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

Friday miscellany that spilled over into Saturday

A hot cup of tea and some random thoughts to head into this long weekend.
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There is something so liberating, so absolutely and completely fucking amazing about cruising down the highway, alone in your minivan (shut up), blasting Bon Jovi and sing-yelling along with every word. It is in those moments that I miss my mini skirts and hair scrunchies.

When your five-year-old daughter is beside herself with joy because she was given FIVE heart-shaped lollipops from her classmates and that means that she has enough to share with all of her brothers so that no one is sad, means that you’re doing something right. Or she’s just a better person than you could ever hope to be.

I feel like we go through A LOT of fresh produce in a week. I added it all up and I think it only accounts for 1/3 of our grocery spending. So what the hell are we getting for the other 2/3’s? It’s not as though we’re a heavy meat-eating family, I never buy pre-made frozen meals (save for the occasional frozen  ’emergency’ pizza). So, where is that other 2/3’s going?!?

I am probably not, but it is beginning to feel as though I am the only parent left who sends her children to school to learn how to read, write and gain knowledge in areas, like history, geography and science? I ask because more and more I’m hearing from my older boys that they are being allowed to play and watch others play pc and online games during ‘free time’ or indoor recess and there’s talk about having a dedicated ‘technology time’ during class time. And during technology time, they won’t be learning how to script, program or design, they’ll be playing games like Happy Wheels on iPads, laptops and iPods. This makes me CRAZY. Teach my kids how to read and write cursive script, don’t teach my kids how to PLAY blood and guts games on fucking tablets. 1) I don’t want my 9 year-old playing or watching games that are rated 12+, anywhere and 2) I don’t want any of my kids thinking that school is a place where ‘anything’ goes. Because at home, we have RULES and standards that are expected to be, and for the most part are, followed. And this includes the appropriate use of technology. If I want them to melt their brains and diminish their attention spans, then I will park them in front of a screen at home where I can watch their decline instead of just dealing with the aftermath of their day in the ‘education’ system. This. Is. Not. Okay.

I have logged back onto Facebook. It is a huge time-suck, but I think I’ve figured out the work-around (those “x’s” on the left side of the tab totally work!). The reason I logged back in was that I realized that I enjoy sharing things on the blog’s FB page and enjoy reading the feedback those posts receive. I also quite enjoy all of those Britain’s Got Talent audition clips as well. Of course, the first time I logged back in I saw something that set my teeth on edge, so I did what I do – screenshot it, edit out identifying information and post it on Instagram. Because I’m also mean and  immature like that.

It’s now -26C, down to -42 with the windchill and one of my kids has a birthday party to go to this morning. Having to leave the house today is cruel and unusual punishment, but he really wants to go, so, off we go.

Ugh. Feck me, I'm too old for this weather. If I wanted to deal with these temperatures, I'd go and stake a claim in the Yukon. Get it together, weather.

Ugh. Feck me, I’m too old for this weather. If I wanted to deal with these temperatures, I’d go and stake a claim in the Yukon. Get it together, weather.

~A.B.