On January 12th Joe and I went grocery shopping. Before going, we looked at what we had in the cupboard and planned meals that used those ingredients. We were looking forward to a smaller than usual grocery bill since we already had a lot of ingredients. Instead, we ended up paying $100. For just us. Ridiculous.
So we decided to experiment. For the next three weeks, we wouldn’t eat out and we would only go grocery shopping for perishables (fruits, veggies, lunch meat). The goal was to 1) get rid of things in our pantry and 2) save money. The experiment isn’t over yet, but so far we are doing pretty good.
Week one was easy. Since we had just gone grocery shopping we had tons of yummy things to eat. We made the meals we planned and had didn’t have to sacrifice on snacks. There was a team conflict when we got a coupon for LoneStar that would let us get an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert for $20. The coupon expired before our experiment was up and I wanted to cheat and go. Joe wouldn’t budge. So I tore the coupon up to make a dramatic statement and that was that.
Week two was a little more difficult. We ate at a friends house one night and my parent’s house the next, which means we didn’t have any leftovers for lunch. We had also run out of lunch meat and bread. One day I was super desperate and was frantically searching through the pantry for anything I could bring to work for lunch. I found a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle-o’s. I added some the canned vegetables from the night before and a CRAP TON of lemon pepper and voila, a barely edible lunch.
Other victorious moments for us include the times we went out to a restaurant with friends and didn’t order anything. Joe went to Denny’s with coworkers after closing and completely forgot about our “no eating out rule” until he was sitting in the booth. So he just had water and someone’s toast. I got invited to dinner with some girlfriends and made sure I stuffed my face at home before I went so I wouldn’t be tempted to order anything, not even an appetizer.
Other highlights include force feeding myself a bowl of cornflakes and completely bypassing the candy and snacks aisle when I went shopping at Sprouts last week. But, the experiment hasn’t been all about sacrifices. We’ve benefitted a lot from it. Joe has gotten really good at making homemade bread. I think that even when the experiment is over, we’ll eat more homemade bread than store bought. Also, money that we would have usually spent on eating out has gone towards saving for vacation and paying off our credit card debt. Plus, we’ve discovered some delicious things that we didn’t know we had. Here’s a tip for you: white chocolate Jello = amazing! And of course, we have A LOT more room in our fridge and cupboard.
The experiment ends this Thursday, February 2nd. People have warned us that our next grocery bill will probably be giant because we’ll want to restock everything. But I don’t think so. For one thing, we’ll still have some stuff in our cupboard that we’re gonna use up ASAP. Plus, our shopping mentality has changed. Before, we would get new things before we finished off the old ones. For example, we’d get a new box of cereal before the old was gone. Then we (or more accurately, I) would be so excited about the new cereal I would eat that and forget the old box until it went stale. No more! I vow to always (or at least a majority of the time) finish my old stuff before I break into the new.
The overall lesson in this whole thing is that we can live happily on way less than we thought we could. Joe and I already live pretty minimalist lives but this experiment taught us there is still so much room for improvement. And its not about giving everything up and living in complete destitution. Its about really prioritizing and sacrificing today’s happiness for an even greater adventure tomorrow. Which, hopefully, will include a dinner at LoneStar 😉