April 29, 2011

Food Waste Friday: the Good News, the Bad News and the Ugly News

First, the ugly news. Let's just get that out of the way right now:


That's kettle corn. Sweet, salty, crunchy and delicious kettle corn...from way back in The $34.27 Challenge. Hidden in the snack basket (oh, yes. We have a snack basket.), just like the cinnamon croutons I made for oatmeal, the corn nuts and the half bag of gross potato chips (no tears over that one).

What's the word you use when you're mad and disgusted with yourself? Is it "urgh"?

Urgh.

Oh yeah, and some dipping sauce from pizza we got way too long ago that I thought for sure I'd come up with some creative way to use up so I could brag about it, and a good inch of clam chowder from two weeks ago that I looked at every day in the fridge, thinking "it's going to go bad soon" and yet did not eat.

Not cool.

But (as the title of this post may suggest) there's  good news. All Wednesday, I thought it was Thursday, so I had my fridge cleaned out and ready for Food Waste Friday. On Thursday.

Is it just me, or am I getting hard to follow?

The bad news? Getting ready on Wednesday gave me just enough time to waste this too:


A heel of wannabe artisan bread from the 200 Days of (Non-Contiguous) Bread - no, I haven't forgotten and yes, I'm still working on it. Admittedly, someone put it in a ziploc with two chocolate croissants, and it was therefore less likely to fulfill its bread-heel destiny of becoming garlic croutons, but still.

More good news, completely unrelated to Food Waste Friday: I had the last of my two housecleanings this week. The woman who cleaned it is also a friend of ours, but I managed to resist the siren call to clean my house before she came. So it was nice and dirty, believe me. Not anymore. Three days later and I'm still basking in the (now diminished) glory.

The bad news: My house will never be this clean again, especially now that I'm going back to work. I'm trying to prioritize my meagre time, remember? Cleaning really, really well just doesn't make it to the top of the list anymore.

Uh, not that it was right up there before, you understand. Maybe seventh?

More good news: Miss and Jr got to spend maybe forty-five minutes at daycare the other day while I was getting all their forms and dropping off the deposit. They loved it. They barely looked back. They'll be fine.

More bad news: Miss and Jr loved it. They barely looked back.

I'll be fine.

April 28, 2011

I Love Free Stuff, and Here's How I Get it (In Case You Wondered).

Remember this? It showed up in the mail last Food Waste Friday:


This, my friends, is a $50 gift card for Chapters. That I got for free. FREE. [maniacal cackling].

Points and rewards programs are kind of old news, but kind of not. You already know how cheap I am, so the fact that I'm willing to do a little extra to reduce our cost of living is probably as about as surprising as weather.

So here's how I roll, points and rewards-wise:
(The ones marked with an asterisk are ones that give me rewards if you sign up. Just so you know.)

Aeroplan: It used to be attached to our mortgage. We had a lot of points. Once, we used 60,000 of them to go to  Florida to visit Mr's brother, and will never do that again (use points for travel, not visit Mr's brother.) What a hassle. Since then, we've started redeeming what few points we earn now (at the hardware store) for gift cards. This particular gift card got translated into movies for our regular Saturday movie night.

SwagBucks*: Seriously. I'm online everyday anyway, and I search for a lot of things (like what a therm is), so I installed the toolbar and do my searching through that. Unless I want really good, ad-free results, then I search for Google. Tricky, I know. Every once in a while I'll do a survey, or a poll. I started February 25th, and have $10 in amazon.com gift cards on the way.

Which I will obviously redeem for Thirsties Fab Fitted diapers. I want.

Shoppers Optimum: I already buy my milk there. And eggs. And my most important staple item of all (butter). And even though I feel icky whenever I participate in their "redeem your rewards and we'll give you more of them" events, I still do them. Free's free, baby.

Ebates*: I hardly ever get cash back from ebates, because I hardly ever buy things online. But when I do, I go through Ebates (who also have Canadian stores too. That's new. And awesome.)

Plum Rewards: Did you notice that iRewards (from Chapters and Indigo stores here in Canada) were getting more expensive and less useful? Enter Plum Rewards - you don't have to pay your firstborn to use it, it gives you a modest discount, and works like a normal points program instead of a "pay us money and we'll give you a card" kind of a program. Less lame, by far.

