Author Topic: Sticking to food budget for January  (Read 4563 times)

choppingwood

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Sticking to food budget for January
« on: December 30, 2014, 12:18:24 PM »
I'm going to stick to a $75 food budget for the month of January. I've based this on Grocery Shrink recommendations for one female adult. [www.groceryshrink.com/2012/01/new-food-budget-recommendations.html]

What will help is that I have a little more food than usual in the freezer and that food stores in my area have great sales in January to match people's post-Christmas budgets. What will make it harder is that I am in Canada, using Canadian dollars and higher food prices than some MMM readers. I am also planning a little more activity each day.

The goal includes healthy, enjoyable eating.

Anyone want to join me?

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2015, 10:17:16 AM »
It looks like I'm on my own on this challenge, so we'll see if I'm up to it.

I started yesterday (dec 31) with a visit to the grocery store. Spent $29. Chicken legs were on sale, so last night I made chicken with rice and bok choy in a casserole. I used chicken broth to cook the rice in, sauted the chicken in canola oil and the last small onion from my CSA share, and sauted the bok choy with garlic at the end.  I had cut the chicken legs in two, and found that one piece was plenty, so I have more servings left over for future meals than I expected.

I also made blueberry muffins, using oil instead of butter, and water instead of milk. Made for slightly toasty muffins.

The house smelled heavenly all evening long. 






savedough

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2015, 04:03:20 PM »
There's a grocery budget challenge thred that is similar to this one.  Join the spreadsheet.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January --and 2015
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2015, 02:49:53 PM »
I hadn't joined the Stick to a Grocery Budget for 2015 thread, because I am basically pretty happy with what I spend on food, and don't plan to concentrate on it too much this year. My normal spending is about $200 Cdn ($172 US) per mo, including dog food and cleaning supplies and toilet paper. I buy produce first at a local produce store, eat relatively small amounts of meat, and almost no products with sugar in them, which leaves a lot of budget for produce.

When I came across this Grocery Shrink website, I was shocked by what she suggested someone could live on, while eating a healthy and tasty diet. I wanted to see what changes it would need for me to do that. January is a month in which I am paying for the rental on a cottage in Hawaii later in the winter and am trying to stuff as much money as I can into my Registered Retirement Savings Plan (we have until Mar 1 or so to put money in for 2014), which will defer taxes to a much lower tax year. So this is the month for me.

What I learn, I'll apply for future months, but I'm not going to track this all year long. I'd like to keep improving the nutritional value of what I buy (more fruit, fewer chips) and stock a little more food in my pantry/freezer, but that's it as far as this category goes.

All power, though, to people with larger families and/or higher spending per person as they work on this this year.

 

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2015, 09:23:11 PM »
I headed into the city to start work again on Monday after some time off. Stopped at the produce store ("Fresh for Less" is their slogan) on the way home from an errand and gave myself a $10 budget to buy as much food as I could. Left with 10 lb of potatoes, 3 bananas, 2 crowns of broccoli, 1 butternut squash and 1 lemon and $2.20 in change. Stopped at a 7-11 and got half and half for my coffee. (I was afraid to go into a grocery store even though it would be cheaper because I was hungry and tired and was afraid I would impulse buy.) I pulled a small pork roast out of the freezer that I got on sale before Christmas.

I think I have plenty of food now to get me to the middle of the month, and  $35.10 left to spend.

1967mama

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2015, 09:44:52 PM »
Not sure if you noticed that that The Grocery Shrink's food budget was based on 2012 prices?

Also, Canadian prices for milk, cheese and chicken are about double American prices, so this could make a significant difference on your budget.

Don't mean to discourage you from trying, but just wanted to point these things out:-)

thecornercat

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2015, 11:55:49 PM »
I am also in Canada (female adult) so am looking forward to following your experiences. Does this include household stuff like toilet paper, etc.? I spend max $100 per month on groceries and household so I think your budget is realistic. Good luck to you with the rest of your challenge!

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2015, 10:28:26 AM »
Not sure if you noticed that that The Grocery Shrink's food budget was based on 2012 prices?

Also, Canadian prices for milk, cheese and chicken are about double American prices, so this could make a significant difference on your budget.

Don't mean to discourage you from trying, but just wanted to point these things out:-)

Thanks, I did notice that the Grocery Shrink budget is based on 2012 prices. The last few months of inflation in food prices alone will make this more challenging, though I'm hoping January sales will offset this for a month.

Cheese is a luxury for me at the best of times because of the price, so I definitely won't be using it in my cooking this month. I'm thinking that the small pork roast I had in the freezer (which I wouldn't normally have at the beginning of the month) will counteract the rest by my needing to buy less protein overall.

I don't know that I could do it any month this year, but this month I think I can. At least, I'll figure out what I can change for the better.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2015, 10:43:43 AM »
I am also in Canada (female adult) so am looking forward to following your experiences. Does this include household stuff like toilet paper, etc.? I spend max $100 per month on groceries and household so I think your budget is realistic. Good luck to you with the rest of your challenge!

I'm looking at this as a food-only budget. My grocery budget normally does include cleaning products and toilet paper and dog food for a small dog. It happens that before I decided to do this challenge I had come across a great toilet paper sale (complete with extra frequent flyer miles). I didn't know the sale was on and didn't have a cart, so there was a bit of an ugly struggle in the grocery store as I manhandled two large packages of TP and a basket of food through the store and checkout line, but no need for new supplies now. And I seemed to have enough off other cleaning supplies because of pre-holiday cleaning that I don't think this will put much dent in the budget this month.

The dog enjoys sharing my high fibre, low sugar diet. If worst comes to worst, I'll use coupons (aka Canadian Tire money to Canadians) for some dog food. Technically, dog food wasn't part of my self-challenge, so I'm not going to worry about whether this is cash or not.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2015, 10:39:42 PM »
I did blow $2.50 of my budget on a cup of coffee and a bag of chips at work today, at different times. I had brought an orange, but that wasn't enough. Will need to bring my coffee and pack one other snack.

My leftover roast pork and butternut squash was much admired at lunch today, though, and I have to tell you that never happens with rice and beans.

Generally, I am finding this very low maintenance. There isn't any extra money to stop and pick up a couple of things after work, so I am working with what I have when I am at home. I do like everything I have, so it doesn't seem very painful. I am snacking less at home so far, too. We'll see if that lasts on the weekend.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2015, 10:13:36 AM »
I've been doing better with the snacks at work -- bringing a banana (I cut them in half) and a Mandarin orange seems to keep me happy through the day.

Thursday night I bought a hot and ready pizza, which blew $9.50 from my budget, so I'll have to be creative to make the budget last. I had worked later than usual that night, and still had more work to do when I got home. Friday night I was tempted to pick something up at the food store, but stuck it out and had scrambled eggs and stir-fried vegetables. Fast to make, and tasty.

Its Saturday morning, and I am cooking up rice and beans and blueberry tea biscuits so there is some ready-made food in the house.

I notice that any extra small amounts of cash I have found ($4 in my coat pocket, have some bottles to return), I think I can just add to my food budget to stretch it. I'm not doing that, but I must dribble a lot away by doing that. Also, I am a little resentful that I can't do a couple of things that are clearly entertainment in my head (e.g., going out for breakfast on Saturday morning), because I'd be cheating on this food budget.

netskyblue

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2015, 10:21:41 AM »
I think you're doing great!  I've already spent $78.93 of my $160 budget this month.  But I've not eaten it all yet.  I've got a LOT of turkey and ham left.  (Got a 19 lb turkey for 0.89/lb, that's a lot of meals!)  Feeding 2 adults, though.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2015, 05:38:06 PM »
I think you're doing great!  I've already spent $78.93 of my $160 budget this month.  But I've not eaten it all yet.  I've got a LOT of turkey and ham left.  (Got a 19 lb turkey for 0.89/lb, that's a lot of meals!)  Feeding 2 adults, though.

Thanks! I think having some kind of roast really helps. Some high quality meals, great roast vegetable sides, and multiple leftovers. I think I'm going to keep an closer eye out in future for specials so there is something in the freezer.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2015, 05:55:23 PM »
Picked up some cooked chicken breast meat (for some reason it is cheaper than uncooked), a bag of pinto beans, canola oil and a loaf of French bread (the bread has no nutritional value to speak of, but more fun than the 94 cents it cost!). Need to use what I have for 8 or 9 days.

Had some chicken stock I needed to use, because I hadn't frozen it. Used it as the liquid for cooking brown rice. Chopped up all the vegetable bits I could find (the less attractive parts of broccoli and bok choy), stir fried them in some of the chicken broth along with some minced garlic-ginger-chili (it comes in a jar and makes sauted food taste like you know how to cook; would also be ridiculously easy to make, though I'm not sure about the cost). Added the vegetables to the rice. Had this for lunch and will have a couple of more meals from it. Decent tasting, though not as good as my rice and beans. (I add Mexican salsa, hot sauce and a little canola oil to the rice and beans. The smell makes me and the dog drool and the taste lives up to the smell.)

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2015, 08:07:29 PM »
I was discouraged yesterday. I really didn't think I had enough money to make it through the month on this food budget. This morning, though, when I woke up, I  realized I had most of the makings of chili, if I used the canned tomatoes I had planned to use to make pasta sauce. At lunchtime, I found a vegetarian chili recipe online that used the ingredients I had, including some leftover butternut squash that wouldn't fit in the roasting pan when I made the pork roast last week. I had trimmed it and put it in the freezer, and this recipe makes use of it. So I'll make that this weekend. That leave enough money to get supplies for the last week of the month.

