This month we did things a little differently, and I was pretty pleased with the results. Normally we budget $350 each month. This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc). This month, I decided that I wanted to keep it much lower. In August we spent $153.77.
The first two weeks of the month, our family had an “eat from the pantry” challenge. We ate mostly stored foods from the freezer, pantry, fridge, and garden. This really helped our food budget. We didn’t deplete our stockpile much more than using the foods needed to be rotated out of the pantry or cold storage. I baked our bread for those two weeks, and I was creative with what we had for our meals. I won’t say that I completely enjoyed the process, but I did learn a lot.
With that money we bought $296.80 worth of items. If I’m doing my math correctly, we had a savings of only 48.19%. Much of the food that we bought this month was produced locally. What veggies we bought at the grocery were organic, and all of our beef and chicken purchases were organic.
What did we buy with that money?
Free items— 5 boxes granola bars, 1 hefty freezer bags, 1 Luna bar, 1 Oscar Mayer hot dogs, 1 Gardetto's, 2 warm delights, 2 granola clusters, 2 goat cheese, 2 Honest Tea, 1 Kraft Homestyle Mac and Cheese
What did we stock up on?
- Preserved foods—we froze some local corn that I bought. I bought 10 lbs of sugar and used some of it to can the pears that were given to us. I bought a pound of garlic which will be added to what we pulled from our garden. The garlic should last us until next summer. We bought jalapenos and cucumbers at the farmers market to pickle, too.
- The Mega Event at Kroger allowed us to stock up on some packaged foods that we added to our lunches. We found some great deals on bread this month and paired them with coupons, including some organic bread. When we find good prices on breads, I store some in the freezer to use during weeks when the prices are higher.
- At Target I bought a few boxes of Tom’s of Maine silly strawberry toothpaste for our daughter. She now has at least a 9 month supply of toothpaste!
- At Three Rivers Market I bought organic rolled oats (more than a gallon container’s worth) and organic popcorn (over a half of a gallon sized container’s worth).
So, what could you glean from this post to help with your budget and shopping?
- I didn’t go to a drugstore for shopping one time this month. I had planned on working some moneymakers so that we could purchase more for the same price this month. On the weeks when I would have shopped, I didn’t see any deals that were all that thrilling to me. This week at Walgreens, there are quite a few freebies and moneymakers. I’ll probably venture out after the 1st and see what I find at the stores. Shopping more often also means that you are more likely to buy things not on your list. By cutting our shopping excursions by more than half this month, we saved.
- Freebies and cheapies keep you from feeling deprived. We had some coupons that made things like a Luna bar and Honest teas free. Those little snacks and treats kept me happy. Things like cheap M&Ms and Nature Valley Granola Clusters added some happy to my Hubby’s lunches.
- Use what is free. When we would pick a watermelon from the garden and enjoy it with breakfast or as a snack, I would think to myself about how much it would have cost if I had bought it at the market. Venison steaks that were free from my brother-in-law felt special even though they cost us nothing. I ran out of the type of shampoo that I normally use this month. I decided to use up all of those little samples and hotel bottles that we have around the house instead of buying any yet. Since we have a more generic version of shampoo as a back-up for when those run out, I’m going to see if I can manage to not pay out of pocket for shampoo. When you become a couponer, you realize there are certain products that you really don’t have to pay for. Toothpaste, razors, and shampoo/hair products are at the top of the list. Before anyone starts feeling sorry for me and sending me shampoo, we can afford to buy these things. We could have spent more than we did this month on food, but in the words of a friend, “Why pay more when you don’t have to?”
- Eating with friends and family is a wonderful way to save. We had a few potlucks and meals with friends and family this month. When everyone contributes to the meal, the financial and work burden is lifted. We have more variety in the foods that we enjoy, and the time spent with friends and family is enjoyable.
- Compare the price of homemade vs store bought. I had the hospitality table at church this last Sunday. When I saw that the Nestle Toll House refrigerator cookies would be 99cts after coupon and sale at Target last week, I jumped on the bargain. Because Nestle chocolate chips are usually over $2 not to mention the cost of the other ingredients, the buy saved me a bit of time and money. I looked at what other foods we had in the pantry. I had some muffin mixes that I bought at closeout price with a coupon. The only ingredient I needed to add was a bit of milk. Done. Then I found a cake mix that needed using before it went beyond the expiration date. I mixed 2 boxes of cream cheese, a bit of butter, and some powdered sugar to make a homemade frosting. Topped with a few sprinkles, the kids loved them. I won’t say that these were healthy options, but when I’m feeding the masses, I tends to go with popular and inexpensive choices.