Club Sobeys: The reason we switched our main grocery store. (Uh, except for the fact that all the people there are nice, and once a cart boy ran outside in the snow to get the rocket ship cart for Miss and dried it off for her, without us even asking. Oh, and that time the seafood guy picked a lobster out of the tank and let her pet it. And the fact that our only other grocery store has crazy people in it.)

But other than that, points are the reason we switched. Really. We have to buy groceries anyway, right? I could, if I wanted to, convert the points to Aeroplan, but we can't eat movies.

<< Yesterday's Points
Tomorrow's Points >>

(Ha, ha. That was a typo. But I'm leaving it in because it's making me laugh.)

April 27, 2011

Back Yard DIY: The Catastrophically Bad Before

Would you like to see the ugliest back yard in the history of the world?

Not an understatement. No hyperbole. Really.

Okay. Maybe a little hyperbole. You be the judge:


Oh, and also:


It could be the junk. It could be the unkempt-ness. But whatever the reason, this ugly back yard needs work. As in Lots Of. Especially if I want to plant my children seedlings in it and expect to have tomatoes, basil, dill, parsley, chives and rosemary grow. The mint, I'm not too worried about.

We're pulling out the sorry excuse for a deck this weekend (she said), and maybe just leveling out the dirt and laying some grass seed.


My question: what to put where? And how to do it without spending any more money? Because Young House Love we are not.

In Spite of Myself, The Cloth Diapers Arrive

Yes, I had one part of the cloth diaper kit delivered to our old address. And had to call the post office and profess my undying love in order to keep it from getting returned to sender.


But they're here now. In time for this boy's Happy Birthday.


Yes, one of the diaper covers is pink. 

Yes, it looked more red online.

Yes, he's going to wear it. Hello? Cheap.

As I type, the prefolds are finishing up in the dryer after washing them four hundred times to build up absorbency. The birthday boy is making sounds upstairs, and I'm excited to get this started.

Let's wait until the novelty wears off to assess the wisdom of this decision fully, okay?

April 26, 2011

Cooking From the Pantry: Lazy Pea Soup

In the Venn diagram that is my life, Lazy Pea Soup falls somewhere in here:


Yeah. Edible is good. So is the "I just got home from work with two hungry kids and the chicken I meant to make is frozen solid but look, I have some peas!" aspect.

What, that doesn't happen to you? A million points to you, then.

If, on the other hand, you're a normal person, then here's some after work, in a hurry help:


Lazy Pea Soup

1 bag of frozen peas
Enough chicken/vegetable stock to cover the peas
An element.

Put the peas in the chicken stock on the element (preferably in a pot of some kind). Bring to a boil and simmer on medium for ten minutes or so. Use that immersion blender (that you have and never use), or the regular blender (that you have and never use) to blend it all up into something approximating a smooth consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.


You can use any kind of frozen vegetable,if you're out of peas. We've done carrot and cauliflower versions that were good with, respectively, some curry powder and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Serve with something from the fridge that you're saving from waste, like the last few scoops of sour cream, the last two slices of bacon, or some croutons you made from that stale bread heel no one wants to eat. Sounds super-appealing, doesn't it?

But it is. Make it, taste it, and tell me it isn't.

Especially since you can make it in about the same amount of time as it took you to read the recipe.

Print

April 25, 2011

Graduation Day...All Together Now

First, you have to hum Pomp and Circumstance.

Are you humming?

Okay, now check this out:


Our little seedlings are in big boy pots now! (You may have seen them lurking blurrily in the background of my Project Grocery picture this week).

Well, some of them. The mint still has some growing up to do.



And the carrots and parsley are going through an awkward, leggy phase. Teenagers can be so difficult.


As of now, we've spent about $23 on all of the vegetables and herbs we're planting this year, and saved about $130 by planting seeds instead of seedlings (and resisting the urge to buy new pots, when this mish-mash of old terra-cotta and crappy plastic is free).

The trick will be not letting them die.

That will be an impressive trick from this black thumb, believe me.

