Thursday, October 17, 2013

A year of grocery savings

October 17, 2013

Here we are. The one year mark. I started a 30 day challenge to try to save money on groceries, give in to impulse items less, and use up leftovers. I didn't think I would last a week. Yet here I am, on the 365th day! And guess what.... I'm not stopping.

I asked my daughter how the challenge has been for her. She said she only missed one thing: bagels and cream cheese. This is pretty funny for two reasons. One, prior to the challenge I probably only bought bagels once or twice a year. We just never thought of it. Two, she was eating bagels and cream cheese as she was talking to me. Ha. I had bought them today. The only other thing she said was that some weeks she wished that she had two items. I let the kids pick one item each week that they are allowed to put on the list (along with what items I thought the cupboards needed). My son almost always picked cinnamon toast crunch cereal and my daughter would rotate between goldfish crackers, warm pretzels, frozen Chinese food, etc.

I asked my hubby how the challenge was for him. His reply, "I didn't miss a thing. It was an adjustment in the beginning from what we were used to. You've done amazing"!

I miss going out to eat. We still go out but it's more like once a week and I am careful with what we spend when we go. It isn't any comparison to going whenever and buying whatever we wanted. I also still have a hard time with impulse items. I just LOVE going to the store and browsing. I love to look at new items and buy what I think looks good.

My son said that doing the challenge was fine. He asked how much money we saved for the whole year. I told him and he screamed!

My pre-challenge grocery average at the commissary was $175. Today I spent $0 on toiletries/cleaners. I am still stocked up from when I shopped the day prior to the government closing the commissary. I spent $72.62 on food. There were a few things that I probably could have waited until next week but I decided to just get them today. I spent $9.74 on impulse items. Oops. I found a new wild mushroom stuffed ravioli. Of course I also had to get an alfredo sauce for it. I also got vegetarian egg rolls and the bagels that my daughter was so happy to get. I spent $7.98 on gossip magazines. After adding in their surcharge and taking out my coupons, I spent $92.08 out of pocket. This is a savings of $82.92. My pre-challenge restaurant weekly average was $80. This week the kids and I went out to eat once. We used a buy one get one free pasta dinner coupon (the three of us split the two meals). We spent $14 (with tip). This is a savings of $66. The kids packed lunches and saved $12.50. Our total savings for this week is $161.42. The grand total savings is $5,036.79 in 365 days!!

During the beginning of the challenge, I was a lot more strict. I took leftovers and made weird things. Anyone remember the dessert made with sauerkraut?! We skipped going out to eat many weeks. I knew we wouldn't stick with the challenge if it was that hard. I made this more of a way of life/shopping than something that was depriving us. Sometimes will power comes from just being able to trick that little voice in your head! Another way that I like to look at the challenge is that it is my job. Sure, I could give up being a stay at home mom and go get a part time job. I would then have to pay for gas to get to/from work. Car maintenance costs would probably go up some from driving it more. I may need to find childcare for after school hours. I would probably need to buy new work clothes seeing as I've been a stay at home mom for over a decade. I would be spending money on lunches out (unless I stuck with taking care of my leftovers!). I would have to pay taxes on my income. Also, I would most likely have to miss some of the kids' activities and have time away from my family. Or.....I can put a little more thought and effort into how I spend our families money. Now when I grocery shop, I add up the prices as I go. It is much easier to say no to an impulse buy when I see how much I have already spent. I can save money for us to use on fun things like vacations, buying our puppy, etc. I can feel like I am contributing to our families savings account. I can teach our kids a life lesson that saving money is the way to live, and that you don't have to buy everything your heart desires. Seriously, the kids are not going to die if they don't have five kinds of cereal, waffles, pancakes, pop tarts, toaster strudels, granola bars, oatmeal, and muffins as choices for breakfast each day. It teaches them to prioritize what item they really want. Don't get me wrong. Our cupboards are not bare. In fact, most of them are stuffed. It almost makes me ashamed of how wasteful we used to be. Kudos to my kiddos and my hubby for sticking with me during this past year. Kudos to them for not only sticking with me and allowing me to continue with the challenge, but to do it with so little complaints. I really am proud of them. I can't wait to see the savings this next year brings us....

We wanted an easy dinner tonight because the kids have an activity tonight. I had bought another pack of the veggie meatballs intending to make meatball subs. However, I really felt like spaghetti tonight. We settled on spaghetti (with my home canned sauce) and veggie meatballs. We had a side salad with some of our garden lettuce, carrots, red onion, and cucumber. I also added a little sliced leek to my salad. I sautéed some leek and topped my spaghetti with some of them along with some freshly grated romano cheese.

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