Saturday, October 2, 2010

The 30-Day Food Challenge: My focus

Yesterday I blogged about a 30-day food challenge to be more efficient in the kitchen: to buy more locally, eat more healthily, and be less wasteful overall.  My focus is a little different than the challenge creator over at Living On This Farm.  I'm using this as an impetus to go forth with buying local and eating better, but I'm also addressing some other issues I have.  Those issues are sticking to my grocery list, and making too much food to the point that I have to throw stuff away. 

I've been in the beneficial habit of making a weekly menu and an accompanying grocery list, but I always wind up coming home with stuff I didn't set out to buy.  My pantry is not bursting at the seams because of it, but my bill at checkout time is always higher than it should be.  I keep a notepad on the side of my fridge, and when I'm running low on an item, I write it down.  When I make my menu, I write down the recipe-specific items that I don't already have on hand.

I also wind up throwing away leftovers too often.  In our house, I'm usually the one who will be stuck eating leftovers and there are numerous times when I'd just rather eat something different, or I've made more than I'm willing to polish off by myself.  This needs to stop.  We are a family of three, and while my husband can pack it in when he's been playing a lot of hockey and my growth-spurt-having almost-4-year-old daughter can, too, there's no reason for me to have to toss food like I do now.

Here's the beginning of my challenge to myself.  I'll be posting my menu, my grocery list, and my overages from the grocery store trip.  Hopefully, putting this down in writing will help me, and you, to be more vigilant.

Everything on this list is made from scratch, except for the chips.  Also, the corned beef comes with a seasoning packet.

Menu for October 1-9
  • Chicken noodle soup (leftovers will be lunch)
  • Split pea soup (lunch for myself and my daughter)
  • Shepherd's pie
  • Corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and carrots
  • Chicken Parmesan, baked ditalini (like ziti, but smaller pieces), and balsamic vinegar-tomato bruschetta with ciabatta bread
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu (non-breaded experimental recipe), salad, steamed green beans
  • Wienerschnitzel, potato pancakes, homemade applesauce
  • Beef enchiladas with ranchera and chile verde sauces, papas con chile
  • Hamburgers, chips (lunch)
  • Ham steak, hash browns, pancakes with peach puree

Shopping List
Lunch meat- ham and turkey
Orange juice (We go through a lot of O.J.  It ain't cheap!)
Ham steak
Potatoes (I buy Yukon Golds.  They're much less starchy than Russets.)
Primatene inhaler refill
10% benzoyl peroxide gel
Ditalini pasta (Short little tubes)
Fresh green beans
Pork cutlets
Corned beef
Corn tortillas
Paper napkins
Queso fresco
Poblano chiles

I got everything on my list.  I was able to save $3.45 using coupons.  I've recently begun printing coupons off of a couple of different websites, and they're very handy.  You have to be careful with coupon usage- it's very tempting to buy something just because you have a coupon for it.  Remember that you're only saving money if you're buying an item you actually *need* already.

I also saved $0.50 by bringing my own grocery bags.  I have ten canvas tote bags that I keep in the trunk and bring for every single shopping trip.  My local store pays $0.05 for each reusable bag.

I wound up buying several items that were not on my list.

Non-List Items
Kraft Colby cheese (1 package) - $2.40
Justification: regular use, sale price

Hatch tomatoes and green chiles (2 cans) - $1.00
Justification: sale price

Frozen easy-peel tail-on shrimp (3 one-pound bags) - $8.97
Justification: deep discount (weekend seafood sale)

Turkey franks (1 package) - $2.67
Justification: We had leftover chili to eat them with and my husband and child like them.

Kiwi fruit (3 pieces) - $1.00
Justification: None.  Total impulse buy.  They were there, and they're delicious.

Bananas (1 bunch) - $1.28
Justification: regular use, low price for organic.

Butternut squash (1 piece) - $1.93
Justification: None.  Total impulse buy.  I've been wanting to try it as a side.

The sub-total for my non-list items was $19.44.  Local sales tax adds 8.917% for a total of $21.17.

I spent an EXTRA TWENTY BUCKS on stuff that was not on my list.  Sheesh.

1 comment:

Shelley Parker Chandler said...

Interesting idea. I don't even want to THINK about doing the same. I use SHOPPER on my iPod Touch, but I do end up making some impulse buys. Right now, I don't want to know how much that adds up to each week. ;)