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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Making the grocery money last

Whew! Tomorrow's the end of the month. The grocery budget has been tight, with a capital T. We'd been going over our grocery budget each month for the last 6 months.  I'd carried forward this excess spending into each new month. Finally this month I decided to stop the overspending.

Last week I reached that day, when we either go over, or I just don't spend any more on food, and we live off what we have in stock.  Since we had milk, and some eggs, plus a very full pantry, and burgeoning spring garden, I thought I could do it. For dinners, we've had lentil and pasta soup, lentil and rice salad, refried beans and rice, homemade pizza, hot dogs with homemade buns, turkey and tofu teriyaki, and baked beans. So, you see, we had plenty to eat.  It's been mostly the fruits and veggies that have been of limited variety (but plentiful in quantity).  We've had cabbage, carrots, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, tomato sauce and onions for our main veggies. We often think of onions as more of a seasoning ingredient. Well this week, I made a glazed onion casserole, that was tasty, simple and frugal.

Fruit was the most difficult part for me.  I love fruit and to be so limited in variety is difficult.  We finished off the last of our strawberries from the freezer, and have been eating bananas, some apple juice, a few last oranges, and rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb (rhubarb sauce, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb lemonade, rhubarb oatmeal, rhubarb muffins). So, we've had plenty to eat.

We did pretty well I think. But I did break down yesterday and stop in at Trader Joe's. I bought bananas, soy milk (that's for me, I wanted to be able to enjoy granola this morning, too) and one impulse buy -- tofu. Now, most impulse buys are things like chips, soda or the candy that they have sitting there right at the register. For me, the impulse was, "oooh, I love tofu, I should get some. Trader Joe's has the best price on tofu around. I should get some. I know it's over the budget. But I should get some. I could use it in lasagna or something (I use tofu, mashed in place of ricotta cheese -- the dairy issue I have). Oh, I'll just get one,"  That's my version of an impulse buy. Tofu may not be your weakness, but yesterday it was mine!

So, the end result.  I went over budget by about $10 this month.  I'll still have to work to get us back within budget for next month. But I think I can do it! How did your spending go for the month?

Moving on to June's grocery budget, how will we make our grocery money last this month? I think we need a plan.


  1. You've been really creative in stretching your food stores and making delicious meals from what you have! There are worse impulse buys than soy milk, bananas and tofu, that's for sure.

    I've been trying to forgo grocery shopping and just eat what's in my freezer (and since last week, what I picked up from my CSA). Not that it's too difficult because I really hate fighting my way through the grocery store!

    1. Hi Pamela, yes, I know, I could've done much worse (at least I didn't go into the store hungry!). But I was trying so hard to get us back on track. It'd been months since we'd come in under budget, and that's with increasing the amount for food, because of inflation, even. I'd gotten lazy a couple of times in the month and bought a couple of prepared things that I could've made myself.
      After going to Trader Joe's I remembered that I could've made rice milk for myself for the week. I've made that before and it's been acceptable enough. And in the end I was glad I bought the tofu. I used it in lasagna last night and it was good! I know what you mean about grocery stores. I avoid the busy times if I can.
      I have a good friend who's also been trying to not stop in at a grocery store till the end of the month, I haven't told her that I did -- well she'll know now!
      Well, there's next month, and I'm sure I can keep things under budget in June, with the garden and all.

  2. I realized recently that groceries are one of my biggest expenses. I prioritize them because cooking (for myself and others) is also one of my passions, so I don't feel too bad spending extra...but I still need to stay within my budget! I have been eating the remains of things in my fridge before heading off on a 10-day trip and have found it a little challenging as well. Now I've run out of fruit but, like you, have plenty of onions. I am itching to grocery shop again soon!

    1. A long trip. . .you do need to clear out the fridge! You don't want to find surprises when you return! But just think, the clearing out process has not only cleaned your fridge, but it has saved you money on your grocery bill! And saving money is never a bad thing. But if your experience has been like mine, a big challenge. I found I made a lot of soup, a couple of casseroles and an interesting salad or two (I always have vinegar and condiments for a nice dressing no matter how bare my fridge looks). But I am glad that it's the 1st of a new month. I can finally buy eggs again (although, my two daughters are very resourceful; this week they found a very good cookie recipe that didn't need eggs). Have a lovely trip.


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