Thursday, August 28, 2008

The $50 Grocery Challenge: July & August Report

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.

Related Posts:

$50 Monthly Grocery Challenge: How it Might Be Done


Anonymous said...

Good for you! $180 is none too shabby. I have to work really hard to feed the six of us for $320 a month. :p

Kate said...

Thanks, Kristen! But I'd say your six mouths fed on $320 per month is none too shabby. That's pretty impressive, actually.

Anonymous said...

$180 is pretty impressive, in my opinion. Have you managed $50 ever? In a similar vein, I'm getting ready to move and trying to eat my way through the cabinets, including some strange stuff (like the 6 types of dried seaweed I had in there!?) -- it's actually causing me to be more daring/creative in my dishes -- always a good thing!

Kate said...

Jen, I've come close a few times. But no, I never quite managed it. I'm going to do a summary post soon though. I think we could have managed it under the right circumstances and with a little more discipline, but there's no denying it's a real challenge.


marci357 said...

I made it for 5 weeks on zero dollars in July-Aug this year,(just an experiment) but found I was 'missing' the special sales at the local groceries, and felt that was hurting me in the long run. But on the positive side, I found inventive ways to use the garden produce - yummy - and to clear out the freezer a little to make room for this year's harvest!

Enjoying your posts!