Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top 3 Things to Try just because Megan said so.

I've come to love the following resources over the last few months and I just had to share.

1. 3 Month Food Storage Plan: Emergency preparedness has been on my mind a lot the last few months. I've got that nagging little feeling in the back of my head that I'd better not put it off any longer. I will not take any credit for this idea, its 100% my very resourceful and organized sister-in-law. In order to figure out what and how much food she needed for a 3 month supply she created a simple meal plan for 1 week of food. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each meal contains foods they regularly eat. She determined how much of each food item she'd need for her 1 week meal plan. Then multiplied that by 6 and then 2 to get 12 weeks of food. She wanted to keep the meal plan very simple. When I did mine it ended up being a little more complex but it worked.

Here is the cool part, every week you eat 1 of the dinners on your meal plan. That means every 7 weeks you're eating every dinner once, thus cycling through your stored food. Its so easy! This approach to the 3 months supply of food has saved me so much time and stress. Thanks Michelle! To see my 3 month food storage plan leave me a comment and I'll email it to you. If you make one for yourself be sure to keep a hard copy to use as a ration guide if needed.

2. Simplifysupper.com: I heard about this site on Studio 5 and I almost love it. (By the way, this guy at work always tells me how much I look like Brook Walker on Studio 5. I think its the big teeth. What do you think?) The site allows you to create an online meal calendar and then automatically creates a weekly shopping list for you. The site's recipes are very simple and have all been delicious! Most of the recipes have less than 5 ingredients and go together really easily. I normally shy a way from recipes where you simply open a few cans because they normally don't taste too good, but I've been surprised. These are delicious. My only beef with the site is that you can't enter your own recipes. I'm going to email the creators of the site to see if they can add this functionality.

By the way, I've saved about $100 a month planning our meals in advance. I love knowing what I'm going to be making for dinner and I really love saving money.

3. Mint.com: Speaking of saving money, this has been on my mind a lot the last few months and I know I'm not alone. "Recession" - blah. My whole cognizant life I looked on the struggles of the past 100 years and felt that our society had advanced to a point where we were immune to such problems. I was naive. Economy aside we've had a significant lifestyle change at our house with the addition of our little cabbage patch kiddo. I took a significant pay cut to be able to work from home part time and with our lost income Dave and I have spent hours and hours looking over our budget, trying to stretch every dollar as far as possible. Its hard to go backwards in one's spending habits.

Dave tried out several personal finance softwares to help us understand exactly where our money was going and when the grocery budget,for example, was gone. We love mint.com because:

  • The software is hosted online, not on a computer, so Dave and I can login from either work or home, even simultaneously.
  • They have lots of pretty graphs that show me exactly where we are with each budget every month. Before I head off to the grocery store or the mall (I'm not totally disciplined yet :))I login to see how much we have left and what else has to come out this month. This alone has kept me from spending lots of money we didn't really have.
  • The software integrated beautifully with our banks' and credit card's online banking systems. We didn't have this same experience with the other softwares we tried.
  • Oh yeah, its FREE!
Change is hard but refreshing. The changes we've gone through over the last several months have been so difficult at time, but have enriched our life. I'm really happy. Not all the time, but in the depths of my heart I'm happy. What more can I ask for?

I hope these resources are helpful!