Well, after all is said and done, we saved $334 on our food bill in February! That means we spent a total of $66!!!
And our freezer is still at least 1/3rd full...so we may be able to save some of our food money in March, too. But if we do, I think we'll save it for those times when really good sales come along (so I can refill that freezer and do this all over again!).
In the process, we didn't spend all of the eating out money we had allocated for the month, either, so we didn't cheat by eating out.
What did we eat this month? In 29 days we didn't repeat one thing! We had Baked chicken, meat loaf, turkey pot pie, steak, spaghetti, orange roughhy, tilapia, parmesan chicken legs, pot roast, and lots of similar things. We really had good stuff in the freezer!
So, what did we learn with this experiment?
1. I store up way too much stuff. I need to decide a reasonable amount to keep around on a regular basis (maybe 3 cans or boxes of any one thing)and a maximum amount in case there is a really good sale (maybe a two month supply).
2. If you plan your menu in advance based on things you already have or items that are on sale, it's pretty easy to spend less.
3. I MUST have a list and a calculator when I go to the store! And it helps if I'm not hungry. And I have to stay away from things that might be on sale if they aren't on my list!
4. It is really helpful to have a menu for the week...I remember to get things out of the freezer to thaw more naturally in the fridge instead of trying to cook them while still frozen. And I don't have that panic of 'what are we going to eat tonight' every night at 4:00.
5. There are very few meals that every member of our household likes! (Ok, I knew this one, but it was validated). AND at least two people liked any particular meal I made this month...unless we switch to only pizza, tacos, and hamburgers I will not be able to change this one. I learned not to post the daily menu or people would magically disappear (especially on fish night). However, that, too, can reduce our food bill!
6. I can't fill up every night with a menu item...we need down time for leftovers and those nights when everyone wants something light like grilled cheese or soup. And I have to be flexible enough to rearrange the menu items based on what I or others feel like cooking/eating.
7. Things in the freezer really do expire...I had to throw away several bags of frozen veggies (and a cheer went up in our household) because they were freezer burned.
The only things we ran out of during the month were soda (I was REALLY craving a Mountain Dew during that last week), cereal, instant oatmeal (I'm the only one who eats that), bottled water, and canned veggies. And I was able to replace almost all items we had to have for our first week of March within the regular weekly budget.
I declare this experiment a success!