My real food budget is $330 each month, including food, household items and toiletries. However, I completely blew my budget last month, so now I’m on a 3-week challenge with a $50/week budget (or $150 total). Today marks the halfway point of the challenge.
An Update on the Challenge
So far, I’m really liking this limited budget thing. I know it’s barely been over a week, but not being able to freely spend (within our regular budget of course) is forcing me to come up with new meal ideas (like cheesey mexi lentil macaroni) and it’s kinda fun! It’s also been a lesson in self-control and restraint. The urge to cook a new meal is squashed when there’s leftover squash in the fridge. Pun intended, but there really is squash in the fridge!
We’re slowly cleaning out the cupboards too which kicks the creativity up two or ten levels. Mr. Crumbs requested oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and those used up the last of our oatmeal. We didn’t have enough chocolate chips, so I chopped some of the mini-bars I had pulled from the kids Halloween baskets several weeks ago. There wasn’t enough brown sugar, so I reduced it and used Demera sugar instead. I also used whole wheat flour and split the fat between butter and coconut oil. Mr. Crumbs and the kids ate nearly the entire the first pan fresh out of the oven while playing Jenga. 🙂
With no oats in the house, Sunday’s traditional oatmeal breakfast became a rendition of this tasty porridge. I added cooked barley to help it “stick to the ribs” so the kids could make it through church without their tummies grumbling and since the barley was leftover from veggie & barley soup, prep work was very minimal. (That soup, by the way, was AMAZING with the turkey stock made from Mr. Crumbs’ smoked Thanksgiving turkey.)
We ran out of half and half a few days ago and have been using whole milk instead. There isn’t enough funds to splurge on egg nog, so I made my own and then used it instead of the butter/cream in our favorite cranberry orange scone recipe. The kids really like them – ate all 6 scones between breakfast and lunch. Our oven is on the fritz, so I wasn’t completely sold, but I’d like to try it again when the oven bakes the scone instead of melting it.
I made a batch of whole wheat sweet potato bread that ended up making three big loaves and 2 mini loaves, so having that on hand for toast and sandwiches has been nice. Plus there’s a loaf in the freezer for when we get back from vacation.
In full disclosure, we did eat out last weekend. Once. We had lunch at Chipotle on Saturday and spent $23. Although that comes out of a different budget, it’s just seems fair to let ya’ll know. We were all so full from lunch that we pushed Saturday’s planned dinner (find our meal plan HERE) to Monday. It’s hard to say if it’ll make the rest of the challenge easier, since there’s essentially an “extra” meal, but it couldn’t hurt!
Finally, we used up the last steak and 1/2 cup of yogurt in the tzatziki sauce for dinner last night. Smoothies are now being made with kefir, plain milk or coconut water.
That about wraps up the challenge so far. I’m sure the next update will have a bit more drama, especially as creating meals with the dwindling stock in the pantry will get trickier! For now, here’s how our shopping trips have panned out:
Grocery Outlet – $12.95
Pepperoni 3lb, 4.99
Bananas x2, 1.99
Granny Smith Apples 3lb, 2.99
Mixed Frozen Veggies, .99
There were three pizza nights planned on our menu and no pepperoni in the house. That’s a big no no. 😉 Bananas and apples for snacking. Frozen veggies for cheesey mexi lentil macaroni but I forgot to add them in.
I should mention that while we usually buy organic from the dirty dozen list, I haven’t been following that rule for this challenge. Mostly because I’m trying to be extra cautious on our spending since it’s limited. I don’t want to spend $9 on apples now only to run out of funds for fruit next week, you know? So we’re washing our produce well and eating more bananas and oranges.
CVS – $10.84
There was some NASTY cough/cold bug going around our area a couple months ago and it was knocking people over left and right. Myself and The Girl caught it and although we got over it, I had a cough that I simply could not shake! After trying my arsenal of natural remedies, I broke down and bought the store version of Mucinex. I’ve been dosing myself sparingly, although it has been working. A catch 22 I guess? And definitely a huge blow to the grocery budget. There was no way I could afford the name-brand medicine – they wanted $30 for a box!!!
Savemart – $11.42
Organic Milk, 5.98
Granny Smith Apples, 2.77
Milk is now for kefir and coffee. I’ve put making yogurt on hold for now since a) we don’t have any starter yogurt and b) I don’t have extra funds for another gallon of yogurt right now. Apples and pears for snacking and smoothies.
Walmart – $6.84
Navel Oranges 6lb, 1.50
Bell Pepper x2, 1.08
Bananas 5.36lb, 3.16
I’ve stumbled across a HUGE secret in price matching at Walmart that I’m going to share with you very soon, but until then, I scored 6lbs of oranges for only $1.50. The Boy wondered picked up a plantain and asked if we could “eat this weird banana,” so I said yes. Cucumber for tzatziki, bell pepper for sweet & sour pork and more bananas for snacking and smoothies.
Grocery Outlet – $11.37
Organic, Free Range Eggs, 4.89
Raw Monterey Jack Cheese, 2.99
Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 3.49
Since I’m baking a bit more to stretch what we have, I’m using a few more eggs. I also found raw cheese for the first time ever. We’ll be saving this for grilled sandwiches, a possible write-in meal before we leave for our trip, or an easy meal to make after we return.
Total Challenge to Date – $53.42
So far, I’m right on target with spending. Our challenge technically began November 29, so tomorrow marks two weeks. We’re set on butter and have enough for another gallon of milk if we need it. Produce is what will be the deciding factor. I mentioned in this post that our biggest expense last month was dairy ($115), but produce was a close second place with $110!