Saturday, March 5, 2011

Frugal February - FAIL

So, remember at the beginning of the month when I was all optimistic and idealistic and gung-ho about slashing February's grocery budget? Yeah, well, it didn't exactly go down like I had planned. I didn't realize it would be so dang hard to lower the amount we spend on groceries by 1/3. My goal was $200 for the month. The real amount for the month was $238.26. That's a difference of $38.26. Not that much in the whole scheme of things, but $38.26 more than I shot for. (Oh, and I also failed to make much progress on my Move MORE/Eat LESS January goal. I didn't move as much as I planned and I ate more than planned, resulting in minuscule weight loss. I guess it could be called my BIG FAT FEBRUARY FAIL.)

As I sit with the month's groceries receipts and meal plan, I see some glaring mistakes I made:

1. My meal plan wasn't good enough - I thought I did a great job of coming up with dinners for the week, and on workdays I really did. However, the weekends were a killer. Usually I make a big-ol pot-o-something on Saturday and we have the leftovers on Sunday and then remaining leftovers make an appearance in lunches the following week. I didn't do this very well in February and our weekend meals were hastily thrown-together, complete with runs to the grocery store for missing ingredients and consequently, more money spent.

2. I had a hard time letting go of some favorites - I'll admit it, I'm a fancy cheese snob. I eat a Laughing Cow cheese wedge with my veggies every day at lunch. Certainly not a necessity and I could have forgone the cheese for a month as a cost-cutting measure, but I didn't. We could have also downgraded to generic coffee creamer instead of the fancy-shmancy stuff, but we really like the fancy stuff, and consequently, spent more money.

3. I didn't shop sales as well as I'd intended - With impromptu visits to Oregon to see my mom and visiting family and cramming in some extra work, I was really pressed for time and I did not make it a priority to go through the grocery stores ads and match them with my coupons for maximum value. My 'big' weekly trip was to Winco, which usually has the cheapest prices, but I know I missed out on some sale items at Safeway.

Along with the failures, there were a few successes:

1. Crock-Pot Dinners - I love my slow cooker and use it often, but I really stepped up the crock-pot cooking. Crock-pot meals can be made inexpensively and are really good. Some of the favorites here include beef stew, garlic-lemon chicken thighs, sweet potato and corn medley, gumbo and chili. (Several of those recipes are available here.)

2. Fancy Breakfasts - Typically during the week Dan and Lana eat cereal and milk for breakfast. Sometimes I have cereal, but usually I eat a granola bar with my coffee as I drive to work. But on the weekends we like better breakfasts. I won a new cookbook from $5 Dinner Mom with some awesome breakfast recipes including pumpkin spice pancakes, one of my new favorites. It was fun trying out new breakfast recipes and adding to our repertoire.

I know that because I tried once and failed, I should not give up on my frugal quest. The motivational speaker in my head is telling me to try, try again and make March the month of success. Well, sorry, I'm not doing it. I went grocery shopping today and was relieved to spend my "regular" amount. I will revisit this issue again in a few months, but I have a different goal for March. I'll get to that in a couple days.

How are your New Year's Goals coming along? Any tips or successes to share with the fatigued?


Lyndsey said...

Well...I am just really impressed!! I really--really need lessons from you (and Angela) on both being organized and being frugal. It is such a hard job to be a working mom and you do it with such grace. I feel like I did a good job planning dinners and budgeting etc when I was home on leave...the day I went back to work---out the window!! I say, Fail is too harsh of a word for you to use =)

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