I Love Amazon Subscribe and Save

I mentioned that I order a lot of household goods and toiletries from Amazon. I use the subscribe and save feature. Basically, the way it works is you subscribe to have items automatically delivered to you at a discounted rate. It is perfect for things like diapers, wipes, detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. You can set the frequency you would like to have items delivered, and if you need something sooner than your mail out date, you can bump up the order by clicking need more right away feature.

I'm always tweaking my subscribe and save account to suit our needs, adding items and canceling subscriptions. Sometimes Amazon quits offering an item you subscribe to. The system is always a work in progress.

But it sure beats running to the drug store at 9pm for toilet paper. I love the convenience of having diapers sent every month. I don't have to think "oh, we need diapers." I love not thinking.

I'm all about less decision making and fewer errands. It helps me so much to put a few things on autopilot in my life.

Is it cheaper?

Yes, I think it is. Granted, I don't buy everything using the subscribe and save method. Recently, I cancelled toilet paper because Costco has the better deal.

Anyway, hope that answers any questions out there!


How Much Should a Family of 5 Spend on Groceries?

A few of you have asked me via e-mail and in person "how much should a family of 4-5 people spend on groceries?"

Well, it depends. There is not a one-size fits all number. Every family has a different income, different tastes, and different standards of variety, health, and convenience.

That being said, I think between $500-$700 is a good starting point. Some of you may think that's ridiculously high, and some of you may think it's low. I find this amount to be challenging, yet large enough that I'm not stressed. If you are in a season where money is really tight, you can certainly make it (and eat well) on the low end of this range. It may take a little more time and effort, but it may be totally worth it to meet other financial obligations and live within your means.

*About $20 per person per week is the number I consistently read about.

I used to try and get our grocery budget super low and I ended up really stressed. I got to a point where it was not a good use of my time and energy......to shop at 4 different stores, cook everything from scratch, coupon, etc. I came to the realization that I could only go so low. We had to eat.

If you don't know where to begin or how much to budget for groceries, save your receipts for a couple of months and average how much you are spending. Give yourself some wiggle room. Budget a little more than you think you'll need. Over time, you can work on ways to reduce your grocery spending.

I find that summer food cost more than winter food. Fresh produce and grilled meats are costlier than the soups and stews I make in winter. We spend more in months with birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. There is not a fixed number that applies to every month. Some months, my freezer is packed and other months we run out of all our staples at the same time. Having a mind set that our grocery budget is fluid and ever changing helps me adjusts with the changes that life brings.

Also, I think it's helpful to clearly define what falls under the umbrella of "grocery budget." I like to keep it clean and spend my grocery cash on just food. My grocery budget does not include diapers, toiletries, cleaners, and other household items. I order most of that stuff from Amazon. And if I have to pick up something like a household cleaner at the grocery store, I'm not afraid to run two transactions so I don't dip into my grocery cash. I go back and forth whether on not to include alcohol as a "grocery."

My biggest tip:

Meal plan. Just do it. Don't over analyze. Even a bad plan is better than no plan.

That saves me more money than anything else I do.

By the way, I don't coupon. I just don't.

A couple of good links on the subject.

How Much Should We Spend on Groceries Each Week
Family Finance: How to Save Money on Groceries

This book, Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy. I have not read it, but I heard the author interviewed and she had some awesome tips on grocery savings.



Evening Routine

I read a lot of books and blogs about time and home management. They inspire me. One consistency I find in these resources is the importance of having a morning and evening routine.

Some people are naturally routine oriented. I am not. I have to work hard at bringing order into my life.

Also, it's no surprise that life mothering three young children can quickly get out of control. I find that in order to thrive, I have to err on the side of more structure and routine than naturally suits my personality.

Our morning routine is still a bit sketchy because my children are such early risers. I'm usually in the throws of parenting in the wee hours. (As I type, there is a squirmy George in my lap. It's 6:04 am - and he slept in today!)

My evening routine is much more established. I love it, and since consistently practicing, it is amazing the order and peace it has brought to my days. I especially love my routine by the lights of the Christmas tree!

Evening routine

*wash George's highchair tray - because there is nothing worse that having to do this in the morning.

*prepare the coffee

*load/run dishwasher - I'm down to one load a day since I use paper plates for breakfast and lunch.

*kids to bed- pajamas, brush teeth, books

*15 minute tidy

*relax, get on computer, watch television with husband

*screens off at 9pm - I find that I'm very sensitive to screen time right before bed, and it is so much easier to fall asleep if I cut all screens off 1 hour before I try to fall asleep.

*address bathing needs (Typically, evenings are when I get a shower.)

*make a few notes about the next day, write a to-do list

*get in bed, read

Of course, like all of life, it's not perfect. I don't always follow this routine in the order listed above. But when things get crazy, I come back to this simple orderly way...and all is right with the world.

Do you have a morning and evening routine?


Here are a few of my favorite books about time/life management.....

One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider

Destination Simple: Rituals and Rhythms to Simply Daily Life by Brooke McAlary

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine
*will be released Jan 21, 2014


Easy Bacon Wrapped Chicken

My sister-in-law and I were visiting over Thanksgiving about what we were making for dinner these days. I confess, I'm a little burned out in the dinner department. I love food, but the constant-ness of the thinking/planning/shopping leaves me feeling ....um, tired.

An easy, healthful, go-to meal at our house is like the one pictured below- some sort of protein and roasted vegetables.

 Easy Bacon Wrapped Chicken

3 chicken breast (cut in half)
wrap each piece of chicken in a strip of bacon

bake for 30 minutes on 350-375 degrees

serves 4-6


I'm trying out Plan to Eat, a system where you plug in your recipes, create a menu calendar, and then you do some dragging and clicking, and it makes your grocery lists for you. I did a free trial, and I loved it.

This cookbook, Keepers, caught my eye.

Lately, when meal planning, I give myself a pep talk....

"don't over analyze it"
"it's not rocket science"
"it doesn't have to be perfect"

or "just do it"

Sometimes I'll even jot these words at the top of my menu/grocery list.
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