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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Day 16: July Food Challenge $1/1/1

Money spent: $7.61 (frozen treats) + ($30 + $7) gas + $26 admission to museum/park

Home again, home again, jiggity jog....
I don't know if the $7.61 should come out of the food budget or the vacation/entertainment budget, but the above list is what my last trip cost our family. My sister used her points for the room (heartfelt thanks). Free, yummy breakfast included. After leaving the sweet cousins to return home, we made a detour to Moundville Archeological Park just outside of Tuscaloosa.

Yes, Pokestops were part of the lure, but also, we've driven past the sign for years and years and never stopped, and perhaps never will again, but on a thought out whim, I informed the children and off we went.
We heartily recommend it! Not too big to be seen in a couple of hours, impressive Indian mounds, nice 10-minute movie to give you some basic knowledge about the Indians (ancient Mississippians) and their culture of which we know so little about. We hiked up the big Chief's mound (60' high) in the 91*F heat and hollered, "Helllllooooo!!!" to the grand world around us.

We met a friendly egret at the museum stop. Caught a few Pokemon and much-needed Pokeballs and learned about an advanced civilization from nearly 1,000 years ago. The park attendants were engaging and got right on the kids level of conversation. We learned about native crops that they grow on the site and their seed-sharing program. Due to the heat, I bought them each a frozen treat. They hadn't asked for anything, but their beet-red faces (from both the heat and the two hours spent swimming in the pool that morning) seemed to warrant it.

I think they were shocked. "No," I answered, when asked if they could have the larger or more expensive frozen treat. "You have two choices (with three sub-choices of flavors within one category), but not these other two choices that are too big or simply cost an extra dollar for the designer brand of candy." Inside, I'm thinking, "Just take the darn offer, don't question it or try to 'make it a better offer'." And again, inside there is turmoil, because I am used to giving in to that behavior, and so it is not the kids fault...it has worked for them in the past, so why would they not try it again? They didn't do anything wrong. They just did our family's old "normal." They chose, enjoyed, and it turned out to be just the right amount.

We ate lunch and dinner on the road, out of our bag, packed by myself and The Spouse (Thanks, Hon!).
Potty breaks (because we were on an Interstate Highway) at Rest Areas, save one at a gas station (hence the $7 in gas). Complaints:
- I made the 11-year-old throw out one of the dinner items after he complained about it. He quickly changed his mind, but I said, "too late, the raccoons will appreciate it more than you."
- to the 10-year-old who proclaimed her main course too greasy (cheese), I stated that she did not have to eat it, but this was dinner, so she would have to make do with the snacks in the bag, no exceptions.
- to the six-year-old who stated adamantly how much he did not like nuts (read crying/whining), I made the trade of 3 pieces of protein from the bag and then allowing his brother to have the "nut laden" granola bar.
- to the 11-year-old who while eating said granola bar mentioned that raisins weren't his favorite, I suggested that perhaps the raccoons would enjoy it as well. "Oh, no! Not a complaint, Mom! Just letting you know that I prefer Craisins over Raisins." To which I replied, "Hmmph." (and smiled at him)

What was in the bag you ask?
- strawberries (devoured by the younger two)
- bananas (eaten by the boys)
- peanut butter (eaten by the boys)
- cut apples (by the girl)
- whole Granny Smith apples (eaten by all three)
- sausage (eaten by me and the youngest)
- cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans (me)
- cheese (me and 11 year old)
- "chewy bars" (granola bars with no nuts, and some with chocolate) (kids)
- granola bars (chewy, but with much less sugar and apparently a lot of nuts (kids, sans youngest)
- Hershey's candy bar (kids + cousins)
- goldfish crackers (kids)
- homemade mini pizzas (made by The Spouse) (all kids, sort of, dogs--once home got remainders)
- chicken salad sandwich (raccoons)
- butter/salad dressing (me)
- peaches (no one...breakfast is coming)
- soyflakes (no one)
- honey (girl)
- gatorade, lemonade, water, coffee (all had some of what they wanted)
- ice (all)

During our visit, I spoke to my sister about my July Challenge. Her eyes got big and I could tell she was worried that we didn't have enough to eat. I tried to assure her that we actually had more than plenty. Cupboards and freezer that were well stocked, just not stuffed. That we were trying to be mindful and intentional about the money we put into our food budget. That wasting food was something we were trying to eliminate. The little girl in me desperately wants her approval and her pat on the back. The "You're amazing!" and "I'm so impressed!" vs this look of growing dismay at the thought of so little spent on food. So, I let go of my need to people please: it's not going to happen, and the adult in me sees that. I give my "elevator pitch" and pat myself on the back instead. Dear sister doesn't need to approve (though the look of alarm does fade to calm). No one needs to approve what our family is doing. As long as we are all fed nourishing food and well cared for, high marks all around! Obviously, looking at the list of food in the bag, and the solid weights of myself and my family, we are eating very well.

In the recent past, for years, I would spend on average $1400/month on food/eating out. My sister spends that amount now. Many people do. No guilt there, Folks: Enjoy! That's more than we can afford these days, and that's o.k. too. In the near past, for several months, I have been spending $700/month on food.
That this month, we are attempting to live on just under $500/month on food...and so far, we are making it just fine. Better than fine, actually.

For me and many "moustachians" the biggest impact you can have on your family budget is found in how you spend your food money. What could your family do with an extra $200/mo? $400/mo? $700/mo? These are things worth thinking about. Would you pay off debt? Put it in the vacation fund? Buy new/needed tires for your van? (Ahem.) Perhaps, pay off the mortgage quicker?

Sometimes, we don't need an extra job or extra income (though sometimes we do). Sometimes, we just need to plug a few leaks in our money boat.

Now, as a favor, please don't ask me to go on any more road trips for a while...