(Kristy, when are you going to create a Facebook page for Muddy Toes and Garbanzos so I can upload these babies and you can tell me what I'm inevitably doing wrong? I neeeeeeed help!)

Project Grocery: Sales Rule, Coupons Drool

Oh. My. Goodness.

I think some of this (over?) planning is paying off.


Of course, this picture is garbage. And since we shopped on five separate occasions, is not representative of the entire food collection. But I took it at eight in the morning, for two very good reasons:
  1. Almost everything we needed in our main grocery trip was on sale only on that day.
  2. We were leaving in half an hour to go do this at my brother's house (two hours away):

And let me tell you, shopping (by yourself) at seven-thirty on a Saturday morning is fantastic. You get to drink coffee. And you don't have to stop at the lobster tank for ten minutes. Except for the rushing to get everyone fed, pottied, packed up and ready for an all day trip in forty-five minutes, I'd do that every week if I could.

The food that didn't make it into the picture: rice, steak, raspberries, blueberries, zucchini, beets, cheese, eggs, creamer, milk, bananas, coffee, a pork roast and cloverleaf flavoured tuna. Six cans, good for my lunches with a slice of homemade bread, and my only coupon savings for the week (on sale for $0.99, with a $0.50 off of each pair).

Coupons are fine, don't get me wrong. I'll look for, organize and carry around little slips of paper any day of the week if it'll save me $0.50, because that's the kind of girl I am. But they're not going to change the kind of food we eat, which is this:


You might notice some duplicates from last week's menu plan. One of the great things about trying to reduce our food waste is that it means we often have enough leftovers for supper too. And one of the terrible things about trying to reduce our food waste is that it means we often have enough leftovers for supper too.

We also replaced one of last week's meals with that steak and risotto plate of deliciousness we love so much. And one night we fed the kids, put them to bed and ate Brie and leftover Root Beer Pulled Pork on crackers for supper.

So instead of massive coupon savings, let's be happy about the $24.53 in sale savings instead. And the fact that - for the first time since The $34.27 Challenge - I'm under budget for the week.

I really can learn. Hm. Who knew?

April 22, 2011

Food Waste Friday: Nemesis Lettuce

I only bought another head of lettuce because I wasted the teeny-tiny little bit of it that I had saved for tacos. You can't have tacos without lettuce, can you?

I'll answer that: No. You can't. So, home comes the new head of lettuce, a tiny quarter of it gets used for tacos, and the rest lurks in the fridge, waiting to go bad. Again.


Ta-dah! Mission accomplished. Well done, lettuce. You were a masterful adversary.

And, since that's all I have to say about that, a preview of some post yet to be finished:


Something free! My cheap little soul is pretty excited about it. Also about the cloth diapers that are in the mail, as we speak. By "as we speak", I mean "as I sit here at 6:35 in the morning, wrapped up in a blanket because it's still freezing cold even though it's the end of April". And by "in the mail", I mean "sitting at the depot, waiting for Easter to be over".


April 21, 2011

Afternoon Miscellany

The Maternity Leave countdown clock is gone. Good-bye, widget. You were so good at making me feel panicky and sad.

It's official. I'm going back to work starting May 2nd. That doesn't feel like a good thing, but I'll always be a housewife at heart. I'll just look like a banker, and think about money even more than I do now.

Here's some good news, though: I've been moved to a closer branch, which means I'm saving an hour a day in driving time and gas. How's that for cheapskatery and time-hoarding? I'm saving time and money at the same time.

And I'm finally learning how to use this:


I've got Root Beer Pulled Pork in there right now. If it doesn't work, I'll cry over two wasted cups of lovely, delicious, wasted root beer.

And I finally updated my About page. Again. So I'm changeable. Big deal.

Can We Really Save Money by Switching to Cloth Diapers?

This is just getting ridiculous. I have never, never gotten sick of calculating lifetime prices, unit costs or comparison methods. Ever.

But Tuesday night, as Mr and I were going through the diaper trial box, pulling out the ones we liked and trying to figure out what we might need for Jr and any future kids, I almost wanted to stop.


Almost.

