Is it just me, or is January a financially long month this year? It feels like it's taking forever for the new month to start! What do you do when you still have a week left and you're almost out of your grocery budget?
Normally I'd try to shift from other areas, but this month I decided to do my best to stay in budget before pulling from other categories. That's me being disciplined...my word of the year. But seriously, I have $40 left in the grocery budget and a family of 5! I had to get a lot of staples to get at the beginning of the month and that is hurting me now.
So here's my plan:
1- Scour the pantry and freezer to plan well...really well.
After looking around I have spaghetti, sauce in the freezer, potatoes, leftover roasted chicken, leftover chili, and some other odds and ends.
2- Figure out what you can make with those things - duh!
The chili needs to be used up now or frozen so chili baked potatoes will be tonight's meal. We had cereal and milk on hand for breakfast this morning.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'll use eggs I have on hand and a partial package of English muffins for breakfast sammies. The leftover roasted chicken will be mixed with bbq sauce and the cheese and tortillas in the fridge for bbq chicken quesadillas and fruit salad with the random bits of fruit I have in the fridge.
Wednesday I'll make breakfast cookies - already have all that stuff. Dinner will be spaghetti. I have one box of noodles in the pantry and I have plenty of homemade sauce in the freezer. I'll pick up one more box of noodles, which is cheap and budget friendly, for dinner. Green salad too. I make two boxes because my family now eats a crazy amount and my hubby and kids will like the leftovers in their lunches.
Thursday - I have waffles in the freezer from a batch I made a while ago. Time to use them up! This will be the one dinner that will cost a bit, but I'm out of meat at this point. I'll get the chicken on sale, and buns too, for Cafe Rio Chicken Sandwiches. It's a crock pot meal and I have all of the other ingredients that go into the chicken for it so I only need those two ingredients. Since I'm eating Paleo, I'll have this chicken on a salad. It's super on anything!
Friday- I got breakfast sausage this morning and I already have applesauce in the pantry. For dinner we'll make homemade pizza. I have everything I need except the pepperoni, ham, and some pineapple. I need ham for lunches anyway so that one package of lunch meat will last us this week.
Saturday I'll make either eggs or pancakes for breakfast, whatever the mood is at the time. There will be no bacon or sausage with it but I'll have some fruit still. For dinner we eat out after church Saturday night.
On Sunday the kids have cereal bars for breakfast, which we have enough of in the pantry, and I make random appetizers for dinner. Looks like appetizers will be mini sandwiches, fruit, veggies and dip, maybe more quesadilla slices if I still have tortillas at that point, crackers with some spread I'll invent with the leftover cafe rio chicken.
3- Scour the ads to get what I need at the cheapest prices possible.
This week I am making an extra trip to another grocery store to get chicken and strawberries that are on sale for a really great price. So good I'd normally stock up, but I can't right now. ;)
So I got a lot at my normal Trader Joes trip and spent $28.11. That leaves me with a little more for the chicken and strawberries. I'll hopefully remember to report back later this week with my final numbers.
4- What I won't be doing
There are a few things I'll skip this week. I have one gallon of milk so I won't buy more. Normally I would but I don't have room for it and it'll be close to the end of the month when we'd start the new gallon anyway. It won't hurt us to have water with breakfast for a few days if needed. It won't hurt me to not have milk for cereal next Monday, my lazy school breakfast day. I can make oatmeal or something instead.
I won't be getting crushers (or go go squeeze) for lunches. I get lazy and do that a lot. I'll be pulling from fruits and veggies in the fridge for lunches. I usually put one crusher and one fresh fruit or veggie, not this week. I'll find other stuff.
I won't grab extra fruits "just in case". If we run out, we'll really only be without it for a day or two. We'll live. It's not the end of the world.
Breathe! I can do this. Really.