Week 4 of my Frugal Challenge is finally here and I can’t wait to see February go! It’s been a cruel, cold month up here in Ontario and I am longing for spring flowers and playing outside!
Last week I wasn’t as organized as I wanted to be so this week I made a menu, selected recipes, and made a shopping list. This one is vegetarian and has simple meals that are easy, healthy, and delicious. It does take some time to do this kind of planning but I find it leads to less food waste (and money waste) and saves time during the week because I’ve already decided what I’m eating which makes packing lunches easier.
So Week 2 of my Frugal February is here and I was WAY over budget today. There were a few staples that I needed to buy (oats, olive oil, quinoa, etc.) and I wanted to try a few things – like making seitan (aka “wheat meat”) that required special ingredients. Fresh salmon filets were also on sale so I bought 5 of them so I can freeze a few portions for later. Thankfully I have a PC Plus card and got $60 of free groceries today with my points! My total would have been $170 but it was only $110 🙂 Pretty close to the $100 weekly budget but I still feel like I’m kind of cheating. I’m starting to wonder if $100/week is really realistic if you want to eat well and have variety.
Price matching did save me a fair amount today – I got a pineapple for $1.99, English cucumbers for $0.99 each, and saved a few bucks on the sweet potatoes and grapes. I go to a cheaper store so many of the deals I had listed were already cheaper! My trip to Bulk Barn on the other hand was very expensive. One thing that I need to start doing again is making a Price List (a list of things I buy often and how much they are at different stores) so that I can see if it actually is cheaper at the bulk store.
Looking forward to trying out the seitan recipe from the cookbook “Big Vegan” by Robin Asbell! I will definitely write about that since it is seems super weird and I’m not sure that I’m going to like it but if it turns out then it will be a great meat substitute 🙂
I tried to take pictures of everything but wow – that takes a lot of effort to do that! I definitely ate more than what is in the pictures. Not in a stuff-my-face-and-try-to-hide-it kind of way. More in a I’m-really-craving-some-hummus-and-veggies-and-I-am-too-lazy-to-take-a-picture kind of way. I actually lost 2 lb this week 🙂
I haven’t been a big fan of tracking my food intake since I competed in a Fitness America Pageant forever ago but I actually did find tracking helpful to see patterns. For example, on Wednesday I didn’t eat my afternoon snack that I took to work and Thursdays I teach in the afternoon so I find that I get distracted and often don’t eat lunch. This week I am going to try to have lunch before my class and bring a shake for the break (which will allow me to still answer questions and discuss with students compares to say, a salad. I am going to be a little more diligent with using myfitnesspal to track my nutrition as well – it is SO easy to forget what you eat!
In terms of the budget plan, I caved yesterday and bought Tim Horton’s coffee for me and my co-worker ($3.40) and I did have to go buy coffee this morning ($7.99 for a bag of Ethical Bean on sale) so I am a little over budget for the week now but I enjoy my coffee and sometimes sharing is caring, especially after a long week of grant writing and editing.
Anyway, here is a run down of what I ate this week:
I will post some recipes I made this week in separate posts after I do some marking…
I am ready to start my Frugal February Fitness Challenge!
Here’s a little video I made about my grocery shopping/ price matching prep for tomorrow. A huge thanks to my friend Coupon Christine for showing me her money-saving ways a couple years ago! Sharing is caring!
With the Canadian dollar dropping to less than $0.80 US it seems like a good time to tighten my purse strings. As a PhD student and a single parent I don’t have a ton of money to begin with but I do spend money on things that I don’t really need. February just happens to start in a few days and it starts with the letter F, so (obviously) it makes sense to make it “Frugal Fitness February” and get to work!
Now that I have a home gym, I don’t have to worry about paying for a gym membership but I do spend quite a lot of money on supplements (protein, probiotics, fish oil, etc.) and healthy food. So the challenge for me is how to spend less money without sacrificing health and performance (and body composition). I know some extreme money savers promote living as cheaply as possible by eating low quality foods but I personally am not willing to sacrifice my health and quality of life. Instead, here are some practical ideas that I am considering for my Frugal February challenge:
Eat less meat. Rationale: Meat is expensive, biologically and financially. There is lots of protein in plants. Counterpoints: higher carbohydrate content in beans & legumes and somewhat harder to digest.
Stop buying supplements. Rationale: You can get all the nutrients you need from food. Counterpoints: difficult to eat enough protein, omega 3s, B12, iron, etc. for optimal performance, recovery, and health. I really enjoy protein shakes….they are so yummy!
Price matching at the grocery store. Rationale: Get the lowest price on the foods that you want to buy without having to go to all the different stores. Counterpoints: requires planning and organization; must be willing to deal with impatient shoppers in line behind you. (I am considering making a t-shirt that says “Price Matcher at Work” on the back to warn people…)
Meal planning: Rationale: Waste less food by only getting what you need. Counterpoints: Again, requires time to plan and also prepare meals.
Stop buying coffees at work: Rationale: I probably spend $10/week on coffees and snacks on campus…which adds up to $40-$50 a month! We also have a hot water kettle in the office and a stash of tea…so really no excuse here. Counterpoints: sometimes I am lazy and tired and I just want a Starbucks coffee.
So after thinking about all of these opportunities to save money, I think I will still buy some supplements and focus on the other 4 options. Eating less meat combined with meal planning, price matching, and not buying stuff at school will probably make a significant difference.
Right now I budget $100/week for food (for me and my 2 year old). I use mint.com to track all of my spending and accounts (it is really great and free!) and in January I spent $482 on groceries…so my goal for February is to actually get down to $100/week (lower would also be awesome).
What can you do to save a little or make a little extra this month? I would love to hear your ideas!