Instead, we went on calculating, which took us all over the place. I can now say that I know how to convert therms to cubic meters (and what a therm is), what the wattage of my dryer is, and how much we're paying for water. Courtesy of Mr Electricity, here's the tool we used to calculate the impact that increased laundry will have on our budget: (I wish we'd found it earlier in the evening. Then I could have gone to bed earlier and not been such a hot mess in the morning.)


Too much? Can't we just assume that cloth diapering will cost somewhere less than $1,733.75 and leave it at that?

Obviously I can't. Don't forget, I'm not just a cheapskate, I'm a time hoarder, so if cloth diapering will only save us a little money in the long run, but will use up a lot more of our precious time, then we're not doing it.

So here are the assumptions, the list of what we think we'll need (shortened, with the help of my dear friends on Facebook and their super-duper, deserving of maple candy help), and the cost breakdown:

Assumptions:

Jr will be at least two more years in diapers and uses at least 5 diapers a day. The cheapest I've found disposable diapers we like is $0.19 per diaper, and we'll likely have one more baby, who will be in diapers at least 3 years. That's where the $1,733.75 comes from.

We go through about one box of disposable wipes every two months, and a good median price (somewhere between my preferred "on sale with a coupon" price and the "chump" price that I get when I'm desperate) is $13. So that's $312 in wipes

We'll have to wash the cloth diapers every other day or so. One bag of Rockin Green detergent should yield about 90 loads, which means we'll need to buy one (at $20) every six months or so for the next four years. That's $160 in detergent.

The increased use of gas and electricity from an extra load of laundry every other day will cost somewhere around $680 (you can see from the calculator that we initially looked at a load of diapers a day, using the dryer for each load. But I'm a line-dry kind of gal, and already mentioned that we plan on washing every other day. So I used half the amount and spread it over four years.)

Supply List:

Oh yeah, and we have to buy the things too (and pay taxes, and possibly shipping).

6 Thirsties Duo Wraps 6 Bummis fleece liners
24 Indian cotton unbleached prefolds 2 GroVia wet bags
24 cloth wipes $191.89 (after my $25 gift card)

Cost Breakdown:

Disposables and wipes for Jr and the twinkle in Mr's eye: $2,045.75

Cloth diapers, accompanying gear and extra laundry for Jr and the hypothetical third baby: $1,031.89

To borrow a phrase:  ::head explosion::

Only a  $1,013.86 difference? Amortized over four years, that ain't much to gain.

Don't get me wrong, it's enough. I'm the girl who makes an extra grocery stop to get $0.30 off of her weekly milk, remember? $253.47 per year is a lot of money. It's just not quite as dramatic as I would have liked, seeing as I eschewed the fancy fitted diapers I really wanted (Thirsties Fab Fitted, in case anyone has an extra $20 lying around) in favour of the plain-jane prefolds.

And there's lots of room for the cost of cloth diapers to magically balloon, too, right? Which means it's a "no" to the diaper sprayer. And to the pretty wet bag. And you know how much I like new and fancy baby things.

Does this mean we're doing it? We're going to stop all the navel-gazing, hand-wringing, and diaper blogging and actually invest in a set of cloth diapers (and stuff)?

You bet it does.

That felt momentous.

And (for those of you that have stuck around this long, there will be a prize at the end), I cannot recommend a rental package enough if you're thinking about switching to or starting off with cloth diapers. I can't imagine committing to cloth diapering in order to save money if I hadn't actually held the diapers and used them on Jr for a week.

Remember me? I didn't even know what a prefold was. I would have gone with a more expensive system - not because I made the choice to, or because it would work better for my family, but because I didn't know any better.

If you live in Southern Ontario, go look at The Cloth Diaper Shop's rental package. Lisa has been my right arm this past week - you've seen her around in the Facebook comments. (Disclosure)

And now, the prize:



**If you want to read all the navel-gazing, hand-wringing and diaper blogging from the beginning, here's the series:
Cloth Diapers: Better Late Than Never? (At BlogHer)
Taking the Plunge...What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?
Jr's Expensive (But Cute) Bum
A Week of Cloth Diapers (on Facebook)
In Spite of Myself, The Cloth Diapers Arrive

April 20, 2011

Two of Myself, and a Mystery Solved

I didn't get up early to stealth blog this morning, because I figured that Sick Me with an extra hour of sleep would be better at dealing with two sick kids than Sick Me with a blog post under her belt.

