Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Money Matters: Checking in on the Challenge

So is anyone else out there having their own struggles with the Cheapskate Challenge of the week? This week's challenge has definitely caused me to be a lot more thoughtful about eating out. Those restaurants keep calling my name and it has taken a lot more effort to resist than I would have thought.

Sunday night even though I had the fridge stocked and recipe planned and ready to go, I just could not get into cooking mode. Unfortunately for me, neither could Don. I thought about our eating out options but that double the price thing was weighing pretty heavily on my pocketbook. Well, I did not get around to cooking, but I did finally opt for a frozen entree from the freezer which saved me a bundle in the end. Good thing I have those on hand for such situations!

Also, a big part of our plan for lunches is based on leftovers from the night before. Since I did not cook there were no ready made leftovers to toss in my lunchbox and of course I did not have time to pack a lunch either. I was about ready to head out the door for work thinking that I would have to hit the sandwich shop for lunch when I remembered I had canned tuna in the pantry! I would not have time to make the sandwiches before work and I was out of bread, but if I brought the ingredients with me to work, I could prepare the tuna salad in the breakfroom and run across the street to the grocery store for the bread on my lunch break.

The plan worked perfectly. For sides I decided I would get whatever fruit happened to be on sale and splurge on a bag of chips to portion out for the week. By concentrating on the sale items, I walked out of the store with a loaf of whole wheat bread, 4 granny smith apples, a quart of strawberries, and a tube of Pringles all for just $5.38. That's as much as I would have spent on one sub sandwich and now I have fresh and healthy lunches for the whole week!

Interestingly enough I am discovering that my urges to eat out have very little to do with the food cravings themselves. Rather, I am usually motivated to eat out either for the convenience (lack of planning, don't feel like cooking) or as a social urge (a friend was in town visiting tonight and though would have been happy to hang around the house and roast stuff on the BBQ, I had a huge desire *though did not act on it* to go out and eat pizzas and drink beer with the gang.) So I would call this weeks challenge a success so far. I think I am growing in my frugal discipline and learning more about my own financial impulses and pitfalls. It feels good and we're only halfway through the week!


Camille said...

We usually make a point to only eat out once a week. And we call eachother on it when we're being especially lazy. Usually I have quick meals on hand - tuna casserole, spaghetti - and it's just a matter of boiling some water and chopping some veggies. It's really not all that hard and it feels good to know how much money we saved in the end!

Cindy said...

Thanks for sharing your great strategies Camille! Great idea to keep quick backup meals on hand for when you don't feel like doing the whole dinner routine.

katrina said...

I'll admit I'm really a newbie with this. By Tuesday, I'm up to $25 to donate to our local food bank. One of the pitfalls with my profession (pastor) is that eating out is a social connection event for folks. While that wasn't the case with my $25, I can tell that this thinking has become my default thinking. I'm not sure this is a strategy as much as it is an honest confession - but I do thank all of you much better cheapskates for sharing your success stories with someone who needs to learn from them!