Sunday, March 23, 2014

Grocery Budget Breakdown

Life has changed a lot in the past few years, and so has my grocery budget.  I have tried so much to reach the budget of $400 for groceries, only to fail time and time again. I have decided that no matter where I'm buying food, that's just not enough.  I have also found that I can make my budget work better with a little more wiggle room.  I have to be realistic.  We are a family of 5, and eating healthy is one of our priorities. This means we rarely eat out (maybe 2-3 times a month).  I also desire to use natural products as much as possible, but sometimes these products have to come from Trader Joe's... which means I really don't know how natural they are... I just trust Trader Joe's.  

Now, with that disclaimer, our current grocery budget is still only $500.  For some, this may be a lot and for some, this may be nothing.  This is what is realistic and works for our family.  There will be months when side work is slim and we will have to lower that... that will be realistic for those months.  But our goal will be to never exceed this amount (even when we have more money in side work that month... the excess goes to savings or to pay down bills).  We also may have to increase our budget if/when our stock of food dwindles (though I typically keep pretty stocked).

This comes out to about $250 every two weeks for groceries (this is when my hubby gets paid).

Here is the breakdown:

Local, raw, organic, grass-fed milk: $44 ($42 + $2 for ice).  I get 6 gallons a month for this amount, or 3 gallons every 2 weeks.  This milk is absolutely fabulous.  I can't stand store-bought milk after buying this for a while.

Local, grass-fed, organic meat and egg co-op: $100-120 (all meats including chicken, beef, pork and eggs... the co-op I'm in allows a 20% discount off of amazing meat!)

Produce co-op (either not local or local, depending if I use Bountiful Baskets or Greenling that 2 weeks): $37 (non-organic)-57 (organic)-76 (organic/local)
Once the Farmer's Market is back, I probably won't use a co-op for produce (I'll spend that money + some of the Trader Joe's money at the Farmer's market and only get produce there).

Costco, Trader Joe's, and Walmart (for a few items) as well as any online shopping: Whatever is left over (anywhere from $260-310).
This includes everything else... other foods, natural personal care products, cleaners, and detergents, and whole foods vitamins and cod liver oil.
We don't buy these items every month, but these are items that we buy at these places.  Right now, we are set on a lot of this...  If I order something, I try to buy multiples of that item so that I don't have to order again that month.  I am set from online ordering for a while.

  • Vitacost or Swanson (depending on what I need and the sales at the times)- Almond flour, coconut flour, sucanat, other gluten free foods (oats, grits, flours, etc), whole foods vitamins, cod liver oil, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, body wash 
  • Amazon and Young Living Essential Oils- Elderberries and essential oils
  • Honest Company- Cleaners and detergents mostly... I order from them about every other month.
  • Costco- Oils (Extra-virgin olive, Grapeseed, and Coconut), seasonings and spices, organic apple sauce, Greek yogurt, Kerrygold butter (grass-fed), hummus, snacks (Veggie Straws, Hummus chips, etc), Tillamook cheese (and Tillamoos), gluten free foods (quinoa pasta, crackers, bread, flour), canned organic black beans, canned organic tomato products (diced, sauce, and paste), organic maple, raw/local honey, organic coffee, organic quinoa, organic brown rice, nitrate free bacon... this list could go on and on.
  • Walmart- yes... the only things I buy here are Greek gods Greek yogurt (for Robert), Chobani Greek yogurt tubes (for the boys), Earth Balance Soy Free butter (for Karis), Hormel naturals lunch meats (no antibiotic/no hormone/nitrate free), and the occasional treat (yes, I like to buy Oreos sometimes). The only reason I even buy these items here is because Walmart is down the road and these items are cheaper than anywhere else (by a lot).  I generally hate Walmart, but I don't have to go very often.
  • Trader Joe's- everything else.  Including, but not limited to the rest of my produce, half and half, raw sugar (for coffee), coconut sugar, coffee (when I have less in this area of my budget that month), organic whole wheat and brown rice pastas, pasta sauce (when I don't feel like making it), raw cheddar, shredded cheddar or mozzarella, nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, flaxseed, chia seed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds), cereals (we don't buy a lot, but we buy them here when we do), toilet paper, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, gluten free foods, and some snacks.  It really just depends on what we need.
Like I said, we don't buy all of these items every month.  In fact right now, we're still doing fine with most non-fresh-food items :-).  I buy a little here, a little there, and it works great :-).

