Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Challenge conclusion

Well our January Challenge is coming to an end.  Out of the $150 I started the month with I have a whopping $0.33 left.  But, I made it!  I will wait for the applause . . . okay, thank you!  :-)

This challenge has been very good for me.  It forced me to break some bad habits I was making (running to the store every couple days, shopping where it was convenient and not always cheapest, etc).  All in all it made me a responsible shopper again.  I will give an example.  I went to the store last week to buy some produce.  I had pared down my list as much as possible and I was only buying the bare bones necessities.  One of the things on my list was tomatoes.  I was making a tomato cucumber salad and I needed nice plump, juicy tomatoes (side note: just thinking about perfect tomatoes makes me seriously wish for summer when I can just eat them straight from the garden.  Yum!).  I strongly prefer stem ripened tomatoes as they have a much better taste to them since they have had time to ripen properly.  Well, at the store I picked up a little bunch of stem tomatoes and started to put them in the bag.  Then I looked at the price.  $4.69 per pound!  I do believe that my jaw actually dropped!  I couldn't believe it!  I was guessing that my little bunch of tomatoes probably was close to 2 pounds, so that would have been around $9.00 just for tomatoes!  Ugh!!  I looked over at the Roma tomatoes on sale and they were only $.98 per pound.  I put my lovely stem tomatoes back and grabbed up the Roma tomatoes.  My fear is that if I had not been watching as closely as I was, I would have unwittingly paid $9.00 or more for a handful of tomatoes.

It is so easy to just get caught up in what is on the list and what I know that I need, and then to not cautiously check the price.  I had gotten out of the habit of keeping a running total in my head as to how much I was spending as I went through the store.  Doing that forces you to check every single price.  If you haven't done that lately, I encourage you to do it.  Maybe you haven't noticed how some of the staples in your own home have increased in cost.  Take a calculator with you if need be.  I have my son with me most of the time and he acts as my calculator.  :-)  Just round up the price of each item and keep a running total in your head.  You may be amazed and shocked at what certain items cost.

Now, how did we end out the month of January?  Our shelves are a bit bare, but we have made it through.
All I ended up purchasing for the last 3 days were a dozen eggs (store bought ~ my niece didn't have any available) and a package of frozen peas.  On Sunday we had a surprise birthday party for my mom so there was no food prep for dinner there.  However, I did make the cake, but with supplies that I had on hand.  So here is the menu for the last three days of January:
Sunday ~ Mom's party - butter pecan cake
Monday ~ breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs, sausage, green pepper, onion & potato scramble) and mandarin oranges
Tuesday ~ Spaghetti and meatballs (made from scratch you know!), frozen peas and canned pears

I now head into February with a bit of a new perspective.  Although, I will say that I have never planned out our menu so very quickly.  There have been a couple of things that I have been craving (Lasagna Soup!), that I promptly added into the menu.  I am still resolved to do the majority of my shopping at ALDI the way I have this past month.  I am determined to be flexible with my menu planning and to be on the lookout for good sales.  I will continue to "punt" when needed without relying on convenience food. (Disclaimer here:  Last week I was having a bit of a rough day and my mom showed up with one of the rotisserie style chickens from the store.  It made my day!  We had the chicken in place of our "scheduled" entree that night.  I used the leftover chicken for lunches a couple days later when we had run out of leftovers.  I made a wonderful fettuccine alfredo and mixed the leftover chicken with it.  It was fabulous!  My mom also brought me some eggs too, that she refused to let me pay for.  Yup, moms are the greatest!)  I am also determined to make up and freeze some of those convenient type foods to keep on hand such as the frozen meatballs.  Hopefully, I will be able to post soon about making and freezing said meatballs with recipes!

All in all this has been a great reminder to me to curb our grocery budget and to be much more cautious about where our money goes.  This has also given me more motivation to make sure I have a bountiful garden this summer.  When I grow weary of weeding, I will just picture my perfectly stocked pantry filled with the blessings of harvest.  I long for those days!

I will say that this January Challenge has given me some inspiration for another little project that may be coming soon.  Stay posted!

No comments:

Post a Comment