The Teenage Boy and the Toilet Paper

Sometimes I feel all alone in this big old house full of men. It’s five-on-one here, with me being the only female in a house full of males. A husband, four sons, and me, the wife and mom, speaking a language all my own. How frequent it is that I speak sentences full of words no one understands.

Or so it seems.

Family at Nebraska City

Perhaps I do provide too many details when I share fun news. “Our friends had their baby!” I say, following up my announcement with the size, weight, details, details, details, and details that we all most certainly care about very much! I finally come up for air, and they all give an appreciative nod and a “cool” or a “nice” before zoning back into whatever it was they were doing before I started my speech.

Sometimes it seems like they aren’t listening. Sometimes it seems like they don’t care.

I know better though. They hear. And they definitely care. They just aren’t as interested as I am in the color of the darling bow the baby wore on her head on the way home from the hospital (multi-colored with flowers, thanks for asking).

My boys and I shop together, but I’m alone at the rack with cute sweaters and adorable tops. We have a blast anyway, meeting back up and high-fiving over the clearance deals we’ve all found. We laugh together about the weird shorts that are still on the rack for so many obvious reasons, but wonder together if we should actually buy them for Asa because if anyone could pull off such ridiculous looking apparel and make it look cool, it would be him.

Hangers in the clothing store.

The fun I have with my household of men truly takes my breath away, even while there are times I long for any one of them to get excited with me about how great it would be if we actually put all the shoes in the closet where they belong. The fact that no one but me can see the pile of books on the steps that needs to be carried upstairs blows my mind. How do they walk over and around them twelve times but never once see them and pick them up to take them to the place they need to go? I do not understand this.

school books 20152

But I’ve learned that the fact that they don’t always see doesn’t mean that they don’t care. And just because their faces don’t light up over the news of a new baby or the sight of a clean kitchen doesn’t mean they aren’t excited or appreciative.

As their mom, I will continue to share too many details, because I can’t help it and after all, someone needs to prepare them to hear all the details and words their wives will some day share with them every day, am I right? My arms will flail and my eyes will light up and my voice will show ridiculous inflection as I tell about the exciting deal I found on strawberries and a new recipe I’m excited to try as a result, even though they will only shrug after hearing my details and simply say, “Cool. Can we have some?”

strawberry_shortcake_muffins_2

But then there will be the day when the basket that holds the rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom becomes empty and I will look up to see my 15-year old son get a full package out of storage, open it, and fill the basket just like I have been doing for years. He wasn’t asked to do this chore. I didn’t even know he knew my system. But there he is. Filling baskets with toilet paper.

toilet paper1

toilet paper2

These are actual baskets in our actual bathroom,
filled with actual toilet paper by an actual teenage boy. 

Apparently, they do see. They do notice. They do care.

My eyes light up over this! I gush with appreciation, using many words and flailing arms to express my thanks! He responds with a wordless shrug, because after all, it’s just toilet paper.

No, Son. It’s more than that. Here, let me tell you in detail why this is means so much to me…

The Teenage Boy and the Toilet Paper

How I Much I’ve Spent on Groceries So Far in February (and What I Bought)

I promised I’d share all my grocery purchases with you in February, so here goes! Now you can see everything I buy that fills up my great big grocery budget. Don’t forget who I’m feeding though. We sure do love us a lot of good food.

family-sillysm

The month started off with a big (expensive) bang because I had appointments in Lincoln on Feb. 1. So I hit my favorite city stores and stocked up since I don’t go there very often.

I went to Aldi and Fresh Thyme Market, both of which are such fun places to shop! (My hometown only has one kind-of-pricey-in-my-opinion local store and a Super Walmart.)

