Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shopping for 2 weeks worth of food.

I figured it was best to get a jump start on grocery shopping for the next 2 weeks before pay day. Although I forgot a few things, didn't know we were out of others and couldn't find certain things in stores I was able to get 2 weeks worth of supplies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

I normally do not have the time or patience to take pictures of our meals at dinner and who can blame me?! With a husband, 3 boys and a crazy dog running around I'm surprised I get as much as I do accomplished with them home. 

Shopping at the Commissary will save you about thirty percent off the bat but adding coupons to it makes the savings higher. I had a weak moment and bought candy bars and crackers for the hubster, little minions and I for the next few months, don't judge. ha!
Commi - grocery and couponing - $ 75.19

If we were not going to a BBQ this weekend and I didn't want to make a special dinner this week my cost would have been lower.

The hubster and I have been talking for weeks about what we eat, our family history of cancer and the long term. We've decided to drink Raw milk, incorporate less meat and more veggies (we'll never be able to give up meat really) and recently decided to start juicing for a 1 meal supplement.

Publix grocery - $ 61.44

The picture below is should be enough fruits and veggies for 5 days of juicing. I do have to hunt down some beets and kale around here but we're pretty set.

*we have meats and other things needed for each recipe from previous shopping trips*

Because I hardly have time in the evening to take pictures I will link each recipe. 

2 Week Dinner Menu: 

Tuesday - Chicken pulled sandwiches. with corn
Wednesday - Cheese Steak Sandwiches.  with homemade fries on the side and fruit as dessert. 
Friday- Homemade chicken alfredo pizza 
Sat- Divisional BBQ - baking side dish, baked beans
Sun- Fend for yourself *mom is not cooking!*
Mon- Cobb salad
Tues- Mushroom and Barley soup 
Wed- Ropa Vieja served with rice, black beans and plantains 
Thurs- Fend for yourself
Fri- Homemade pizza
Sat- Sushi and miso soup
Sunday- Cranberry meatballs and rice (I normally make these with grape jelly and BBQ sauce but I'll try this) 

For lunches we normally eat left overs or come up with some creative ideas like bento lunches or lunches which look a lot like : 

egg or tuna salad sandwich or with crackers
yogurt or cottage cheese with a side of fruit
dried fruit and nuts for a snack
veggies with salad dressing

For the kids you can find some great ideas on pinterest. We only make the boys lunch 2 days a week and let them eat school lunch the other 3 days... which might change in the future. 

What's on your menu this week?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

February To Do

This month I'll be working on building the bean house, the edge garden boxes and getting a trellis made for the winter squash next month. We've come a long way on the garden fence but we've still got tons more work to do.
Photo Credit 

Start Indoors:
  • Asparagus –  Buy 1 year old or two year old crowns from a good nursery or mail order seed company otherwise you might have to wait a while for your seeds to germinate. Either way you'll have to wait till the third year before harvesting. 
  • Kohlrabi - Kolibri is a good choice for spring, but I like this crop better and find it easier to grow for fall.
  • Chard, Collards and Kale – if you want early cooking greens you can start them now. If your space under lights is limited, sow them in a cold frame or greenhouse. 
  • Hardy Herbs – now is the time to sow seed for parsley, lemon verbena, chives, fennel, borage, chamomile, chervil.
  • Salad Greens – Aim for a salad green sowing every month. New month? New sowing of lettuce, etc. That’ll give you edible salad greens in some stage of growth through October. With the heat we get a heat tolerant green would be best otherwise you'll have lettuce that bolts before it forms a heart. I like Romaine Rouge and Marvel butterhead
  • Onions  Summer Leeks – Keep them growing even though you have some sown outdoors, these will be our back ups. Have more than enough of these will be a good thing. 
  • Cantaloupe - Plant these late February. Seedlings do not transplant well so do them in paper pots or paper mache pots 

I'm sure there are more varieties that I have not mentioned. Just be sure to do your research before you sow. 

