Last week’s self-imposed Food Budget Challenge forced me to take a look at my spending habits in the kitchen, and come up with creative ways to use it up, make it do, or do without. I realized I was in a pretty good position to spend a fraction of the $300 allotted in my budget this month. And I had to come to grips with my biggest food habit.
Because this is not a starvation food challenge (and I count doing without coffee as starving, Cronies), I didn’t want to cut back. Perhaps I could buy coffee that was not roasted locally and fair trade (read “expensive”). I decided that my love for really great coffee runs deep. After one week of grinding and percolating “other” beans, I choose to cut back for the rest of the month.
January is barely started, but I have already noticed some good things about this challenge:
I am more aware of the grocery bill.
I have a healthy “money consciousness” in other financial areas, but I could improve when it came to spending at the grocery. Last month, I just bought what I needed and came home. This month, I take my menu into consideration. I look in the fridge and pantry and come up with a meal plan before making a grocery list.
I pay attention to in-store specials.
My Shaw’s grocery store has an online membership called MyMixx. I knew about the membership but ignored it, thinking I wouldn’t save much as a single person. I joined the membership late in 2016, but because of the Food Challenge, I took a closer look at it. The store offers an online special that only lasts a day or so. Last weekend I picked up a free individual container of Skyr (a dairy culture similar to yogurt), giving me the opportunity to try out a product I would have passed over because of the price ($1.69 for a 5.3 oz container). I also received a special on Whole Earth stevia and monkfruit sweetener – already on sale for $2.99, but free with the online coupon. This week, I had a coupon for a free box of Annie’s Organic yogurt tubes – a savings of about $3. Other coupons are available through the online membership – you simply “clip” the ones you want, and the savings is deducted at the register after you type in your membership number. I only chose the coupons I could use.
Old menu items are reappearing.
Oatmeal used to be a staple, but over the last few years I stopped making it for breakfast. When I took inventory of the pantry, I saw that I had a half-gallon jar of rolled oats. It went back on the menu, but with a twist – I started making overnight oats so I could still have a quick and easy breakfast. My go-to recipe is simple: 2/3 cup oats, 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk, 2 packets of stevia or other sweetener, vanilla, and a generous helping of cinnamon. Stir and refrigerate overnight.
Another blogger, Our Next Life, issued a “Use It Up” challenge on their awesome blogsite. It’s worth a look! They take a look at thrift stores and debate the idea of minimilism. We all have individual perspectives on issues, but I believe we can all reduce our waste and increase our wealth – whatever wealth means to you!
Please join the January Food Challenge and share your food wins (or fails!) with us in the comments below!