Monday, January 11, 2016

January Spending Freeze, Day 9: Our big trip to the grocery store(s)

We used to be a lot better at grocery shopping.  A few years ago while we were saving up for two homebirths 20 months apart, saving money on groceries was an absolutely necessary task in our lives.  Now things are completely different, and on occasion we need a self-imposed spending freeze to remind us of the amazing things we can accomplish and to get us back into some good habits!

On Sunday, after carefully making a list, we went to the store for the first time since starting the freeze (which actually began a day or two after Christmas, for us).  Here is what we spent:

$27.60 at Aldi
$11.95 at Bi-Lo
$11.32 at our local food exchange (ordered online)
Total:  $50.87

At least $8 of the Bi-Lo amount was for expensive fancy cat food.  It's definitely not what I would normally choose to buy, but we have a sick kitty and it is a necessity.  We only got the things on our list--fresh produce, pantry staples we use a lot, and ingredients to complete meals we are planning to make with what we already have.  We bought milk and eggs from our local food exchange, which I feel good about even though they do cost significantly more than the ones at the grocery store.

It felt so strange to leave Aldi with only a couple of cloth bags of groceries, having spent $27.60.  Normally we have a nearly overflowing cart and a bill around $100!  Aldi can be tempting; there was a $20 set of kettle bells I really wanted and would have certainly bought, had we not been on the spending freeze (this may be a good topic for later).  There were also a few snack items I would have tossed in the cart.  I realize now that I normally stock way up on convenience foods, or at least ready-to-eat foods, while letting ingredients for things I could cook or bake sit in our cabinets or spoil in the fridge.  Shopping like that for a family of five is expensive, even at Aldi.  We've done pretty well with getting out of the fast food habit.  My new goal is to spend a little more time in the kitchen so we will have more homemade snacks.

Our meals are planned out for at least a week and a half without us having to go shopping again, and when we do have to shop it'll just be to pick up a couple of items.  Our cabinets are gradually emptying out and I'm finding so many forgotten treasures.

I know many people (even the super-frugal) wonder if it is wise to have a spending freeze on groceries, reasoning that one would only have to re-stock the pantry at the end, possibly missing out on some good sales.  But I think only extremely diligent pantry-keepers, who cycle through their well-organized goods and use everything up in a timely fashion, would find that to be the case.  Most of us have some forgotten food in the back of the cabinet that we need to use up...  And most of us have a couple of bad habits we need to break.  I highly recommend an annual grocery spending freeze!