Sow Outside:
As long as the ground isn’t waterlogged, fruiting trees, bushes and perennials can all be planted out.
  • Peas –  Between  February  1st to the 9th is a good time to get them in the ground. If the soil still seems cold and wet (yeah right, not here) , wait a few more weeks or cover with a row cover to keep the heat in. 
  • Garlic – If you forgot to do them last year in the fall that's okay, just stick them in the ground.  Your garlic heads will be smaller but you’ll still have homegrown garlic.
  • Salad Greens, Spinach, Asian Greens  and European Greens – sow out the hardiest greens in a cloche or a DIY cold frame.  When the temp starts to get really hot here you might want to start them indoors and plant under cucumbers or beans so they provide shade. 
  • Radishes- These little guys are miracle workers! The best companion plant out there.  My favorite is Easter Radish
  • Onion Sets – for early green onions, you can plant sets now and use them before they bulb. These are heat tolerant so it'll be perfect out here.  
  • Bare root fruit trees – these should be put into previously prepared ground while still dormant. You might also want to place chicken wire around them under ground unless you want vole and his gopher buddies to scratch on the roots trying to get to grubs. 
  • Bare root fruit bushes (currants, blueberries, grapes etc.) – just like the trees, get these in the ground while still dormant.
  • Cane fruits (blackberries, raspberries, etc.) – available bare root now. 
  • Rhubarb crowns – these can be had by dividing established plants or pick an established plant up at a garden center. 
  • Broccoli - These little "trees" can be sown into the grown mid to late Feb. 
  • Cauliflower - Am I the only one who eats these raw with ranch dressing?! With our bi polar weather, it's good to sow late February . 
  • Leek - You'll want to plant them near your broccoli and cauliflower, they provide great companionship. 

Depending on your tomatoes you can start to harden them off this month. 


There might be things you've grown last fall that you can harvest this spring but any harvest posts will be solely from this years garden. 
What did you plant last year that is ready to harvest?

 Flowers and bushes can be given a dose of fertilizer as well as peach trees.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Week 4 Garden Tour

This week is the last slow week in gardening I'll have for some time. Feb marks the beginning of serious gardening here. This week I added some pea trellises to the garden beds. I've got about 2 more to do before I plant next week. I worked in some new soil to what originally was going to be the herb garden but now shall be called the artichoke garden. Molly (the mangy dog) dug up the artichoke garden soil and found all the newspaper and brown bags I laid down to prevent weeds. *sigh*

 Luffas growing so well, I'll start transitioning them outdoors this week.

 Tomatoes from Botanical Seeds... I'm perplexed about them. I planted these 1/4 and still they have no true leaves but the generic seeds I go from the "kids" garden has flourished and is already transitioning outdoors... Anyone have a clue about this?

 Long eggplants and Leeks.

 Bell peppers and canary peppers.

 Basil and oregano

 Statice flowers.

 Artichokes. I plan on planting some more in the fall.

 Lemongrass. After planting half out side in pots and the other indoors, it seems these do better when started indoors.



Swiss Chard

 These are the tomatoes from the generic seeds.

 We have new growth!!
After my youngest (3yrs) proved to have a major green thumb we decided to plant snow peas and already they've popped out.

Chinese cabbage

We have 3 variety of lettuce growing right now. I'll be doing succession planting all throughout the season.

These little lettuce guys were started outside in the pots 2 weeks ago.

The Hubster has been hard at work finishing filling up the garden with fill dirt and putting in posts.

This shall be named the Artichoke garden.

Raspberries are growing wonderfully.

Corn patch is almost filled in.

This little shaded corner beauty is called the White Garden. All flowers and foliage will be white and greens. I'm adding in some moon flowers to have a wonderful show in the evenings.

How is your garden? Any new To-Do's?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 4- Grocery, Couponing and Garden budget

Okay so last weeks shopping wasn't really enough to last 2 weeks. It seems we are eating more fruits and veggies, which is a good problem to have. I should also admit that I haven't planned the meals (holds head down in shame) for this past shopping trip. Many of you have asked how I can buy groceries for a family of 5 on such a budget? We the key is a LOT of planning; meals and shopping trips, and lots of restraint when shopping. My advice? Don't shop with the people who add unnecessary foods into your cart i.e husbands and children.

This is what I bought this week.

 Raw milk $ Free (I used a credit I had on my paypal.)

