Saturday, December 31, 2011

The end of Week 1

for the Great Grocery Challenge of 2012 (even though it's not 2012 yet). My goal is to spend no more than $10 per day (although I have given myself $75 per week) on groceries/food. I think the extra $5 will be spent on going out for food or treats.

We had a little hiccup this week. I think it has the potential to happen quite regularly and is something we will have to figure out to every one's satisfaction. When I announced I was going to the store Mr. Dub wanted to go with me. I specifically told him what was on my grocery list - and he is aware of the budget plan so I can't say he just didn't know - but when we got to the store things started going in the cart that weren't on my list. There was a mild disagreement that ended when he declared that he would pay for the groceries that were in the cart. The total came to $29 and change, but the items that were on my list amounted to $12.57 and that is what I'm counting for my budget because I wouldn't have bought the extras if I'd been alone at the store. Another time I went to the store this week I spent $6.96 on groceries.

So the grand total for this week is $19.53 at the grocery store. I feel good about that but not 100% because of the tinge of lingering discomfort over the tiff with Mr. Dub. It was food that he bought, but not food that we needed - just things that he wanted. I will always add the items to my weekly grocery list that are for him that he likes to have on hand, but I will try to not have him go to the store with me on a regular basis. I usually do my shopping while he's at work, but he's been taking vacation days from work for a couple of weeks.

Overall I think that this week is not typical of how it will go. I have had extra people in the house eating and going to the store with me because of Christmas break. And like I mentioned before I have lots of fresh food in the house right now - plenty of meat, cheese, and produce - so I haven't had to buy any of that. Two things that I feel like I'm going to have to get used to are staying out of the store by making do with what I have on hand, and cooking more of our meals completely from scratch. I've made bread twice this week (in my new bread pans!) which is something I enjoy but usually talk myself out of doing because of the time involved. Maybe this challenge will help me slow down my life and do things with more intent which would be a nice thing for me.

Dinners we ate this week:
  1. tacos
  2. beef enchiladas and mexican rice
  3. grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
  4. cheesy chicken/broccoli/rice casserole and green beans
  5. homemade pizza with pepperoni and veggies
  6. spaghetti

and one night where everyone got their own dinner - sandwiches or chili or leftovers. We will have to find the happy medium where I am not spending a lot of money on extras at the store and everyone still gets at least some of the things they want.

Especially my good Mr. Dub.

Friday, December 30, 2011

In no particular order...

...these are the movies that came out this year, and that I hope to see in 2012 (either in the dollar movie theater or on DVD for free from the library):
  • Meek's Cutoff
  • The Help
  • Hugo
  • The Artist
  • A Dangerous Method
  • Certified Copy
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • The Descendants
  • The Tree of Life
  • Melancholia

Did you see any of them in a theater? How was it? Have you read any of the books? I've only read The Help from this list, but I've put a few of the others on my requested list at the library.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The grocery budget

I'm making a goal for 2012 to spend $10 or less per day on food for the family. I haven't tried it yet to see if it works, and I don't know yet if I'll be able to include cleaning products/toiletries/other essentials in that $10. I won't know if I can do it or not until I try it.

The thing is that we already have so much food in the house (both "long-term storage" items and a full refrigerator/freezer and pantry) that I think I can get away with spending less than $10 a day for quite a while. Maybe a month or more. I'm not going to count the cost of items that I already own in the $10. I'm only counting money that I spend in the store starting from yesterday, December 26, 2011.

I will try to remember to blog about it on Saturdays - what I spent on groceries during the week, how I feel about that, what we ate during the week, etc. It will be a change for me, because for the past several years I have been doing the grocery shopping by stocking up on things (for example, buying six months worth of spaghetti sauce) when they went on sale and I won't be able to do as much of that. Now I'll be setting a weekly budget and planning on buying things only for that week. Hopefully it will be fun for me, and I'll get a chance to do some creative menu-planning utilizing some of the food we already own. A happy consequence of this is that it will be a good way to see if I'm storing the right food items for my family.

Gail Vaz Oxlade says that unless you write it down you have no way to track what you spent your cash on. Blogging about it will hopefully help me not only keep track of my spending, but stop me from mindlessly spending money at the store for things that are nice to have but not really necessities.

The truth is that I've spent too much money at the store this year and for the past few years. I want to get us completely debt-free, and tightening up our variable expenses is the place I'm starting. Although I say I don't like shopping, there is definitely both a sort of thrill and a sense of security for me that comes from spending money. I've actually added it up, and in November I spent over $1000 in Walmart and other grocery stores. I have no idea if that was all food because I didn't keep track, but I know it's typical of a usual month. If I can cut that amount even in half, that's $500 a month. In my opinion that is a substantial amount to add to our debt payments each month. And we have a LOT of debt.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

You know your husband is a...

... keeper when you irresponsibly leave your camera in Sweden and he gets you another one, an even better one, for Christmas.

I love my Mr. Dub. He doesn't hold my screw-ups against me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Do you ever worry...

... about the two big "E"s? I'm talking about the Economy and the Environment, of course.

I've been reading some blogs about frugal living lately, and one of the big categories in a house and budget that suck money and resources is cleaning supplies, specifically paper products. Every single day in my house we use:
  1. paper napkins
  2. paper towels
  3. paper diapers
  4. and paper... well... just regular plain ol' paper.

Since I'm a grandmother and not a young mother there is no way that I'm going to deal with cloth diapers. Actually what I'm not going to deal with is the rinsing and the wringing and the soaking in the diaper pail that is an unavoidable part of cloth-diapering.

(I will also say here that some truly frugal and die-hard budgeters/green people use washcloths rather than toilet paper but that is out of the question. I mean, really, that is so not happening here that it's not even an available topic for consideration or discussion. Toilet paper is required here.)

But I'm thinking that cloth napkins and a big pile of clean, white cloths with which to dry and wipe in the kitchen might be a frugal and "green" alternative. I already use cloth dishcloths and dish towels, but we also use a lot of paper towels. A basket of white cloths on the counter ready to mop up spills, wipe faces, dry hands, etc. might be a good idea that could work for us.

So I did what women in the 21st century do - I went online looking for cloth napkins. But I somehow just KNEW that when I was looking online to buy cloth napkins (the ONLY two reasons being so that I can stop spending money on paper all the time and to stop throwing away so much of that paper after a single use) that when the appropriate category is listed as "Table Linens" that is not the kind of site I'm looking for. And sure enough - $56 for 6 napkins.

I went to a different site and found some that were more affordable that I like okay. I didn't buy them yet - I'm waiting. Waiting to see if I want to make them instead. With some couponed fabric and my sewing machine they might be even cheaper.

I'll let you know. Because I just know you are waiting to see how this turns out.