Budget Day 63: Call Me Scrooge

I already find it challenging to keep my children’s intake of sweets to a minimum on a regular basis, but during the month of December? It is almost downright impossible to keep things under control. A month or two ago we decided that the best balance for us would be to (of course) stick to eating real food as much as possible, but to also allow ourselves one “treat” of our choice over the weekend. The last thing I want is for my daughters to start raiding the pantries at their friends’ houses after not getting any junk food at home! Plus, most things in moderation are okay.

Now, it is no secret that I have a sweet tooth myself and (not that anybody’s asked) all I’ve wanted for my “special weekend treat” is one darn donut! And have I gotten to take my girls out to Krispy Kreme to watch the donuts being made and enjoy eating them together hot off the conveyer belt? No, because it unfortunately has not yet been up to me what the weekend treat will be. The school or birthday party or other social gathering always seems to be making that decision for us. You see if my girls are invited to a birthday party, the cake (or parfait or whatever it is) automatically becomes their special treat for the weekend. And since some sort of social event seems to be going on almost every week I eventually stopped holding out for that donut, but unfortunately already put my eye on a new prize…Christmas cookies. And not just any Christmas cookies, the homemade from scratch kind that take all day to roll out, cut out, bake, and decorate with super sugary icing. The point is that our treats are so few and far between it would be nice if at least once in a blue moon I could decide (and even make) the delectable treat for us!

Which brings me to why I am feeling like such a scrooge. With the holiday treat overload between school and other parties I could not even imagine what it would be like if I was also providing some kind of holiday cookie or junk food at home. So when an annual cookie exchange party with some friends came up my immediate thought was “what in the world would I do with 8 little bags of cookies in my house?” Yikes. But, at the same time I certainly didn’t want to miss out on a fun evening with my girlfriends. So at the risk of making them think I was a little loony I asked if I could go, but not do the exchange part. Luckily, my friends know me well enough to not judge me too much. I do admit to feeling like a little bit of a scrooge though! It certainly has become quite a challenge to try to escape the candy, cookie, and sugar part of this holiday.

In other news, today ends our 9th week of sticking to real food on a budget. Of course, as I mentioned, we’ve had our occasional non-real food treats, but the fact of the matter is I have not used one penny of our $125/week on anything that doesn’t follow our original real food rules. Here’s how this week wrapped up with a whopping 7 cents left…

I hate that I didn’t have any money left for the farmer’s market this weekend. I always like to have a good supply of local produce on hand, but unfortunately I spent a little more than I should have at Trader Joe’s and Earth Fare. It was a tough week to put aside money for the market when I had to spend  $15 to replenish our coffee and espresso supply. Other than that we did okay though…this is what we ate for dinner each night…

  • Monday: Cheesy chicken macaroni dish (from my new Eating Well on a Budget cookbook)
  • Tuesday: My husband was out of town so we had pancakes (and fruit) for dinner!
  • Wednesday: Black bean croquettes, brown rice, and quesadillas (pictured…the croquettes were also from the same new cookbook and they were good)
  • Thursday: Butternut squash ravioli (I just made some dough and used leftover frozen filling from the last time we had this dish)
  • Friday: The adults ate at a party, the kids had leftover ravioli, a little bit of quesadilla, and frozen peas
  • Saturday: The adults ate at a party (again!), the kids had baked sweet potato, whole wheat macaroni noodles with butter/cheese/salt, and more frozen peas
  • Sunday: Quiche and a side of spinach

We are hosting Christmas this year and expecting some out-of-town guests in a few days. So this upcoming budget week might be a little tricky, but I will do my best to keep things straight.

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  • Comments

    1. tammy |

      I’m headed to a cookie exchange tomorrow and decided to make the chocolate power balls that I’ve read so much about. Question: If I buy the bar of unsweetened chocolate do you know how many squares I use (you have it listed as 3 tbsp, but I think the squares are in ounces)

      I’m slowing making the transition to whole foods, but it’s a slow one! Your website has definitely inspired me!!

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        I think I may be getting this response to you a little late! I am sorry…I am really behind due to the holidays. I hope everything worked out for you! :)

    2. jason |

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    3. Gretchen |

      I think breaking the budget for Christmas doesn’t count – it should be apart of the “gift” budget because hosting is gift to the guests. Just my two cents – ;) (at least that is what I tell my husband – hehe)

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        Thank you for saying that b/c I always seem to feel lots of guilt when there are “non-budget” activities going on!

    4. Lyndsay |

      Do you have a good “Real” cookie recipes? I love oatmeal cookies…

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        Unfortunately our tight budget doesn’t allow us to have any leftover money for cookie experiments! I wish we could though b/c I love to bake…we will have to try some recipes when our real food on a budget pledge is over!

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    8. GourmetOnADiet |

      You have a cookbook coming out??? How exciting! I’m jealous! ;)

      When you guys are out, are the kids with a sitter? Do you leave planned for them what they’re to eat? I guess I don’t have to worry about this yet, really, but I’m impressed. When I used to babysit people would leave money for pizza — for me! And the kids would eat something processed and gross like chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese — the really picky ones yogurt and cereal. I hope my little guy turns out to have more of a palate. I’ve decided to stop giving him those “puffs” that dissolve in his mouth because they have too many ingredients, and I’m even hedging my bets about Cheerios, but I don’t know what else to give him to snack on…I guess I will need to start cutting up little pieces of fruit at home and leave Cheerios as a to-go sort of thing. You are helping me change for the better. Thank you!

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        No I don’t have a cookbook coming out…not sure what I said to make it sound like that?!? Sorry for the confusion!

        Also, whenever we have a babysitter (even it is as early as 6:00) I always feed my kids before she comes over. Not that it would be a big problem because we don’t buy anything processed anymore so my kids can eat absolutely anything they want in our house (which is so nice!). Not sure how old your little one is, but some other ideas are whole-wheat toast torn or cut into bite sized pieces, pancakes (which you can make and also freeze for later…just microwave for 30 seconds each time you need one), or bite size shredded wheat cereal (with no sugar coating of course).

    9. Melissa M. |

      Obviously I’m a little late with this comment, but I would recommend giving spiced nuts instead of cookies. There are several recipes you can find online for healthy versions (some with egg whites instead of butter to keep the spices on the nuts). I made 2 versions last year, put them in pretty little jars (some found from thrift stores), and wrapped them with fancy ribbon. They made perfect (and well-received) gifts for the friends I wanted to include in my holidays/celebrate with, but for whom I couldn’t afford to buy bigger-ticket items.

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