No difference.

Needless to say (although I'm saying it anyway) me, the kids and the house are all a hot mess today.

I did, however, manage to solve the mystery of why my pictures of Jr's bum were starting to go blurry, like so:


It was because of this:


Now I'm going to go stick my head in the oven.

(To check on the bread. Sheesh.)

April 19, 2011

Jr's Expensive (But Cute) Bum

My cheap little heart beat hard when I got that big box of cloth diapers in the mail. Miss is this close to being potty trained - close enough that she's down to one diaper and one pull-up a day. I have almost a full box of disposables left, and an unopened box of wipes,

Imagine if I never had to buy diapers again?

Seriously, I just about hyperventilated when I typed that. This little guy has at least a year (and probably two or three) left in The Magical Land of Diapers:


Whenever we have that third baby he or she will have two or three or even four years in diapers.

That's at least 9125 diapers. (You knew I'd whip out the calculator, didn't you? You can take the girl out of the bank, but...oh, wait. I guess you can't take the girl out of the bank. Yet.)

The cheapest I ever remember buying disposables was for $0.19 per diaper. Which means I have at least $1,733.75 in diapers left to buy in my lifetime.


So this cloth diaper trial is important. Excuse me, Important. Even though I wonder if I'm crazy, going back to work in what amounts to a few days, and trying something majorly new like this.


Except it's not majorly new. Some of it is - the increased laundry, obviously, with the tetchy rules that if not followed result in the worst ammonia smell in the world - but some of it (and here I'm thinking specifically of the poop-scraping) is what we've been up to our elbows in with Miss and potty training anyway, so what's the difference?

The diapers go back in the mail tomorrow, then its decision time. Still overwhelming, still too much information, but at least now I know what a pre-fold is. Oh, and that Aplix is the best invention ever.

After maple syrup.

April 18, 2011

Project Grocery: Meat. I'm Gone.

A different shopping trip this week, because of my weekend away.

(Which. Was. Awesome.)

We planned, listed and shopped on Friday, all of it within a span of about two hours, with the pressing deadline of my departure hanging over our heads the entire time. Which means that instead of a picture of the grocery store haul, you'll just get this:


Have you ever seen anything more beautiful? Probably not.

And because I was busy baking these for the aforementioned weekend, you don't even get a very good breakdown of what we bought, what we saved or what awesome deals I got:


The damage was $136.01 (I'd suspect that keeping our grocery budget under $120 per week is impossible...except that big hunk of meat up there wasn't on the list, and - even if you look really, really closely - isn't on the menu this week either.)

So, if we had resisted the urge to spend $25 on the biggest prime rib roast ever (intended for when Mr's parents come up from Pennsylvania next month), we would have been well within our budget, with the added bonus of stocking up on great sale things like bacon ($2.99 for Maple Leaf), butter ($2.97 per pound) and Brie (if you can ever really say that you're "stocking up" on Brie that will be gone by the end of the week).

Oh, and let's not forget the earth-shattering three whole dollars worth of savings from coupons.

Here's what we're eating this week:


You might notice that there has been some meal-bumping from last week. I blame it on my weekend away. How can I fault a husband who has the kids alive and the house clean when I come back from two nights away?

And who had warm, fresh, gooey chocolate chip cookies waiting as I walked in the door?

Not me, that's who.

April 17, 2011

But...

It may have snowed here this morning (again), but this is what's happening in our little indoor garden:


Tomatoes


Peas


Dill


Carrots (look! look! Some of the leaves actually look like carrot leaves!


And the mint. Wanh-wah.

Back tomorrow with Project Grocery. Don't look if you're a vegetarian.

April 15, 2011

Food Waste Friday: Oh! The Humanity!

This week, we went on our merry way, eating up leftovers, cleverly using up little bits of wilty green onion, making plans for a huge batch of buttermilk pancakes to freeze and get rid of the other half of the carton. We were well on our way to a zero waste week.

