Friday, May 25, 2012

Budget Redesign: Planning for June

June is just six days away and I want to be prepared for what's coming. We're $80 over our original grocery budget, but as I mentioned before, that number includes home supplies. I already know that I'll be splitting transactions in June so I should have more accurate numbers. To help curb my spending at the grocery store, I've decided to plan a menu for the entire month of June. SCARY! Usually I plan two weeks at a time, but I think I can handle a whole month! 

To start, I decided on some themes. Choosing 30 meals is more intimidating than it sounds (actually, it sounds pretty intimidating!), so it helps to have a general direction. The themes are as follows:

Mondays:         Crock Pot meal or casserole
Tuesdays:         Meatless meal or seafood
Wednesdays:    Leftovers or hot sandwiches
Thursdays:       Something New 
Fridays:            Pasta or Tacos
Weekend:         Anything Goes

I also know that not every day will go as planned. Some days we'll do something unexpected or we'll have more leftovers than we thought, so I won't cook that night. I plan to shop two weeks at a time, so what I can do in that case is edit the menu for the following two weeks and make the skipped meal instead of buying ingredients for a new one. I'm not completely finished with the entire month yet, but I'm close! Dinner's looking good for June!

But what about lunch & breakfast? Well, Blake doesn't really eat breakfast so... that's all on me! I usually have an apple with peanut butter, yogurt, cereal, eggs... whatever we have around. And for lunch, we usually eat leftovers. I try to make meals that will be good as leftovers so it makes preparing lunch easy! We'll also keep sandwich stuff as well as some tortillas and cheese on-hand for quick lunches if we don't have any leftovers.

So I guess you're wondering what's on the menu for June? Since I don't have the whole thing finished, I'll just give you a glimpse of the first two weeks: 

Friday, June 1: Cheese ravioli w/ spinach meat sauce, garlic bread, salad
Saturday, June 2: Grilled pork chops, grilled corn, mashed cauliflower, salad
Sunday, June 3: Leftovers
Monday, June 4: Poppyseed chicken, rice, English peas
Tuesday, June 5: Parmesan roasted zuchinni, tilapia, honey roasted potatoes
Wednesday, June 6: Leftovers or hot sandwiches
Thursday, June 7: New Recipe w/ Holly (Her pick)
Friday, June 8: Beef tacos w/ vegetables and black beans 
Sat & Sun, June 9-10: Not sure yet!
Monday, June 11: Crock Pot Chicken & Rice, saucepan carrots
Tuesday, June 12: Pancakes, scrambled eggs, and fruit
Wednesday, June 13: Leftovers or hot sandwiches
Thursday, June 14: New Recipe w/ Holly (Breaded pork chops, Susan's baked beans, corn casserole)
Friday, June 15: Spaghetti w/ sauce, garlic bread, salad 

Just typing that up made me hungry!!! On my actual menu, I list the ingredients needed so that I can see about how much I'll need of everything. This will help me as I shop, but it'll also help me use up things that will expire. 

I'm looking forward to a summer of cooking (I love to cook!!!!). I'll upload the entire month's menu once it's complete and, of course, I'll be updating on how the menu is working out during June AND how much it's costing!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Love Affair

It's not what you think... despite the crazy dreams I have about ex-boyfriends, the love affair I'm having is not with another man. It's with a color.


Leave it to me, Mrs. Purple-Is-And-Will-Always-Be-My-Favorite-Color, to simultaneously fall in love with the color blue. I don't consider it full-on cheating since purple is basically just a variation of blue, right?? Anyhoo, no matter the technicalities, I am obsessed with blue (and apparently I'm not the only one - just look at all the different blues in this house tour!)!!! I also love golden yellow, but I have banned myself from buying any more golden yellow pieces. Blue, however, is still on the table!

Shake-down of colors in our living space:

Blue DIY Chevron art above the entertainment center...

Blue afghan (crocheted by my mom!) on the couch (and here you see some of the glorious golden yellow!) Oh, and take note of the frames above the couch. There's one frame missing on the bottom right, but they're all about to get doused in spray-paint featuring light blue, navy blue, golden yellow, and coral! We need a little color in our cream-covered apartment!

Blue rims on our plates (yes, that's Lenox Chirp)

Blue on the giant map in the dining room 

Navy blue (though it looks black here) DIY art in the hallway

Blue flower votive in the dining room 

  Blue faux flowers in these cool vases from CB2
(The light is horrible on this wall... I couldn't get a good picture!)  

