I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! Yes, that is what I am chanting to myself over and over right about now as we near the end of our January Challenge. I had a whopping $27.00 going into this week to purchase groceries for the rest of the month. On Monday I went to the store and stared at prices, weighed every piece of produce and hemmed and hawwed about what was absolutely necessary. My son was in charge of adding up the items as we went, always rounding up a bit. When I got to the check out, instead of placing the items how they should be bagged, I placed them on their necessity level. I carefully watched the total and decided if the last couple items could be purchased or not. I was left with $2.37. And I still have to get eggs from my niece. So that means that for the three days next week I will have $1.37 to spend. Honestly, I'm not that worried though. We will simply have to do canned fruit and veggies (the store bought canned stuff ~ remember, I don't have that beautiful pantry filled with jars upon jars of summer produce yet!) and rely on ground beef.
I had to make choices on this last grocery trip that I had not faced before. One thing that I determined we could do without was milk. Thankfully, my husband is a dairy farmer and every other morning he brings home fresh, raw milk. The benefits of this are amazing. It is better for us to drink and it makes everything I cook/bake creamier (& yummier) when I use it. The only issue is that this girl grew up on skim milk alone. I can't take the thicker consistency. It is about 3.6% milkfat. I'm working on it though. I have worked myself up to drinking 1% milk and am in the process of trying to get used to 2% milk. So when I say that I didn't get milk, that just means that I probably won't be drinking any milk until February. The kids will be fine and the baking will be done. Just mama has to do without!
I also really had to study and do a lot of price comparison. I looked at the list and had to make choices as to what I absolutely needed to have now, versus putting off for another week or so. I usually buy 2 or 3 loaves of bread at a time and that will last us a couple weeks. Monday I just bought one loaf. Every dollar counts! I also nixed the snack foods altogether. I was just working on the main meals. Everything else was cut.
I will say that one thing that has helped out considerably this month was that earlier in the month I made our own instant oatmeal. My children will go through 2 or 3 bowls of cereal EACH and every morning just about and that gets expensive in a hurry. It took me about 10 minutes to make a month's worth of instant oatmeal and they now prefer that over cereal. It is just as fast in the morning and that is important when trying to stay on schedule! All I do is heat water in the tea kettle and pour it over the mix in their bowls. I let it sit for a couple minutes and then stir it together. Waalaa! Yummy, filling breakfast ready to be "personalized"! The kids add fruit or brown sugar or cinnamon and eat it up. It is so much better for them than cereal or store bought instant oatmeal packets. There is no sugar or MSG in it. I just love the stuff and it is a fraction of the cost of their typical breakfast. If I still had to buy boxes and boxes of cereal every week, we never would have made the budget stretch this far. This has been a lifesaver!
Tonight is our last night of hosting our weekly prayer meeting at our house. For snacks tonight I am using all items I have on hand. I am making Pioneer Woman's scrumptious Caramel Apple Sticky Buns, Cranberry White Chocolate bread, and gluten free raspberry coffee cake. I doubt anyone tonight will realize that I am on my last legs with my grocery budget! I was going to make some of these items last week, but my cousin called earlier in the day last Wednesday and delightfully informed me that she was making her fabulous cilantro bread with butter and garlic and fresh tomatoes and fresh cilantro topped with melted cheese. Yes. Fabulous is the proper word to describe this little taste of heaven! Along with scrumptious, delicious and all other sorts of yummy type words! All I did was slice up some apples and cube some cheese to have on the side. That allowed me to save the baked goodies for this week!
I will say that my little pantry is showing the abuse it has taken, along with my freezer. My pantry now has two and half completely bare shelves. Oh does this make me sad when I walk in there! Oh well. February is coming and past that, it will be summer! Oh the dreams I have of a pantry filled with jars upon jars of the blessings of the Lord and the work of my hands. What sweet, sweet dreams! But for now, I trudge through to the end of this month anxiously looking forward to working my own garden.
I leave you with a picture of some of those dreams in my head. Ahhh . . . . so pretty!