This week I spent a night in town with my sister-in-law, who just had a baby. I was actually kind of afraid to go to the grocery store, kind of like being on a diet and then going to a holiday party. I was pretty sure I'd "blow it" and spend a lot. But my husband called and asked me to pick up some things for some guests that are here for the weekend, so I knew I needed to face my fears! First, I went to Sam's Club for the first time since I've moved here (5 years ago). I finally got my Sam's Club card (my dad put me on his membership) and I checked out the rumors of the fantastic produce they carry. It all looked beautiful. Not as wide a variety as Safeway, but the "best" stuff was plentiful. I bought peaches, plums, strawberries, potatoes, and organic spring salad mix. None of it was under $2 a pound (except the potatoes, which were $.30 a lb). I gave most of the peaches, a carton of strawberries, and a few plums to my sister-in-law. I wasn't blown away by the taste, but it was all of good quality. I figure I spent around $23 for the produce I took home. I categorize the money I spent on groceries for others as "hospitality" instead of a part of our grocery budget.
On the way home I stopped at Safeway to see if produce prices were any better. It was strange going to the grocery store and not buying as much as I could. Normally my cart is completely loaded, so this was a nice change! I hated to go in because I was sure I would be tempted to spend, spend, spend. And I was, but I still managed to stay around $30 for the groceries for our house. I bought fresh corn, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, fresh and frozen spinach, a loaf of bread, hot dog buns, toilet cleaner, baby wipes, tortillas, and two dark chocolate candy bars. Normally I would have bought several packs of wipes, multiple packs of toilet cleaners, 2 bags of tortillas, and 2 or 3 bags of frozen spinach, but since I'm trying to spend as little as possible this month, I only bought one of each. If my math is right I have spent $240 for the month. I'm really hoping to make it through the end of the month without spending much more!
At home, we have started using cloth napkins at mealtimes. We have 3 1/2 rolls of paper towels left, and I'm pretty sure they will last through the end of the month. I'm not sure why I never used cloth napkins before- they really do save money, especially with messy little eaters around! I'm still not missing my coconut oil- I'm just using butter or beef tallow in its place, and we are surviving. Last night I made tuna fish gravy for 4 grownups and 2 kids. I wanted to use 4 (6 oz) cans of tuna for that many people, but we only had 3. I thought about asking my mother-in-law for a can, but I decided to make more gravy with less meat. So, I added more flour and milk, and we ended up with a little left over! All that worry for nothing!
I have also inventoried our personal care items. We won't need to
buy kids' toothpaste, lotion, or sunscreen for about 5 years! I have
started a list of items that we can stock up on and I can use coupons
for. I am planning a big shopping trip after the challenge is over!
I am really thankful I did stockpile a few things, like butter, canned coconut milk, salsa, bacon, and sausage, before this pantry challenge. I am more appreciative of what we do have around than before. In the past two weeks I've often found myself thinking about people who have to live off their pantry by necessity, and I feel so blessed. Food for me isn't just a way to survive, it's a hobby. I enjoy everything from menu planning, to purchasing (or butchering), to cooking, to eating. I'm so grateful to have that luxury