By Julie Norman
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
So I went to the grocery store on my lunch break. I wasn't in the mood to calculate costs or think about the 2 small trips I'd made in the past few days. I just wanted to buy what I wanted and be on my way. That's not really like me. I normally love the grocery store. Still, today just wasn't one of those days.
When I got to the register I was too busy bagging to pay attention to the ever-rising total. Frankly, I was surprised (in a good way) when the cashier announced that I'd spent almost exactly $100. ($100.36). Since that is my typical weekly budget, I should have been happy. But, like I said, there have been a few small trips in the past several days for things like milk and apples. Oh, and generic Diet "Lemon-Lime" canned sodas. The BF takes them with his lunch and I am NOT paying $6 for the name brand, which is all Safeway has had lately. So they end up in a separate trip on the way home from work.
Anyway, my point being that I needed to find someway to make myself feel better about the trip and the amount that I spent. So I sat down with the receipt and started calculating how much I spent in various departments.
Grocery: around $47, close to HALF of the bill. (the only reason is because I had to buy almonds and, since we eat them every day, it's worth it to buy the cheapest per ounce container, which costs $17 but will last at least 2 weeks) This is the area that also includes random canned goods, pasta, etc. I also needed honey and mayonnaise today, neither of which is particularly cheap.
Produce: about $25. That's right. ONE QUARTER of the entire grocery bill was fresh produce. That's something I'm not ashamed of. At home right now we've got asparagus (on sale for .99/lb), apples, bananas, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, mushrooms...all sorts of healthy, fresh produce. I know I'll use it all up before my next shopping trip too!
Meat: $4.46. There was a grass-fed beef chuck roast in the clearance bin!
Fridge/Frozen: $17 - Our 2% Lactose-free milk was on sale so I bought 2 cartons. That way I'll have enough to make ice cream!
Last was just some general merchandise. It's possible I could have saved some money by getting that stuff at a drug store, but that would require an extra trip.
In the end, I know I went home with very little processed food and lots of great things for us to eat. I've got a menu planned out and uses for all those things that I bought so that nothing goes to waste. And really, in the end, isn't that what we're aiming for? Not buying more than we can use? If that's the goal then I feel like my trip was a success.
By Brittany Dale
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
This weekend I decided to exercise my brain muscles. I packed up my computer and headed over to a coffee shop downtown.
Roasted Espresso was my venue of choice. I had never been there and while it was fairly loud, the guys working there were incredibly friendly and seemed to know nearly everyone who came through the door. They had good espresso and apparently (I didn't have a chance to try any) amazing subs. There is something special about being in a coffee shop club, where everybody knows your name. Cheers. I used to pride myself on knowing as many names as possible when I was a barista.
I went to the coffee shop to start two online Photoshop and InDesign classes. These classes are completely free with a Mesa County library card. What?! I have a horribly embarrassing confession that makes me seem really dumb – I didn't know until a couple of years ago that library cards were free. I had a library card in Denver but the family I nannied for had signed me up for it. I just assumed access to all of the resources a library offers cost a membership fee. I had access to the library in college but technically, I paid a bunch for that. I don't remember having a library card before college, which is kind of sad. I am deciding here and now my children will know about the library!
Wow, I digress again.
On top of the free class, Adobe also offers a free 30 day trial and while it isn't necessary to have access to the programs for the class, it sure does help. I am able to take these classes completely free. The list of classes is endless. I didn't look specifically but there may be a breakdancing for left feet class on there somewhere.
The classes have both written instructions and a video to learn from. I am also surrounded by incredibly supportive co-workers who have given me various other resources to supplement my learning. I am excited about the thought of expanding my skills.... for free! Whether it pays off financially will be another story. Wink.
By Julie Norman
Monday, March 3, 2014
Over on the Let's Get Dirty Blog Penny has been keeping track of her gardening expenses to find out if having a garden really does save you money. So far, it hasn't saved her any, but it's VERY early to really make any sort of final determination. That'll have to wait until fall.
However, it got me to thinking about my own garden last year. I purchased 2 tomato plants, a few pepper plants, 1 armenian cucumber plant and then planted some zucchini seeds from a friend. I try to be very relaxed about gardening: whatever happens happens. I try to be that way. I'm really not that way at all. I wasn't sure the cucumber was ever going to do anything. It cost me probably $2.50 at Lowe's and I planted it right by a chain link fence so it could climb.
Here is a picture of the cucumber plant just as it started to bloom:
By the end of the season it pretty much covered this whole fence. Here's a picture of my first cucumber:
By the end of the season I can guarantee we picked over 100 cucumbers from this ONE plant. That means each cucumber cost .025 cents. FOUR cucumbers cost 1 penny.
I plan to try a different cucumber this year from seed. They were given to me by a friend. I'm definitely looking foward to even MORE savings this year from the garden!
By Julie Norman
Friday, February 28, 2014
We all know eating healthy on a budget can sometimes seem like an oxymoron...organic foods are more expensive, fresh produce is more expensive...what do you do?
Well, buying in season is one of the biggest ways to save on fresh produce. I bought this delicata "winter" squash back in November or December for next to nothing!
This link from the Huffington Post has several other great (and a few not so great) tips for eating healthy on a budget.
If you're looking for something free and fun to do this weekend, Brittany's link from the VCB has quite a few ideas!
If it's sunny out (doubtful, but you never know...) you could head down to the Riverfront Trail:
Or if it's raining maybe take a trip to Palisade for some wine tasting!
Enjoy your weekend either way!
By Brittany Dale
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Happy Thursday friends! It sure feels like spring lately!
With spring comes gardening. I have had a slight interest in gardening but haven't ever had the area to do so or enough know-how to try. As I talked about last week we are in the process of house hunting. One of our wish list items is a large backyard, which would mean room for gardening. I have already decided that I want to garden but my goal is to do so as inexpensively as possible.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, I first have to find a home but as I've said before, I'm a planner. I would plan every last bulb if I knew what I was doing. I'm thinking my first step should be to hunt down a Gardening for Dummies book.
There are two challenges to tackle with my garden dreams.
#1 I have never gardened in my life. In fact, my wonderful boyfriend bought me some kind of adorable flower in a pot and it is nearly dead. It sits right in our front window and I forget to water it. Fail.
#2 We don't have a ton of extra money to devote to a garden. When we buy a house, given our meager budget, we will be spending money on fixing and updating where we can.
One website I found by Kitchen Gardeners International discusses how to start a garden for nearly nothing. Based on the recommendations. I'm a teeny tiny bit ahead of bare bones.
-I keep food containers. I use these mostly for leftovers but there are always more that get recycled so I know I have plenty at my disposal.
-We compost at our current home. I am not unaware of the fact that keeping our compost would require moving our rotting pile of veggies and newspaper strips. I think it might be worth it though. Ask me again once I'm elbows deep in gray matter.
Here is an article titled Planning Your First Vegetable Garden. Sounds about right. May factors that must be decided regarding size and sun will have to wait until our excited little fingers get to sign whatever documents you sign at closing. Sometimes I feel like I'm new at... everything. Other things like 10 Best Garden Crops for Beginners should help me get an idea of what I should plan on growing purely for the fact that I'm new to it. 10 Beginner Gardening Mistakes to Avoid should also help.
Regardless of what shape my garden takes I look forward to saving extra money on groceries and having a free activity and project to work on.
Do you have a garden? What tips do you have for a beginning gardener on a budget?