Friday, August 8, 2008

Once a Month Shopping

The rising food prices have forced my hand to be more frugal. For the past many years I have been very careless, unconcerned, and wasteful with both my food choices, food preparation, and food use. I would go shopping every week and make it a goal to stay within $100. Each week it would be challenge to meet that minimum. I would mostly fill my cart from the produce section and that was an expensive route, especially considering how much would go bad from being forgotten about, and what was the most damaging were the impulse purchases. Many times I would forget about them and find them in a cabinet somewhere and wonder how to incorporate them into our meals.

A few months ago during my weekly grocery trip a thought came to my mind of how helpful it would be to know exactly what it is that I need every month and to purchase it all at once. That way I would know how much should be allotted for my food budget, I wouldn't waste food, waste fuel, and I would be more organized. Then, a few weeks later at church, we were counseled the same thing. I immediately got started.

Since during the year previous I had painstakingly created a 6 week menu for my family it was easy to make adjustments for our new eating plans and current habits. Now that we raise chickens for meat and eggs, I wanted to include a lot of chicken meals. I arranged my menu to allow me to cook a chicken at the beginning of the week and create 3-4 meals from that chicken and a soup using the broth I would make from the carcass. I was also considering food storage alternatives and ways to preserve as much of the ingredients from my garden's harvest as possible. When I was finished with this new plan on paper, I took my list to the store. I was nervous when I was checking out because this cart was heaping full of food. As I anxiously awaited the final cost for a month of food for my family, expecting to hear $350 or more, I was extremely relieved when I heard $178.00! What!!!!! Only $178.00. I used to struggle to maintain $100 per WEEK! That's how wasteful I had been. I know this amount will go up a bit this next month because I had not included breakfasts and I had a few lunches not yet figured out. I don't anticipate that costing much more. So, I'll be happy to maintain our food budget between $225 to $250.00 for a month.
I'll update my progress when my menu is more complete, which hopefully will be soon!