Posted in Parenting, tips

Are You A Winger Or A Planner? (+5 Tips to Saving Money Groceries)

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Lots of stuff on sale for Valentine’s Day weekend!

Before my husband and I had kids and a mortgage, meals were super easy.  We would either just go to the grocery store and buy whatever we felt like eating during the week or we would eat out (“oh shucks, we forgot to thaw the meat again, oh well, let’s just eat out”).

Then, well, I became pregnant, we bought a house, I gave birth to Charles, municipal taxes went up, sales taxes went up (the combination of the Federal and Provincial tax where I live tallies up to about 15%), electricity rates went up, gas prices remained high despite the crash of the barrel price (we pay on average 1.10$/L which amounts to about 4.16$/gallon).  Yikes!  Though our salaries went up as well, we soon found ourselves looking for ways to keep more money in our pockets (because who doesn’t want more money in their pockets?).

Here are the 5 things that helped us save money on groceries (because groceries are pretty much the only thing we had control over).

  • We started to plan our weekly meals.

I created, printed out and laminated a meal-planning sheet and each week we would jot down what we wanted to eat for lunch and supper with a dry erase marker.  Then, it was just a question of jotting down on a grocery list what we needed to buy.

  • We started to plan our meals based on what was on sale.

You see, every Wednesday, a Publisac gets delivered to our door.  It’s basically a bag filled with flyers from local stores.  Now, we used to just toss it in the recycling bin.  Eventually, though, we took out the flyers from our local grocery stores and started going through them.  We then took to buying the bulk of our ingredients only when they were on sale.  Then we planned our meals around those ingredients.  This is great, because besides saving money, it also allowed for creativity as we ended up buying stuff we might not have bought normally.

  • We (and by “we” I mean my husband) started to do our groceries at 2-3 different stores (all in close proximity to one another)

We’re lucky enough that there are 5 grocery stores (6 if you count Walmart) within 5 km of each other and our house.  This allows us to go to the 2-3 that offer the best prices each week.

  • We began buying food and household products that we use regularly in bulk sizes (provided they were cheaper that their non-bulk counterparts – which isn’t always the case).

One of the first purchases we made when buying the house was getting a deep-freezer.  It. Is. Wonderful.  We are also lucky enough to have a storage space under the stairs where we can store extra non-perishable food items.

  • We continued to make (pretty much) everything from scratch.

Both my husband and I like to cook, so this has always been pretty easy for us.  But we’ve expanded our repertoire over the years.  No more store-bought pie shells, chicken pot pie or pizza sauce for us!

It may sound like a lot of work, but we did this one step at a time (by the way, did you know that it takes, on average, about 66 days to form a new habit?) and we haven’t regretted it!

How do you do your meal planning? Do you wing it or plan it?

Posted in Blogging, Write for me Wednesday

Write For Me Wednesday – Tips To Throw A Kids Pool Party

This guest post comes at a great time for me.  We’re seeing more and more grass around here and today is an absolutely beautiful day.  It is written by Kaitlin Gardner who writes for AnApplePerDay.  She currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend.  In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature.  She has just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.  If you haven’t had time to check out her blog yet, I strongly suggest you go take a look, it’s really great.

Tips To Throw A Kids Pool Party

Your children want to have a party for their friends at your family pool. You are thrilled to hear they want to take advantage of that wonderful entertainment resource right there in your back yard. So what do you need to throw a great party at the pool? Here are some tips and thoughts:

Guest list and invitations. This part is basically the same as hosting a party inside the house – you have to come up with a guest list, and send out invitations. But there is a difference – when you contact parents for addresses, discreetly confirm that their child can swim. Hopefully every child invited can swim, which will make things a lot easier. Then send out fun invitations – kids love to get a real invite in the mail. Invite the parents to stay as well. Be sure to specify date and time, so the parents can put it on their Google calendars.

What time? Do you want to have this party during the day, or evening? That will change your planning. If it’s spring and chilly in the evenings, day is better. If the party will be in the middle of the summer, consider an evening party to avoid the heat of the day. This factor will determine how you plan the party, so decide early.

Set up the pool area. If the party is during the day, you will want to have tables set up for parents to sit and watch their kids, preferably in the shade. Provide a table stocked with sunscreen, so the kids are well protected against the sun. If the party is in the evening, you’ll have to add some lighting around the pool area, and around the back yard as well. After the meal, you’ll want the kids to sit out for a while, and they can play in the back yard with a Frisbee, or a volleyball court if you have room. Here are some great sites with more information about planning for a pool party:

  1. With kids and a pool, burgers would be a great way to go. Dad can cook on the grill, and the kids will love it. Just make sure to cook plenty of food, because hungry kids will eat a lot. Add shrimp or chicken to the menu for the parents. Have chips and drinks available, and you’ve got a basic but solid menu that keeps planning simple for the hostess. Don’t forget the plates and forks.
  2. You might want to consider having some music in the background, but with the noise of a lot of kids in the pool, it might be too much. The beauty of a pool party is that the kids entertain themselves for the most part. When they gather at the community pool, they are very ingenious about creating their own fun. You can have some pool games in mind if they get stuck for something to do. But if they’re enjoying themselves – just let it happen.

Provide a safe environment. Think about what will be going on at the party. Mom will be playing hostess to the parents, Dad will be cooking on the grill. Are those great candidates to be in charge of watching the kids? With kids and water, safety is too imperative to be addressed in a haphazard way. Consider hiring a lifeguard from the community pool. The kids will likely know him, will mind him and pay attention.

Once you’ve got the party in motion, take a moment to just look around – the smiling, laughing kids in the pool will be all you need to see, and you’ll know you’re throwing a great pool party.

Thanks for this great post Kaitlin!  I know I’ll be able to refer to it in a couple of years when my little guy is a bit older.