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January Challenge – Reporting Out February 2, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Groceries, Monthly Challenge, My No Spendy Year, Shopping.

At work, when asked to provide information about project results, or statistics for a time period, it’s called “Reporting Out”. As in “Be prepared to Report Out in our meeting.” Or “Will you gather the monthly stats for such-and-such Client so I can Report Out to the Big Boss.” I don’t know if this is a common term in the corporate world (although I guess it might be) because I only have experience at this corporation. The phrase does fill a need and I’ll use it each month to document how successful (or not) I was with each monthly challenge.

My January Challenge limited my grocery purchases to fresh produce and milk. Everything else needed to come from my freezer and cupboards. I am happy to Report Out that the challenge was successful.

I did not intentionally stock up prior to this challenge but the kids had been home for various Holidays and various lengths of time. I bought more food through December than I would have purchased just for myself. And there were those ‘clearance’ meats I found on my last grocery trip of 2012. I didn’t go to the store that day with the intention of filling my freezer as that would have defeated the purpose of the challenge, but that did end up happening. The only non-produce, non-milk purchases I made this month were either from the clearance baskets at Woodman’s or from my Free Spending Money.

Woodman’s is the biggest grocery store close to me. It’s far enough away that I generally need to make a special trip rather than just pop in but I think that’s a good thing (less impulse shopping that way). Prices are generally good (although I can find some things cheaper elsewhere) and I can find just about everything I need. I like the fact that they are employee owned and they get special bonus points for being open 24 hours. It’s nice that I don’t have to think about closing time for those occasional late night trips. They also have a full sized liquor store attached but mentioning that runs the risk of sounding like a lush.

One thing I love about Woodman’s is their clearance baskets. When you walk in the store there is a line of grocery carts with overstock items, out of season, or close to the sell-by date. Sometimes I can find bags of produce as well. I always cruise through and see if there are any treasures. On my one trip in January there were a few boxes of Gluten Free crackers I had not tried before for only $2.00. Gluten Free anything generally starts at about $4.00 and only goes up so this was a great deal and I bought one box each of two different flavors.

My total for that one trip to Woodman’s was $39.68. It wasn’t all produce and GF crackers — my youngest was with me and I know he picked up something (some Lara Bars if I remember correctly) but I don’t count that. I bought a big bag of grapefruit and another of oranges, some apples, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and celery. I also made another trip to the closer store to get a Serrano pepper. So that’s it for grocery spending in January!

Well, almost… like I mentioned earlier, I did spend some of my Free money. One of my weaknesses is tortilla chips. Preferably On The Border brand or the traditional restaurant kind that taste like they were made from cut up tortillas. I did buy two bags of those this month. And when I bought the pepper, I also bought a block of sharp cheddar cheese. Cheese is the one thing I ran out of this month that I really missed. I still think I was successful (but it’s OK if you think I cheated, I won’t hold that against you.)

I still have quite a bit in my freezer and cupboard. I’m going to make one planned trip to the store after my next payday, and then extend this challenge for another month. I’ll go to the store with a list and if something is not on that list I won’t buy it. The only exception will be if I find something in those clearance baskets or on sale for a great price. No other impulse shopping allowed.

I haven’t yet inventoried my cupboards but I pulled everything out of the freezer yesterday to take stock of what was there. My only freezer is the little one attached to the fridge, but as you can see, there is more than enough to feed one person for at least another month. Depending on what I find in my cupboards, I may need to get a little creative but I certainly won’t starve.

  • Tilapia filets – 2
  • Boneless chicken thighs -8
  • Italian sausage links (chicken) – 4
  • Italian sausage (pork, cooked and crumbled, ready for pizza) – 1 serving
  • Ground turkey – 2 lbs
  • Pizza sauce (enough for one pizza) – 2
  • Spaghetti sauce – 1.5 cups
  • Chicken stock (2 cups) – 2
  • Sofrito (used to make Arroz con Gandules)- 1.5 cups
  • Blueberries – 2 cups
  • Bananas – 4-5 bananas, in chunks
  • Mixed fruit – 1.5 or 2 cups
  • Pumpkin, canned (1 cup) – 2
  • Pumpkin, cooked at home (1.5-2 cups) – 1
  • Cranberries – 1 lb
  • Corn – 1 lb
  • Broccoli – .5 lb
  • Green Beans – .25 lb
  • Pound cake slices (homemade, GF) – 6
  • Cinnamon raisin bread, GF – half loaf
  • Chalupa – 1 serving
  • Hot dogs (Oscar Mayer, packs of 5) – 3

