Saving on Groceries

I have shared before that our largest expense besides our mortgage is groceries. Yes, groceries are even higher than our car payment. Included in the grocery budget is all the cleaning products and paper products that we use in the house. On a positive note, I have been able to reduce our grocery budget over the past several years. When I started tracking our grocery budget I was spending around $800 a month. I will say that this included diapers for many years. Last year we spent $620 a month on groceries. This year, the grocery budget has varied significantly from $1100 to $175. I did an average of the 5 month and that put us at $540 a month. My goal for the year is $500 a month. I think this is doable as we continue to eat off the cow purchased last year which should reduce the budget as well.

In the month of June so far, I have spent $90.30! I am super excited about this! I am planning to have the lowest spending month ever for groceries. My goal for the summer is to keep spending below $200 for June and July.

Now on to the fun stuff, how am I planning to keep this goal reachable. First, we continue to earn at least $50 to $100 a month in gift cards from Swagbucks. I am using this earning for Walmart gift cards, to purchase toilet paper, sunscreen and all the other fun stuff that we need to keep the house running. I also received my Costco reward this month. I purchased laundry detergent, dishwashing tabs and such with it. A second way, is by using Norwex products for cleaning. I purchased the window cloth and a dusting system several years ago. Yes, the cost was upfront but after a year of use then I am saving money simply by using them. One of my new favorite ways of saving is looking through clearance section at Food Lion. I have been able to grab breakfast sausage, pastries, candy, juice and much more. This is all food that I know we will eat and usually priced fifty cent or less. I have also been going to Aldi on Wednesday afternoon, this is typically when they reduce bread and pastries. Finally, I am trying specifically to use what is in the garden, freezers and pantry. I even made a list of the items that we have in addition to several ideas of ways to use these items. In addition to the list of items we have, I started a stockpile list, these items I am going to watch for a good sale and build up our supply. I am eager to save as much money as possible this summer while enjoy a more relaxed pace!

Thursday Thoughts

I must admit that I was wrong. I assumed that with school ending for all three kids last week, things would slow down. Nope, we are still moving at what feels like full speed ahead. I am off work today, using a sick day because all three kids have dentist appointments and our first swim meet is this afternoon. I return to work on Friday for my final day of the school year! I am exhausted and looking forward to spending some quality time at the pool this weekend!

Lily and Kendall will be attending our church camp next week. Zach decided he would prefer baseball camp instead. I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday and plan to spend at least part of the week, catching up on shopping. Zach and I should have some fun as well.

I am doing awesome on limiting my grocery spending for the month. So far I have spent $71.53. I do need to pick up several items at Costco so I am sure this will end up closer to $300 by the end of the month. One of my new favorite things to do is check the “clearance” sections of Food Lion. I have been able to find sausage patties and links for under $2 a package. Other finds include candy, juices and baked treats. I have also discovered that Aldi discounts baked goods on Wednesday. I am hopeful that we will be able to keep our grocery spending to a minimal by simply eating out of the pantry and shopping the sales as often as I can.

Another area that should have a huge decrease is gas. We have spent $127 so far this month. I am anticipating that with tomorrow being my last day of driving to work of the summer. I should be able to reduce the gas by one tank a week. The only problem is that we live in the middle of nowhere so any trips involve gas.

Month in Review

May has come to a flying finish. I went in to the month knowing that it would most likely be one of our busiest as a family. May did not disappoint in this for sure. We should be finishing up baseball next week after a 2 week break. Swim team has started with a goal of attending at least three practices a week. We have birthday parties, graduation parties and end of the year activities that all seem to be keeping our calendar full.

 As you can tell from the pictures yesterday, the garden is looking awesome, we have been able to harvest some green peppers, two very small zucchini, basil, dill and of course mint. We have blossoms on the tomato plants and the corn is over knee high. 

