Oops… I started this post a few weeks ago, and meant to post this closer to the beginning of November, but life happened. Mostly in terms of I’ve only been averaging 4-5 hours of highly interrupted sleep for the last 2 weeks, thanks to a baby who keeps waking up every 1.5-2 hours. Needless to say, writing hasn’t been much of a priority.
Anyway…we made it to the end of the month! And while we didn’t quite follow the challenge completely, it was an educational time for us. So I figured I’d elaborate on what did and didn’t work, and some different things we tried out that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
-It helped a lot that our only child is still so young. I’m breastfeeding and using cloth diapers, and he has a couple of months to go before he’s ready for solid food. So we didn’t have to spend a penny on him this month.
-That also helped curb our entertainment spending. We do have cable, mostly because we haven’t found a feasible way for my husband to watch his one and only sport love–hockey–without it. Especially because neither of the teams he follows are the most local one. And right now, it’s hard to keep up with any tv shows when the baby often starts crying too loudly to hear the dialogue partway through. So usual temptations, like getting a Redbox movie, are pointless right now.
-We started using our library more. I’ve borrowed a couple of books, including on my Kindle, and D discovered that he enjoys listening to audiobooks on his weekday commute. (I’m so pleased that he’s found a way to enjoy books that works for him!) Books are a strong temptation for me, so this is a good development for our budget.
-Avoiding the temptation to buy craft supplies was fairly easy, since I’m a slow crafter these days. But at least the day about clothing refashioning was an easy one for me to get into.
What didn’t work:
-I found it extremely difficult to plan enough meals to get us through the month, since I’m currently limited to things that cook fast or in the crock pot. Because of this, we ended up cheating and ordering pizza twice, on particularly stressful days where the baby wouldn’t sleep and we were just too exhausted to come up with anything on the fly.
-We also didn’t get the house all cleaned and organized, since baby carriers aren’t working for us, and he doesn’t like being put down for long. But this may be a blessing in disguise, since we want to do our thorough cleaning closer to when the baby starts crawling. Which he’s getting close to.
-I had one other cheat, but I’m not sorry. A former flute student of mine whose family moved away is adopting, and did an online book fair as a fundraiser. So I did buy a couple of kids books, and plan to use two of them as a jump start on Christmas shopping for the baby. It’s a good cause, and the show closed the day before the freeze ended.
I asked D his thoughts at the end of the month, and we agreed that we want to try again in a few months– tentatively March– and see if we can do better. My plan in the meantime to help us prepare is to keep trying to use up some of the oddball things in our pantry, and work on building my repertoire of crockpot recipes and freezer meals. And especially to get some things in the freezer for those days when pizza seems like the only option. And, well, try to find ways to save some money in December, considering that we have Christmas and two family birthdays to contend with. (We already bought our niece’s birthday and Christmas presents, so that should hopefully help by spreading things out a bit.)
And now, the fun part– things we tried that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise, with pictures!
1. Freezing extra homemade pizza dough. It took longer to rise, and probably needed a little more time than I remembered to give it. But it’s just as easy to mix a double batch as a single, so I think I’ll keep using this trick.
2. Crustless quiche. I wouldn’t make it the same way, since I was trying to use up some random summer sausage, and one thing I’ve learned this month is me eating sausage or pepperoni seems to correlate with the baby being extra fussy the next day. But with a different meat, I think this could be a good option for using up extra veggies. Or maybe as a vegetarian side dish.
3. A Tex-mex style fried rice, which I improvised the recipe for. This actually turned out tasty enough that I’d make it again. It would have been even better with some cheese, but it’s a start.
4. Making homemade chocolate syrup, for chocolate milk one night. D said he still likes the Hershey syrup better, but it was a good way to use some of the ridiculous amount of cocoa that we have.