Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Grocery Challenge - The Beginning

The new year has arrived and it's time for my "Grocery Challenge" to begin.

I've thought and thought about how to make this work and I've come up with a few rules for myself.
1.  I can only spend $75 per week.  This is going to be hard for me.  I am used to buying all of my groceries during the first 2 weeks of the month as I never have any money by the end of the month.  We get a monthly check.  Nothing else.  I am keeping this grocery money in an envelope.  That way I can't overspend.
2.  I will allow myself $10 extra for restocking the pantry.  This money can only be used on absolutely spectacular sale items.  If I don't spend the $10, I can build up the money for the next week.  But, it's only for restocking.  It cannot be used on my regular weekly groceries.  This money will also go into its own envelope.
3.  I will post each week what I spent on groceries and my weekly menu.  I will share recipes as well.
4.  I will post quick & easy and/or frugal recipes every now and then that I have used in the past and may or not be using during the week.  Just because I'm not using them, doesn't mean someone else won't.

I've did a bit of prep work for this challenge.
1.  I started a price book.  I kept all of the grocery ads from the local grocery store for the last month.  I marked the items in each ad that we use regularly and then wrote those items down in my notebook.  The notebook is divided into sections, such as Freezer Items, Meats, Vegetables, etc..  **I will say one thing about this notebook and that is....I find it tedious to keep.  With that said, I can already see the sale trends in items.  So, I will keep this book up.  No matter what.  Pinky swear.  :)  Today, I have to add this weeks ad into the notebook.
2.  I started gathering and compiling my favorite recipes together in one place.  That way I have a set of "go to" recipes from which I can choose our weekly meals based upon the sale ad.  From these, I will make our weekly menu.
3.  Last night, I cleaned out my pantry and organized it.  I threw away anything that was outdated.  I made a list of what we do have, so I don't buy something I don't need.  I also cleaned out the kitchen cabinets, spice rack and drawer, refrigerators and freezers/deep freezes.  In doing these things, I learned several things.  I have 38 different Hamburger, Chicken and Tuna Helper boxes in my pantry.  Geez.  38.  I also have 31 boxes of Macaroni and Cheese.  Now, I have a good part of these in thanks to my mom and one of my sisters.  They bought me food items for my Christmas.  I totally appreciate that.  I also found out that I have very little in my freezers.  The meat situation is in dire straits.  I only have 2 lbs. of bacon, 2 packages of hamburger, 1 roast, 2 packages of Boston Burger, 1 package of hot dogs, a slab of ribs and half of a bone in ham.  This is NOT good.  I will need to concentrate on restocking the freezers for the first few months, I think.

Now, for anyone that wants to participate in this challenge with me, it's not too late to start.  Set your money limit, organize your pantry and freezers, start saving your sale ads, and get going.  It's my hope that others with do this with me and that we can all learn from it.  I'm sure that over the course of the next year, this challenge will be tweaked repeatedly.  It's a work in progress.
I have a friend here in town that is doing her own version of this challenge.  We have been talking about it and we've come up with a few more ideas.  One of these is that it's ok to swap/barter with others using food as the currency.  If I have an abundance of something and she does as well, we can swap those items in order to complete our weekly menu.  You'll notice that there isn't any money changing hands.  That's ok.  You can also use items from the local food pantry, food bank, etc. and don't have to count it in this grocery challenge.  If we have too much of something and need help figuring out how to use it up, we will share recipes and ideas with each other.  This is something we can all do together as well.

OK....good luck to everyone, me included, and hopefully this will be a great experience!!!

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