Menu Plan & Grocery Shopping #1

I am horrible at sticking to anything.

Seriously.

Big surprise, I know.

Take this blog, for instance. You may have noticed that I can go weeks, or even months, without updating it. That’s not even taking into consideration the series’ that I have started, posted about once or twice, and then never posted about again. Or the blankets I started crocheting for the kids for Christmas…last year…and am nowhere near finishing.

But I am trying to fix this flaw, honest.

How am I trying to fix it, you may ask? By starting a new series, of course.

Welcome to my Menu Plan & Grocery Shopping series.

We are not well-off and are always trying to find ways to cut our grocery bill. Add to that the fact that there are some days where I might simply forget to make dinner and then end up calling it a “fend for yourself” day instead of cooking something healthy for my family, and meal planning has become a necessity. I’ve been meal planning for a bit, now, and we have definitely noticed a difference in our grocery bill and I cook much more often, but as with everything it is still a work-in-progress.

So, going forward, I will post a 2 week meal plan and the subsequent grocery shopping that goes along with it on Sunday.

Our Meal Plan from June 21st-July 4th

I tend to move meals around according to our mood and activities. Fridays are fend for yourself, Tuesdays are Pancakes, and Saturdays are for soup and sandwiches. I’m not a big breakfast eater and will normally just stick to coffee, but the kids usually eat cereal, oatmeal, waffles, or toast. Lunch is usually a fend-for-yourself situation. The kids most often choose scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, or peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Snacks are usually yogurt, granola bars, or fresh fruit & veggies.

Dinner:

  • Sunday – Chicken wraps
  • Monday – Spicy pork chops & rice
  • Tuesday – Pancakes
  • WednesdayKITCHEN CLOSED – We’re going to a friend’s house for hubby’s birthday BBQ.
  • Thursday – Meatballs & gravy w/mashed potatoes
  • Friday – Fend for yourself
  • Saturday – Soup & sandwiches
  • Sunday – Sweet orange chicken
  • Monday – Quinoa Corn Chowder
  • Tuesday – Pancakes
  • WednesdayKITCHEN CLOSED – It’s Canada Day and we will be celebrating at our local park.
  • Thursday – Sausages & Pasta
  • Friday – Fend for yourself
  • Saturday – Soup & sandwiches

Setting up a meal plan is key to saving money and decreasing our waste, but I still have to go shopping and stick to my list. Easier said than done. Especially when hubby comes along with me! We used to shop at Superstore, but it was costing us a small fortune! Our Walmart became a Super Walmart this year and we’ve started doing our shopping there and noticed a major difference. I went from spending almost $800 a month on groceries to between $400 and $500 (on a good month).

Today’s Shopping Trip (Walmart):

Our budget for each shopping trip is $200.

Pork chops – $10.00

Frozen Italian Meatballs – $9.00

Baby Kale – $3.47

Apple Slices – $5.00

Sweet Bell Peppers – $6.54

10lbs Red Potatoes – $4.47

Betty Crocker Cake Mix x 2 – $4.28

Granola Bars – $10.47

Chicken Broth x 2 – $3.74

Canned Diced Tomatoes x 2 – $2.00

Tomato Soup x 2 – $1.48

Pancake Syrup – $1.97

Pancake Mix – $2.00

Oatmeal – $3.27

Kraft Dinner x 6 – $4.02

Elbow Pasta – $1.00

Fettuccine – $1.00

Brown Rice – $6.87

Shredded Cheese – $5.47

Strawberries – $2.77

Meat, Cheese, & Crackers Snack Tray – $6.97

Cool Whip x 2 – $6.94

Canned Mandarins – $0.85

Crushed Pineapple – $1.67

Crunchy Peanut Butter – $4.97

Tomato Sauce – $1.00

Pudding Cups x 2 – $2.00

Nescafe Coffee – $4.97

Boneless Chicken Breasts – $10.00

Mild Italian Sausages – $10.00

Hickory BBQ Sauce – $1.47

Skim Milk (4 L) x 2 – $14.54

Frozen Perogies – $2.00

Frozen Waffles – $1.77

Jello Pudding Mix x 2 – $2.34

Bread x 3 – $6.88

Mushroom Gravy Pkg x 2 – $2.96

Chocolate Chips – $2.22

Eggs – $3.37

Yogurt – $5.97

Mystery item on receipt that I can’t figure out (don’t judge) – $4.97

Total: $186.68

Budget: $200.00

– Spent: $186.68

————————–

=         : $  13.32

Under budget…woohoo!

