Tag: save

HomeChef Update

So back on August 20th, I wrote about a way that I am trying to cut back on excessive spending when it comes to my groceries, reducing waste with unused food, and reallocating time that was previously spent running from store to store. Well, 2 weeks in and going on to week 3, I wanted to share an update! Also, I want to add that this is not sponsored.

When I posted about HomeChef in my New Take on Groceries post, I wasn’t sure what to expect – honestly. I grew up with a mom that worked fulltime but also cooked every week. She taught me to love cooking and that the kitchen is all about organized chaos. She taught me that a little of this and a pinch of that were real measurements for ingredients. She taught me that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And with all of those lessons, I learned about cultural foods, how to basically cook for an army (I am having a really hard time cooking for just 2), and how cooking can bring people together. So when I decided to take a leap into these pre-planned meals, I thought I was shaming my up-bringing. I was not going out and buying my groceries, one cucumber at a time. I was not examining my produce or selecting that portioned ground beef (you know, the one that was priced $6.98 and not $7.02). I was not coming up with my own concoctions. I was not experimenting or playing with food. I honestly felt slightly ashamed.

But I knew I had to do something to help my husband and I cut down on cost, cut down on overindulgence, and reallocate time that has become so precious and so limited (working fulltime, going to school fulltime, and managing some personal side projects really take a toll). So I told myself that this is an experiment so the scientist in me could rationalize the change and took the plunge.

As I mentioned, my first order was curtesy of a promotion code and subsequent orders would cost a bit more but still be less than what we normally would spend on just the groceries themselves. I did a breakdown in my earlier post (you can find it here). So to date, these are the expenses we have incurred for any and all groceries:

HomeChef – $57.50 (week 01) + $89.50 (week 02) + $99.50 (week 03)
Local Farmer’s Market: $30 (week 01) + $32 (week 02) + $0 (week 03)
Local grocery: $30 (week 01) + $20 (week 02) + $28 (week 03)
Costco: $0 (week 01) + $0 (week 02) + $55 (week 03)
Subtotal: $117.50 (week 01) + $141.50 (week 02) + $182.50 (week 03)
GRAND TOTAL: $441.50

Now, I have to admit that some of the local grocery shopping was for our pups who eat home-cooked food which we mix with their kibble, but for the sake of the cost analysis, we will include it. Additionally, there were some expenses that were for work functions, but I cannot find that recent and it was partially reimbursed so we will exclude that. I also excluded non-food items like hand soap, detergents or aluminum foil (Costco for the win though). Also, I had cooked a storm before we started this so we had a LOT of food in the freezer so, for those 2 days when we didn’t have a HomeChef meal, we still had food without having to go out to eat or scramble for last-minute ingredients.

So if we look at what I had predicted for expenses for a month, we will go over $500 in groceries BUT we have had less waste, less time spent shopping (hence my weekend of homework), less gas running from store to store, and less stress during the week. In fact, I opened my fridge this morning and realized it was basically empty – and by empty, I mean full of milk, eggs, and those other staples but not full of food in every Pyrex we own.

Yes, we still have to make some additional improvements but overall, this is still a savings for us. On a given month, we could easily surpass $600 in groceries alone.


Now, let’s talk about the food itself.

I am still feeling guilty about not having my mother’s recipes sprawled about the counter or making up my own concoctions, but I have to say that some of these meals are going to become part of our regular meal rotation when this little experiment is over!

The food is really quite good and I am still able to play with the recipe a little bit – mostly because we cut out a lot of salt (some of these have 50% of your daily intake!). My husband and I also still cook together, most days. And on those days we aren’t cooking together, the recipes are simple enough that one can cook and the other can do homework or personal tasks and he doesn’t yell at me that “a little of that” doesn’t mean anything! Most importantly, we eat together, at the dinner table, and have 1 serving – and we aren’t hungry!

I am currently editing my first unboxing video of the HomeChef delivery, which comes every Tuesday for us and is well packed! So stay tuned as I hope to have that up this weekend.

And just to leave you with an idea on the meals we have had…

So inquiring minds want to know… How important is home cooking in your household? Do you eat out often? If so, how often? How do you manage your budget with groceries?

