Posted by: mmstanger | January 29, 2010

Eat from the Pantry Challenge Wrap-Up

Week Four, EFTPC

Week Four's Groceries: So proud we didn't go over budget even with the budget-killer olive oil in there.

I promised a final update on my Eat from the Pantry Challenge earlier this week, so here it is:

We did it! We did it! This week, we stayed under our $75 budget limit.   Whoo hoo!  And, we were even able to slip some not-on-the-list, but deeply discounted items in (the bags of Bare Naked granola rung up at 50¢ each on sale at Joblot with a coupon). 

And, we also completed the overall challenge, learning a few things.  What?

 MONEY MATTERS:  Granted, I spent more than my allotted $200-$300 on groceries this month, but still stayed under the $400-$600 I have been spending.  And, in doing so, I proved that although it is difficult for me to keep our grocery receipts to $75 or less a week, while still offering mostly organic, whole foods to my family, it is possible to keep them from going over $100 on a regular basis.  With discipline, planning and time to bake, I can provide healthy, filling meals and a variety of snacks for Mike, myself and the kids without further exacerbating our financial inflow-outflow problem each month.  Moving forward, I am hoping to maintain my dedication to utmost frugality in the grocery store!

HABITS:  Prior to the challenge, I was more likely to look toward our local grocer than toward our pantry or freezer when planning meals.  I tended to think of the pantry and freezer as back-up for busy days or really out-of-money weeks.  Now, I am developing a habit of looking at what we have on hand first, and, then, supplementing at the grocery store.  This will serve us well, I think, so long as I still keep some handy foods for tight money-and-time weeks.

CREATIVITY AND EASE:  The Challenge encouraged me to get more creative with thinking about what I might serve my family with just what we had on hand, supplemented by low-budget grocery trips.  Even though I have always been someone to use recipes more as guidelines than anything else, this forced-creativity helped me substitute even more ingredients with good success.  (Just how many kinds of vegetable/leftover-enriched pancakes and waffles did I make?!)  It also made me realize that having theme nights – soup and sandwich, build-a-tortilla, breakfast-for-dinner – can make menu planning easy, but also requires creativity and adaptability so as not to fall into rutts or boxes that are hard to get out of.  Here, I mean the rutt of always having the same type of soup and sandwich, breakfast for dinner, etc. and the box of thinking a particularly themes meal must come on a particular night.  Time crunches, ingredients in the cupboard and fridge, etc. demand flexibility!

Eat from the Pantry ChallengeGOOD WILL:  Although we didn’t trim huge amounts off our monthly grocery tally, we did trim some.  Plus, we found food in our pantry we wouldn’t eat anytime soon.  So, I was able to keep to my plan of increasing tithes and donations and putting money toward home repair (in a way) and homeschooling expenses.  As noted in a prior post, we donated a bag of pantry items to local folks through freecycle and we also plan to give a little more at church this weekend.  In addition, even though we did not save enough to pay for any of the needed home repairs on our list, I was more comfortable in paying our coming-overdue-mortgage this month – so we are one step closer to keeping our home without fear!  Also, I bought some white paint and glitter for the kids play-and-learning projects – one of those “extras” I often put off buying or feel incredibly guilty about purchasing, because they are a “want” not a “need”.  (We used the paint and glitter in the fun snow dough we made while doing a snowman book study.)

So, all in all, I came away from the challenge feeling good – about money, about habits, about being able to use our financial gifts towards charitable and learning causes.  And, yes, I can say that I am truly grateful for the plenty I realize we have, even when we are cutting back…

So, now, what will my Provider of Healthy, Economical Foods challenge for next month be?  Perhaps starting a Price Book to help keep our$75 a week food budget going and expanding our repertoire of theme night selections…  Wish me luck and let me know how your own challenges and goals are going.

PLEASE NOTE:  For some odd reason, clicking the categories below brings you to links outside this blog.  If you want related links in the blog, please click on the caetgoreies list in the right column.  Thanks. 🙂


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