Monday, August 19, 2013

What Every Young Wife Needs to Know About Grocery Shopping

I just got back from my monthly shopping trip to Wal-Mart, and am feeling so blessed! I saved about $50 this trip! 

For the past two years that we have been married, I keep praying for creative ways to save money. We did the whole "no cable tv for a year" thing. We thrift shop and yard sale every weekend. And I've learned to fix more things than I want to admit, on my own (have you ever replaced a toilet handle..?). 

In any case, I want to pass along some of the tips I've learned related to grocery shopping. Saving money and being smart about what you buy is not just for new moms, or the moms with multiple kids.Young wives also need to understand how grocery shopping can make or break your monthly budget! 

Educate Yourself: 
  • Familiarize yourself with prices. How much does your regular grocery store charge for milk? For name-brand cereal?
  • What items do you end up buying once a week? Once a month? I knew we probably eat between 2 to 3 boxes of cereal in a month. 
Plan Your Recipes: 
  • Scour Pinterest, cook books (yours, your neighbors, or from the library!), and your recipe box for recipes and meals you enjoy. 
  • Decide on 8 recipes you want to make over the course of the month. These will be your "nicer" meals for when you have time to cook, want to try something new, etc. 
  • Decide on 4 recipes that are favorites. These are your "old stand-by's". Chicken Parm, fajitas, spaghetti and meat sauce, etc. 
  • Lastly, decide on 4 more recipes that are super quick, on-the-go meals. Frozen pizza, frozen lasagna, soup and grilled cheese, etc. You want something that you can make without much effort. 
  • With all 16 meals, you'll cook 2 "nicer" meals, 1 "favorite", and 1 "convenience" meal each week. The other days of the week will be for leftovers, eating out, and/or last minute plans.
Start that Grocery List:
  • Decide which items you can buy ahead of time and in bulk. These will be food items needed for your recipes, and items you know you eat all the time. For us, it's yogurt, cereal, and snacks!
  • Take note of how much and which kinds of meat you're cooking during the month for your recipes. Individual packs of chicken at your grocer typically are more expensive than a 3lb. bag of frozen chicken breasts at a wholesale store. 
  • Also think through which items you want fresh each week. For me, that's fresh fruit, fresh salad, and fresh bakery bread. 
  • If you're really fancy, you can clip Sunday paper coupons. Often I find that the coupons aren't for items I'd buy anyway, but you never know!
At the Store: 
  • Go during YOUR personal best time! Don't shop when you're under a time crunch, or hungry. You want this to be an enjoyable experience!
  • While buying your monthly grocery items, don't be afraid to try the store-brand product. Today, I grabbed butter sticks for baking, but realized that I could save $1 buy buying Walmart-brand instead of the name-brand. Who cares about butter sticks anyway!? For that particular item, I was ok with a generic brand, in the mind-set of saving money. 
  • Think through that cost per unit price. Remember your homework in the first section?! Today I saved about $1.50 on a box of Kellogg's cereal. That's awesome! I also felt pretty good about my greek yogurt purchase. At my normal grocer, I pay $4.50 for 4 yogurts. THat's $1.13 per yogurt. Today, I got them for $3.98- that's under a dollar a piece!
  • DON'T BUY THINGS YOU DON'T NEED! I have been guilty of this before! Just stay focused on your list! 
Back at Home:
  • Think through how your trip went once you're back at home. 
  • Was it worth it for you to shop for the majority of your groceries in one trip? 
  • Did you go at your best time of day? 
  • How did you feel during the month with your food? Did you go through it too quick? Did you buy too much, too little?

I'd love to hear feedback on how your trip went! 
Happy shopping!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My 90 Days of Summer

August.... Ugh.. Summer is officially OVER! 
Yep, at least for a teacher and his wife, it's over. Forget Labor Day!

If you're memory is good, you'll be wanting an update on how I did on my 90 Days of Summer Vision board. From May 1 through July 31, I had some fun goals and dreams for the summer. You can check out the beginning of that journey back in late April with this post

But, as a recap.. here were a few of my goals... 
Trying new wines
Girl's day
Summer movies
My 25th Birthday!
Going to the beach (particulary exploring West FL beaches)
Getting out in our yard
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo and 4th of July
And of course, our 2nd wedding anniversary! 
Last but not least, I'd like to try a photo-a-day challenge! 

We got to do a LOT of those! One that didn't quite make it was my photo-a-day... Oh well, I'm not the best photographer!

But, here are a few fun photos from these past three months! Check out the awesomeness! 

