1st 30 DAYS: I used whatever I had in my fridge, kitchen cupboards, pantry and freezer. I made meals on the fly with no planning, using whatever was on hand. I wasted nothing. Yes by the end of that month, the fresh produce was gone, but I used my home canned and dehydrated veggies to make soups, stews, casseroles. I used up frozen fruit in smoothies and stretched the eggs by making omelette muffins. It helped that I was away on vacation for one week in that month. For Sunday dinners, I made homemade desserts like chocolate pudding (see recipe here) and banana bread using up overripe bananas I had in the freezer. The only money spent in the first 30 days was for milk - I spent $5.15. I froze the milk bags to keep fresh for a longer period of time.
IN PREPARATION FOR the 2nd 30 DAYS, I put the following strategies in place to keep the cost of groceries down to $12.25 for the entire month:
- I took inventory of what meat, fish, poultry I had in the freezer and made up a meal plan around that inventory. I prepared a calendar for that month and wrote what meals were to be eaten by day and attached it by magnet to my fridge for easy viewing and constant referral
- I shopped from my fridge, kitchen cupboards, pantry and freezer for sides.
- I prepared a grocery list based on what I needed not what I wanted. When I went to the grocery store, I stuck to the list and did not deviate.
- I used $70 of loyalty rewards against groceries. My total bill came to $82.25, but after applying the loyalty points, I only had to pay $12.25 in cash.
- As I ran out of things, I referred to my recipe library and made things from scratch - things like the following:
- coconut milk, using canned coconut milk and water
- hot chocolate, using homemade coconut milk
- ranch dressing mix, using buttermilk powder, herbs & spices I had in my cupboard
- sloppy joe seasoning mix, using herbs & spices I had in my cupboard
- slow cooker chili using home canned beans, broth and dehydrated vegetables
- homemade chicken soup, using frozen chicken carcass & scrap veggies for broth along with leftover shredded chicken I found in the freezer.
- pizza sauce by using home canned tomato sauce & tomato paste. I incorporated the leftover sauce into other recipes to use it up.
- I rationed the fresh fruit I bought so that I had enough for each day in the month and I kept it in the fridge to preserve it longer.
- I experimented with many recipes to use up any and all ingredients I had in the house. If I didn't have an ingredient for a recipe, I improvised with an alternative.
- I pre-cooked mushrooms and spinach and froze them in portion controlled baggies and froze for use in omelettes and other dishes - when eaten, there was no way of knowing they were previously cooked and frozen.
- When there were leftovers of any soups, stews and casseroles I made, I put in containers for the freezer and incorporated those dishes into future week meal plans and spread out for variety.
In all I probably saved between $600 - $800 on groceries in those 60 days AS WELL AS used up things I already had and didn't waste. Definitely a challenge for me, but so rewarding. I will be sure to do this again this year.