Friday, June 3, 2011

Long time, no see - but many culinary endeavors!

So here's a basic explanation for my MIA status.
As I blog I learn so much more about cooking - and baking whenever I feel brave.
When I go shopping, as a Newlywed I learn tons about, well what works and what doesn't.
Disclaimer: This does not indicate the food challenge did not work, because indeed it does! I'm still going strong w/ the budget, but as time progresses, and more shopping trips take place I realize more helpful things and want to convey all of it to you!

However, what I am referring to is all my time being allocated to something as simple as how often to purchase groceries. After my tinkering around, here's what personally worked for me I can say after 2 months of trial & error.

Some advice for you: 
- Figure out what works as far as a shopping plan goes. I challenged myself with a max of 40 weekly for 3 meals daily for 2 people and succeeded. Initially, I thought that last month a trip once a week to the market would be the best method. Then it transitioned to every two weeks at 80 each time - and now i'm at doing the full 160 once a month. I was talking with my girlfriend who was shocked, because she's a budget gal too and couldn't get things to stretch so long. I really explained that I go into the market essentially with a months planning of meals (it's not as hard as it seems - I will explain further) instead of aimlessly wandering the store where i'd make impulsive purchases and get sidetracked. The best thing about this is that you go in knowing what you're getting from each section, and there's always great deals for things that the store is clearing out you'd never expect to snag. (Can't wait to show you guys with my receipts what i've come across in 2 months) 
- Use coupons with caution. Why? Because a lot of the time store/off brands are far better deals. Or it's things you don't need. I stood behind a gal who was purchasing 50 frozen meals and I had to strike a short friendly conversation to appease my curiosity. Well, she was one of the extreme 'couponers' and long story short she was getting it all for about 20 bucks. Sounds decent, once you realize all the preservatives, and garbage that occupy those packages. You could have purchased 5 lbs of frozen ground turkey (5.00), supplies to make breads, pizza doughs, pancakes, oh all KINDS of baked goods, fresh vegetables - and, well to each his/her own. Coupons drive people to purchase things that they really don't necessarily need - just be careful. I feel I can't emphasize this enough after a few experiences i've had spending so much time in the markets.
- Ads, ads ads my friends. I'm still shaking my head over this one. I was distracted with my computer and lazily breezed through my ads I usually scan without missing a single print. Well, I didn't realize there was a special at a market of 5 lbs of yellow onions for 1 dollar - so when I purchased a few lbs for about 5.00 and I hit the next market that had them on sale, I couldn't feel any more... frustrated. So always read those ads - you will save a lot of money with their loss leaders (that's the items on the fron page of the weekly ad)

On a random note, I want to start a section in each of my blogs where I state the most budget conscientious thing i've done today/that day.
Today, well since it's so late i'll speak in terms of yesterday I made a Creamy Mushroom Soup w/ a Flaky Biscuit Crust and instead of using the entire contents of mushrooms the recipe called for, I saved about 8 whole mushrooms, removed their insides (threw those into the soup, of course!) for a side dish with tomorrow's dinner: Panchetta and Pesto Cream Sauce stuffed mushrooms. This creates essentially a free dish tomorrow! Think in terms of taking short cuts like this!

Part of being the budget conscientious bandit is the fact, that there's a bandit involved. So, we snuck out for a last minute trip and here's a couple funny photos of the aftermath of my husband after the Wynn Buffet, and then myself going strong and steady with those European desserts. Saving money on things like food is just the beginning to having enough to take much needed trips with your sweetheart.

See you guys soon! - BCB