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Tag: pantry cleanout

September 2022 Grocery Spending Wrap Up

September 2022 Grocery Spending Wrap Up

September was an expensive month for us as far as groceries go. All of our stock up trips seemed to happen this September and that caused our grocery total to be higher than usual. We also have been trying to eat healthier which of course […]

August 2022 Grocery Spending Wrap Up

August 2022 Grocery Spending Wrap Up

We continued to work on our grocery budget for August 2022 with a goal of $600. I wasn’t sure if we could make it this month but we came closer than last month at $709.79. We definitely ate better this month and a large chunk […]

July 2022 Final Grocery Spending

July 2022 Final Grocery Spending

We were out of a lot of staples for July so I knew we would have an expensive month for groceries. We are still working hard at keeping our food budget well under $1,000 by watching prices more carefully, eating up what we have and reducing our food waste. Our ultimate goal is to keep it under $600 a month for our family of four plus our oldest daughter who is out of the house. She comes over very frequently for meals still and we love to have her so I include her in our grocery budget as a partial member.

 

We were having a hard time tracking our spending with both of us going to the store since we buy groceries from Costco, Amazon and Target a lot and they all have purchases mixed in the total. In June I set up a Google sheet that we could both enter the grocery portion of our purchases in and it is working amazingly! It is easy to check my total when I am making videos and we can see how far off we are from our goal pretty easily. We are also working on making as few trips to the store as possible so that we don’t get there and find lots of extra items. I am particularly guilty of this during our Costco run. I love Costco and I am easily swayed by fresh produce and new things to try. I am working on it though and we have been doing better so we will continue our efforts in the hopes that by the end of the year we have a streamlined frugal grocery routine.

 

 

Our first grocery haul of July was so big I had to film it in three parts. I went to Franz for our periodic stock up and we did a gigantic Costco run. Lots of our regular items were on sale at Costco this month and we stocked up on what we could. Looking back I think the reason our July grocery total was so large was mostly due to this stock up. We really didn’t spend money on too much the rest of the month. We won’t do a large stock up like this one for a while so hopefully we will be able to stick to our $600 budget going forward.

 

 

We went back to Costco again a couple of weeks in to get a few things Costco was out of and that we forgot the first time. This run was pretty expensive for what we bought but we did need a bunch of jerky for our kids to eat during camp. They really only get it regularly in the summer so it is rare enough they eat it at camp for a good source of protein. We also had to buy Luna bars to stock up on as well from Amazon.

 

We did a small haul at Costco and Grocery Outlet towards the middle of the month as well to pick up some fresh fruit and ingredients for a recipe. I didn’t end up making the chicken tacos. My husband was the one to make the recipe and he does not use pre-made taco seasoning so it was made a little bit differently than I had originally intended but I am still going to try and make it myself in the future. I realized my crock pot is way too big to just make a couple of breasts and it was too hot to use the oven for a long time. I will try that recipe again this fall.

Overall we spent a lot this month. We did end up trying the free lunch pickups a couple of times but they mostly had the same food every day and my kids were not huge fans. I felt really bad for the kids that relied on these meals over the summer since there wasn’t really a lot of variety. Universal Free Lunches are over in our area so we won’t be able to participate again in the fall when school starts up again. I guess a lot of families were shocked to hear they weren’t being continued into the fall for everyone. It will be a huge hit to many family’s budgets. We saved probably $200 a month picking up the 5 day meal kits and towards the end of last school year it was so much food we really couldn’t keep up with eating it. We still have a lot left but my goal is to eat through it by the end of the year.

 

I am proud of our progress these past few months with how we are paying much better attention to our grocery spending. We are getting better at using what we have and not doing much impulse spending. Thank you for reading!

