WEEK 4 Update and Wrap Up: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Three weeks (or a lifetime) ago now, I posted a grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read Week 1 here, Week 2 here, and Week 3 here. If you would rather skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 4 results and wrap up.

Preamble
This challenge, in a nutshell came about because while most of our children were younger, our grocery budget was consistent and small. They were small. They didn’t eat much and I tended to avoid the more expensive pre-packaged snacks and sugary treats, juices, etc. The bulk of our budget, honestly, would go towards produce. As they have gotten older and bigger, they eat more, and coupled with increasing prices, my grocery budget has also had to grow. And I allowed it to become overgrown.

This year, April was a grocery budget disaster (I have three grocery/food categories that I track: Groceries, Restaurant Meals and Junk Food, and Health and Beauty (includes household consumables, like toilet roll). I generally, at this point in our family’s growth, would like to stay at $600 a month for groceries and HBA and $75 for Restaurants and Junk Food (includes pop, ice cream, etc). Looking at that figure now, it looks crazy high, but keep in mind that I do generally prepare five lunches each day (kids and husband), seven days a week, six to seven dinners a week, six breakfasts a day seven days a week, plus provide all snacks, treats, and drinks (mostly milk and free water for the kids though, truth me told!) out of that budget. Not to mention toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid, etc. etc. etc. So, overall, it’s not horrendous, just mildly alarming, I suppose. Crunching the numbers (well, getting my spreadsheet to do the math, really), it would seem that I have gone over budget by about $170 each month from January to April. YIKES!

So, this month, I’m bringing sanity and reality back to our grocery budget. Drastic cut backs will ensure that I prepare meals with all of the ingredients that I already have on-hand and use up all the bits and pieces hanging around the cupboards. My goal is to spend no more $60 PER WEEK on groceries, knowing that just about all of that amount will go toward milk and fresh produce (my kids consume, on average, around 18 – 24lbs of apples each week, just to give you an idea of the scope I’m talking about when I saw “fresh produce”).

In the spirit of honesty though, I must admit up front that before deciding to do this, I spent $15 on a Good Food Box (local produce) which I picked up last week. We still have some potatoes, onions and peppers left from that box – see the WEEK 3 Update for a picture of the contents. I haven’t included that amount in any of the weekly tallies though, I guess I’ll consider it a “Happy Spring!” gift to the family, lol.

Week 4 Update:

This fourth and final week went fairly well. Now that I’m well and truly on the right side of my gallbladder (the side waving goodbye to it!), I was able to reflect on some of my grocery shopping behaviour and I have come to realize that I may suffer from a semi-severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to great ‘stock up’ prices. Coupled with my resistance and aversion to paying regular price for groceries (or if I’m being honest, paying regular price for anything really), is one of my greatest struggles when it comes to strictly adhering to my (self-managed) grocery budget.

For example I have enough salsa to last a good while, but the one that we like does not go on sale terribly often, and while it is not a super expensive fancy brand, I do have that aforementioned aversion to ‘regular price’ so the it went on sale during Week 3, I bought 2 jars.

Similarly, when I check my weekly PC Optimum points bonus offers and receive a good offer and I find that I can pair it with a sale or good price-matching opportunity, I struggle to let it go and not take advantage of the offer, knowing full well that the item in question is definitely something that we not only will use, but it is something that we regularly run through quickly (like breakfast cereal, berries, milk or apples).

But I’ll stop the blathering and get to down to the nuts and bolts, the brass tacks, spill the tea, give you the skinny, ugh, just stop me – here are the numbers.

Tallies

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual: $65.54
Result: (- $5.54)

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual: $30.16
Result: +$29.84

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $86.46
Result: (-$26.46)

May 23 – May 30th – Goal: $60.00
May 23 – May 30th – Actual: $70.69
Result: +$10.69

Monthly wrap up:
Spending Goal: $240.00
Actual Spent: $252.85
Difference: $12.85 – OVER BUDGET

Average Weekly Spend: $63.21
Average Weekly Overage; $ 3.21

So, I did not make my $60/week goal, but I’m still going to let the Fresh Prince dance for this one, because going over budget by $3.21/week is the equivilant to three heads of lettuce or four pounds of apples, which I cannot begrudge or regret at all.

