Week Five – Are you hospitable or an entertainer?

We are starting a new month this week, at this point I have $200 at least in my pocket that would have been indulgences or food in the garbage (which IMO is way more sad) over last year! There might be some items that you are missing on fixed budget for groceries, whether it’s $100/ week like us or $200 if you have 3 growing  teenage boys, you have to sacrifice somewhere!

My facebook friend, Maggie asked me about entertaining/ having guest for dinner last week and there has been several blogs going around lately about the subject, my favorite is called “Thoughts on Hospitality”. It’s a great read and help me re-focus on allowing visitors to see us how we are everyday. I am no entertainer.. and certainly know that if I had to have everything perfect in a tiny townhouse with a 4 & 2 yr old, we would never have anyone over. We have our great  friend “Auntie” Sarah over most Tuesday nights before Bible Class, some weeks she comes in and there is a calm, nicely tidied house with a great meal on the table. BUT most weeks, I’m sure she thinks a bomb has gone off in our home for all the rumble she has to climb through to make it our dinning room table, the kid’s are not at their best right before our evening meal and the dinner is less than stellar… but she never complains, she’s happy to have a meal and I am happy for the night out at church and her company.

I truly love having people over to make a meal for them, to allow my kids to get to know our/their friends in a less formal setting is priceless, BUT it can be expensive. So here’s my thoughts on hospitality.

1. Bring back the potluck! – No where was it written that you have to do all the prep, cooking and clean up especially if it’s a larger group. If someone offers to bring, take them up on it. I’m always happy to bring when I go to someone else’s home. Pick a theme or a main dish and take it from there.

2. If “entertaining” is something that you are in too, maybe your husband’s boss comes over for dinner frequently, maybe you are a budding Martha Stewart or maybe you husband loves to grill steaks every time you have your in-laws over? Why not set a monthly budget just for that – we have a line in our household budget for “entertainment” and in the summer months – I’ve been known to throw a $25 steak purchase into that category!

3. Everyone loves a home cooked meal — in the fast-pasted world we live in you might be surprised by what someone deems as great food. My brother as an example loves meatloaf and even orders it from a menu in a restaurant  mostly because my sister-in-law never makes it!  Don’t forget if there is kids coming for dinner, pasta is always a great hit and is reasonable affordable. If I do make just a regular family dinner for guests I do try to make something nice for dessert, because dessert is a big treat for my family!

This week I found a bit of challenge, we were out of several things all at once!

Grocery Stores: No Frills, Zarky’s, Fortinos & Food Basics – total spend $107.89

36 large eggs, 2 small packs of Lipton’s soup, Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles, white sugar, 12 BS/SS Chicken Breast (3 meals), green cabbage, 2 cucumbers, green onion, pineapple, 2 pkgs of strawberries, 2 sweet potatoes, mini watermelon, 2 green zuchinni, 2 pkgs of frozen pasta, 18 jumbo frozen croissants, 2% milk,  3 lbs of ground beef, Josie’s pancake mix, coconut sugar, pkg of granola bars, 2 cantolupe, 12 bananas, 750ml cottage cheese, tortillas, reduced produce lemons & limes, Josie’s bread, 4 pkg of sweet peppers, fresh ginger, 4 Delissio thin crust pizzas, white mushrooms & 8 royal gala apples.

Menu

Sunday: Pesto Pasta

Monday: Shrimp Fajitas

Tuesday: Pork Tenderloin

Wednesday: Lasagna

Thursday: crustless quiche

Friday: meatloaf & mashed potatoes

Saturday: Pizza Night for Daddy & Sam, Josie & Mommy are out at Little Disciples Day!

Taking my emergency/meat fund down to: $6.95

The 2013 Challenge!

In 2011 our family was spending over $150 every week in groceries. How you say? for a family of four …a combination of poor planning, laziness and the lure of the fancy Fortinos around the corner is to blame.  My 2012 New Year’s resolution was to cut our food waste and groceries by over 30%, cutting our grocery bill down to only $100 and for the most part we were successfully!

Here’s are my top 5 tips!

1. Take stock of your pantry and freezer(s) — I keep a physical list on the top of my chest freezer so that I know physically what is in there. It’s not a great meat sale — if you toss it 6 months later!

2. Take off the rose-coloured glasses when it comes to your love affair with Fortinos or even worse – Costco! The more a grocery store offers in terms of services and extras the more expensive staple products actually are to cover the cost of the extra staff etc. I’ll have more to say about Costco in another blog. I do love Costco but we have re-named it the “100-store”- can anyone get out of there without spending at least $100?

3. Always shop with a list — if it’s not on the list DON’T buy it – plain & simple.

4. Make a weekly meal plan! Take 20 minutes and plan your week’s meals – it’s a must! Comb the flyers and at least plan the “meat” portion of your meal from what’s in the freezer or what is on special. You will never pay $20 for boneless skinless chicken breast again!

5.Try to go meatless at least one evening meal per week.. we tried dozens of great meatless meals and even the kids love it.

My 2013 Challenge is to continue with the same budget of $100 per week but I’m going to use this blog to give you my menu plan and recipes each week to help you save a well!

I think that 2013 is going to be a financially challenging for lots of families, if you could save $50 every week that’s $2600 per year – Imagine what you could do with that? All the best for 2013!