Commi $3.72

Bartering $ FREE

This week I decided I was not going to coupon even though there were MANY mm deals out there but I wanted to focus on the garden and saving some money.

If I can remember I will try to post our weekly dinner menu along with the normal pictures of what we buy to give you some new ideas of dinner and using what you might already have.

Week 4: 
Couponing: $0.00
Grocery: $3.72
Garden: $29.43
Savings: $14.07

YTD Savings: $358.70
YTD Grocery and Couponing: $236.40

YAHOO!!! I made it so far under budget from my original post about this years budget. As the year goes on and the garden becomes a bustling place of veggies and fruits I shall spend less money and have lots more to barter with. This make me a happy girl!!!

Now next month I will have to stock up on some chicken and fish/shell fish but that should not mess us the overall budget, let hope. 

How are you doing in the budget sense? Keeping up with it?

P.s I've been working on a few interior projects around the house. Maybe I'll post a few soon. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bartering and Diving

 As a kid of a single mother there were times we had to go on wellfare and even at one point we "dumpster dived" I know..I know.. The thought of that might make your stomach turn but it wasn't like we were picking rotten mold food items from the trash. Back then the grocery store had a semi separate bin that was filled with the bread and chickens they did not sell along with meats and fresh veggies that were "expired" or past the sell by date. It was specific and only had food items that they store could not legally sell but they did not want to throw away.

Many of these items were not bad or really expired. The fruits were not moldy or rotten but just slightly bruised. 40 percent of food in america is wasted and thrown away, about $165 BILLION dollars in waste which takes a toll on the country's water resources and increasing greenhouse gases according to the NRDC.   Think of it like dumping 80 quarter pound burger patties in the garbage each month. Crazy!!

Food is too precious to waste.

Reducing losses by 15% could feed more than 25 million american each year. 25 MILLION.

I'm not sure when things changed or when it became taboo to do but clearly we need to do something different. This is food that is still eatable, still very much good but might have a bruised strawberry in the WHOLE box but instead of picking out the bad strawberries, they throw the whole box out! WHY?!

Now not all food items that are thrown away is good to eat, and I will always advise to dumpster dive at your own risk but you can find day old bread, milk, veggies, fruits, gourmet cheeses,etc . There was a documentary called Dive!   I suggest adding it to your weekend night movie, it'll open your eyes to the wastefulness of the US.

If diving is not your thing than maybe bartering might be.

Bartering can save your family money by exchanging items or services for things you might need. Some tips for sucessful bartering:

Know the value of your trade: Know your item and the trade item is worth. If you are offering more or less then the other person, negotiate. You can negotiate more items or cash but having an understanding of what items are worth is "priceless".

Be specific about what you have and what you want: Don't say you're looking for a sitter in exchange for lawn service. That is too vague. Say you are prepared to give 5 hours of babysitter service for lawn mowing and edging on ___ acre property. The more specific you are about exactly what you are will to give in exchange for it the less likely you will encounter problems or become dissatisfied with the result.

Keep it in writing: Facebook or email. Keeping it in writing keeps confusion away, everyone will be on the same page.

I've traded for items in the past and have great success with it and have decided again to pick up the bartering bit and hopefully save my family more money in the grocery area.

This was today's barter:

This is what I got..........

 In exchange for..........

What do you think? Was this a fair trade?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 3 Garden tour

Welcome to our little garden tour. There is not much going on right now but our seedlings are starting to flourish. Since taking these pictures all the seedlings have grown more true leaves and it's leaving me to think that I should plant them outside soon. 

We've got eggplants, leeks, 5 different kind of tomatoes, the kids little gardens, hot peppers, bell peppers, luffas, onions, cabbage, swiss chard, raspberry bushes and flowers like bee balm and statice so far. We've got Lavender and Echinacea stratifying in the frig. 

We've made some headway on the fencing for the garden area too. The hubster has been busy chopping and cementing the "posts" into the ground, Hopefully by next month it will be all up.

I'm hoping to get the grapes and Blueberries planted in the far left garden and work on getting my bean and pea trellises up and going. I'm thinking of getting some burlap and attaching it to the bottom part of the beds so Mr. bunny does nibble my lettuce I have growing.

What is going on in your garden?

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