Posts from the ‘February Challenge’ Category

February $300 Challenge – Overview

My personal challenge to spend only $300 for groceries (for 2 people, 3 meals a day) during the month of February was actually pretty successful!

While I probably could have done better, especially if I had been able to use coupons, overall I think I did pretty good! I only slightly surpassed my $300 limit.

I guess what I’ve learned from this “experiment” is that it’s possible, even without coupons, to provide healthy and tasty meals without a lot of expense. I tried some new vegetables, namely rutabaga, I tried new recipes and ideas in the kitchen, and I got creative and little hungry at times! I also tried to increase my intake of fruits, yogurt, cottage cheese, and fresh seasonal vegetables – which are all cost effective and healthy!

I have also confirmed that having a plan for your meals makes shopping a lot easier, and sticking to your grocery list, while a near impossibility, is important for helping you not go over budget.

This experiment made me really look at the cost of some of the foods we eat. For example, OJ and Grape Juice cost between $5-$8 per Liter, and a bag of chips with dip tallies almost $8 too! I could personally do without these items for the most part….maybe as a special treat every once in a while. I think in the future I will keep the new-found practice of weighing cost to pleasure and belly-filling quotient. Does this item’s cost justify the pleasure it will bring me and will it keep me full?

I have also found that substituting tofu in your recipes, or using it half and half with the original ingredient, can cut down on cost but not flavor. Tofu is cheap and while it takes some getting used to, if you blend it well with your other, very flavorful ingredients, you can’t even tell it’s in the meal. Tofu is healthy, low cost, and easy to use, especially in items like muffins or lasagna.

Something else I found is that the fresh produce in your grocery has a wacked out pricing scale…when an item is abundant, local, and fresh, it’s often cheaper than if it’s imported, not as fresh, and more scarce at your local market. When produce is imported it often is picked before it’s actually ripe or at it’s peak to ensure it makes it to market. It also costs more due to transportation costs. I suspect that these items also have more pesticides used on them to protect against their bruising during travel, to get a ripened look on the outside for the consumer, who knows what else.

If you can find coupons, definitely use them! I happened upon an in-store coupon for my favorite cottage cheese the other day and saved 50C !

Also, make sure to stick mostly to the outer aisles at the grocery as they usually contain the healthy, fresh, cheap, items you’ll need at home.

Well, that’s what I found from my challenge. I’d love to know what tips you have to add for saving $ at the grocery!

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February $300 Challenge – Week 4

Well, my February food challenge ends on Tuesday, March 5th and I’m so glad! It’s been a bit frustrating having to be so selective at the store, but it’s also been uplifting in knowing that we can still eat very well and spend $300 in a month!

If you’ll notice from my grocery budget spreadsheet, we did go slightly over the $300 mark…which I’m disappointed about, but we were still very close to reach our goal that I feel sure if I’d been a little more selective I could have spent at or below the $300 target. For example, looking back I see that I didn’t need 4 jars of pasta sauce – I only bought that many since they were on sale. So, I might see how much a difference it will make in the overall spending amount if I take off the cost of those items I bought but didn’t use, such as the extra jars of sauce still sitting in the cupboard.

This week I’ve made the following recipes/meals:

  • hazelnut waffles
  • sausage and pirogies
  • Tzatziki dip
  • Facoccia bread
  • Cottage cheese and chive muffins

February $300 Challenge Week 3

Week 3: Feb 19 – 25

This week I just about reached my $300 limit!

I spent on a few things I probably didn’t need but at the time just felt I had to have….plus I could have made a few less ingredient-intensive meals….but so far we are still on track.

I have one week to go and I anticipate that I will only need to buy staples like milk and bread during the week. YEAH!

I have some sausage left to use and a bit of hamburger, so I’ll figure out something to fix with those items. I might make some pizza dough for pizzas, some sort of soup, and eat any leftovers we might have…..

what we’ve eaten this week:

  • cream of leek soup
  • chocolate chip brownies
  • spaghetti w/ red sauce
  • garbanzo bean soup w/ sausage meatballs (or link chunks)
  • baked fish w/ potatoes and broccoli casserole
  • egg salad wraps

    February $300 Challenge Week 2

    Week 2: Feb 12 – 18

    Week 2 is almost over and so far I haven’t done a lot of cooking. We have been eating a lot of left-overs and cleaning out the fridge. I need to head to the grocery sometime soon but I’m holding out in the hopes that I can whip up something using miscellaneous items around the house.

    So what recipes have I made this week?

    I’m hoping to make the following meals over the next few days using items here at the house…..

    1. rutabaga & carrot bake
    2. pea soup
    3. tuna noodle casserole
    4. pirogi casserole

    February $300 Challenge Week 1

    Week 1: Feb 5 – Feb 11

    To see our monthly grocery bills and items purchased: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pKwkHCCsa8m8ZeBYqtt44dw&hl=en

    What meals have I cooked this month so far (besides sandwiches, etc for lunches & snacks)?

    • Cranberry Nut Muffins
    • 2 nights of baked salmon with veggies and rice
    • crab enchiladas
    • sausage, barley and vegetable soup
    • sausage and pirogies
    • sausage pizza
    • cottage cheese muffins with chives & bacon
    • at-home cafe mocha
    • penne & red sauce w/ sausage
    • baked fennel casserole
    • traditional chili

    I am already in need of a quick run to the grocery….I need staples like milk, salt, yogurt, and eggs, plus some other miscellaneous things. I’m hoping I can make the challenge but I’m not sure. I’ve already spent $122.50 of my budget in week 1!

    Can $300 Feed 2 People for a Month????

    Since we are currently on a single fixed income, and thanks to the economy (rising gas, food, commodity prices), our family finances are strained a bit. To add to this economic crunch, we have 3 mortgage payments this month instead of our normal 2 payments.

    We live very frugally and watch our money closely, so in order to keep our bank balance above the $ limit where we incur bank fees, I’m imposing a $300 limit on groceries this month. Now, I don’t know what other people spend on groceries in a month, but this will be a challenge for us.

    While there are only 2 of us, I try to fix a take-along breakfast for my husband every day, prepare lunches everyday, and cook a full meal nearly every night (sometimes we only eat 2 meals on weekends). That means at least 6 meals a day.

    Also, food prices are bit more expensive here in Canada than in the US — most likely due to transportation costs and I very rarely have coupons to use….as hard as it is to believe they are hard to come by where I live. Since moving to small-town Canada from the US, I have been desperately missing coupons. Coupons from the US don’t apply here and they are very seldom in the free local newspaper (I’m sure in places like Toronto or Vancouver there are coupons, but not anyplace around here). Also, finding coupons online for use at the grocery here is nearly impossible. I’m really saddened and a bit enraged by this!

    So, I will try my best to make $300 stretch a full month and share my expenses, recipes, and experiences here in my blog. Hopefully we won’t be eating bologna every night for a week at the end of the month and maybe I’ll even lose some weight!