Power Use Experiment

For the last 30 days I did an experiment for money-saving purposes by only doing laundry during non-peak usage hours and only line drying. We use power- no natural gas. I ended up using the dryer 4-6 times due to rainy days and the baby’s diaper leaking on her favorite blankie near bed time. I ended up washing during peak hours twice. I don’t think the outcome was very encouraging as the power bill came out to $115 vs. the $121 it was May 2013. That was a lot of work for only $6 savings, in my naiveté I thought the power bill would be like $86. You live and you learn. :)

Also, for a little insight into the mind of Ashley, I was waiting for this power bill/end of experiment like a little kid on Christmas. And I feel there was Palmer brand chocolate in my stocking rather than Lindor truffles.

SN: On a very bright side, since getting our HE washing machine our bi-monthly water bill went down an average of $50.
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Harris Teeter Trip 02/19/2014

It’s Super Doubles time at Harris Teeter through Tuesday, February 25. The Southern Savers website has very nice lists linking coupons with the sales if you aren’t sure where to start.

Here is what I got:
5 Juices 15 cents each
4 Hefty boxes $1.17 each
1 Riceworks 99 cents
3 Tom’s of Maine Toothpastes 39 cents each
1 Dawn 25 cents
2 Nivea Shaving Cream 79 cents each
2 Wholly Guacamole 79 cents each
1 eight count Rudi’s Tortillas $1.99 (not great but I need a break from making tortillas from scratch)
2 Bags Seattle’s Best Coffee $1.99 each
3 So Delicious Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Yogurt  FREE
1 Bunch Organic Broccoli $2.49
1 LB Parsnips $2.49 (not a great price, but we love parsnips)
3 Bunches Asparagus $5.03 total (it was on sale for $1.79 a lb, I always stock up and freeze if it’s 1.99 or less per lb)
1 head of Garlic 50 cents
2.2 LBs Bananas $1.30
The total was $31.40 so I think the shaving cream coupon didn’t double, it should have been more like $27-28. I saved $72.88 with coupons. This is another great example that coupling doesn’t have to be all for junk food. I would consider the Riceworks and juice to be “treats” in our home.
On another note, I kept a spending log of all food purchases for 2013. Between couponing, our garden, and trying to mainly shop sales, we spent an average of $412.11 per month on groceries. I am very pleased with that as I feel we had plenty of organic items, plenty of snacks that made my husband happy, and good whole food meals and snacks.More to come on spending logs in future posts!
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Baby on a Budget Part 2- Baby Food

I have had quite a few questions from pregnant friends and new moms who would like to know how I make our new baby’s food. When it comes to baby food I go for common sense, being health-conscious, and staying within our family’s food budget. There are great websites out there with charts and recipes, such as Wholesomebabyfood, and there are all kinds of fancy gadgets marketed to parents in this category. It’s up to you how basic or fancy, inexpensive or expensive you want this to be. :) I keep in mind that our great grandmothers did this and probably did not have access to a Beaba BabyCook. That helps me keep cost in perspective.

Re-purposed glass jars filled with homemade baby food.

There are lists to help you budget for your new baby that recommend budgeting $50-100 a month for baby food (solids, not formula). With our first baby I spent an average of $57 a month with a combo of making her food and buying some organic and non-organic. I used some coupons but wasn’t very good at getting deals back then. I have been making our new baby’s food for 2 months and have spent an average of $30 a month. Through our garden and coupons I have still kept us right around our $400 per month grocery budget. The only prepared food I have bought is a few boxes of oatmeal that were on sale for $1 and I had a 55 cents off 2 boxes coupon that doubled. The rest of the money went toward fruit, vegetables, and organic oats.

Above: Delicious blueberries from a friend’s farm!

Here are the gadgets I use:

Cuisinart Pots (We’ve had this set since we tied the knot over 8 years ago.)

Steamer Basket ( $3 at Walmart.)

Blender (This isn’t our exact model but it’s the same brand and was around $29.99.)

Immersion Blender ( This is the only gadget I bought with the baby in mind, clean up is faster than with the traditional blender. I did not have this for baby #1.)

I will note that I breastfeed on both sides before offering solids. I am more concerned about making it at least one year nursing and keeping up my supply than I am about the baby being on solids. Though, both of our daughters have ended up loving solids. I can’t believe how much they ate/eat at a young age.

Top: Peas from our garden.
Bottom: Peas turned into baby food.

With baby #1 I made large batches of food and froze it. It seemed everywhere I looked it was recommended to use ice cube trays and freeze little cubes. I actually really disliked that. Storing the food, cooking huge batches, and defrosting it was not that fun to me. For baby #2 I cook food for her every 2nd or 3rd night and keep it in the fridge in tightly closed glass jars. I love it.  Mashing a banana or serving organic yogurt doesn’t take any cooking. So those are great fills in if you’re tired of roasting and steaming.

Just a note- It is recommended to keep prepared baby food in the fridge no more than 48-72 hours.

Final note- I drafted this post when Baby #2 was about 8 months old. She is now days away from 13 months and still breastfed 4x per day, though she’s also offered organic cow’s milk. I ended up spending less of our budget on her food as she got older and could eat homemade whole wheat muffins, soft bits of non-pureed food, or share the same type of yogurt with her sister (Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Organic 32 oz tub is a great deal!) . It took a little while to get in the groove of being thrifty, yet making healthy baby food but it was a great few months! Our garden and the gardens of a few friends and family really helped out with the healthy and inexpensive aspect. My mother in law let us pick a ton of green beans (we canned 21 quarts for us and froze 6 gallon sized-bags specifically for the baby) and a friend with a blueberry farm gave us a gallon of blueberries which worked great for smoothies, blueberry-apple sauce, and blueberry-peach sauce for baby. Fresh food is one of the best gifts you can give!

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