Two things about my Aldi trip this time around:

  1. There are four items I love buying there, so I always get at least an entire case of each every time I’m there since I don’t get to go to Aldi very often. You’ll see in the pic below that I bought a case of organic salsa, a case of organic black beans, a case of organic spaghetti sauce…and you can’t see it but I also bought a case of cream cheese.
  2. Our church was hosting a big youth rally that weekend, and we had signed up to house 13 teenage boys Friday and Saturday nights. I know from experience to have a LOT of food on hand for snacks (even though they eat their main meals at the church building on Saturday). I bought six take-and-bake pizzas for the weekend (for only $5 each!), a case of juice (a fun splurge), a few boxes of granola bars, plus some tortillas and shredded cheese so I could make a big breakfast burrito bar for all the teens Sunday morning before church. Sooooo, if you see items in the picture that shock you (junkie pizzas and store-bought white tortillas?? what??) that’s why. :)

groceries feb 172

As you can see from the pictures, I combined my Aldi purchases with my Fresh Thyme Market purchases. I bought a lot of produce at Fresh Thyme Market, and their coffee was on sale, so I stocked up. (Jamaican Blue Mountain – my favorite from FTM).)

groceries feb171

Here’s the itemized breakdown of my shopping trip:

Aldi, Feb. 1

12 cans organic black beans $9.48
24 packages cream cheese $30.96
12 jars organic pasta sauce $23.88
Snacks for youth rally (granola bars/crackers) $5.36
Juice bottles for youth rally $9.99
2 packages tortillas for youth rally $3.38
6 pizzas for youth rally $30.94
16 jars organic salsa $30.24
2 jars banana peppers $2.98
3 boxes applesauce pouches (for Asa to keep in the dorm for a quick snack) $5.67

Total: 152.88

Fresh Thyme Market, Feb. 1

6 packages coffee $29.94
1 package pepper jack cheese (to surprise Justus) $3.33
6 packages shredded cheese for youth rally breakfast burritos (BOGO deal) $8.97
8 pounds butter $20.00
Case of sparkling water (my fizzy treat!) $3.99
2 pounds strawberries $5.00
5 pounds carrots $2.99
1 pound baby carrots for youth rally $1.50
1.64 pounds Broccoli $1.62
5 pounds Gala Apples for our family and for the youth rally $5.26
4 avocados $2.00
2 pints organic grape tomatoes $3.00
2 red peppers $1.98
2.49 pound red grapes for our family and for the youth rally $2.47
5.82 pounds bananas for our family and for the youth rally $3.43

Total: $95.48

A note on why I spend extra and compromise on nutrition by buying processed food when we host a houseful of teenage boys during the youth rally:

  • Last year during youth rally weekend, I got eight hours of sleep – total – during the entire weekend. I know I have to be very careful about what I take on so I don’t overdo and wear myself out.
  • We go through a high volume of food, and I don’t have time/energy to make everything homemade. (Roll out and cook enough tortillas to feed 13 teenage boys breakfast burritos on a Sunday morning? I don’t think so.)
  • They don’t care if it’s homemade. They eat it as fast as we can crank it out.
  • We have relationships with most of these boys because of our time spent with them at church camp each summer. If I’m distracted with intense cooking, I miss out on more important relationship-building time with them.

Moving on beyond the weekend (in which I got a total of 12 hours of sleep – a big improvement over last year!)…

A few days later, Matt had to run to Wal-Mart so while he was there he picked up containers of organic spinach and organic mixed greens. We try to keep these on hand at all times so we can eat salads every day.

groceries feb 173

Walmart, Feb. 6

16-ounces Organic mixed greens $5.98
5-ounces Organic baby spinach $3.46

Total: $9.44

Once each month, we order from Azure Standard, a great food co-op based out of Oregon. Pick-up day was Tuesday, and here’s what we got:

azure order feb17

Azure, Feb. 7

5 pounds organic carrots $4.00
3 pounds organic onions $3.25
10 pounds organic frozen green beans $21.90
10 pounds organic frozen peas $22.25
50 pounds organic golden potatoes $45.00
5 pounds dry roasted peanuts $13.15

$109.55 + $9.31 shipping -$25 credit

Total: $93.86

Wednesday we were almost out of fresh fruit, so I made a list of items I could price-match, and headed to Walmart.