There are so few who do a happy dance with as much aplomb as the Fresh Prince, amiright?

Now, I still am housing a very well-stocked pantry and full freezers that I would like to cycle through, so I will need to think on a good pantry/freezer challenge to tackle for June or July, we’ll see how the rest of this week goes.

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

WEEK 3 Update: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Two weeks ago, I posted this grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read Week 1 here and Week 2 here. If you would rather skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 3 Update (spoiler alert, I bent the budget).

This challenge, in a nutshell came about because while most of our children were younger, our grocery budget was consistent and small. They were small. They didn’t eat much and I tended to avoid the more expensive pre-packaged snacks and sugary treats, juices, etc. The bulk of our budget, honestly, would go towards produce. As they have gotten older and bigger, they eat more, and coupled with increasing prices, my grocery budget has also had to grow. And I allowed it to become overgrown.

This year, April was a grocery budget disaster (I have three grocery/food categories that I track: Groceries, Restaurant Meals and Junk Food, and Health and Beauty (includes household consumables, like toilet roll). I generally, at this point in our family’s growth, would like to stay at $600 a month for groceries and HBA and $75 for Restaurants and Junk Food (includes pop, ice cream, etc). Looking at that figure now, it looks crazy high, but keep in mind that I do generally prepare five lunches each day (kids and husband), seven days a week, six to seven dinners a week, six breakfasts a day seven days a week, plus provide all snacks, treats, and drinks (mostly milk and free water for the kids though, truth me told!) out of that budget. Not to mention toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid, etc. etc. etc. So, overall, it’s not horrendous, just mildly alarming, I suppose. Crunching the numbers (well, getting my spreadsheet to do the math, really), it would seem that I have gone over budget by about $170 each month from January to April. YIKES!

So, this month, I’m bringing sanity and reality back to our grocery budget. Drastic cut backs will ensure that I prepare meals with all of the ingredients that I already have on-hand and use up all the bits and pieces hanging around the cupboards. My goal is to spend no more $60 PER WEEK on groceries, knowing that just about all of that amount will go toward milk and fresh produce (my kids consume, on average, around 18 – 24lbs of apples each week, just to give you an idea of the scope I’m talking about when I saw “fresh produce”).

In the spirit of honesty though, I must admit up front that before deciding to do this, I spent $15 on a Good Food Box (local produce) which I picked up this week. I haven’t included that amount in any of the weekly tallies though, I guess I’ll consider it a “Happy Spring!” gift to the family, lol.

Week 3 Update:

The third week of May was a tad bit rollercoastery. Recovering from surgery, celebrating our wedding anniversary, having a long weekend (yay Victoria Day!) and celebrating a birthday (my baby girl is now nine!), I definitely faced some physical and budgetary challenges.

Also, I did end up buying pizza for the gang on our anniversary (Mama can’t eat things as lovely as pizza so going out for dinner seemed silly and cooking on my anniversary while also juggling a soccer practice? Um, no thank you. I did though decide to take that from my ‘gift’ category, since who says that every now and then pizza isn’t the greatest gift ever? It would appear that when in doubt or feeling sheepish, I call food a ‘gift’ and slide it right into that budget category, but perhaps that is an issue to explore another time?

Blah, blah, blah. Just stop procrastinating and spill. How did the spending go? Well, in a word, it went OVER.

Did not make special shopping trips, but still, spending money 5 out of 7 days is not cool.

