Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Simplification: January update

This is just to keep myself accountable.

For January, I focused on simplifying my grocery shopping. Not so much making it easier or having it take less time, but working on saving as much money as I could by joining Grocery Game and sticking to my budget.

While it took me nearly the whole month to get things running smoothly, I am at the point now where I think it is totally doable and I know it will only get easier. Yesterday was the first day that I spent less than 150 dollars for the week ($106.06 for 22 bags of groceries!). Part of it has been the stocking up phase: Picking up items when they are free or dirt cheap, and keeping them in storage. The other part is just really still a learning curve and knowing what is the best deal.

One important lesson I learned is to always take my coupon file with me to the store, even if I'm just running in for milk. Because, my husband might call and tell me we need balsamic vinegar, and I'll be upset to find I had a dollar off coupon for the exact brand I bought that was only $1.12 in the first place! And now, when will we ever need balsamic vinegar again? Probably in 3 years, as that is how long our last bottle lasted us.

All in all, I am happy with what I have done. My pantry and garage shelves are very well stocked, Sophia is drinking less milk and saving us a few bucks there, my fridge isn't empty by Thursday morning and I spent about the same amount of money this month as I usually do without doing the Grocery Game.

Now, simplification in other areas of my life? Not going so well.

I have a lot on my plate in the next couple of months. Aside from all of my normal responsibilities, I was asked to participate with the SUU choir in a world premiere on February 21st. The song is in an African language and is not an easy one. I have added 2 rehearsals a week to my life in preparation for that. I was also asked to sing in a benefit concert on March 8. It will probably be 2 or 3 duets with another singer in town. Most of the pieces we have to choose from are very simple, but there is a Rossini that we'll definitely be doing that is a beast. Of course, on top of all that, I added the Hall of Fame contest on my own volition. I'm happy to report I have 5 layouts totally completed (I adore them), and 2 others in various stages of complete...hopefully tonight those will be finished. Then it's just 2 more and the non layout project. I wish I could show you all what I've done, but it's against the rules to post online until after winners have been notified. I could email you if you're interested. Or you could come over to my house and look. Happy to show anyone who cares. :)

So, my life remains quite busy. Nothing changed there. For February I am going to figure out how to simplify my housework. I've made a few good changes this month, but need more ideas. It is just frustrating to me that I can spend hours cleaning only to have it all destroyed in a single moment when the Tasmanian Devils get home. The simplest thing would be to hire a maid, but that is both out of the question and the budget.

But who cares about all that, my grocery process is simpler! And that was all I asked of myself this month.

Here's to a great February!
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. I think my biggest household help is to have the kids help -- they need to realize about organizing and putting stuff away.
    It will be painful now, but helpin the long run. :)

  2. I've always been afraid to do the grocery game.. probably for the fear of lack of knowledge!!!!
    But .. that's GREAT!!!! I think you're doing well.. I used coupons today and saved abouat $11 using them... I was pretty happy!!

    We did HUGE organization this past weekend.. and it feels so nice.. all our stuff that we didn't need we freecycled!! woo hoo!!

    Way to go on the HOF!!! I wish I could see too.. but I wouldn't want anyone to steal your ideas either!! Keep up the good work!!

  3. Lara- email me! I am definitely interested in your new layouts. Even though scrapbooking has taken a far back burner (I guess I can actually say that it's off my stovetop of life at the moment), I can always use some creative inspiration.

    As far as housework goes, I am in your same boat and need to figure out how to get it done more consistently. To help keep my sanity and not get overwhelmed, I choose to specifically differentiate between "clean" and "clutter". I don't worry too much about small piles of clutter so much as long as the surfaces under and around them are clean. This is not necessarily advice, because I'm sure some people couldn't live this way. But we do and it works for us...usually.

  4. Congratulations, Lara! You've done a great job in reducing your grocery spending.

    When you figure out the housework dilemma, please fill us all in! : )

    I, for one, would LOVE to see your layouts. Looking at others' layouts is just about better than actually scrapbooking to me. : )

  5. Ooo email me your layouts, would you? You KNOW I'm interested! :)

    Good job with simplifying groceries. I'm still working on that one....I always THINK I have what we need (even after making a list from a menu plan), but then find that we do not. And the housework? Let me know when you figure that out.

  6. There's a book I can highly recommend that helped me immensely many years ago when I needed organization help, since I had such a large family. It's probably not in print anymore but maybe you can find it.(I no longer have it). It's called "The Art of Homemaking" by Daryl Hoole. It was all the rage in the 60's, everyone I knew had it. It covers everything you need to know to become confident in your role as a wife and mother. Good luck in finding it if you're interested. Some of your friends moms probably have a copy.