And then this happened:


My big jar of active dry yeast  broke as I was putting it back in the freezer, because I wanted to try the instant kind. And, as you know, active dry yeast is just hundreds of teeny-tiny little balls. 

So now you know what you'll find in every little corner of my kitchen. There's only so much a vaccuum can do. One day, when we finally renovate, we'll be taking up the floor and wondering what all the little brown balls are. 

That, or else when the weather warms up the linoleum will start rising.

Like a yeasty curse, this made this avocado go bad. Because it clearly wasn't my fault. I'd only had it for a week and a half, and this half had only been sitting in the fridge for two days. Obviously, a defective avocado, and in no way laziness on my part.


That yeast really broke my heart. I might never bake again.

I'm leaving tonight for a weekend with my Mom and most of the women on her side of the family. You know I'm baking treats to take, including a variation on boter-koek that I've been thinking about. Incessantly. It didn't take too long to get over the yeast, eh?

But although boter-koek is special, something much more exciting is happening: I'm going without the kids. For the first time. Ever.

I think I'm going to miss them.

So whatever's going to go bad in my evil fridge just better wait until Sunday afternoon, because Mr won't have time to think about it.


April 14, 2011

Taking the Plunge...What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?

Yesterday, this arrived:


I spent some time in February calculating the cost of disposable diapers (surprise, surprise), and then complaining about it (bigger surprise) and contemplating switching to cloth diapers.

Because I have awesome readers, I got a lot of advice in the post comments and on Facebook.

And, naturally, am incapacitated by the sheer volume of information. Remember, I'm woefully ignorant about all things cloth diaper. I speak Money, English and Bread. I don't speak CD. I don't know what a prefold is, or a doubler. Aplix sounds like a medication.

Despite my ignorance, and with my return to work looming like a seething mass of un-awesomeness, we decided to test drive cloth diapering by getting a Make The Switch rental package from The Cloth Diaper Shop. Because there's nothing like trying something really new when your whole life is about to change, right?

The great thing about the rental package is that it is costing us $30 plus shipping. And when we return the diapers (and liners, and cloth wipes, and laundry detergent, and, and, and...) we'll get a $25 gift certificate. That's some math I like a lot.

Last night, Jr went to bed with one of these on:


Or is that "two of these on"? Sure looks like it to me:


**Update: Jr's bum is modeling all the diapers we're test-driving on Facebook. So far, I think we've tried all the expensive kinds**

You can follow the (agonizing) decision making process at
Jr's Expensive (But Cute) Bum
and Can We Really Save Money by Switching to Cloth Diapers?

April 13, 2011

Planning to Plan

The worst thing about grocery shopping with a budget is not - as you may suspect - shopping with a toddler. As long as Miss gets to gaze in adoration at the lobsters in the tank, she's fine. Mostly. And Jr just wants to pick up girls, so he doesn't care what we're doing.

No, the worst part is when the flyers come, when there are things you need, when you have a week of meals to plan, a shopping trip the next morning and what feels like a fistful of coupons about to expire.


And - now bear with me, I'm going somewhere - and you just read on a frugal living or couponing blog that someone just bought two weeks worth of groceries for seventy-six cents.

Pressure.

So in my ongoing effort to hoard time when I go back to work and keep trying to save money on groceries - call it my Cheap Life Made Easy Project - I spent some time planning to plan.

And no, I haven't gotten around to unit pricing Cheerios. Mostly because Rhonda is right, and it doesn't matter how much they cost. They. Must. Be. Purchased.

Planning the Menu

I have a two page menu of about forty things that we eat pretty often. Some of them are things Mr cooks (Paella, Shrimp Scampi, and Chicken Corn Soup), and some of them are things that I cook (like Hard Bean Curry and Bland Chicken Soup). Kidding. I kid. My meals are things like Chicken Pot Pie, Pea Soup, and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta.


The menu took me a few minutes over a few days to compile - whenever we thought of anything, really. Kind of like a really big menu for a really big shopping trip. And then it took me another hour to sort by main ingredient, and list any other ingredients that aren't something we'd always have around.

We have pages and pages of recipes we want to try, too. It's not like we're limiting ourselves to only these forty or so things. But at least I won't be wracking my brain for menu items in the car on the way to the store. Otherwise our menu would be:

Saturday: Hot Dogs. Sunday: Hot Dogs. Monday: Hot Dogs...

