The grocery bill with 4 boys

It sounds scary, and sometimes it is. And we don’t have coupons in Australia like they have in the States. But I have a few tricks I use to feed everyone without going over budget (most of the time).

First, I set a weekly budget based on what Jordan Page recommends. Her rule is to budget $100 per person per month, starting at $300, and then break it down by week. So a family of 1-3 people would still get $300 to spend each month, and about $75 each week.

Now Jordan Page lives in Utah, and there’s quite a difference between the cost of living there and here, not to mention our currency isn’t worth as much. So I plugged $600 into x-rates.com and use that as my monthly grocery budget. When I first did it, it came to $900 a month. Which was about $300 less than I was used to spending, but I thought I’d give it a go. Ever since starting to listen to Dave Ramsey, I’m always on the lookout for more ways to cut spending and save money. 900/4=225. So $225 is what I give myself to work with every week.

Here’s another tip I learned from Jordan. She says before you go shopping, make a meal plan from the food you already have in your kitchen, and write the shopping list based on what you’re missing in the meals you’ve planned. This has been a game changer.

Example: I find ground beef and cheese, and half a tub of sour cream. This screams tacos to me, but I don’t have taco shells or tortillas. So I put those on my list, along with any other taco fixings we like.

Another example: there’s most of a roast chicken in the fridge that needs to get used up. I dig around in the freezer and find a bag of broccoli. There’s a yummy chicken and broccoli casserole that I make, so that goes on the meal plan. But I can’t find any bacon to garnish on top, so bacon goes on the list.

See how that works? It’s made a huge difference to the grocery budget, and in turn, our overall budget.

Another thing I do is look for marked down meat. If I have space left in the budget after I’ve got everything on my list, I’ll stock up on sale meat or marked down meat, and keep it in the freezer for later. We bought a chest freezer when Caleb was born, so we have a ton of space for that kind of thing.

And I shop at Aldi as much as possible. Their prices are usually about 10-20% lower than Coles and Woolworths. When I do shop at the big supermarkets, I scan my loyalty card to earn points and money off my shopping. I try not to get sucked into the bonus offers, unless it’s for something I need anyway.

I also use an app called Receipt Jar, which lets you scan your receipts and get points. When you get enough points, you can redeem them for gift cards or a bank deposit. I’ve already redeemed $30 this way (the first time I used $15 to put toward a new car battery when we needed one, and the next time I got Coles gift cards).

I’d like to say I only go shopping once a week, but I often go a few times for emergency chocolate runs. Which is totally a thing, by the way. Don’t judge me.

11,700 chickens

This is a post to stir my oldest son, who has a Minecraft server that nobody’s been able to connect to for weeks.

The reason? He built a mob spawner that spawned eggs, which hatched into 11,700 chickens.

Yes, that’s the correct number of zeroes on that number.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program…

Decluttering

I’ve been on a decluttering kick lately. I’m not sure what inspired it, but I’ve been busy getting rid of anything I find that I know we don’t need or want anymore, broken things, clothes that don’t fit, etc.

The one thing that bothers me, though, is that I keep forgetting to take before and after pictures! So I can’t show off my hard work.

So far, I’ve tidied up Darrin’s clothes corner (he had a LOT of clothes in piles and totally disorganised), the bathroom, the laundry cupboard, the corner of the laundry where we keep the brooms and bins, our bedding, the kids’ colouring and activity books.

This week, since it’s school holidays, we’ll be tackling Chuckie and Micah’s room. They have far too many toys, and more keep showing up every Christmas and birthday. Time to move out the ones they’ve outgrown and make more room for the ones they play with all the time.

Meanwhile, I’d love to declutter the #&#_&#+$ possum that’s living in our wall between the bathroom and dining room. Apparently they hate garlic, but I’m not sure how to get garlic in there to keep it away. And if you manually remove them, you have to rehome them within 50 metres of where you found them. And they’re very territorial, so they’ll just come back again anyway. I wonder what’s the point. Not sure how to plug up where it’s getting in either because we’re not sure where it’s getting in.