It seems complicated, but it's really not.  I run and get my milk after school every other Friday.  It takes an extra 15 minutes out of my day (and is well worth it to me).  I pick up my meat the opposite weeks on Thursday evening.  The pick up is at a local high school.  Again, takes maybe an additional 15 minutes.  The other shopping is every 2 weeks at Trader Joe's and maybe every 2-3 weeks to Walmart (not the same weeks as TJ's).  I go to Costco about once a month.  Ordering online is easy for many reasons and right now I have been ordering from Greenling for produce since I only needed fresh food items, so that makes it easy.  I'll just take it one pay day at a time :-).   

One thing that I love about Greenling is that they provide recipes to use the produce that you get, so half of my meal planning is done! :-)

Now that I have shared everything with you... what does YOUR budget look like?  If it is not where you want it, how can you make it what you want?  Maybe some more planning?  More homemade foods?  If it is lower and you are able to buy nutritious foods, I want to know your secret!  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Knocking the Wall Down

It started out rough, it got worse, and it ended with exhaustion.  Despite the fact that it was so difficult, a lot of good, hard work happened.  And despite the fact that I was exhausted last night, I was more at peace than I have been for a while.

Yesterday was my counseling day.  I had counseling with Robert, then by myself.  Then, yesterday evening I had Celebrate Recovery.  That's 4 hours of hard work, on top of the work that I did on my own at home.

I cried a LOT.  It's been a long time since I did that.  There's healing in tears.  There's healing in honesty. There's healing in hard work.

I have been building this wall of condemnation and expectation for years and years.  The words I use about myself have just been the cement that holds the wall together.

One of the things that my counselor has been working with me on is the words I use.  She reminds me that words matter.

The words that are red flags are: should, never, and always.  If I hear myself saying these words, I need to re-word the sentence.  They bring condemnation and are not helpful.  Finding scripture to combat the lies is helpful.

I constantly say that I am always anxious, I will never get better, and I should do this, this, and this.  Those words just put cement, sheet rock, and stucco on the walls that I have built up.

It's time to knock the wall down.

Something important that I've realized through the hard work is that it has taken years to build the wall, so it will take a while to knock the wall down.  I need to have a lot of self-compassion through this process and realize that I will have rough days.  That's normal.

We talked about contentment.  That life has seasons.  This is just the season of life that I'm in right now; that doesn't mean it will always be this way.  While I can't work right now, that doesn't mean I won't be able to again.  I need to think of things in life as front burner and back burner.  Right now, working needs to be on the back burner because I can only fit a few things on the front burner.  To operate more on the short-term (this week), but plan enough in the future to stay motivated.

So the things that I'm working on to knock that wall down are: pay attention to my red flag words and re-word them to be more helpful, remember to have self-compassion when I have a rough day and that it takes time to knock the wall down, be content in this season of life.

Another really important thing is working to stop ruminating on my anxiety.  The more I think about it and think about how I can make it better, the more anxious I get.  We talked about things that I can do in order to not just be home alone, thinking all the time.  That I need to compartmentalize things... work on my anxiety when it's the right time, but other than that, work on something else.  I do have homework (for counseling and Celebrate Recovery), but when it's not time to work on things, be more mindful of what I am in the middle of.  Engage with my husband and kids (be careful to not be in my mind, thinking too much), spend time with friends, maybe go to a woman's Bible study, and when I am home alone and working on something, put on music and sing along... maybe listen to fiction books on CD.  Ruminating on my anxiety makes it worse, working on my anxiety helps me heal.  They are two different things.  So, I am working on compartmentalizing it.

