It’s been 5 days

Five days since Loud has departed and let me tell you how wonderful these last 5 days have been. I’ve left my house with my family more in those 5 days than I have in 7 months. It has been wonderful to not constantly supervise one child, I’ve enjoyed my children as a whole, and I’m able to spend more time with my husband. We were also put back on the call list for potential placement. In any case, let me tell you about Sunday… our budgeting excecise. We all went to the Swap meet, Husband and I, all 7 of my kids, 2 of my kids friends, and my parents. Each child was given $10 for a game.

The game rules were as follows:

This is a QUANTITY over QUALITY exercise, very different from our usual quality over quantity teachings.

You cannot combine money with your partner, if you choose to shop with a partner.

You must barter at least once with a vendor or discuss a price reduction.

Bags of beans, a ream of paper, seeds, or other tiny items are not allowed. However, a box/bag/set of smaller items could be counted individually such as markers, doll shoes, or a socket set.

Food is permitted.

Free items are permitted and encouraged.

Children under the age of 12 had to have an adult to supervise.

He who has the most items wins everyone else’s loot.

This was a fun exercise! The kids were really thoughtful in their purchases. In fact we were surprised at the winning number of items; over 700 items. The older children had a better grasp of the ordeal and took it to the max! Some of the items purchased were baby tomatos, blackberries, decorative toothpicks with unicorns adorning the tops, Barbie dresses, polished rocks, pieces of candy, stickers, super glue, a bag of unknown electrical (?) parts, mouth pieces, and a pineapple.

The kids results were 700, 680, 350, 327, 280 189 and I can’t remember the other numbers, I believe the stopped counting when they heard the numbers above 500.

The downside? Now we have $90 worth of crap floating around the house. The winner was kind enough to give the younger girls a few trinkets they had purchased during the swap meet trip.

Also, we have a new placement arriving tonight. A 13 year old female not from our county, I haven’t met her yet but I’ve decided to call her Blink because she happened in a blink! Loud left us 5 days ago and now our adventure continues. I hope Loud feels loved and safe, while he isn’t here at our home I find myself thinking about him quite a bit.

Feeding a family of 10 on a budget.

(Many foster children are picky eaters only because they’ve only had boxed prepared foods such as Top Ramen, boxed mac n cheese, corn dogs, frozen dinners, etc and getting they to eat some of the things we prepare is often difficult. When we get new placement we try to incorporate some comfort type foods into our meal plans.)

Step one: make friends with your grocery butcher. I’m get a phone call or text when bonless skinless thighs go on sale for .47lb or red meat for .99lb, they usually set aside 40-80lbs for me.

Step two: do not meal plan. Yes. I said it. Meal planning is for people who have extra time and I simply don’t. I work full time and I mom full time…quality time with my family is more important than planning a damn meal. You’ve got to be able to plan dinner on the fly. I typically have things in mind when I’m grocery shopping; it truly depends what’s on sale. Also, I always plan to make one childs favorite meal a week and I’ll buy the items needed even if they’re not on sale.

Step three: you’d better have a ton of spices and staples at home. Milk, cheese, heavy whipping cream, butter, bread, boxed pasta, and garlic are critical.

Step four: have a backup plan for the days you had to rush out and forget to fill the crockpot. Breakfast for dinner is always a quick oops dinner or ‘Snacky Dinner’ is one of my backups. A Snacky Dinner is pretty much fend for yourself; leftovers, cereal, mac’n’cheese, ramen, salad, sandwiches, etc. This isn’t a mom fail, it isn’t a defeat. It’s real life and you made sure the kids were fed.

Step five: cook in bulk if you have free time. Every now and again Husband and I will prepare food together on his day off, seal it up, and freeze it. This usually means grilling chicken, making spaghetti sauce, boiling bone in chicken to make stock and chicken enchiladas, preparing lasagna, etc. Having these things on hand also makes dinner easy if you forgot to pull something out of the deep freeze in the morning or forgot about dinner in general. It’s not ideal but whatever.

Step six: buy produce every few days. Yes, I don’t have a lot of time to meal plan but I always do my best to have fresh fruits and veggies in the house. Gimmie that fresh stuff! If apples are on sale the kids snack on apples or bake a pie, if strawberries are on sale they’re a breakfast or a dessert topping, bananas are usually a grab and go breakfast. Also, we like to have salad every night with dinner. I don’t necessarily like the bagged stuff as it’s expensive and poorly portioned for a large family. We have a local store in town called Food City, lovingly called Food Shitty because their produce is super cheap on Wednesday’s. We eat about 40-60lbs of fruit and vegetables a week.

Step seven: fuck meatloaf, that’s nasty.

Step eight: always have the peanut butter and flour at home, whipping up peanut butter cookies or pound cake by scratch is extremely easy and who can resist a tasty impromptu dessert?!

Step nine: don’t be afraid to start up the grill, having bratwurst or hot dogs for dinner isn’t my favorite but it is quick and easy. You can make potato or macaroni salad in a jiffy.

Step ten: remember that it’s not about the food served; it is about the quality time spent preparing a meal with your family and conversations at the dinner table.

I spend around $100 per person a month. This allows me to buy each child a ‘treat’ each week when I go to the store, it also allows for Pizza Hut every other week, and weekly treat money for school (snow cones and whatever the PTSO is pushing.) USE COUPONS. Stack them, get paid to grocery shop. Go to Kmart for shampoos and conditioners, use their ShopMyWay rewards. Most of the time I get toiletries and such for 65% off. Pay attention to sales. I use Amazon Subscribe and Save for dog/cat food, multivitamins, cat litter, toilet paper and laundry goods. You can lock in prices at Amazon when you subscribe. The deals are out there, take the time to find them. Buy in bulk. (My husband sometimes fusses because I buy 10 12 packs of Cottonell toilet paper because they are $2.99 a package and we have ‘no where’ to put it.) Also, hit up the .99 Cents Only store or Dollar Tree. Those places have a lot of cool stuff and Dollar Tree accepts coupons! Cha-ching!

I spend time finding the deals on household items and food because it gives me a high, I feel good saving money. It also allows me to pocket grocery money to put towards travel and vacation expenses! The more I save the more we can go places and do things. And in case you haven’t noticed…we go a lot of places and do a lot of things. I cut corners everywhere and use my resources. My husband does not, he goes to every store and pays retail. Talk about frustrating!