04 April 2008

Our March grocery bill

Sometime during the first week of each month I spend some time going over our household accounts, bringing them up to date and making sure we are on budget and on track. I've just finished working on my grocery tracking for March. Our family food bill for March totalled $441.07, an average of $99.49 a week. I thought it would be more, we had lots of visitors over Easter and I did some stocking up on some particularly good meat markdowns I came across, as well as re-stocking some pantry staples.

Going over the spreadsheet I was really pleased to see that the bulk of the spending was on fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy, followed by the deli and only $16.24 on treats and snack food. Considering Easter was in March and we had 12 visitors staying for that weekend and that Wayne's father was in hospital, the treats and snack food spending is much less than I thought it would have been.

Having a stocked pantry and freezer really helped to keep the food bill down while we had so many visitors. Being able to prepare meals using food already on hand took away the temptation to eat out or order takeaway, something I'm sure I would have done if I had not been able to look on the menu plan and know that even with extra serves I could pretty much stick to the plan.

Now don't shake your head and think that you can't do this. If I can then you can too. Remember I didn't get to this stage the day I decided the Cheapskates way was the way for me and my family. It has taken quite a while to get here, one step at a time.

If you are just beginning start small. Next time you shop try cutting 10% off the total of the last bill i.e. if your last grocery bill was $100, try and get this bill down to $90. Now to do this you may need to be creative, or really look for sales and markdowns or perhaps change brands or even the way you prepare your meals (cook from scratch and leave the convenience jars and packets on the shelf). If you can cut 10% this shop, then try for another 10% next shop. Keep going until you really don't like what you're buying and eating and then move up a notch.

And to keep track of your grocery spending, download the spreadsheet from here and use it to track your grocery spending. I find that seeing what I've spend and where I've spent it really helps to keep me on budget.

And that's how I can feed my family of five for under $100 a week, even with the cost of groceries going up.

01 April 2008

April Fools

Did you get caught with any April fool's pranks this year? I did, in a big way. My three not-so-little darlings (and that could be not-so-darling today) played the perfect trick on me. After years of living with worn out furniture in the family room we splashed out and bought a lovely, brand new loungesuite and it was delivered two weeks ago. Orders were issued re eating and drinking and the placing of feet on the new furniture and I had thought all was going well until I heard a quietly screeched "oh no" early this morning and flew out of bed only to see a cup of hot chocolate pooling nicely on the top of the sofa and three horrified faces staring at me.

That should have been the give-away, it's school holidays and there's no way known the boys would normally have been out of bed at 6.30am on a holiday. I behaved beautifully. In my typical cool, calm and collected manner I quietly suggested that someone might like to get a couple of towels and someone else may like to get a bucket of warm water and the dish detergent. Well I thought I had quietly and calmly made these suggestions until Wayne came racing out of the bathroom to see what was going on. The kids were rolling around laughing at me in my panic. Thank goodness they didn't have a video camera. The sight of me in my pj's having a panic attack at 6.30am would make for interesting viewing I'm sure.

Anyway they finally 'fessed up that they had made the whole mess out of pva glue and poster paint and that it was just a joke. I am positive that if I had been properly awake I would never have fallen for such a trick but they really did get a good laugh out of it. And now it's over I can see the funny side too.

Now to how they made the fake "mess":

Mix some pva glue with some brown poster paint until it's the colour of chocolate or coffee or tea. Then put a sheet of silicone paper on a flat tray, get an old coffee mug and pour the brown pva mixture around the cup, drizzle a little inside so it look's like it has tipped over and spilled. Put it somewhere safe for three days until it has dried. Carefully peel the paper off, and let it dry at least one more day. And now you have a very realistic looking accident to fool people with.