Friday, November 25, 2011

When The Cupboard is Bare: A #Lowcarb Challenge

Between November and March, we live on a single income. And we do just fine :). This year will be no different, when I look back on it in the spring, despite the present challenge...

When we went over budget to buy our new TV this month, I knew that the grocery stock would suffer, since we can't make cuts from our budget anywhere else. And as I've written in the past, I don't make menus and purchase according to meal plans when I shop; I keep my own stock of food on hand, and depending on what we're in the mood for on any given day, we "go shopping" in our own freezer and cupboards. I'm not talking about stockpiles as seen on Extreme Couponing, but we typically have enough food for at least a month's worth of meals, since I do buy a bunch of meat, frozen vegetables, dairy (cheese or butter, or anything that freezes well) canned goods, etc. when it's on sale. Whatever is on sale when I'm shopping - usually soon after payday - is what we eat the most of that month. (I don't plan my shopping around sales either, I go when we have the money. Although if the funds are available when there's a good sale on something I would use at other times, I will buy as much of it as I can.)

So this month I didn't do my usual big shopping to restock, and I didn't place my usual netrition order for baking supplies either. We put the $ toward our new TV instead, just picking up a little of this and a little of that as needed - a half-gallon of half and half or a pound of butter or whatever. And I spent $19 for Thanksgiving. I figured we'd simply clean up what's left from previous months' shopping this month. I have about $15 left for food between now and next Friday, payday. I don't see this as a hardship though, I see it as a challenge and an opportunity for creativity!

We eat a lot of meals. I typically prepare at least 2 full meals during the day for Pete and I - and grandson Leelan is here at least half the time also to eat with us - plus I make a lunch for Pete to take to work to eat during the night. Depending on when he's awake, he (and Leelan) will usually eat something in the morning after work, and sometimes I join them. Late afternoon is another meal for Leelan and I, and Pete if he's awake - that is our main meal. Leelan, when he's here 4 days a week (or more), requires a snack in between as well, since he's just 2½. (I also buy milk and juice for him but no juice this week.) Then Pete and I have our supper late in the evening, before Pete goes to work...or, if he was awake for the earlier meal, a lunch-sized snack. I can't plan because I never know when Pete will be awake on any given day, but I know I have to have something ready to make (thawed or whatever) to accommodate him. And Leelan, whose schedule isn't the same. And I just eat whenever, with whomever, since my schedule is the most flexible. Most days I don't plan anything for myself, but just wait until the next mealtime comes along, whenever that happens to be.

So far it's been going fine, and now we're coming down to the wire! Now is the time I need to get creative. We have a few 2-2½ bags of frozen vegetables, a couple of pounds of ground sausage, one pot roast, one steak, about 4-5 chicken leg quarters, and a few canned vegetables left. Pretty much out of decaf coffee (what I drink - hubby has enough regular for himself, I'll be drinking tea instead this week), half'n'half/cream/milk, most cheeses, bread-making supplies (I may be able eke out one more loaf this week for Pete's lunches). Down to our last dozen eggs, too. But this is the kind of thing I love, this type of challenge! I think I'll be able to feed us for another week, we may have some strange meals but we'll get through :). And I'll let you know how we do at the end. My $15 will probably buy us more eggs, some more tea (only 99c for that), and some whole milk - cheaper than cream or half'n'half plus Leelan can drink it - for using in other dishes as I figure them out.

WOOHOO, off to the races! :)

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