I'm in. We are not (that we know of) moving, but I was reviewing our grocery spending to date earlier this month and it really shot up this year, to about $450/month on average (from about $250/month in 2013). Partly b/c my husband quit his job (where he got 2 meals each day) and then took up long distance backpacking (where he needed to eat 4-5000 cal/day), so our caloric needs doubled (and then some...), and of course some things have just gotten more expensive (almonds are now almost a dollar more per pound, waaaaaaah). I made a LOT of bulk purchases of stuff like beans, rice, oatmeal, protein powder, canned tomatoes, and dried fruit, we have gone through a lot of it, but there is also lots of it still taking up space in our apartment! Since the beginning of month wake-up call, I have already been focusing more on using up what we have, and our "food and dining" expenses to date for September are under $100, phew. I would like to see if we can get down to <$200/month for the rest of the year by shopping the pantry/freezer more aggressively.
My personal version of the challenge will be:
-not to buy new bulk foods if we still have something that is functionally equivalent available. Like, if I want to make split pea soup but we are out of split peas, too bad, because we still have 15 lbs of pinto beans hanging out in the pantry.
-completely empty out the freezer before our next round of batch cooking. I have actually been working on this for the past month and there is a pretty big dent already.
-Reinforce the 1 in, 1 out rule we used to have about condiments. I would like to get some fancy different vinegars, but first I must figure out a use for the 3/4 full bottle of barbecue sauce that has been hanging out in the fridge since May!
One thing I've started doing again is estimating how much the items on my grocery list will cost before I go to the store (used to do this fanatically in grad school when I needed to, but have gotten lax), and if the number seems high, go through and figure out a few things to ax. Like, this week I was thinking of trying out a new recipe that called for a tahini dressing, but we are out of tahini. I decided to just make a yogurt dressing (since we already have some yogurt in the fridge), and will pick up tahini some other time (it is pretty cheap per calorie, after all!) when I don't have too many other purchases to make. I was also thinking we might need to buy some chicken at Costco, but then I did an inventory of things and realized we have ground beef, stew beef, half a duck (????), and fish in the freezer, plus several cans of tuna and sardines: more than enough to last us for a while. So the chicken can wait also. Then I decided there were a few too many high end vegetables on the list (i.e., ones that cost more than $1/lb), so I swapped one of the recipes in our meal plan for something that is a little more pedestrian and uses up existing supplies more. Nothing extreme and we will still have plenty of tasty food to eat this coming week, but overall around $50 less on the grocery bill.