So, I have to admit it– me and my kids are Disney fanatics. My husband, not so much, but he’s been patient with me over the decades and allowed me to spend most of our disposable income over the years on Disney trips, dvds, and more frozen lemonade from the Fantasyland stand than any woman should ever eat in a lifetime. He even took me to Walt Disney World for a week for our honeymoon. (Okay, I planned that entire trip. He just wrote the check. But he did it cheerfully!) 😉
The problem we’re having is that we haven’t been back to WDW since 2010. FIVE YEARS. Yes, that’s a problem for us. We haven’t even been able to see the new Fantasyland expansion! In a world with such terrible poverty, I know, there are better things to worry about, but, hey, we deserve a vacation every once in a while, don’t we? The Tank and the Ninja don’t remember our last visit, since the Tank was 1 and the Ninja was 3 when we went. The Adorable Baby, of course, won’t remember it even if we go, but he’s still a non-voting tribe member so he gets dragged along wherever we decide to go. And we want to go very very badly, indeed.
So badly that, today, my two young sons told me they would give up fast food, takeout, and soda pops if it meant we could save up enough money for a Disney trip. Our adult son and daughter have agreed to each pay a 1/8th share in the total cost of the fuel and tickets and campground fees. (I guess I’m on my own for souvenirs, though.) Our teenaged son, whose band voted to go to London instead of WDW for their big high school trip (and who can’t afford London, no way) is stoked. And Miss Autism is the biggest fan of Walt Disney World in the entire world, excepting only maybe other autistic people. Autties are serious about the Mouse, man. It’s their Happiest Place on Earth, almost always.
My big plan, then, is to slash and hack away at our strained budget to find enough wiggle room to start stashing away some cash for a Disney trip. It won’t be easy– with 8 people at home, cutting your grocery budget is always a perilous task. I’ve gone too far before and ended up with open rebellion when there wasn’t enough in the pantry. There’s a fine line between “meal planning” and “not having ANY SNACKS, MOM!” I have to stay on the good side of that line, where kids have food to eat and I still have money in the bank.
Thankfully, the Adorable Baby isn’t drinking formula anymore. That’s a big savings right there. The summer is upon us, though, with the resulting “hungry adult sized people home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner” problem as well. Luckily, our garden is starting to produce some vegetables, and summer is a great time for salads and sandwiches to be the stars of the menu. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when everyone is accustomed to eating lots of takeout and drinking lots of soda pop, so cutting those two things out of the budget will (despite their pleas for Disney) lead to a lot of whining.
So, in addition to the already mind-boggling responsibilities that I’m taking on this summer, I need to get serious about grocery budgeting and menu planning and (gasp) I will probably have to COOK for my children again. After 25 years of being the main chef, I’m pretty burnt out on the whole cooking gig. But, I must admit, I am much better at it than any of my assistants. It’s kind of like those superhero movies where everyone else does a terrible job and the mayor finally comes and begs the superhero to help and the superhero is like “Really, none of you people can do this? Ugh, I guess it has to be me.” That’s how I feel about cooking.
So, anyway, back to the drawing board. I know I have a menu plan around here somewhere that lists all the kids’ favorite meals. I don’t enjoy the menu planning process, but there is a certain elegance in calculating everything down to the last half of the bell pepper, so to speak. Wish me luck.