Invitations To Play. Exploring Snow…in APRIL!

Well, the snow will not let up in Calgary! It’s been one really looooooong winter. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to wake up to a snow storm. Again. It was 13 degrees over the weekend. Our new roof got done! but mother nature is a force. This morning we are getting snow and lots of it.

My little guy has also been battling another round of PFAPA a type of periodic fever syndrome. The poor little guy has been hovering around the 40-41 (103-105) range. So after getting some meds in him, we thought of some creative ways to cool down!

We came up with bringing the snow indoors and we are going to share with you!

This easy and fun snow exploration can be done at home with stuff around the house. We came up with three fun indoor snow activities your little ones can easily do at home. My nine year old would totally still be into this too!

Without even realizing it, my little man was learning through his play. Working on color mixing, fine motor, creative expression, imagination and more!

Clean up is easy. Refresh is easy too! just grab more snow!

 

What you will need:

  • Tray
  • Bowl or bucket of fresh snow
  • Cups
  • Watercolor paint palette
  • Paintbrush
  • Food coloring
  • Turkey Baster
  • Magnetic tiles or blocks
  • A pair of mittens or gloves

 

Remember to play. Meaningful play.

till the next post,

moveplaymom

 

 

This Minimalist Moms Approach To…Groceries & How We Saved BIG

Ok. This blog is all about being open and honest and being able to share with you our journey towards a more simple and minimalist life. When I say our journey…many of you associate this with our recent big move and downsizing. However, there is a list of reasons as to why we chose a more simple lifestyle. The benefits for us living this lifestyle is weaved into earlier posts throughout this blog. Bottom line, we want to enjoy life, do what we love, get more time back with our family and friends, travel more and have financial freedom.

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Did you know that stats Canada reported that the average Canadian household spends an average of $241 per person per month on groceries? so if you did the math, a family of five is spending on average about $1200 a month on food.

Here is the problem…up until a few months ago, I was well above the average.  Here is where the honesty part comes in…I spent about $2000-$2500 a month on groceries.

When I did the math, turns out we were spending about $400 per person per month in our little Canadian Battistessa household. Almost double the Canadian average. This was a huge eye-opening moment for me. We spent about $500 a week. Up until then, I was always the first to say that it didn’t matter what we spent on our groceries, food is food, health is health, Italians are Italians…lol..we live to eat. This seemed reckless and ridiculous when I really thought about it. How often I would throw produce out or had things I really didn’t use or need in the pantry.

Again this is about honesty and not judgment. We had the funds and I basically bought whatever I wanted…without even considering the price or if there was a sale on a generic brand…I just bought and I know…deep down inside…some of you, many of you do the exact same.

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When I started on this minimalist lifestyle I had some big and ambitious ideas for my family. Ideas that require income. The income we didn’t exactly have because I didn’t realize we were eating away at our goals!

So if you know me…you know how much I am anti-debt. Exactly a year ago I got my own credit card for the first time in just under 20 years (other than the one I had when I was 18, that my dad cut up after he paid the $500 bill I couldn’t afford, oh good times…).

I don’t believe in debt. I believe that if you want to eat out someplace fancy, if you want to travel someplace cool or if you want to buy something pretty… then you got to have the cash in the bank for it. If not, the truth is you can’t afford it. That’s just me.

So if the debt wasn’t our problem and getting into debt to live a happier richer life…isn’t in the cards, where could we trim in our budget? After reflecting long and hard, there really wasn’t any room to cut. We already had a pretty conservative monthly budget and a great savings plan for school and retirement that I wasn’t going to touch. Except, THERE IT WAS…staring me down, the one line that kept creeping up, the grocery monthly allowance.  The grocery line that read $2000. Something we easily went over every month.

Where things start to change

After reflecting on our budget I really began to wonder if we were overspending on food? See the thing is, I often spoke to other moms with 3 kids at home too and they would share how they easily spent $500- $600 that week alone at stores like Costco or Superstore. I already questioned myself and my grocery spending habits but they seemed to be in line with what everyone else was spending around me. Other families would share with us how they tried to trim their weekly grocery spending and it just wasn’t possible.

