Real Food Daily Menu (And Budget!)

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Real Food Daily Menu

Thanks to health stuff and allergy issues we try to eat as healthy as we can. No, not your mainstream version of healthy, our healthy is more the Nourishing Traditions kind…real fats and real foods. This kind of eating can be very hard to do on a budget. We strive to spend $300 a month on groceries for what we have to buy. Sometimes it’s hard to look at another’s meal plan and figure out exactly how the costs work so this week I’m breaking it down for you.

Real Food Daily Menu

 *Note, I’m not suggesting you eat the same way as we do, this post is simply inspiration for ideas on how to eat on a budget. Please keep in mind that everyone has different tastes, different allergies, and lives in different parts of the world. No need to criticize someone else’s eating habits, please keep your comments constructive.

This is our real food daily menu for last week! (Here’s what we ate last month on our budget). This month we actually had so much food left from last month (apparently I stocked up a little too much!) that I didn’t have to spend much on regular needs so I stocked up on things to put away for future months instead. (Apples for cold storage, pears to make pear butter, and sweet potatoes to can). The only money we will really end up spending this month will be on a bit more fresh foods and milk.

*Note: I didn’t include veggies in these menus because we don’t really do special things with them, just eat them plain or raw! They are added into the “snack” total. We are mainly eating frozen veggies right now to save costs. Some I had put up from the summer, some from Azure Standard, and some from Costco.

Real Food Daily Menu

Cheesy Tomatoes…one of my favorite munchy snacks!

Anyways, back to our meals. Here’s what we ate this last week and a breakdown of how much it costs. This is for a family of 3 with lots of leftovers.

Monday –

Loaded Beans
(Home canned beans, turbinado sugar (optional), lettuce, shredded cheese, 1/2 pound ground beef, sour cream, diced tomatoes, diced onions, garlic powder, salt)

This dish is super simple, brown the ground beef. Warm up the canned beans with a bit of turbinado or brown sugar to make it a bit sweet. In a bowl (ahead of time) mix the diced tomato, onion, salt, and garlic powder to make a simple salsa. To put it all together in a bowl layer the beef and beans on the bottom, top with cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.

Total Cost Breakdown:

Home canned beans – $0.25
Turbinado sugar – $0.10
Lettuce – $0.25
Shredded cheese – $0.50
1/2 pound Ground beef – $1.50
Sour cream – $0.05
Diced tomatoes – $1
Diced onions – $0.20
Garlic powder – pennies
Salt – pennies

Total = $3.90

Tuesday –

Spaghetti Squash and Pear Cobbler
(2 spaghetti squash, garlic powder, butter, 2 large pears, 1 cup flour (I used my gf mixture), 1/3 cup turbinado sugar, 1/4 cup oats, 1 stick butter)

Spaghetti squash was cooked in the crockpot then mixed with a bit of garlic powder and butter. The pear crisp was also cooked in the crockpot, pears were peeled and diced and place on the bottom of the pot. Then mix the flour, sugar, and oats together and sprinkle on top. The stick of butter should then be melted and poured on top, cooked for 4 hours on low. (Or just follow THIS RECIPE and use pears)

Total Cost Breakdown:

2 Spaghetti squash – $2
Garlic powder – pennies
Butter – $0.20
2 large Pears – $1
1 cup Flour (I used my gf mixture) – $0.25
1/3 cup Turbinado sugar – $0.25
1/4 cup Oats – $0.25
1 stick Butter – $1

Total = $5

Wednesday –

Chicken and Rice Soup and Pear Cobbler (See above)
(chicken, onion, butternut squash(I subbed this for the carrots), rice, chicken broth, flour, cream (I didn’t have milk), cheese, 2 large pears, 1 cup flour (I used my gf mixture), 1/3 cup turbinado sugar, 1/4 cup oats, 1 stick butter)

I made a few edits on our Chicken and Rice soup based on what I had on hand. Then I ended up making another pear cobbler because it was SO good!

