, even in face of the fact that my body could use a lot more sleep. However, this arrangement isn't quite sustainable. We are entering CRAZY BUSY season at Tim's job &my mother is just one person who has other things to do than meet all my needs (she helps me a LOT and is a major factor in me not taking up permanent residence in Crazy Town these days). This means I need to find another outlet & way to feel like "me."
Raising a toddler and a baby can be maddening. Reason is not a tactic that always (often?) works with them. I'm spending my days mitigating messes, talking out requests, giving hugs and handling BIG emotions (ie. MANY tantrums & tears). I'm trying to be a creative parent, allow my son to live even if it means many, many messes I'll need to clean up (of course, he helps, but there is usually still a mess left over), meet the needs of two kids that don't always align. I am trying to differentiate the times when I say no just because I don't want to deal with something or I'm worried about irrelevant implications and the times when I say no because it's necessary.
Even now, while I write this, my 2-year-old seems to have found out that I am stealing a slice of peace for myself and is right by my side asking questions, some of them repeated, some of them seemingly illogical (for example, "but why?" when unprovoked and unattached to a conversation).
And what's more important? Being present for my son or finding bits of time where I can be myself and get some refreshment (writing does that for me)?
People, I am choosing this life. It is challenging me, but it's a life I want to live.
I just need to figure out how to live well in it, and not just get through it.
I have two issues with food:
Anxiety- crippling worry about eating or having the "perfect" foods on hand; worry about whether or not I have control of any particular meal
Binge eating- consuming food, but not really enjoying it or tasting it as a means of comfort.
Though seemingly conflicting, the two feed into each other. I construct ideas of what the perfect way to eat is. (This often is well-intentioned. Our food system IS a mess. There IS such a thing as food justice. I DO have the option to "vote" with my grocery dollars. I don't want to discount that. I'm not giving up my fair trade ways here.) I restrict. I say no to whatever food or foods for a variety of reasons. And then I miss those foods. I experience loneliness, inadequacy or fatigue; I'm feeling weak and BAM, I'm shoveling in forbidden foods and or foods I don't even LIKE to quickly to really experience them. And then there's the guilt over eating too much and/or breaking the rules, the resolve to do better next time, the new eating plan or re-commitment to the old one. On and on, and the more times it happens, the weaker I get.
When I am in a healthy place with food, I actually find a lot of joy in the selection, chopping, cooking, serving, tasting, and sharing of food. I love roasted anything and coffee with plenty of cream. I am thrilled with the fact that I live in a place where I can get local and pastured eggs and meats, raw dairy, and fresh, seasonal vegetables. One of my happiest places is the kitchen.
If I could, I would open up a cafe that serves fair trade coffee and local cream. Fresh, local bread with smashed avocado and local eggs would for sure be on the menu. I've been banning myself from bread for so long because gluten makes me tired! when the reality is, eating too many grains is likely what leaves me feeling sluggish. Staying away from wheat all together has me frustrated and more binge-prone, and I'm done with that.
I would serve local pastries, too (fresh cinnamon buns with icing, please!), and fun concoctions for the gluten free people. Lunch would offer sandwiches made with thick slices of bread I miss so much and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
My daydreaming reminds me that I am a lover of simple, fresh, and homemade food. I also love to explore places and cultures through food. I used to look for reasons to invite friends to sit around my table and dunk chunks of bread and slices of apples into cheese fondue. Oh, and fall food? Bring on the homemade pie with crumb topping and vanilla ice cream. Give me hearty soups and cheddar cheese.
I am thrilled to become an intuitive eater. I'm already feeling more free. I'm already rediscovering the pleasure and joy that food can bring. It feels like it's been way too long since I've experienced that.
I'm not doing so well with the not stuffing my face thing, and I need to talk about it.
Once upon a time (or several), I typed out honest requests for help, and you answered.
Thank you, and now I am asking again.
I am struggling right now.
I have two beautiful, amazing, masterpiece-caliber children. They are doing their thing as kids. It isn't their fault that where they are in their development drives me to want to eat an entire cake (with extra icing, please) on a regular basis & they aren't grown up yet and don't really get adult logic. It isn't their fault that I chose to bring them into the world and now they have to make sense of it and share my attention & they definitely don't want to do that. It isn't their fault, really, that I don't get enough sleep (okay, it kind of is, but I'm pretty sure they're not consciously depriving me of sleep).
If I knew how hard parenting can be, I probably wouldn't have joined the club.It is THAT maddening some days, but I'm glad I didn't know because NOLAN and SELAH. I mean, they are frustrating, yes, but also 2 of my very favorite people. It's just that raising tiny little humans that AREN'T puppets and who have their own personalities, opinions, and desires has a way of bringing my previously buried ugly parts to the surface where I can't possibly ignore them any more.
