Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Austerity Meal Plan

Used last bit of suds.

Feed your family of three for $33 dollars for the week! That sounds like a head line I need to see. I have challenged myself to keep my household, personal, and grocery to $300 total, leaving no stone unturned, in terms of cleaning out the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and monitoring the cleaning and personal supplies. Admittedly, I gave myself some loose rules. I didn't count my limited makeup purchases, that are only bought twice a year, and would have wiped out 1/4 of the budget, but will count towards my personal discretionary spending. I also only counted the cost of items purchased to get DD2 packed for her trip that would have been used if she was at home, putting the rest in the travel category. Still, it covered laundry and dish washer soap, toilet paper, soap, and shampoo.I do need to buy more dish washing and laundry soap, hopefully finding both, with tax, for under $3.00, but will give myself $5, leaving just $28 for food, or $4.00 supplement per day to what is on hand

We didn't eat out or get take out any more than other months in March. We picked up Papa Murphy's twice, avoided the grocery deli counter, DH's love of their chicken dinners was put on hold, ate brunch out with a free gift certificate, each of us had a dinner out separately dealing with some family stuff, I had a work outing with appetizers, and we met friends last night. For a 31 day month with five Fridays (we anticipate being home next Friday night), less restaurant and take out meals I suspect we've done other times during the year.
Saturday muffins with frozen bananas.
This is not a complete inventory, but here are main items I can still use for meals. DD2 will not be happy. She hates my challenges, saying we have nothing to eat in the house. I'll need to spend some special attention making sure I rise to her criticism.

4 small chicken breast fillets
3/4 pound cooked hamburger
2 pound bacon
cocktail hot dogs
6 eggs

Freezer is getting lean.

1 pound carrots
1 pound onions
2 bananas
3 apples

1 1/2 boxes spaghetti
1 1/2 bag egg noddles
assorted condensed soups
canned tomatoes, pineapple, pumpkin, corn
loads of baking supplies and spices
3 ready to make rice and potato dishes 
taco meal kit
canned beans and chick peas
peanut butter and jelly
pancake mix
 3/4 loaf of bread
 1 jar spaghetti sauce

bit of plain yogurt
12 ounces mozzarella
2-3 ounces Colby
pint or so of milk
5 cheese singles

I also have bits of partial things all over the refrigerator, freezer and pantry I'll try to use up. I am determined that we will not be eating boxed macaroni and cheese or spaghetti every night, challenging to have meals worthy of non austere menus. Breakfast Saturday was home made muffins, with a loaf for the freezer. Today we'll dine on pancakes or waffles, bacon, and fruit salad, and possibly chicken tetrazinni for supper. I'll make a smallish curry, using up the last of the yogurt and zucchini, making DD2 happy.

Yesterday I posted a "just dreaming for now" vacation plan that included a once in a lifetime possibility that would cost $14,000. Yet, today, I'm figuring out how to stretch $33 to make it to the end of the week. Some reading this might say to wait on or scale back the vacation, eat and shop like a normal person. My answer would be three fold. I've never regretted any funds ever spent traveling, and if we could manage it with both time and money, we would do more. If I can reduce my shopping by $50 a month just four times this year, we've covered 1-2 nights lodging, or ground transportation from airport to hotel and back again. Second, I enjoy the challenge of feeding and caring for my family well, while not wasting money on stuff that is disposable. Lastly, in efforts to eliminate food and other waste that has negative impact on the world, I'm striving to use up and reuse wherever possible.  Case in point, rewashing zipper bags, particularly the big sturdy ones.Self imposed goals help me. Does anyone else have any specific, goals in mind for their savings strategies. Do you turn convert your savings into a future goal?
Washed gallon size zipper bags air drying.


  1. I was born in an inner-city slum which was bulldozed when I was 3. Where we moved to everyone was like us - poor working class, large families. Don't get me wrong, we were loved and fed but it was definitely hard for our parents. So although through education we (my brothers and sisters and I) made it out of poverty (thanks to free higher education in the UK at the time), I think "counting pennies" rubbed off on all of us. When I moved to Switzerland to work I earned "a fortune" by our standards but I still watch what I spend. More to the point I don't like waste, so like you I wash ziplocs, I take my breakfast and lunch to work and so on. I do budget for travel because that is what makes it all worthwhile, but my biggest goal right now is to get my mortgage paid off. I bought the ex out of the house when we divorced and I am on track to pay off a 17 year mortgage in 7 years (so that I can then retire). My ex was the spendthrift and though he makes the same money as me he is up to his eyeballs in debt. I know which I prefer. Well done to you though - rather send money on experiences. Anna

    1. We grew up not in poverty exactly, but with no spare funds and more often more month than money. My kids have never went without needs and have many wants, but I hope they also have seen that is because of our budgeting and priorities for using money. Good luck on your mortgage efforts-it was a happy day when we paid it off.

  2. As long as you can save for it and not put it on credit - why the hell not go on a $14,000 vacation? We have managed to go on a European vacation every year for the last 3 and I hope to continue to do so for the next 10! I would rather spend and travel now than wait until retirement when we are unable to or don't want to. We spent $4000 - Portugal 2014, Spain 2015 $4000, Greece this year is $6000 because I splurged and it is more expensive there and Italy next year with my Stepson I am budgeting $8-9000 for 10 days. I save every single penny I can on things like your challenges to make it happen - and so can you my friend!

    1. I feel that way about traveling while we are very mobile as well. Every penny saved really is a help towards the goal.

  3. I do everything I can to live frugally with every extra penny saved going into my travel fund. To me it's just about priorities and I put travel at the top of the list. With no debt and the house paid for I am able to sock away at least $1,000 per month into savings. That means living on a strict budget but like you I see it as a challenge and I LOVE challenges :)

    1. Traveling is high cost for the three of us, more so if we want to cover expenses so our older will join. We all have the frugal bug, so I think we will get there.

  4. I love challenges, especially when they don't alter our lifestyle a tremendous amount. But I feel your pain form the daughter who says there is nothing to eat! TheHub is much the same, so I am trying to have items he can snack on that are out and ready for him to eat. Right now popcorn is my saving grace!

    1. I successfully topped off groceries and included her favorite cereal, store brand, rice cakes, and corn chips and stayed under budget. DH ate the last of the Colby when I wasn't looking so now I have to revise, but I got this challenge beat.

  5. I am curious how you or anyone can purchase only five cheese singles.

    1. Funny! I started with a full package. Don't start rumors that I went all Steve Martin like in Father of the Bride.

  6. Sounds like a grand plan. I totally get the dream holiday. Those are the things which one day you'll be glad you did!

    1. The trip to Alaska with DH's family was wonderful for her I'm sure but the mobility was an issue. I'm hoping to do ours when we're still young and spry.


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