Sunday, September 27, 2009

Things that are currently broken or not working properly in our home...

1. My car

2. Al's car

3. Our internet

4. DVD player

5. My printer

6. The lawnmower

I thought things only broke down in threes...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How We're Doing With This Challenge

OK, so today is Day 10 of the challenge, and we're doing OK. I went over budget at my "big shop" this week, but not by much (spent $81). I was very conservative last week (about $38), so hopefully at the end of the month we will still come out on target.

In the process, I'm learning a lot. In addition to last week's expensive fruit run to Jewel, I am really thinking carefully about wants vs. needs, especailly about sales. There's nothing wrong with stocking up, but if we're not careful, we can wipe out our week's budget with such stocking up and still have nothing for dinner.

In thinking about each purchase I make, I am reminded of those "money makeovers" where you write down every cent you spend and what you spend it on. Makes you think really hard before buying something you're going to have to document at the end of the day...

We did go out to eat once so far. On Sunday we drove up and spent the afternoon at Lake Geneva. It would have been unreasonable to drive home without feeding the girls dinner! On the other hand, we went home after church to change clothes and eat lunch and pack snacks instead of eating lunch and snacks out, too (which is what we would have done in the past).

I am also keeping in mind that "stuff happens". This weekend we are having friends stay with us for two days (two adults, two children) - that's lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sunday. So that's more food to buy, and that's totally OK, because we love our friends and are so happy to spend the time with them. But I have planned a menu, and it will still be so much better than going out or ordering in. It just takes a bit more planning and prep time.

We're also stocking the freezer with fresh fruit that I will use later this fall for jams I will give as Christmas gifts. I am not counting that as groceries - I should actually count that in my Christmas budget! And we're spending a little extra every couple of days for fresh sweet corn - we won't have that to enjoy much longer. And I went to the local apple orchard yesterday and bought a peck of apples. The girls are enjoying munching on them so much, I'll have to pull enough out for a pie before they all disappear! (I will count the corn and apples in the budget since we're eating them now.)

I have been doing most of my shopping at Aldi. I have really come to appreciate that store. They have all the "basics" I need, since I'm cooking and baking so much from scratch again. The store is pretty small, so it's a quick in-and-out when I go. But today I had to make a run to Woodman's to pick up a few "special" items that Aldi simply doesn't have (pie crusts, girls' shampoo, pita chips). Woodman's is absolutely HUGE. Their prices are very good (pretty comparable to Aldi) and they have an enormous selection. I was tired after picking up just a few things because I had to walk through the entire store. And it was all I could do to restrain myself from indulging in all the great deals they had going - deals on things we simply do not need this week. I'm proud of myself - I stuck to my list! But I can see where all those crazy-low prices can be a real trap!

I made a great discovery - Leftover Night! There was plenty of food from the week, and the girls got to choose exactly what they wanted. No complaining, no expense, minimal prep and cleanup for me! What a deal! We just added fresh sweet corn to the meal to round it out. Everyone's a winner!

So, seriously, even if I don't manage to meet the challenge by the end of the month, I have learned so much in the process, that that's what this challenge is all about, as far as I'm concerned!

So here's what we're having this week...

Sunday - Dinner out on the way home from Lake Geneva

Monday - Leftover Night

Tuesday - meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fresh sweet corn

Wednesday - pork tenderloin, wild rice, green beans

Thursday - whole chicken in the crock pot, brown rice, sweet corn

Friday - Nana's American Chop Suey (macaroni and meat sauce, made and frozen during her visit last month), salad

Saturday - ziti bake with friends, salad, bread, cinnamon sopapillas for dessert

Sunday - We have our annual outing at Blackberry Farm with Hannah's China group that day. I planned a great picnic lunch with subs and pasta salad and fruit for us and our visiting friends so we won't have to spend piles of cash at the concession stand. But I forgot to plan for dinner - oops! Probably leftovers or something pulled together from the pantry!
BTW, I had a great time searching vintage photos for the image in this post...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Challenge Day One: A Huge Reality Check

Yesterday was the first day of September, the first day of the $75 per Week Grocery Challenge. I had done our big shopping for the week on Sunday, but we were already out of fresh fruit, a staple in our girls' diet. So after putting the girls to bed last night, Al ran to the Jewel to restock our supply.

Now, I love the new Jewel, only 5 minutes from our house. It's new, clean, attractive, well stocked, and the produce is always great.

But it's expensive!

Al came home with one box of strawberries, two boxes of blueberries and a bunch of bananas. He also picked up a package of razors and some shaving cream (both store brand) and deoderant (name brand). And a couple of cups of yogurt he enjoys after his running. There were no "extras" like snacks or bottled drinks.

The total came to $26.03. That's a third of our weekly budget.


So I have found a huge hole in our grocery budget. We do have to restock our fresh fruit halfway through the week, but I can do better if I go to Woodman's or Aldi. And if Al needs something, he can tell me and I can get it somewhere much cheaper, and maybe even with coupons.

I still think I'll be OK this week and can come pretty close to meeting the challenge. But what's priceless (sorry MasterCard) is finding that huge hole! Which is really a big part of what this challenge is all about!