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Monday, August 17, 2015

The Midway Point

So, here I am with an update.  If you recall, in this post, I mentioned that I would be updating you on my fiscal fast in August.  Well, here we are at the midway point.  As a refresher, I first did this experiment in 2013.  All the details for that year's fiscal fast are here and here.

This year was a bit different.  Instead of participating in a CSA, we planted our own garden.  We grew zucchini and yellow squash, green onions, bush beans, sugar snap peas, green bell peppers, pickling cucumbers, and 3 kinds of tomatoes.  The tomatoes were romas, a varietal called mortgage lifters, and cherry tomatoes. We also did not get a meat bundle from the locker ahead of time, as we already had some left in our deep freeze from a while ago and I wanted to try to use up as much stuff as possible.  Finally, as I stated 2 years ago, we have kids, but they are my stepkids, whose primary residency is with their mothers, so we don't have to directly pay for school or clothes or whatnot, because of the child support my husband pays monthly.

Okay, so once again I premade a bunch of bierocks.  This year I made up 3 batches of them, which WOULD be 36 overall.  I say would, because my husband is the one who fills and crimps the bierocks and well, he likes them to be stuffed.  So, instead of 36 bierocks, we got 26 bierocks and 10 homemade hot pockets, made with pepperoni slices and mozzarella.  My husband has already pretty much demolished them.

This year I also went to the store and stocked up on necessities, as well as planning a bit of stuff for meals because what we had in our freezer would probably not have been enough for the entire month.  I got paid on July 31st, so I used my normal food budget for two weeks ($350) and bought cat litter, dog food, and toilet paper at Target.  I ordered my cat food from Amazon as well as coffee, because I have a Senseo pod coffee maker and you can only get those online.  I have a diabetic cat, so I researched the lowest carb food for cats and crossmatched that with least expensive and came up with the 9 Lives Seafood and Poultry Favorites.  I haven't been able to find it at any store I normally shop at, so I order it off of Amazon.

Then, I hit the grocery store.  I wrote down everything I remember, so here it is:

pork loin chops (pack of 4)
9 lbs. of ground beef
a package of chicken tenderloins (much less expensive than chicken breasts)
2 packages of bratwursts
2 1-lb. packages of breakfast sausage
3 1-lb.  packages of sweet Italian sausage (for bulk pasta sauce)
2 packages of unsalted butter
2 packages of cream cheese
1 small carton of whipping cream
2 cartons of unsweetened almond milk (you can't even taste the difference in cereal, gravy, or pretty much anything and BONUS, it lasts over a month!)
1 16-oz. carton of sour cream
1 large package of unbleached white flour
1 large package of whole wheat flour
1 medium package of sugar
butter spray (my husband uses this on the grill a lot)
large container of white vinegar
2 cans of evaporated milk
1 loaf of wheat bread
1 package of tortillas
4 6-packs of Dr. Pepper (my husband's lunch drink)
1 4-cup bag EACH of mozzarella, quesadilla mix, and cheddar cheese
2 rolls of biscuits (for homemade donuts, as a treat)
4 4-packs of fruit cups (peaches and pears, for my work lunches)
mustard (we were out)
a bag of medium-grain white rice
2 bags of pretzels (for lunches)
2 bags of potato chips
4 15-oz. cans of tomato sauce (for bulk pasta sauce)
4 6-oz. cans of tomato paste (for bulk pasta sauce)
2 6-oz. cans of mushrooms (we use them in everything from quiche to sloppy joes)
3 28-oz. cans of crushed tomatoes (for bulk pasta sauce, but our tomatoes were so abundant, we didn't use them)
a package of penne, a package of spaghetti, and a package of lasagna noodles

The purpose of the fiscal fast is to save money quickly, by not spending what you would normally spend on food, gas, entertainment, clothing, etc.  However, you still budget your normal monthly bills, such as your mortgage, phone, gas, etc.  We were able to get by on the extra gas money we hadn't used from previous paychecks.  This is because we use a modified envelope system, much like Dave Ramsey's money system.

So, at the midway point, we are doing well.  My parents came in for a visit this last Saturday, so we actually got to eat at a restaurant for the first time in 2 weeks, because they are very generous people.  We ran out of bread last week, so on Sunday, I made up the bulk pasta sauce (it made almost 2 gallons!), a loaf of wheat bread (my last fiscal fast I linked to the recipe, called Whole Wheat wonderfulness), 2 loaves of zucchini bread (for breakfasts this week), and a large batch of cucumbers and onions in vinegar and sugar.

We have relied on the bierocks to get us through on those days we want a quick meal without much hassle.  I have also found some great recipes tailored to what I have in my pantry and freezer.  I made a pasta dish with white sauce last week.  It only included the sauce, so I added in all kinds of veggies from our garden.

We have plenty of entertainment, too.  Usually we end up playing board games (we have a multitude) or watching TV.  Occasionally, we go to the park or hang out at friends' houses.  We have books coming out our ears (mainly due to the collection we keep on hand for our Little Free Library) and oftentimes will hang out and do some gardening or writing or, as in the case of my husband, listening to podcasts.
This could be you, but perhaps without the lame business attire.

We have made it more than halfway through the fiscal fast, but I know the more difficult time is ahead of us.  The great thing is the real life positive of this fast.  We have already saved $1200.  I anticipate saving at least $800 more!

So, if any of you have ideas for some hodgepodge casseroles for me, I am willing to give them a try.  I also hope this has encouraged some of you to try a fiscal fast of your own.  Finally, if you have ever done anything similar, please let me know.  I'd love to hear variations on this idea.  It's a great time to save lots of money, which is always handy when Christmas is just a few months away.

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