A Whole Day Out, Didn’t Spend a Dime on Food

Yesterday was a BUSY day for us. Unusually busy. Like, we’re rarely that busy.

  1. I had to go out of town (40 min drive) to get some blood labs done.
  2. I had to nurse the baby before we left for home. So while I fed the baby, and since we had gorgeous weather (high 60’s in mid Nov!), the kids got their wiggles out at this super cool park:

    img_20161118_111236

    SO fun!

  3. Ran into Aldi to get some pecans for a Thanksgiving recipe.
  4. Rushed home to meet my husband. We had to take our son to the Children’s Hospital for an outpatient appointment. He had an accident/head injury in October and needs to have a couple check-ups.
  5. And the long drive home through a crazy thunderstorm.

Basically, we were in the car all.day.long.

It would have been SO EASY to buy food and snacks for everyone while we were out.

But, with proper planning, we didn’t spend a dime on food while we were out.

 

What we did yesterday:

  1. Ate breakfast at home before leaving to get my labs taken.
  2. Packed several canteens of water and water bottles for everyone for our AM outing.
  3. During that quick stop at home for lunch, we:
    1) packed several non-messy food items for lunch & snacks: peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly), deli ham, swiss cheese, peanuts, raisins, chips, protein bars, and apples.
    2) Literally threw in the crockpot a fryer chicken, some water, and some herbs/spices.
    3) Got the rice cooker going (it automatically turns off when done).
    4) Refilled canteens and water bottles.
    5) Hubby and I grabbed a pop each, just for us.

We had plenty of food and drinks for the car ride. And when we came home from the hospital, dinner was 80% ready. I simply threw some frozen veggies on the stove, and voila, dinner was served in a jiffy.

I’m not gonna lie, that quick trip home at lunchtime was a tad crazy. But I assigned everyone with a job and we were able to get stuff done in an organized, very fast fashion.

When I menu-planned for this week, I took into account this crazy day. I knew we were going to be gone most of the day. So I specifically made sure we had quick and easy food items on hand so we could just GO.

I had the fryer chicken previously thawed and waiting in the fridge, because I looked ahead at Friday’s activities the day prior.

With proper planning, trips out do NOT need to be costly.

Sure, it would have been EASY to run through McDonald’s and buy food for everyone. But I’m telling you, with a family of 9 (well, 8, because the baby is nursing), we could easily spend $40-$50 at McDonald’s. Convenience has a price.

But with proper planning, looking ahead, and some prep work, you can save money by not eating out on those super busy days. Especially if you KNOW those super busy days are coming.

Sometimes the unexpected occurs and you can’t plan ahead and you do have to eat out. I get that.

But if you know, just be prepared. Save yourself a wad of cash. $$$

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Spring is Coming & Learning French

It is 2F where I am right now… but as I sit here typing, I hear Spring birds just a chirping away outside… and a mourning dove. PUH-LEASE tell me Spring is coming around the bend!!! I’m not one to complain about the weather… I do like Winter to a point (especially the snow!). But I am desperately ready for Spring to come. I want to go outside and soak up some sun! We live in the city so a lot of things are withing walking distance… and I want to walk!!! Sure you can do that in Winter… if you like the “freezing your toosh off” feeling that goes along with that. But I don’t! Especially when having to bundle up 6 little ones along with myself just to do that. Seems like it takes more time to bundle up than the time any of us want to stay outside. Ahhh… and I dream of gardening and working with the soil… flowers, veggies, berries… The kids and I have been drooling and fantasizing over those Burpee magazines we keep getting in the mail. They love being outdoors, too. They love working with their hands and gardening alongside me. My middle son (who’s 6) got a bird feeder for Christmas and we hung it out back so we can easily see the birds that eat from it. He wants this Spring and Summer to watch them and research which type of bird they are and what their calls sound like. Strangely, the Winter birds have hardly touched it. Not sure what they’re eating to not be interested in a bird feeder. We figure more will attend as the weather warms up. We live three doors down from a seasonal ice cream shop and they open on Sunday. And the root beer and hot dog stand down the road opens March 6. These are signs of Spring for us! 😉 Got a little of the planting bug out of our systems yesterday. My middle daughter (who’s 8) is signed up to bring in a green pepper for her 4H project this June. We went ahead and potted several seeds now for a practice run:

plants

The packet says they will be ready in 75 days so we know we planted prematurely. But we’re also going to plant more seeds in March and April just so we *know* we’ll have a ripe green pepper to turn in for sure. It was a lot of fun watching her plant and get everything ready. We hope to get something a tad more classy than a diaper box to put next to the window, but for now it’ll do. The plant in the middle is a lemon tree the kids grew from a seed in a lemon we had a while back ago. They wrapped it in paper towel and “watered it” regularly till it sprouted and then they planted it. They named her (yes, apparently it’s female) “Sour Lemon”. Since we had the potting soil out, I went ahead and transplanted her into a bigger pot. I hope to get a nice rack or shelf of some sort to permanently keep next to the window so that I can have potted herbs there year round. Seeing something green and thriving during the dark Winter months makes me happy.

On a totally different thought… I am learning French. My desire to do so really stemmed from my oldest daughter (who’s nearly 12) when she decided for her Fashion Revue project for 4H she wanted to dress in “French Style”… something like this with a beret and cute handbag:

fashion

As we were searching through the web and pinning things to Pinterest, I had a stirring in my soul that has always been there, but I hadn’t paid any attention to it for years… I ♥ France and French things, esp their language and architecture and culture. I ♥ traveling and seeing the world just in general. So far I’ve been to Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland– awesome experiences!. But it’s been YEARS since I’ve traveled. With six children and a husband who owns his own business and not a lot of disposable income, we call it “good” when we can away on an extended weekend and visit friends or family out of town (or out of state). 😉 But to travel internationally??? Sounds a bit far fetched. Too good to be true. But I LOVE to travel. If there is *one thing* that literally gives me goosebumps to think about, it’s traveling and learning different languages and seeing/experiencing the world. We have a gorgeous canvas painting over our couch of the canals of Venice and I just LOVE it. Every time I look at it I say to myself, “someday, I’m going there and seeing it in person”. I chose French because I took two years of it in high school so I know some basics. I have always loved the language (it’s just so beautiful and romantic), but was too caught up with choir and school and friends and goofing off back then to really take heed of learning it well. So I’m back at it, using Live Mocha, Duolingo, and YouTube to learn it. It’s surprisingly coming along pretty well. I’ve also started following French stuff and people on Pinterest and Instagram. What would be awesome is to meet a French speaking person face to face and to test my language skills with them (when I get better, that is). The thing I keep seeing over and over is “immersion”. Since I can’t just go to France now and get immersed, I have to do whatever I can here to immerse myself in other ways: read French subtitles, watch French movies, listen to French music, read articles and newspapers in French, switch my cell phone and laptop to French, etc. And it can’t be sporadic learning. It has to be a constant, daily thing. I’ve talked many a time to my husband about world travel and he’s game. He’d love to travel as well and is open to the opportunity should it present itself. We dream. And someday, I hope these dreams become a reality…