With all the scheduled activities for the month, menu planning has been important however we have been making changes to accommodate evening when we have literally an hour or less at home to get not only homework finished but some sort of dinner. We ended up eating out Chinese once and ordered pizza once. It feels like I am going to the grocery store every other day. However, I am starting to realize that the reason for this is that I am only buying what we are out of or what things I find on manager special. I am planning to write a post this weekend about the deals I have been able to find at Food Lion.  I have been able to keep a total of grocery spending. We are currently at $325 including the $75 trip I made on Thursday of this week. I am very pleased with this amount and plan to continue to monitor and reduce the overall spending for the summer months.  

We ended up spending around $400 for gas this month. I am not keeping a running total for this because we have to have gas to work and for most of our everyday activities. After much thought and consideration, this is really not a budget item that I can control.

In the area of finances we are holding our ground right now. I made the decision this week to sell the little red car. I was pleasantly surprised that it only took two day for it to sell. This will probably mean an increase in our gas spending but it did mean a $70 decrease in insurance for the short term. Today is the last paycheck for the school year and it was less than anticipated. I am going to have to sit down this summer and redo our budget once I actually figure out what I can anticipate for my salary next year. The good news is that I have scheduled two deposit, one in June and one in July, that will serve as my paychecks for the summer.

The area that has seen the greatest improvement during the month of May is with my weight loss and exercise. I have walked a total of 8 days with one of those being in the water. I have lost 2# this month.

I was able to increase my number of post for May to 13! I am only two away from goal.

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $80. This is again going down but free money is free money.

PLANS:  9 day of work left till Summer! I am going to focus on using our money wisely this month! I want to keep the grocery budget less than $300 again. The cost of gas should also decrease significantly this summer as well due to me not going to work. We are planning to replace the tires on the old van. This money will come from profits of selling the car.  Lots of things to think about and consider during the summer! I plan to update regularly so get ready to enjoy some summer fun and gardening.  Spending should be minimal as we have already paid pool dues, all summer camps and our Wet and Wild membership is also paid.  f

Monday Musings

The end of school is fast approaching. Lily finishes up 8th grade this week with End of Grade test on Wednesday and Thursday. Zach and Kendall have two weeks left. They also have testing this week with the following week being a lot of celebrating and other activities. I have 3 weeks left. My weeks will be full of meeting and paperwork. But I am counting days can’t wait to start my summer break.

I am usually pretty good at looking at the schedule and determining just how busy we will be. However, I underestimated the last couple of weeks. We are staying supper busy with end of school activities and swim team practice. I am hoping to make it through the next 2 weeks without breaking the budget grabbing food on the run. But I am beginning to wonder how we will get it all done.

My grocery goal for the summer is to keep the grocery bill as low as possible for at least the months of June and July. I know that August will be a huge shopping trip as we stock up for the beginning of the school year. So far for the month of May we have spent $215 which includes lots of sodas to get us through the summer. We are running low on lots of quick and convenient meals but I am trying to stretch them at least the last two weeks of the school year.

My square foot garden is growing the best that I have ever seen, I am very hopeful that we will be able to not only use it for lots of food this summer but also that we can restock the freezer with yummy veggies for the winter.

I checked the freezer yesterday and estimate that we have about six month of beef left. I need to seriously start to work on a plan to use what we have but also to pay for another cow. This one has lasted about 18 months so that is a great way to stretch our budget!

We should not be spending any money on clothing for the next two months so that will make things a little bit easier as well.

Menu Planning Monday

 The countdown until the end of school is on! We have 3 more weeks and I have one additional week of workdays.  One of the ways I want to save money this month is by limiting our grocery budget. If I don’t go to Costco that significantly reduces my spending. I currently have spent $145 on groceries. My goal is to make it the rest of the month with spending less than $50. I know we need to buy both paper towels and toilet paper with that money.  I do hope to use Swagbucks to earn at least one $25 gift cards to help with the cost of these needed items.  The homemade uncrustables were a huge hit, in fact, I made 16 more for the next couple of week.  I even made a breakfast quiche for myself

Breakfast- Saturday Sausage biscuit – Sunday-biscuits and gravy.   Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.  Wednesday- baked oatmeal- peanut butter/chocolate chip

Lunch–Saturday-breakfast burritos from Sonic     Sunday- Stuffed green peppers.    Monday– salad and veggie day.  Tuesday–Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- uncrustables for the kids, I will take a combination of left-overs and salad items. I even made homemade chicken salad to use this week.

