The Newly Wed Kitchen is not the only cookbook I use. Our grocery bill would be much higher if it were, and I would be in the kitchen three times as long. The Newly Wed Kitchen is our way to enjoy a good meal at home that's a little out-of-the-ordinary. For the days in between I will either whip something together - like tonight's grilled chicken and spring mix salad - or use another, simpler cookbook.
One of my favorites is The $7 a Meal Cookbook that I received as a shower gift from my sister-in-love's mother-in-love. I love it. :)
We have only begun to scratch the surface of this great book. One of the things I love about it, is the basic grocery-list ingredients. Most items you will already find in your pantry or refrigerator, so it makes filling in those extra days on the menu-plan a bit easier. Monday night we enjoyed Multi Grain Pancakes.
In case you can't read the fine print, it cost only $1.38 to make 12 pancakes! That's definitely a price that makes our budget smile. They were just as delicious, too.
Budgeting has been an aspect of married life that I've actually enjoyed. It's a fun challenge to have X amount of dollars and X amount of needs. Daniel takes care of the "big" things, like insurance, car care and maintenance, medical bills, rent and utilities. I'm in charge of the more ordinary, day to day things that keep our household of two running smoothly. Like trash bags and bananas.
Initially I used the envelope system. As long as I could keep track of my receipts, divide up my purchases, and consistently balance my envelopes it worked fine. (Which means it worked for about 4 months). The downside of the envelope system is that you are carrying around a lot of cash. Many months I would turn into a frantic woman as I crunched numbers into a calculator, certain I had somehow lost $36.18 from our Grocery envelope. In short, I found it stressful. Once cash is gone, it's gone, and tracking it is a lot harder than simply keeping every receipt.
We're now using Mint.com, which reminds me of an online version of Quicken, only colorful and fun, with lots of neat features.
The goals are still the same, no matter what system we use, though: make what you need to live, but always live below your means.
Saving was something we knew we weren't doing enough of, so this year we've purposed to do more of that every month.
With five to seven part time jobs between the two of us, depending on the month, our stream of income is not steady, but making ends meet has not been hard. There has not been a single month where we have been biting our nails waiting for the next paycheck to clear. God has been good in providing us with many opportunities to make money, and also blessing us with spontaneous and sometimes anonymous gifts - financial and material.
But trusting God to provide the money is different that making the budget work. That's our responsibility. We're learning discipline and commitment are important to use the money as it's supposed to be used. We're learning sacrifice is important to use the money for needs before wants. We're learning planning is important, so that we don't spend all our money by the 5th of each month. It's an adventure. :)
There. I'm sure I've rambled enough. I really only meant to talk about those yummy $2 pancakes....