Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Grocery Challenge!

In an effort to be more fiscally responsible and get serious about paying off our debt, we've decided to set a budget.

The most challenging area will be food. I don't tend to spend much on clothes, and when I'm not curing, I don't spend much on the house, either. I've given up scrapping--because the thrill was really in the shopping and participating on-line--the actual page building was fine but became somewhat unrewarding without those adjacent activities.

But food?
I love a well stocked pantry! And the freezer bursting with food is so satisfying. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel safe. And who can criticise spending money on food? (Not even my most parsimonious husband, that's who!)

However, it is time to get responsible about this area. Even according to our "pared-down" rock-bottom budget, food accounts for 24.5% of the husband's take home pay (before overtime). That's the figure I will try to meet (and beat?) this month. This is the first month I'll be trying to stick to a set amount. Then, in a few months, (or sooner) once I know better what I'm doing, I'll try and reduce it.

My goals for this month are:

1) meet the target

2) beat the target

3) shop weekly sales specifically

4) prepare meals in advance (and freeze) for those nights I can't stand the kitchen

5) not run out of everything the last few days of the month!

The budget will run from Nov 1 to Nov 31. There's one dog, two adults and two kids, an 11 year old ("Mommy I'm hungreeeeee!" boy) and an 8 year old ("what's in this?" girl)

A few things I want to do to meet these goals are:

1) make up a cost comparison book. This should help me figure out whether the simplest of money saving tricks--serving the kids 1/2 powdered milk mixed with 1/2 "regular" milk will really save money! Powdered milk can be expensive--especially at times when a lot of it is being shipped overseas for famine or disaster relief.

2) Make up substitutions as they are cost effective.

3) Bake more cookies and sweets. (No more buying them!)

4) Prepare one soup and one vegetarian meal a week.

5) Find ways to use a small amount of meat in dishes, instead of serving a chunk to each person.

6) Rejig lunch.

1) couponing here is not a great deal. Most coupons are available on a promotional basis only for expensive name-brand products I'd never buy anyway.

2) As the husband works for a grocery chain prominent here, he wants me to continue to purchase our groceries from that grocery store only and not the others.

3) I already make up my dinner plans for the month and generate a shopping list for what I'll need--I tend to buy all freezer and pantry items on the first Tuesday of the month (10% off) and then just pick up fresh stuff once or twice a week throughout the rest of the month.

This month, then, I'll keep track of my challenge here-and post substitute recipes (and cost worthiness) here, too.

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