Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Warm Weather Food Budget and Other Summer Adjustments

For the past few weeks, my normal night-owlishness has definitely taken some hits. Don't get me wrong, I am still rarely asleep before midnight. But now that the monsoons are over I am not sleeping until ten, that's for sure.

Just this morning I got up at eight am, which is highly unusual for me. The thing is though, if I want to take advantage of the cool air, this is the time to do it. While I'm no longer in Texas (or Arizona), the weather is in the high eighties and up to ninety plus, and rarely cools down much in the early evening. So, this morning I have already gotten up, opened all the windows, and had my daily outside half an hour in my favorite swing. I've also had breakfast, picked up the house and so on, and here it is earlier than 10 am.  Decidedly unlike me the other half of the year, to say the least. And, since I am not going to sleep much earlier than midnight, I'm definitely allowing myself that mid afternoon nap under the fan on days when I am at home!



rice
Meanwhile, in order to keep the house cool (and because we are extraordinarily lazy in the summer when it comes to things like housework) we are grilling as often as possible, as we often do in summer. This means that the queen of the frugal food budget has had to make some adjustments. I've already adjusted up my $200 grocery budget due to dietary requirements and price increases (more about that later) Although the food budget I talked about there, was an average, summer is the one time that it goes up beyond the average the most.  I have managed to get lots more in season fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, I have just shunted baking, and most scratch cooking to the side.  Many of our menus consist of grilled meats and salads, and store bought breads and rolls along with deli salads. I do still buy loss leader meats in bulk (for those who are wondering, that means 

 I increase my laziness by cooking the family packs all at once and then freezing the extras or using them in things like salad or chicken breasts and salsa and black beans the next day.  Recently, I've also discovered some easy ways to prep the meals even more, like flattening the chicken all at home time, putting marinades in Ziploc bags and then freezing. I love the meals she has here, I'm just wondering if I should flatten the chicken prior to freezing-and since I eat beef, pork and lamb as well, I'm still on the search for more marinades. Like I say, people, lazy summer days.  The good side is that my electric and water bills get a slightly small break, because grilled foods, and takeout salads lead to almost no dish washing. At least that's what I tell myself.

Of course, like everyone else, different budget items fluctuate in different seasons. I have yet to see my summer bill that includes air conditioning. So far we are managing to keep it at eighty and have it run for just a few hours each day (generally late afternoon and then a quick bust before bedtime, as this house does not have a great cross breeze)

On the other hand, we are hardly using any lights, lighter clothing means less laundry and virtually no dry cleaning (and that I hang almost everything to dry). We're taking shorter and cooler showers (usually in the evening after the heat and sweat). Because we barbecue and eat salads, the oven and burners get used much less.  Colorado many free or almost free events virtually every weekend at this time of year. This weekend one local town has a Summer Fest, downtown Denver has a Cherry Blossom festival, and Coors Beer is sponsoring a River Fest.

And, while travel could be a large summer expense, this year both of my road trips are not being taken during the summer, since I'm heading for southern climes. Traveling out of the summer season will get me cheaper rates and allow for an escape as the weather changes. I do have a few road trips to the north planned as well as a trip to stay with my daughter.

Each season has it's own best advantages (even winter, if it is not too long).  Right now, I am loving summer!

9 comments:

  1. A person can only really grill for a few months so upping a budget by a bit for food purchases only lasts a little while. We take full advantage of nice weather (and fewer lights) to spend a bit more on groceries.

    God bless.

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  2. Actually Jackie we do grill almost year around. We just do it more often in summer. The advantage of a gas grill and a covered patio.

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  3. I love grilled food (we grilled chicken tenders tonight). You have some good habits in cooking ahead. We need that in our repertoire as well.

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  4. I also buy large batches of sale meat, cook it and freeze it. I haven't been doing that since it has warmed up but I'm liable to be trying some new tricks to cook outside myself.

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    1. Even if you freeze after cooking, when you thaw they have that grilled taste. However, I basically "par" cook chicken breasts so that if you cook them after thawing they are not overdone (but I do freeze immediately and then cook immediately on the other end)

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    2. It's a survival method for a woman who doesn't love to cook, or t think about meal planning from day to day, lol.

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  5. When my daughter's children were lsmaller I would head to her house for a day of meat. I would brown several pounds of ground turkey and good beef. Then I would bake a large batch of chicken. After the chicken was bake with one of their favorite sauces. That would make four different types of chicken for salads and other things. Everything would go in the freezer in portion baggies.
    Worked well for them- and my dad got over her ad version to touching meat ;)
    I love summer cooking,

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  6. Barbara, I have a little hint. When I buy family packs, I bring it home and put portions on a pan sprayed cookie sheet and freeze. Then I place the portions in a large plastic bag and get the portions out as I need them. It has cut down on the clutter in the freezer and I do not waste as much as I have in the past.

    Have a wonderful day.

    b+

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  7. I agree each season has its advantages; but I still like summer best -- in part b/c of the lighter clothing, and the less laundry.

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