Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 3 - So the first thing he wants to know.....

when in he comes in from school if I will let  him go fishing in the neighboring subdivision's pond. 

Can you guess why?? guessed it.  He's thinking about how he could get more food for his week of groceries!!  :-)

If you're just now joining us (welcome to our new readers that are visiting us from where this idea started to begin with!)....what you're reading is Day 3 of a very interesting economics project.  I encourage you to read it here if you haven't already.

For those of you anxious to know how things are've come to the right place. 

So we are on Day 3 of the Week of Groceries for $40 experiment....and after his consumption of a whole pot of stew over the first day and a half, I was a little concerned about how the rest of the week was going to go. 

Day 1 -

Day 2 -

In typical fashion....things were a little crazy this morning, and frankly, neither Destin nor I are used to him having to plan his dinner in the morning.  We talked about him throwing his chicken legs in the crock pot, and that's about as far as it got.  I walked back into the kitchen after taking him to school, only to realize that he had, in fact, forgotten. 

And it would have been soooo easy for me to throw them in the crock pot for him so that they could cook all day while he was at school, but if this experiment is to truly prepare them for real life, then I wouldn't have been doing him any favors by stepping in. 

So I didn't. 

And that was hard. 

But you know what?  He came in, and after asking if he could go fishing in the next few days (gotta' love that he isn't whining and asking for more money...but instead thinking of ways to acquire food for free), he got right to work on his chicken. 

For those am not doing any of the cooking.  He is doing it all himself....asking a lot of questions, but that is to be expected, and I am welcoming them!

I found it interesting that when I told him that at this point the crock pot was no longer an option if he wanted chicken tonight, he opted to bake it in the oven rather than boil on the stove top.  Said he didn't really like the smell of boiling chicken...(me neither!)

All seasoned up and ready to go!!
And yes...that is just half of a package of chicken legs from Sam's Club.  I landed them marked down to $5.50 a few weeks back and let Destin purchase half of them from me for $2.25. 

He seasoned them with the "freebies" from my cabinet.  The standard three seasonings we use on just about everything!  Cavender's Greek Seasoning, Lawry's Seasoning Salt, and Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.  

Can I just say that although baked chicken isn't pretty....(and don't know it ain't) tasted amazing!  No...I didn't eat his food...I tasted a morsel that he wanted me to taste, and I was so impressed!
 While it baked he microwaved a serving of frozen cauliflower and added a slice of cheese...and right before the chicken got done, he made two packages of ramen noodles.  (We have never used Ramen as a the liquid is all poured off). 

Day 3 dinner is served!
And let me just tell the time he finished cooking he was so ready to eat!!  From the sounds he was making, you would have thought he was eating prime rib! 

And believe it or not.....he actually didn't eat all of the Ramen noodles.  He had a small serving left and informed me tonight that he is going to take them for lunch tomorrow along with a chicken leg. 

As things were cooking, he told me that he sure wished I had a cookbook of just seafood....which I did have and he just didn't realize it.  He looked at for a while, and I could tell the wheels in his head were turning as he asked me about going down to the pier with crab nets. 

Can I just tell you that I am so proud of him?  He hasn't complained once yet...although that may change when he comes home tomorrow and there are no more of the honey buns left.  He hasn't exactly rationed those very well.  But he does still have $2 left and he can always grab another cheap box of somethin' sweet if he really has a hankerin'.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 2 - Progress so far.....this could get tough.....

Destin started Day 1 off by throwing his stew meat into the crock pot before running out the door to catch his ride to school at 7:10am. 

(If you're new to the can read how this started here: )

And I'm not a huge fan of beef stew, but it simmered all day and smelled pretty tasty.  He came in from school ready to dive into it....and that he did.  He got busy right away cutting his carrots....


He even got adventurous and decided to use red potatoes and leave the peeling on, and sprinkled in some cayenne pepper!

Dinner is served.....over a couple slices of's a southern thang!!!
But don't let that big ole' pot of stew fool you....that was only Day 1....

But before we move on, I thought you might enjoy some things I have overheard.....

“Mom….do you think I could trade you some regular potatoes for some red potatoes that you have?” “Do you think red potatoes would work?” “Now….how big do I cut these pieces of potatoes?”

“How much Cayenne Pepper do you think I could put in here?”

With arms wrapped lovingly around me…..”You think I could have a piece of that garlic toast?”

While putting his leftover stew into a container for the fridge, “Hey, uh….mom…..I don’t think I’m gonna be burning out on this stew….I’ll be running out of it!!” (and that would be after he ate four slices of bread and two large helpings of stew, and a rationed honey bun)

“Mom….since I didn’t get to eat any of the pop-tarts before my “week” started….do you think I could buy a package from you?” (And he did…for 30cents)

“Man…..does making a meal make THIS much of a mess??” And he ALWAYS has to unload/reload dishwasher, but this time, he had dirtied cutting board, knife, colander, crock pot, bowl, another pot……a wee bit more of a mess.

Now here we are...nearing the end of Day 2, and I regret to inform you that the big pot of stew you saw earlier?  Ummm.....that would be gone.  He has eaten four large bowls since he got home from school today, and now there is just a tiny bit at the bottom of the storage container.   