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So I did some research. I looked at the stats, I read a ton, I found some blogs and I started to really reflect on what it was that I was doing so wrong. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. There had to be a way to eat healthily and not spend an insane amount on groceries a month. After months of tweaking, making some poor decisions and trying; I figured it out.  I had a plan.

The single biggest change

Meal plan. I can’t stress this enough. MEAL PLAN, MEAL PLAN, MEAL PLAN!

Check your pantry, freezer, and fridge. See what you have. Plan your weekly meals. Go once a week and buy all you that you need. Be strategic. Become familiar with food prices and the cost of certain food items you love and can’t be without. Buy generic brands! Superstore has a great variety of clean and organic foods that are their brand. buy more fruit and veg…think about what is on sale versus what you might have on your list. Cook more vegetarian meals. IT IS POSSIBLE.

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People of the world, you will read this in every book, on every blog BUT it is just fact. It works! Meal planning and the tips above changed everything for us. In more than one way too. Not only were my grocery bills down by 40% (40% people!) but my family now argues less about food! Not sure if this happens in your house but my boys would take so much time contemplating and arguing over what was for breakfast. That all changed once the Meal Plan got posted in the kitchen. We plan for breakfasts and dinners. (lunches are more flexible with leftovers and bento boxes). The kids know exactly what to expect. There are no changes, there is no arguing. It is what it is. Surprisingly my boys are actually eating way healthier too. They are eating a ton more fruit and vegetables. Especially since there is a lot less processed snacks in the house and I am baking large, clean batches of snacks they can eat instead.

So just how much are we spending now? Here is the proof. My last two grocery bills were $251 and $257. HUGE! and believe me, we are not missing out on a single thing. We are a family of five. Three boys, BIG boys (my 16-year-old is 6 foot 3) and two adults. We eat just as well, just as healthy and just as much as we did before. Once in a blue moon, I might put in an order online to a vegan store to buy some specialty items (as I am the only vegetarian in the house) these items might last me a couple months but I try to work it into the budget which went from on average 2000 a month down to 1100 a month! and we have been on track month to month this year!

That is a savings of about $11000 a year.

Let me repeat that —-> $11,000 !!!! 

JUST from food. Now, this savings definitely aligns with my families plan to travel more…do more…eat out more…without anything less.  Now if I am being super HONEST….it doesn’t get better than that so we can do more of this…

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Have any more great tips and tricks to save on groceries? or maybe a good recipe that is easy, healthy and inexpensive?  Please comment and share below!

till the next post,

moveplaymom

 

 

 

INVITATIONS TO PLAY. DINO DIG.

This week we’re exploring dinosaurs and dino digs. My boys really enjoyed this invitation to play. it was super fun and really easy to set up. The boys spent over an hour emersed in learning and play. I got some time back to get errands done around the house. The clean up took five minutes!

I would suggest creating a dino dig kit at clean up time. so next time it’s easy to pull out again.

I added books to this play idea. You can grab books at the library or use some dino books you have at home (I’m yet to meet a family who doesn’t have a dino book at home). The books encourage the boys to dig a little deeper (no pun intended!) During their play, they had lots of great questions about fossils, paleontologists, carnivores versus herbivores. The books were a wonderful additional resource. The play and books brought my two boys together. This was fitting for my little guy and my 9-year-old.

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What you need:

  • A tray
  • play sand (or you can easily use whatever you got in your pantry! rice, lentils, beans)
  • rocks and/or gems
  • wood and/or twigs
  • A few plastic dinosaurs
  • a measuring cup
  • a couple of small containers
  • a scoop or spoon
  • a small paintbrush
  • optional – books related to the play

let me know how it goes! Send pictures or post them on Instagram and tag me!

till the next post & remember to play,

moveplaymom.