Sunday, January 31, 2010

February Cooking Challenge

Okay, so a few days ago I brought up this cooking challenge where you eat out of your pantry for the whole month and cut way down on your grocery bills. I really want to do this, to force us into eating some of the things in our house (whole chicken, anyone?) and also to prove that I can not buy something just because it's on sale. We'll see if that theory actually does get proven...

In researching online, it looks like people do this challenge in many different ways. You're supposed to set goals specifically for your household. For example, one woman with 4 kids set her monthly budget only $200 less than normal, but she wanted to use everything in her deep freezer and start making more creative meals.

I also found out that most people do this challenge because they end up throwing away lots of food that's gone bad. Praise God, I have never had to do that. Of course, I don't buy in bulk and I've really never had the room to have a psycho stockpile, so that could explain that.

So, considering tomorrow is the beginning of February, I better lay down some rules for this challenge. I'm making these up as I go, so I may decide to switch things around later. Think that's cheating? I don't care.
  • I want to reduce my grocery spending. I allow myself to spend as much as I want on groceries. That can be anywhere from $100 to $250 per month, depending on how much stockpiling I do. I believe I average around $150. (Note - that does include Rite Aid and Walgreens purchases.) My goal for February is going to be $100. Including Rite Aid and Walgreens!! I already took out $100 in cash to spend from.
  • I want to make new meals based on things we already have here. I want to use the whole chicken in our freezer which I am terrified of cooking. I want to use the Southern Biscuit flour that I bought with good intentions but have never used. I want to make recipes worth saving for future use.
  • I want to not pass up incredible deals. There is no reason not to get something that is free. That is always going to be my opinion. I am not going to not grocery shop and pass up something like that. Besides, like Stephen said - there's no point in doing this if I'm going to have to go out in March and buy $500 worth of groceries to restock everything. So I'm going to continue grocery shopping, even several times a week, but be even more frugal than usual.
  • I will continue to make certain purchases. Produce, milk, eggs, bread, etc. will be bought as needed, as usual.
  • This challenge doesn't apply to groceries bought for special meals. The special meals in this case are for mom and dad. Once a week I cook for them, two meals and two desserts. So if I need to buy groceries for those recipes I will.
Now I'm not sure how this is going to work with the $100 going towards all my grocery shopping and my drug store purchases. The drug stores can add up to quite a bit monthly because of the rebate action, but $100 is just a goal of course.

I'll set up a list (a looooong list) on the sidebar of our meals every day. Of course, Stephen doesn't even eat breakfast or lunch here so those meals are pretty light for me. A lot of days I'll just eat a brunch and then dinner with him, so I won't be doing a lot of heavy cooking except once a day.

Anything I missed? Anything else I should specify? Let me know. I feel like I'm throwing this together really quickly.

Oh, and no... I did not run out and buy groceries all week long to prepare for this. That would be cheating!


jennifer said...

As if I could be any more impressed by your frugality than I already am ... this is going to be interesting to watch. For what it's worth, I don't think any rebate items you have to pay for upfront should count against your $100. The tax only, maybe, if you wanted to be nitpicky.

If you get down to the wire and it seems like you won't make your goal, you're welcome to eat as many meals at our house as you want! Here's a thought: I provide the food, you cook! Yum ...

Amanda said...

I think what I'm going to do about RA and Wags is - not count the rebate amount I will get back from RA. But I WILL count everything I spend at Walgreens because my RR will rollover, so I will save more on my next trip... if that makes sense.

Uh yeah, anytime you want to provide food for me to cook, I'm there baby!

Ken Loyd said...

What can I say! I'm impressed. A wonderful model, especially for families trying to save on food because of other expenses, such as layoffs.