We are working on our grocery spending for 2022 and our goal for May was to do a low spend month. Unfortunately we ended up a little bit swamped during the middle of the month and we both spent too much money and I did […]
Tag: buy nothing
Our goal for May of 2022 was to spend as little money as possible on groceries for the month. We are using our local free lunches and breakfasts for the community as well as eating through our pantry items and just supplementing with items from […]
I thought I would share some of my favorite up and coming YouTube channels today. I am noticing a lot of Food Bank haul unboxing videos trending in my feed and I thought I would highlight a few. Many people rely on food banks temporarily when they are in need and food banks are a valuable resource to the community. Please, if you are in need always ask for help.
One of my goals this year is to highlight some of the food programs across the U.S. that greatly benefit people, especially children. The universal free lunch program that was started during the pandemic is an example of how feeding children without any income requirements has helped families tremendously. Many children in the United States are living at or below the poverty line and guaranteed breakfast and lunch is many times the only food kids get to eat in a day. Below is the link to my video where I go through what we received in the middle of April.
Fabulous Food Bank Unboxing Channels:
Mustard Saves is one of my favorites. She started out as a couponer and moved to food bank videos when they decided to utilize their food pantry after some sort of financial difficulties. She has some fabulous videos on how to cook through what you have, rotating between the freezer, pantry and fridge clean outs and on how to store the food once you receive it since typically people only go once or twice a month.
Joveta’s Kitchen is another one of my favorites. She shows everyone how to cook many of the items from scratch and helps out her community as well. There are so many good recipes on this channel and Joveta definitely knows how to make the most of everything she gets.
I came across Kemp Freehold when I was watching Joveta’s Kitchen and it looks like they started using their food bank after a job loss. This family has a few kids and are homesteaders and I thought I would include them as well.
If you are in need the website for Feeding America has a search function so you can find food pantries in your area. Local churches and community centers can also be a resource as well as your local school district.
As always, thank you for reading!
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For 2022 we are focusing on our grocery spending and trying to find ways to reduce it despite all of the price increases. In January we completed a pantry cleanout challenge and in February I focused on eating through the odds and ends in our […]
In January we attempted to do meal planning for the entire month and complete a pantry cleanout and eat through items in our freezer. Whew. It was a lot to keep track of and I am pretty proud of our progress. I was planning on doing a super low spend month for January too but then Omicron surged right as school was starting and we ended up doing a large grocery run at the beginning of the month to avoid the store as long as possible. It ended up working out for us and we were able to avoid the store for the most part for a couple of weeks and did only minimal shopping the rest of the month.
January and February tend to be the months in the year when we naturally run out of things in our pantry such as rice, beans, eggs and many other staples. We have historically had low spending months at the first part of the year in an attempt to catch up with holiday/birthday spending and since we have several large yearly bills that need to be paid the first couple of months of the year. This means we run out of staples and need to rebuy them around the beginning of February. This really hit us hard in 2020 when we were out of many staples and unable to find them at stores so this year I decided to stock up on some of the basics we were low on the first weekend of January. We did eat through all of the fresh vegetables, eggs and many items with our pantry clean out and that was amazing.
We were able to eat down our small deep freezer enough to defrost and clean it really well before moving it out of the garage and into our downstairs storage room. Some of the items in it were a huge surprise to me including Otter Pops and a couple of gallons of blueberries we picked in 2017 which were still looking beautiful. We clearly had not been paying attention to what was in there or rotating it at all. I ended up throwing out half the Otter Pops because they were leaking once I thawed them out and we are definitely eating through the blueberries. I have made three cobblers out of blueberries and other fruit so far and my daughter has been eating oatmeal with blueberries a couple of mornings a week which is one of her favorites. This time around we are making a list of what is in there and keeping track better. So far we have a turkey, a pork loin, chicken bones for stock and most of the bread I bought on my trip to the Franz Outlet. The freezer isn’t even half full yet so we definitely have room to spare.
Our spending from January 10th through February 28th or so is the largest chunk of our budget for the entire year. We have to be very careful about our spending from March to June of the year in order to have enough saved by the end of December to cover everything which can be tricky.
During this period we cover:
- Car insurance for the first half of the year.
- Medical deductibles need to be met again and we always get some sort of illness in February.
- Tuition deposit for our kids’ school which has crept up the past couple of years.
- All of summer camp for two kids for the entire summer. This is super expensive.
- Two family members have birthdays and we throw at least one party.
- After school sports and activities registration for the first quarter of the year.
- Pre-Covid we also had Valentine’s day dinner out and booked a trip or two in advance but that is not happening now.
