I spent a good chunk of the afternoon preparing a budget. NOT fun--but because I'm a math nerd, I definitely was enjoying myself a little ;) A few years ago when the economy got really bad, my husband's job cut his hours way back and we basically had to live off of a credit card for a while. We went from zero debt to about $15,000 in credit card debt over a period of about 18 months. We have since quit using the credit card, and my husbands hours are back to normal, but we haven't done much to pay it down--paying only slightly over the minimum every month. We don't have a lot of money; my husband is a laborer and I am a stay-at-home mom. But I am normally very frugal when it comes to spending money, so we manage okay. But I was reading some blogs yesterday about paying down debt, and it really inspired me to work on paying ours down.
I went through our previous 2 months of bank statements and figured out how much we spent and where it went. The majority of our spending is DEFINITELY on groceries. I was shocked to see that we spent about $1,000 per month on groceries! That doesn't include eating out, but we very, very rarely eat out. I can certainly cut that back to about $500 per month, possibly even less if I get really creative.
My older brother Brian is a pilot for Delta, and he is on call fairly often to go on last-minute trips. They can call him and give him just a few hours notice that he has to go on a trip somewhere, often for a few days at a time. Because of this, he realized that he was throwing away a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables because he could buy them one afternoon and then get called out on a trip shortly after. So he bought a food dehydrator and started dehydrating his fruits and veggies, making them easy to pack to take on trips with him. When I tried some of the dried fruit, I was really impressed with how good it was, so he bought a dehydrator for my family. I, also, tend to throw away a lot of fresh fruit because we just don't get around to eating it. So I'm going to make it a point to throw away as little food as possible. I raided the fridge today, and sliced up 6 bananas, half a package of strawberries, 4 kiwi fruits, a peach, and an apple and put it in the dehydrator. It takes a lot of time to prep everything, but it's worth it when you get to eat the dried fruits!
Here is what it looks like prepped and ready to dehydrate:
|Layers 3 & 4|
|This is a gallon-sized bag, and upright, it's only about 1/3 full|
What is one of your favorite super-cheap meals? Mine is probably my Taco Style Lentils & Brown Rice. It's easy, versatile and cheap, and my whole family loves it. Also, do you have any ideas for what to do with stale bread? I'm ALWAYS throwing away half a loaf of bread (or pitas or english muffins, etc.) Maybe I could make French toast once a week :)