Saturday, February 01, 2014

Frugal February

I've been keeping a spending diary since the beginning of the year and it's been really enlightening to see written down exactly where the money is going. One of our biggest expenditure areas is groceries, and I would really like to reduce what we spend in that area.  

During January we spent the following. 

On takeaways £76.77
The Prof at work, snacks/lunch/drinks £42.15
Me, weekdays, out and about, snack/lunch/drinks £16.30
Weekends, out and about £29.62
Grocery shopping £364.04

That makes a whopping total of £528.88! This total does include dog food, which is about £25 a month, and household cleaners etc though I buy very few of those. Even if I estimate £50 for dog food plus toiletries/household things, that means we have spent at least £478.28 in one month on food. 

At the same time as I'm spending a lot each week on food, I seem to have overflowing cupboards and freezer so I thought it would be fun to join in with Robyn over at Essex Hebridean for 'Frugal February'. I'll be trying to use up the stores we have already, and to buy only what we really need each week. I'll decide on a budget for the month based on last month and do my best to reduce it. The savings can go into our emergency fund, which I'm trying to build up, so that when there's an emergency I don't have to dip into money we've saved for holidays, bills, or Christmas, which is what usually happens, sending all my well laid plans into chaos. 

We have quite a lot of supplies at the moment. I know we've lots of tinned things as well as rice, pasta, couscous, noodles and the dreaded packet of quinoa that I bought about a year ago to try. It gazes at me reproachfully every time I open the cupboard so maybe this month I'll manage to make something with it. In the fridge I have lots of bottles and jars, and various other things, including a lot of cheese from Christmas. The freezer is overflowing too, some meat (for the Prof) veggie sausages, pies etc for me, and for some reason 3 huge bags of frozen spinach.The next step is to write down a list of meals using things up. I have never managed to menu plan properly, I just can't seem to decide in advance what I'm going to fancy next Tuesday, but I do usually have a rough idea of the meals coming up over the next week or so, just not exactly what we're going to eat each day. Maybe I'll have a go at sticking to a menu plan at some point in the month.

I quite enjoy cooking dinners, but I don't bake. Pastry remains a mystery to me and the last cake I made was for the Young Philosopher's 3rd birthday, a good few years ago as he is now 22!  I believe even that was from a mix I bought at the fancy cake shop where I hired the cake tins. I made it in the shape of an octopus though, so I do get creative points for that. I'd like to try making some snacks for lunchboxes for the Young Philosopher and the Prof. I have little of the relevant equipment to bake anything so may need to buy a couple of things, tins or baking paper or something (can you tell I don't know what I'm talking about?), so there's some extra expense there but will hopefully enable me to make more savings in the future. 

We should have more than enough tinned dog food (may have to get some dry dog food - she has that for breakfast), and toiletries. I have quite a stockpile of toothpaste, shampoo etc that I've bought on offer, and bubble bath/shower gel is always plentiful thanks to Christmas and birthdays. I made 10 litres of laundry liquid last week (at a saving of around £50 for about half an hour's work! Go me) so have plenty of that, too.

We are going away for a weekend later in the month. We're visiting Nottingham for a history lecture on the Friday evening and we decided to stay a couple of nights and make a weekend of it. Breakfasts are included in our hotel stay but we will be needing three lunches and two evening meals while we're away. I have money put by for this weekend so I'm not going to include it in my budget for the month for the purposes of this challenge. 

The YP got a juicer for Christmas and makes his own juices regularly, so this another expense. I don't mind, so long as all the fruit and veg I buy for this gets used, so I'll be keeping a very close eye on waste. 

At the weekends we often have lunch out, or at least a coffee somewhere while we're out and about. I don't necessarily intend to stop doing that, but I plan to have no takeaways at all during February, which should save quite a bit as we've been having one a week recently (blame my curry addiction).

Action plan:
Inventory food supplies
Write a list of meals
Find recipes to use up some random ingredients I have in stock (frozen spinach and quinoa, in particular!). I'd like to have a go at making Robyn's flapjack recipe for lunchboxes.

I'm not including the money we spent on takeaways last month, and making it a round £400 target for the month, not including the weekend away for which I've budgeted already. I think I have enough food in stock to save quite a bit of that £400. Frugal February, here I come! 

1 comment:

  1. An idea with the meal planning - can you have a list of meals that you currently have things in to make, but without days against them, so you can decide a few days ahead what you want to cook? Might suit you better than a hard and fast plan - anyway, who wants to slip into the thing of thinking "we're eating sausages so it must be Tuesday!" - boring, that!


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