One of those obvious ugly parts: I have some disordered eating patterns I need to work on &through. I binge for comfort- when I'm tired, feeling inadequate, or frustrated. When I'm not doing that, I'm restricting. I don't restrict calories- I haven't done that since high school, and am pretty sure I'm not longer capable of not eating enough calories. But instead of paying attention to the needs and true cravings of my body, I create rules for myself- no meat, no gluten, eat paleo-ish, eat clean, don't eat sugar,don't eat too much _________. In the name of being healthy. Of COURSE. When I am operating out of my eating rules, I feel actual anxiety over eating outside my home, running out of the right foods, or traveling when I don't know what I will eat because what if I can't eat perfect meals?!
This is not healthy for my mind, my body, my life, my family, or ME.
I want to let go of all the rules.
I want to make more time for journaling- actual pen to paper, writing about how I'm feeling when I eat and about what I need or am having a hard time with.
I want to practice Intuitive Eating. (I just bought the book on Kindle!)
I'm going to feel uncomfortable and unnatural, but I want to have a healthier relationship with food & my body...for my own sake, the sake of my family, and for my corner of the world where I could be offering a better version of myself.
Here I go. Again. I'm a little discouraged to know I haven't conquered the same demon I've been fighting for years, but fighting is better than giving up, right?
I am hosting my first ever Noonday Trunk show tomorrow.
I am NOT a home party kind of woman, but THIS. This is different. I'm telling you.
Did you know that, by percentage, you and I are some of the richest people in the entire WORLD?! Yes, we are all on some kind of budget. Yes, most of us are concerned about our finances, myself included.
But you and I have most of the wealth. We do.
I don't know why you and I were born into this part of the world, with this many opportunities, and so much freedom. But we WERE, and so it seems to me that we should also be responsible for sharing some of that. For acting in ways that show love and compassion for those who aren't quite so rich.
Lately, I've been on the hunt for more ways to feasibly contribute to sustainable & dignity-building companies and lives or at least NOT contribute to the companies that tear people, families, and communities down.
This week, I hit the jack pot! Guess what?!
Noonday Collection just posted these fair trade finds. I have yet to comb through them all, but my guess is there's something for everyone here. (Custom leather boots?! Pass them over here!)
thredUp is offering 40% off until midnight tonight with the code 40SNP (so hop on it! I'm planning to!). Don't forget to use the mobile app for free returns (in case, you know, the clothes don't fit QUITE like you want them to.)
Annnndd...tomorrow, I get to talk all about fair and sustainable practices at my first in-person experience with Noonday. I also thinking of becoming an ambassador? Who knows. I know I need to work for fair trade somehow!
The whole "it takes a village" thing?
YES to all of that.
I'll admit that I and my husband are the ones who signed up for this parenthood gig, but there's so much that we can't give our kids that OTHERS can. Sets of skills, perspectives, undivided attention while we are attending to work/each other/another child.
My children are so much better for the time they spend with the people who love them that don't HAVE to. Those people didn't sign up for this crazy, beautiful, difficult life we didn't quite understand when we bought in- but then they bought in, too. I am overwhelmed- in a very good way- by that.
Collectively, my kids have very special people in their lives who can show them how to build and use tools, create something out of scraps of fabric or ingredients in the kitchen. They have people who can show them how to welcome others into their home, how to feed bodies and souls, work with numbers, play sports, take care of the earth, spin stories out of words, climb trees and ropes and slides...and that is not close to the end of the list.
Thank you, GOD for people that fill in the many gaps for us.
We are (so much) better for it.
So are our kids.
I am not being dramatic here.
This life is not meant to live alone, Y'all. Every time I've thought I must be the only one, that I must be alone in whatever I was or am dealing with, I was DEAD WRONG.
Everything I've seen or experienced that's been really life-changing and beautiful? Not done alone.
Fair trade coops. Communities of people that love each other through the messiness of life. Tears met with an "I'll hug you till you've had enough." Companies and groups of people creating opportunities for better lives for others.
I keep thinking I'll find the ONE thing that's "mine."
I mean, I am a fair trade girl, through and through. But what about a job? What about something I can really call my own? What company can I start to align with my values and passions?
I want my kids to see me doing something that benefits the lives of my family AND others. I want to make my mark.
I am still looking for it, but in the meantime, there are so many groups of people doing beautiful things that I can join in on. I can be a part of them, if I choose, even if I can't plaster my name all over them and hold them up like some kind of trophy.
They are "mine" if I buy in and get involved.
My kids still belong to my parents and my in-laws, too. Because they chose to buy in.
Maybe you're like me, and you don't know what you want to do with "the rest of your life." Maybe it won't be one thing? Maybe we should stop waiting until we find that one thing? Maybe life keeps evolving and we'll never achieve our names plastered on anything. Whether or not we receive recognition, we can claim beautiful things as our own.
That is what I'm choosing to believe.
I fell hard into the pit of shoveling ALL the food into my mouth on yesterday.
I spent the date physically attached to my baby who spit up all over me several times and then nursed the entire rest of the day when she wasn't sleeping (mostly on me).
I looked for-and found!- sweet parts of the day. Nolan ended up spending the day & night at his grandparents', unplanned by me. He got to spend quality time with them, while I was able to focus on selah & her needs.
Selah's constant needs + the heat+ not enough sleep wore me down, I guess, and I ended up making some pretty poor dietary choices- lots of sugar and even takeout pizza.
