Frugal Accomplishments and Weekly Meal Plan

I have lingering anxiety over leaving my (well-paid, somewhat prestigious) job in the fall but have so many small ways to chart the way my personal well-being and sense of equilibrium is improving since making that change. One thing that may seem minor but means a whole lot to me personally is that I am really excited about cooking again–it was huge for me to realize last year how much I had grown to hate so many things that I once loved, cooking being at the top of that pile. I didn’t hate it entirely, but anything that required a rhythm or plan was outside of my ability to control to the degree that I had enjoyed before. And that made me sad, made me avoid something I had once loved. Sure, I still cooked a lot and still had some great successes and fun in the kitchen, but my overarching sense of joy in making good things for my family and in managing a household had really taken a hit. I have been so excited to realize over the last couple of days that I’m truly back to myself in that regard. Here is what I will be up to in the kitchen this week:

Sunday — White Bean, Sausage & Kale Soup
Monday — Grilled Chicken Salad, Garlic Toast
Tuesday — Leftovers
Wednesday — My Birthday! Maple Glazed Salmon, Sweet & Savory Pilaf, Broccoli Rabe
Thursday — Baked Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Veg
Friday — Zucchini Pie, Salad/Greens
Saturday — Leftovers
Desserts — Fruit Salad, Granola, Applesauce
Snacks — Cheese, Cheerios, Popcorn, Hummus
Other — Baked Chicken for salads, Hard Boiled Eggs, Baked Potatoes

My birthday is this Wednesday; I am excited to get together with friends for coffee and conversation one morning this week as a little celebration. My husband and I are planning to drive out of the city to find a more rural area from which we can view Comet Lovejoy (I am way geekily excited about doing this); we’ll go for frozen yogurt at some point during the week as well. Usually I’d make a cake or Michael would bring home some cupcakes, but I am actually trying to be healthy and having a cake sitting around the house just doesn’t appeal. And cupcakes feel so heavy after all the sweets we consumed over the holidays. These celebrations have the benefit of being fairly inexpensive which is a plus for our budget. It is fabulous that they are truly what I want to do as well!

Other frugal accomplishments (highlights) from the past week:

  • Identifying a grocery budget for the year and making plans to stick to it.
  • Talking with my husband about our budget and a few tweaks that we can make to have the personal freedom to which we are accustomed but maintain accountability as well.
  • Had an invitation to go out with friends over the weekend — invited them over for dinner instead. We had a great time and saved money, too. This also helps me with my goal to be more social at home and build up the habit of inviting friends over — we are far from family and need to foster the family of our heart since our “real” family is many hours away.
  • Picked up two extra bins of cat litter while it was on sale at Target; with the gift card rebate it was almost like buying three and getting one free. The price was discounted and there was a Cartwheel discount as well.
  • Remembered to pack my lunches for the days I worked, including water bottles. It’s irritating to forget something to drink, especially as we no longer have water coolers at my place of employment.
  • Figured out a semi-regular schedule for working during the month which will be a nice boost to our income. My goal is to have any money I earn go directly into savings; we are not there right now but I hope for that to be the reality by March.
  • Reviewed my pay stub to see if there were any deductions being made that I could change or stop to increase the amount of take home pay. I am embarrassed to say that there are quite a few! I should have caught them earlier but will make the changed required on Thursday of this week. RIght now there is more being deducted than I am bringing home which is not ideal.
  • Found gas for $2.09/gallon, about twenty cents cheaper than I’d found any where else. I filled the tank and will check the price on my way to work this week to see if the price is still low and may take my husband’s car to get gas as well (it’s not close to our house, but worth the stop if we are driving in that direction).