July 6, 2012

July Pantry Challenge is On!

Hey folks, I am back!  I have been too busy living life to write about it.  But I decided to do a Pantry Challenge with Jessica from Good Cheap Eats, and I thought I'd document my progress here.  I started keeping track of my spending two months ago, and I was shocked at how much I spend.  Since we don't have to buy meat and eggs, it should not be that high.  If you want an idea of how much we spent, go find the USDA chart that shows the average amounts spent on food.  We are a family of 4, with 2 little kids, and we spent more than the "liberal" plan.  That's without buying beef and eggs.  Yikes!

There are several reasons I believe we spent so much.  First, I had gotten in the mindset that I needed to buy as much as I could because I never knew when I would be able to get to town.  However, looking at the dates on my receipts, I have spent money on groceries every week for the past two months, between having people pick up stuff for me and running into town myself.  So, I really don't need to stockpile every time I'm at the store!  Second, my husband likes brand name items.  He thinks most generic items aren't as good as the brand-names.  That's just something we're going to have to work on over time I guess.  Third, I don't plan my grocery trips around the sales.  I go to the store whenever I'm in town, so if I need (or want, let's be honest here) something, I just buy it.  Since I'm usually in a hurry to be done and I've got the kids with me, I don't do a lot of price comparison.  That's something I am actively trying to change.  Fourth, I don't use coupons.  But now I know how to load the online coupons on my Safeway card, so I can take the 5 minutes before going to town to do it!  Finally, I have been eating Paleo on and off for the past few months, which usually makes your grocery bill go up.  Wheat is super cheap, but fresh produce, especially in our area, is pricier.  My solution for that is to pay more attention to what's on sale, what's in season, and buy more frozen veggies.  My hubby and kids still eat "regular" food, so you'll still see plenty of non-Paleo items in our menu plans.  I do plan to eat up the beans in our pantry, and fresh corn since it's only in season a little while.

My goal with this pantry challenge is to save as much money as possible, by spending as little as possible.  I am sure we will buy milk, some fresh produce (since it is July!), and possibly paper towels, but that's it for me.  I am not setting any limits on my husband's spending, since he only goes to the store about once every two months and he mainly buys treats for himself.  I am also looking forward to getting rid of some pantry items that have languished far too long.  I don't think I'll have to get too creative since we have such a large stockpile already.  

What we've spent so far:
I asked my parents to pick up diapers, 4 gallons of milk, and fresh produce for me.  Those along with a couple other extras were about $85 (spread out over two trips).  The good news is we are stocked with diapers for a couple of months!  Then my dad gave me a $10 register coupon for Safeway.  I bought 10 lbs of potatoes, 2 small bags of chocolate chips, and 6 ears of corn.  I paid $.16!  That was such a thrill!  Then, my hubby spent $60 on bananas, sour cream, cottage cheese, prepared orange juice, two packs of bacon (it was a pretty good price so I was okay with it), and a huge pack of sausage links, which I divided into smaller bags and froze.  So, we have already spent about $125, but I think we should be good for the rest of the month.  

Here's what we've been eating:
July 1: leftover shepherd's pie (used canned green beans and asparagus from the pantry); don't remember lunch
July 2: had company over and served hamburgers, Texas Caviar (using up black beans from the pantry), fried potatoes, Paleo Cobbler (used peaches from the freezer instead of berries!); don't remember lunch
July 3: both meals in town with family
July 4: lunch: family get-together in town; dinner: Hamburgers, leftover Texas Caviar
July 5: lunch: leftover shepherd's pie for hubby, leftover hamburger and sauteed bok choy for me; dinner: steaks, corn on the cob, fresh Texas Caviar with extended family visiting

Breakfast ideas:
I always serve some kind of protein, usually bacon and eggs, sometimes leftover steak or even pork chops.  After reading Nina Plank's Real Food for Mother and Child, I have come to believe eggs are almost the perfect human food (unless you have allergies of course).  

- potato patties
- hash browns
- bacon, egg sandwiches on bagels
- breakfast burritos
- scrambled eggs with salsa and frozen veggies (this is what I eat every day)
- pancakes from a mix (hubby's request)
- biscuits and sausage gravy (hubby's request)
- oatmeal chocolate chip muffins
- Coconut Flour Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I promise to post at least once a week as our challenge continues.  You can find more great info about the July Pantry Challenge at Good Cheap Eats.  You can check out this post from Denver Bargains for tips on eating from your pantry.  Also, visit The Haven of Home and scroll down to the bottom of the page to read about her Pantry Challenge from the beginning.  I found it really interesting!

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