October 21, 2015

Once a Month Shopping Challenge: Checking In

If you decided to tackle the Once a Month Shopping Challenge, you’re probably a few weeks into it by now. (If not, please join us! Learn the details HERE.) How’s it going?  Here’s an update on our challenge.

Food supplies

When I began the challenge, it was a whim at the spur of the moment. This month wasn’t really thought out or well-planned. (I’d love to act like I was more organized than this, however, nope. It just sounded like a good idea at the time.)

At the beginning of the month, I spent $316 on groceries for us.  I stocked up mostly on freezer items, including some meat, vegetables, and fruits.  Astonishingly this has been all I’ve needed and I still have a lot of food left moving into next month.

Since I knew that I wasn’t going to be going back to the store this month, I’ve been especially cognizant of leftovers. I’ve either used them very quickly or packed them up for the freezer to be reheated when we need a quick meal. I currently have vegetable beef soup, Asian pork roast, and potato-corn chowder in the freezer, ready to become “fast food” the next time I don’t feel like cooking from scratch.

I have spent more time in the kitchen this month, too. Like most families, we ate the snacks and treats within the first week to ten days.  Since then, I’ve made mountains of dehydrator veggie chips in various flavors, some homemade cookies, and some 3 ingredient fudge. (My dehydrator has proven invaluable for making tasty snacks!)

I’ve also done a substantial amount of canning. A friend of mine gets the remnants of a farmer’s market for her pigs, but lots of the food is still human-worthy. As much of this as possible gets canned up for the winter. We’ve had lots of tomatoes and zucchinis to process.

The only thing I really miscalculated was coffee. Of course, since I have an addiction problem a passionate love for coffee, I had lots of whole beans stockpiled, however, that meant breaking them out of their mylar packaging and grinding the beans with my weird grinder that has the shortest cord in the world, so short that I have to hold it right beside the plug on the wall and run it with one hand. (Now I understand why the silly thing was on sale for just a few dollars.)

I heard about a killer sale on an item that we love having in our stockpile. I did break my no-store rule to pick up an abundance of canned pumpkin because the price was so incredibly low that I just couldn’t pass it up. For the princely sum of $5, I added more than enough to last us through a year of pumpkin-goodie-gluttony. This will be there for back-up when I run out of my own home-canned pumpkin cubes.

I ran completely out of oregano somehow. (I thought I still had a pound of it kicking around, but was unable to find it.) I was making marinara sauce at the time and ended up having to use thyme and basil instead. It was still yummy, but I need to inventory my spices and place an order.

Animal supplies

We did well for the goats, the chickens, the ducks, and the cats, but the dogs are running low on food. We only recently got our big dog, a 150 pound Great Pyrenees/Anatolian mix, and I underestimated how much he consumes. We’ll make it, but just barely, so this coming month, I’ll double up on the dog-food purchase.

Other supplies

We ran out of a few of our store-bought cleaning supplies and made homemade pantry versions instead. Here’s a recipe for a dishwasher/scouring powder, and I also made a white vinegar and orange spray cleaner for counter-tops and surfaces.

My daughter is using her newly acquired sewing skills and some things she has on hand to make a costume for a Halloween party she will be attending. We may need to head to a thrift store to pick up some items to complete her costume. I live too far out in the boonies (and behind a gate) to worry about trick or treaters, so there’s no need to pick up anything for that, either.

It really helps that we’ve reduced our use of disposable items lately and invested in one-time purchase replacements for them. (Get the details HERE.)

Our list for next month

As we get closer to the holiday season, it’s going to be a little bit trickier to get everything in one shopping trip.  Next month we’ll be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner here, so I’ll have to plan the dinner early in order to have what I need for this meal.  We have plenty of frozen fruits and vegetables still, and are picking up half a pig from the butcher in about a week, so really, our actual shopping trip won’t be that big.

I have some paper goods that I need to pick up, and if the budget allows, I may try to pick up enough animal food for an extra month to stash in the barn, just so we have more on hand.

We really didn’t have to break into the preps that much, just for coffee and a spice mix.

The summary

We were pretty well-prepared and my estimate for what we consume was actually a little bit high. I’ve cut my food bill in half, quite literally, by simply staying away from the store.  I’ve found some places to tighten up, but the real challenge will occur over the coming two months, with Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’re doing more crafts and needle skills, which is a lovely and relaxing change. I have to mention it again – we’ve saved a FORTUNE this month.

How did your first few weeks go?

Did you join the challenge? How did things go? Did you run out of anything?  Were you able to come up with a work-around or did you need to pick something up? Please share your update in the comments below!

Daisy Luther

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy Luther is a single mom who lives in a small village in the mountains of Northern California, where she homeschools her youngest daughter and raises veggies, chickens, and a motley assortment of dogs and cats.   She is a best-selling author who has written several books, including The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper's Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and The Prepper's Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource.  Daisy is a prolific blogger who has been widely republished throughout alternative media. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health, self-reliance, personal liberty, and preparedness. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

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