One piece of cement at a time.  One brick at a time.  One step at a time.  One minute at a time.

The wall will eventually be knocked down.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Lot of Work

I woke up this morning after having a panic attack in a dream (and not sleeping much).  I felt physically like I had just had one in real life.  I guess they're all the same... whether in a dream or real life.

It's been a hard road... a real rough journey.  Some days I feel okay, but the anxiety never really leaves me. And the feeling that it's something that I need to do or am doing never leaves me either.  I also feel like I am constantly affecting my family.  I hate it.  Hate it more than anyone will ever know.  I'm tired of it always weighing me down, and I'm tired of not being able to live a normal life because of it.

I realized yesterday that I haven't been stable for a long, long time.  I have been so unreliable over the years. And it's been because of being sick.

There have been times that I thought I was "better," but it was just a high moment.  I haven't been stable for more than a month at a time since I can remember.  That's why I have started jobs, only to have to leave... so many times.  I keep thinking I'm "better," then it hits hard and I can't function.

I think this time I'm realizing that I have a lot of work ahead of me still.

The amount of anxiety that I deal with isn't from just one thing, it's from a combination of things.  And until I figure out what that combination is, I will probably not be stable.

I'm so thankful for a supportive husband, but he's feeling the weight too.  And my kids feel it.  Levi was crying a bunch this morning, and I realized it was every time I walked out of the room.  You see, I've been so focused on getting better that sometimes my kids don't get the affection that they need.  I gave him a big hug and kiss and it helped him.  He just needed my affection (something that I don't give out very easily these days).

I won't be able to work a regular job until I can get stable.  This is hard for me.  I keep trying to find a job only to realize that God isn't opening those doors.  I feel like I don't know what to do with myself through the days (I'm not used to being alone so much), but God is allowing me so much time to work on myself, so I need to be doing that.  I have a lot of options for doing this, but I often push the work away because it's so hard.

A few things that I need to do... finish my Celebrate Recovery homework for the week (especially my letter to God that is due on Saturday), and write a letter to Joey (not looking forward to this).

Until next time...

Up to the Mountain

This video is absolutely amazing.  I realize it is a cover, but this is the best rendition of this song that I've seen.

The lyrics are so powerful.  This is where I feel like I am in my life right now.

I feel like I can write nothing that compares with the lyrics right now, so enjoy.

"Up to the Mountain"

I went up to the mountain
Because you asked me to
Up over the clouds
To where the sky was blue
I could see all around me
I could see all around me

Sometimes I feel like
I've never been nothing but tired
And I'll be walking
Till the day I expire
Sometimes I lay down
No more can I do
But then I go on again
Because you ask me to

Some days I look down
Afraid I will fall
And though the sun shines
I see nothing at all
Then I hear your sweet voice, oh
Oh, come and then go, come and then go
Telling me softly
You love me so

The peaceful valley
Just over the mountain
The peaceful valley
Few come to know
I may never get there
Ever in this lifetime
But sooner or later
It's there I will go
Sooner or later
It's there I will go

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Going Gluten Free

Well, the girls in the house are going gluten free.

After being so sad for Karis that she was sick again, I mentioned to the doctor that I wonder if she has some sort of allergy that is keeping her sick all the time.  I asked if we could do an allergy blood test.  He told me that while it is completely up to me, the test often comes back saying that people have more allergies than they do, so people start eliminating things that aren't necessary.  Plus, it doesn't show any intolerances.

He told me that really the best way to find out if certain foods are an issue is to eliminate them completely, 100% from the diet.  We have done that with dairy, and her digestion is better (she used to have accidents without even knowing it because of chronic constipation), but she still has a lot of symptoms of gluten intolerance.  In fact, I have done quite a bit of research the past few days and realize that she experiences about 7 of the symptoms out of the 10 most common.  That's a really good argument for a gluten intolerance.

