Friday, December 31, 2010

Grocery Savings Challenge | Introduction




The year 2011 is almost here! Can you believe it? This year just seemed to fly by! As I reflect on months past I realize how much I have to be thankful for. God has provided in ways that we would have never imagined. Our book business has been such a blessing in many ways, and we, in turn, have been able to bless others.

To begin this new year, I've decided to challenge myself! Since our book business is slow this time of year and things are tighter than ever, I've been looking for ways to help us save money. Saving money is always helpful, right? :)

So, here's what I've come up with... Mom and Dad have given me full "command" of all the grocery buying for three months. During this time, I hope to really reduce the amount we spend on food. In the summertime, things are just way to hectic to devote the needed time to this, but I'm hoping to develop habits that will "stick" through next summer
.

Okay! That being said, I'll lay out what I will be working with...

Our monthly total for food has been running about $650.00 for our family of four. Now, before you fall out of your chair, let me explain why that number is so high. ;)
  • Some of that monthly total is from grass-fed beef stored in our freezer. We recently purchased another quarter of a cow that will last us about 9 months and $5 per pound is the estimated cost of the beef.
  • $120 goes to an organic produce basket that we receive each week ($30 per week). We never know what we're going to get from week to week, so that presents a challenge within itself!


{Organic produce baskets one week at the facility where they divide it up...}


As a family, we really try to eat good quality food whenever possible. Eating well is our "health insurance" {along with Samaritan Ministries ;) }. We'll be paying more now for food, or later for doctor bills, so we figure we'll try to be as preventative as possible!

Here are some other factors I'll be working with:
  • Food is rather expensive where we live in Florida. I've been in many grocery stores throughout the south and mid-west areas, and can safely say that food is more expensive here.
  • Unfortunately, we only have 2 bigger grocery stores nearby {Publix and Winn-Dixie}, so there isn't much competition and neither is a cheap place to shop. I should add, though, that Publix has the nicest grocery stores I've ever been in {and awesome sales, too}! They are wonderfully clean and organized and their service is impeccable. We also have Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, and ALDI stores {kind of} nearby, so I may be pulling from them occasionally. We do take trips to Sams Club every 6 weeks or so for things like olive oil, natural laundry detergent, cheese, etc.
  • About 95+% of the food we purchase is either all natural or organic {or both}. We try to avoid white sugar and flour, artificial ingredients, additives, preservatives, microwavable foods, etc. There are exceptions to this rule, but it's something we're aiming toward.
  • Coupons and promotions are oftentimes for the types of food we don't buy. No store around here doubles coupons either. :-/
  • We mill our own wheat and bake our bread, rolls, hamburger buns, pizza crusts, etc.
  • Pork {one of the cheaper meats} is not something we eat much of because it's not very healthy. {I do like bacon though...}
  • We buy organic milk. We would be buying raw milk, but it's about $12 a gallon in our area. I know my cousin in Alabama can get it for around $4 a gallon! That's cheaper than the pasteurized, organic milk around here! Can you believe it? {okay... I'm finished.}
  • We buy natural, free-range eggs and try to get them locally when available.
I think that you can now see why this isn't going to be the easiest thing I've ever attempted! I have a lot of {mostly good} limitations to work around.



{an add-on fruit basket}


So, here's the breakdown:

CURRENTLY:
  • $650.00 per month = $162.50 per week
  • $ 5.00 per pound for grass fed beef
  • $ 30.00 per week for organic produce
  • $530.00 per month minus produce basket = $132.25 to work with weekly
HOPEFULLY:
  • $430.00 per month = $107.50 per week
  • $ 5.00 per pound for grass fed beef
  • $ 30.00 per week for organic produce
  • $310.00 per month minus produce basket = $77.50 to work with weekly
I realize my goal may seem a bit lofty and out of reach, but what good is a challenge if you don't stretch yourself? ;) If I'm able to meet my goal, we'll be saving $55 per week, which is $220 each month, and $715 over the course of my 13-week-long challenge. I know I may end up spending more than my "hopeful" goal, but that's okay. I wanted something difficult to shoot for.

Hopefully, I'll be able to blog my progress when possible, so stay tuned for future updates! I'd like to post some frugal recipes, bargains, and weekly breakdowns as time allows. I pray this journey of mine will bring glory to the Lord and will be an encouragement to you!

13 "She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,

And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night."
--Proverbs 31:13-18

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Love the Church" Conference - Part 1




{You can find Part 2 of my Love the Church pictures here!}


I trust you had a pleasant Christmas, rejoicing and celebrating the birth of our Savior! Ours was a simple one this year... It was very different than in Christmases past, but still very nice and special in its own way.


"For the word of God
is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit,
and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart."
-Hebrews 4:12


Looking backwards a couple weeks....

Life-changing weekends don't come around very often, so I thought I'd share this one with you! We recently had the privilege of attending the "Love the Church" conference. {Mom, Dad, Joseph, and I gave the trip to each other in lieu of Christmas presents this year.} It was held at the Ridgecrest conference center in Asheville, NC. Every minute spent there was sweeter than the last. I was so blessed by the bold speakers and the rich fellowship.

This year, I was one of the photographers for the conference. It was a neat experience, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I was needed. It allowed me to see the conference from a different perspective. I wasn't able to hear as many of the speakers as I might have liked {since I was in and out of rooms photographing them instead}, but I'm looking forward to receiving the MP3 and "catching up"!

I hope you enjoy looking through some of my favorite pictures from the conference. I've captioned a few, but I'll let most of them speak for themselves....




Emily!
It's fun getting to pal around with one of your best-est friends for a whole weekend! You can see some of her conference pictures here.
This was taken the first morning of the conference. We were both up early for a photographers' meeting, but ended up wandering around a while and talking since it was postponed to a later hour. ;)




All is quiet before it starts...




The "Leaders Luncheon" was the first scheduled event of the conference.








Registration begins!






One of my favorite people, Christiana,
helping with registration!






And another one of my favorite people... Christiana's sister, Prentiss!

{If you're ever looking for some nice harp music, click here to order Prentiss's CD's! You will be so blessed by her beautiful music. I've listened to them over and over since we got them!}











Spirited conversation!
{L-R: Miss D, Miss M, Christiana, and sweet Lise- Christiana and Prentiss's sister}

































In which we play with external flash units....




I was the {unwilling} subject for most of the time... :-/



Emily Rose!
:D



Mom and Mrs. Brookshire engaged in edifying conversation with another mom.




New friends...



...and more new friends!






Yours truly!
Photo credit goes to Emily Elizabeth...
The lighting by one huge window was just perfect!




My sweet mom talking with Mrs. Brookshire and Breezy.
Those are some more of my favorite people...
I'm beginning to think I have a lot of favorites!
haha ;)













Cuties!






The auditorium filled up quickly for the opening sessions.






















The Kendall family sings!
I love the way they use their gifts for God's glory. They all have such beautiful voices and blend together wonderfully.



Godly exhortation from passionate men of God was such a blessing to my soul.
{Get the MP3's! You'll be glad you did!}


Part 2 to follow shortly...