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What is the $40/Week Grocery Budget Challenge?
I am normally able to feed my family of two for $35/week where I make homemade meals six nights of the week. I talk more in depth about my grocery budget and how you can setup your grocery budget here. This budget includes my breakfasts and lunches for the week as well. My sister recently moved in with us for the foreseeable future so I wanted to see if I could cook for three people but only increase my budget by $5 week. This means that I will try to spend $40/week or less on our groceries!
A few disclaimers about my budget:
1) I cook a homemade meal 6 nights of the week.
2) This budget includes everything that I need to make breakfasts, lunches & snacks for myself as well as supper for both me and my husband.
3) This does not include any eating out expenses. I have those costs as a separate budget item. Same goes for household items like paper towels or cleaning supplies. Those have their own budget line.
4) This does not include my husband’s grocery expenses. He spends $25/week on lunches that he takes to work, and what he eats for breakfast. I have no control (nor do I wish to) over what he spends or buys so I do not include this in my budget amount.
5) I do 95% of my grocery shopping at Aldi. The only time that I don’t shop there is if they don’t have the ingredient/s that I need. I will hit up another grocery store to buy only the missing ingredients that I couldn’t get at Aldi.
6) I eat leftovers for lunches at work.
What Will I Share each week of the challenge?
1) How much I spend on groceries each week
2) What groceries I bought each week
3) What we eat for meals each night – I plan to cook meals at least 6 nights of the week! I want to highlight that we are not eating crackers and cheese every night. We are eating real and filling meals!
4) My thoughts, my successes, my failures and any frugal tips along the way!
Week 8: 8/18 – 8/24
What I spent on groceries: $39.52
What Groceries I Bought this Week:
Meats/Frozen Food/Dairy: 2 gallons of milk, coffee creamer, 1 block of pepper jack cheese, 1 tub of sour cream, 1 dozen eggs, 2 lbs. of ground beef (80/20), 1 bag of frozen French fries, 1 bag of breaded chicken patties
Produce: 1 bag of green beans, 2.5 lbs of bananas, 1 bag of carrots
Pantry Items: 1 can of Green Enchilada sauce, Popcorn seasoning, 1 can of water chestnuts, 1 bag of chocolate chips, 1 loaf of wheat bread, 1 package of flour tortillas, 1 can of diced tomatoes & chilies, 2 cans of non-stick spray, 1 package of hamburger buns, 1 container of canola oil
Meals that We Ate This Week:
Friday 8/18: Ate out.
Saturday 8/19: Parmesan Tilapia, Rice & Breaded Asparagus (I had all of the ingredients on hand for this!)
Sunday 8/20: Sloppy Joes & French Fries (I used some of the hamburger buns, 1/2 lb of ground beef, and the French fries from this week’s groceries and everything else I had on hand.)
Monday 8/21: Cheese Ravioli, Breaded Parmesan Chicken Strips and Roasted Green Beans (I used some of the green beans that I bought this week, otherwise I had everything else on hand.)
Tuesday 8/22: Chicken Verde Enchiladas & Spanish Rice (I used some of the flour tortillas, half of the block of pepper jack cheese, 1/2 tub of the sour cream, and part of the can of diced tomatoes & chilies. Everything else I had on hand.)
Wednesday 8/23: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (used some of the bread that I bought this week. I had the rest of the ingredients on hand.)
Thursday 8/24: Dynamite Chicken Grain Bowl (used some of the water chestnuts otherwise I had all of the ingredients on hand.)
For lunches: My husband takes oatmeal packets or frozen meals for his lunches at work. He buys those himself as noted in my first challenge post. My sister works at a children’s summer camp right now and they provide lunches for the counselors. My sister does use the sandwich meat and cheese to make sandwiches twice a week for lunch. We had some bread in the freezer that she used this week. I ate leftovers all week for lunch.
For breakfast: Again my husband buys his own raisin bread or whatever he is feeling like that week. He doesn’t eat a ton for breakfasts.
For my sister and I: I made a double batch of this creamy twisted quinoa oatmeal. We keep it in the fridge all week and scoop out individual sized helpings for breakfast.
My thoughts, successes, failures and tips for the week:
Thoughts: As you can see, I didn’t use a lot of the groceries that I bought this week. Each week I pick out 5-6 meals that I am going to make. Sometimes I don’t always make all of the meals planned for the week because I underestimated how many leftovers one meal would make, or my husband will last-minute not be home for supper, or to be honest sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking.
When any of those things happen and I don’t cook the meal planned for that night, it will just get added to next week’s meal plan.
Another reason for not needing to use a ton of groceries that I bought this week is the fact that I shop my pantry first. As I talked about in this post, having a well-stocked pantry can save you so much money!
Due to leftover ingredients from previous recipes AND having a well-stocked pantry, most of the recipes that I made only needed a few ingredients that I didn’t have on hand.
Successes: I came in just under my budget! I used our air fryer FIVE times this week and loved all of the results!
Failures: Nothing to report for this week 🙂
Takeaways & Things to Improve on: I thought that I needed to buy more non-stick spray this week so I bought 2 cans. Turns out that I already had 2 cans in my pantry. Had this been a perishable item, I would have been a little upset as it would probably go to waste. Luckily those cans will be usable for months to come. It made me realize something important though. I need to start building out my pantry even further so that I have multiples of one item in my pantry. Right now I usually have maybe 1-2 of any given item in my pantry. If I have extra money the budget during the week, how awesome would it be to use that money to build my pantry out even more?
Why is that awesome you ask? Well because then it means that there could be weeks where I occasionally won’t need to do any grocery shopping at all because I would have all of the ingredients already stocked! This would be great to try and plan around doing a “no-spend” week. This sounds like another challenge for me 🙂
-Meal planning! Every Friday afternoon before I go to the grocery store, I plan out 5-6 meals for the week. This allows me to have a set list of food that I need and helps prevent me from making impulse purchases because then that means I won’t be able to buy something else on my list. This would mean not having all of the ingredients for a recipe that I planned on making that week.
Do you need help getting started with meal planning? Check out my post on the easiest way to start implementing meal planning for you and your family. I include 30 theme night ideas to help get your started!
One of the themes that I talk about is “Takeout Fakeout” where you try to recreate one of your favorite restaurant dishes. Something that I would highly recommend to you is an air fryer. (Check out my affiliate link here to purchase the one that I have. I absolutely love it!) I made jalapeno poppers, baked the parmesan chicken breasts, roasted the green beans, fried the breaded asparagus and even baked the French fries in my air fryer this week! This NuWave Air Fryer has seriously been my faithful workhorse this week! (I have the 6 quart size) The reason I talk about the air fryer and the takeout fakeout theme night together is because this air fryer makes breaded food taste so crispy and delicious like it came straight out of the restaurant’s fryer.
The air fryer is a much healthier way to cook your food. PLUS, during the summer you can bake foods in it that you would normally throw in the oven. This helps keep your house cool in these hot months!
-Dressing up a can of tomato soup. I realize that canned tomato soup is not the tastiest nor is it the healthiest route as far as tomato soup but sometimes I need the speediness of heating up a can of soup. I add about 1/4 cup of 2% milk and about 1 tsp of dried basil. The milk will add a creaminess to the soup and the basil helps to kick the flavor up. You would never guess that this was canned soup when you taste it!
Check Out Other $40/Week Grocery Budget Posts: