I had decided that from now on I'll allow myself $20 a week for cafe coffee, but I blew that on the 1st of June when I shouted a friend coffee and also bought some fruit bread! I was just so excited to be in a cafe! And then I got another coffee the next day... Oh well, I'll do better next week. At least I've become more conscious of what I'm spending.
In terms of groceries in future, we have decided to attempt a monthly shop, with top-up fruit and veg. I spent most of last week preparing the list and have spent the last few days traipsing around the shops getting everything we need. As we used up a lot of stuff last month, it was quite a long list, with lots of expensive items like nuts, coconut oil, maple syrup etc. Consequently I've spent over $400. Most of this was at Aldi, with the rest at local health/nut shops and importers. I had decided to try to not shop at Coles/Woolies from now on, but couldn't resist the half-price bargains this week at Woolies (I get the catalogues via email). I spent $32 with $27 of savings! Stocked up on peanut butter (my family only likes Kraft), Lindt chocolate, and my favourite tea.
So I'm now going to aim to keep it under $600 for the month, which should be viable given we should have everything we need for the month (I did a rough meal plan) and I'll only need to buy fruit and veg. If I achieve this I'll be halving our previous grocery spend so I'll be happy. Then maybe next month I'll aim for a $500 budget, as a lot of the things I bought this week were large bulk packs. Anyway, I'll continue to update this blog with our progress each month.
Anyway, in summary, this is what I learned from the no-spend challenge:
- Keeping away from the shops really helps. That's why I've decided to switch to a monthly grocery shop rather than weekly (or in my case, every 2-3 days!).
- It's amazing what you can find up the back of the cupboards and fridge! I left the clean-out of both until towards the end of the month, and found some great stuff to get us through the last week. I found cannelloni shells, half a jar of natural peanut butter, various nearly-finished packs of flour, agave syrup etc.
- There is always a substitute. I used to give my son the same things in his lunch each day but last month changed it up depending on what we had left. It meant we ate through all the fruit before buying more, and got through the last few weeks without buying more bikkies. We discovered that popcorn is a great lunchbox snack. And kids love baked goods, even if they are pretty unexciting (I created porridge biscuits which were a hit!).
- Baking bread is great but sometimes you need a break. For the first 3 weeks I was baking my no-knead sourdough loaf nearly every day, as well as baking sweet things and doing the usual cooking of meals. And it was exhausting. Our local bakery does a nice sandwich loaf for $2 and I've decided to buy one or two of those a week this month so that I only have to bake my bread twice a week. I might even give a bread maker a go - my neighbor has offered me hers to borrow.
- Catching up with friends is still fun if it's at a house! Okay, so not as much fun really, but still fun. I've spent the month visiting friends for morning coffee or afternoon tea, so have probably been more social than usual - especially as I was actively seeking out those with coffee machines! I also had a wine night at my house. It was like book club without the book - quite fun.
- Planning daytime food is important. I got caught out a few times when I went out with the girls for the morning and then ended up doing something else around lunch time and we didn't have enough food to get us through. I now try to pack a lunch box for me and the girls when I'm doing Lewis' school lunch so that it's easier in the morning when we're rushing out the door. And I always try to have some crackers in the nappy bag for emergencies.
- Being held accountable (ie. publishing this blog) was very important for me to keep on track. So many times I was tempted by a cafe, but I resisted. Hopefully I'll continue this blog to keep me on track in future.