Tallahassee Visit with Friends! (Memorial Day Weekend)

...and their cat!

Sooo many trips to get more gutters for our install

birthday highlights! 

mango margarita italian ice

my 25th birthday (May 20)
guests for the surprise proposal (June 1)

She said YES! (June 1) 
beach weekend at the condo (June 15)

Daniel built me a beautiful cedar shower bench-- Yogurt loves it too!

beach day

celebratory steak dinner for Daniel's new teaching job

I'm gonna be a bridesmaid!

Let's blow stuff up! (July 4)

Welcome to the family Dodge Dakota! (July 5)

2nd Anniversary celebration getaway (July 30)

I love Downtown Disney (July 30)

Back to School Classroom set-up

This summer was so fun, and I loved spending every minute of it with my husband. Our fall is going to be even better with the start of a new school year and jobs for both of us, 5K race season starts up again, multiple friends weddings to look forward to, and so much MORE! 

Can't wait to keep you updated!

Ohh... and here's a teaser for you... we've been doing a fitness program since early June. Wanna know what it is? Coming soon! ;P

Friday, August 9, 2013

Reflections from a Teacher's Wife

Each day we get closer and closer to Week 1....

For those of you who are teachers, you know what I'm talking about. But for those of you who don't, I want to lend some insight to living life with a teacher.

Although my husband has been done with teaching classes since the end of April (I know, early right?!), he's been so eager for August 12th, as this year he'll be with a new school and is excited to see what new beginnings that brings.

"Back to School" as we know it starts in early July. Right about 4th of July time, we start. It's kind of one of those weird things, similar to when Nov 1st hits, you see the Christmas tree display at Walmart. Yeah.... everyone else thinks we're nuts, but after July 4th, the countdown begins...

Five Weeks Before

Daniel started the craziness first with lesson planning, and re-planning. Outlining the topics for the semester as a whole, then whittling each week and day down for objectives and goals. Fortunately, my role in that was to just encourage him to plug through the work.

Four Weeks Before

Then come the slew of orientations, paperwork, and requirements. He braved two orientations (there's still another one- the campus tour, tomorrow), and came home with a stack of paperwork for me. There were lots of decisions to be made about health insurance, the teacher's union, pension plans, etc. I even had to pull a few extra documents and make copies for him to turn into HR. Fortunately, I think we're done with paperwork!

Three Weeks Before

Once we hit the four to three week mark before school starts, we hit the stores! I kept buying the Sunday newspaper just to check out which stores had the best deals on school supplies and clothes. My kitchen table had an inch thick stack of ads! You would think I had like 6 kids going back to school... hehe..

Fortunately, we took advantage of the sales the weekend before Tax Free Holiday Weekend (here in Florida) and scored big! I knew I was not going during the Tax Free time! While I could have saved money, I was too nervous about crowds and store supply, that I went early. Between shopping for school supplies, teacher supplies, and back-to-work clothes, we had to have gone to about two dozen stores (some of them even multiple times)!

Two weeks Before

One word... laminate, laminate, laminate! We hand-made and laminated close to a dozen posters for Daniel's classroom. While this was fun at first, after poster number 4, I was a little done in.. Rules signs, hallway rules, encouraging words, Literature posters- you name it, we did it! The girl at the lamination counter at Staples got to know us very well!

After poster making, we decided to hit the classroom for some decorating! How do you think we did?

One week Before

Now we're really getting close! Everyone else has got the back-to-school fever, and all the snacks are on sale at Publix. Wohoo! We're almost there! Usually at one week before, we go though his work clothes and toss, donate, or iron the good stuff. I stock up on those BOGO snacks for an easy classroom-stash for the teacher. And buy hand sanitizer like the germ apocalypse is coming!

This is also the time for last-minute melt-downs and doubts. How will things work out once school starts? Have I planned enough lessons? I'm not sure what times I have to be in for teacher work week. No one set up my school email yet. How am I going to get everything done? Will I be exhausted that first week?

I try my best to encourage, love, and plan. We go to bed early, and start practice getting up early. Silly, but if you started summer break on May 1, you'll need all the practice you can get!

With this crazy season, comes the season of "no". Back to school is busier for our family, more so even than Christmas time. It means saying "no" to everything and anything, in order to not burn out, not get distracted from planning, and prep well for a new school year. It was easy to say "no" to the things I might not have wanted to do these past few weeks, but where it was challenging, was saying "no" to the invites and trips that I kinda wanted to do. But, as a teacher's wife, I want to always be there for my husband- so we plan, and shop, and laminate together!

Here's to a great back to school and Week 1!