Last month, I challenged myself to only buy fresh food for our regular meals, leaving the rest of our budget for all the extra food we always buy during the holidays and other special December celebrations. I did...ok. I was really, really good at the beginning of the month, only truly buying what I intended, but somewhere along the line I strayed off course and ended up failing miserably by the end. Case in point - my husband and I were off work all last week, and we decided we were going to get out the smoker and smoke some meat, something we haven't done in far too long. So off I went to the grocery store, to buy full-price roasts on a whim. Something I normally wouldn't dream of doing. Then we got lazy and didn't get the smoker out. So I added two more roasts and another pack of chicken thighs to my already-overflowing freezer.
Then, I got the brilliant idea to start couponing again. Nothing wrong with this, really, except when I used great coupons that were about to expire and were combined with a sale price, every item I bought went straight into the pantry. Kind of defeated the whole purpose of using the stockpile, right? Sigh.
So, this month, I'm going to try a new tactic. I'm going with the cash system. I'm going to take the money out of the bank at this week, and that's going to be it. We don't have any parties or celebrations planned this month, but I'll hold back a bit in case something comes up (we sometimes want candy or ice cream for "movie night" at home, or we'll get snacks for impromptu get togethers with family). Here's how it should break out:
Total budget: $350
Regular grocery store @ $60/wk: $240
Meat market: $20
Saved for unanticipated activities: $20
Specialty stores (Trader Joe's, Asian market, etc): $30
Obviously, we're still well stockpiled, so we won't need much more than fresh food at the grocery store this month. I'll need to pick up a bag of chicken tenderloins and a bag or two of chicken strips at some point during the month, and the rest of my budget can go toward taking advantage of coupons and loss leaders.
I will need to pick up some ground beef at the meat market. It's a small meat processing plant a few blocks from my house. All the beef is grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free, and raised not too far from my town. Costs a bit more, but it's worth it. They also have pork - I just wish they had chicken!
We don't need much at the specialty stores this month. My mom goes to Costco for me, and I only need one or two things, so if I don't spend it all, I'll save the remainder for a future month when I need more. I really want to go to the Asian market, but I can't think of anything I actually *need*, so I'll probably skip it and avoid temptation. I will pick up some things at Trader Joe's, and I may organize an expedition across town to Bob's Red Mill - we'll see.
That's the plan! Stay tuned for updates!