In the spirit of Finishing Strong as we pursue debt free living, November strikes me as a great month to take on another money saving challenge. Recently, I surprised myself with just how much damage restaurants can do to your budget. Are you ready for our last good challenge for 2014?
Meals @ Home will be a 30-day test of your planning skills, creativity, and resolve to stretch your food dollars. Initially I thought this would be too easy. Simple…yes. Easy…we’ll see. Essentially, the challenge involves the following components:
- Consume only meals, snacks, and beverages bought from a grocery store and prepared at home (anybody’s home will do).
- Place an emphasis on meal planning to make this work.
- Stay within your budgeted allotment for food for this month.
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Ultimately those who undertake this challenge commit to cooking in the home. Cooking doesn’t excite the non-foodies among us (myself included). However, if you consider the benefits: – sticking to a budget, eating healthier, and smaller portions – you may be more inclined to join the cause.
The more I consider the challenge, the more I think of certain challenges this challenge presents.
1. All beverages includes coffee and drinks. Coffee routines can be a tough nut to crack. Use instant at home options. Satisfy your water intake goals during business hours. Maybe you’ve been looking for a little inspiration to tame your caffeine habit anyway – let the challenge be that motivation
2. Vending machine snack breaks. Plan accordingly. Do you need to keep snacks in your desk at work? Maybe keep your lunch in the car to avoid devouring it early (WonderMan’s excuse for not packing a lunch)
3. Drive-thru with this kids. It can be soooo much easier to pick up something quick and hot to go. Again, plan accordingly. Pack snacks if extended outings may cause little tummies to rumble.
4. Traveling. Are you taking a road trip for the holidays? Smart shopping and packing will help you meet the challenge.
5. Entertaining. Bring your dinner dates home. Organize a girl’s night in. As long as you’re not hosting a wedding this month, your entertainment options shouldn’t prevent you from making all meals at home this month.
6. Breakfast. I understand grabbing a breakfast on the go might aid an already rushed morning routine. Can you turn in earlier to afford more time for meals at home in the morning? Sure you can.
7. Cooking’s not your forte. It’s not mine either. This month, I’m leaning on more experienced “chefs” to share simple budget-friendly recipes. Don’t worry. I got you!
8. I’m SUPER busy!!! Preparing multiple dishes or meals large enough for multiple portions (leftovers make the best lunches) can save precious time during the week.
9. I’ll miss lunch with friends. Recruit your work buds to join the challenge. Head to the cafeteria – as a group – with lunch bags in hand.
10. Thanksgiving fall in November. If you are hosting a big meal, include the extra ingredients in your budget for the month. The leftovers may actually make this challenge easier! No more cooking needed the next week.
- If we’re not planning our meals, we are wasting money.
- Meal planning is a great way to reduce your grocery bill.
- Start with what you have at home.
- Cook from scratch – it’s cheaper (& healthier) than packaged foods.
- Try more meatless meals to bring food costs down.
Before heading out for groceries, take an inventory in your kitchen, make your list, and gather coupons if that’s your thing. We have a primer for those just getting started with coupons.
Are you with us? What do you think will be most challenging during this month?
Before you go, get your FREE copy of our tips to save more money as you commit to Pay Cash for Christmas!