 

 

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

Our June grocery goal was to eat through our fridge and freezer as much as possible and for the most part we reached this goal. I am super proud of our progress! Up until the last week of June we kept our spending under $300 […]

May 2022 Final Grocery Spending

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 […]

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

Our 2022 spending goals have already gone a little bit sideways with me leaving the workforce in March. I left my job for both health and family reasons and it has thrown our budget into a hurricane of uncertainty. For now our goal is to spend as little as possible across the board so I can continue to not work through at least the end of the year. I read over our 2022 Spending Goals and for the most part we have been sticking to them except for me bumping up my 401k. June is a good time for us to review and revise our goals and this year is no exception.

Below are our goals for the year with a new recap:

  1. Max out IRAs – Mine is done. My husband still needs to max his out but we may have to wait until we get his bonus next year.
  2. Increase our 401k contributions – We increased my husband’s by 1% in March and hope to keep it there until the end of the year. I no longer have a 401k since I am not working.
  3. Save, save save. We reinstated our automatic savings, upped our investment amounts and increased our kids’ college savings amounts. Now that I am not working we may have to reduce our regular savings BUT we do have a nice chunk in our cash emergency fund already so it should be ok.
  4. Decrease our grocery spendingWe have been working on this all year. We did both a pantry and freezer clean out, tried a no spend month and meal planning. This is still a work in progress but we are doing another freezer clean out for June and are making progress.
  5. Be more mindful of our spending – We continue to work on our mindful spending. I have been resisting the urge to buy clothes for the kids and trying to do laundry more often but they are growing so fast it is hard to keep up. We are also not shopping as often which greatly reduces the temptation to pick things up randomly.
Free Lunches.
Free Lunches.

We are also taking advantage of the last couple of months of free universal lunches and breakfasts. I linked our latest video below and here.  This program ends in June but I firmly believe that all kids should be receiving lunch at schools for free without the stigma that is attached to it when only low income kids receive it. Getting lunches from the school has helped our budget out tremendously and as I discovered this week, they are giving tons of extra food to help families out over the summer when the program is no longer available. I am really hoping another bill passes so that all kids can have free meals again. Grocery prices have increased significantly over the past year and a lot of families that do not qualify for assistance are struggling.

 

Our budget resets every July since we pay tuition for the kids only 10 months out of the year. We usually don’t get a tuition statement with the exact amount of the payments until mid-June. I put an estimate of the amount when we get the tuition amounts in February and look at our spending for the rest of the year. This year since I am not working we do qualify for a little bit of financial aid but we are still going to have a very tight budget. We knew this though when we decided that I would leave my job and have cut our spending on vacations and activities with the kids (not their regular sports yet). We also did not sign up for summer camp every week of the summer which saved us nearly $5,000. Summer camp is super expensive and this year the prices definitely went up.

Camping at Whidbey.
Camping at Whidbey.

Instead of taking a bunch of expensive trips we are going to be doing day trips and camping out at my dad’s house on Whidbey. Camping out there is nearly free and I absolutely love that the kids are growing up helping my dad build his cabin and develop a place for family to hang out for years to come. We are putting them to work helping with clearing the land and planting some crops for my dad to harvest later. My oldest is also starting her cabin building out there this summer so the kids will help with that as well.

Beach
Beach view.

Some of our day trip ideas so far include hiking, the beach and visiting local parks. Mr. Oscoey has a bunch of PTO to use up so he is going to take some time off as well this summer so we can do some trips as a family during the week when everything is less crowded. I may break down and find a couple of days down in Oregon later this summer but it will depend on how we do for our spending in June and July. For now we are planning on staying local and as frugal as possible.

 

How are you cutting back your spending this year?

