We are almost done with our Frugal August Challenge! Hard to believe the month is almost over. We learned some great lessons through this experience – the biggest one being the magic of meal planning. It’s so simple, but it saved our butts throughout the month. Who knew planning ahead could make such a difference?
As we mentioned before, our biggest monthly expense is food. We love good food and we enjoy cooking, but sometimes our stomachs are bigger than our wallets. Our goal was to reduce our grocery spending and make all our meals at home instead of eating out. But we didn’t have a game plan outside of shopping at our local grocery store. We had no idea how much our go-to recipes cost. We were afraid that we would run out of ideas and get bored with our usual repertoire. A person can only eat so many homemade pizzas!
We discovered that making a list of the recipes we wanted to make each week made our worries disappear. Instead of buying groceries and planning meals afterward – wasting half of it in the process – we bought only what we needed for each meal. We picked recipes that gave us leftovers we could take for lunch, and we tried to keep the cost per meal under $10. Every Sunday we chopped up some veggies and defrosted some meat. All the ingredients we needed for the week were ready to go. Why didn’t anyone tell us it was this easy?!
Of course, it wasn’t always that easy. We hit some snafus along the way, such as buying ground pork that ended up being rancid. Luckily, we had a package of salmon filets. Our ground pork stir-fry turned into the most delicious salmon stir-fry ever. We also did repeat recipes that we knew were cost effective. There was a fair share of ham and turkey sandwiches for lunch. Through it all, we managed to discover recipes that became new favorites. We spread ingredients across many meals for even bigger savings. We learned how to improvise.
In the end, none of this felt hard. In fact, it felt easy. We thought our eating out ban would leave us feeling deprived. Instead we looked forward to coming home and cooking together. We were able to cook for our friends rather than going to restaurants. Meal planning became part of our routine, not a burden. We all need to eat, but it’s possible to cook at home without that much extra work. This challenge showed us how easy it is to shift our expectations and find value in an important part of our everyday life.
~ Ms. RW