Now to stick to the meal plan…

Today and Every Day

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. My kids will spend the day hanging out with their father, likely doing something like playing video games. They’ll give him homemade Father’s Day cards that come from the heart and call him their hero and best friend. I will let him soak it all up while I sit back and quietly smile.

But I won’t be calling my father. I won’t talk to my father because I haven’t spoken to my father in over 3 years, now. I can’t get into the mechanics of it all right now, because I simply don’t want to. However, even though we don’t speak, I still think of him every day.

And especially this time of year.

So happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you. I miss you. And I wish things could be different.

Feeling Lost and I Don’t Know How to Find Me

The post title says it all, really.

I am lost.

I am not working right now; only on unemployment insurance. My days are spent trolling my Facebook newsfeed, playing Sims, bingeing on Netflix, and reading. None of these things alone are necessarily bad, but when it is all I do day in and day out 7 days a week…that’s not so good.

You see, when I hurt my arm and left my job back in December, I had a plan. I was going to attend an online school to take a Medical Transcription course. The school came highly recommended. I was told the school not only provides the course (and all the assistance required to get through it), but they also help place you with a company afterwards. The biggest draw for me was that I would get to work from home! I had to wait until I was on regular benefits, rather than medical, however.

Once that happened, I really started to look into it deeper.

My initial plan of action had been to have EI help me pay for the course, but I hit a snag. You see, I never completed my High School. HS completion was not a prerequisite for the MT course, but is a requirement to even be considered for funding assistance. Faced with the possibility of having to go into personal debt to take the course I decided to do further research into the school first.

All was not as it seemed, after all.

I found website upon website with people testifying negatively about the course, and the school in particular. Some of the statements said the pay was horrible, you didn’t get any assistance from the school before or after, there was no job security, the schools remain operating but most companies are using other methods, and so much more. That alone wouldn’t have guaranteed an immediate change of route, but many of the testimonies were from people who have been in the industry for 15+ years, and that scared me. I started to really think hard about whether or not I wanted to go into debt to complete a course that I might not even be able to put to use for employment?

In the end, I chose to not do it. It was just too big of a risk for me, and us as a family. We’ve come way too far to put ourselves in financial dire straits again.

So now I am stuck at home trying to find a job that I might like. Again.

I know what I don’t want. No food. Nothing physical (my arm can’t take it). And as for what I do want…something where I have authority, because that’s where I thrive. Something that allows me to still spend time with my family.

But right now almost everyone hiring is hiring for the food industry. I guess that’s what happens when you live on an island.

So still I search.

On a positive note, I am working on my GED again. I am studying the book at home and then I will take the tests. But I haven’t told anyone because I have quit it so many times in the past that I just want to keep it to myself this time. Maybe that will help me push through. For me. Not for anyone else.

I wish venting (rambling) here made me feel better, but I don’t really think it does.

Maybe I’m just hoping someone will tell me I’m not alone.

C.

Doritos Taco Salad

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My kids don’t like vegetables. Occasionally I am able to coax them into eating some peppers or mushrooms, but they have to be hidden in a sauce of some kind. But greens? Forget about it!

Tonight we had a breakthrough!

I made this delicious Doritos Taco Salad – Life In The Lofthouse from Life in the Lofthouse and both kids ate it up and asked for MORE! What’s more, they both want to take it to school for lunch tomorrow!

Taco salad for the WIN!

This hearty, filling dinner came together in about 1/2 an hour, including about 10 minutes to cool the meat a little bit before combining everything. The only changes I made were to add a few peppers to the meat as it cooked and to change to Nacho Doritos to Zesty.

Spicy Parmesan Chicken Pasta

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Tonight’s dinner!

This Spicy Parmesan Chicken Pasta from Life in the Lofthouse is quick, easy, and delicious! The dish came together in less than an hour, including marinating time. I added a small container of mushrooms to the chicken as it cooked and it really added a little something more. Next time I might add peppers or broccoli. We didn’t add the green onions because no one in the house likes them, and I used cavatappi pasta because it’s what I had on hand. The only thing I would change, I think, is that next time I would double the recipe. When I cook dinner, I try and prepare enough for the kids to take to school the next day, and I this definitely did not leave enough. This one is going in our favorites!

