February 28, 2011

End of the month report—February

This month we did things a little differently in our household.  We had a February Eat from the Pantry Challenge (see the linked text and look under “food security” label for more information) in which we limited our grocery expenses to $100.  We focused on using many of the foods we had stored in the fridge, freezer, and pantry to avoid waste, save money, and learn. 

What did we learn?  A ton!  I learned more about what types of foods we shouldn’t store (creamed corn and instant potatoes being at the top of the list), which ones we don’t want to store (heavily processed foods being at the top of that list),  which ones we need to store (having chocolate on hand for certain times of the month is important!), and which ones we need to focus on storing more of (staple foods like rice, oatmeal, and beans).  I learned that it is very helpful to store easy to prepare foods to make those nights when I want to run to the restaurant bearable.  I learned to be a little more creative with our foods and to take pride in the loving act of preparing food for my family.  I learned that when I’m busy or stressed I want to run to the restaurant, and that sometimes that is not only ok to do but also necessary.  (We went to Puleo’s with a Groupon deal the night before the coupon fair because I just couldn’t bring myself to cook). 

How did we do?  If I had to grade us, I would give us a B+.  We still went out to eat a few times, though I made a point to use coupons and deals to keep those expenses as low as possible.  We used less of our entertainment budget than we normally would have, and saving money was part of the challenge.  I did well with the grocery budget, which I’ll tell you more about below.  We found ways to keep our meals enjoyable and satisfying, and my family was great about not complaining about having leftovers.  I didn’t try as many new recipes as I had wanted to, but it was also a very busy month for us.  I wouldn’t say we ate any healthier or less healthy over the course of the month, though I had hoped to shed a few pounds by eating at home more often.  All-in-all, I am happy with how we did and what we learned over the month.

Did we save money?  Yes!  Normally we would budget $350 each month.  This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc).   In February, we budgeted only $100.  We spent $98.99 and bought $250.54 worth of products.  This was a savings of 60.49%.  Considering that $10 of that budget was for two gift card giveaways that I had on the blog and $25 was directly from a farmer, I think that percentage is pretty good. 

We only had a handful of freebies this month—Voskos yogurt, 3 Horizon milks, 4 tuna pouches, Arnicare, 2 Natrol, 2 hand sanitizers, 2 cinnamon roll packages, 1 pound butter, Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce, chicken, truffles, carrots, mashed potatoes, Gain dryer sheets, and 2 bags of Ruffles.  Those freebies helped to keep the meals interesting.

Is my pantry bare?  No.  One of the things that I wanted to make sure of was that we had plenty of food just in case there were some sort of emergency while we were on this challenge.  I also didn’t want to deplete our stockpile to the point of having to start over completely in March.  We’re at the point where we still have plenty of food but have cleared out a lot of the things that needed to be used.  When I look at the freezer, I’m relieved to see space in there.  We have just committed to buying 1/8 of a steer, which is something we’ve never done before.  I have no idea what that will look like when I get it home, and I’m hoping that we have the room for it all. 

In March we’ll continue to eat from our stockpile of foods as we start to build it back up again.  I hope for us to use some more lamb, the last package of dove, some of the canned salmon, and more of the frozen stores from last  year’s garden.  I’ve already made calls to order a few cases of goods at Three Rivers Market and am placing a Frontier order with friends later in the week.  The trick now will be to add foods that we need without going shopping crazy.

If you haven’t yet tried a challenge such as I’ve mentioned above, I encourage you to do so.  Having an adequate supply of food is an important part of emergency preparedness.  The government recommends that you have 2 weeks of food and water for your family at your house.  Eating from storage, even if it is only for a week, gives you a better sense of where the food gaps are and what you need to do to better prepare your family.  With rising food and gas prices, it is even more important for all of us to learn how to be better stewards of the resources we have.  This challenge certainly has helped me to do so, and I hope that those of you who participated found that it did the same for you. 

Thank you to all who participated, commented, and emailed me about the challenge.  It was fun to participate in it with all of you.  I learned from each of you and was inspired!   

No comments:

Post a Comment