January 11, 2010

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

OK - here it is in a nutshell.

There's a local-ish lady that blogs all the sweet deals and coupons in a CO town about 90 miles south of me. No big deal, most of the grocery deals and sales are the same, sometimes a bit different and she posts many military discounts, being that her town is the location of a large base/academy.

She and several other bloggy folk are doing this nifty challenge to get back on track after the holidays.

The goal? Spend as little as possible on groceries during the month of January. I know...January is already almost half over (YIKES!!! How did THAT happen?!?!?!?)...but you can still do this, and carry it as far through the year as you want!

Step 1 - take stock of your pantry/freezer to determine that which you have stocked up.
Step 2 - commit to only going to 1 (yes, one) store for your shopping
Step 3 - Go to said store only a maximum number of times during your time commitment, and
Step 4 - make the rest of your meals out of your pantry/freezer

Not too difficult right? Keep in mind that you cannot make a run to the store for an emergency ingredient to make a meal, you can only spend a set dollar amount for your necessities, and you can only go to one store for your shopping.

I realize that a few of you only have one store to choose from in your area, so that's not the trouble. I realize that a few of you might not have a pantry or freezer that is stocked, so don't do the challenge until after you have stayed in budget and stocked up bit.

SO...my challenge for myself is to spend only $100 the entire month of January on grocery items, including personal care products like training pants, wipes, toothpaste etc. For my family, this doesn't include our milk delivery, because that is a service I will not give up. There's nothing quite like a small dairy farm, locally owned business, providing organic products for cheaper than anything I can get at the store!

I have a freezer stuffed full of meat, vegetables, some fruit, and some bread/grain type products. I have a pantry filled with dry and canned goods, so I should have no problem spending my money wisely on training pants, fresh produce, eggs, cheese, and lunch meat.

So far, after having to totally restock my fridge after getting home, I have spent a whopping $37. This included 2 "JUMBO" packs of Pull-ups for the kids (overnights and naptime only for Capt), 1 2-pack of deoderant for BB, a clearance box of hair color for me (not to be used til after baby), a box of breathe-right strips for BB, a box of omega's for me, 4 packages of Mission tortillas, 2 pounds of lunch meat, a 72-pack of American cheese slices, 2 packages of hot dogs, 24 cartons of Yoplait Light yogurt, 4 pounds of bananas, 5 pounds of oranges, 5 pounds of grapefruit, 5 pounds of apples, 4 bags of salad mix, a value pack of Cinnamon Life cereal, a value pack of Goldfish crackers, 3 gallons of apple juice, 8 pounds of Barilla spaghetti, 1 pound of butter, 36 eggs, a pack of string cheese, and a pack of whole-grain bagels. I used coupons for every item, and every item was on sale. Some of the items (like the pull-ups) were clearanced because that's what Target does every so often, and I had coupons on top of that. I got 1/2 pound of cheddar/jack cheese for free with store promotion, and I admittedly had a $15 gift card.

However, I am still proud of myself, and am trying really hard to make it until the 18th before shopping again.

We have an exception this month, which I will take, with DG's birthday on Sunday. I must therefore buy a cake (no way can I pull off Cinderella decorations on my own!), plates, napkins, cups, ice cream and balloons, as well as plan a budget-friendly lunch for my immediate family, totaling 8 adults, 2 boys age 3, one 2 year old, and one 15 month old. I'm thinking some sort of casserole, or pasta dish, but will take advice between now and the 14th when I shop for the food etc.

My goal for February:
1 trip to the store for all the month's grocery items. Spend $75 for the month on EVERYTHING we need, including personal care products. I think I'll be hitting Costco for this trip as I need flour and sugar for my baking, and I can score twice the produce for half the cost usually.

March will be much the same, knowing that I'm out of commission for at least 10 days with baby and immediate recovery. I'll have to make a detailed list for BB, but since he is home with me for most of my 6 weeks of no driving, and we'll have some meals brought in by friends and Church members, we should be just fine.

Potty training should be a HUGE help with the spending as we'll be only buying Pull-Ups monthly.

I'm excited to make this a goal each month and see just how low I can go on my grocery spending before running my stock piles into only heaps of dust and recycled packages.

Join me in my challenge?

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