Managing It All

How do I manage to do everything that needs to be done around our busy house? You have seen our schedule and the Children’s Chore list. Part of my evening routine is filling out my To Do list for the next day.

This list is a table format that has 3 columns: To Do, To Go and To Call. Each column has 15 lines in it. I figure if the list is totally full that is 45 items to do in a day. More than enough for any one person to accomplish! During the day, as I finish a task, it is crossed off. If life takes over and I cannot finish the list, the undone items roll over to the top of tomorrow’s list.

I print the To Do List on one page. I can easily fold it and put in my calendar or purse so I have it with me while running my errands.

I do some other things I do to make this work for me. I put the phone numbers on the To Call List so I have them. I also jot a quick note about why I am calling. I put the To Go list in the order I am going to travel. Mapping out my day helps with the travel and cuts down on a back tracking. I also attach any shopping lists so everything is all together for the day.

Mom’s To Do List can be seen here. Let me know if you need it in a different format if you want to try it out.

How do you do it?

People are always asking many types of the “How do you do it?” type of questions. One of the most frequent is how do we feed the family and not break the bank or have to rob a bank?

When I tell them my food budget is about $700 a month they do not believe it. I am blessed to have a variety of stores around here. They all compete with one another and have great sales. One or the other is always have a 10 for $10 sale on many of the items we use. They also have wonderful sales on meats. I never pay more than $1.99 a pound for meat, usually I pay much less.

Super Walmart is within 20 minutes from my door. A regular Walmart is 10 minutes away. Aldi’s is also 10 minutes from my house. I go there purchase other staples. BJs Wholesale club is within 15 minutes and they still have the best prices on milk, diaper wipes, blocks of cheese, cat litter and gas. So I pay for my annual membership with my first month’s savings.

So with all these great places and sales I have built up a wonderful pantry and freezer stock. I plan my meals from what I have on hand and replenish the pantry when the items go on sale.

I have been asked about my pantry so here are some pictures.

Pantry View 2

This is a good overall shot of the pantry. You can see the baking goods, spices, etc. on the back left shelf. On the back right shelf is overflow from the baking goods and the shelf on against the wall on the right (canned goods).

Panty View 1

These two shelves hold my canned goods — vegetables, fruits, meats and spaghetti sauce.

Pantry View 3

This shelf holds the cereal, canned milks, storage bags, and rice. On the bottom shelf I keep the big bottles of salsa, oil, syrup and ketchup.


This shelf is in a bad place for getting a good picture. It holds our spaghetti, dried fruits, trail mixes, peanut butters and jellys. If you look along the back floor you can see the cleaning items.

Frequent Use Items

This shelf holds out frequent use items. Some of the canned vegetables, egg noodles, side dishes, the children’s spaghetti O’s and ravioli and chips for lunches. Behind the doors on the left shelf are canned meats like tuna, chicken, turkey, beef and salmon.

Some of the things that didn’t make it into the picture is the rolling wire rack that holds the drink mixes that the family uses like pink lemonade and Kool-aid. A bin that is full of pop tarts and a bin that holds the snack items that we keep on hand.

So that is our pantry. Right now we couple eat of what we have on had for three to four months if things got really tight financially for some reason.

I encourage everyone to start to build up a pantry to have a buffer.

How in world do you do it?

Once again today I was asked a version of the “how do you it?” question. This time it was “How do you feed them all” Do have to steal your food?”. Of course the answer I wanted to spout out is “With food.” But I restrained myself.

So I thought about it and realized people just don’t get how we can afford to feed the family. No, we don’t have a money tree in the backyard. No, we don’t rob the banks. And No, we don’t steal either.

So how do we do it? We plan, we budget, we shop wisely. And most of all we maintain a pantry and freezer. This allows us to plan our meals from what we have on hand (shop the pantry) and then replenish used items when they go on super sales.

How do you know it is a super sale? You have to track prices on the items you use. You get to know the sale cycles and which stores have the best sales. You also get to tell if a sale is really worth it. There are many ways to track prices. I keep a notebook right now. Each item has a page. Each page has columns for price, size, store, date. You track it for a while and you know where to shop and when to shop. You will also know how much you have purchase based on your usage to tide you over to the next sale.

Other places I shop are places like Aldi’s. Aldi’s a no frills store, where you can buy staple items for low prices. They have a great money back guarantee. I use Aldi’s to purchase things like soups (60 cents a can) or canned vegetables (39 cents a can).

I shop a warehouse store for other things like milk, baby wipes, and paper products. I will hit the Super StuffMart for things like the huge bags of cereal, blocks of cheese, and eggs.

For meats I watch the grocery store sales. There are 2 or 3 stores that I will go to for meats. It will depend on which store is having the best sales when we need to think about replenishing the freezer.

Baking products I also watch the sales. I stocked up quite a bit during the holidays on flours, sugars, etc. Christmas time is the time to stock up on those types of things.

I am often asked what is my monthly food bill. Right now with the rising prices it averages between $600 and $700 a month. Again these prices are for refilling the pantry.

The biggest money saver is planning my menus. That way I am not saying to myself at 5PM: “What am I going to cook for dinner? Darn nothing is defrosted, we have to order out.” I try to plan for a month at time. In my planning I include planned left overs, and I account for those busy days that I mentioned in a previous post. All of these things keep the budget in line.