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Getting through January without spending any more on food

January 17th, 2011 at 06:45 am

If you caught my earlier post, you'll know I'm just $20 shy of my self-imposed $180 monthly grocery bill limit. You see, I'm trying to lower my #2 expense, and I can see from my records that I averaged $220 a month for food (not including eating out) in 2010. Seems like a lot for a single person.

Spending just $180 a month would represent an 18% decrease in my food bill, so that's what I aim to do. Problem is, I've nearly reached that point now, so I figured I would take stock of what's on hand to see if I can stretch it through month's end. Like a lot of you, I always have stuff that just sits there, takes up space and never seems to get used. So this is a good opportunity to try to use up stuff, especially since I've been known to consume food on the verge of going bad because I hate to waste food.

I like to make cheap meals based around things like eggs (hard-boiled in a salad, fried, etc.) or chicken liver (divine with sauteed onion, mushroom and tomatoes). But here's what I've got in the house:

1. Frozen package of imitation crab meat (pollock), which is yum-e-licious sauteed with onion and carrot over linguine.

2. Frozen 1/2 bag of breaded tilapia (getting sick of this, but i can eat it)

3. half a package of nitrite-free hot dogs (also kind of boring)


4. my neighbor is saving a frozen container of lentil soup for me; in turn, I'm giving her about 15 gourmet herbal teas i don't drink

5. plenty of pasta

6. plenty of rice, dried beans (I can make a white bean soup with the frozen spinach and leftover beef broth i have)

7. A portion of a frozen bag of vegetarian Chinese dumplings.

8. Lots of frozen tomatoes and zucchini from last year's garden taking up way too much rooom in the freezer. I want to give the zucchini to my mother as the it just doesn't appeal to me.

9. I bought an orange so i could make bran/raisin muffins today with orange zest.

10. i think i have some frozen peanut chicken i made. I often have a craving for peanutty anything, just like i do for pesto sauce,but i can only eat so much of it and then I'm really sick of it; that's why i froze it.

So it would seem i have plenty to get by on without any more grocery store stops. What happens is i hit the store for 1 or 2 things i need for something I'm planning on making, and i end up spending $35. The only thing I really plan on getting for the rest of the month is milk, which is really the only thing i drink besides tea and water. I do really like Tropicana now and then but i think I'm giving it up because it's so high in sugars and I'm trying to lose weight.

10 Responses to “Getting through January without spending any more on food”

  1. ThriftoRama Says:

    I have a ton of frozen zucchini as well. I usually mix it in to pasta sauce or veggie and bean soups. It doesn't alter the flavor much and it uses it up! I also like to thaw it out and turn it into zucchini bread.

  2. patientsaver Says:

    Do you put the zucchini in the blender first, before putting in pasta sauce? Mine's already cut up into chunks and blanched. Can you still use that in zucchini bread? It is VERY soggy when dethawed.

  3. WISEWOMAN Says:

    I never thought of freezing zuccini or tomatoes. I would imagine they get mushy?

    If you are overloaded with zucchini try making a mock lasagna. All you need is zucchini, Italian blend cheese and tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes/fresh tomatoes or spaghetti sauce) and spices to taste. I use marjoram, garlic and basil.

    Slice zucchini into 1/2" or so pieces. Line bottom of casserole dish with zucchini. Add sauce and then cheese and repeat (can be 2 or three layers depending on the size of the casserole and amount of zucchini. Add the last layer of cheese 10 minutes before the dish is done. Bake at 375 for approx 30-40 min.
    YUM!

  4. Aleta Says:

    If it were just me, I'd be able to get spending alot on food. My problem is my husband, he can't look away from the fresh breads in the bakery and he doesn
    't look at prices. Sometimes it's like I'm the only one sacrificing.

  5. ann link Says:

    The next time you purchase tilapia pick up the unbreaded,it is less money and you can do more with it.
    $180 seems a lot to me. My budget is about $80 less,
    including the weekly offering to church most of the time.
    Sorry about the job situation but by your posts you'll do just fine.

  6. rob62521 Says:

    Years ago, Chicago columnist Mike Royko wrote a column that he was spending money on groceries and he and the kids were eating the convenience foods and leaving the chicken in the freezer, the flour in the cannister, and the onions in the pantry. He made a new rule that they couldn't buy groceries until everything was gone...he claimed there were some weird meals, but less waste. It was an amusing column.

    We spend quite a bit on food because we buy lots of fruit and vegetables. We figured being healthier makes up for the extra cost.

    There are some recipe sites that you can type in ingredients you have and it will give you some suggested recipes...that might help you as you plan on using what you have.

    Aleta, maybe you could talk your husband into baking his own bread which would save you money on the fresh bread...I make quite a bit of bread and it is pennies compared to dollars.

  7. My English Castle Says:

    Good luck with your challenge. We have some unused gems in the freezer we need to use up too!

  8. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I've been attempting to do the same - eating mostly out of my stock. I'd really rather not have to take 5 or 6 large boxes marked "pantry" next time I move. Smile I've made a pretty good dent ... but like you were saying, it is so easy to go to the store for one or two things, and come home with half-a-dozen.

  9. Shiela Says:

    Good challenge, you can do it.

  10. My English Castle Says:

    For the NY, DH set off to eat all the small amounts in various cereal boxes; we probably had 7 or 8 opened boxes. Happily, we're now down to one open box. He's a determined spirit though; some of the kids' cereal uneaten by our daughter would've got out to the birds and squirrels if it were up to me.

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