I had to pay some BIG bills today for the orphanage but she's worth it! I am completely unused to spending money on myself. I felt massive angst when I paid for a new kitchen today ... yikes, a new kitchen it will be like Christmas when it arrives :)
Having very little to come and go on over the next 18 months is going to be a new reality for us, not only does the house need our money so do Ben's teeth. Both worthy causes and I wouldn't have it any other way but that means financial changes for our household. One of the big things we need to change is how much we spend on groceries, food in general really. We have a fairly healthy diet but for the last six months we have spent a huge amount of money on convenience foods ... still cooking and baking at home but with the help of quick fix items so meal making and baking are easy.
It's time to go back to basics and half the grocery bill and make our food shopping go further! I have been doing some research on Pinterest and there are lots of wonderful families, Mums in particular, that have plenty of ways to make your grocery money go further and still eat a healthy, wholesome diet.
One of the best websites I read while doing this research today was Lisa's from true food movement (http://truefoodmovement.com/30-day-wrap-up-whole-foods-thrifty-challenge). She and her family did an experiment to see if they could live well on $500 a month only eating whole foods and organic produce. She wanted to see if it could be done without compromising the quality of your diet AND she succeeded! It's a great read and there is PLENTY of wonderful advice and funny stories Lisa shares throughout the month long journey.
It made me realise that I too could live off $500 a month for groceries and have a well balanced, healthy diet. So that's what we started today - $500 a month for food and that's it. I remember when Steve and I were first married and were at University studying, working part-time, pregnant, and with a mortgage we made everything go along way because we had to. The last several years we have glided and made life too easy and spent way to much on convenience because we always seemed to be so busy. Life in Hawkes Bay is much slower and I have the time and desire to be more self-sufficient and less reliant on ready made groceries.
Things I have learnt today to make grocery money go further:
- Use what you already have in the pantry and freezer, you will be surprised about how much you can make with what you already have on hand.
- Don't meal plan, you never know what's going to be on special so make the most of what specials are there when you are at the market shopping ... totally found this to be true today, I went to get some things for lunch today as we had family join us. I went with an idea in mind but when I got there found a chicken half price and yesterday's bread bundled up at under half price. We had chicken and salad for lunch. Then I used the leftover chicken and carcass to make a homemade chicken soup for dinner, with yesterday's rolls heated in the oven to freshen them up and they were as good as new, not to mention delicious!
- Having a veggie garden is a must ... the last owners left some veggies in the garden and my sweet in- laws dropped off some pumpkins, fresh figs, and heaps of feijoas. Since we have been here I have only purchased one bag of potatoes, onions, and 3 bulbs of garlic, the rest of our fruits and vegetables have come from our garden or our families garden!!
- You don't need snack food, if you take the time to have really yummy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners there is no room for snack foods! I actually learnt this over the last few weeks while we were staying at my in-laws! My mother-in-law is a fantastic cook and as they work early in the morning they always have a hearty breakfast, simple lunch, and REALLY delicious dinner with dessert. I never snacked between meals once and neither did the kids as our bellies were always so full of yummy foods :)
- Tiredness is no excuse for convenience shopping! Plenty of blogs I read today said it was harder to organise and pick up takeouts than it was to cook a quick dinner at home .... I am definitely going to have to remember this one!
- Only buy what you need right then, if you buy in bulk it might sit in the pantry or fridge and never get used and that would be a terrible waste of money AND food.
- Buy in season, fruits and veggies are so cheap when they are in the peak of their cropping but man are they expensive otherwise ... Great time to buy broccoli here in NZ, 2 for a dollar! I didn't buy any though because I didn't need it today (I'm learning!)
There are so many ideas in Pinterest and it provided me with so much enthusiasm for spending less and making the groceries I do buy go a whole lot further! Hopefully there are more half price chickens at the supermarket in the near future because the homemade chicken soup was so good!!