Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Challenge for Myself

I am taking a break from the many Christmas pictures (because, yes, there are more to come :) to put my challenge in writing. Or rather typing.

This is a challenge for myself. And I guess it is for my family too since it will affect them. :)

Here it is...

For the month of January, we are going to TRY (as in make every attempt) to eat on 1/4 of our usual food budget.  I actually don't have a true budget (which is another challenge for 2013) but I am basing this on what we normally spend a month.

The kind of funny thing is what I am proposing is what actually was the total food budget for hubby and me when we first got married.  Now that is what we spend in a typical week!


I don't know.

The other day I was driving home from my umpteenth grocery store stop feeling a bit ill about all I spend a month.  That on top of the holiday spending that takes place in December, and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. 

I LOVE to cook and have had so much fun trying new recipes, making favorites, cooking healthier and more from scratch this past year.  And we eat at home more now than ever; eating out is a rarity.

But with that (along with a child's food sensitivities), our spending has gotten out of control.

I know that housing is supposed to be like 30% of your monthly income (or less) but should food be that high on the list?

So as I was driving, I thought to myself, "Why not live out of the pantry and freezer as much as possible for the next month?"

The ironic thing is I had a friend do this in the past and thought she was a bit crazy. :)  But now it makes perfect sense.

My freezer is still full of beef and some other foods I have bought while on sale.  Our pantry is rather stocked.  Hubby just stopped at a specialty food store and picked up some much needed supplies for our food sensitive kiddo.  And we got some of our favorite (and more expensive) treats for Christmas (like pistachios, Ghirardelli chocolates, Red Bull for the hubby, etc).  So we are stocked up.

We are not going to starve.

We just need to use what we have.

I tend to plan for the week by going solely on my cravings.  I don't have to be pregnant to have those. I just get in the mood for a food and decide that will be on our next menu.

The problem is that I go out and buy for the week, ignoring the items we already have that we have stocked up on.

Which comes back to why I need to do this challenge.

Don't get me wrong.

This is not a long term solution. We can't do this forever.  With six of us, our pantry and freezer will eventually be empty. And those people around my table will still expect some kind of meal on the table.

But maybe for just a month, we will see what we can live with food wise and what we can't.

I don't expect us to have a lot of extra money at the end of the month to go live it up with...I am pretty sure my December spending already used up part of January's anyway.

But I like a good challenge.

I am eager to see what we can do.

Even if that means no shrimp for me. :(  (I almost got some the other day since it wasn't technically January but felt like that was cheating, so I put them back)

So I am putting it out there, in print.

Now I have people (all 3 or so readers :) to hold me accountable.

I do have a few guidelines for myself:
Paper products/personal care will NOT count in the total.

While I want to be frugal, some things are non-negotiable.  Things like milk, bread, and fresh fruit.  I may try to be more economical buying them but they will have to be bought. I will just have to be careful about the extra stuff I get.  I cannot skimp on the healthy stuff just to stay in budget.

Hubby is heading to the store in a bit and that total WILL count for January since the bulk of the food will be used in January.

Eating out will not count in the total. We rarely eat out any more other than an occasional sushi night.  But that is a separate part of the budget, so if we do, it will not count against us.

I can always use coupons to help but that is not my strong point. :)  Plus coupons are almost always for processed foods which we are not as likely to use these days. But it is a possibility.

Snacks and supplies for school (my class) do NOT count in the total.

While I don't want to share how much my total is for the month (mainly because I am embarrassed to admit what I typically spend :), I will give occasional updates with a percentage.  If I can remember how to do the math to figure that out.

So there it is.

It is out there.

Now it is up to me to meet that challenge head on.



  1. great challenge! I have been having trouble staying in budget. Shopping at Aldi's has really helped me save lots of money! Good luck!

  2. We do it. Its hard but it works. Good luck. Happy New Year. I am looking forward to getting to know you more this year :0)

  3. We are also bad about having a pantry and freezer full of stuff, yet we say "There's nothing to eat in here!" We do cook a lot, but we eat out more than we should. We are going to limit our meals out/"carry out" too, to once a week for a while. I'm also going to try to cook ahead and freeze some meals. Rhonda


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