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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hot pockets anyone?

I've had several requests for me to explain a little more about how I get by with spending only $10 a week for groceries. I'm trying to find ways to cut this back down again to only $5 per week in spite of the rising costs.

My grocery budget is small because my income is needed elsewhere. I have other major bills that must get paid each month. After paying the bills there is very little left for groceries. I remember one time, a few years ago, I told a friend that I had gotten paid up on all the necessities. Mortgage, gas and electric, taxes, insurance, water, and car gas money are all taken care of for the month.... and look, I still have $20 to spend on luxuries! My friend commented: "But you haven't gotten groceries." I told her: "Groceries are my luxuries."

There are those who might be skeptical that I can do this.

Yes, it can be done! You can do it too!

Maybe you can't get your own grocery bill down to only $5 or $10 a week.... but I believe you could get very close.

First, let me explain that I do eat healthy and regularly. My meals are not full of fillers nor am I living on tv dinners. I am not a nutritionist nor am I a home economist. Most of all I am not a financial genius. I'm sure there are lots of people who have found ways to cut back on expenses just like me.

Anybody who is concerned with keeping a tight budget... and who knows simple arithmatic.... can do what I do. What I do is "think" a lot. I did keep very keep careful records of where my money was going. If I saw too much was being spent for something.... I thought and thought.... until I came up with a way to cut back.

Here is one example of my "thinking" of a way to save. When my daughter was still living at home she ate hot pockets. She liked being able to zap some in the microwave instead of cooking. Have you ever taken a close look at hot pockets or pizza pockets or anything similar that's zapped in a microwave to resemble a meal? A tiny bit of something with a glob of sauce wrapped inside some bread. Far too expensive for what you get. Not very nutritional either.

Well.... being the tightwad that I am I found a solution at a thrift store. Remember these? For awhile these were advertized all the time on tv. Many people bought this gadget..... then donated it to the thrift stores because they didn't use it.

I paid about 50 cents for it back then. I began to make my own hot pockets to put into the freezer. I still use it today. Each time I have a tiny bit of something left over after dinner.... instead of throwing it out.... I make hot pockets. Here's the left overs from last night's pulled pork bar-b-que. Only 4 teaspoons left. I didn't feel like eating the pork for another meal.

Five minutes of cooking..... using 4 slices of bread from the freezer.....

and voila! 4 hot pockets ready for me to eat when I'm too rushed to fix a lunch... or I just want a snack. I could have dressed it up a little by adding a piece of cheese or onion or green pepper but these are ok as they are. I sometimes get really creative with leftovers that become hot pockets.

A written label on the bag tells me what I have inside the bread.

You see? I thought about it and found a way to cut the cost of my grocery bill. I figure its saved me a bundle over the years just from not buying anymore hot pocket type meals.... not to mention keeping leftover food out of the trash can. Maybe you could use your own home made hot pockets for taking to work. Or as an afternoon snack for the kids. It's a great way to get someone to eat the last of the left overs.

I must admit I've gotten my spending habits mostly in my head from years of practice doing the same things over and over. My daughter has asked me to teach her how I got us by all those years when we had so little money. In order to show her - and you - how my system works; I've decided to start it all over as if I was new at it. This is the only way I can take pictures of the process.... by actually doing it and taking the pictures along the way.

If you are interested in saving money at the grocery you can follow along with me as I teach my daughter. For now you should save every receipt.... for everything.... for at least a month. It doesn't matter if you just bought a soda at the convenient store or a dinner out with family or the week's grocery shopping. Keep every receipt! If you aren't given a receipt then create your own. Write the amount and what it was for on a piece of paper.

These receipts are not for working with your budget... well sort of... actually they are going to be the key to what you should stock up on, how cheaply you can buy it, how many you will want to stash, and for thinking of ways to cut back on the costs. These receipts are for doing your mathmatics later. You will use the receipts for putting together a price tracking and stocking up book. With the book you will know when a sale price is really a bargain and how many you will want to buy to stock up.

Ok, I've got to get back to work.

1 comment:

rnmom502 said...

I've got one of those sandwich makers but never use it. Now I've got ideas on what to do with it. I hate to eat a few spoonfuls of leftovers, but hate to stick it in the fridge and then forget about it. I'm so ashamed of myself when I start cleaning out the fridge and end up throwing out food I'd forgotten about. Will follow your lead and start using my sandwich machine. Thanks!