a challenge of sorts

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Grahm and I spent $957 in the month of July on food. Two tiny tummies. 31 days. One big oopsies. The sad thing is July was actually an improvement from June when we spent almost $1,100. 
Don't worry, I'm judging me too. 
There are things that come naturally to me in this whole house maker/wife thing (spending Grahm's money, cleaning the house, doing our laundry, spending Grahm's money) but cooking has and I suspect never will be one of them. (Now consuming food is an entirely different story...)

I could blame being pregnant, I guess. (It seems to work for everything else... mwhaha.) I could also pin it on the zillions of trips we've been on this summer. But really, I'm just one big pathetic pile of "Hey pumpkin face, let's go out tonight."

Grocery shopping is the absolute pits. I basically fail any time I do anything remotely near me stove. Remember the bacon? Or the pot roast? (Both were exceptionally terrifying experiences.) So it totally makes sense that I would avoid cooking altogether...right? Cereal night here, cereal night there. Out to eat, out to eat, out to stinkin' eat.
We are incredibly blessed to not have any debt (Grahm calls the house an "investment"). We're blessed with good jobs. Money just isn't something that we worry about (not that our kids are going to be popping out with silver spoons). We aren't really the best budgeters. We have one. We just never really stick to it. (It's really my fault.) Since we just bought a new car with out precious cashola and we're expecting a little Roach soon, I'm reevaluating how important our terrible eating-out habits really are.

So this month, we are challenging ourselves to not go out to eat once. No lunches, no dinners, no Saturday morning bagel runs. (Ugh, I regret this already.) We are going to see just how much money we can save this month, just for the fun (not sure that's the right word) of it.

This means I'm actually going to have to buck up, suck up, and learn what the heck a basting spoon is. (Ha. Nothing I make will ever be that complicated.) I've already busted out my barely opened cookbooks.
And I've planned meals for the next two weeks (applause, applause). Grahm and I even went grocery shopping last night to gear up for our 30-day challenge or as he likes to call it, "Uhh, why are we doing this again?" (Poor kid. Can you blame him? Friends, take pity on this poor ol' chap and feed him some leftover scraps that his wife didn't have the chance to burn or char.)

We will reward ourselves at the end of the month with a cruise to Cozumel with some dear friends.
Think we can do it? (Me neither.)
Feel free to share any tips or tricks!

48 comments:

Kaity said...

You can totally do it! Granted, this is coming from the girl who feeds her husband pizza about twice a week :/

Just keep it simple- I do a lot of pastas, bakes and stir frys. At the end of the work day, the last thing I want to do is cook (I actually don't mind cooking, it's the cleaning up part that I hate) so I opt for easy meals :)

k8te said...

you can do it! we started trying to eat healthier over the last 6 months or so, and we rarely (sob) go out to eat anymore. i promose it gets easier! (also my husband cooks a lot of our meals, sooo maybe i have it easy there? but i do the food shopping! that counts for something, right?!

Jacki B said...

Okay, You can totally do this. (I'm a long time reader - and I've never commented before) As a fellow wife turned home cook I thought I should throw out some encouragement.

The pioneer woman cookbook should be your best friend!
ALSO, Look for things your can make ahead so that if you have a busy night, or a night of just "I don't want to do this anymore" you can pull something out of the fridge and feel like you did something extraordinary.

You can TOTALLY do this!!! As I remind my husband frequently, making a sandwich or salad is still preparing dinner =) Good luck!

Melissa said...

Good Luck! You sound like my hubby and I! We have also started a challenge of sorts, i am on day 4 of bringing a lunch to work every day! Hey you have to start somewhere! Can't wait to read about your cooking and not going out :)

Megan D said...

Try to incorporate the crock pot. It works wonders and is generally 1) easy to cook and 2) hard to burn. If you're worried about cook time, go for the low heat setting and least amount of time. Still need to be cooked? Add a little bit of time to it :) Also, casseroles and pasta generally pretty easy to make and even if you might mess it up the first time, it's easy learning what you have to do to fix it (Just don't cook it as long :). You can do it! My mom used to burn meals but eventually learned over time and now I'll eat just about anything she puts on the table! Everyone has to burn something at least once (if not multiple times) to call themselves a cook!

Erin LFF said...

