Meet Carmen Walton:
She and I married these handsome lads
at about the same time.
and in a newly wed season when it all felt more like playing house
than grown up life.
We had some quirks in common. Like— the firm belief that spending $100 on dinner out once a month
on a like massive shoe string budget that lead to life style choices like a month of rice & beans, washing and re-using tin foil, and sharing a car with our husbands was well worth the trade off.
Years went by,
and the weekly coffee dates to discuss how to be super women (books read and discussed, short term goals, budgets written out and held to task included) came to an end. Life happened
(like woah! Be fruitful and multiply!) The two girls in the front are theirs, and this little man who recently stole my heart
We had a picnic with just our families for the first time in six years last Friday. A few things seemed remarkable to me. One, that I blinked and they had 3 kids. Two, that one of the truest signs of those authentic friendships include the “…so as I was saying…” cadence to ease of conversation, irregardless of time passed between.
What happened in this time and space? Life. Life happened. Beautiful, sometimes agonizing, always magnificent LIFE.
And what did we find ourselves talking about the second those husbands went off to play with the kids? How has money management been going month to month? You paid WHAT for your car? You’re kidding me?!! Organic spinach! The importance of excellent cheese. Mornings with kids before school. You’re traveling abroad? How? Oh! I’m so inspired!
We discussed, in great detail, what we grocery shop for. Two college educated women who unabashedly own the truth that it takes much thought, preparation and effort to shop and feed our families. Friends, it’s hard work!
All this reflection to say… I thought you might enjoy pulling up a chair to our conversation, and having a wee look in The Whole Family On A Budget’s fridge and pantry. If Carmen and I have never grown tired of talking about this stuff, chances are, you might enjoy getting in on it as well!
Let’s get started!
What, and why, do I keep these on hand as often as humanly possible (while still keeping my eyes on that Christmas in Costa Rica that is fueling all of my financial decisions since Carmen said she’d like to go to France next year? Like! WHY NOT?! That girl has got it going on. How can we put some grocery money in a savings to go towards plane tickets? Merry Christmas in front of the blue sea in exchange for some elbow grease/rice & beans).
Meet some of my family’s Whole Foods Market staples, starting with the most important:
This is GOOD coffee. Yes, I’m a coffee snob. YES, this is GOOD coffee!
A dollar more- why do I spend it on this? BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME! I pour it in my coffee. That dollar makes my life better. And- I pour it on my munchkin’s cereal because dairy gives her a stuffy nose, and she’s in love with this milk too. (I’ve caught her taking nips straight from the bottle!)
About boxed cereal: Oatmeal is cheaper. Yes. Boxed cereal is quicker, and sometimes (like during warm months) more appealing. One thing Carmen and I realized had changed was- as our responsibilities grew, we started to see time as money. If it shaves off some time in the morning (including having to prompt Samaria to eat her oatmeal v. her doing so happily and independently on her own) and keeps the big picture running efficiently- it’s just simply ok. Another example that Carmen used: buy the apple sauce cups, and it’s just… fine. Sometimes, yes, it’s awesome to get the dented apples at a discount and make sauce in a crock pot… sure. And, sometimes, well… just get the cup and pat yourself on the back for being the Super Woman (or Man!) that you are!
Like… utter comfort food. I’m inclined to hide these crackers in my purse, and be that woman who brings her own carb to a party or restaurant. Don’t get me wrong- I like white flour as much as the next girl. It’s just… I mean… I REALLY miss feeling like I looked in those above pictures from memory lane. And, these help the cause! Holla at the $2.99 365 Brand Rice Crackers selection. They’re amazing.
I think I have sampled all of the sprouted wheat and brown rice tortillas that WFM sells, and this one gets my blue ribbon. They save so many of life’s moments. Wrap them around scrambled eggs for my hubs as he heads out the door with our girl in the morning, fill them with the already dressed- far too ambitious salad that I’m struggling to get through at dinner, and suddenly that baby kale seems like a touch of heaven, stuff them with hummus and roasted red peppers, and brown them on a skillet. They’re just good friends for the health conscious and thrifty who don’t think it’s awesome to roll out tortillas when we could instead be doing ANYTHING BUT THAT, PLEASE!
In case I did foolishly decide it was a good idea to roll out my own tortillas like I did in this post.
I don’t always know what I might use a jar of this 365 sauce (I love all of them) for when I buy them. It saves the day (kind of like ketchup or BBQ sauce) time and time again. Fix a chili, sauce up some miserable millet, smother a too dry slice of lasagna, dip that pizza crust, top a polenta. Just get in my basket, and let’s move on.
They don’t go bad. They’re organic. They’re affordable. The top one has the “I can’t stop eating these vegetables” effect. The bottom one is amazing with everything peppers are amazing with. And- bonus! Shelf life! No brown spots or pressure to hurry up and use. I leave these for end of the week meals, and get those fresh leafy greens used up first.
If it comes with a peel, I buy it conventional. If it doesn’t, I buy organic. Compare these prices (and taste quality!) to conventional supermarkets- and you will fall deeper in love with 365 brand.
Bananas AND oh, blessed smooth and just glorious sunflower seed butter. They love each other.
Hair, skin, not toxic when heated on high, good by the spoonful, hailed for benefits in every health discussion in 2014 (maybe hyperbolic… if it wasn’t, don’t listen to those fools), and amazing for whitening teeth! Look up the oil pull! SO affordable with 365- and SUCH incredible quality. Not all coconut oils are created equally.
I kind of wish I hadn’t ever tasted an organic avocado, because now… I know. I buy the four pack at WFM. If they all soften at once (no, WHEN they all soften at once), I put the other 3 in the fridge – and they stay just right! I once wrote an entire blog post just about avocados that you can read here.
Buy at least one dry bean something from the bulk section at every visit, and you will be rich.
I buy a bag of these a couple of times a month. I squeeze a whole lemon in a bunch of filtered water, chill it over night, and start every morning with this. My energy literally increases as I guzzle. Takes 30 days to make a habit. Definitely glad I challenged myself to this one at the first of the year, because I just FEEL so cleansed every.single.morning!!!
What’s in your basket? Comment on Facebook or Instagram.
Sending Much Love From Our Home to Yours,
The Allen Family