Thanks for checking in to see how I’m doing on my new budget. You can read what my budget involves in my last post, A Simple Budget Plan Because I Hate Budgets. I’m happy to say it has been going well.
I don’t need a detailed spreadsheet to know that I spend a lot of money every month on food. I used to keep the checkbook on Quicken. I would be like, “What?!” at the end of every month when I looked at the total money we spent on groceries and eating out.
My simple solutions to saving money on our food are…
- be intentional with my grocery store spending
- cook more at home
- waste less food at home
- eat out less.
I said simple, not always easy. Depending on your daily schedule, this can be challenging. It’s so convenient to go through the drive thru after a long day.
Cooking during the week isn’t normally a problem for me. It’s usually the weekend that blows the budget. Our schedule often includes weekend tournaments, school performances, or household errands that make it tempting to grab a cheeseburger in between activities.
Using my freezer more efficiently can help me with all aspects of my food money saving solutions. If I know what I have, I can be more intentional at the grocery store. If I have some easy freezer meals available I can cook more at home and eat out less. If I freeze more food, less goes bad in my refrigerator.
I spent this week decluttering my freezer by throwing out bags of iced over mystery meats and leftovers. I evaluated the rest of the items to see what I could add to from the grocery store and my pantry. Organizing my freezer means I know what I have and I can find it when I need it. I also wanted to clear space for easy freezer meals I plan on making.
We have a big freezer in the basement but that one is pretty organized so I know what I have. For the most part, I am the only one who puts things in the downstairs freezer. However, the freezer drawers in our main kitchen are used by everyone so I’m not always sure what’s all in there.
As I dug through, I discovered lots of half empty (or half full if you’re that kind of person) bags of frozen fruit. We love fruit smoothies in my family so we usually have a few bags on hand. I decided to clear out the bags that were opened and make a bunch of smoothies to freeze in cups. This would save some of the bags of fruit from the funky (not in the good, disco way) freezer smell that takes over when they get left half open at the bottom of the drawer.
I found this bag of pineapple and mango chunks I had never opened. I decided to use it before it got funky.
My son’s favorite smoothie flavor is Strawberry Banana. Found strawberries…
…and some bananas I had frozen.
The bananas look like they could pass for a Halloween severed fingers display…if I had a severed fingers display.
I threw the strawberries and scary banana fingers in my blender. Then I poured them into plastic cups.
I filled the cups, added dollops of spray whip from the fridge, stuck in some straws and BAM.
I did cut down the straws so they wouldn’t stick out the top too far. Then I put each entire cup, straw and all, in a Ziploc freezer bag and put them all in the freezer. Hmmm…this was not actually a space saver so some of these went in the basement freezer. Hey, I’m learning this stuff as I go.
The next smoothies I made were “Mom Smoothies” full of stuff my husband and son think are gross. I didn’t rinse the blender. I just started dumping fruit and stuff from my pantry. I used the pineapple and mango from the bag pictured earlier.
I added ch-ch-ch-chia seeds. No, I do not grow chia-pet sheep on my windowsill. I like these in my smoothies. Exhibit 1 for the category of, “weird stuff Mom puts in smoothies.”
I also like this…Exhibit 2. Almond milk. They aren’t into it, but I am.
Before I was into this budget I poured almond milk into ice cube trays for a quick smoothie ingredient. Each ice cube is 1/8 cup. Next, I grabbed a can of oranges from the pantry.
This was fun.
Even though it resembled something I hadn’t seen since my kids were in diapers, it tasted really good!
I filled cups for me. I left off the spray whip. Put them in baggies.
It felt really great to clear out those almost empty bags of fruit that I sometimes end up throwing away. It has also been so easy to have a smoothie for breakfast or snack. I don’t need to get the blender out and have a mess on the counter. We just let them sit out or put them in a dish of warm water to thaw a little before we enjoy them. I like having a smoothie without the mess of the blender, etc.
A lot of this week’s meals have been eating what we have. It’s easier to do that now that I have decluttered the freezer. It also feels good to save those strawberries that end up at the bottom of the freezer never to be eaten.
Next week I am stealing an idea from one of our radio show guests for saving money and wasting less using the freezer. I’m not going to tell who that guest was until then. You will want to try this tip too and you can get your kids to help.
I hope you will join me next week to see what I’ve learned and done as I plug away every day determined to stick to my budget.