I’m happy to announce we survived Thanksgiving, a trip, and a houseguest without straying too far from our Once-a-Month Shopping Rules.
Last month provided numerous challenges for our new lifestyle, but in the end, our pantry stockpile still increased while we spent less money. We had an unexpected vacation to attend a wedding that resulted in some meals out that were not strictly planned for, but that really couldn’t be helped. There is only so much you can carry on a plane (we didn’t check any bags), so the options were “eat out” or “starve”. Once we returned home, things were more easily manageable.
Thanksgiving went without a hitch. I took a turkey breast, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and whole cranberries from the freezer, took sweet potatoes from the cold room, and whipped up a fairly traditional meal. Because of some health concerns, our family eats mostly grain-free now, so I omitted stuffing, carby side dishes, and baked goods. We finished off the meal with decadent, homemade chocolate pudding, made from raw milk and farm fresh eggs, with a few pantry items to complete the recipe. (Not the best photo from my phone, but there it is in all it’s yummy glory.)
We brought my oldest daughter home with us from our trip. She recently finished college and is working in Canada. I did make one “unauthorized” trip to the store to pick up some items that she needed for her stay, but didn’t add to our grocery supply during the trip. (It nearly killed me.)
What I Learned in November
When I took the trip to the store, it was right around Thanksgiving Day. People were shopping frantically, with carts that couldn’t even hold all of the food people were buying for their impending feast. I know that normally, in years past, I’ve made an extra shopping trip for holiday dinners and spent between $100-200 for one gargantuan meal and snacks throughout the day. Everything had to be fresh, I required special ingredients for a new dish, I picked up the occasional conveniently premade veggie tray, and (- oh – look – that looks absolutely delicious!) got tempted by an impulse purchase.
This year, our Thanksgiving feast didn’t take a whopping chunk out of our grocery budget. The food was a bit simpler, while still delicious. While everyone had plenty to eat, there wasn’t so much food that we felt sick afterwards, laying victim on the couch in a semi-coma.
Societal pressure and Madison Avenue advertising companies have turned special occasions into a time of overconsumption. People spend too much, they eat too much, and they put too much stress on themselves to create the most outrageous meal the family has ever seen, constantly trying to outdo previous years.
In news from the barn, I learned that ducks grow and eat more (duh), so I had to make an early trip to the feed store because I was a few days short in my supply. I grabbed what I hope is one extra bag so that I can be ahead a little bit this month.
What I Spent
This month, despite everything that went on, we spent about $400 on food. My pantry and freezers are incredibly full and December’s bill, following up, was only about $300, even with purchasing items for our Christmas Eve appetizers, Christmas morning breakfast, and holiday dinner. I expect January’s bill to be even less, since I will have plenty of farm-fresh meat in the freezer and will mostly be purchasing fruits and vegetables for the freezer.
How is your challenge going?
Making the change to once-a-month shopping has been an amazing boon to our budget. We’re spending less, eating healthfully, and learning more about what we need in a food supply than ever before. I’m shocked by how much our pantry supplies have grown since I thought we would actually end up depleting the stockpile.
Before I began shopping once a month, as we approached payday, my bank account dwindled to almost nothing. With this new method, I seem to have money left at the end of the month instead of month left at the end of the money. I’m completely convinced that this is the best way to shop. Instead of making this a six-month challenge, this is just how we are going to shop from here on out.
What about you? If you’ve joined us in the challenge, how did November work out? Are you seeing a difference in your grocery bill? What about in your overall budget? Are you spending more money or less money? Were you able to navigate Thanksgiving with what you had on hand?
Please share your experiences in the comments below.