Thanks to Jessica at Good Cheap Eats, I get to join in with her pantry challenge this month! And boy, do I need this goal-setting incentive. I've got some stuff in the freezer that needs to be used soon, and my pantry (dry storage, fridge, and freezer) could use a good cleaning!
And our food budget. I've gotten a little off-track and could definitely stand to go a month buying just mostly necessities and stashing the extras into savings. We do well on a small(er) budget, but groceries is the one variable that I have some control over and could cut. (Other areas? Not so much.)
I would love for you to post more about your general budget. I always enjoy reading how others budget their household...plus, I tend to learn things from this.
The last time I wrote about our budget was near the beginning of this year (2011). I'm happy to have met quite a few of those goals! Going to Costco every 2 weeks (where we buy most of our groceries) has definitely helped our household grocery budget. Moshe has been in cloth diapers, Ruth has been potty trained for 4+ months now, and a family member generously helped fund my trip to Ohio to see my family!
Of course, as life always seems to, for nearly every goal met, a curve ball was tossed our way as well. ;) Our medical expenses (even with insurance) have been greatly increased this year. Thankfully, we have a savings cushion! God has always provided and continues to do so. With so many unemployed in this country right now, we are blessed with a steady income and health insurance! :)
I don't say that lightly. I feel very blessed! I do get tired of going over our budget trying to find things to cut though.
I could sum up our budget by just saying "We try to spend as little as possible." I know that doesn't really help anyone!
In more detail: We use cloth-everything (except toilet paper), we have 1 vehicle and stay home a lot, we don't go out to eat, we don't have cell phones, we don't have Cable, we do most things at-home -- like haircuts.
What DO we spend money on? Food! We love to eat well. ;) So this month I will be focusing on eating well while spending less -- much less -- than normal. ;) I WILL be spending some money though. Milk, fresh fruit, vegetables, and toilet paper are all things I'll need to buy.
I'll also share my grocery shopping trips for this month, to help keep me accountable. ;) Here is what we've bought so far this month:
Bananas, strawberries (on sale), and corn on the cob (on sale).
Now, I also took pictures of my pantry, fridge, and freezer. I didn't organize anything first. Hopefully by the end of the month things will look a little cleared-out and tidier and we'll have saved a few hundred dollars as well! :)
My dry food storage. Some of this needs used -- like the canned corn. Mostly it just needs organized! I also have buckets of dry food storage -- like wheat, oats, corn, lentils, pinto beans, and black beans. I need to make a more concentrated effort to use those more often! I did get a START on that, though. Last week I ground some wheat and corn flour for the first time in several months. :)
This is our stand-alone chest freezer. You can't see much: mozzarella cheese, turkey broth, buns, the ice cream maker bowl, and some soaked cedar planks. Down below are some whole chickens waiting to be used, and a lot of pollock, which I need to figure out better ways to serve so it gets used! It was a very good price, and isn't old or freezer burned, but if I don't start serving it, we'll be out of our other kinds of fish and just have pollock. :P :)
It's also annoying to have a chest freezer and *still* have trouble finding room for things! :) I know why it's so full (we got a good price on fish in May) but eating from the freezer plus organizing it should give me some "breathing room" in there by the end of the month! :)
This is the freezer attached to the fridge. Some organization is definitely in order for this baby! I don't even know what's in here. That's pathetic! I'm still recovering from my month-long vacation in some ways. (Anyone seen the missing butter dish???) :)
The fridge! I am so lucky to have a huge fridge like this!! It helps stretch those Costco trips. When I come home with 6-8 gallons of milk (a 2-week supply), it's FULL but manageable.
The main thing I need to do (besides cleaning the fridge) is use more carrots. Theyr'e organic and affordable at Costco, but I tend to neglect them. Carrot sticks need to be a more available snack! There's a 10-pound bag in the back (that you can't see). I've already used some from it twice since this photo was taken 4 days ago! :)
Let's see... what else have I done? I cleaned behind the fridge! Does that count for anything?! :)
I also cleaned the coils on the fridge. They were SO NOT DIRTY compared to last time!! :)
And Yehoshua helped me sweep and mop under the stove. We even found a few toys in the process. And, he earned a little money for his savings. I've been having Yehoshua (7) help me with "Spring cleaning" types of projects and paying him for his help. It's been an exciting motivation for him! :)
So that's my start for July's pantry challenge!
Goals for next week:
1. One *reasonable* trip to Costco (I go crazy at Costco!)
2. Clear off the kitchen counters so I can start cleaning out the fridge (This should ideally happen BEFORE the trip to Costco!)
3. Plan my menu and post about it
Some other great ladies are joining in the Summertime Pantry Challenge! Visit them for more inspiration: