Grocery challenge: week 4. I’m done!

Let’s just say I’m glad to have life returning to normal! It was a good little exercise in sticking to a budget (or close to, anyway), but I don’t think I’ll be doing that again any time soon. To be honest, if I literally had only $25 a week to spend on groceries, I’d be visiting food pantries for help! As I’ve said before — I could only do it because I already had some food stocked up in my cupboards and a few things in my freezer. I didn’t have loads (I don’t have room for loads!) but certainly enough to help us get through this last month! Now the challenge will be to restock without breaking my usual budget!

But I guess you all want to know by just how much I went over. :-)

As you’ll remember, I had $10.50 left to spend on groceries for the last week of October to be able to meet my $100 challenge for the month. I didn’t make the challenge, I’m afraid to say, but I didn’t exactly go over by too much.

Here’s what I bought the last week:

fruit & vegetables — $10.82
gallon of milk — $3.39
butter — $3.29
cheese — $4.58

cream cheese — $0.99
cream — $1.59
bacon — 4.69

(The last 3 extravagant items were for things I made when we had guests over. :-))

Total for week 4: $29.35

Total for October: $118.85

Crazy stuff. Thanks for keeping me accountable. I’m glad it’s done!

Grocery Challenge: week 3

This past week seems to have been shorter than the others. Strange how that happens sometimes. Maybe it was because I didn’t have to cook very often! The flu was still having a field day, uh, week at our house and even Ben stayed home for 2 days from work. I didn’t make all the things that I planned for because the pizza was enough for 2 nights and we got a dinner invite for Saturday night, and we got Chinese on Friday night. Three nights not having to cook, wow! And it would seem as if I won’t have to cook too much next week either because I have a bunch of meals in the freezer that I’ve made extra and froze over the last month.

So, here’s what I bought:

fresh fruit & veggies — $10.84
gallon of milk — $3.39
curry powder — $0.99
salami — $3.99

Total: $19.21

So far this month I’ve spent a total of $89.50, which leaves the generous amount of $10.50 for the next week! Haha, I guess I’ll go over, but let’s see with how little, eh?

Here’s what we’re eating for the last week of the challenge:

Monday:

Mexican soup and cornmeal muffins

Tuesday:

Spaghetti Bolognaise with garlic bread and salad

Wednesday (we’re having guests):

Beef roast with roast vegetables and salad. Pumpkin cake for dessert.

Thursday:

Chicken pasta bake and green salad

Friday:

Visiting friends, so I don’t have to cook. Yay!

Saturday:

Ben and I hope to go on a date night. Not sure what we’ll give the kids yet, but maybe nachos.

Sunday:

Sandwiches or left-overs for dinner.

Just keep in mind that we’d never be eating this amount of meat at $25 a week if I didn’t have stuff in my freezer already! I’ll be glad when this challenge is over. It’s just SO not realistic, but that wasn’t the point, was it? The point was to teach myself that it is possible not to always overspend on my grocery budget, and one that I think I’ve learnt. :-)

Grocery Challenge: week 2

In some ways, week 2 was a lot easier than week 1. I only bought what I needed, but it seemed that I needed more than $25 worth of stuff a week. You’re probably all thinking “I knew she couldn’t do it!”. I’m still going to try. :-) The thing that’s the killer is the fresh stuff — fruit, vegetables and milk. And I’m not really willing to cut that out of our diet for the sake of an experiment! At the same time, I’m going to try to use some meals I have in the freezer already over the next 2 weeks to see if I can still reach this $100 goal.

I’m getting into the swing of this buying-only-what-I-need business. That’s not to say I’m not longingly looking at the pack of cookies on sale for only 2 bucks! (even though I have however many other packs at home), but I’m starting to reason with myself in a more sane way, I hope.

I’m also happy to report that when you buy less, you waste less. I’ve had no rotten food or produce that’s needed to go in the rubbish. Yay for that!

Here’s what I spent during the second week of the challenge:

fresh fruit and vegies — $17.40
gallon of milk — $3.39
raisins — $2.59
frozen vegies — $2.19
dozen eggs — $0.99
apple sauce for Esther — $2.69
fish — $2.15
1/2 gallon milk — $1.99
yoghurt — $2.00
peanut butter — $1.99

Total: $36.39.

Oh dear. That leaves $29.71 for the next 2 weeks. I’m positive that it will mostly be spent on fruit, veg and milk!

Here’s what we’re eating for week 3 of the challenge:

Monday:

Spicy Kumera soup with toasties

Tuesday:

Home made pizza with salad

Wednesday:

Chicken pasta bake and green salad

Thursday:

5-Minute South-west Layered Salad

Friday:

Spaghetti Bolognaise with garlic bread and salad

Saturday:

Chinese take-out. Yay!

Sunday:

Sandwiches or left-overs for dinner.

October grocery challenge: week 1

I had a very interesting moment on the first day of the challenge. I had hopped over to Tim Challies’ blog and read an article about The Heart of Frugality. I almost immediately wanted to forget about this challenge. The article was thought-provoking and pointed a few things out to me that I would benefit to work on. I thought it over and thought about my motives for doing the challenge. I’m not doing this challenge to show off what an awesome frugal shopper I am. In fact, I admit to being the opposite. I love finding ‘good deals’ but my problem is that I find too many of them, usually at the supermarket, and can never stick to my grocery budget! Like my dad always says: “You don’t save money at a sale, you spend it.” So the challenge this month is to sort of be an exercise for me to prove to myself that with a bit of creativity and actually using the stuff in my cupboards instead of always just buying more stuff to put in them, I can stick to a budget. And I chose a very low budget for this month so that everything in the future will seem easy to stick to! :-)

I’ve already seen a change of thinking when I go to the supermarket. I only buy what I need, not all the ‘good specials’ for the sake of it. Now, I realise that sometimes you have to spend money to save money (buying in bulk, for example), but I’ll get to learn those lessons later. :-)

I thought I’d give you a run-down of what I bought, for interest’s sake. Here’s what I spent the first week of the challenge:

baby rice — $2.69
gallon of milk — $3.69
chicken stock cubes — $1.99
beef mince — $4.31
sour cream — $1.99
fresh fruit & veggies — $16.94
cheese — $2.29

Total: $33.90

Hmmm. That means that I have $66.10 left for the next 3 weeks of October, but a number of things I bought last week we’ll keep using into this week or longer.

I’ve realised that I will have to adjust our menu plans a bit. First of all, a number of recipes I made last week (nachos, chicken and dumplings, and mac ‘n cheese) were enough for 2 meals or more, so I bumped a few dishes and we had mac ‘n cheese twice and chicken and dumplings twice and I froze a meal’s worth of nacho sauce for another time. (Keep in mind too that I was sick and didn’t feel like cooking new stuff when we had left-overs!) I also realised that I was probably a bit ambitious in the amount of meat I put on the menu. :-)

So, learning from the first week, here’s the proposed menu plan for week 2:

Monday:

Mexican soup with cornbread muffins

Tuesday:

Asian Glazed Tilapia with brown rice and sugar snap pea salad

Wednesday:

Spanish Rice with mixed salad

Thursday:

Quiche and green salad.

Friday (we’re having the guests we cancelled on last week because of illness):

Roast chicken, potatoes and other roast vegetables, salad.

Saturday:

Chicken-Broccoli casserole with garlic bread and salad

Sunday:

Sandwiches or left-overs for dinner.