This week (well, the last few anyway) presented a special challenge to me because we are approaching the end of strawberry season. "But, Alicia!" I hear you say, "Strawberries are available year-round!" Why yes, they are. But can you get deliciously sweet, melt-your-taste-buds, quality strawberries year-round? Absolutely not.
I make strawberry jam every year. Well, I have since last year when I moved to a city with strawberry fields growing next to main streets. Jam has to be made from quality ingredients or the end product is watery or pulpy, so I feel so lucky that we live in an area that produces amazing, quality strawberries. My dilemma for this year was that they tend to be pretty expensive (I didn't care as much about the price last year). A half flat of seconds (perfect strawberries, usually used for dipping in chocolate, are firsts, while seconds still have the great taste of firsts but are usually shaped funny and thus, cheaper) runs about $16 at my local grower. A half flat of strawberries is about 5-6 pounds, so that comes to about $2.65 a pound. Sorry, but that is not a good price.
I told myself that if I saw good, quality (I mean, nearly perfect) strawberries go through my regular supermarket at an amazing price, I would give in and buy them. I didn't think it would happen, but it did! My local store was selling one pound packages of excellent strawberries for... $.88/pound! I was so excited! I bought 4 pounds and I already had a leftover package of pectin (I use Sure Jell), so we are making jam tomorrow. Dilemma solved.
Here's the plan for the week (parenthesis are things I needed to purchase that I didn't already have):
Cream of Wheat
W Pasta & Salad (lettuce, bell pepper)
T Scalloped Potatoes with Ham (potatoes)
F Pizza (bell pepper)
S Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Green Beans (chicken @ .75/lb)
M Chicken Tacos (jalapeno)
T Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Carrots (chicken @ .75/lb)
(Possibly Cadbury Eggs? No, they were already out.)
Stater Bros 18.16
Woot! We did it again! A whole $1.99 under! And I can still make jam! Maybe I can still go find those chocolate eggs somewhere.
This whole thing still amazes me and the money we are saving is shocking. Last year (April 2010) we spent a whopping $476.17 on grocery shopping and diapers. This month (including my trips to Joanne's for diapering materials), we've spent $214.88. That's a $258.29 difference! Holy cow! Imagine what we could do with that!
I think it's safe to say that we really do have control over our finances (at least the grocery part). Last year I thought I was doing all I could. Apparently not. :) Because I stay home, I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure we have an efficient household, not to mention a healthy one. I have really enjoyed this last month. I've noticed a marked difference in the way we've approached dinner. People in my house are happier. I love knowing what I'm making, and dinner doesn't feel as much like a chore. It almost seems like I should feel the opposite, but I've freed up so much time and worry!
Here's to happy planning!