Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Pantry Challenge - The Final Tally

Going into this challenge I really wanted to cut our grocery expenses in half for the month.  Half way through I realized that would not be happening.   I was trying to be extra mindful of my purchases, though perhaps unsuccessfully.  On the upside, the kitchen has been deep-cleaned.  You know the organize the pantry, clean the oven, pull out the oven and wash off all the crumbs on the side and the floor below it, pull out the fridge and vacuum the coils, scrub the greasy dust off the tops of your cabinets, scrub the inside of the fridge, "where did my whole day go?" kind of cleaning?!  I'm glad that's behind me for a few more months.

Purchases for the second half of January:
Target - two trips totaling $78.41 (purchased with gift card so nothing out of pocket)
12 2-pks baby food, facial scrub, shampoo, pizza sauce, jelly beans, croutons, 1 lb. sausage, 10 lbs. potatoes, marshmallows, ice cream cones/cherries/hot fudge/caramel (for a little party w/ice cream), soy sauce, pepperoni, ham, brown sugar, apple juice concentrate, sandwich bags, 6 pk. beer, 3 peppermint chocolate baking bars, small bottle baby oil, 2 bottles of my favorite dish soap and mustard
More than 1/2 of these things were purchased while my parents were here visiting.  I hadn't planned meals really well and also didn't want to skimp on tasty things while they were here, so there were certainly impulse purchases.

Sam's Club - $15
2 large jars salsa, big bag of lettuce, Olive Garden dressing
With my parents here, I was able to go with my mom.
Dad & Mom - Free
20-25 lbs. of pork
Thanks, Mom & Dad!

Costco - $17.50 (there for a great buy on a car seat that our girl will be needing soon)
2 gallons milk, 3 large bags Tostitos ($2.19/bag), 18 ct. eggs, sea salt

King Soopers - $65.82
20 boxes Mom's Best cereal, 20 pkgs. pasta, 14 cans diced tomatoes, 8 cans Rotel, 3 boxes Kleenex, 20 ct. dishwasher tabs, 3 bags pretzel Goldfish, 1 tube toothpaste (free), 2 bottles Dr. Pepper, 1 gallon milk, 3 Pringles, 3 4-pks yogurt, 2 pkgs. hygiene items, 11 cans of beans, 3 pkgs.pepperoni/cheese combos and 1 small pkg of M&Ms
I kind of cringe when I read this list, but know that this is not the bulk of our diet.  The cereal, pasta & tomatoes were at my stock-up price so I didn't want to miss this sale.

Costco - $9.38 (there for a prescription)
1.5 lbs. hard salami (for Friday pizza night),  3 lbs. Craisins

Total:  $107.70 out of pocket
+ $290.60 from earlier in January = $398.30

I just checked the USDA Cost of Food chart for the 2012 average cost on the Thrifty Plan and I was surprised at how high it was.  For our family on the thrifty plan we would be spending:
$627.90 (family of 4 including our 2 oldest children) + $133.90 (our 3rd child) + 100.90 (our 4th child) = $862.70
When I look at those numbers and consider that most of our meals are at home, I include paper and personal care goods in our total, we still have 2 little ones in diapers and they don't give a figure for children under age 1 in the calculations, I am encouraged. Not that we have $863 per month to spend on groceries, but this is helpful as I try to keep our budget in perspective.

Even with a month of some extra buying restraint behind us, we still have lots of food in our freezers and pantry so I am hopeful that February will be a good month for the grocery budget, too.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January Pantry Challenge Update - Half Way Done

I've been following along at Good Cheap Eats with the Pantry Challenge that she is doing and have been very inspired by it.  I've been trying to be extra mindful of shopping and using what we have, but I've already spent more than I intended for January, which doesn't bode well considering this is only the 14th.  Anyway, purchases so far are:

1/2 - Costco - $185.10  *coupon item
chicken base, 6 lbs. bananas, 5 lbs. cornbread mix (impulse buy but a closeout price), 3 lbs. celery, 5 lbs. organic baby carrots, 4 lbs. powdered sugar, 20 lbs. sugar, #10 cans of tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes, 3 lbs. sour cream, 4 lbs. turkey lunchmeat*, 3 - 26oz. bags Tostitos*, 18 ct. eggs, 6 gals. milk, 5 lbs. organic frozen green beans, 5 lbs. organic frozen mixed vegetables, 2 giant boxes of diapers*, 1120 baby wipes*.

1/10 - Costco - $8.99
take and bake pizza since it was one of those days and my husband was already stopping at the pharmacy

1/12 - Bountiful Baskets - $61.50
40 lbs. Junami apples, 2 conventional baskets which included apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, oroblancos, celery, variety colored carrots, grape tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, avocados, and mini peppers

1/13 - King Soopers - $22.01 out of pocket, also used a gift card
2 lbs. super lean ground beef, 3 gallons milk, 10 deodorants (my husband's preferred kind was on a super sale so I bought a supply to last the better part of the year), 2 pkgs. bacon (1 Coleman nitrate-free), 10 jars baby food, 2 small boxes baby cereal

1/14 - Costco - $13.00 - there again to visit the pharmacy
4 lbs. butter, 18 ct. eggs, 1 gal. chocolate milk

Total for January to date: $290.60  (of which $104.67 is non-edible)

- We have not had food going to waste and I'm glad to be using up little bits of this and that.
- I've made 3 big batches of bread (5 loaves each) this month.
- Impulse purchases have been limited.