Needless to say, it is a large chunk all at once, especially coming off of a high spend month like December. We have had this pattern for a few years though and I am getting better at predicting what we need. Last year we only had camp for eight weeks in the summer and it was way less expensive. This year I am keeping the kids home for 2-3 weeks as well. Camp can be a lot of stimulation and the kids did well being home and getting some down time prior to school starting in the fall. I am keeping them home the first week of the summer, a week in July and the last week before school starts. This will save us about $2500 in camp costs this summer which seems high but camp prices have increased this year. $400 per kid per week times two kids for three weeks is $2400 plus tax and that doesn’t include after care at an extra$100-150 a week per kid. Child care is expensive to say the least.
For our January spending I focused on our groceries. We did get meals from the school a couple of the weeks so the kids had some variety in their meals and I felt like we did a decent job of not going to the store but we did end up spending just over $1000.00 on food for January which is pretty high. We used to average around $600 a month for four of us but last year this crept up to $1000 due to price increases. We have a lot of dietary restrictions and a picky eater so some things we can’t substitute for cheaper items. I also found that we were buying way to many snacks and barely cooking. We definitely fell into the working parent trap of buying convenience food to save on time. My goal this year is to work on this and reduce our spending with meal planning.
Our spending was mostly from the shopping trip I took the first weekend of January where we spent nearly $500 on basics and stock up items. This type of trip we only do a couple of times a year so this was pretty unusual for us. We also found some excellent deals at my favorite grocery outlet store on meat, gluten-free crackers, cereal, and tea which we of course bought extras of since they run out quickly. I also bought some gluten-free flour in bulk and stocked up on some items we were almost out of from Amazon like the gluten-free ramen I love. I only buy ramen a few times a year and it goes out of stock very frequently so if they have it in stock you kind of have to jump on it. I don’t anticipate buying more flour or ramen for several months, maybe even a year for the flour. We are baking more though so maybe we will need more flour near the end of 2022.
Being gluten-free and nut free is pretty expensive and finding shelf stable food can be difficult. We like to keep a couple of weeks of easy to make meals on hand for emergencies and the ramen is an easy thing to cook with or without dressing it up. Everyone should have a month’s worth of food on hand for emergencies, especially in Washington where earthquakes can happen. We did not need to run to the store during the snow in December and it was so nice to be able to not stress about running out of food. The important part of keeping enough for an emergency is to make sure it is items you will actually eat. We keep things we eat regularly and rotate through them as we go. If we aren’t eating an item I try to donate it before it expires at a local free pantry or through our Buy Nothing group.
Overall I am pretty disappointed in our January grocery spending. We bought too much at the beginning of the month and took too many smaller trips towards the end of the month and this added up pretty quickly. I was hoping to spend under $800 for the month with our stocking up and we were way over. For February we are so far at just under $500 which is ok for half way through the month. I did a larger trip at the start of the month but only spent about $250 on groceries at that trip. I should probably mention that that is just for food. I keep track of cleaning supplies, paper products and coffee separately and honestly we don’t spend that much on other items. My goal for February is to stay under $500 but I am really hoping to stay under $600.
My spending goal for March will be low but I will talk about that in our next post. For now, how are you keeping your grocery spending down? Do you have enough food for a couple of weeks in an emergency? A month?
Meal planning this week was mostly about eating leftovers and using fresh produce that needed to be eaten. We did our last major grocery run on 1/02/22 so after a couple of weeks some of our produce was looking like it would go bad. I […]
This past year I realized we have fallen down a hole of eating not so healthy foods more often then we should. We totally fell off the bandwagon of both eating well and keeping our grocery costs down. The pandemic has really split our routine […]
We are about 10 months into dealing with Covid and things don’t seem to be letting up any time soon. I was looking back over pictures from the year today and I was struck by how sudden everything was last Feb/March when everything shut down. I have pictures from my office from mid-February and then by the second week of March everyone in our house was home and we were adjusting to the chaos. This virus took us by storm and the last year has been extremely difficult all around.
The first few months of Covid for us were all about adjusting to spending LOTS of time together and figuring out how to do work and school at home in a relatively small space. We were all crammed into our living room which is decent sized but with four people on computers in meetings all day it got really loud and difficult to concentrate. We also just happened to be at a natural low point with our groceries towards the end of February and were slightly scrambling to find some much needed items. We tend to eat down our pantry every February and were out of everything, including staples such as soap, TP, paper towels, laundry detergent, rice, flour and beans. We ended up waiting until large bags of our favorite local legumes went on sale and did without for some of the fresher items like tofu for a while. We are mostly vegetarian in our house so the meat shortages didn’t really affect us much.
The hardest part for me was adjusting to working with two loud children at home every day and our oldest moving back home at the same time. My kids are loud and the youngest is still pretty high needs as far as attention goes but he did get way better about playing by himself last spring. We have saved ton of money on daycare costs this year and had almost no summer camps lined up so I made the executive decision to spend a little bit of that savings every month on activities to keep the kids busy. I bought a lot of lego sets, art supplies, coloring books, dig kits and other items to keep them busy on their own. We also tried Outschool this summer with mixed success. I used it mostly for social interaction so that the kids were used to taking instruction from other people and focusing similarly to the classroom.
