With the end of March, I was doing more than playing tricks on people. I was also celebrating kicking the butt of one of my most challenging Housewife Challenges: the grocery bill.
I wrote awhile back about my goal to keep our spending below $270 per month, or approximately $3 per day per person, but when Chris and I set down to make our super-conservative crunch-time budget, we decided to allocate $65 per week to our grocery envelope – for a total of $260 in March. We’re using an envelope system which forces me to stay on budget; it’s much easier to go over when you’re swiping a card instead of staring at cold hard cash. I don’t have to stick to the weekly amount, that’s just our guideline for how much to put in (and we had it filled by week two).
I was proud to have $2.50 left in the envelope. That’s $2.50 more to spend this month, but it’s really a celebration because every time we stick to budget, we are able to save a little more for Papoose and paying off debt.
Being on budget was a challenge, I’ll admit. It took a lot of creativity and some new recipe development. I stopped using my standard wheat sandwich bread recipe because it called for milk and maple syrup, and instead worked with Chris to create a recipe for an artisan multi-grain boule.We built the recipe based on the concept from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so it requires no kneading and can be made in a larger batch that’s kept in the refrigerator to bake fresh when needed – a huge time saver. It also only requires flour, water, yeast, and salt, which is great for baking on the cheap. We added wheat berries, Bulgar wheat, and flax seed to make it heartier, but they can be left out if your budget doesn’t allow. This bread is so delicious and ridiculously easy…you have to try it.
I also spent time developing a recipe for egg-less pancakes. We love big breakfasts here and we love eggs, but I try to limit us to one dozen per week (which is hard between breakfast and baking!), so every time I can spare an egg or two is great. These pancakes rock; you’d never know they were made without eggs. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.
And least you think that I made the budget by skimping on veggies, too…We had plenty of our old favorites, like free-form pot pie (recipe coming soon). And a whole rainbow of color. I saved money by planning out menus before going to the store, but also paying attention to the sale prices of vegetables. One week, for example, broccoli was on sale for $0.99/lb so I bought three crowns. Otherwise we ate carrots, winter squash, beets, leeks, kale, and collard greens – all things that are in season – rounded out with frozen peas and corn.
The last two weeks, I did keep myself under budget by going without some of my baking staples: no AP flour (we had wheat and bread flours), no white sugar, and (worse of all) no chocolate of any kind. I also ran out of olive oil and used butter or canola for cooking instead. I may have rocked March, but all of those missing staples are on my list for this week’s shopping trip so we’ll see how April goes…