The whole purpose of our homesteading adventure is to have less expenses when we retire. To make this possible, we are on a mission to get the house paid off as quickly as possible. We’ve been ‘doing’ the Dave Ramsey plan off and on and have lived on ‘rice and beans’ before and have cut costs everywhere we could. I’ve been looking at our budget to see where we could trim some additional fat and I keep going back to our grocery bill. I spend on average $150 a week for pretty much just the two of us (that means some weeks are much higher…). Our youngest daughter lives at home, but we don’t see her much since she works the night shift at the hospital.
This seems ridiculous to spend $600/month on groceries for two people. My new goal is to cut that in half and spend $300/month. A goal is just a dream though unless you have a plan.
Here’s my plan.
- First, I took an inventory of the freezer, pantry and refrigerator. You need to do this! Put everything down on paper. I bet you’ll be amazed. I was! I’ve been building a stock pile for the just in case, but now we’re going to deplete this to save some moola.
- Next step – I created a menu for next week using just the things we have on hand.
I’ll need to get a few things from the store this week and I think I can do this for $20.
- Chicken broth
- Canola oil
- Doritos (gotta have them with burritos!)
- ½ gallon milk
- Fruit for lunches and snacks (whatever is on sale)
- 1 bell pepper
- I will continue to make menus from the inventory until it’s pretty much gone. I think I can get 3-4 weeks out of it. This is going to save us around $450-$500. That will be a nice principle payment on the house.
- Once the inventory has dwindled down, I will establish a menu of two revolving weeks that keep with a theme. For example, week 1 the star will be chicken. I can cook up a whole chicken on the weekend and then create different chicken dishes throughout the week. The next week may be beef or pork. Now that we have the smoker we can cook up the star meat dish and then get creative.
- Lastly, we have increased the size of our garden this year and I plan to put away a lot of food by canning and freezing. This will help our food bill down the road and throughout the year.
The goal is to keep costs down. If I can buy a few ingredients that can be used throughout the week on multiple meals, then I’m not spending a lot of money on a bunch of different things. Just keeping it simple and automated to a degree.
It may sound a little boring to have the same meals week after week, but if you think about it – you probably do this already. There are times that we get in a busy cycle and eat out almost every night. I hate it, but you know it happens to all of us. When you eat out you probably have a favorite thing from each venue, right? And you get it every time you go there.
I can change up the menus a bit and have spaghetti one week and lasagna the next week. Still uses the same core ingredients, but just a different shape of pasta.
This will take time to plan and execute, but I know it will get easier the more I do it. It’s not a whole lot different than a budget. It’s just taking the budget and getting even more detailed about what food items I’m going to spend money on. I’ve been doing it already, but not that detailed. I have an idea of what to have for dinners and I make a rough grocery list, but I’ve never stuck to doing a detailed menu and list for any length of time. Plus, by having the same things every other week, I can watch for those items to go on sale and grab them. I need refrain from buying extra and stocking up though. That’s not the goal right now.
We would love to retire in 11 years, but 15 is probably the more realistic time frame. We’re doing what we can today to make tomorrow a bit easier and less stressful. We want this more and more every day. If we can keep the passion for the ‘prize’ in sight, we can stick to this plan and make it happen!
The next piece of ‘fat’ to trim from the budget is the trips to Wal-Mart where you go in for two things and come out with 10! I’ll let you know what my plan is once I have it in place.