Dinner – Saturday-Pizza   Sunday–Grilled spam, sweet potatoes and creamed spinach. Monday-Hamburger helper Tuesday– soft tacos   Wednesday–Grilled pork chops  Thursday–Chicken pot pie . Friday- Hamburgers and FF

Food Hacks that Work!

Our schedule for this week includes swim team practice on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and baseball games on Wednesday and Friday.   As you can imagine this means that we are extremely busy. I anticipated this season of busy enough to try a couple of new quick and easy food tricks this week.  I am so excited to report that they worked!

Breakfast is always a big deal at our house. We all enjoy eating breakfast but also like a lot of variety. I saw that Harris Teeter had “egg in a cup” on sale for $1.67 each this week. That gave me an idea and after a little bit of research on the internet, I made my own “breakfast bags” Zach fried up a pound of sausage while I diced green peppers and onions. I placed 1/8 cup of peppers, 1/8 cup of onions and ¼ cup in a snack bag, in the freezer they went.  My plan was to stir a couple of eggs in a cup drop in the bag contents. This week we have decided that you need at least 2 and usually 3 eggs if you chose to add cheese to the mixture.  In the microwave for 1.5 minutes or you can also add the bag to a frying pan and stir. Zach was unable to eat 2 eggs for breakfast so we decided to separate his bag in half and that seems to work well for one egg.  We also have some breakfast burritos in the freezer.  These simple omelets are a huge hit.   HUGE win for quick and cheap breakfast on the run.

Kendall and Zach take their lunches to school every day, at this point in the school year, we are tired and really want something new and fun for lunch.  Both Kendall and Zach love uncrustables and we have been able to purchase on sale several times this school year, however at fifty cent each on sale this is an expensive lunch.  I had heard of several folks making homemade ones and again after some research decided to try it. I was a little worried at first about needing some special way to seal the outside, however after using one of our glasses to make the circle I was pleasantly surprised to learn that by using the glass it sealed the sandwich. Kendall says that these taste better than the store bought ones.  I spent sixty-cent on a loaf of bread for these but otherwise have the peanut butter and grape jelly already in my pantry from sales.   I was able to make 8 sandwiches at the average cost of ten cent or less each!   I am planning to make another batch of these this weekend!   

Monday Menu Planning

This is a different kind of week around here. Kendall and Zach are out of school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Lily is out on Monday. I have to work everyday but the good news is that we will have a couple of extra nights at home.  We are trying not to waste food as usual. We don’t have a lot of leftovers from Easter as we had hamburgers and hot dogs at my brothers.

Breakfast- Saturday– Bacon and pimento cheese biscuits, Sunday-Easter Breakfast at church  Monday-cereal   Tuesday-eggs and sausage links , Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday- Steak fried rice using all left-overs from the fridge  Sunday-leftovers Monday– leftovers for everyone except Zach who had egg salad, Tuesday– Mac and Cheese , Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- sandwiches and grab and go
Dinner – Insta Pot Baked Pot Soup, Sunday- Hamburgers and hot dogs  Monday-Left-overs  Tuesday– Crock Pot Cube steak, rice and green beans   Wednesday–Chicken and Broccoli casserole Thursday– Sloppy joes and French Fries  Friday- Pork Chops and corn on the cob on the grill if it is not raining. 

Monday Menu Planning

Things are suppose to be really crazy busy this week but storms have made at least Monday night a stay at home night. After a HUGE month of spending on groceries, we have managed to keep things under control for these first two weeks. One thing we were able to do this week is use up left-overs in a creative way.

