Monday, January 17, 2011

January Pantry Challenge Update

The January pantry challenge is going okay, though I have made a few observations.

1. When you make a menu for a month, don't expect to follow it to the letter. We've only eaten about half of the meals I had planned to this date because of leftovers we needed to eat, a couple take-out meals that also yielded leftovers and some poor planning.
2. For a big menu plan, check your stock of all ingredients needed in your meals even if you don't need a lot of them. Ever tried to make a stir-fry without soy sauce?
3. Plan some meals you can get on the table in a matter of minutes. Everyone has days when the time, energy or schedule doesn't allow much for cooking.
4. If you're planning for a long stretch of time, sales may not come when you need them. I'm still waiting on a good sale on pork to make our favorite pulled pork.
5. If you schedule your grocery shopping for a certain day and then can't go on that day and have no opportunities for shopping for the rest of the week, the menu you had planned will likely fall by the wayside.

I've given lots of thought lately to just how much time, energy and stress (shopping with 4 children!) grocery shopping requires and am trying to find a balance between time and money. I don't need to impress anyone with how little I spend on groceries if we have enough to feed our family and have a good balance between being good stewards of both of those resources. I'm no extreme couponer. I think I may have been in the past, and that time may come again, but I really need to spend my time on things that our family values more for this season. I need to shop more strategically and less frequently.

January Grocery far
King Soopers $26.42 - milk, buttermilk, apples, potatoes, avocados, beans, eggs, girl stuff
Costco - $15.62 - lots of lunch meat, bananas, cinnamon
Sunflower Market -$62.06 lots of ground beef & chicken, yogurt, produce, vinegar
Costco - $31.95 bread, cheese, bananas, tortillas, tortilla chips, spinach, celery, snack mix
Farm Crest - $11.96 4 gallons milk
Sam's Club - $17.62 bacon bits, salsa, chips
Grand total - $165.63

So, that leaves me less than $10 for the next 14 days. We'll see how that goes. I still have plenty of options with the food we have in the house, so I'm hoping for the best. But we may need diapers, or t.p., or some other baby things. Listing out the purchases certainly highlights the impulse buys.

Here's the menu plan for this week.
Monday - buffalo chicken meatballs, mashed potatoes, carrot & celery sticks w/dip
Tuesday - Homemade mac & cheese w/a bit of diced chicken breast, steamed veggies
Wednesday - Creamy roasted tomato soup, grilled turkey cheese sandwiches
Thursday - Spinach salad w/chicken, feta, bacon, croutons, etc.
Friday - minestrone, fresh bread
Saturday - cheeseburger pizza, salad
Sunday - taco soup, quesadillas

Are you doing a similar challenge? How is it going? How do you get food on your table economically while maintaining your sanity?


mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I admire you so much for doing this, Rachel. I can't IMAGINE shopping with four kids! Four little kids at that.

Typically, I shop at 4 different stores to get the best deals. When I'm pressed for time, I try to hit only one (usually Walmart because it's the cheapest... I spend WAY more if it's King Soopers or Safeway) but then I feel so guilty for not managing my budget better. It's a vicious cycle and I think the bottom line is knowing when I need to give myself some grace.

Looks like you're doing great though. Keep it up.

Mollie said...

Rachel, I wish I could eat at your house every night. Your meals always sound delicious! I'm inspired by your planning and budgeting. I fail at meal planning and cooking is probably my least favourite chore. Keep up the good work!

Michelle said...

Rachel, I think the reason I was able to do this is because I had a freezer FULL of meat. I STILL have a ton of meat! I agree with you on shopping less frequently. During this challenge, I sometimes felt like my kids were living at the stores! I normally try to run out at night without them, but then I feel guilty because I have to make YET another trip to town - shouldn't I just do it while we're there for some other purpose? (13-25 miles one way depending on the town). It's hard to strike a balance, isn't it?