August must be the month of bottomless to-do lists and good intentions. The garden has gotten away from me entirely, and there are just never enough hours in the day. I had meant at some point this month to give an update on how we've been doing for the monthly $50 Grocery Challenge. In a nutshell: we overshot big time in July.
The problem was, we ran out of some essentials. I don't mean avocados, or chocolate. I mean olive oil and pasta. And rather than just buy a single bottle of oil and a pound of pasta, I bought a case of bottles and about 15 pounds of pasta. It was the right choice financially, because it coincided with a carpool run to Trader Joes, which has the best prices on organic extra-virgin olive oil and organic pasta in my area. But it definitely blew the Challenge right outta the water. See, there was batch after batch of pesto to be made with all the basil and sage coming out of the garden. On top of that, I also needed walnuts for the pesto. The walnuts were far cheaper than the more gourmet pine nuts, but they still weren't cheap. Faced with the choice of putting up the garden produce in a usable form, or sticking with the challenge, I opted for the food preservation. And truth be told, running out of olive oil would pretty much qualify as an emergency in my kitchen, tantamount only to running out of tea or garlic. We're talking meltdown territory. If I sound like I'm blaming the overspending on the pesto production, that's just an excuse.
So, we came in at well over $180 spent on food in July. Other than replenishing our supplies of basics, we didn't do too badly. No eating out, and pretty much every meal built around what was coming out of the garden. Lots of homemade pizza, pasta dishes, and some meat and fish pulled from the freezer.
This month we're doing a bit better with the Challenge, though we've spent a lot on dairy this month. I'm working on a post that will summarize my thoughts and observations on this crazy Grocery Challenge of mine. I'm getting pretty sick of tracking everything so closely, so I probably won't make any further monthly reports. But it has been a useful practice for me in that it has definitely changed my outlook on cooking and feeding ourselves. The change has been for the better and for the frugaller.
$50 Monthly Grocery Challenge: How it Might Be Done