Pizza is really forbidden territory for me. I avoid gluten because it seems to make me more tired, and I can't afford that at a time when all my energy seems to go to my baby and I still have a husband and son to love on. I avoid dairy because it's hard for Selah to digest right now (i ended up avoiding it until Nolan was 3 months old, too.)
The pizza was straight up putting myself & my desire for me time ahead of my family. I didn't create time for me and because of that, I reached for it the easiest way I know how- in the form of sugar and low-nutrient carbs. I used to think ideas about putting yourself "first" so you can then pour into others were a bit sketchy- and probably they can be taken too far- but I'm also seeing that creating a little outlet for me would have better served me AND my family. Takeout pizza and/or eating everything in sight doesn't actually leave me feeling great and it lessens my capacity for nurturing the relationships I care about most.
Tweak to my September goals- add planned movement into my every day. I've noticed on days I run, I have no real desire to stuff my face. The run- even when I bring my toddler along- is my "me" time, my outlet, and my rejuvenation. It settles my nerves enough to plow through whatever I otherwise feel like I want to numb with sugar and other empty carbs.
Alright. Here we go (again). Thank God for the chance to "start fresh" at any given moment, right?
This is a mama post. Maybe you will be able to relate, whether or not you're a mama?
I don't know, but I know that I've felt the need to be honest about my mama dirt. Because maybe you're in the trenches, too, and you love your kids, of COURSE, but some days you feel like you're going to lose ALL your marbles. (I know this isn't just a me thing.) Maybe you're living a different kind of challenge, and you wouldn't give it up for the WORLD, but like I have in the past, you feel like you're not "allowed" to talk about the tough stuff because you chose this? (Has anyone else felt this way?)
I am the mama to two beautiful children and the wife of the best guy I know. I am sleep-deprived, and maybe I should be napping right now, but I feel like a bit of writing is what I need, and I hope I'm not wrong.
I am on-call as a mom ALL the time. No hours off because I am breastfeeding (my choice) and Selah's not yet at the recommended point for bottles (although we may try today for the sake of sanity). Nolan (my son) and I are trying to process what this new life looks like; he loves his sister, but he doesn't quite love sharing my attention. I just want to be left alone for a guaranteed hour.
Last Tuesday, at just about 3 weeks postpartum, I went on my first run and crossed my fingers that my body would be okay with it because I NEEDED it. I'd told my husband earlier that day that I suck at this job. Nolan and I had "started over" probably 25 times that day, and I called my sister crying that Nolan needed a new mom. My mom was planning to stop by after work, and I hopefully asked her," how long are you planning on staying? Do I have time to go for a run?"
Nolan skipped his nap that day (as he worked hard at doing the rest of the week) and was a verified MESS, so my mother cheerfully called my father in for back-up, telling me to take my time. I came back feeling SO much better, was able to enjoy
Thank God for family (blood or not!), without which I'm not sure how I would be functioning right now.
Later in the week, I learned that when my husband asks me if I want to go for a run just when I am dragging myself down the stairs too early in the morning because I need to make coffee, I should say yes, no matter how tired I feel. Running makes me a happier, nicer person. It's a healthier drug than sugar, my default medication and it's a WAY better choice than snapping at my husband because I'm tired, frustrated, & by my rationalization, he's an adult and can handle it.
1. read Parenting with Love and Logic (I'm feeling like I could use some help as we navigate this new season of Nolan no longer being the only child.)
2. stick to my running plan.
3. save sweet treats for the evening- if I start earlier than that, I can't seem to stop!
4. go on an actual date (no kids allowed!) with my husband.
5. purchase a couple of outfits from thredUp that I feel cute in.
6. have our "new" neighbors over for dinner. (They moved in several months ago, and we just met them. Ahem.)
7. get a (very) part time job in place.
Linking up with The Tiny Twig's Goals with Grace.
I've been itching for a chance to tell you about another affordable & ethically-made clothing option I discovered recently.
Wildly Co. is a small company run by a single family (their 4 boys help, too!). They sell kids' clothes completely made by people who are paid and cared for fairly. Absolutely NO sweat shops or anything made by kids AND it's affordable.
6 styles of t-shirts are currently available in their shop, but Wildly Co. is currently running a kick starter that will enable them to offer more complete outfits in the form of a capsule project.
A capsule is a set of tops and bottoms that can be interchangeably mixed and matched.
Kick starter is a way to fund a project that involves a larger community. Everyone who chooses to contribute can give what they want and can afford. Financial contributors receive some kind of reward, usually according to the number of dollars given. As a way to protect financial contributors, no one's credit card or pay pal account is charged until the end date of the fundraiser and only IF the full amount has been pledged.
Wildly Co. has reached their first goal, which is to fund the boys' capsule. (Hooray! I plan on getting some for Nolan and/or requesting them as an alternative for the conventional clothes he often receives as birthday gifts.) They are currently trying to reach their stretch goal, which will make a girls' capsule possible.
Want to get help create an affordable, fairly made, and thoughtful clothing line for kids? Check out the kick starter here.