    Love, Mom Neves

  7. HI Lara, I too would love an email with your creations..I need to get my juices flowing again as this baby will be here before we know it and I've been able to use her as an exuse for not scrapbooking!

    As for the grocery game..I am intrigued and have a few questions for you...so I'll email you those..

    AND, my organization and cleaning tip (even though your family is a tad bigger than mine) is I set up days for chores..Monday and Thursdays are laundry days...M/W/F are bathrooms....kitchen everyday, dusting and windexing wednesday...vacumming M/W/F...it really helps and I feel rewarded once my chores for the day are completed and happy that I can relax a bit! AND, Elodie does clean her own room! It's a must as she makes the mess!

  8. Way to go! I really am trying to be better organized. I use you as inspiration, because I know you are SO BUSY and yet you get it done! Thank you!!!

    Love your work, I think you have my e-mail. . . I would love to see it!

    You need to check out flylady.net. Her whole website is about simplifying all of our work. Not getting overwhelmed and doing a little bit at a time. I started out reading her advice and then just made my own routine after lots of suggestions of the site. Hope that helps.

    Ha! I feel like hiring a maid all of the time. Some days I think if I could just have a maid for ONE day then my life would be easier. She could get everything clean and it would be easier to keep up! Who am I joking. I have cleaned my house before and it still manages to get out of control!!!

  9. I followed your lead and joined Grocery Game. Send me your email address so you can get credit for referring me! I saved something like $56 today, but my technique is still VERY rough and needs some fine tuning.

    And I would LOVE to see your layouts, too. I don't scrapbook much, but I appreciate the talent of those who do.

    twobubbus at hotmail dot com. Send me your snail mail address, too, so I can send you a (very late) Christmas card. Good intentions.

  10. way to go on your groceries. I am absolutely LOVING the grocery game. One thing that really helped me with cleaning was Flylady. I picked up her book Sink Reflections and it is wonderful. Can't wait to see all of your lo's!

  11. You're nuts, but I love it! Not only do I love the posts that emerge from your overstuffed life but I love reading that someone else stuffs their plate fuller than mine!

  12. I reduce my grocery spending by having my fridge look like this:
    my fridge

    KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!! My fridge only looks like that if my kids are at camp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, there's some food in there now. :-)

    Wish we could hear the song in the African language!!!!! I love what VERY LITTLE African music I've heard.

  13. I definitely want to see your layouts!

    I'm with you on the cleaning. I was attempting several things I hate doing today (sweeping and mopping) and a repair guy came and tracked snow all over my just finished floor. :( And, how many toys were picked up today (multiple times)?

  14. Congrats on reducing your grocery bill!

    As for the housework, I also just recently (this week) started checking out flylady.net. It looks like a pretty neat website to help with getting in a routine of cleaning. Of course, everything always looks better on paper, but I am hoping it will help me get more organized.

    Good luck!

  15. mommy belle - I tried the flylady and I could NEVER do it! The problem was that I'd sit down at the computer at the end of the day and then get this huge flurry of emails demanding that I clean up something or another. By that time my kids were in bed, I had made lunches, I had already done whatever cleaning I was going to do for the day, my face was washed & I was in jammies - I was DONE!!!! The one I had some success with was called motivated moms, bec. that one I could print out and keep on the fridge. I really liked that one. I'm just never home to do any of that cleaning stuff anymore...

  16. Good job on the grocery game - I did for a few months a year or two ago and did get a lot of great deals - I just realized that we were eating a lot more fruit snacks/cereal/prepackaged items than I really was comfortable with. I also got burned out on it. Maybe I should try it again...

    I'd love to see your HOF layouts - I've been working in the scrabooking industry for about 5 years doing design work, if you want any feedback. If you don't want feedback, I'm happy to just ooh and ahh for you, too!

    Mary Marble

  17. I have the children help, too.... especially with THEIR mess. I do the big stuff for now.... But, they save me hours a day by being accountable for their own messes.

    I also clean every day. Not deep clean. But every day I get the house back to the point, where, for me, it's perfect. If I do that every day, I avoid a title wave hitting, which takes me hours to rebound from.

    I don't do this any more, but earlier in my marriage, I had one deep cleaning chore a day - - like Monday was dusting day, Tuesday was mopping day.....

    I really should make myself a schedule again, but I just deep clean what needs to be done, when I have time. Which works - (most of the time).

    Good progress!!

    xo Misty

  18. Well now I want to see the LOs, but can I wait? Hmmmm. . .