Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Challenging Week

I always track my spending...some might say obsessively even.   And this morning like any other Sunday morning I was enjoying my tea and breakfast of leftover Indian food while balancing the ol' checkbook.  This whole recession thing has me worried, of course, but we've been really lucky to have a dependable income and not TOO many increases in expenditures. 

Besides the mortgage, our main expenditure is food.  And of course we all know food prices have gone up quite a bit.  I noticed this morning that our food spending (while always a little over budget) is not any higher than in previous years.  Why?  Besides growing much of our own produce during the growing season, a few months ago I stopped buying milk (usually a selection of soy, rice, almond and hemp), bread, and cereal.  Instead I invested in a SoyQuick soymilk maker, started baking bread, and making granola.  They each seemed like little things on their own, but setting aside to do these 3 tasks every Sunday has served a padding for the other products that we do buy that have risen in price. 

But this morning, alas, I realized that because of many factors (timecard error that ended up shorting me a day of pay, one of those "right of way assessment" charges from the city, some winter clothes for the kids, eating lots of avocadoes and ice cream, etc.) I'm not doing so great with my budget this month.  In fact, I only have $126.83 left to spend on groceries for the rest of the month for a family of 4.  And this month happens to include Thanksgiving.  Great.

So I figure I'll do one of those pantry challenges for a while.  You know, the thing where you don't buy any groceries and only eat what's in your kitchen as of...right now.  Goodness gracious.  It scares this compulsive grocery shopper to even fathom this task.  As a matter of fact, it's already quite the feat that I haven't shopped since Friday!

I'm not sure how long I'll do this- But even a week will get us back on track with the grocery budget and reach the next paycheck.  And I might make an exception for buying flour and salt because I'm almost out and they're real staples for us.  Is that cheating?  Maybe.  But it would be a friggin' miracle if I only bought flour and salt for a week.

So tonight I am baking some cookies in anticipation of the sweets craving I always get at work. Instead of going downstairs and buying a ziggy-zag cookie from the co-op I'll have to bring my own.  Wish me luck!

**Disclaimer to say not to worry about us too much.  It's not like we don't have any money in savings that we could dip into if REALLY necessary.  But I prefer to stick to my budget and leave the saving alone so that it will one day buy me a car with heated seats.  Or a screened in porch with a hammock.


Darci Alexis said...

I've got like 7 kinds of salt right now--and a bunch of all of it. I'll bring you some. Just trade me some of your yummy jam or salsa.

beastmomma said...

I think you are a good role model of fiscal responsibility. I wish you luck!

Catherine said...

I hear ya -- I spend a fortune on groceries, too, and the thought of NOT shopping one week . . . gah! But I'm going to have to skip shopping this week, because I'm low on cash, too. Fortunately, my parents are coming to town for Thanksgiving, and will take me to the co-op for all the things we'll need for our turkey-free meal!

Enjoy your pantry clean-out . . . !

allularpunk said...

good luck! food is my largest expense as well (besides rent) and i, too, and a compulsive grocery shopper. it doesn't help that there is a market a block away that has lots of interesting stuff in it. anytime i want to make something but am out of one or two ingredients, i walk there for them. in reality, i need to do a pantry challenge as well, and stop buying things that i don't really need. it's hard though, ya know?

Liz said...

OOOhhh! I hadn't thought about trading- that's legal on a pantry challenge, right?!

Wait- isn't "model of fiscal responsibility" a nice way to say that I'm cheap? Haha! Just kidding beastmomma!

Thanks for the encouraging words!

Mary Frances said...

Liz, will you share your soymilk recipe? I've made a few batches and can't seem to produce anything that my husband and I find drinkable. Fortunately the two year old will drink anything =)

We usually drink Silk or the store brands that taste like Silk (365 and Walmart), so maybe we've just spoiled our palate =(

Liz said...

Mary Frances- We usually use Bryanna Clark Grogan's soymilk recipe and add a little extra maple syrup if it's for drinking. I still don't care for this straight up, though. Only almond milk for this gal. I don't even like storebought soymilk unless it's made into hot chocolate or soup or something. Luckily the kids are pretty open to it and they're the biggest milk drinkers in the house.
I'm glad this soymilk maker will do almond milk, rice milk and oat milk, too. I need to experiment with it more!

Erin said...

Hey, you write the rules for your pantry challenge, so flour and salt can be allowed! Good luck. Pantry challenges are fun, sometimes.