Since we've found ourselves with the unintended (and hopefully temporary) luxury of childlessness, we've gone into an aggressive debt payoff mode. The only thing that could make it more aggressive would be for me to acquire a second income for the household, something I've begun to seriously consider. In the meantime, we've been having some considerable success doing what most of the country apparently hasn't been doing for quite some time -- living beneath our means.
Our rent is currently a few hundred dollars less than what we could theoretically afford, and I've become an electricity nazi, unplugging everything that isn't currently in use, stopping the dishwasher before the dry cycle, and air-drying half the clothes. Also, I haven't run the climate control in at least two months, which alone seems to save us a cool $100 on each bill. At the moment that means I've been shivering for a while, but we'll see how long I last into the summer.
Additionally, when I do find myself at home alone for extended periods, the grocery budget goes into a kind of hibernation. I don't mind boring food, or indeed the same thing as many as three times a day. And so I discovered my tasty (and reasonably healthy) chicken and rice recipe. Saves both time and money!
I did the math, and it comes out to less than $1 per serving. I start with one big pot, boiling four chicken thighs, or whatever was cheap. Remove the cooked meat and continue boiling the bones and skin to make broth, seasoning as desired. When the broth is done (boiled down to about 4 cups' worth), remove the bones and skin and add two cups of brown rice and simmer (covered) for twenty minutes. Add a whole chopped onion and simmer for another twenty minutes. Put the chicken back in, along with a generous helping of frozen peas or other vegetable. It's like chicken soup without the soup part. Dish out as much as you like, pop the lid back on and throw it in the fridge for later.
It saves me the trouble of cooking, shopping, and meal planning for at least three days, time which is currently invested in working through my quota of stocking commissions for this year.