Staying active while at home has been a challenge for us. We don’t have a back yard that is great for the kids to be out on their own in and our street is pretty busy so they aren’t allowed out there by themselves either. We have been walking our trails nearly every day and bike riding has become a thing in our house with one child learning this summer. Luckily our oldest daughter has time a couple of days a week to take the kids on longer bike rides and that has helped tremendously. Mr. Oscoey and I do not own bikes which I know is probably unheard of in the personal finance realm but neither of us been super into it although I am seeing a need for us to get at least one so that we can go on long rides with the kids. We also splurged and bought a bouncy house which has been a lifesaver! It takes five minutes to set up and about 10-15 to take down (which is mostly time waiting for it to deflate) and wears out the kids fabulously. I bought a bouncy house just small enough to fit in our living room so we have even had lots of opportunities to bounce as the weather has gotten colder. It is pretty loud but I am able to work with it running and since it is pretty contained I could sit inside and work with an eye outside to the kids while they were bouncing this summer which was helpful.
We have tried over the past year to find Covid safe activities in our area but honestly we are pretty cautious and it has been hard. We went to Shadow Lake Bog which was nice but the hike was way shorter than we thought and it ended up being too easy for the kids. We did learn a lot about the bog and saw some amazing things but it was not the rigorous hike I was hoping for. The way they had it set up was you could reserve one of two parts of the bog and then hike it for an hour. We reserved the smaller side and it was about a mile round trip which is how far we walk most days in our neighborhood so for our kids it was not very challenging. The drive out there was almost not worth the hour we had the bog reserved for. I would recommend it for smaller kids or for people that live closer and aren’t spending 45 minutes in the car to get there. I would however love to go back when they have opened up their nature center and we would be able to see both sides of the bog on the same day. There was tons of nature that we don’t see every day and it was really cool to see.
Now that the weather is colder we have been trying to find indoor activities to keep our minds busy. The kids have been doing lots of art, Legos, pretend play, book writing and robot making on their own so I decided to try doing a cooking activity with the kids on the weekend. The first few weeks we baked brownies and made desserts but those don’t take up a lot of time and the weekends were starting to get long so a few weeks ago we tried out making a formal tea for lunch. It was a massive amount of fun! We didn’t dress up but we did get out the good china and practiced our manners at the table and the kids loved it. Everyone helped make fancy veggie bowls, fruit, sandwiches, salami “UFOs” and dessert. We cut our sandwiches into shapes and came up with interesting combinations which most of us tried.
We had a lot of fun with our tea time and I am already thinking of some ideas for the future. We will probably do some more smaller teas but in a couple of weeks I want to do another larger one. The kids and I have been talking about what we will make and thinking about new sandwich combinations. I found some gluten-free digestive biscuits and once they come in the mail we are going to try making the Queen’s favorite dessert which is a chocolate cake made from them. I am sure at some point we will get tired of it but for now, finding something to look forward to and plan for is super important for everyone’s mental health. The days have been blurring together and I realized we were just sitting around all weekend. Doing tea for lunch on Sunday gave the kids purpose for the day and a sense of schedule that we really needed so we will continue to do them every week or two until we tire of them.
Although we have not been out there nearly enough, we are incredibly lucky to have woods to visit on family property out on Whidbey Island. It is great to go out there and walk around in the woods without having to worry about Covid. For the most part we have been maskless except now that cases are skyrocketing in the Seattle area we are wearing our masks to protect my Dad. We have one kid in person at school and we really don’t want to pass anything on to him. We have been super cautious and barely seen any of our friends and family but for us it is worth it if everyone stays healthy.
We spend our time out on Whidbey walking in the woods while my dad shows the kids around. He has found several hiding spots for the kids to play in and has great plans to add cabins to the raw land. Hopefully by next year there will be power and water and we will be able to stay longer than a couple of hours but for now our kids get overtired and antsy after a couple of hours so we head home. Our last trip was about a week ago and it was getting a little bit too cold out to be comfortable so we may not be back for a few months. We saw a bunch of mushrooms this time out which was pretty neat to see.
Covid has definitely made the last year way worse than we ever anticipated but I am incredibly grateful that those around us have been staying safe and we have not lost anyone close to us yet. Just in the past couple of weeks we have been hearing of friends who have been in contact with others that have had it but so far nobody in our inner circle has gotten sick. I am certain however that is because we most likely all had it back in January/February when we all got this horrible sickness that fits Covid symptoms before it was even reported in the U.S.. We are continuing to find ways to keep ourselves entertained at home relatively cheaply and I am hoping that by next spring we will have a little bit more freedom.
Stay safe everyone.
About eight months ago I took a break from blogging. There were many reasons, the most pressing being a complete utter lack of time while trying to maintain balance with both Mr. Oscoey and I working full-time with small kids. To say it was difficult […]