Organizing the Coupons

My (few) coupons are sorted by category (Food, Baby, Household, and Toiletries), and then by expiry date in a teeny-tiny plastic coupon box that fits nicely in my purse. The box is so small that you might be excused for thinking the "Toiletries" label says "Toilet". Because it does.

I also have a master list of the coupons - on a spreadsheet, natch - that I keep in the front of the box so I have something other than forty-two tiny pieces of loose paper to refer to when I see something on sale at the store. I update it by hand when I use or get a new coupon, and then when I get tired of the messiness I update the spreadsheet and print out a fresh copy.


Organizing the coupons took maybe a half an hour. Finding them is just a matter of subscribing to a few site feeds (Mrs January, Canadian Coupon Mom, Simply Frugal) and checking a few websites (Smart Canucks, webSaver, P&G brandSAVER, GoCoupons) every once in a while for new posts.

Making the List

So now I've got all the back work done, and when the flyers come on Friday I'm prepared.

Obviously, I wait until the kids are in bed before I crack open the newspaper. Or else those flyers are everywhere. Immediately. Especially in Jr's mouth.

And then I go through and circle what I think looks interesting. We make up a menu for the week. I compare the coupon list to what's on sale and what I know we're running low on.

I've even started writing down the sale price next to the list item, since we go to at least two different stores, and I can never remember what the flyer for the other store said. Last week I planned to buy peppers that were on sale for $1.99 each, and found them somewhere else for $1.47 each. They were individually packaged, mind you, and looked like something from Firefly, but they were $0.52 cheaper.


In total, I spent maybe three hours planning to plan, spread out over a couple of days, and a couple of (bad) episodes of The Tudors (seriously, what's with that show? How does pantaloon-wearing translate into sex?)

Maintaining my coupon list might take me five minutes a week. Making my weekly grocery list takes me half an hour a week. More time to spend on important things. (Like experimenting with a different Naan recipe. Or, you know, playing with the kids. Or Mr. Whatever.)

And the best part (other than more time with my kids and husband) is that we'll be eating stuff we like. Not that I don't like hot dogs, mind you. Just maybe not every day.

April 12, 2011

My To-Do List

1. Go back to work.

2. Train my lip not to quiver.

Not a long list, I know. But one that's been keeping me busy, especially that last item. I'm trying to keep the wails down over here, since I know everyone that had a mere six weeks of maternity leave is wondering what my problem is.

Let's not talk about it anymore (yet). Let's talk about how many things are actually included in the item "go back to work":

Learn how to use one of these:


Lannis is appalled that I've never used a slow cooker. These were on sale the week after we talked about it. That woman has power

If only I could have checked the slow cooker out of the library like I did the books to go with it.


 Make food easier:


I've spent the last few weeks making a master menu of all the meals we know we love, organized by ingredients so I don't forget stuff at the grocery store (and can figure out what to make when I see what's on sale), sorting out my coupons, and creating a system for keeping it all organized and easy to use come shopping day. I even have a price book started.


This, from the girl who gets so excited about tax time, cannot be a surprise. And, as it turns out, I'm not only a cheapskate when it comes to money. I'm a time miser too.

I don't want to spend an hour planning a menu and a shopping list on Friday night when I get home from work. I don't want to spend two hours at the grocery store comparing unit prices and riffling through a stack of coupons to see if I can use any of them. Most of all, I don't want to come home at five-thirty, two hungry kids in tow, dump them in the living room, stand in front of the fridge for half an hour wondering what to make, give up, and calling Mr to pick up McDonald's on the way home.

Can you tell that this isn't my first time returning to work after maternity leave? I know what terrors lie ahead.

Sort out those clothes:

I also don't want to spend fifteen precious minutes every morning standing gormlessly in front of my closet, wondering what to wear. 

So I sorted out my clothes. I have enough dress pants to get through three weeks without doing laundry. I have enough shirts to get me to a point when (hopefully) they won't fit any more. I don't have to buy anything. That makes me happy.

So does the fact that Mr bought me these: