Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Days 26 - 31 and Pantry Challenge Oberservations {Making Do}

Day 26 -
We grilled steaks (they weren't getting better with age in the freezer) for lunch and had leftovers.  I cut meat off the bones and froze the meat for stew, then made broth with the bones and some limp veggies in the fridge. I also wasted food today.  When I emptied the deep freezer last week I moved a package of beef liver to the fridge.  I just couldn't stomach using it in the end, so it went in the garbage.
We're out of packable lunch food.  It was time to pick up a few things for the week ahead, which will involve a little ski trip for two in our family.  I plan on sending sandwiches and a sufficient quantity of junky foods to make it fun for this father/son excursion.  The child who gets to go is often complaining that everything we have to eat around here is "too healthy" (ha!) so hopefully he'll feel loved by my effort to send these treats. 
Safeway - $20.47
1 gallon milk, 2 loaves of bread, 1/2 pound of ham, 1 bag chips, 2 stax of chips, marked down Reeses (a treat for a child who never gets to have peanut butter but will be away from our allergic child), 4 2-liters of soda, 1 Greek yogurt cup
Target - $6.84
licorice, bagels, 1 pound of turkey

Day 27 - I ordered Bountiful Baskets today for pick-up on Saturday
$58.00 for 2 conventional baskets and a "super pack" which is to include fixings for tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, a veggie tray and tropical drinks. 
I was out with my littles and the day had gotten away from me, so we did the drive-thru.
Steak & Shake - $8.58

Days 28-29 - No purchases.

Day 30 - The fridge is very bare and it is not a big fridge. My husband and oldest were gone skiing and the rest of us needed to leave the house at the end of the second day.  I could have probably pressed through, but when you are out of milk, butter, cheese, enough eggs to make a breakfast and oil to make bread, I figured it was getting a bit ridiculous.  So off to Costco we went and bought enough to get us through until I make a detailed plan and shop this weekend.
Costco - $45.52
2 gallons milk, bag of specialty potato chips, frozen soft pretzels (a total splurge for the kids, which is rare), *3 lbs. summer sausage, *8.25 lbs. boneless skinless well-trimmed chicken
*mark-down or coupon offers
Chick-Fil-A - $19.22
There were some additional dining out expenses for our skiers, but this was a pre-planned trip and part of our son's Christmas gift, so I'm not counting this toward the total for the month.  I did pack sandwiches and snacks so they were able to avoid some dining out on their two days away.  

Day 31 - Today I'm looking diligently over the flyers and making lists for each store I will hit this weekend. Thankfully, with the SuperBowl happening there are a number of good sales going on. I'm also making a big menu plan for February to make life easier in a demanding season as my husband is studying a lot.

Expenses since Day 25:  $158.63 Yikes!
Total grocery, dining out, and diaper expenses for January: $461.48

So, obviously I did not achieve my budgeted goal of $240 for the month, not by a long shot.

Some observations about this pantry and freezer challenge:
  • It takes more food than I realized to feed our family of 7.  I was way over budget and our stock of lots of stuff has been depleted so living on even a somewhat reduced grocery budget over the longer-term is not realistic.  It may be time to adjust my expectations on how much is reasonable to spend.  The cost of food has gone up substantially in the last few years at the same time our family and the appetites of our kids have grown.
  • I felt like I was thinking about food and what I needed to make next all the time.  And I really would rather not give so much brain space to feeding my family.  
  • Wondering what kind of meal I can concoct out of a far more limited variety of foods than we normally have on hand is stressful. 
  • I felt that I worked pretty hard at making things stretch and not be wasted this month.
  • With the other demands on our family right now (husband in school plus working full-time, homeschooling and being with my kids all the time, etc.) I need to give myself permission to make meals easier and maybe spend more to buy convenience, most likely in the form of frozen pizzas, sandwich bread and fixings and maybe cereal.  Since when did stuff to make sandwiches become a luxury?  I don't know.  Sometimes frugality clouds my judgment. 
  • Eating out with a family our size is just plain expensive, even for fast food.  It would be better to stock something in the freezer for an easy or fun meal than to eat out.

about half full


This seems a bit fuller because of those bulky pretzels I bought on Day 31!

Overall, I'm glad I challenged myself in January and for the new realizations.  I hope to carry on with careful records of our grocery purchases throughout the year just to be aware of our consumption and spending.


Melinda said...

Rachel, I always enjoy reading your blog. We have such similar struggles and you are an encouragment to me. You work so hard at feeding your family well. I'm glad to see when you give yourself a break sometimes and how you are able to keep things in perspective. I agree it is more important to live well mentally during those tough seasons rather than be a taskmaster to your ideals of a food budget. It creates a happier mom and happier home. Keep up the good work. You are a blessing to your husband and family.

thehomespunheart said...

Hi Rachel, you have done a great job! You are faithfully serving and blessing your family :) With that said, I did a pantry/freezer clean out while we were preparing to be gone for both Thanksgiving and Christmas in Colorado and I told myself after that I will likely not ever do it again. It was so much more stressful to me to piece things together and wonder what we were going to eat. I had many of the same observations you shared here and I just decided it is not worth that kind of stress/mental energy on a mama who is doing so much. You have a larger family than I do so that is just multiplied. We are good at giving and extending grace to others - but sometimes it must be given to ourselves. I also try to remember - I am not serving that pantry and freezer it is serving me in helping me prepare meals for my family. I try to think of that in many situations not just in meal prep. Good for you for your efforts, diligence and observations. Keep up the great work!