Last night after my Stake YW meeting, I went to the grocery store. ALL BY MYSELF! That was the first time that's ever happened, in like 10 years. I got home just after midnight...to no power. Do you know what it's like to unload a car full of groceries at midnight with no power? It wasn't all that bad, but I did unpack and cut up all the meat I bought by the light of one candle. That was actually kind of nice- the vanilla smell masked the raw meat smell a little. But still... I am lucky to have all my fingers intact.
So, about this once a month shopping... I'm trying to have faith that it will work. I had a vague recollection the other day that sis-in-law Jocelyn has done this before. (*note to self: ask her about it- what worked for her, what failed, what tips/tricks she personally has*) So, I set this budget for myself for the six of us. While I think talking in detail about money can be weird, I'm going to share my food budget. I don't think it's enough, but without a reference, I'm not sure. Maybe I just spend too much.
So, for the whole month, a family of six hearty eaters, I allotted $600. This means smart shopping on my part, to make every dollar count. I'm not always a smart shopper! This first month might be a little rough.
So, in the last few days, this is what I did. Wait! Isn't it supposed to be ONCE a month? Yeah, well... I drive a little car and it filled up way faster than I thought.
Day one: I was in Bako anyways, because Ryan needed to do some paperwork. I went to Lowe's to buy three 5 gallon buckets with lids (*note: buy three more!). I also bought a few tomato plants, a cucumber plant, a zucchini plant, and some marigolds. The marigolds because they are orange (bonus) and smelly (functional). I'm working on my black thumb, hoping to turn it a little more green. Oh, and I bought heavy duty trash bags. We don't have trash service, so ours hangs out a bit before it gets taken to the dump. Because of our trash situation, regular trash cans and liners don't work for us and we use the big old trash cans and the 3 mil liners in the them. Those are expensive! (But cheaper than paying for a dumpster every month- our only option.) So, in all, that trip was a little less than $60. Those liners were half that cost... they should last me at least two months. Maybe two and a half.
Then, off to Costco. After doing a little research on the internet, I found the consensus to be that Costco has the best prices on baking items. I relied on this information, and found it to be true, compared to Foods Co and Winco in Bakersfield. I bought 50 pounds of flour, 25 pounds of brown and white sugar, chocolate chips, 25 pounds of rice and beans, and then supplies: freezer Ziplocs in gallon and quart sizes, parchment paper, plastic wrap, foil, cooking spray, oil (veggie and olive), and a couple of big spices. I figure this will all last me three months or so... except the chocolate chips. A 3.5 pound bag will last a month or so around here. I do like cookies! I also bought a $35 blender... and I've already used it once and it was awesome. Total for all that: just under $240. Ouch. That was a big chunk. On the plus side, I kind of like baking, and I've already made my own hamburger buns that were WAY, way better than any store bought. And, in an effort to cut back on preservatives and cost, my little bit of flour and man power is way cheaper than an equivalent. I don't think I'll buy buns again...we had them for sandwiches last night, and they were awesome.
I also experimented making my own mayonnaise. Total success on that front, too. Of course I use other peoples' genius in recipes... I did not come up with that. But seriously, we are big mayo eaters and Best Foods is the only things allowed in our house, and it's expensive. And, the store is so far away. I thought it would be prudent to be able to make my own.
Last night was the second trip (to coincide with my meeting). I filled up my cart and had to quit shopping! I really think that if I'm going to shop once a month, Ryan will have to come with me to push another cart. My car would hold it all (I think), but the cart just filled up way too fast. I bought things like milk, meat, cheese, a few boxes of cereal, and a few canned goods. Produce. That is the tricky part... this produce will not last a month. You can't freeze lettuce! I may have to just budget in a second mini-trip for produce only. I tried to buy a ton of apples and carrots and stuff, and frozen veggies. But still, I look at it all and think, "No way." Total spent last night at Winco: just over $300.00.
So, my budget is gone. Don't tell my wallet, but I did save another $100 for food later. But, what this means for us this month is: no eating out. Because we do that! Too much. Nothing fancy, but when you make trips to town, and town is so far away, you always seem to be in town for a meal. Hopefully not having to go to town as often will help this. Also, I am going to have to be diligent in baking and cooking. I can't have a lazy day. I am highly motivated, as we have some fun plans and are trying to save money. Since I can't work right now, I am looking at ways I can work in our home that would save us money. I hate meal planning, grocery shopping, and preparing meals that don't seem appreciated. But I am going to have to change my attitude about that, and try to make it fun. I have to say, eating those delicious buns last night was like a pat on the back... good food on a budget with a little work. Not too shabby!