The Great March Pantry Challenge: Week 3 Update

by Melody on March 26, 2012

For more information on The Great March Pantry Challenge, read my original post here.  In a nutshell, I blew the grocery budget to smithereens in February.  In an attempt to work through our well-stocked pantry and freezer, I’m trying to make up for it in March with what we have left over.  Per week, this works out to $17.  Seriously.  Per week.

I started off the month by doing a full inventory of our pantry/freezer, splitting up our monthly budget by week and pulling out only the necessary cash for each week.

Grocery Shopping

I only did one decent sized shopping trip this week and that was to Fred Meyer.  For everything in the picture above including a gallon of organic milk, I spent just $16.10  Thank goodness for amazing produce prices this week!  With a few other odds and ends picked up at Rite Aid, including a few dozen eggs I bought to use up +UP Rewards, I still stayed right around my weekly budget.

Total spent for the week: $17.85

After going a few dollars over budget last week, this puts me with $14 left to spend for the month.  My husband actually gets paid on Thursday, so in all honesty I could make my monthly Costco run then to stock up on some things we are low on.

Menu Planning

We did have a decent menu plan set up for this week, but around Wednesday morning we all started coming down with the flu.  The plan got mostly scrapped in favor of dry cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids.  I was extremely grateful for this challenge this week, as I had done the bulk of my shopping on Monday morning and didn’t have to run to the store for anything while we were under the weather.

A few things I was able to scrounge up this week:

Quinoa PattiesThese are completely meat-free and a great budget item.  My meat-loving husband declared them “Delicious” and ate four.  He even requested them again, with tartar sauce on sourdough buns.  He never requests anything.  Ever.  This is big news.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup – This recipe is from Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen (Amazon).  We invited friends over for dinner on Saturday and my husband had a softball tournament all day, so I decided on something to go into the crockpot.  Everything from this cookbook is spot-on, as they test their recipes every which way possible and with every possible ingredient substitution.  Next time I might use a sharp cheddar or add some romano cheese for a little kick.

Chicken Soup with Garlic AioliThis soup has been on the top of my list for several years.  This tastes like it has been simmering all day and took a lot more work than it actually did.  It’s super easy, super delicious and so comforting when you’re not feeling well.  Instead of serving the aioli on the side, I mix it in with the whole pot to make it a little creamier.

I also made a big pot of steel cut oats for breakfast and another big pot of brown rice as an easy add-on to our meals.

A few miscellaneous thoughts

Since we were sick, we ended up with a few things that we just weren’t able to use and were about to head south.  I have been thinking about our Easter menu and have a Lemon Chiffon Cake planned.  Instead of buying lemons again in a few weeks (we rarely use them), I zested and juiced the three that I had, flash froze the zest and froze the juice to use in the cake.  Easy and cost-efficient!

I was also looking for some easy ways to freshen up our house after the very large and incredibly obnoxious Germ family had lived with us for a few days, and my friend Kim recommended this amazing Stovetop Potpourri.  I used some of our leftover lemon slices and dried rosemary (it’s all I had) and it was outrageously fantastic.

I also had extra limes and a huge bunch of cilantro, which easily translated to Cilantro Lime Pesto.  I’ve only made this for marinading chicken before, but tonight we used it as dressing for our grilled chicken salad and it was delicious.  My kids fought each other to lick the spatula.

Ignoring all the “Deals”

Not that I would ever call getting sick a blessing, but I had zero desire to shop and zero desire to chase any deal.  I barely looked at much on the computer besides the basic stuff I was doing on the blog.  The only thing I had a hard time with was writing up the Fred Meyer match-ups on Sunday, as their amazing Mix & Match promo had TONS of items that we use on a daily basis.  For about 5 seconds, I tried to come up with a scenario but realized that no matter what, I would blow the budget.  I forced myself to walk away.

I can’t believe I am so close to being done with this challenge.  Again, while this wouldn’t be a great long-term solution for building a stock-pile, I realize how little I NEED most of the deals I pick up.  Even after going this entire month without buying much of anything, I still have a pantry and freezer full of food.

I’d love to hear how you are doing with your grocery budget this month?  How do you make a thin week’s budget stretch?

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