Total Cost Breakdown:

Chicken – $1
Onion – $0.20
Butternut squash – $1
Rice – $0.10
Chicken broth – nothing
Flour – $0.10
Cream – $0.50
Cheese – $1
2 large Pears – $1
1 cup Flour (I used my gf mixture) – $0.25
1/3 cup Turbinado sugar – $0.25
1/4 cup Oats – $0.25
1 stick Butter – $1

Total: $7.65

Thursday –

Loaded Baked Potatoes
(potatoes, sour cream, cheese, canned beans, lettuce)

We didn’t have any water this day so I was looking for something quick that I didn’t have to dirty a lot of dishes!

Total Cost Breakdown:

Potatoes – $2
Sour Cream – $0.25
Cheese –  $0.50
Canned Beans – $0.25
Lettuce – $0.25

Total: $3.25

Friday –

Sweet Tomatoes & Beef – From The Canner’s Cookbook
(turbinado sugar, canned tomatoes, onions, ground beef, rice)

Total Cost Breakdown:

Sugar – $0.25
Canned Tomatoes – $0
Onions – $0.50
Ground Beef – $3
Rice – $0.50

Total: $4.25

Saturday –

Roast Beef
(roast, minced onion, minced garlic)

Yes, we were gone all day so I put a roast in the crockpot in the morning and by the time we got home I was too tired to make anything else to go with it so we just ate roast!

Total Cost Breakdown:

Roast Beef – $6
Minced Onion – pennies
Minced Garlic – pennies

Total: $6.05

Sunday –


Real Food Daily Menu

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies…one of our favorites!

Breakfasts –

Breakfasts consisted of smoothies for me, natural pop tarts for hubby (on the go), and fruits for Farmer Boy. Most week’s we eat quite a bit of oatmeal but this week we had fresh fruit.

Cost Breakdown:

Smoothies – $7
Pop Tarts – $3.20
Fruits – $5

Total:  $15.20

Lunches –

This one is easy. Me and Farmer Boy eat leftovers each day for lunch, hubby takes sandwiches so we only have the added costs for his sandwiches.

Cost Breakdown:

Leftovers – $0
Sandwiches – $5

Total: $5

Snacks & Sides –

Yep, we eat a lot of snacks! Mostly fresh fruits, vegetables,  homemade gelatin, dried fruit, gluten free cookies,  and other things we make up! For sides, we aren’t very creative. Just mostly plain veggies (and frozen ones like I mentioned above).

Cost Breakdown:

Snacks & Sides: About $10

Total: $10


So our total for this entire week including breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and snacks was $60.30. That’s not too bad for the 3 of us eating all organic/natural foods! That breaks down to $8.61 per day which is right on my target goal (which is $10 a day or $300 a month). I hope all of this keeping track of our food this week shows you how eating a healthy, non-processed diet IS possible even on a small income. We could definitely cut this to less if we lived in a bigger city and had cheaper produce available for us. This winter is also a little tougher since I didn’t have a garden this last year so next winter our costs for food should be even less since we will have food stored up from the summer.

What is your real food daily menu? Share in the comments section!


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  1. Thanks for sharing…. I see some starchy veggies and a bit of shredded lettuce.. But where’s the leafy greens, salads and cruciferous veggies? Surely you guys eat plenty? Is it in your “snacks” allotment?

    1. A few brands…..I can’t remember what the brand he eats is called….Natural Path?….make organic pop tarts. Not the best thing ever but better than the alternative!

  2. Is it just the 3 of you? I try so hard to keep a tight budget and eat good unprocessed foods but we have an average of 8 people per meal so sometimes I feel like I spend so much money on meals all we can do is keep trying! Do you have casserole meals ??

    1. The 3 of us normally, yes. I’m not a huge fan of casseroles at the moment just because we are still in the rv and I don’t have room to make them.

    2. Casseroles are a fantastic way of making food stretch. Three of our favorites are chicken and rice casserole, chicken enchilada casserole, and chicken spaghetti. (I couldn’t find anyone to give me their recipe for the latter, so I made up my own.) I can find chicken at Sam’s Club (there is no other club choice near here) for a fantastic price. That helps immensely. I generally purchase the frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I can use three chicken breasts for any of those recipes and easily serve 8 people. It saves me time and I’m not paying for bones.
      I then use the broth for various other dishes. I make a special recipe for the chicken enchilada casserole broth. When the breasts finish cooking, I use the remaining broth for making my Tex-Mex version of Spanish rice and also for enhancing the flavor the next time I make chicken enchilada casserole. Those are huge budget saver items for us.
      Another item that makes a lot for a little is the crock pot chicken and dressing recipe.
      It’s nice to make these and fix an additional can of vegetables or a larger serving of fried rice and then make homemade “TV dinners.” I send those with my husband to work. When my son was living at home, we did the same for him.

