Last week I announced that I was instituting a Penny Pinching June here at the house since I have felt like we had been “bleeding” money for the last couple of months. I wanted to reign in some of our spending while building our savings account back up to my “I can sleep at night” comfort level.
I had taken an inventory of our current stock of foods from the pantry, freezer and fridge, did a small amount of stocking up in May on those staple items we seem to plow through and have decided that I would buy nothing else for the month of June and we would be living off of what we already had on hand.
My regular food budget for our family of 7, is approximately $600/month; however my challenge and goal for the month of June is to spend only $80 for the month on the perishables that I know have a much smaller window when it comes to expiration dates, items such as milk, eggs and fresh produce.
You might be wondering how I came up with the amount of $80. To be honest, it was what I had left in my wallet after my last grocery shopping trip in May. I did however sit down and ran the numbers really quick on the perishable items listed above to see if this was a realistic amount, turns out; it is if I want to reach my goal of saving $500 this month.
As you may have deduced, $80 for the month, equals roughly $20 for the week. That sounds crazy…right? C’mon…$20 per week for a family of 7 + 3 dogs? Impossible you might say, well I guess we will find out together.
Thursday’s are my “running day”, the day when I do the majority of my shopping, errands and appointments and this past Thursday was my first attempt at shopping on this small budget. I had a very short shopping list with me that included only my absolute necessary perishables and my $80 in cash. I left all other means to pay (credit and debit cards/checkbook) at home. This day, I had a lot of errands to take care of, so I decided to shop at my local Aldi, which I would be passing on my route home. The entire time I was in the store adding items to my cart, I was doing the math and making a conscience effort not to go over $20. Currently, the price of eggs and milk are pretty low here in Texas, so I am taking full advantage of these particular 2 items that I can never seem to keep on hand with my brood and the rest were purchases that I needed, but looked for the best deal in the store and if it wasn’t within my price range or keeping within my budget…I put it back down.
Here is a snapshot of everything I purchased that day:
2 packs of chicken thighs
1 gallon of milk
2 packages of mozzarella block cheese
1 container of cream cheese
1 container of ricotta cheese
1 (1) pound package of black forest ham
3 dozen eggs
2 containers of strawberries
1 head of cauliflower
3 pounds of onions
My total came up a little higher than I wanted, it was $26.21, leaving me $53.79 for the next 3 weeks, but I am confident I will be able to pull it off.
In my previous Penny Pinching June article, I said that we would have a monthly menu that included variety, and not just a diet of beans and rice or PB & J sandwiches. Here is what was we ate so far since June 1st until this posting.
Thursday: Slow cooker corned beef and veggies.
Friday: Loaded Nachos, with beans, cheese, jalapenos, salsa and sour cream
Saturday: We were visiting my sister and brother-in-law, so we were invited to have dinner at their house.
Sunday: Grilled chicken thighs, potato salad and garden salad.
You might be wondering about breakfast and lunch. In our house, we all have different schedules as our kids are mostly teens and young adults, these two eating periods are an “every man for himself” situation. We always have a variety of breakfast and lunch items on hand; plenty of bread and bread like options (bagels, tortillas, English muffins), oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, cheese, eggs, sandwich meat, pre-cooked and frozen meats and pastas (made previously, bagged into portion sizes and then frozen), or the inevitable leftovers from the night before.
As a parent, and provider I have always felt this drive to ensure that my family is well fed and nourished, after all it’s one of our a basic necessities, because of that, we always have a decent size stock pile and selection in our freezer and pantry. And just as I have a certain discomfort level when our bank account drops below a certain amount, I have the same apprehension when it comes to the inventory of food in our home. I have to admit, that as I start this month, I feel as though we are in good shape and I am confident, at this point, I will make my goal, however, it will be interesting to see how I feel towards the end of the month, when my pantry and freezer starts to really look bare and I run out of cash. So I invite you to stay tuned to see how this experiment winds up, won’t you?