I have caught up just slightly with company business and managed to remove all the Christmas decorations from the inside of the house so without further wait here are the 2015 Grocery Budget tally results:
Budget: $6700 for the year which was $650 for January when my stepdaughter was still staying with us and $550 per month for the rest of the year. My grocery budget includes all food and nonfood including beauty products - yes, even including makeup and hairspray. It also includes a large amount of over the counter medications which we use to keep our non-life threatening diseases and conditions at bay.
Over the course of the year the Canadian dollar dropped 17% in comparison to the American dollar and that has made a huge impact on cost increases on our groceries. I would guess as high as 75% of our groceries are imported from the USA without any affordable home grown options except meat and produce. Canada simply produces hardly any non-food items so we are at the mercy of the exchange rate. As for food, I buy what we can that is made in Canada but lots of it is still imported from elsewhere. In the late Spring our farmers market opens and I hope to go there a lot more this year, at least once every two weeks. It is not far to drive and is very close to the beach we frequent so we just have to make a point of stopping there. It is both affordable and tasty and way fresher than what we normally get at the grocery store.
I grew a huge bounty of tomatoes off of two plants - definitely a bumper crop year for them. I also grew jalapenos, rosemary, chives and cilantro. The rosemary overwinters here and has now grown into a small healthy bush. The chive plant will likely come back to life in springtime so those are two less plants I will need to worry about spending money on this year. I scored a large amount of .25 cent seed packets of cilantro in September so will not have to spend anything on that. I use cilantro in huge abundance as we love it in salsa, salads, soups, and as a flavoring for rice. I want to add at least 1 more food crop this year to my container gardening - any suggestions? Maybe strawberries or cucumbers. I don't have a regular garden, just two flower size beds and pots. There is no intention to make a garden in our small back yard as the two areas that are unused don't get a lot of sun and we use the rest of it for ourselves and the dog so that is not an option. We are extremely fortunate Buddy does not use my plants as something to pee on - my neighbor has that problem so can't grow anything in her back yard.
After a fantastic blackberry year in 2014 our drought in 2015 made for a poor blackberry crop so I didn't pick any. I am hoping for a better 2016 year for berries as we are nearly at the very end of the blackberry jam and all the frozen blackberries are long gone. I love free food and blackberries are generally bountiful in August here.
Finally, I did something yesterday which I have never done in all my 46 years. I made bread from scratch! Using my brand new...wait for it....Kitchenaid Standmixer!!!! I have wanted one of these badly for 10 years but am far too cheap for the cash outlay. The kids all gave me amazon gcs for Christmas plus I had a few left over from using swagbucks. It was between this bad boy and a new vacuum cleaner (*I am really bad about buying things for myself lol) but the Kitchenaid won out. I managed to get it at a rock bottom low price on December 24th and none of my own beans spent!! The vacuum will have to wait and we will live with our old crappy one and bite the bullet to buy another when it dies (dreaming of a dyson).
Guess what? Loads of men and women around the world make do without a kitchenaid mixer to make bread. But since I have terrible arthritis kneading bread is just not an option. It is sometimes true what they say, the right tools make all the difference.
I chose a sandwich bread with honey in it. I used instant dry yeast and am thinking although it rose I should have let it rise just a little bit longer. I am buying some active dry yeast next time I go to the store which I have read makes it taste even better. We had homemade bread and homemade crock pot beef and veggie soup for dinner last night and of the two loaves I made one is almost gone. One thing to keep in mind if you ever buy one of these - they weigh a ton! We had to move some shelves to make a spot for it where I can lift it in and out of the cupboard easily.
In other news our kitchen back-splash tile has shown up and the tile guy will be here in one week's time to start installing. We still need to repaint both bathrooms and frame the mirrors(ourselves) but based how busy our business is that might have to wait a couple of months. We bought a new sectional couch on boxing day and said goodbye to our 11 year old couch and love seat and sent it off to a new home for $180 (*going into the weekend in Tofino fund). Four kids and a poodle had made it start shedding it's leather skin so it just needed to go. There is zero remaining in the reno fund but hubby has enough in his chequing account to cover the tile guy's labor. Other than some decorating touches the reno is almost done!! I still love my countertops - not to everyone's taste but we love the sparkly multicolored quartz. Who doesn't need a little bling in their kitchen!