I’ve been reflecting on the terrible, horrible month of April as far as the grocery budget goes and have decided to implement a few changes for May. I’m not really all that fussed about breaking the budget, but I am annoyed that most of my shopping this month felt like it used to, when I didn’t give much thought to what I had on hand and bought mainly what looked good but also to stock-up because I’m pretty sure that genetically I’m part squirrel. At least when it comes to putting away food! Over the last few months I’ve really managed to stock up on all sorts of foods, and we have quite a healthy pantry (even after my challenges). So for May, I will NOT be stocking up on anything. I’m tempted to give myself the “once in a lifetime deal” caveat, but I know that if I go down that road, I’ll never stop seeing “once in a lifetime deals.” And really they come around pretty regularly, so I can just cool it on the stocking up for a bit. Within reason — I may purchase ground beef at BJs, but I won’t plan on filling my freezer. I have a few other ideas for ways to shake it up a bit, too.
I’m not going to be doing an official pantry challenge or grocery fast or anything like that. But I am going to pull together a box of pantry items that really need to be used up and set it out on the kitchen table. My goal will be to use all of those items up in the month of May.
I’ll also be implementing “official” meal planning. Or, well, as official as it gets for me. I’m not going to do anything crazy like assigning specific meals to specific days or anything like that! Also, we don’t need for me to cook a new meal every night, but we do eat much more healthfully if I spend some time prepping breakfast/lunch/snack items that we can eat all through the week. My thought is that I probably need to plan for three meals during the week and one over the weekend, plus a soup and salad or sandwich for lunches, a breakfast food and a snack food. Possibly multiple snack foods. I’d like to maximize some of that prep time to be items that can be kept in the freezer — but am not going to beat myself up if that doesn’t happen.
I’m going to continue trying out at least one new recipe each week; I got a little off-track with being ill, but I have mostly stuck to this so far in 2017 and I have enjoyed this challenge. Previously I mostly tried new recipes focusing on ingredients I already had on hand, but I’m going to be a bit more intentional about allowing myself to buy items specifically for the recipe. To some extent — if you’ve read my spice cabinet organization post, you’ll know that I don’t really need to bring in more ingredients that will just linger there for perpetuity.
I’m also really going to be focusing on fresh, fun foods. I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a rut with heavier meals and snacks, although this could just be the change of seasons that is calling out to me. Whatever it is, I want to get back in the habit of eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies. I am really craving them, lately!
I also want to try out some semi-convenience foods over the next several months. My schedule is going to get even busier in the fall when I have an internship in addition to school and work. It’s not realistic that I will make every meal totally from scratch, so I’d like to have some things on hand or that I know and trust to grab in the grocery store each week. But I’m a little out of the loop on that kind of thing so want to spend some time while I have time and mental energy evaluating those items. I’m thinking mostly of salad mixes and maybe some freezer entrees, although if anyone has suggestions please let me know!
Finally, I’m going to use all cash. This is not generally my tactic and is really the only goal that is related to the actual budget. Since I track my spending (less well in April, but I still do it), I do know how much I’ve spent, but I’ve found that cash only is a good way to reset my spending if I go off track.
- No stocking up — buy only what we need.
- Pantry box — use up some odd items on hand.
- Intentional meal planning — my style, which is still pretty loose.
- Continue trying new recipes — don’t be afraid to buy specific ingredients.
- Fresh fruits and veggies — lots of variety, lots of flavor.
- Convenience food taste test — preparing for an intense 17/18 school year.
- Cash budget — reset my spending habits after a free-fall month.