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A New Take on Groceries

When talking about our home budgeting needs, the one area that always gives us some pause is the “groceries” line item. We have been saving money when it comes to our no spend weeks and our pantry challenges (which is using only what you have in the house for food) which we usually combined! In fact, this past weekend is the first in a month where our fridge is back at capacity!

We are eating healthy, cooking more, and enjoying the time together without interruptions. And yet we are still spending more than we really need to for a household of 2 (humans and 2 pooches).

So we are going to try a little something new and I am bringing you along for the journey! We are taking a new look on groceries and trying HomeChef!

So what is HomeChef? It is a meal delivery service that allows you to customize your meals on your dietary needs (say vegetarian, gluten free, and so on) BUT you are actually the chef. So that means that all the ingredients, including the “dash of pepper” or “sprinkle of salt” is included, along with the main ingredients and the recipe guide. Then you cook the meal. So, if you’re like me and you don’t use much salt in your meals, you can customize your dinner. The best part is that they provide the ingredients per the number of people and the recipe -nothing more. So there is less waste and no science experiments growing in the back of the fridge (c’mon…I know I’m not alone on this one).

Now you are reading this and thinking, didn’t you just say you are being frugal and not spending money? How does that align with ordering meals delivered to your door every week? Well thanks for asking!

We were lucky enough to get a promotion for our first box (slated to arrive Tuesday the 27th and I’ll bring you along for the ride) which only came out to $57.50 for 5 days worth of meals for 2 people. Now I’m not a mathematician by trade but… $57.50 divided by 5 days means that we are eating dinner for $11.50. And if you divide that by 2 … $5.75 per person, per meal, Monday through Friday. Honestly, I’ve spent more at Starbucks on one coffee that I finish in 5 minutes (don’t challenge me on that…I’m a coffee addict and proud).

But lets say we did not get a promotion to try out. The normal box of meals that we are trying is for 5 days and 2 people which equates to an average of $99 (some prices vary depending on the recipes you choose – like scallops would cost more than chicken). That still is only $19.80 per day or $9.90 per person.

That all means that in a month, we will be spending under $400 for varying meals on the most hectic nights of the week!

Now if we just supplement that with fresh, in season, produce from our farmer’s markets like fruit and some vegetables for our smoothies and weekend meals, then we can stay under $500 a month. And that means a monthly savings of over $100 for us! What?! I told you we like to eat! Plus we need to look at the bottom line which includes time spent looking at flyers, comparing prices, and actually going to the stores. And speaking of going to the stores, lets not forget gas!

So now you’re asking me what type of food are we looking at because you know I love to cook and won’t eat just anything… Since I won’t receive my first box till next week, I can only share what my menu is slated to be in no particular order:

Meal 1: Steak with Sauce Robert and spinach scalloped potatoes
Meal 2: Salmon with Dill Crema and green beans amandine
Meal 3: JalapeƱo Popper Burgers with chipotle mayo and fries
Meal 4: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta with Parmesan & green onions
Meal 5: Chipotle Refried Lentil Flautas with queso fresco & sour cream

I am very interested to see how these are packaged because with the 100+ degree weather we have been having, I don’t want my food to spoil before we get to cook it and eat it!

So tune in this upcoming Tuesday (8/27) as we uncover the world of meal deliveries you have to cook yourself! You may even want to follow me on IG where I’ll do some reviews live!

Fiscal Health – Updates and Apps

Some of you that read my post on “No Spend Week”, know that my household has opted to have one week where, unless it is a bill or medical, we do not spend money! That means no frivolous expenses, no outside meals, and no grocery shopping! While we will be starting our second No Spend Week on July 9th (through July 16th), I have learned a few helpful tips & tricks as well as wanted to share our results from our first run!

Update
Overall, drum roll please, we saved about $250 during our first No Spend Week!
How?
We did not grocery shop at all! We did some fresh produce shopping on the Sunday before our week started and then reverted to eating the food items we already had on hand. It did force us to get a little creative with our meal planning (see my take on a burrito bowl dinner) but we did not find ourselves tossing any expired goods and started to cleanup our deep freezer items!
Another way we saved is putting some of our desired items on ice and came back to them a week later. We did this in three ways: first we literally just put items in our online shopping carts and then closed out of the page; secondly, we put items on our grocery list so we knew exactly what we needed when we could shop again (added bonus is we had the time to go through our cabinets, fridge, and freezer before adding an item to the list or purchasing only to find out we already had it at home); and thirdly, I put things on ice meaning I could not even add it to my shopping cart!
The last way that we saved is through finding free things to do with each other. So instead of going out to eat, we cooked at home -together. We played video games, watched Netflix, went to the gym, played with the dogs, went on walks, and other fun things at home that we normally have to try and squeeze into the day.