Perhaps $40 for the week wasn't enough for a boy who has grown 12 inches in one year, is only 12 years old and is now 5' 8" and wears a men's size 13 shoe.....

No.  I'm not kidding or exaggerating.  I think I know why my money isn't going as far as it used to!! 

Suffice it to say he is now thawing out his package of chicken legs and planning for the next couple of days.  So much for that pot of stew!!! 

More to come....

I'm just sayin'. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 1-It all started.....

with me curled up in my favorite spot on the couch, under my blanket, drinking my coffee, and reading an interesting post from one of my favorite bloggers and childhood friend, Mary.  

You friend, Mary, (who happens to have ten children that she home-schools) posted recently about a very interesting project that she and her husband came up with to better prepare their teenage children for the real world.  You should go and read it!!!

She and her husband gave their older children $20 and they were to plan, shop and prepare all of their meals for one week, (with the obvious knowledge that she would not allow them to starve).

I found it to be very interesting, so I was reading all about typical fashion, Destin was curled up next to me on the couch trying to wake up.  But when I began reading and scrolling caught his eye too.  One thing led to another, and before I knew it, all of the kids were looking over my shoulder to read about how her teens were going to survive on $20 for the week, and all of them thought it would be so cool to try to do! 

So in talking it over with Darwin...he jumped on the bandwagon and said, "I'll tell you what....if they're serious....since groceries are higher here...I'll give them $40 and they can do it too." 

(Now let me just interject right here and say that the cost of groceries in Idaho seems to be considerably less than here in Alabama.  And....given the amount of time that my kids are at school, there had to be some consideration given to that.  They simply do not have the same time as if they were homeschooled, to do money saving things such as make homemade bread, etc., but they will still learn some valuable real life lessons, I'm sure.)

Well....who knew???  Who knew that not one, but all three of my children still left here at home would be so eager to try to do this on their own?  EVEN Jack...who is only 9. 

So last week....the boys sat down and began list making....amidst a table set for dinner and a pre-dinner snack of carrots and hummus.  (And please forgive the quality of these pictures....they are taken from my phone.)

(Notice the washcloths for napkins? :-) Another great money saving tip from Mary!)

And there's a handy dandy app for your iPhone that you can get....the Wal-Mart app.  You can look up prices on many items!! 

Listening in on the conversation was priceless, as they thought about different things they could buy.  $40 seemed like SO much money to them.... 

I was so impressed with all of them for wanting to do this, but was especially surprised at Destin....just being 12....and having such a good, common sense approach and plan for his week.

(And yes....I know his handwriting needs improvement, but I have found that boys find that less important than girls do, and in the broad scheme of things....who cares...this is just a grocery list!)

Now bear in mind that this is just a rough idea of prices.  Estimations mostly and a general plan of making a pot of beef stew to eat off of for the week and grilling chicken. :-)  ( I had my concerns, but that worked itself out on.)

So after feeling like his list was complete.....we sat down together, and he calculated how much it looked like this was going to cost...based on the estimations. 

$56.00 !!!!  He just couldn't believe it.  He said, "Man!  I thought for sure I was gonna' have some money left over!!"  (Dontcha' just love when they see the reality of life!!)

So he immediately had to begin scratching things off the list and decided that even buying chicken legs from me at $2.50 (half a pack that I found marked down recently), might need to go.  He decided that grilling chicken and zucchini wasn't necessary and that he could live off of the stew. 

Well....a few scratches here and there off the list, and a couple of add-back-to-the-list items, and we were headed to the to find the best bargain....with little brother Jack to make sure that he knew that "Great Value brands are just as good, Destin!" (smile)

Destin even managed to find a local ad for Wal-Mart to match so that he could afford some Doritos!!  My only stipulation was that they had to have a fruit and vegetable included in their purchases....but one bag of Doritos I could handle ;-) 
Now all we had to do was make a couple more stops (yes...Wal-Mart is a one-stop shopping experience, but I don't like to buy their meat, and Sam's has a better price on milk)

I don't think he did so bad for a first time shopper.  I let him purchase things like a stick of butter from me for .60 so he wouldn't have to buy a whole pound, and a pound of rice from me for .40 since I buy it in bulk from Sam's. 

The reality of how ridiculously over priced cereal is really hit him.  He was originally planning on a fried egg for his breakfasts, but then decided he wanted the convenience of something faster.  He searched the cereal aisle for what seemed like FOREVER looking for a decent cereal that wasn't completely laden with sugar....for less than $2.00....and he finally found some Great Value Raisin Bran for $1.97.

The receipts are shown below, and then he paid me for the groceries he bought from me as opposed to buying in bulk from the store. 

And I would say this list has been in and out of a 12 year old boy's pocket a time or two, but you can see on the right where he figures up what he owes me.  The total for all of his groceries came to $37.76 and he has $2.24 leftover for anything unexpected this week.
Wonder what he'll spend it on???  Time will tell....I'll keep you posted....but for now, he's got a mean batch of stew in the crock pot that he started before he left for school this morning. 

I'm just sayin'.