 

2022 Goals

 

Garden Update 04.30.22

May 2022 Spending Check In

May 2022 Spending Check In

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 […]

Low Spend April 2022 Grocery Spending Mid-Month Check In

Low Spend April 2022 Grocery Spending Mid-Month Check In

Our spending goal for April was to keep our grocery budget under $600. We have been spending between $1000 and $1300 for the past year so cutting our budget down to $600 was quite a stretch. Part of why I wanted to cut our bill […]

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

April 2022 Low Spend Month Goals

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For April 2022 our goal is to have a low spend month with a focus on groceries, activities and other household items. We are going to achieve this through meal planning, shopping sales, eating through our pantry, only shopping for what is necessary and planning low cost activities. As you may know our focus for 2022 is keeping our grocery budget down and working on using what we have. I would love to reduce our food waste and get better at planning ahead with our meals. So far we completed a pantry clean out challenge in January and worked on our freezer for February. March was kind of a wash since we were dealing with family stuff but for April I would love to clear out more freezer space and eat through the meals I have stashed away in there to make room for the garden season this spring and summer.

Budget Planning Tool
Legend Budget Planner

To get a fresh start with my budgeting I bought this Budget Planner off of Amazon. Unfortunately I ended up having to buy two since our puppy ate the first one while I was washing dishes. I have been using YNAB (referral link) for the past six or so months in addition to Quicken but I am finding that YNAB struggles with our method of putting everything on a credit card and paying it off. I am going to try a paper planner for a bit and see if that will help me visualize our money better. Our budget is pretty wonky and uneven from month to month so I am hoping that by writing it down my brain will keep track of it in a different way. I also bought these stickers to go along with my planner as well. At the end of the month I will let you know how it is going.

Meal Planning
April Meal Planning

Another tool we are using to reduce our costs is to work on our meal planning. I took this picture when I was just starting to fill out our monthly meal plan but we have two nights a week when our menu is preset. I put chicken nuggets on for Tuesday nights but really only our son eats chicken nuggets every week. Tuesday night chicken nuggets has turned into chicken night and I have been cooking chicken breast for anyone who wants an alternative option. It really helps our kids to have touchstone meals in their weekly routine and I have found that by having two night a week where they know what dinner will be it really helps with satisfying that itch for routine and predictability in their week. I picked up this Meal Planning Bundle from Mindful Hustle (No affiliation) last fall and so far I am liking the layout of them.

Cranberry Lake
Cranberry Lake

Another strategy we will be using to reduce our costs in April is to do a staycation over Spring Break and do low cost or free activities. Last weekend we took a day trip up to Deception Pass on Whidbey Island and it ended up only costing us money because we drove down the island and took the ferry home. We do have family that lives on the southern part of the island and one of our activities over break will be to spend the day out there. I anticipate this will be our most expensive day since we will be paying for the ferry and buying bagels for everyone. It will still be cheaper than a vacation though!

cabbage
Cabbages June 2020

April is also a heavy gardening month and this year I plan on adding several new beds down the side of my house. Although I did have to purchase new beds, I bought them a month ago and technically they will not count towards my April budget. I will however need to buy soil to fill my beds this month and part of why I am doing a low spend this month is to cover the cost of the soil. I honestly have a lot to do to get our garden ready and we will be spending most of our afternoons and weekends working in the yard this month. Gardening is one of my favorite activities so I am really going to enjoy it!

The last tool we are going to utilize this month is one of my favorite ways to keep costs down, no spend days. I find that the more no spend days we do a month, the better we are at staying within budget. I have been trying to consolidate our grocery trips this year and with gas prices rising I am also working on reducing our trips out of the house as well. We are doing one grocery trip at the start of April to buy dog food and cheese (can you believe we forgot to buy it at the store last time?) but after that we will be waiting as long as possible to go back. We have a well stocked pantry and my greens are starting to grow in the garden so I am hoping we can wait at least a couple of weeks to make any sort of meaningful grocery trip. Our spending goal for April is to stay under $600 for groceries which is very tight for us right now.

 

What ways are you trying this month to reduce your spending?

 

Links:

You Need a Budget

Meal Planning Template

Budget Planner:

 

Stickers:

 

2022 Goals

 

Victoria Part 1: Butchart Gardens

 

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part One: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer

 

March 2022 Spending

March 2022 Spending

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 […]


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