You REALLY can do it! While I do like to cook, there are plentyyy of days we have super simple dinners at home because it's still cheaper! Baked potatoes and salad, omelets.... we do easy stuff a lot so we don't feel like we have to come home after working all day and cook up some gourmet meal. Also- the crockpot is my best friend. I have only messed up one thing in the crockpot and I just left it on too long. YOU GOT THIS! :)

Dina said...

YOU CAN do it! Check out: http://www.emeals.com

it saves you money and time. WEll worth it.

Allison said...

Girl you CAN do it!!!! I used to be the same way, but now I love to cook. There are so many easy meals out there. And you know I love Pioneer Woman but just know that her meals can take lots and lots of time so get ready if she's your go to girl. And like Erin said...crock pot=best friend.

Kayla Peveler said...

You guys can DO this!!!! You are ahead of me on the meal planning though, I need to get better at that. It starts becoming a game, like ..."how long can I NOT spend money?" :) enjoy it, sistaa friend.

Daliene Hendon said...

I overspend on groceries every month too! I was annoyed this morning when I realized the 5 (expensive) apples I bought Sunday were already gone! lol I wanted to yell at farm boy for eating all the expensive apples so quickly, then I realized that would be rude. heehee. I just can't help myself-I LOVE food and grocery shopping. I think you can do it. Buying things for the baby will help you budget more I think.

Kendra Klingler said...

If I could do it, so can you. It's hard, but totally worth it in the end. As my husband and I were in school, HE's the one who goes out, thanks to his friend who makes him do so--then it's like, hey if you are going out to eat, as I am in class starving, get me something!! It was bad!! But so good to our stomachs. I am definitely NOT the cook in the house, my husband is. I feel bad for not having dinner ready when he gets home from work. I suck at looking at the fridge see food that is going bad, because we don't use it. As my husband and I went out to a friend's cabin and how they fed us, made me want to change and make things for my husband and using up things around in the house that needs to go first. It's hard, but you can do it. Just stick to the meal plan and you will do great! I hate cooking too, but it's a wonderful challenge :)

Treasure Tromp said...

you can totally do it! I am all about meal planning (when I have the time:])

julia rose. said...

ya'll are hilarious. seriously, i love your little fam so much!! and you can do this- i am sure of it! i'm slowly making my way into the life of a chef (or at least someone who cooks on a regular basis and doesn't burn the house down)... and it's pretty fun!! pinterest of course helps this girl out BIG time!

Lauren said...

you got this. i talk a big game about "meal planning" each week only to start whining on MONDAY that i don't want to make dinner. wah wah.

Rachel S said...

You can do it!! I say also make meals in advance, freeze them. That is what we do.

Brittany Fry said...

You sound like us!! We haven't even been married 2 months yet and I seriously dread cooking and grocery shopping. Actually anything that involves food prep! unless its a big bowl of ice cream. I have challenged myself to quit eating out for lunch and eventually dinners will follow suit but I have to take baby steps. Plus we don't eat dinner out too often my biggest thing is not bringing lunch to work and the office being located between an Arby's, McD's, Taco Bell and Burger King I destined to be lured in!!

Good luck and I cannot wait to see how it turns out for you guys!

Kim Matheson said...

You're going to rock it! Super not the easiest thing in the world, but it comes with the time and effort you put in to it. I wasn't a huge meal planning fan when I started, but it's so much better now that I've been doing it. Makes grocery shopping a breeze and Husband-Guy loves it because I plan leftovers for him to take to work for lunch.

Good luck - have fun with it! :)

Lins - Domesticated Working Woman said...

I'm excited to read how this goes for you guys! I think you just need to find some good recipes and you will get it! I have a VERY easy recipe on my blog today and I'm making another one tonight that I plan to share in the near future. Both are delish (cheap) and easy!

delcers said...

Rotisserie Chicken is a life saver! Buy one at Costco for I think 5 bucks, then you can use it to make Enchiladas, chicken salads, buffalo chicken wraps, the options are endless!! One chicken could make you meals for a few days :)

Melissa Knott said...

I have a TON of easy (emphasis on easy) recipes on my recipes page: http://www.tiedtheknott.com/p/recipes.html

Becky said...

I think you guys can do it!! Just think of that trip as your reward every time you have to say no! The blog world is loaded with yummy, quick recipes - that's where I get most of mine!

KatyK said...

