Hive of activity

Posted March 1st, 2009 by Penny Wise

Woohoo! I'm loving No Spend Month already! I haven't spent a CENT yet! OK, well it is only Day Two but I am READY! I am PREPARED! I am also sick to death of the sight of my kitchen! Never being one to do things by halves I have also declared this week a $21 Challenge week and spent four hours yesterday cooking up a storm in an effort to make sure we don't run out of lunches, snacks and any other munchies which could inadvertently send us over our $21 or No Spend limit. I don't think there's going to be any danger of us running out of food though. Noel walked in yesterday and said the kitchen resembled a cafe (which I have to admit I was quite proud about!) I made:

18 Mars Bar Slices

12 Flapjacks

1 Banana Loaf (to use up the two squishy bananas in the fruit bowl)

18 Vegetable Rolls (from Super Food Ideas Best Ever Super Savers. Like sausage rolls without the sausages and a good way to use up excess zucchini!)

6 Beef and Vegetable Pies (to use up leftover beef casserole)

1 huge pot Friary Lentil Soup (from Sophie Gray's 'Enjoy')

8 Really Good Cheese Scones (also from 'Enjoy')

I wasn't scared to substitute ingredients instead of spending either. When I ran out of oats for the Flapjacks I substituted with Liam's wheat-free muesli. When I didn't have enough oats for the vegetable rolls either, I made up the equivalent with oatmeal (which I was very impressed about as I'd had it for ages and never knew what the heck to do with it before!) That little lot should keep us going for a while anyway. My $21 Challenge menu plan for dinners this week looks like this:

Monday - Pork and vegetable stirfry, using last night's leftover roast pork from dinner at Mum's!

Tuesday - Sausages with pumpkin and feta fritters and veges. Pumpkin from the garden.

Wednesday - French Shepherds Pie and veges. Liam's favourite!

Thursday - Slow cooked beef curry and rice.

Friday - Gluten free pizza and salad.

Saturday - Roast chicken, with all the usual roasted and green veges.

Sunday - Dinner at Mum's!

So far my $21 Challenge budget stands at -

Ham $4.79

Turmeric $1.88

Butter $6.90

Sour cream $4.39

Total - $17.96!

The only thing which may be a challenge is if we run out of bread but Noel's the only one who eats it so that's doubtful and even if we do, I have plenty of everything I need to make my own so no worries there. Amazing how little we need to spend when we really try. Mind you, Noel's right we do have far too much food at the moment. Just yesterday he and Ali picked two huge bowls full of peaches and enough wild mushrooms for his breakfast. I have to admit I really don't enjoy preserving fruit but I think in this case it's going to be necessary as there's going to be a whole lot more where they came from!

I wonder how much I'm NOT going to spend this month? I really enjoy filling in my Savings Diary each day - the less I spend, the better I feel. If you've never tried using the Savings Diary before, I can't recommend it enough. I've only just jumped back on the wagon after a lengthy break and I truly believe that if I had kept my Savings Diary going from the start, I wouldn't be struggling to pay off stupid debts now. It makes you so accountable! It really makes you analyse every cent you spent and I seriously cringe inwardly when it shows me my daily total, listing not only what I've spent but how much of it was unnecessary or avoidable. Today will be another no spend day all going to plan. I'm going to have to fork out $15 for Liam's district triathlon championships at some stage this week, which already has me cringing but to me it's an essential spend as there's no way I wouldn't let him go ahead with it. It may not be essential but not to allow him to take part would be downright cruel! I also decided for the first time ever not to pay for his annual school photograph today. It took a lot of thought and I asked him how he felt about it but he wasn't bothered. I just couldn't justify paying $30 for a load of photos I didn't want when I only really wanted one! Besides, we have only just got some gorgeous recent photos from his modelling portfolio so there's really no need to get any more. It might sound a small decision but it's one I wouldn't have made if it wasn't for No Spend Month. Another $30 in my pocket for me, yay! I also forgot that I have an automatic payment of $70 going into my credit card each week, so I have actually made a little more headway than I thought since confessing all and paid off $210 extra without realising. Don't you just love automatic payments? Out of sight, out of mind!

While yesterday's cooking frenzy did make me realise that I wasn't ready for the Once A Month Cooking experiment yet (not without climbing the kitchen walls or wringing somebody's neck in the process anyway), I did take another brave step and start a grocery price book at the weekend! Obviously it's not huge at the moment as I only have the above food items listed in it but at least it's a start and another smidgeon closer to living in the world of organised budgeters, hooray!

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