$5 Dinner Chat
So I mentioned in the intro to this site what a great experience it has been to meet people like $5 Dinner Mom (aka Erin) – who knew these people had real names? Do they even get to use their real names anymore? I digress.
Several weeks ago in my pursuit to figure out how to go to BlissDom ’09, I ran across a post from Erin on Facebook for a carpool leaving from the Cincinnati area. I responded and amidst the “conversation” Erin asked me if I had a blog (this one was still in the “dream” stage) and if I wanted to meet for coffee some time to discuss it. I was SO excited! I had been following her website for several months and had seen her recently on the evening news. I couldn’t believe that she was willing to sit down with little ole me to discuss a blog-to-be. But that is just the kind of lady that she is! In the days leading up to the meeting I thought of so many questions I wanted to ask her, and eventually other mommy bloggers, so i began writing them down and OAM Interviews was born. Here is our inaugural interview with Erin of $5 Dinners!
Tell me the story how how your blog came to be?
This past August (2008) I was needing a new place to start putting all my mom rantings and food experiments that wasn’t our family website. One evening my husband and I were sitting at dinner talking about the need for the new site and I got to really thinking about it over the dishes that evening. I do this thing where I am constantly running numbers in my head and all of a sudden I was thinking about the cost of our most recent meal and all of a sudden $5 Dinners came to my mind. It just had a ring to it.
The first few weeks I started doing Menu Plan Monday and saw my hits go from 20-40 a day to over 400. I then participated in Works for Me Wednesday and Frugal Friday and again saw my hits rising. I then wrote a few bloggers and asked if I could guest post on their sites. A few of them were going out of town so it was good timing. One problem – I didn’t have a good site design up so I had to find someone who could create one for me in about 1 week! It was a tight deadline! One thing led to another and I began guest posting on other’s sites. I started getting a regular following, doing regular posts, and series’ on my own site and the rest is history (actually there is a lot more but how much time do you have?).
What is your advice to a mom wanting to start a blog?
- Do what works for you? – there will be many out there that have opinions, would do it a different way, and will not agree with you. Just do what works for you and share it with others, someone will be needing and wanting the information that you are providing.
- Follow your heart – I started out of a love for my two children, a desire to feed them well on a budget, and the desire to share this knowledge with others. Find where your heart is and follow along.
- Don’t compromise your values – there will be times that you could fabricate information or cut corners – DON’T! If I cook a meal and isn’t $5 I make sure that I include it. I try my best to figure out what the cost of a product is as close as I can.
- Be FRESH! – No, don’t hit on others through your blog – I mean, keeping it interesting, include stories, be random, and add content often.
- Balance your blog with your life – Having a blog can easily consume you. You must set boundaries and decide what you have time for and what you don’t. Again, do what works for you!
On average, how many hours a day do you give to your blog (including Facebook, Twitter, responding to comments, etc)?
Oh, goodness, that varies. I usually spend about 20 minutes each morning starting out with an update with Twitter and the blog. I have to get my kids to therapy several mornings a weeks so I don’t always get to do that on those mornings. Then I usually spend an hour or two each afternoon. Then again about 2 hours every night. I think of it as my “job” and just see the time that I spend (which I LOVE) as time that I am putting in towards my “job”.
What do you enjoy most about your blog or blogging?
I love that I have the ability to connect with others that are doing the same thing. It is great to have a group of people that understand my language and what I am doing with my time each day. It has been a wonderful community of people and I have made some great friends along the way.
How do you measure success?
Most definitely NOT by traffic. I would say that I judge success by whether I am doing something to help others out. I have always really enjoyed this aspect of my blog and try to always keep that in perspective. All the other things are just bonus!
Describe the mommy blog community and how it has impacted you.
First of all, I didn’t really know there was one when I started. Since then it has been wonderful to be connected to others who share the same interests and concerns that I do. It is great to be able to help one another out, to share, to learn, and most importantly TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! In the early days of having a child you know that you spend a lot of time at home and away from other people. It is just hard to get out and about with little ones. This community has really helped me to feel connected and kept me from going stir crazy. It is wonderful!
Does blogging get in the way of being a Stay At Home Mom? (question submitted by my husband, Ben)
Absolutely not, I think that it enhances it. I have met so many wonderful people that have so much great knowledge. I have enjoyed being connected and have learned so much. Being a blogger is also a challenge for my brain. I love numbers, think about them all of the time. Name a meal, I can tell you the cost of it right here, right now. That is just how I think. And after months of posting dinner every night on $5 Dinners I have just about every meal priced out or can in a matter of minutes!
(On the other hand I am glad you didn’t ask if it gets in the way of laundry – that is a whole other story!)
Do you ever wish that you didn’t have to stay under $5 for a meal?
Funny you should ask that, YES! Like lately, I have been craving lasagna, but I can’t do lasagna for under $5, the ingredients are just too expensive! But boy does some lasagna sound good!
Well, there was so much more that I could put down about this interview but these are the highlights and things I wanted to know as a new mommy blogger. I have to say, if ever presented with the opportunity to sit and chat with Erin, you shoud take it. She is so incredibly sweet and generally interested. And her love for Christ and her family is equally as contagious! I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet with her and have the pleasure of spending more time with her in the very near future as traveling to BlissDom ’09 will commence soon!
For more great information about Erin and great ideas and recipes on serving your family a healthy but frugal meal, visit her at 5dollardinners.com. If you are interested in her approach to gluten, casein, soy free diets visit her new site, gfcfsf.net.