Sweet and Spicy Pork Chops – Life In The Lofthouse

Sweet and Spicy Pork Chops – Life In The Lofthouse.

The weather is getting warmer and Summer is right around the corner, so I have found myself looking for Summer-friendly (read: oven-free!) meals when doing my menu planning. Summer meal planning is difficult, however, when you don’t have 1. a BBQ, or 2. a microwave. I began perusing the internet for inspiration and came across this little gem from Life in the Lofthouse. We made these pork chops tonight for dinner and they were tender & juicy. Next time, however, I need to remember to marinate them earlier (I remembered this step at 4pm so we ended up eating 2 hours later than usual) and I think I will double the seasonings to intensify the flavors. A nice, quick, simple dish the kids devoured; you should check it out.

Blessings,

C.

Writing 101, April 2015: Day 8

Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Twist: write an adverb-free post.

I used to work here. In fact, I was once a manager. The smell of the coffee, burgers, and fries still causes me slight anxiety when I walk in the door, while the headsets the staff are wearing bring back pleasant memories of friendly banter among co-workers on a slow night.

I find it interesting how one’s perspective changes over time. I loved working here, in the beginning. I remember when I first applied for the job. We still lived in Winnipeg and had just decided that we were going to re-locate (again) to a new province; this time to Prince Edward Island. I began perusing the job banks online to see what I could apply for afar, much as we had done when we found our new apartment.

Moving on…

I acquired the job easily and had a nice rapport with the District Manager when he interviewed me upon my arrival on The Island. I began training and loved many aspects of the job, which came easily to me given some of my previous employment. Of course, as with anything in life, there were difficulties, too. One of the biggest came in the form of a long-term employee who was in a position of supervisor. I remember clearly the second day I was here she made me cry and I almost walked out on the spot. Sometimes, thinking back, I wish I had have walked out then. I wonder how different things would be now?

But I digress…

I left on well enough terms, but was beyond glad when I extricated myself from the franchise. I was miserable and only becoming more miserable every day that I stayed.

That was almost exactly a year ago.

Now I come here all the time.

I love this place as an establishment that wants to take the money I want to spend consuming things that surely are not good for me. They are located just a short walk from my home which makes getting here easy. I love to come and sit while I enjoy a coffee. Maybe read a book. Or even just people watch. I like to watch the staff, rather than the customers. There are only a few staff members here that I know anymore. Most of them have moved on, since the huge upper management change that occurred late last Fall. It’s easy to see, though, who the new, fresh faces are; who the ones who are not yet jaded are.

Like the mousy-haired woman behind the cash register taking orders with a smile and saying her “script” to perfection, not one word missed. She is friendly, her uniform is pressed and clean, and she is pecking at the keys on the computer apologizing with a sweet, “I’m sorry, I’m new,” when she makes a mistake. A large number of the staff are picking at their uniforms or making weird faces out of boredom as they wait for each new order to come in.

When I first got here, the restaurant was almost empty, with only a couple of tables sat with patrons. Now it is started to fill up as Dinner time approaches. Some of the customers are familiar and I give them a slight nod as they pass on the way to their tables. Others are people I have never seen before. But that’s no unusual because we live in a tourist town and the warming weather is drawing more visitors.

Some things never change. The garbage receptacles are still piled high with discarded trays and overflowing with garbage. I have yet to see anyone come out to the floor to take care of, as they are supposed to every 15 minutes, or so.

I lie. Some bored teenage boy who obviously does not want to be here just came out and picked the trays up. I wonder how long it will be before the garbage is changed?

I love people, and I thought I would miss working here when I left, but I have to say I don’t. Not a bit. I have run into the DM several times since leaving and have been told each time that I am welcome to come back any time I want, but I don’t think I ever will. It’s just not my cup of tea, as they say. And as I watch people pile in to gorge on french fries, burgers, and chicken nuggets for dinner, I am going to head home for my own husband-cooked dinner of roasted chicken with potatoes and carrots.

Blessings,

C.


I chose to not incorporate the Twist today. I am too far behind, and it is stressing me out. I know it shouldn’t, but it is, so I may come back and do the twist on another post another time.

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