Note: I also needed a few ingredients to complete meals I was making to take to a family who just had a new baby and to take to our local rescue mission.

groceries feb 174

Walmart, Feb 8

3 jars pizza sauce (for the mission meal) $3.42
1/2 gallon half-n-half $3.98
1.91 pounds bananas $1.05
1.65 pounds broccoli (for the mission meal) $2.87
14 ounces Hormel Naturals smoked turkey (to pack sandwiches for our basketball games over the weekend) $5.76
2 cans natural olives $4.52
Sour cream $3.94
2 pounds hamburger meat (to make burritos for the new parents) $4.16
16 pack tortillas (to make burritos for the new parents) $4.58
7.65 pounds of red grapes (pricematched at $0.97/pound – some for the mission, some for our family) $7.43
3 pounds strawberries (pricematched at $1.79 each) $5.37
2 pints blueberries (pricematched at $2.00 each) $4.00
6 ounces raspberries (pricematched) $2.00
Grape tomatoes (pricematched) $0.97
6 pounds clementines (pricematched at $2.49/package) $4.98
2.97 pounds gala apples (pricematched at $0.88/pound) $2.61
3 pounds bartlett pears (pricematched at $0.97/pound) $2.91

Total: $64.55

If I’ve done my math correctly (don’t hold your breath), so far this month we’ve spent $416.21 + $108 average for our bulk meat we buy once per year = $524.21.

Price-matching saves us a great deal of money since locally my best option is to shop Walmart. (I’d heard a rumor that price-matching was going away, but a friend who works at Wal-mart told me that nope, it’s still alive and kicking!) Do you price, or do you live close to stores with good sale prices?

I have to go back to Lincoln for another appointment this week, so I’ll get to go to Fresh Thyme Market and Aldi again. It’s rare for me to make it there twice in one month!

One would think after looking at the pictures of all the food I bought during the first 8 days of the month that we’d have enough to last us a while. Yep, one would think. :)

Watch for another post later in February sharing an update of our spending. Can I stay within budget? Maybe even come under budget a little? This all remains to be seen. :)

How’s your grocery budget coming along so far this month?

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Quick reminder: The awesome MELT Massage discount offer ends Feb. 14. This is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for you and your honey to enjoy together forever. LOVE IT!! Get the details here.

How Much I Spend on Groceries for My Family Full of Teenage Boys (Brace Yourself)

Curious what I spend on groceries each month?

I decided it was time for me to write an updated post sharing details of our family’s average monthly food budget. It’s a lot bit different than it was when our kids were little. Our sons are now 19, 17, 15, and 12. (Matt and I are 43, but that’s entirely beside the point.)

This post is not for the faint of heart.

Can you handle the truth?

Please, take a seat.

How Much I Spend on Groceries for My Family Full of Teenage Boys

Maybe the numbers won’t astound you. Maybe you’ll see my budget and say, “Eh. Is that it?” Yes. That’s probably what you’ll say. I’m just sure of it.

Why am I sharing our grocery budget numbers? Because I’ve been seeing a lot of posts recently shared by women who feed their families for just $50 per week. I’m happy for them, and it’s all well and good that those women are able to feed their families for such a small amount. But you guys? That’s how much it costs to feed my family PER DAY.

Well, not quite. Just almost. I exaggerate. Only a tiny bit.