  3. Hi Melissa, I just settled in Hot Springs SD where I’m planning to homestead on some land in the hills. Discovered your blog and it’s so helpful. Contact me via my email, if you like. I’m staying in town for the winter in the “historical hotel” but I did get a few of my garden beds ready for next spring – planted out my garlic. Lots of rocks to pull out of the ground. 🙂

  4. I see that you add sugar to an awful lot of your recipes. What is the reason for it – personal taste or something else? I do not like anything sweet when it comes to main dishes – unless it is chinese food….

    1. It’s actually only in 2 supper recipes above (anything else was a dessert). I only like adding it to our beans when I make meals like this, makes them taste more like traditional “pork and beans” without the pork. Also…besides recipes like that and a few desserts or cookies (which I very rarely make, usually once a week) that is the ONLY sugar we get since we do not eat out or any processed foods, so it doesn’t both me to add a little bit to a few dishes here and there. 🙂

      1. Great job!!! Keep on going!!! We moved to Oklahoma last spring and did not have much of a garden either. I am hoping this year the good Lord will provide much garden bounty!!
        Take Care..

      2. Beans stretch the budget, they’re a good source of protein and are heart healthy. Google. Eat what is in season. In winter choose frozen veggies which are nutritious as they flash freeze. Thanks Melissa.

  5. Do you have access to Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op? I don’t spend over $20 a week on fruits and veggies every week with them! Never purchase them at the store anymore! You don’t know what will be in the baskets, but it keeps the fun in food, and we have learned to eat items we never thought we would like! Check it out!

    1. I’m not sure if there is one here, we are in a very rural area. We used to do Bountiful Baskets but found the organic baskets to be a little lacking…I wonder if they have improved?

  6. We are a vegetarian family, any suggestions for menus? No fish or meat but we do eat eggs and dairy! I’ve exhausted the kid friendly meals of home made Mac and cheese, pizzas and spaghetti … Anything new would be much appreciated to feed these two picky kids 10 & 6! I bake all of our bread and treats, pretty easy there… It’s meal time that is a challenge.

    I’m really enjoying your page!!! Jann

    1. As you can see from our menu you are really into beans. Super filling and so cheap! I would also think that veggie stir fries would be good for your family, you could add in eggs too for a little boost of protein. And as long as you eat dairy things like cottage cheese and cheese sticks for snacks would be great extra and pretty cheap protein sources as well. I hope that helps at least give you a few ideas!

  7. Wow…I eat so different than you. I’m also on a tight budget, but thanks to raising organic veggies, fruit, berries, nuts, seeds, sprouts, free range poultry, etc., my meals are exceedingly nutritious. It’s so important to have a very well balanced breakfast. Sweet potatoes are much more nutritious than Irish/russet potatoes. Leaf lettuce, lots of other greens, cruciferous veggies, fish and poultry rather than beef, eggs, seeds, nuts, dairy are important to a healthy food regimen. Every meal I fix, no matter how long or rigorous my day is on my place, I make a complete, nourishing from scratch meal. Tonight’s supper: baked trout (caught by grandson and froze),Bragg’s vinegar on the trout instead of lemon, baked sweet potato, with my own herbs and seasonings on it, homemade cottage cheese, broccoli florets and cauliflower heated, and grated homemade cheese on top, milk, and 4 grains, 3 seeds homemade yeast roll, with blackberry jam. Snack in the evening was a serving of walnut halves and an apple…both from my orchard and cups of hot stinging nettle tea (dried the nettles this summer from my foraging).

    1. My family has many many allergies which is why we can’t eat things like seeds or nuts. We always try to eat very healthy for what we are able to have.

  8. I don’t know how you are getting winter squash fir $1-2? I still have some we grew…but if I were to go to the store ir farmers market….at least $4-5 each. I think the chicken and meat too. I cant find those prices.

