Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and that you are refreshed after a four-day weekend. This is the time of year when life gets so busy that months flash by in seconds. I can hardly believe we are at the end of November!
As it is the end of the month, it is time to recap what happened in November at beruly.com.
November’s focus was on food and eating. First, we issued the Ruly Challenge to eat from your fridge and pantry stores and clean out your fridge and pantry shelves. I must confess that I am still working on this challenge and will be cleaning out my fridge and pantry this evening. I hope that this challenge was as valuable to you as it was to me. There were many things I needed to be reminded of about our relationship with food, including:
- Cooking at home is as much about time as it is about money. When I forced myself to eat at home, even on the weekends, I realized how often we eat out! Fast food and restaurants are a frugal woman’s personal chef. When I am planning my next grocery list, I will factor in fewer groceries to account for the times we just don’t want to eat at home.
- Although it is often cheaper to eat at home, restaurants do provide incredible quality for the price and, for the restaurants we frequent, it would probably cost us more to purchase the ingredients to reproduce restaurant meals at home than to eat out.
- I seem to purchase a lot of food that I hope I will eat because it is healthy but I don’t actually want to cook or eat. I still have a bag of frozen scallops, several varieties of exotic rices, pancake and biscuit mix and frozen fruit left to eat. Even though I am not eating them, it seems that I keep buying them in the hopes that maybe I will eat it if I just have more of it around! Now that I have forced myself to eat these foods and appreciate how difficult some of them are to prepare, I will be less inclined to make impulse buys of them in the future.
- Forcing myself to eat my stores of healthy food, however, has also helped me to shake up my regular eating patterns. I have learned to expand my range of cooking and am not as dependent on frozen or quick-to-prepare foods.
- I completely take for granted the availability of fresh, crisp produce available in all seasons of the year at the grocery store. After eating canned vegetables for weeks, I am excited to do my December produce shopping for crisp cucumbers, fresh tomatoes and lettuce.
- One of the side benefits of having a lean fridge is that you are party-ready. Entertaining requires a lot of fridge space for platters of food, beverages to chill, etc. When it was time to prep for my daughter’s birthday party, we had no problem squeezing in the food we needed for the event.
- Modern American life offers few opportunities to feel deprivation. If there is something we want, we generally buy it in a relatively short time period. We don’t spend time longing for things. Eating at home every day, denying yourself the pleasure of your favorite foods or restaurants, does make you feel deprived. I often had to remind myself that for us this was a temporary experiment but for many families this is reality. Comparing our average monthly expenses for groceries and restaurant meals to the USDA Cost of Food at Home budget shows that we generally subsist beyond the “Liberal” plan. This was our chance to understand what the “Thrifty” budget means.
- While I generally thought that we didn’t have much “fat” in our grocery and dining budget and we aren’t generally extravagant in these expenses, we saved approximately $600 this month by eating at home! It is a great boost going into the holiday season and also valuable to know that if we ever had to, we could stretch our budget in this area.
We also looked at organizational strategies used by restaurants and grocery stores and applied these strategies for use at home. We poked some fun at the office fridge and discussed emergency food storage strategies. I am still working on my emergency food storage list as I decided to taste test some of the items before buying a lot of them but my local grocery store had some great finds. Soon, I will provide a bonus post with my list.
November was also the debut of Ruly Ruth who provided insight on how to honor and remember our veterans.
Phew! I hope you enjoyed November’s posts. The comments and feedback posted were excellent. We will continue to discuss food and eating strategies periodically.
On Wednesday, I will preview December’s posts. Given the busy-ness of the holiday season, I will keep things light and promise not to add to your stress. Type to you then! Have a great week!