Apps
So I mentioned that I learned a few tips and tricks during this time to help us save those big bucks. Some of the tips are apps that we never really got around to researching before while another is an extension I was able to add to my browser (Chrome).

Starting off with “putting things on ice” – introducing Icebox. This extension is free to add to your Chrome browser and reduces your impulse buying at many online retailers like eBay, Amazon, and Sephora. How it works is it literally replaces the “add to cart” button with “put on ice” and it saves it for you depending on the “thaw” period you set, with the recommended 30 days window as a default. This means that those impulse buys you may regret later or even forgot you ordered when you’re scrolling through the Amazon abyss at 2 AM instead of sleeping, will be saved instead of purchased so when the thaw period is over, you may find yourself realizing you don’t need that hipster cat throw pillow after all. But if there is an item that you really need to purchase, you can override Icebox and purchase the item!

Another two extensions that I automatically added to my browser for those times that I can shop help me save money by either offering cashback or adding coupon codes that I did not previously have. These two extensions are Ebates (which is now called Rakuten) and Honey. Just install and when you are shopping, these two extensions will automatically notify you when they can save you money!

There are three main apps that we have been using lately to help us save money through scanning our receipts, and in the case of the latter two, matching them up with savings within the app for additional money in our pockets.

  • Receipt Hog – This also has a Chrome extension and can automatically link to your Amazon purchase and email, With this app, you get tokens that you can redeem for cash through a visa gift card, PayPal, or an Amazon gift card.
  • Fetch Rewards – This app scans your receipts for points and can link up with additional savings. You can also make money for gift cards at several retailers or donate your profits to charity.
  • ibotta – When you scan your receipt with this app and match it to a number of specific, or general, products, you will get money added to your account that you can cash out after accruing $20. Some items that are specific to a brand can save you up to $4+ dollars while some of the “any” items will save you less but you can still save money and those pennies add up!

So for our first No Spend Week, we were able to do a lot with a little and decided that we will be doing this every month! This is a good way to take back some control in an economy that strives on spending! Plus we get to take our debt down and save more by finding ways to use our time more effectively and get back to basics.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate and will pay me through a sign-up or utilization bonus. This does not impact your experience or my honest review of the services.

Please share with me any tips you have used to curb your spending and if any of these methods are tools you will use for yourself.

Frugal Tips – No Spend Week

Being an adult is hard! The worst part are the bills that come every month and the cost of living that continues to increase despite salaries not being able to keep up.

So in order to combat some of the mundane adulting tasks, the I have decided to start installing some “frugal tips” into day-to-day living. Some tips have helped me save money. Some tips have helped me knock down some debt. Some tips have helped me find some new and exciting adventures. And since they have been fairly beneficial, I wanted to share some of them!


This week’s challenge/tip: No Spend Week


While the title of this week’s tip, and challenge, is pretty obvious, the purpose behind it is to not spend any extra money! This may have been something that has been written about before, normally called “no spend months,” but there were always exceptions – food being one of them.

While that is difficult, I feel that food shopping is one of my vices – I can go to 4 stores on a given day and shop way beyond my list. Hubby and I do eat it all, but that also feeds into the cycle of over-indulgence and our healthy journey.
So, this upcoming week, we will not allow any food shopping as well as no erroneous spending except for health/medications and bills. Anything we normally would have purchased is put “on ice” and can be revisited the following week. That also means that we have to only eat items we already have – think of it as a food clean-up too!
We cannot spend money on anything from Amazon or other retailers, and if the appointment for any personal indulgent item (like my nail appointment) can be moved, it should be!

The challenge starts today: June 17th and ends on Sunday, June 23rd.

The rule: if you were going to spend money on any “fluff”, it has to be deposited into the savings account. That way, at the end of the week, we will calculate how much we saved. That means that if I was going to buy lunch on Tuesday, I would transfer that $8.00 (or whatever the price) to savings instead.

Who is with me!?