I read this article yesterday, and it is a good breakdown of what I have seen in my research: 10 Signs Your Kid is Gluten Intolerant.

Karis' symptoms are: digestive issues, fatigue and brain fog, dark circles under her eyes, frequent colds (and strep, and sinus infections), runny nose that doesn't clear up (and cough), headaches, "mood issues" (mostly the inability to concentrate, and we have been considering ADD).

I have about 4 of the symptoms myself, and the biggest is my anxiety.  I wonder if it has anything to do with gluten.

The only way to really find out is by eliminating :-).

We're going to eliminate for about a month and do a food/symptoms log.  I imagine that the further away we get from having gluten in our system, our symptoms should get better and better.  If not, then there's something else involved!

I'm adding in probiotics as well for a little while to aid in healing the gut.  We'll continue the cod liver oil and whole foods vitamins, as well as using oils for seasonal allergy symptoms.

Between oils and eliminating gluten, I'm hoping to have a healthier girl in a month or so!

I've honestly been wanting to do this for a long time.  It took me hearing from the doctor to try eliminating to begin researching.  Not sure why... I typically don't wait for the doctor to tell me before doing things.  But I guess this one is so hard that I didn't want to :-).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Perfectionism, Part 2: Growing Where I'm Planted

I wrote yesterday how a lot of my anxiety comes from my perfectionism.  It's so interesting to see how perfectionism creeps into my heart and mind without me even realizing it.  I started feeling anxious again this morning and realized it was because of feeling imperfect.

Doing things the "right way" is every where.  From books to blog posts to Facebook.  It's so easy to think that what I'm doing is "not enough" just about 24/7.

There are blog posts that are circulating on Facebook right now that are good and helpful for some, but for me, it just reminds me of what I feel I should be doing...

I was reading a book the other day (I won't mention which one), and I felt immediate guilt for messing up in the area of finances.  So much of the time, books and blogs just make me feel even more like I need to be perfect.

I just feel like I'm never enough.

What is enough?

How do I know if I am enough?

I just am.  God has created me the way that I am for a reason and a purpose.  Trying to be perfect in every area just robs me of the joy that He has given me by His Spirit.

Where is the line between striving for perfection and striving for His will?  I'm not sure yet.  I know that He doesn't want me to waste money, to be in debt, to eat horribly, to yell at my kids, to be online too much and wasting time, to be a bad steward of the things He has given me, but when striving for good things comes before Him, then it's too much.

Today, I strive for balance.  I'm not perfect and I never will be.  I just want to live life and let little things go. I want to enjoy the little things and not worry about everything.  I'm working on it.  I know that God will bring me to this point one day; I can feel it.  He wants me to be mentally healthy.  He wants me to have joy.  He doesn't want me to focus on things that aren't supposed to be focused on.

Today, I won't worry about a semi-messy house, allowing my kids to just relax, financial things that are out of my control (and even things that are in my control), getting side jobs, what may or may not happen in the fall with part time jobs, a little higher numbers on the scale, all that I feel I need to get done, the inability to get everything done that I would like to get done, and I will focus on God's truth.


What is true?  He loves me right where I am.  He loves you right where you are.  I don't have to change. You don't have to change.
What is helpful?  Focusing on things other than Him is not helpful.  Focusing on being perfect in any area is not helpful. Focusing on Him and just living is helpful.
What is inspiring?  Helping others with what I've learned through my illness.
What is necessary?  Just living life... even though that means mess much of the time
What is kind?  Kind to myself- just being okay with who I am today.  Not expecting myself to be "better" or "different."  Kind to others- allowing God to use me to bless others.

I can learn to not be anxious about everything.  I can learn to just live and enjoy life.  I just have to do it, and trust that He will help me along the way.

I am learning to grow where I'm planted, even if the conditions aren't perfect.