Breakfast- Saturday– Bacon and pimento cheese biscuits, Sunday-gravy biscuit (gravy was a left-over)  Monday-bagels,  Tuesday-baked oatmeal , Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of eggs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, or toast.
Lunch–Saturday- Arby’s for Matt and I Sunday-out to eat  with friends Monday– leftovers for everyone, Tuesday– Ravioli, Wednesday-Thursday and Friday- the last of our Lunchable.
Dinner – Saturday-left-overs from the fridge , . Sunday- Creamy Spinach Pasta (new recipe that was a hit) Monday-Salisbury steak with all sides from the fridge  Tuesday– Cheese quesadilla and Mexican rice   Wednesday–Tortillia  Thursday– Steak and Baked Potatoes  Friday- Chicken Sandwiches and French Fries

Saving on Saturday/ Sunday

Saturday was a gorgeous spring day in North Carolina. The temperature was in the low 70s and no rain!  I took advantage of this great weather and the “Spring Black Friday Sale” at Lowes to get the Square Foot Garden up to date. We purchased 20 bags of garden soil at $2 saving $2.29 a bag for a total of $45, 2 green pepper plants,1 basil plant and a container of zucchini for $2.50 each saving a total of $5.12 and 7 small containers of annuals(flowers) saving sixty cent each for a total of $3.00.  The total saving for our two trips to Lowes was $53.10!  The garden beds are now full of dirt and we have started planting some of the vegetables. I was able to plant the green pepper and jalapeno plants that were purchased way ahead of time.  I have been successful at spouting both watermelon and pear tomato seeds. These will have to wait until the last chance of frost before planting outside. I am super excited about what we are planning to grow in the garden this year and the money we are going to save in the process.

I also shopped at CVS on Saturday. I had a raincheck for 2L Diet Cokes which I combined with ECB I already had to purchase 16 of the 2 L at sixty-seven cent each. We were out of razors at my house so I purchased multiple razors spending a total of $20 and saving $18.39. My total savings at CVS was $46.13.

On Sunday, Harris Teeter decided to run a “Super Double Coupons Event”. This means that they doubled all coupons up to $2.00. For me the bigger deal was the fact that they had a great sale of several items that we use and are easy to store including paper plates, Gatorades, Flour, cream cheese and gold fish.  Mom and I were able to find most items on my list except for the shampoo.  I spent $76.51 and saved $84.74 or 53%.

In all just this weekend shopping the sales, I saved $184!

 

Grocery Spending

First a look at the numbers:
March Grocery spending prior to my Spring break  $304.20
Grocery Spending this week (Spring break  $754.25
Total Grocery Spending for March $1058.45
Total Grocery Spending for February $175

Budget for Groceries $450 each month

 

One of the reasons that I continue to update and blog is that it proves accountability for me of some form. In addition, it allows me to glance back that years past and give a better perspective.
March 2018 Spending $726.27          March 2016 Spending $200

Now, let me explain at least part of the spending.  I am enjoying a week long break from my job so I wanted to make sure I got lots of things in place to help the next 9-11 weeks go smoothly.  We are entering a “busy” season for us, baseball 2-3 nights a week and then swimming for everyone starts in early May. My goal this week was to prepare ahead as many meals as possible which in the long run will save both time and money. I am actually ahead for the most part with this goal, I have already gotten 13 meals in the freezer with plans for at least 7 more before the week ends. So that is a total of 20 evening meals in addition to the 5 for this week.  Just looking at that number I am averaging $42.33 a meal to feed 6 people.  I also purchased 30 lunchables for the kids to take to school so that also reduces the amount.

Another  way to look at my March spending is that I had $275 left in my grocery budget for February.  I also purchased enough food that I don’t plan to spend much of my April budget for groceries either so if I leave $100 in the grocery budget for April then I am back to my monthly average of $450.

After looking at the numbers, overall I am very pleased with both the amount of spending and the amount of food that I have prepped ahead of time. I did way over spend this month but if I can control spending for the next couple of month I will definitely be back on track!