But as for the results of our final week - I ended up spending $11.05 on groceries and $2.38 of that was not part of the "plan", but we wanted some cheap hotdogs and buns to take with us on Saturday night to our playgroup family event of ice skating & a bonfire (we did have marshmallows which we brought along & roasted too.) In total for all four weeks, I spent $92.33 on groceries and we only went out once a week (not included but was generally less than $20 each of the 4 times.)
Plus my husband was gone for 4 out of 7 days, so there wasn't any big meals being made. Also, I realized that we do eat a lot of eggs (for breakfast or hard-boiled for a snack or egg salad sandwiches.) And since eggs were on my "ok-to-buy" list we weren't forced to eat all the cereal or oatmeal and since they are pretty inexpensive, my grocery bill doesn't raise too much. Eggs are really great! They are inexpensive, quick to cook, a good source of protein and enjoyed by all members of our family.
We have decided to extend our pantry challenge, but change it up a bit. We want to continue eating down our surplus without having to become creative with meals due to missing ingredients. This week we will continue the pantry challenge pretty much as is with the exception of buying food for a planned vacation where we will have a full kitchen, so we will purchase some prepared & convenience foods for that since we won't have the whole pantry with us. After we return, I am going to make an attempt to do a 4 week menu planning challenge.
My hopes with the menu planning challenge is that I will continue to use up what I have in the pantry and freezer and only shop each week for those items that I need to make my meals that I do not have in my pantry or freezer. So, I am going to be forced to shop only from my list and not stocking up and no spontaneous purchases.
This new challenge could be even tougher because I need to plan out the whole week in advance, whereas I tend to decide anywhere from 24 hours to 30 minutes before supper what I am going to make. And now I can look at the sales ads again (so I can use that to help plan my meals based on what's on sale to help keep food costs down) but I will have to restrain myself from wanting to stock up if there is a some desirable loss-leader items. So, stay tuned for my Menu Planning Challenge, which I plan to kickoff on February 14th (which makes it really easy for me that first day since our Valentine's tradition is to get a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's.)