What I did notice from the list above is that 48% of the entries are for produce, 24% for breads and grains, 14% for dairy and just 5% each for meat, fish and salsa. All this means is that of the 21 entries, 10 were for produce (although multiples of each item were usually purchased). This is not pertinent to the budget, more something that caught my interest and confirmed what I thought. This family runs on produce and bread. Lol! We also received our Good Food Box last week, which while not a ton of produce, definitely helped and much of it is already gone.

Tallies

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual: $65.54
Result: (- $5.54)

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual: $30.16
Result: +$29.84

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $86.46
Result: (-$26.46)

May 23 – May 30th – Goal: $60.00
May 23 – May 30th – Actual: $TBD

As usual, I do have carry-over from the last week into this week, so I don’t necessarily need to buy certain things each week. This week I will need to buy milk, as I haven’t been stocking up on it (no PC Optimum bonus offer, no milk stock up – hurumph!). I also check the upcoming flyers as soon as they are available and if something (like berries or lettuce) is one sale this week but will be priced higher next week, I will buy it a day earlier in order to avoid the higher price. This week I also have berries, pop and yogurt on my list (with some nice PC Optimum bonus offers), so I’ll be picking those up over the next few days.

If I can keep the spending to just under $60, I think I’ll have met the challenge’s objective and will be in good shape to move onto June’s challenge (which also involves food – go figure).

There are so few who do a happy dance with as much aplomb as the Fresh Prince, amiright?

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

Five frugal things that I have done this week

I work hard to save my family money everyday.  I shop the sales (always with a list!), price match, coupon and cook from scratch as much as possible.  We reuse and re-purpose and up-cycle as much as we can.  So, I should have more than five frugal things that I have done to save money, stretch the household budget and reserve resources everyday.  Some days I do.  Other days I do not.  But, always in the back of my mind, I’m thinking up better and more cost-effective ways to run our family and manage our budget.  So, with that in mind, here are five frugalicious things that I have done this week:

1) Hung our laundry to dry inside (I have been doing this for a couple of months now, since Mr. K.B. built a killer drying rack for me.  I have not used our dryer once and it has cut our Hydro bill by at least $30 a month – sweet!)

I love this rack.  It folds flat for easier storage, holds at least two loads of laundry at a time and will dry two twin-sized comforters at once.  It is just the best!  :)

I love this rack. It folds flat for easier storage, holds at least two loads of laundry at a time and will dry two twin-sized comforters at once. It is just the best! 🙂

2) Prepared all meals at home, dinners made from scratch (lasagna, jerk chicken with rice, pork loin roast with pan gravy and veggies), lunches are leftovers and sandwiches etc, breakfasts are cereal, bananas and milk.  Snacks are fruit, veggies and yogurt.  It is amazing how much food you can buy and prepare for the cost of just ONE dinner out.

3) Took my pre-school aged girls (one is mine, the other I watch three days a week) to a free program at the local elementary school aimed at preparing them to enter Kindergarten in the fall.  It is an excellent program, I highly recommend checking to see if your local area has a similar program if you have babies heading to kindergarten soon.

4) I re-wore my yoga pants (*snort* yes, I wear yoga pants even though the very thought of actually doing yoga makes my hair hurt.  And yes, I am aware of the absurdity of wear yoga pants for everyday living, but they are comfy  and they fit.) Hell, I wear running shoes but would be hard pressed to tell you the last time that I actually ran. I’m a walking fashion contradiction (or disaster). Being at home with the kids means that unless one (or more) of them vomits on me or uses me in place of tissue (happens more often than I care to reveal), that I don’t really get my clothes dirty, so I can wear them more than once (undergarments excluded – ewwwww!).  Saves time and money because I’m not washing and hanging clothes unnecessarily.

running

5) Made use of some coupons for Garnier Body 7-day lotion which resulted in getting purchasing six bottles for $11.14 (including HST), instead of $20.14, the “sale” price, that is a 55% savings.  Anytime I get purchase things that our family uses, eats or needs for 50% or greater off the retail or sale price, I’m a happy mama.  (Oh, and by the way, the Garnier Body Intensive 7 days lotion line is FABULOUS.  It is my new ‘go to’ lotion for dry skin, I have tried them ALL and this is the first one that has made a difference for me.  Wal-Mart – $2.97 Rollback right now, SDM had a tear pad coupon $3 WUB2 but there are other coupons for this product out there because it is still a relatively new line.)