  9. First I’d like to say, I’m sorry for any comments that leave you feeling criticized. I’m not sure the age of your son, but when it was just 3 of us (before I knew of our allergies) my hub and I ate no where near at good as you 🙂 But now there are 4 of us, my oldest is nearly 5 and we have allergies, sensitivites and more! And I find we eat a lot. One thing I noticed is you guys just don’t seem to have much for each meal. We aren’t vegetarians so we do eat a lot of meat, but just a baked potato for dinner would never do (sadly). My husband also tends to low blood sugar, so protein is highly needed. I’ve tried quinoa, garbazo beans, any beans, nuts, and even natural gelatin as a powder. Either he hates it, the kids or I can’t find recipes to make things work. I’d love MORE ideas on keeping the budget down, yet with a bit more per meal. My hub takes leftovers for his lunch and the kids and I usually have sunbutter or organic hotdogs or something like that for lunch.

    1. It may not seem like much but each meal we have is very filling. We also tend to eat quite a few healthy snacks through the day so by the time it’s mealtime we aren’t eating as much…we all seem to function better on the “small meals” thing, I guess its just our style. And I guess I did not explain the potato very well, this is a huge full plate loaded with the potato, covered in home canned beans, cheese, and any other toppings we find in the fridge. Sometimes I can’t even finish the plate!

    2. Know this is old, but may help someone: perfect supplements has an organic chicken bone broth powder. Nothing else added. I add spoonfuls of it to a lot of meals and stuff just to get the protein in

  10. I’m not near as good as you are at all of this but I’m starting to get better! I feed a family of 4 which includes a 17 year old boy and I have been trying to get my grocery bill to $100 a week… most weeks I do okay… this week I spent $155.35 but between coupons and my club card I was able to save $25.38 so it was only $129.97 out of pocket! I know that’s not a whole lot compared to some of the super-shoppers (which I totally envy) out there but I’m making progress! 🙂

    1. I think $100 a week for a family of 4 is really good! And I know that weeks can vary…some we might spend about $60 like we did above but then the next week will be higher. Overall I just think a good goal is $100 per person per month. 🙂

  11. I like your recipes and ideas very much. I’m living alone here in Poke Salad Alley, and one of my staples is homemade muesli, and the other is great northern beans in a million guises. I am fortunate to have an Amish bulk food store nearby, and I find the prices are good and the quality excellent. My grocery store budget is $150 per month, including cleaning supplies etc that I get at the grocery store. I think you’re doing better than I am, and I fast two days per week!

  12. this 300.00 including meat? we are a family of 6 and I have been aiming for 600.00 per month. we eat a lot like your family..we cant do dairy so that does cut down out our ability to eat protein from dairy. God bless..always love your site=)

  13. oops..forget to this including your cleaning supplies and toiletries. I apologize if you have answered this in previous posts.

  14. Your menu looks awesome, I would really love that Pear Cobbler! Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a very Merry Christmas!
    Miz Helen

  15. This is a really helpful. Im constantly going over budget with groceries. I haven’t been on your website before but I’m going to snoop around to see what I can find. It looks right up my alley.

  16. I had to ask: Do you have a recipe to share (or that you’ve shared already) for making pear butter? I LOVE pear preserves and also apple butter. I have no clue how to make apple butter, let alone pear butter. My foray into pear preserves was so-so, edible, but certainly not my favorite version. Thanks a bundle. 🙂

  17. Thanks so much for sharing this! I always love to get ideas from other’s meal plans! I grew up eating lots of beans, so I love how so many of your meals include them…good, cheap eating! 🙂 Love your blog too…only just discovered it, and am looking forward to checking it out some more. Blessings!

  18. LOVE this post! I think the smaller portions are perfect. Most of us eat WAY too much quantity wise anyway….you know the shocker when you start a diet and you learn that one ‘serving’ of meat is the size of a deck of playing cards? Or a ‘serving’ of cheese is the size of your thumb? Portion distortion is out of control in America.

    But back to the post – I love the cost breakdown and would love to see more posts like these – doing more with less. Gave me some great ideas!

    1. I’ve noticed that we eat quite a bit less than many of our friends but we still are very full after a meal…I think it comes from years of eating whole foods, they fill you up very differently!

