Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Grocery List - Part 2

So if I have all the items off my $10 Grocery List in my pantry or refrigerator, what would I buy withy $10? Instead of doing another $10 list, I'll just list a few things, in order of preference, that might make the cut.

Milk - 1/2 gal $2.24 - Milk didn't make my original list because it cut out too many other things at the price and milk by itself isn't going to fill our tummies. Also, I didn't figure a week's worth of calcium deprivation would affect us too much. But having it would expand our options to include more breads, gravies, and a variety of cooked foods. I also tend to have a box of dry milk in my pantry to use in cooking but we wouldn't drink it unless straights were dire.

Tuna - 52 cents a 6 oz. can - Great source of protein in a cheap package. Strangely enough, I was looking at some of the larger cans (12 oz) and wondered if they'd be a better deal -- they weren't ($1.12). Always check unit pricing to make sure you're getting a good deal.

Veggies - 50 cents - I noticed cans of green beans and frozen packages of broccoli at the store for 50 cents each. If I had some extra room in the budget, I'd definitely add more veggies to the basic menu.

Fruit - varies approx $1.00 - either bananas at 44 cents/pound or canned pineapple at 99 cents/can, I'd add fruit for the sweetness and the variety of baked goods that could be made.

Hamburger - $2.08/pound - This price fluctuates on a weekly basis it seems, but that's about average for my area (this is not the leanest hamburger). There is also something called 'skillet mix' sold in chubs like hamburger for $1.38/pound, but I would not recommend it after reading the ingredient list. ICK!

Yeast - 89 cents for 3 pack - I normally buy yeast in bulk at Costco, but if I were out and times were tight, this would provide us with good, healthy bread at cheaper than grocery store prices.

Pasta - varies - Don't forget to check out other areas in the store when buying staples such as pasta. I noticed pasta in the pasta aisle averaged 6 cents per ounce while pasta being sold in the ethnic section averaged 4 cents per ounce. It might be worth it to do a taste comparison if your family eats a lot of pasta.

Bacon - $2.50/pound - I'd like to add bacon to my menu for flavoring bean dishes, adding it to gravies, and rounding out a breakfast of eggs.

Almost everything in today's list and my original list keeps well, with the exception of fresh fruits and veggies. I like to keep a list of my basic ingredients I cook with and when something on that list goes on sale, I stock up. This is also where a price book comes in handy, to keep track of when a sale price is an exceptionally good deal, or merely an average one.

What's in your pantry or must have list that would be good to stockpile?

Monday, February 25, 2008

$10 Grocery List

With food and gas prices on the rise, we're all feeling a greater pinch in our pocketbooks. And as the economy gets deeper into the recession, the possibilities of layoffs and long-term unemployment are becoming more real. This is the perfect time for us to practice our survival skills.

Recently, I came across this thread on the MommySavers Forums which asked the question:
If you were down to your last $10 and had to buy groceries to get you through the week, what would you buy? Could you do it?
It was interesting to see how many responders stated simply "Nope. Couldn't do it." "We'd starve." "We couldn't even by milk with $10." while others rose to the challenge and thought about what they would buy. The key to survival is knowing that if you had to do it, giving up is not an option.

So what would you buy? While I was at the store for my regular shopping list, I decided to write down a few prices of the most likely candidates to see what sort of shopping list I could come up with for $10. It doesn't have very many items on it, and the menu it would create would be monotonous over the course of a week, but no one would starve.

  • carrots
  • - 67 cents a pound - $1.00
  • bouillon cubes
  • - 67 cents
  • tomato sauce
  • - 25 cents per 8 oz can (2) - $.50
  • rice
  • - 1 lb bag - 95 cents
  • beans
  • - 20 oz bag - $1.00
  • oatmeal
  • - 20 oz box - $1.20
  • eggs
  • - 1 dozen - $1.69
  • flour
  • - 5 lb. bag - $1.58
  • margarine
  • - 60 cents
  • baking powder
  • - 79 cents
  • TOTAL - $9.98
The menu for the week would include oatmeal, rice & beans, soup, biscuits, tortillas, fried rice, eggs, rice with tomato sauce, and rice cereal. Not a lot of variety, but hopefully enough to keep the three of us from going hungry.

It gets easier when one considers stockpiling. Most of the things on the list are currently in my fridge and pantry, and a not unsubstantial cache of frozen meat and veggies as well. I chose to create the list as if I had nothing in the pantry but the basic seasonings, so if someone was in dire straights but didn't know what they could buy for such a small sum, they could use this list as a starting place.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

All's Well That Ends Well

Yesterday I had a small scare, with the potential of becoming a much bigger scare. When I was gathering up my things to go to work yesterday morning, I couldn’t find my purse. At first, when I was looking in the living room, the bedroom, anywhere I could think of that I might have put it down, I didn’t panic much. Maybe I’d left it in the car, either in the trunk with my gym bag or in the backseat.

It wasn’t there. I started to mentally retrace my steps and came to the conclusion I’d left it at the gym the day before. I knew I’d had it on my way to the kids club to pick up our daughter, but couldn’t account for it after that. So I called. No one had turned it in, no one had seen it.

I still wasn’t entirely panicked, as the kids club workers hadn’t arrived yet. Surely one of them had seen my purse and put it somewhere safe. The desk worker assured me they’d call if it turned up. By lunchtime, no call. After work I tried again and spoke with one of the ladies in the kids club. Still no luck.

So last night, after a trip to the grocery store and dinner, I knew I needed to go over and either look for myself, or decide someone had absconded with it and take the necessary precautions of changing account numbers and ordering new cards, license, etc.

Luckily, it was found in the kids club, hanging on a hook where the workers usually hang their own bags. Apparently one of the ladies had seen it and put it there for safekeeping, thinking I’d be back to the gym last night to work out, but she wasn’t there when I’d called in earlier in the day. Nothing was missing and everything is accounted for, so I breathed a big sigh of relief.

This could have turned into a huge stolen identity disaster, but it didn’t. It did remind me that I carry way too much personal information in my purse that I shouldn’t be carrying on a daily basis. It also reminded me I need to check my credit report on a regular basis to make sure someone hasn’t gotten my personal information in another way and is out there partying it up on my dime. I’ve been meaning to do that anyway, but this is just the kick in the pants to go ahead and get it done.

Friday, February 1, 2008

January Review

Aahhhh… the dawn of a new month. But how did January wrap up? Better than could be expected, I guess. The last two weeks of the month were filled with family illness, so the blog was getting a little dusty (sorry ‘bout that) and the checkbook wasn’t getting balanced as it should. Since I’m still in the startup phase of my financial health program, I haven’t got all my habits in place yet.

But all in all, we didn’t do half bad. Even without the diligent pouring over the books we kept the thought in our mind that we were cutting back on our spending. Some of our cash accounts (eating out and personal money in particular) went over our budgets but we trimmed enough from other areas that we ended the month on a positive note.

The only black mark was that our savings budget was rerouted to other areas mid-month, so we didn’t save at all this month. But we also didn’t use credit, so I feel it really evened out. Now that everyone’s on their way to wellness, February should be much easier.

I’m ready to get back on track and tackle my nemesis, the budget. A little creative figuring this evening and we’ll see how the month is going to shape up.

What were your financial snags or victories in January?