I must have been thinking about this Reporting Out last night before I went to sleep because I dreamed about grocery shopping. I was at Safeway (haven’t been to a Safeway since I moved from California 15 years ago, but yes, it was Safeway and I’m pretty sure it was the one I went to as a child so maybe 40+ years ago… dreams are funny that way) and buying asparagus. I remember thinking I didn’t need to buy as much as I initially grabbed because I would be the only one eating it and that I put some back so it wouldn’t be wasted. The dream went on from there in weird directions as dreams often do and I woke up amused. I rather like the fact that this mindset is becoming so ingrained that it shows up in my dreams.

Look for another Grocery Shopping Challenge Reporting out March Second.


In which I resort to hyperbole April 1, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Shopping.

Today is the first day of my personal buy nothing challenge and I failed miserably. I may not be able to recover from this. I’m thinking I should just admit defeat and give up now. I’m sure I can find a 24 hour WalMart somewhere and I’ll just go empty my checkbook and get it over with.

I started out ok and brought some yogurt to work for breakfast. I keep a box of granola in a desk drawer and like to sprinkle some on the yogurt. I didn’t buy the made-to-order scrambled eggs, or even succumb to a bagel and juice from the work cafeteria. One gold star to add to my chart. Then, midmorning, I needed to walk away from my desk. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t have been pretty. I asked a co-worker to take a little walk so I could vent and that ‘little walk’ was to head downstairs to Starbucks. It’s pretty convenient having a Starbucks right in the building, but it’s also mighty tempting. I’m not fond of their coffee straight, but a Caramel Macchiotto can certainly brighten my day. And brighten my day it did, except for the twinges of guilt I was trying to ignore.

I had meetings over lunch and was too busy to visit the cafeteria. I try to keep some quick non-perishables in my desk and resorted to a cup of ramen in the afternoon. Not great, but it kept me away from the vending machines.

In the evening it was Youth Group Night. My youngest goes to a group 18 miles from home – too far to drive back and forth – so I need to find something to occupy my time. Often the Middle Boy accompanies me and we spend at least an hour hanging out in Caribou Coffee. Reading, knitting, talking, not doing homework, sometimes working on the laptop. I look forward to the time with him and do not begrudge the price of a decaf mocha (for me) or a coffee cooler (for him). Today he started Spring Marching Band and so I was on my own.

We’re almost out of toilet paper and that’s one thing I do NOT want to run out of, so I steeled myself and went into Target. And bought stuff:

  • 20 roll pack of TP
  • 8 Thank You cards for people at work
  • 2 pkgs of pre-mixed tuna salad to keep at work
  • 2 boxes of granola (with blueberries) from the clearance rack
  • A small notebook that I need for work

So far I’m feeling OK. Yeah, I could have only grabbed the TP (which was on sale, by the way) and left everything else, but I have a definite use and “need” for the cards and notebook. The cards will go out to the Team tomorrow and I’ve already started using the notebook. But then there was this:

A really cute pair of shoes. Oh sigh. I am soooo NOT a “cute shoes” kind of girl. Give me my Birkies and I’m happy. I wear the same pair of black dressy shoes until they fall apart. I’ve worn the same sandals for the last 3 summers. It’s not so much that I’m frugal in this area or trying to make some sort of statement (although I just can’t quite rationalize spending big bucks on shoes), I’m just not that into shoes. Give me comfort and I’m happy. Plus there’s the fact that my feet are long and wide and I’m just plain hard to fit. Mostly I don’t even look at shoes because it’s just too disappointing. But today…. They must have just received a shipment as there were many, many size 11’s in stock. Wide ones even. And I found these cute flowery flats that would look great with my black pants or maybe that spring green skirt in the back of my closet. And they were on sale.

So, day one and I blew it at Starbucks and with the shoes. I am a total and abject failure and I may not recover (this would be a good time to refer to the subject line).