  19. Hi, I just want to say I LOVE your blog and your sweet little family. I take from it what I can and read past what does not pertain to me. I cannot believe the people that leave a comment to criticize your posts or to try to one up you with their way of life. Type on, Sister!

  20. Hi, I just want to say I LOVE your blog and your sweet little family. I take from it what I can and read past what does not pertain to me. I cannot believe the people that leave a comment to criticize your posts or to try to one up you with their way of life. Type on, Sister!

  21. Where and when can you find 2 spaghetti squash for 2$? The prices here you can’t get one for $2. Just wondering? Love your blog!!

    1. I purchased that winter squash last fall from a roadside stand in 50lb boxes. Now the prices are too high to buy them from the grocery store but we stocked up while we could!

  22. For our family, newly down to four people with our adult son having moved out, I can make it on $300 per month including cleaning supplies and toiletries and such, but $400 is more manageable and less stressful and allows us to eat fewer bread / noodle style dishes and more fresh and frozen vegetables. (Our garden cost us over $400 three years ago and not quite that two years ago, but did not make either year due to drought and grasshoppers. I just couldn’t stomach spending the money last year and having it all go in grasshoppers’ bellies. (I did get some revenge in discovering that fried grasshoppers taste much like fried okra. )

    Many people are not going to be in this boat, but here are some things that help our budget: Having the ability to process meat locally in trade for some of the meat. We have feral hogs here. The small ones are quite edible and scarcely gamey at all – and I’m ultra picky about that. Folks know that we eat it, so if they trap them, my husband will make arrangements to process them. That has been a huge help for our freezer. Furthermore, some folks who have only venison in their freezer when we had none were happy to share their venison in exchange for some various styles of hog (link sausages, breakfast sausage, ground – like hamburger). It gives us both some variety in our meats.
    We could have processed the deer we did get last week for free, except that I wanted one thing that I haven’t gotten in 4 or 5 years – some outstanding venison, jalepeno, and cheese summer sausage. Processing that cost $190 – part summer sausage, part hamburger, part chili meat, and ribs. We are trying to cut out wheat products and go with proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Having some variety in taste and texture, as well as having ready-made protein snacks was my incentive here.

    Two things that did cause our grocery bill to grow:
    1) Our older adult son who needed a large supply of food to get by on a new job in a new area until he got his first check. We raided the pantry to make sure he had all the food he’d need for two weeks. Prior to that, for an emergency in West, Texas, we raided our food supply to help. It is good to have easy-to-prepare foods on hand for those types of scenarios if one can. We’ve discovered that a foot locker is a great place to keep foods that mice might be able to get into.
    2) Pets / farm animals. Feeding them has added additional strain on our budget, especially our calves. I was hoping to make it to Spring and then be able to just watch them get fat on grass rather than all the supplements and hay, but my dryer went out. I did get my initial investment back out of them (not the extra feed and such). It all worked out in the end. We don’t have to go feed the calves in the corral in freezing temperatures, we got a new dryer, and our pet expenses went down significantly.

    The net of all this is: if you are in a location where you can hunt, hunt what you can. If you can budget to get the equipment to process your own meat, fantastic. Do it. Not only can you help yourself, but you can help your neighbors out in return for a bit of the meat in return. Or perhaps find someone else who has the equipment and offer part of the meat for their freezer in trade. Everyone wins.

    If you have one type of meat in the freezer – a bunch of fish you caught, hog meat, venison, whatever – find out if someone else has a limited variety and is willing to make a trade with you. Again, everyone wins this way.

    Another tip I’ve learned recently: find out where your grocer’s reduced bin is for meat (or other products). You can get some great deals on meat by looking in the “reduced for quick sale” bin. Do be sure the meat looks appetizing still. We did get one steak once that I wound up with that was a little too far past its prime. The rest was great.

    Finally, find out what may be eating into your budget besides food: toiletries, cleaning supplies, pets, sodas, alcohol, tobacco, etc. If possible, find less expensive alternatives to those or see if you can find a bulk supplier to get you a better price, or cut back on non-essential items. (I like sodas, occasionally, we will get a bottle of wine to go with two meals, and my husband dips snuff. “Icky stuff” as my girls call it. Tea, water, and coffee replace my sodas. If our budget allows, we may get a bottle of wine as a nice treat, but it is not a main-stay in our home. We budget my husband’s snuff. He works hard and brings home the bacon, so that is an area of concession, but if money is really tight, he makes an extra effort to use less.)