Lunches have been good this week. Two days were salad and cold chicken pieces and Asian ginger dressing. Today was rice and beans with salsa and hot sauce.

I didn't have meetings this week, where we always have snacks available to us, but the assistant in my office brought me back a small plate of fruit (a strawberry, melon slices and pineapple) from a meeting she went to, which was a really nice surprise.So, I'll keep on trucking. No question this is less money than I would usually spend, with perfectly decent meals nutrition and taste-wise.

Hope you are all enjoying the new year.


choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2015, 07:55:37 AM »
I'm about $10 over the budget for the month, but there is still quite a lot of food in the house. All vegetarian, since I tend to eat the meat first.

I've boiled up some beans and potatoes and butternut squash (with salsa on top) to take for lunch today. It smells great!

Though I am over budget at $85, I am still shocked at how little I am spending compared to my usual $200.

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2015, 08:11:12 AM »
Awesome job! It's amazing what you can do with a little creativity and the desire to do it.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2015, 07:25:19 AM »
I've had staff and committee meetings all week and with my current employer, that means free snacks! That includes fruit (strawberries, melon, grapes, pineapple) at any meeting; scones and muffins and little pastries in the morning, and cookies and squares in the afternoon; coffee, juice or pop; and, when the HR Assistant orders the snacks, cheese and crackers -- because you get the calories and fun, but also some nutritional value. So, this week I've had four small fruit plates, two scones, several slices of cheese, and a few cups of coffee for free (except that the meetings aren't always fun).

This isn't an ongoing subsidy to my budget, since my contract ends at the end of May, but definitely is making for a more nutritious week in January.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2015, 07:39:24 PM »
On Friday I got a litre (a quart) of leftover broccoli and cheddar soup at work for free. It is very thick, so I used it as a cheese sauce on oven fries and on boiled potatoes. They were both good meals for a winter night. The oven fries version tasted somewhere between twice baked potatoes and poutine (explained elsewhere on the site). The boiled potatoes version was good to heat up for lunch at work. I like the soup as soup for lunch, but it would actually be worth making to use like this as a thick sauce.

A few more days, but still some food in the house: a few eggs, lots of beans, a few pounds of potatoes, pasta, tomatoes, a few servings of rice, a butternut squash, and a small batch of blueberry tea biscuits baking in the oven as I write. I'm missing cream for my coffee and cooking oil.


choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2015, 08:39:52 PM »
I don't normally make blueberry tea biscuits very often , but each time I do, I try add a few more blueberries. My assumption is that you can never have too many. Apparently, I was wrong. This last batch I exceeded the saturation point.

I was using frozen wild blueberries. The biscuits didn't get mushy, but they were sort of unpleasant. Not so bad I threw them out, but unpleasant enough that I'll back off a little on how many berries I put in the batter.

choppingwood

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Re: Sticking to food budget for January
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2015, 09:41:26 AM »
Well, the month is over.

I spent just under $95. cdn. With an average exchange rate of 84 cents for the month, that's $76 us. That's compared to my usual spending of $200, including dog food and cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

I had good meals all month. I did find it a little too lean, but there is a lot I would continue to do:

I had more vegetarian meals.
I had many fewer snacks, especially in the evening. The snacks I did have tended to be fruit more often.
I had less expensive fruit in the house - e.g., bananas.
It was great having a roast in the freezer. I am going to keep an eye out for pork roasts and whole chickens on sale, since it gives a lot of quality food that goes a long way. (I'm not keen on turkey white meat and beef is through the roof at the moment.)
I made more variety of packed lunches.
I bought medium eggs instead of large. It made no difference to anything I did with them and saved 60 cents a carton.
I did less picking up something special for supper on my way home from work -- I ate what was in the house. (I often eat what is in the house, but this month I almost always did.)

What I'd do differently:

This needs more planning. Not meal plans, since I tend to not want the meals I've planned when I get to them, but planning to have a few more ingredient choices on hand to choose from. (If I had a family, I would do plenty of meal planning.)
I need some dairy and I didn't think to stock up on that.
Since I cut most sugar out of my die, I started to eat fish for breakfast.I couldn't afford that.
I'd like to pre-cook beans and rice to freeze and pre-make more meals for the freezer, so that some weekday evening meals and lunches are easier to make.
A couple of times, I walked past really good sales on nutritious food that I would use, and didn't buy it because I wouldn't keep to the budget. In real time, I would have bought the items.

I'm going to aim for $125 a month on an ongoing basis, given how well this went. That reduces how much I spend per month by $75, which is great, especially when my contract runs out. The savings this month, along with the savings on gas, are paying the difference in the exchange rate on my holiday at the beginning of March.