Monday, January 26, 2009

Money Monday: January 26

Well. Today is actually the day where the rubber meets the road for me in terms of ‘do I have anything to put into savings this month.’


Humph. Well, that usually works on me

Oh well. No, I’m not putting even one thin dime aside this month. Having paid the annual homeowners insurance and the business insurance this month, plus the quarterly payment for the girls’ after school program…I’m lucky I have enough left over to keep the lights on around here.

Grumble, grouse, gripe…

In terms of non-business-related stuff, things also got a little crazy in the food category, and just to add a full measure of insult to injury, much of it wasn’t for the Den. It was mostly for our share of potluck parties and charity programs, and they all sucked an impressive amount of coinage out of our budget in January. We also had some lingering gifts to purchase for aforementioned parties, which managed to also get way out of control.

Thank Dog Christmas comes but once a year, you know?

Still, what did stay in the Den has rounded out my supplies nicely. There was a trip to the local meat market involved, and I finally went to Costco last week to flesh out the basic supplies…flour, butter, milk, eggs, pork chops (I had a coupon! Yay, coupons!), potatoes, onions and vodka. (What? It’s one of the basic food groups, right? Starch, sugar, fat, and alcohol…)

As I’m looking over all the things I spent money on this month, I have to say that even though overall all we’re really doing is treading water, I’m pretty pleased. Nothing jumps out as a regret, or even a particularly poor choice. There is nothing I purchased that I wish I could take back now. Everything makes sense to me.

It’s a lot easier to be OK with operating right on the very edge of your margins when you can say that. Looking back at your rationalizations later and thinking, Oh. That was a baaaaaad idea…rather stinks.

I have high hopes for next month, since I not only have been getting some actual business phone calls this week (be still my beating heart!) asking about rates and turnaround times, but was also blessed with permission to assist my husband on one of his projects. Yay, I get to play with actual SQL again!

I’ve been sidelined for most of the year so far (yes, I know, that’s only a few weeks…it only feels like six months), relegated to handling administrivia and advertising. Most of “my” clients are bogged down by slashed budgets and similar insanity, which means that I just sit here kicking my heels and waiting for this @*^&@ing recession to start receding.

I’m really looking forward to getting back on my horse, y’all.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue trying to keep our grocery costs lower by eating what we already have rather than buying new stuff, and work on reducing our other spending by never leaving the house, no matter WHAT showing restraint and maturity when faced with temptation. Like insane sales or the fact that the chiropractor’s office parking lot forces me to ‘right turn only’ which then drops me right into the line of the drive-thru Starbucks. How did THAT happen?!

…I’m pretty sure there’s a nefarious coffee-scented plot involved on that deal…

Anyway! For this next week, I thought I’d go with Food Network for my ‘new’ meal ideas. While my kids would prefer I make the same three things (spaghetti, Kraft and ONLY Kraft macaroni and cheese and Meat, Potatoes and Corn, all separate and not touching each other under any circumstances), the husband and I rather prefer a certain amount of variety.

Like last week, generic ‘vegetables’ will be whatever is on sale at the supermarket that looks edible, or canned / frozen vegetables if it sounds better. (Because I am all about the specifics on the side dishes.)

I just realized that I try to have a protein, a starch, and a non-starchy vegetable in each meal. I wonder where I picked that habit up? Probably some ancient version of how to cook a proper meal from the 1934 edition of Joy of Cooking or something. Oh well, whatever. Here we go.

Monday: Grilled pork chops (if it isn’t pouring rain on us…if it is, we’ll have to broil them or something instead), rice and vegetables.

Tuesday: Spaghetti and garlic bread. (this is to lull them into a false sense of security, bwahahaha) (did I mention how much the Denizens hate to have their food lumped together in casserole or slow cooker form?) (I don’t know, either…I’ve made this kind of food since they were babies each and every one, and yet they all flipped a switch at around two years old and got all crazy-picky on me!)

Wednesday: Flemish Beef Stew, with homemade sweet dinner rolls. (This is admittedly easier to pull off when you’ve been doing that whole baking-bread-from-scratch thing for a while…I’ll be putting together the rolls in the morning and keeping them in the fridge until shortly before dinner. The fridge slows down the rising considerably.)

Thursday: Chicken Cacciatore with pasta and vegetables. One substitution I’ll be making is that I’ll use a whole chicken cut into serving-sized pieces instead of chicken breasts. It’s less ‘healthy’ and all, but it’s what I have on hand.

Friday: Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Possibly a dual-starch deal, since I love canned corn with my chicken and smashed spuds. I may not be the healthiest meal around, but dang is it good!

Saturday: Kind of an intensely crazy day around here…I’m thinking we might stimulate the local economy with a call to our favorite pizza place Saturday night…have I ever told you that I am a pizza fanatic? Oh my dawg. I suspect I could happily eat pizza for dinner every single night for the next fifteen years and not find myself wishing I had something else. Which is probably not at all true, but still…it’s how I feel at the moment.

Sunday: Leftover Casserole – this is where you take pretty much any leftover meat, dice it up and drop it into a white sauce. If you have leftover rice, you can put that in the bottom of your casserole dish and ladle the Leftover Surprise over the top of it and leave it at that…or you can top it with leftover mashed potatoes and call it a Shepherd’s Pie Of Sorts…or you can top it with cheese and/or biscuit dough and/or buttered bread crumbs, bake it for a while (usually around 20 to 30 minutes at 375), and then present it to your horrified children as dinner. Makes for great theatrics from the kids, who will immediately fall to the ground clutching their throats and feigning their deaths. Which is fine, as it leaves all the more for We The Parents, bwa-hahahahaha.


Dysd Housewife said...

Okay. So I am going to have to stop coming to your blog, if you're going to start posting about food porn. Seriously. Some of us are trying to DIET ya know!! LOL

Anonymous said...

It's a conspiracy. We also have a forced-right-turn-into-Starbucks situation here. Best to just give in. ;-)


Another Joan said...

Just a delurking note: Chicken Cacciatore in all my Italian cookbooks uses all the chicken parts and one even recommends using thighs as having more flavour. Our son went through the "don't mix it up" stage until the day his father asked him if he he thought he had a bunch of separate rooms in his stomach? This was immediately followed (at the table) by his sister pointing out that her bowel movements sure looked like everything had been mixed up somewhere and were his all made up of different vegetables? Yes, we had an "interesting" time not falling about laughing.

Anonymous said...

I hope you didn't forget the other food group: Chocolate. It makes the alcohol more meaningful. And the doctors say it's good for you! (As if we needed to be told this little tidbit.)

Anonymous said...

At my house coffee is a major food group, and Starbucks is the gourmet version!

Lydee said...

i too could eat pizza all the time.

Rena said...

I just opened a savings account for emergencies that actually contains enough money for us to survive for two whole months. Never mind that it is what's left of my student loan after tuition. I'll pretend I don't have to pay that money back some day. For now, I'm looking at my savings account thinking, "Wow. I have a savings account. That is so cool!"

Anonymous said...

Sounds delicious! I have a suggestion though - if you swap the chicken cacciatore and the roast chicken dinner nights around you could roast both chickens at the same time (saves on fuel, using the oven for 2 birds) and strip one chicken while still warm (because it's easier) saving the meat for the pasta the next night - which makes the pasta dinner much quicker to prepare because you just boil up the pasta and make/heat the sauce and add the cooked chicken - from start to finish I can do this one in fifteen minutes!

Just sticking my oar in! I usually boil up both sets of bones after that (getting all the messiness over at once) for stock for soup, then freeze it.