Tuesday, January 13, 2009

$100 January Grocery Challenge - Part 1

Well, we are almost halfway through January and it is not too surprising to me that I have already spent every last dollar I had allotted for groceries this month. I'm finding it difficult not to buy when things are at a price that only comes along once or twice a year and to break from the stockpiling mindset that I usually have, to buy items when they are at their rock bottom price. Anyway, here is the breakdown, along with a little commentary.

Alberstons - 2 transactions to get the best deals
8 boxes Quaker cereal - We go through Life really quickly!
3 boxes oatmeal packets
1 canister old-fashioned rolled oats
4 boxes granola bars
1 box breakfast bars
2 cheese sticks (the kids were hungry for a snack and I grow tired of telling them no)
4 packages pepperoni
4 packages Canadian bacon
Grand Total after promotions, sales, coupons & bag refund were deducted= $27.11

King Soopers - went there because we needed to kill some time before going somewhere else
1 package whole grain hoagie buns - marked down (m.d.)
4 packages turkey sausage links - m.d.
1 package turkey bacon - m.d.
1 large package pepperoni
1 jar of our all-time favorite dressing/pizza dip that we haven't had in a really long time
1 package chicken thighs - m.d.
Grand total after coupon, sales and bag credit = $13.26

2 gallons milk
3 bottles of cranberry juice
2 boxes of Capri Sun
2 boxes of packaged cookie/cracker snacks - purchased because they were part of a deal with the juices and drinks and some will be kept in the van to help us avoid stopping somewhere for a meal to tide us over until we get home
2 small containers sour cream - m.d.
5 - 4pks. of Activa yogurt - m.d.
1 quart organic half & half - m.d.
2 cottage cheese - m.d.
1 organic cottage cheese - m.d.
3 lbs. bananas
3 avocados
2 lbs. organic whole wheat macaroni
6 - 4pks. of fruit cups, bought because they were marked down to $.70/pack
3 boxes yogurt fruit snacks, bought because they were marked down to $.50/box

Grand total after sales, coupons, and bag credit = $36.02, though it should have been $4 lower (coupons I forgot to give them when I checked out...argh! And I only bought some of those items because of the high value coupons I had.) and $2 lower ($1 off per gallon of milk based on a mailing I had received which is linked to my loyalty card) and $.75 lower due to a dairy markdown sticker they skipped. I may or may not go back to customer service for these savings. It was not worth it that day, a busy Saturday morning with a customer service line 6 people deep at a store that has not always treated me very kindly.

plastic wrap - cheapest kind, we've been out for weeks
dishwasher tabs - had a great coupon
Grand Total = approx. $5.00

25 lbs. flour
huge can of tomato sauce
huge can of crushed tomatoes
big bag of tortilla chips
5 cheese take-and-bake pizza - purchased because there was a coupon and I had nothing else at home which could be fixed quickly for lunch that day, but still $7.00 could buy a whole lot more if I would have been more prepared
Grand total after pizza coupon = $22.10

So, I am just over $100 for January and am not planning any more purchases unless they are absolutely necessary, like milk and fruit and vegetables. I do have to be honest and say that I did stop at King Soopers to get some free-with-coupon deodorant today and ended up spending $3.50 from my allowance on 6 organic apples and a bag of marked down cherry chips...random, I know. But I thought they would be fun for Valentine's cookies. Although I didn't mind spending my allowance on this today, I don't plan to make a habit of that, since we have determined that our allowance is for each of us to spend as we please and not on goods for the family unless we REALLY want to.

Observations & Activities:
- I could do far better with this month's goal if I just stayed out of stores or sent my husband for the few essential items we needed. I think I am just so used to grocery shopping that it has become a (bad) habit to buy more than we need.
- I need to avoid grocery shopping to fill time. Even if I find good deals, I'll still be going over my budget.
- So far our meals have been fine and I anticipate that through the end of the month, though I wouldn't want to have this grocery budget long-term.
- The items listed above seem like a lot more junk than we usually buy. Keep in mind that this is not representative of our whole diet. The more balanced menu plan is here, which uses up other ingredients we had on hand at the start of the month.
- I did cook 1 of the 4 turkeys that was in our freezer, and divided the meat into meal-sized portions, cooked the carcass down to get all the little bits of meat off the bones and made wonderfully rich bone broth which was the base of a good turkey soup with homemade noodles. Yum! And we will still get at least 3 more meals from that one bird. I don't love turkey, but if I space out those meals, it should be okay.
- As I review my menu plan, it seems that very few of the dinner entrees are quick and easy, but convenience comes at a cost I'm not willing to pay right now.
- The more time-consuming the meal is, the more I feel I lose when my kids are picky and whine about or simply choose not to eat the meal I have made. We have never catered to our children at dinnertime at home, but somehow they don't mind holding out until breakfast, a meal they all enjoy.
- My husband supports me in this challenge, but has also given my complete freedom to up the budget if I need to buy more. I still hope to carry on with this month's plan as long as possible, though.
- It would be easier to carry through with the plan if we kept our dining out budget at its normal level instead of drastically reducing that, too. But this kind of plan does make you much more purposeful in planning dinners at home and anticipating the few times we'll eat out this month. True to form, we've already consumed our free Chick-Fil-A meal. We never seem to tire of that place! This leaves us with only 1 more dining out experience this month. Yikes!
- Meal sequence has been determined mostly by what needs to be used first so it doesn't go bad, reducing overall waste.
- I still have a balance on Walgreens gift card if I need something essential like milk.
- Our cupboards and freezer are still full!

Overall, this challenge is going okay for me. What goals have you set for yourself this month in your budget, the kitchen, or elsewhere?

No comments: