Monday, February 20, 2017

No Spend February: Second Update, Lunches and Dinners, Meal Plan, and Grocery Haul

I have a second update on my No Spend February for you today. If you missed my first update, you may find it here. Like my first check in, I will share how it's going, list what I ate lately, my meal plan, and my grocery haul.

I must confess that I busted my No Spend Month. With a single purchase though. I replaced my black ballet flats intended primarily for work. I ordered them on Amazon for $98.75 on Thursday and with free two-day Prime shipping, they arrived via USPS on Saturday. I always order the same ones since they work so well. I found them online once and have been repeatedly buying them ever since. From a brand called Softwalk, the Napa Ballet Flat is incredibly comfortable all day with significant padding. A good shoe, they also feature texture on the bottom of the sole. I love that such a comfy flat is also stylish. They are black leather with a patent black toe cap. They are sleek and even with my long toes, do not show any toe "cleavage." I adore them. They are so me. I walk so much that they only last six to seven months. My last pair was over seven months old. They really should have been an exception in my personal No Spend Month, but I thought I could stretch it, possibly make my casual flat black chelsea boots or my black leather pointed flats without any padding whatsoever work and then order my work flats on March 1st. I didn't want to not dress appropriately or be in pain though. They were incredibly shabby looking, plus falling apart. In fact, the sole was pulling away from the front of the shoe. Krazy glue didn't work. I am an individual who prides herself on her professionalism and these were far too unprofessional. I couldn't take it. I am a bit disappointed since I am a woman of my word. Plus, I realize that I am sharing my challenge publicly. But, I also know that this single purchase won't make me buy more and I do love my new shoes. I might not have purchased them if I wasn't pretty sure that I would meet my savings goal for the challenge. I already have well over that amount in my checking account now and only plan to spend $5 more on groceries (more on that later in this post) and possibly $5 on laundry (if I don't have enough on my laundry card and if I don't do laundry at my parents' place) between now and the end of the month. I assure you that I remain committed to not spending. If I meet my savings goal, do not spend any more money on anything that is not an established exception, and learn life lessons, then I will still consider my No Spend Month a success.

I am ready for this challenge to be over. I still want what I want. Not looking at those desired items online much anymore, they still remain in my thoughts. I am also deleting emails regarding Presidents' Day weekend sales before even opening them. No, I don't care if it's the "LAST DAY" to save. There will always be sales. Speaking of being online, I have been watching a lot of YouTube lately. Sometimes, this particular distraction doesn't help curb my temptation to spend though since I may view YouTuber's haul and her video makes me really want to hit the Target Dollar Spot or the Dollar Tree.

What I ate for lunch and dinner for the past 6 1/2 days:
Tuesday, 2/14:
 Lunch: leftover penne with sauteed zucchini in tomato sauce
 Dinner: salad with bacon
Wednesday, 2/15:
 Lunch: leftover balsamic chicken and Stovetop stuffing
 Dinner: leftover balsamic chicken and StoveTop stuffing
Thursday, 2/16:
 Lunch: salad
 Dinner: pasta specialty
Friday, 2/17:
 Lunch: leftover pasta specialty
 Dinner: leftover pasta specialty
Saturday, 2/18: (Grocery shopped this morning.)
 Lunch: leftover pasta specialty
 Dinner: leftover pasta specialty
Sunday, 2/19:
 Lunch: chicken salad sandwich, pretzels
 Dinner: chicken salad sandwich, pretzels
Monday, 2/20:
 Lunch: chicken salad sandwich, pretzels

When you live alone, you prepare something for dinner and often have leftovers. Of course, variety is the spice of life, but I am glad to be a person who can happily eat the same thing over and over! I know that some of my meals this week did not include vegetables, but I was on a strict budget and for the most part, my meals are rich in vegetables.

Prior to grocery shopping, with the grocery store's online circular in front of me, I wrote down my meal plan for lunches and dinners (22 meals in the 11 days) from Saturday the 18th through Tuesday the 28th:
1. pasta specialty*
2. pasta specialty*
3. chicken salad sandwich, pretzels
4. chicken salad sandwich, pretzels
5. chicken salad sandwich, pretzels
6. chicken salad sandwich, pretzels
7. pasta** with homemade meatballs***
8. pasta** with homemade meatballs***
9. salad
10. salad
11. salad
12. balsamic chicken,* side?
13. balsamic chicken,* side?
14. pepperoni pizza
15. pepperoni pizza
16. pasta**
17. pasta**
18. pasta**
19. pasta**
20. salad****
21. salad****
22. salad****
*leftover from last week
**in the pantry
***from my parents
****to buy next week

Those are not in order, but I just wanted to know if I have enough food.

I write a shopping list and make sure I have it in store.

I went grocery shopping on Saturday morning before work. This is my haul from my local grocery store Giant for this week:

I divided it into two transactions. One for all my food...

I purchased: store brand thin pretzels, Betty Crocker Wild Blueberry Muffin Mix, Lavazza ground espresso, Simple Orange Calcium & Vitamin D Pulp Free orange juice, Keebler Harvest Wheat Toasteds crackers, store brand Italian Seasoned croutons, 1 lb. deli Rotisserie Chicken Salad, Vienna sliced white bread from the bakery, store brand Self-Rising Crust pepperoni pizza, store brand Spring Mix salad, King size Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bar, and 8 oz. store brand Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

I am out of the peanuts I usually grab at Target, so I wanted a snack item and the pretzels will be a side for my sandwiches this week. I selected the store brand bag of pretzels since it was cheaper than the name brands. I wanted a change from a cranberry muffin for breakfast, so I picked up a box of blueberry muffin mix. It wasn't on sale, but I didn't need to buy milk to make them. I baked them yesterday and ate my first one this morning. I needed espresso and the Lavazza was on sale for $5.59 and is always much cheaper than my preferred Illy brand, so I buy Lavazza in the wintertime. I saw that Simply Orange was on sale for $3 in the circular and I wanted to buy orange juice anyway. The crackers were not on sale, but I was out and wanted them. Same thing with the croutons, not on sale, but I was running very low. I discovered that the deli's Rotisserie Chicken Salad was on sale in the circular and since I only grab it every once in awhile, I decided to get one pound which will make four nice-sized sandwiches. This chicken salad is not fancy, but basic and good. I cut the mayo taste a bit by sprinkling it with celery salt. For the sandwiches, the store didn't have the sliced Italian bread I liked in front of the deli counter, so I picked up another similar sliced white loaf from the bakery section next door. I might not have bought this loaf if I saw its $4.49 price though, opting for a $1-$2 loaf in the bread aisle instead. I missed having pizza on Friday night the past couple of weeks, so I definitely picked up the store brand I discovered on sale for $3.50 in the circular. I prefer the DiGiorno brand, but think the store brand is similar to that rather than like the Red Baron kind that tastes cheap and reminds me of what they served in a school cafeteria. I earned $0.25 cash back on the frozen pizza in my Ibotta app. I also found the salad on sale for $2 in the circular and since I am trying to lose weight and hit my goal weight of 150 lbs., I decided to pick up a bag for three healthy meals. In the circular, I saw that King size Hershey's bars were on sale for $1 and wondered if the Special Dark variety was on sale. It was, but for $1.67.  I still added it to my basket to have as my chocolate for like 2-3 days. Finishing it up on Monday after lunch, the bar only lasted 2 1/2 days. I failed to buy enough new chocolate for the week, but maybe I can bake something out of mixes and/or ingredients in my pantry and cabinets. (Since I am also running low on cupcake liners, I may not bake my signature brookies, but brownies would be fantastic...) I always pick up cheddar cheese and I saw that the 8 oz. chunk was on sale for $2 in the weekly circular. For these 12 items, I spent $39.64, way over my $25.00 weekly budget. I figured since there were only 11 days left in the month, I could basically look at this haul as feeding me for the last week and a half of the month rather than a 7-day week.

Out of my $100 grocery budget for the month, I have spent $93.32 so far. Since I have $6.68 left, next weekend, I could buy a bag of salad and a chunk of cheddar (likely totaling around $5) to hold me over until March begins.

In a separate transaction at self-checkout, I paid for a box of freezer bags out of my $21.00 in cash, an exception in my No Spend Month. This store brand product totaled $2.11. Now, I have $9.36 left for spending money for the rest of the month. I have already used these bags to at least freeze most of the blueberry muffins I baked Sunday morning. 

I should have known that I wouldn't have spent my limited spending money on things I want, but on beauty products and home necessities I use daily, items that make me and my home look presentable and run well. I am out of or running low on so many things now... 

I plan on continuing to publish this kind of update, but I also want to write other posts including tips, products I love that save me money, how I'm making do when a particular item (or two) runs out, and a home tour. My home tour is an effort to help me appreciate what I have. I have already started preparing for some of these posts including the apartment tour in photos. I normally clean my bathroom on Wednesday evening, but I got the flu on a Wednesday, then had a friend over the following Wednesday, and then I simply procrastinated, so I didn't clean it until first thing this morning. (Of course, I spot cleaned it.) I already took pictures of my bathroom this morning too. I am having my carpet cleaned (which is free to me since my boss owed me at work) tomorrow and plan to continue cleaning this week. You can expect the home tour to be published by month end. In addition, I may share what I am planning for March including the week-long lifestyle challenge I have been considering (because a month is too long right now!), my first purchases and my plans for my first daytrip to my beloved Philadelphia in a year. (Read about my last trip here.)

If you are doing No Spend February, how are you coming along? Or have you decided to do No Spend March? If so, I am incredibly impressed with you tackling a 31-day month because a 28-day month was difficult for me! And how are you preparing? I hope you find my experience helpful.


  1. I love these detailed posts, Michelle! Thank you for taking the time needed to itemize each product; it helps me plan my grocery shopping!

  2. I love those shoes! I'm still doing no spend February and it has been so interesting. I'm finding my spending is very much tied to my emotions and now that I've identified that and worked through the emotions without spending, I've done something I was never able to do before and learned a new skill that I needed that will last me a lifetime. For that alone, the no spend challenge was worth it and I'm considering extending it in a modified way through Lent this year.

  3. Your blog is so much fun!! Thanks for your candor and inspiration. I realize that your pasta specialty is a super flexible recipe, but could you share a version? Either way, thanks so much for your charming blog!!

  4. It's 2/25 today so you're winding down on your no-spend month! Bummer that you had to buy the shoes but at least it wasn't an unplanned or unnecessary purchase! Can't wait to hear your takeaway from this experience plus read all your other upcoming posts!