Good thing they’re worth it…

family1sm

Here’s the truth about my grocery budget: I could cut back here and there. I could feed us beans and rice more often. I could spend less each month by making a few changes in what I purchase. But I’m not going to do any of those things at this point, and here’s why…

  • My teenage boys would not get full if I fed us differently (they are athletes and they need food with substance)
  • I believe strongly that food is meant for nourishment (and that it should taste amazing)
  • I feel that it is very important to offer a high volume of fresh fruits and vegetables (I probably spend $100/week on produce alone)
  • We love sharing our food with others (and find that we often have extras around our table)
  • We prefer eating whole foods as much as possible, in balance (but sometimes I buy take-and-bake pizza because a girl’s gotta live a little)

groceries Lincoln

I wondered how our budget would change once our oldest went off to college a year and a half ago. Turns out, nothing changed. If anything, it increased (someone please hand me a tissue). I think it’s because our other boys keep getting bigger and eating more. It’s also because, even though Asa lives on campus and eats most of his meals at the cafeteria, we feed extra college kids when Asa brings his friends home (and I love it so much that I would feed the whole campus if he brought them to our table).

groceries 318

I buy food from about 7 different sources, so adding it all up and averaging it all out is a bit of a challenge. For instance, we recently bought a half beef and a whole lamb. We’re hoping that will last us an entire year, but I don’t have my hopes up. For the sake  of budgeting though, you’ll see when I crunch the numbers below that I’ve divided the total meat amount by 12 months.

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I go to Lincoln for a doctor appointment about once each month, so while there I hit Aldi and Fresh Thyme Market (my absolute favorite!). We have one local grocery store (not a chain, not great prices) and a Super Walmart that I hit in town each week (except for the week I go to Lincoln).

I order online at Amazon. I order from Azure Standard, our health food co-op. I order from Vitacost (though most of that is free credit, thanks to many of you!) I order from Tropical Traditions when they have free shipping mixed with great sales.

We get eggs, milk, and beef/lamb from local farmers.

So that’s about all I can babble about before I share the actual numbers. (Though raise your hand if you skipped all the blah-blah-blah and went right to the bottom of this post to see that part already. That’s right. I’m on to you.)

groceries 411

But one more thing.

This is not about comparing, feeling better than or less than or anything in between. We all have different budgets based on needs, family size, prices where we live, grocery store options, and on it goes.

And can I just say that I’m very thankful my boys don’t like drinking milk? I think it keeps us from the poor house that they don’t drink it and we only use one gallon each week for cooking.

One more thing (last one, I promise). Our family schools at home and works from home. Therefore all three meals every day for every person in our family (except our oldest son away at college) are eaten at home.

My Grocery Budget Break-Down Average for each Month

  • Local grocery stores = $150-200 per week x 3 weeks = $450-$600
  • Lincoln grocery stores (I go to Aldi and Fresh Thyme Market about once each month) = $250 total
  • Local farmer for milk = $20
  • Local farmers for eggs = $30 (we are spoiled with great egg prices!)
  • Azure Standard = average $150 per month
  • Amazon subscribe and save = average $100 per month
  • Local 100% grass fed meat purchased once each year (1/2 beef + whole lamb) = $1,300 per year = $108 per month

Grand total of what I spend on groceries each month:

$1,100-$1,250

If that isn’t enough to make a mama pass out.

And no. That doesn’t include our toilet paper.

This is why we rarely eat out. This is why we make so many foods from scratch. This is why we rarely go to the movie theater. This is why we drive older, so-so vehicles. This is why we don’t buy many pre-made processed foods.

And yes. This is what keeps us healthy.

That’s what it’s all about right?

A huge perk —> We have Christian Healthcare Ministries as our health insurance and we pay very little per month. (Read more about that here, because CHM is amazing.) Since our monthly premium is so very low, that helps us afford to pay more for quality groceries (and keep our athletic sons in good shoes – I can’t even).

I Challenge Myself

Couponing is no longer worth my time. But I do want to challenge myself in the coming months to see if there are any other ways I can come up with to save a little on our budget. I don’t have my hopes up. I won’t negotiate on quality. But stay tuned. I want to try to document my shopping trips with pictures and receipts to share with you. Interested?

Want to share your grocery budget numbers with us? We promise to keep it fun and encouraging! We’re all friends here.