Sorry I missed you last week. I got knocked down by a terrible head cold. When I finally started to feel human around Thursday, it was just in time to cook and clean for L2's birthday. So now that I am feeling better, I am playing a bit of catch up. Thankfully the weather has been lovely so the kids haven't been under foot while I do laundry and dishes. The quiet house has given me some unexpected and welcome time to enjoy The Dave Ramsey show with minimal interruptions.
If you have never listened to his show, or read any of his books (I am currently reading The Total Money Makeover), his show is definitely inspirational. It has been inspiring me to continue working our budget without coming up with creative ways to cheat or talk myself out of it. For now though, I have been sticking to all our goals.
So, let's start with Dried Beans:
I still haven't calculated how much I will need to plant in order to supply our family with enough beans to last us a year but I have been cooking more with the dried beans I have in the pantry to help me gauge how much our family likes beans. I made a large batch of black beans and garbanzo beans in the pressure cooker. We have had black bean tacos and chips and beans, chicken soup with chickpeas and Indian chicken curry (leftover chicken from making a whole chicken) with chickpeas. I also made a ridiculously easy slow cooker recipe:
Sausage and Beans in the Slow Cooker
1 lb ground organic sausage (I used Italian venison)
1 lb dried organic beans, soaked overnight, then pressure cooked for 10-15 minutes, still slightly firm*
1 quart jar of canned organic green beans
1. Brown meat (I browned mine directly in the pressure cooker).
2. Add juice from the green beans and beans.
3. Use Slow Cooker option for 3-4 hours.
4. 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, add green beans.
5. Serve with fresh bread.
It was delicious. I used King of the Early beans and saved a handful to plant in the spring. I was so impressed by these beans. Not only did I over pressure cook them but then, after sitting in the slow cooker for 3 hours, they still held their shape and had a wonderful texture. I know, that was so simple, right? Another great recipe from my great friend Kendra. She used potatoes instead of beans. I have made it both ways and love the potatoes but I never have them on hand so beans made the cut.
*You could use 2-3 cans of beans instead of dried.
Moving on, Bees:
The warm weather this past weekend provided an unexpected opportunity to check on our hives. A couple of weeks ago, we had a warm day and one of the hives wasn't very active. We talked to our local mentor and he suggested that since it was still relatively cool, that perhaps the bees were merely staying clustered. This weekend, while he was here for L2's birthday, it was sunny and warm so we decided to head out and take a look. SPOILER ALERT: I will be doing a separate post this this month but I am deeply saddened to say that one of our hives died from starvation due primarily to having too small a population. It was devastating to see so many dead bees. We learned so much from the experience of having an expert with us to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening in the future.
No Spend and The Grocery Budget:
As I said above, if you ever need inspiration for staying on budget, just listen to The Dave Ramsey show. Seriously. No spend has been moving right along. I have been tempted a couple of time, such as when I was unable to locate the single tube of lip balm and my lips were so dry last week.
Also, we received the information from our local Soil and Water department. They will be offering blueberries and hazelnuts among other this this spring. We are undecided as to whether this would fall under our No Spend since it isn't absolutely necessary or if we could use part of our household budget. We haven't decided yet but between the No Spend and the budgeting (I have only shared our grocery budget) it is really making us look at where and how we spend money.
January 2017 $250.00
Imported Brie Cheese (distributor) $ 35.91
Organic Cashews $ 20.41
Organic Pretzels, 12 pack (Amazon) $ 25.91
Organic Coffee $ 10.04
Organic Fruit (grocery store) $ 13.71
Organic Food Box* $ 10.00
Organic Raw Milk** $ 60.00
Organic Fruit (grocery store) $ 5.79
Organic Flour (distressed, distributor) $ 20.90
Total $ 211.85
This leaves $47.33 for the month of January. We will definitely need at least one more pail of milk, probably two. At $25/each (this is for 5 gallons) we are going to be very close or over.
* This food box was for our local food pantry. After spending time with the kids checking out the dented and bruised section for organic fruit (we found some apples and oranges!), when we were checking out, we saw that they were offering boxes with organic rice, pasta, beans, and 3 cans of vegetables. I made a split second decision to add it to our cart. We had just read Maddi's Fridge so it seemed like a sign to see that box at the register the next day. The kids and I talked about it and all agreed that it was $10 well spent. We typically purchase items and donate them directly. Again, this is something we should discuss and use a charity envelope instead of our grocery budget envelope but at the time, it seemed more important to act and have the discussion with the kids then worry about where to fit it into the budget.
** You may be wondering why our milk costs were so low this month. I bartered for $90 worth of my salted caramel hot chocolate right before Christmas. This gave us almost 4 milk pails we didn't have to pay for, 3 of which were redeemed this month. Next month I will need to budget for paying cash for the 5-6 pails of milk we drink each month. Thankfully, February is a short month.
On a final note, I am planning on rejoining the CSA share so I am going to need to start setting money aside to pay for that by June 1st. With 4 months to go to come up with the $375 for the 22 weeks, I will need to set aside $93.75/ month, almost out entire budget after milk but the months of June-Nov will cost a lot less since we won't be buying much produce. I might plan on doing a pantry month to save as much of the grocery budget as possible in March, April or May.
I have been successfully cleaning out the kids clothes as I have been doing the wash. We have been giving some away, through friends and charities and dropping some off at the consignment shop. If you haven't heard of The Buy Nothing Project, check it out and find one local to you. It is a great way to get to know your community, save some money and keep your extra things out of the garbage! I have also been using DonateStuff. You can pick the charity you want to support and they will send you a prepaid bag to fill with clothes, shoes and household cloth items. I have been using them for years.
So as my final update: books!
I will try to keep the list running so I can keep track of the number.
The Recipe Club was a quick, light hearted read. I wouldn't have chosen it but I did read it cover to cover in less than 48 hours so it was engaging. I didn't find any recipes to try but there were quite a few, many easy enough to make with kids. The book got pretty good reviews so give it a try. If you have read it, let me know what you thought down below.