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Pantry Cleanout or Saving Money on Food

November 19th, 2012 at 09:21 am

A big chunk of saving money can come from my food budget and so that is what I am tackling. I have read about the food stamp budget so I am trying to follow that in an attempt to get a handle on my food expenses. I overshot this month's food budget, but hoping for next month being a success.

Yesterday I spent a big portion of my day cleaning out the pantry. The amount of redundancy I have in it is a little ridiculous. Okay. It is embarrassingly ridiculous. Why do I have four bottles of cardamom? I can't really remember when I last used cardamom. I have too many containers of tea leaves too and I don't drink tea unless I'm really sick and I don't get sick that often. I think I like the packaging. That is the only possible reason to explain some of the redundancy I have in the kitchen.

So I started a pantry list (it's on my iPhone that syncs up to my laptop) so that I have a grasp of what in the pantry. What I added were the redundancy items (that which I have more than one container of). I need to add the stuff that I only have one container of so I can replenish it when I run out of it. So one item I don't have any of is rice. But I have all sorts of other grains so I'm going to go through it all before I buy my next gigantic bag of rice. I also want to simplify what's in my pantry because I can make do or make my own if needed (especially those esoteric flavored oils that I have some sort of addiction to. Addiction to buying, that is!).

I also cleaned out the refrigerator and stocked it with the veggies I bought yesterday. While cleaning it out I noticed redundancies in there too! Two jars of mayo, for example. Forgotten veggies hiding in the back. Ugh! The big problem is I don't look at my calendar when purchasing foods. I should buy based on my work travel schedule or scheduled meals out - I know at least a week or two in advance all the meals I'll be eating out. But I buy groceries like I will be eating all meals at home when that is not the case. Bad habits need reform!

But I was good and made my salad and sandwich yesterday before going to bed, so packing it up this morning was easy peasy. I also have a tiny bit of lentils and millet sitting around, but I found a recipe that uses both so I know what I'll be eating for dinner!

I also enjoyed this article on preventing food waste.

Setbacks (was expecting this. Just not this soon!)

November 16th, 2012 at 11:24 am

Well, I thought I'd at least get to a swimming start for a few weeks before I hit some setbacks but that was not to be.

I had to travel for work and I had some unexpected expenses pop up and so I overspent my budget. Because of the travel, my cooking suffered and so I had some microwaved meals which were quite pricey (it was expensive microwaved meals or an expensive meal at a restaurant and microwavable meal is cheaper). I also have overshot my grocery budget by $65 and it is only half way through the month! Plus we've got the biggie holidays coming up next week.

I signed up for online pay with the IRS and my state government to pay down those tax bills. But I am having trouble logging in to pay, but I have set the money aside (and a reminder so I do not forget!).

But with today's paycheck I paid over $1,000 to all the debts. I'll update the figure on the side when they all get posted.

One of the reasons my tax bills are so high is because I filed my taxes late. And then since I owed some money the interest was tacked on. Next time, I am planning on filing on time. Because seriously...this is ridiculous.

Looking at my schedule for the next two weeks (before next payday and for month end), I am not anticipating big surprises...but we'll see how that pans out. I do have a wedding to attend, there is a holiday coming up, a few business meetings that could result in me having to make some snap judgments. This could mean trouble on the financial front since that's apparently how these things turn out.

Thank you for all the positive comments. Really love it.

Cooking more at home and drinking less

November 6th, 2012 at 02:53 pm

Please don't judge (or if you do, please keep it to yourself), but I like my sauce and I drink nearly every day. Usually a few glasses of wine or a few glasses of beer and I enjoy it. I typically drink while eating or cooking dinner. Also I can be pretty good about eating only home cooked meals, but laziness pops in and pretty soon I'm running off to the corner restaurant for my instant fix-it-meal.

For the past two weeks, I've been diligent about setting a weekly meal plan and drinking a little less, buying all raw ingredients and then preparing said raw ingredients into something edible. The downside is I'm doing a lot of dishes and I hate doing dishes. So one way to solve that problem is to make a lot of one pot meals. So soups are coming into regular rotation. But I don't like soup without bread. So I'm making bread again. I have a bread machine so that saves me a bit of time (and dirty bowls)

I've also tweaked and re-tweaked my budget. I know it takes me about 60-90 days to get into the groove of things so my budget isn't too harsh (yet), after 60-90 days of eating home cooked meals and watching my money like a hawk, I hope to adjust my budget again to see whether I'm on goal or not.