Sunday, March 16, 2014

My 30 day challenge results

Today marks the end of my 1 month social media fast. Wow! This past month really flew by.  First of all, I just want to throw it out there and recommend to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by Facebook and Instagram to just step back and take a small break. It was a great learning experience for me and I was able to really enjoy every moment with my family and friends without being distracted by checking my phone all of the time. Second of all, I learned that being on Facebook and Instagram isn't a bad thing at all! I have come to love "following" friends and family on their accounts just simply admiring everyone's beautiful and unique lives. I genuinely feel like I have made some new and long lasting friends just from these social media outlets and I'm so grateful for those relationships. Thirdly, I was able to accomplish most of the goals that I had set for this time period. I tweaked one of the goals and one of them I don't think I completely accomplished, but I will elaborate on that later! My first goal was to paint something for Brooklyn's room! This was the funnest goal to work on and I did it the very first day that I started the challenge! I have to admit something here... I'm lucky, because my sweet Mother is an art teacher at home and so I had access to a canvas, paint, and some crafty things which made this goal a lot easier to accomplish and a lot cheaper. For fun I'm going to post one of her paintings here so you can see how good she is!!! Hope she doesn't mind. :)
Amazing right? She has this one hanging in one of her hallways. (Thanks for sharing the love, mama). My painting doesn't even come close to hers haha. I haven't formally taken any art classes beyond college drawing, but I had fun doing this and It adds some fun colors to Brooklyn's nursery!

Final Product!

The second goal that I made was to learn how to use coupons to save a lot of $$$ on groceries! This is the goal that I tweaked a little bit. I'm still in the process of learning how to use the coupons, but in the mean time I started to meal plan and I can say that I save at least $100 a month on groceries now. On our starving student budget... that is HUGE for us! I'm hoping that what I share can help other people to save money and at the same time, make new meals for the family. :) So, I'm a visual learner and I explain things the best by using pictures! (I'll share them in a second). I do my meal planning and weekly grocery shopping on Saturday's. Some people might prefer to do their shopping on a different day, but this has worked out the best for me. It usually takes about an hour! I don't mind though, because it has become "my thing," and once you get the hang of it... it's pretty fun! I combined this goal with my "Learn 5 new yummy meals goal," and it turned out to be a success. I make a list of a few new meals that I want to learn that week and I get the recipes just from online or Pinterest. I take a piece of paper and write down the days of the week and the I fill in the meal that I plan to make for each day.  I try to plan meals so that I can use a certain ingredient more than once during the week. For example... One day I plan on making a pot roast and then use the remaining meat (leftovers) and use different spices to make beef tacos or something like that. I also try to use recipes that use the same fresh herbs and spices. Cilantro is one of my favorites to finish off during a week. I then write down my grocery list for the week according to the meals that I am going to make and also according to the food that I already have in my pantry. There are obviously some staples that I get every week no matter what... my fruits, eggs, bread...etc. Here is what it might look like:

Sunday: Pot roast with potatoes & carrots
Monday: Beef Tacos w/fruit salad (use left over beef for tacos)
Tuesday: Lemon chicken pasta w/artichokes & feta (use left over feta for salads)
Wednesday: Southwestern eggrolls & avocado salad (use extra cilantro for quesadillas)
Thursday: Chicken & veggie Spaghetti w/side salad
Friday: Homemade pizza (use leftover tomato sauce for pizza sauce)
Saturday: Quesadillas

Grocery list:
.... groceries will vary according to what you already have at home to use in your meals for that week and what you need beyond just your main meals like your staples. Another way that I save a lot of money is shopping sales and also not buying brand name foods and supplies. There are a few brands that I prefer and I will budget for a little extra in costs, but seriously... generic brands usually taste the same or have the same quality as name brand items.

Ok, so this might  be crazy to some people, but my weekly budget for food is $60 (including diapers when I need them or household items). It doesn't seem like a lot, but I come home with all of the food that I need that week and then some and I usually never go over my budget. I understand that some of you are feeding more than 2-3 people, so you can just make your budget out to match the needs of your family! I hope that this isn't confusing. Here are some pictures of my meal plans that I make and actually take to the grocery store with me.

Although I am still in the process of learning how to use coupons... I do know that you will find coupons in the Sunday newspapers (you can buy them at grocery stores, gas stations, or get a weekly subscription) as well as online ( etc. Once You learn how to use coupons on top of meal planning on top of sales.... you can save a ton of money and put that extra money into savings. Sounds good to me! Hope all of this makes sense. If this just helps only one person out there then I will be happy. Money is hard to come by these days and you might as well save where you can!

As for my other goals and more ... I will be sharing those separately on different posts here soon! I love you all and I'm so grateful for all of the love and support that I get from you. Here's to a great week ahead of us!

Some recent photos of the family:


                                                          Hasta muy pronto

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