So that’s where we’re at right now.

Of late toddler naps and complicated board games.

Today I had to let my two year old take a nap. At 4 pm.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Darrin was playing a game with Caleb & Chuckie. I took Elijah with me to the shops at 2:30 so he wouldn’t get in their way. He woke up at about 6:30 this morning, so I figured he was going to nap. By the time we were driving home at 4, he was looking really dopey in his seat, and he fell asleep before we got to the other end of our street.

I know he’s going to be up late tonight. But what else could I do? They haven’t played this game in months. It’s been a wet, miserable day, so taking the little ones outside for 2 hours would have been at least messy (not that they would have minded, but I would).

So we sat in the car in the driveway for about half an hour, then I started bringing the groceries in. I grabbed him after I had everything else in, and he still slept. It took him till about 6 to wake up.

Yeah, it’s gonna be a late night, and I can’t just let Darrin stay up with him because he starts work at 7 am. We’ve both lost sleep the last few days because we’re not used to early starts, and even when we tried to sleep in this weekend, we couldn’t! We were both up just as early on Saturday, and I’ve been awake since 6 this morning (at least Darrin got to sleep in till about 8:30, so that’s something).

I’ll try to sleep late in the morning, but no guarantees. If I can’t, well…I can go hide in my room to have a nap while I let the kids watch TV after lunch. And then go to bed early tomorrow night.

But I’ve been missing being able to watch a TV show on my own since Darrin quit his last job, so now some nights I might have the opportunity to do so.

I guess I should blog again sometime.

Since I just upgraded my WordPress, changed my theme, and moved my site all in the one day. Aside from that, here’s a few other updates.

Ethan is NOT dairy intolerant. His green poos were just the precursor to the whole family getting gastro one week. After he finished up with his (which included some very impressive projectile vomiting) they were normal baby poo colour again. Yay. He’s also getting very close to crawling. Puts everything in his mouth. Was 9.2 kilograms (about 20 pounds) last time we weighed him at 4 months old.

Caleb finally wrote his name for the first time the other day. Yay. He didn’t want to at first, but I asked if he wanted to write a C and he was happy with doing that, so I just asked about each letter after, and before he knew it, he had a name! He loves being a big brother so far, but I think he’s in for a shock when Chuckie starts crawling and grabbing his Lego.

Darrin had, or has, his one year bus driving anniversary about now. Yay. Several months ago, he was made a permanent employee, and has been working out of the Elizabeth depot 10 minutes away since July. Which is a lot easier on the budget and our collective sanity. He wants to use up some of his annual leave soon before they tell him he has to, so we’re pondering when, where, and how we’ll go with two kids for a week.

I have a pile of work to do for Little Para Pants that will actually earn me money! Yay! I’ve also registered my business name, another domain name (littleparapants.com.au), changed my bank account name to ‘trading as Little Para Pants’, and procrastinating looking for business insurance and accountants.

Who cut the cheese?

It’s starting to look as if Ethan has a dairy intolerance. I won’t go into all the gory details, but suffice to say the contents of his nappies aren’t looking quite normal anymore. So you know what that means when he’s breastfed. I have to give up dairy.

Trouble is, I don’t really know any other way of life! I grew up in Wisconsin, nicknamed America’s Dairyland. Every June was Dairy Month, and local shops often had specials on ice cream and other dairy products. If you lived in Wisconsin and didn’t like milk, or didn’t like dairy, you got funny looks from people. Not just that – some people (particularly dairy farmers) might even be offended.

And I love cheese. I would (almost) stake my life on the belief that there’s a type of cheese to go with every type of food out there. Even sweet stuff? Yes, especially sweet stuff! Cheesecake – need I say more?

So I’ll have to work out something to do with all this yogurt I just bought last week. Frozen blueberry yogurt popsicles for Caleb perhaps.

Tonight Caleb is spending the night at his nan’s house, so Darrin & I are having pizza. And then as of tomorrow, I’ll be dairy free to see if that sorts Ethan out. I hope it’s not as boring as I expect it to be!