A few days ago I logged into my blog and saw a message from WordPress congratulating me on my 1 year blogversary. Since then I have been reflecting on my experience in the blogosphere; the things I learned, how my blog has changed, and what the blog has done for me.
1,550 visitors from 30+ countries came to my little site in 2015. To a “real” blogger that number is eency weency, but I think it’s pretty good for a free blog that is maintained as a hobby in my “free” time (in the evening, in front of trash Bravo tv shows). Here are my thoughts on 2014-2015:
What I’ve learned
- I cook A.Lot. I think that’s pretty awesome given I have a paying job, a mom of two small kids, and we don’t have the benefit of extended family to help during the week. In other words, I obviously enjoy shopping and cooking otherwise I wouldn’t go to so much effort to seek new inspiration and cook almost every night of the week! I try to stay ahead of the game by prepping some things the night before or in the early morning to make my life easier. I have to stay one step ahead, otherwise I have no dinner prepped and cranky kids at 530.
- I love having a log of our food life, but I will never be a blogger. You kind of have to love writing if you are a blogger, and there are plenty of times when I wish I could wave my magic wand and have the post appear without doing any work. In fact, I have a few posts drafted in my head but I haven’t made time to write. Most evenings I am so spent and my brain cells are so tired all I want to do is lie on the couch and watch aforementioned trashy tv. And the posts remain in my head.
- When I returned to a regular work schedule back in November 2014, having a clear cut meal plan was imperative and that remained true until about a month ago. Work started getting really busy and I found myself too tired and stressed to write out a full meal plan each week. Some weeks I still write out a plan, but lately I have been shopping for staples and things that can be used to make a variety of simple dishes the family will enjoy. I’ve even started going to the store with only a general plan and ideas on things to cook. These staples include tortillas, cheese, rice, beans, homemade chicken stock, homemade bread crumbs, fruit, salad, and spices galore. My spice collection is so important it’s worth spending some extra time talking about it because without the variety and quantity of spices, I would have a much harder time cooking.
How We’ve (I’ve) Grown
- When I first started the blog I was doing all my shopping at Publix. I love Publix so much I meal planned around meat sales at the store and didn’t shop for food anywhere else. Then I started to dabble at the farmer’s market, organic grocery store, etc trying to get the best deal on high quality items. I have watched our grocery budget and food prices LIKE A HAWK over the past year and I am still trying to figure out the best grocery shopping routine for our family. Some weeks it make sense to buy everything at Publix, but lately I have been spotted buying pounds and pounds of Harvestland chicken and grassfed beef at Walmart, and buying everything else at Publix.
- I may not have the perfect system yet, but one thing’s for sure: I am a WAY smarter, price saavy shopper than before and that feels great. I can look at a gallon of milk or a dozen eggs and know what’s a good deal. I know that Applegate ham is cheaper at Target, but milk is more expensive, and sparkling cider is cheaper (by $2!) at Walmart. Knowledge is power, people.
- I don’t do all organic, all the time. It depends on what other unexpected expenses we have, where we are in the budget when it’s shopping day, if we have a trip coming up, etc. Keeping all things in balance is the most important thing to me, and I don’t want to tell the boys we can’t help with college because I bought too much organic milk and eggs and all the rest. I pay very close attention to labels believing it’s my job as a consumer to understand what I’m buying (not the government’s job to decipher everything for me).
Plans for the Future
- Eventually I would like to gain more control over the design and functionality of the blog. I have a vision, but getting there will take some time.
- I plan on continuing to share recipes I find and show how we make them work for us. I hope I am helping some busy parents realize it’s not hard to make healthy, budget friendly homemade food.
Thanks for making HKHB such a fun and rewarding hobby. Here’s to another year!