I have come to some recent conclusions that have led me to make some budgetary/food/planning changes. Some of them are "duh" conclusions (you'll see why) and others are more legitimate "oh, right!" conclusions. Ready?
Conclusion #1: I am a mom.
Duh. Of course I am a mom. I've been a mom for 20 months. But ... I think I've come to realize that I'm not just a girl with a kid anymore ... I'm really a mom. You know? Like, the kind that has a 2-month calendar on the fridge she writes dates on, who schedules things around nap routines, and who regularly uses words like "potty" in everyday conversations. I'm really a mom. And moms have to do things like care about the family budget, plan meals, and shop for groceries at specific times (last minute trips to the store require the super-human effort that I prefer to save for getting out of bed in the morning). So, yes. I am a mom.
Conclusion #2: Toddlers do not pay well.
I cannot tell you enough how much I love the privilege of staying at home with one very awesome 20 month old girl. It's not always peaches and cream, but there's grace for that. She's sometimes cranky, and I'm sometimes cranky ... but I digress. Though she's a pretty demanding boss, the benefits package is just phenomenal. Unfortunately, the actual salary she pays into our account is pretty lousy, so we're on tight budgets with kid activities. And by tight budgets, I mean ... it must be free. Or under $10 ... for the whole month. Those kinds of activities can be a little tough to come by when you're not familiar with an area ... so, most of our activities involve friends, home, parks, or food. Or, all of them. If there's leftover money from the food budget, we get to do something cool. So ... work on the food budget.
Conclusion #3: "Whipping Up Something Last-Minute" doesn't work anymore.
The kid is learning patience when it comes to food - like, waiting until everyone is at the table to eat, and waiting until the prayer is over to stuff something in. But "patience" for a toddler means a grace period of about 74 seconds, not a late dinner at 8:30 because it's been a busy day. I'm having to actually plan meals days in advance, and most days I start dinner as soon as I clean up the breakfast dishes.
Conclusion #4: The internet has some really great tips for budgeting for food and planning meals.
Duh. It's the internet. It has everything. But, while it has great ideas that have worked for other people, I have yet to find the link for the "Personally Organized Shopping List and Food Budget, With Meal Plans Catered to My Specific Tastes and Time Allowances" website - that specifically targets the high food prices of New England Suburbia. I find great ideas for cutting food budgets that involve buying what's on sale and skipping the ready-made meals in favor of foods requiring a little bit of prep ... but I already do that. So, how can a girl whittle away at a grocery store receipt when she's already only buying the most basic of ingredients, and only buying on sale items?
Conclusion #5: There is no easy answer.
Duh. And ouch.
So, all that is to say, I'm trying something new to plan meals, work with a budget, and even have some left over for fun things. It's worked for the past month. I'll be curious to see if it continues to work.
Check back tomorrow!