Blue print shower curtain

Pale blue towels 

Bright blue decor on the patio (plus a growing succulent!)

Blue accents in the pillows (I guess I could've tucked the tag under for this photo!)

Blue hanging baskets on the patio

All of that PLUS we alternate cream sheets on our bed with blue ones and if we could paint, our bedroom would be a slate blue-grey. AND if we have a baby before my obsession with blue fades, the baby's room will have a heavy dose of teal! I just love blue.

What makes blue so appealing? Is it the wide variety of shades? I didn't even realize we had so much blue goin' on until a couple of weeks ago. It doesn't feel like we're living in a sea of blue because of the variation of hues and the way in which the color is represented. In some ways it's understated (the navy blue in the hallway) and in other ways it's bold (the shower curtain). Maybe it's because it goes with so much? Bright blue and red; baby blue and gold; blue and green (and purple - in our bedroom!); blue and pink; blue and white. You get it. Not many colors adapt to so many pairings. And let's not forget that blue tends to have a calming effect. It definitely makes me feel peaceful!

Are there any colors you're obsessed with in your living space? Any colors you stay away from? Any colors you'd like to try?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Budget Redesign

Blake will be the first person to tell you that I love to plan, organize, re-plan, and re-organize. Usually I stick to the rearrangement of things in our house, but my mind has shifted towards reorganizing our budget. After my post on busting our grocery budget, I got plenty of great ideas from your many comments. We're two weeks into the new month, and I wanted to share some rearrangements and our success rate thus far:

- Switch to - The switch from a cruddy spreadsheet to the glorious has been AMAZING! It was so easy to set up our accounts and budgets and then watch the website track our spending. I have to go in a tweak things from time to time, but it keeps an accurate count of every penny spent. And with the app, Blake and I both have access to our budget which means the burden no longer falls on one person to remember what's-been-spent-where.

- Split Transactions - On, you can "split" transactions. For example, we went to Wal-Mart and spent $154. Not all of that was on food. We also bought face wash, hair spray, car deoderizer, and some other non-food items. With the "split" feature, I can itemize the $154 so that the money spent on face wash and hair spray goes in our "personal care" budget and the car deoderizer goes in "incidentals". I haven't been diligent with this feature yet, but that's my goal for next month!

- $300 Grocery Budget - This one is going so-so. I upped it to $350 last week just because I was already seeing that $300 was not realistic. Part of the problem of overspending for "groceries" will be eliminated when I start splitting transactions. So far, we've spent $335 on groceries this month, but that includes at least $75 of non-food items and $47 worth of groceries for a special mother's day meal. So, if I eliminate those two costs, we've only spent $213 on food. I think itemizing those things next month will help me really see how we're spending. This month is also hard because there are 5 weeks instead of 4.

- Planning Meals - Planning out meals is something I did religously in the fall/winter, but for some reason the spring has been a little more hectic and my plans haven't gone so well. But, I got back on track! I planned for the first two weeks of May (and stuck to it!), I have a plan for this week, and I'm working on one for the next two weeks. I start with looking at what we have in the pantry/fridge and then I look at what's on sale. I'm also reminding myself that I don't have to cook some fancy shmancy dinner every night. Like, last night, we made turkey melts with chips, a pickle, and salad - simple, but good!

- Cable/Internet - This month, we received a bill for internet that was $16 higher than normal. Apparently Comcast has upped its price, once again, and we're kind-of stuck with it since Charter doesn't serve our area. We have Dish Network for TV, so our TV & internet aren't bundled. We were told to call Comcast and ask to add cable and that alone would bring our bill down - even though we wouldn't be using the cable (we love Dish), we'd still be paying less for internet. Crazy, huh?

So, that's how our budget is going. With the way things look now, if we stay on track, says we should have $208 leftover. I am not sure how accurate that is, but we'll see when we get to May 31 how we did!

Here's the question(s) I'm posing today - going back to the grocery budget:
- Do you spend more on groceries or dining out or do you spend equally?
- Do you actually eat the things you purchase?
- How do you plan what you are going to buy?
- What things do you like to keep on hand at all times? (i.e. I feel like I HAVE to have sour cream, cream cheese, and cornbread mix ALL the time! If I use any of it for a recipe, I immediately put it on our grocery list even if it's not called for in an upcoming recipe!)