Monday, January 14, 2008

Living Simple: my update

Because I know that you're all waiting on pins and needles to hear how my shopping trip went today, I am going to be kind enough to let you know.

First of all, it was only 2 hours instead of three. That's improvement right there, folks.

Unfortunately, I spent a lot more than I was hoping to. A lot. I spent $163.00 and only saved $102.00. I am trying to look at my receipts and figure out what the culprit was, and I am just not sure. I do know it was at WalMart, because I spent double there this week from what I did last week.

So, I include laundry stuff and toothpaste and paper goods and all that kind of stuff in my grocery bill, and I did have to buy a lot of that today, so that's part of it. We were out of a lot of spices we use often, and even though I had a coupon for them, spices can be expensive. The biggest issue is our milk, though. Our entire house is either lactose intolerant or just plain allergic to milk. Bria is also allergic to soy, so we get rice milk for the kids and me and LactAid for Joel. So freaking expensive.

I need to cut down on the amount of milk the baby drinks...some days she can drink an entire 1/2 gallon because she asks for it so often. Does anybody know how much milk a 17 month old baby (toddler, I guess) should be drinking a day? I don't. Anyway, if I limit her milk (within reason and healthy limits, of course), that should make a huge difference. Well, not a huge difference, but at nearly 8 bucks a gallon, saving a little will go a long way.

Still, I spent about as much as I normally do and got quite a bit more than usual. So it's all good. And things will get easier as I really get the hang of what's a good deal and what isn't, and have enough on hand that I can actually wait for the sale prices.

In other simplification news, I have found the single biggest factor in helping my life run more smoothly and giving me more time, is making sure that the kitchen is sparkling clean before I go to bed. It is something that I often left until the morning, and I am finding that nothing ruins your day like a sink full of dirty dishes right when you wake up.

I am working to declutter many things, and it feels good to get rid of so much stuff that's occupying unecessary space in my life. I am spending my time a little bit more wisely, and not wasting as much of it as I have in the past.

All in all, things are going well. By the end of the year, I will be the guru of simple.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. Dang, living simple is a lot of work! I didn't realize you were all lactose intolerant. That milk is soooo expensive!

  2. I'm glad things are going so well for you, Lara! The groceries in your area probably cost much more than they do here in the south.

  3. I'm all for cleaning the night before -- makes a BIG difference.

  4. It takes even less time if you NEVER have the kitchen sparkling clean...

    KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!! Ok, sort of kidding...


  5. I agree about the clean kitchen. I have started doing that too and it really gets my day off to a better start. Oh answer your question about the amount of milk a toddler should drink our doc says that ds(I think he is just a few months younger than Sophia) should not be drinking more than 16-24 oz. a day. HTH:)

  6. Lara,

    My mom actually introduced me to your blog back in the summer, and I read it daily, but I've never commented (until today). I've just recently started a blog of my own, and I really enjoy it.

    Thanks for sharing all of the wonderful pictures of your beautiful girls! And, your stories are always delightful. I still laugh thinking of Sophie using your camera phone to take pictures. I have a 15 month old daughter myself, and I laughed so hard the first time I read that entry as I could only picture my little girl eventually doing the same thing.

    As for cutting out coupons, I'd recommend you check out the following website:

    This woman started this website years ago because she wanted to stay home with her children, and it has been featured on Good Morning America, etc. It is WONDERFUL to assist with cutting out coupons as it helps you use your coupons along with the sales ads weekly to get the best deal. Often times, after using the coupon and the sales ad from the store, some things are free!!! And, you can print out a grocery list from her website after you decide which coupons you want to use.

    And, I also go to 4 different grocery stores every week including Wal-Mart for my staples, Kroger for my produce (because Wal-Mart's produce seems to go bad on me very fast), Publix for my meats and Sam's for those wholesale items such as diapers, etc.

    I agree with you on trying to keep the kitchen clean before going to bed every evening. That is the #1 thing I've found to help my day go more smoothly as well because I feel that everything about motherhood so far has to do with eating or drinking or grocery shopping. I feel like I spend more time in the kitchen than anywhere else. If my kitchen is not clean when I wake up in the morning, I feel like my day is in turmoil after that. I also try to empty the dishwasher first thing (before breakfast, if possible).

    Also, not sure if you've tried this, but my sister-in-law had created an Excel spreadsheet that broke down her grocery list by Produce, Dairy, Meats, etc. I decided to create my own of items needed on an ongoing basis. It has pretty much everything I buy on it, so I just scan the list as I plan my menu and then highlight or circle the items I need.

    I'm going to post a picture of it to my blog now if you're interested in it. If I could figure out how to post a file for people to download (without someone corrupting my blog or adding a virus to hurt others who download it) I would do that as well, so if you know a way, let me know.

    Thanks again for sharing your life and pictures! You brighten my day!

  7. We spend about $250.00 a month on household expenses a month. About $100.00 every 2 weeks on food. $50.00 a month for laundry detergent and diapers. We plan every meal out that we eat so I only buy exactly what we need. I also cook nearly every thing for scratch, so that cuts our expenses a ton.

    For the milk and your babe. I've been told, by a dietitian, 3 cups a day. Now how that is possible, I don't know. Olivia drinks a lot. We do milk bottles and also watered down juice bottles. She'd take water in her bottle, too. We try to stick to a half gallon a day, per the whole family. Milk is so expensive right now - - every thing is getting that way.

    You're doing great by your family.
    Keep your chin up!!

  8. Lara,

    Our pediatrition told us that Caleb (who is a month older the Sophie) should have no more than 20 oz. a day. I don't know how much he gets at day care but I give him a cup when he wakes up and when we get home.

    Good luck with the coupons. I have never gotton the hang of it. I have wondered if it is really worth it because then you have to buy the name brand to use the coupon and when a coupon is for 50 cents off but the store brand is 75 cents less...but I have never really tried it.

    I also think there few things worse in life than waking up to a dirty kitchen.


  9. That's how it was when I first started couponing too. Took forever (still can), and my bill was about the same except I was buying A LOT more stuff. We have food storage now (albeit a rather strange food storage), but we are way ahead in the food game. I'm so grateful for my coupons!

    Keep up the good work! You'll be saving a ton of money before you know it... well, you are now... but before long, you'll actually be able to SEE it.

  10. I don't know about any of the coupon-sense stuff - most of what I buy is not in the coupons, plus I definitely don't have the patience for it...I wish I did...but on the simplicity note, I thought I would pass along a quote that I actually have in vinyl lettering on my office wall by Leonardo DaVinci that says "Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophisticaion". Something to look forward to it. I'll let you know when I achieve it...still trying.

  11. I'm not sure what the food store scene is like where you live, but is there a store in your town where you can buy things in bulk? The two key things I'm talking about are grains (rice, flour, pasta, oats, etc.) and SPICES. I live in Minneapolis, and I go to the hippy food co-op and buy spices in bulk there. It's seriously the best-kept secret in the world for me. So what might cost me 7 bucks in a jar is only like 49 cents in bulk! You just fill little paper bags, and then transfer them to your jars at home...or you can bring your own jars right into the store.

    Anyway, it's worth looking into...if you can find something like that in your town, you'll end up saving SO much money.

  12. Milk prices are ridiculous! I can't imagine having to buy special milk on top of that. I only give my kids milk 3 times a day and by the time they are 2 1/2 they only get it twice a day. Now I have to force Ellie to drink her 2 cups a day.