Loooooove this lotion!  If you try it, let me know what you think of it!

Loooooove this lotion! If you try it, let me know what you think of it!

So, that’s a glimpse into my frugality this week. 😉

 

 P.S.  If you’re not ‘Liking’ The Keswick Blog on Facebook or ‘Following’ along on Twitter or checking out The Keswick Blog on Pinterest, then you’re missing out on micro-blogging that happens when time or circumstances do not allow for a full-blown blog entry 🙂  Come on over and share the insanity!
P.P.S.  Apparently The Keswick Blog is on Instagram now, find thekeswickblog there to see some random things that do not make it to Facebook or the blog – Too. Many. Sites. Where will it end?  *thud*


I Bake My Own Bread Because I’m Just A Freak Like That

Between chemicals, price and convenience and household real estate, I bake our bread 9 times out of 10.  Freak or Frugalite?  You be the judge 😉

1.  The way I figure it is that my kids ingest enough chemicals from all of the non-organic fruit and vegetables, hormone and steroid injected meats and ‘special treats’ I feed them on a daily basis that their peanut butter sandwiches should be as free from chemicals, hormones or drugs as I can make them.

2.  On sale, with a coupon (unless it’s a FPC) the most I will pay for a commercial loaf of 100% whole wheat, whole grain bread is $1.00.  Cheap, smart or frugal, that’s up to you decide, but that is my price point and I really, really detest straying from it, since 6 out 7 members of our household are NOT gluten-free and really, really love sandwiches.  Homemade bread, all in, runs me about .20-.25 cents a loaf.  And it’s warm.  And it’s fresh.  And it’s so, so yummy.  I bake four loaves a week.  Buying four loaves (even at Food Basics, No Frills or Price Chopper) would cost me $8.00 (because I really never have four bread coupons a week and the *best* sale price averages $1.99 each.  Or, I can spend $.80 a week and bake it myself.  For me, it’s a no brainer.

3.  Baking bread is far easier and faster than it sounds.  It takes me the same amount of time to drive to the store, pick up a loaf of bread, stand in line, cut my eyes at the person in front of me in the Express lane for have 10 items, pay, and drive home as it does for me to mix the ingredients, kneed the dough, cover it for the first rise, prepare my bread pans and wash up my baking accoutrements.  The dough works its magic while I do other, very important things (Facebook, chocolate, daydreaming you know, really high priority stuff).  Then, in the amount of time it takes the average bear to find his keys, get to the car and pull out of the driveway (to go and buy more bread, of course!) I’ve divided the dough, rolled it out, rolled it up and plopped it in the previously prepared pan for a second, quicker rising.  At this point, we are about 30 minutes from baking and about an hour from smearing it with peanut butter, butter, Nutella – whatever your poison happens to be.

Fresh out the oven this morning, the first two of our four weekly loaves of carbohydrate-laden homemade heaven. Still nice and warm at lunchtime for some very serious peanut butter sandwich connoisseurs.

4.  Bread goes stale if not used up quickly.  Or frozen.  Freezer space is prime real estate when you shop the sales and mostly cook from scratch.  So, having four loaves of bread taking up all kinds of space in our freezer really doesn’t work for us.  Especially since I really can’t store anything on top of it or pushed up against it or around it.  Bread is soft and ridiculously diva-like about getting smushed.  Baking our own bread means that we really never have stale bread anymore and more important than that even: there is more room in the freezer for Momma’s private stash of Moose Tracks. *grin*

So there!  Take that June C.  Mwah!

So, Freak or Frugalite – I leave the evidence in your hands.  Judge away (but let me know either way, ’cause I want to know!)