You can do it! I trick myself by splitting it into weeks. (That makes the idea of the WHOLE month easier for me somehow.) You guys will be just fine though. Its surprising how much you can save just by eating at home.

Amy said...

I used to live in a city alone and I ate out all the time. Like probably once-twice daily. Terrible. I do have debt (food honestly is a reason why), my boyfriend doesn't.

We spend a lot of money on food - probably where most of our money outside of bills goes... but we RARELY eat out. I'm talking maybe MAYBE once a week, probably more like every other week. When we go to actual restaurants it's maybe once or twice a month, the other times are at my mom's restaurant that she owns, so it's half price. More justifiable.

For cooking - think simple. Practice makes perfect. Find your groove. Recipes are guidelines (except baking). Find some good crock pot meals to start out!

Here are some of my fav crock pot meals:
This one is kinda spicy: http://www.northcarolinacharm.com/2012/12/crockpot-buffalo-chicken_30.html
I recommend to add a bit of cayenne pepper: http://megoonthego.com/2013/04/slow-cooker-thai-chicken-coconut-curry.html
this is delish: http://www.food.com/recipe/salsa-chicken-slow-cooker-recipe-396495

Emily said...

We found it was really hard to NEVER eat out, so Levi and I each get a set amount of cash each month to eat out with (can be used on outings separately or together). When it's gone, it's gone! The first month we tried it, we were out by the 15th. But now that we've had time to practice making it stretch, it seems to work well!

Jamie K. said...

I applaud you! We are going to have a no-spend September month after we get fully moved in our house! We are like yall and have a budget but never really stick to it. I am blaiming the getting married and combining bank acct thing to our yeah we have the money and now i'm blaming the brand new house from sucking it out of us too :) Good Luck!

Amanda said...

I spy Ree Drummond's book in your cookbook stack- it's great! Seriously! I have some super easy recipes on my blog but the problem is when I cook even though it's just the two of us, we eat enough for like 7....wah-wah. But you really will save loads of money then you can plan super exciting fun things to do with the little roach soon! xx

www.rhymeandribbons.com

Amira said...

Buy stuff to make burritos and then freeze them! Voila, 10 "meals" just like that! You can make bean and cheese ones, or add ground beef, or shredded beef. They keep very well!

A Nerd and A Free Spirit said...

I have a homemade bagel recipe if you want to make your own saturday bagels! But you should make them Friday night, because it takes time. (-:

~K

Brandy said...

Crock pot meals & simple meals!
Although I don't trust cooking with a crock pot unless I'm actually home, I just don't like the idea of leaving something cooking all day with no one home. But lots of people do everyday. But you can do most anything in a crock pot.
And simple meals...baked potatos (which you can also do in a crock pot), tacos, spaghetti, you can always do a sub night (can't go wrong with sammiches), chicken, etc etc.
Make Pinterest your best friend and just make sure you follow directions.
And if you have any questions you have lots of people to ask, one is bound to have the answer. :)
You can absolutely do it!

Suze said...

We recently added up how much we spent going out to eat and we were SHOCKED.

We challenged ourselves to eat in for a week and we broke it. Maybe we will try again!

Good luck to you guys in your challenge! I wish I had tips to offer, but obviously not :)

Elle Vee said...

Haha I look forward to seeing how you go with it!

Kaylin said...

Loving everything and the honesty in this post. I spent a LOT on food too. Mostly at the grocery store, but we go out a lot too...oh man. Thanks for sharing :)

Whitney said...

Don't worry-- we spent about the same amount. It's really awful. We're trying to be better about it too! So good to know we aren't alone.

Tanya said...

Man I hate cooking too! Somehow my husband hasn't left me because I pretty much expect him to cook every night. I suck at being a wife! Haha. But that picture of you is adorable! Good luck! You can do it!

Ech and Will said...

It sounds worse than it really is. I had to cook a lot more when I became a housewife. Pinterest and our crockpot became my best friends. Good luck!

Angie said...

I couldn't even boil water when I got married and now I cook 90 percent of our meals at home. You can do this, you just have to want to. Wishing you the best of luck!!!

Bri Lamkin said...

Holy moly girl. We spend a little under $400 a month on groceries. If you haven't already, shop at a grocery store that has a membership: safeway, kroger, king soopers. Get one of their cards and buy store brand products. You save a ton with that membership. Pay attention to the little tags that show the discounted price for store brand. Also, bonus: you get discounts on gas with those cards as well. Also, stay away from the junky food aisles: chips, candy, crackers, sodas. Those kinds of foods eat up your money. I also, if there is a good price on something, for example bagels. They might be on sale for 2 packs for $5. I know we wont eat 14 bagels in enough time, but I can freeze them! Your freezer is your best friend. I understand the cooking thing. But I promise you, once you get into the habit of meal planning and you find some recipes you like (and actually good at making) things get easier and you end up finding more recipes and you end up enjoying it. Grocery shopping every week is hands down one of my favorite things. But only when I have a list. But don't get discouraged when you have a really awful meal. Just the other day I tried to make homemade mac and cheese, for like the third time, and I swear everyone on pinterest is lying about homemade mac and cheese. It is IMPOSSIBLE to make right.

Kim said...

You can totally do this! Store brand is definitely always cheaper and usually just the same in taste. My bf and I are horrible when it comes to eating out because we are both in the restaurant business and literally look at food all day everyday! All I can say is keep it simple! Spaghetti sauce can be used as pizza sauce, chicken can turn to chicken salad o meat for a salad the possibilities are endless! Good luck y all!

Amanda said...

Um, is it bad that this makes me feel better about our food budget? You can totally do it! And if not, at least you'll have funny stories to share :)

Gig-ee said...

Go check out this site, easymeals.com. It's a very affordable meal plan site with an app to use. It's simple meals based on your family size, preferences and grocery store of choice in your area. We love it!

Anonymous said...

Goodness Gracious Chick!
We only spend about $200/a month (if that) on groceries. I make a list for two weeks worth of meals then I only buy groceries for those meals. I find a lot of fun ideas on saving money and lots of good recipes on pinterest! lol It's do-able. I believe in you. We eat like teenagers. We eat hamburger helper, hamburgers, grilled chicken, bagel bites ect things with directions on the box is always the best for us. lol
Good luck girl!

Anonymous said...

oh also we shop at walmart and price match and coupon. Maybe you should look into it? it helps a ton!

Ashley said...

Yes! Blame everything on pregnancy!! But seriously...no judging over here. We spend way too much on food. The grocery store is my enemy. I'm going to read through the comments and get some tips myself. AFter your 30 day challenge, make sure you write a post on how you did it. I know you can do it!!

Brandi said...

Yes, you can do it!!
Planning is everything. My family was the exact same way...because going out to eat is just easier, right?! Right.
We make a weekly Trader Joe's trip (after crunching the numbers, it is a cheaper alternative than our weekly Target trips), and we plan the heck out of our meals weekly.
The day you don't have a plan is the day you'll go out to eat.
The internet is full of recipe sites, just Google what you want!
SkinnyTaste.com is one of our favorites around here!
Good luck you to!
xo Brandi - Cupcakes and Curves

Rachel said...

We do enjoy eating out--I think most recently the longest time we've gone without eating out was like 13 days. Not that long. A whole month would be a good challenge. I do cook--it's just that I also enjoy it when we don't. If you like eggs, those are my favorite thing to cook when you need something with protein and that's filling but is really easy and fast. Omelets with a ton of veggies are tasty, cheap, and healthy, too!

Mason's Mama said...

We are right there with you guys! We enjoy going out to eat. We started cutting back during the week and have been eating at home every night M-T. Now, I just need to learn how to save money at the Grocery store! I still spend $100-$130 a week. Maybe that's normal for a family of 3? Not sure. Just seems like a lot! ha

Amy said...

It's always an eye-opening experience when you actually tally up all your bills and "fun money" from the month before. I once looked at how much I spent eating out in one month and almost fell out of my chair.
We really take for granted a lot of things.
You can totally do this, and once you get the hang of cooking, it starts to become easier and even maybe fun? ha.

Ashley Alexa said...

Hi Jenna, what a joy to discover your blog, thank you for the cheer! Now, about the cooking issue... when there is an element of fun, anything becomes easier. ;) I've taken classes at both Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma (though I much prefer the atmosphere at Sur la Table), Sur la Table even has couples classes! They are more like an evening in, enjoying good food and new friends. You can even rent out the entire class for a family gathering! Bring a girl-friend or two that you' be been dying to catch up with - that's what I did. Fun, fun, fun! And great food! Beginners can easily follow the team tasks. : )

wishing you and yours all the best,
Ashley Alexa