  23. I have a question about your portion sizes. You have the cost breakdown but not the portion size. And also is that for a cost per person or for the entire meal?

    1. That is the cost I pay per meal. I’m not sure what our specific portion sizes are for each thing we make but it’s always a hearty meal that we are full after eating.

  24. I love reading your blog! I am always looking for ideas to eat/cook cheaper, yet nutritious. I love your quick and easy meals. I work full time and have very little time at home during the week. I do have a little more time in the summer and generally have a large garden so I can a lot of veggies in the summer for quick use the rest of the year. We also process our own venison during hunting season with a group of our friends.
    One quick question, I have seen several of your posts that have turbinado sugar. What is this? Do you know how it compares to refined sugar that is typical in most recipes?
    Keep up the great posts! I look forward to reading them every chance I get.

    1. Turbinado sugar is sugar in it’s raw form. I have issues with processed foods and actually have bad reactions to processed sugars (headaches, anxiety, ezcema, ect) but I do well with turbindo so that’s what we use instead 🙂

  25. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. I never see other bloggers do food budget posts that include organic and natural foods like this and yours is so inspiring! Please keep these types of posts going!

  26. Very interesting comments. Live in the city and feeding 5 people which includes a 17 yr old boy. I shop a little differently.I get grocery
    ads on Tuesday in the mail and mark what’s on sale. Then make up a
    menu for the week. Also record items for stocking up: e.g. spaghetti
    sauce, toothpaste, tomato sauce, etc. We buy lots of vegies and fruit
    every week. I make breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. A year ago, we
    we feeding 4-5 teen age boys at least 4-5 times a week. I do a lot of
    bulk shopping at Costo and get our beef there. At Safeway, I belong to their “Just 4 U” site that has special prices. Store tomato sauce is 50
    cents yet their Just 4 U lit lists it at 30cents and I will buy at least 10
    cans. Another trick is I number the cans 1 being the last one on the
    shelf so when I use #5 or 4, I start looking for it to go on sale again.
    Also when you accumulate $100 in grocery sales you get 10cents off
    at the gas pump. That accumulates until $1 is raised. 50- 60 cents off gas is wonderful. Also use Costo gas. We also have a garden with
    many tomatoes we can: Spagheti sauce, salsa, whole tomatoes,.
    We also grow Italian sweet peppers, cukes, and zuchinni., all of which we can or freeze.

  27. Thank you for sharing all your good ideas. To take the time to post and do the things you are posting is amazing. So appreciate.

    I’m not sure if you posted sometime before Christmas a winter cap pattern. Let me know if you did. It was a very simple one. Just one line to sew.

    Have a blessed day!

  28. I enjoyed your post and hope to utilize some of your ideas/tips.
    Will be checking through your recipes, looking for quick, instant pot and/or crockpot ideas.
    It’s myself (64), my son (31) and grandson (5) and I like focusing on whole foods and avoiding as many processed foods as possible. As someone living and working with multiple non-visible disabilities and chronic illness/chronic pain I’m very limited in my ability to stand for very long and being in the kitchen after a full day of work sometimes just isn’t possible. But eating healthily and monitoring myself are really the only options open to me to reduce symptoms. No pain pills since the opioid ‘epidemic’ and not even anti-inflammatories since a heart attach a year ago.
    Time savers are crucial for me and any ideas that I can implement are a blessing!
    I’ve dehydrated a lot of foods because I’m limited in storage. Everything tastes so fresh when it’s rehydrated and can be used in any recipe. I’ve also done small batch canning (meat included).
    Also, I’ve found that eating healthily is cheaper than buying processed, pre-made foods and meals. Even buying organic can fit into my budget now, which is something that I really worried about in the beginning.
    Thanks again for your post. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog!

  29. Wow Joy, that’s quite impressive! Not nice to brag in such a way that sounds condemning to those who don’t live up to your lifestyle. When do you sleep? We all do the best we can and try to improve along the way. Please offer some grace to those of us who aren’t equipped with your abilities. Merissa, you are amazing, and thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. It is greatly appreciated.