Other observations:
- Careful shopping and cooking and planning takes time and mental energy, which are sometimes in short supply around here.
- At this point I'm not really willing to do without key ingredients unless our situation was more dire.  Case in point, today I bought butter because we were completely out and I'm not willing to go another 16 days without it, especially when we are eating lots of whole wheat bread.
- I really don't like running out of some important things (i.e. diapers!) so I would rather stock up when they are on coupon at Costco or when I am already at the store and not "have" to get to the store when I'm down to the last diaper.  Same goes for milk, butter, eggs.  At some point using up all of what you have of an item becomes a real pain. 
- We have had a dinner out at Costco when we took the whole family to look at a couch, and a couple lunches out with just my husband and our 2 year old on the day our other kids attend school.
- Aside from Costco coupons and loading offers to my Safeway card, I think my couponing days are over, or at least on hiatus for this season.
- I'm disappointed that I haven't done better with this, but I have cooked a lot.
- Aside from a quick trip with a very short list, shopping with kids is not beneficial for our budget or my sanity.  Thankfully, my husband is in full support of me shopping alone.  :)

But, all is not lost.  I'm still going to do my best to minimize expense for the rest of the month.  I'll continue to follow the menu plan from the month, improvising as needed to avoid more trips to the store.  I'm pressing on.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January Pantry Challenge & Meal Plan


It's that time of year again when we try to rein in our spending, take stock of what we already have on hand and commit to healthful living.  So I'm joining in a pantry challenge.

My goals:
1. Use up some food stocks we have in our fridge, freezer and pantry.
2. Save money by reducing our grocery and household product expenses (including diapers for 2) to $250 instead of our normal $500 by shopping sparingly & purposefully.  The money we save will go toward a furnace repair needed soon.
3. Clean and organize the pantry, fridge, and freezer and deep clean the whole kitchen.
4. Avoid eating out (one exception possibly on a day we have an appointment - use up Chick-Fil-A coupons)

Dinners - served with whatever fruit and vegetables are available, or as noted
1. pancakes w/pineapple cream, pears
2. southwest salad w/chicken, corn, beans, cheese, sour cream, etc., cheesy tortilla bites (using a package of tortillas which have stuck together badly)
3. barbacoa rice bowls, mixed fruit (orange, pineapple, pomegranate)
4. beef stew, whole wheat rolls, vegetable tray & dip, chocolate chip cookies (taking this meal to friends, also)
5. ham & pineapple pizza
6. hamburgers, baked fries
7. chicken green chili, cornbread
8. tater tot & green bean casserole (using fries),fruit salad
9. spaghetti & meat sauce (make a huge batch and freeze quarts of sauce meals later in the month)
10.breakfast for dinner - ham & cheese quiche, blueberry muffins, orange slices
11.  chicken & homemade noodles over mashed potatoes
12. macaroni & cheese w/ham, peas
13. chili, cheese breadsticks
14. meatballs, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans
15. cheesy chicken pockets (whole wheat dough)
16. spaghetti & meat sauce
17. chicken caesar sandwhiches on homemade focaccia
18. chicken pot pie, fruit salad
19. garlic pork chops, green beans, quinoa
20. roast beef, mashed potatoes & gravy
21. barbeque chicken, rice pilaf
22. broccoli cheese soup, biscuit bites
23. spaghetti & meat sauce
24 -31. flexible - I'll see what comes in our produce baskets before I decide.

chicken salad sandwiches
turkey cheese sandwiches
snack lunch
Sundays - chicken tortilla soup, orange chicken & rice,

whole wheat bread & jam
cold cereal
apple oatmeal
whole wheat pancakes
ham & egg casserole, coffee cake (for our Sunday school class)
smoothies (lots of frozen papaya & berries to use)
oats w/berries soaked in homemade yogurt
homemade granola

I'm really lacking inspiration for frugal, simple, quick, tasty lunch options.  Please share your suggestions!  There are so many days I envy the option of just throwing a pb&j together and calling it good enough.

Are you eating from the pantry this month, too?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcoming 2013 with Hope & Purpose

Goals for 2013
Get closer to God & His Word
  • in the Word daily
  • pray with and for my husband and our kids more
  • memorize Scripture individually & as a family
Take better care of myself
  • lose 30 lbs.
  • work out 5x/per week, developing into running
  • get a physical
  • go to bed at 10pm consistently
  • drink lots of water
  • refresh with hobbies & projects I enjoy
Engage more fully in homeschooling & mothering
  • make it the top priority of each day
  • take time to read and pray with each child each day
  • tuck the children in every night
  • train our precious children to be helpers & learners & hard workers & repenters & forgivers
Spend less
  • time shopping – less than 3 stops per week
  • time online – less than 1 hr each day
  • time & energy comparing myself to others

Choose joy!