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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 9: 8/25 – 8/31
What I spent on groceries: $40.06
What Groceries I Bought this Week:
Meats/Frozen Food/Dairy: 1 gallon of milk, 4lbs of frozen chicken wing parts, 1 bag of frozen French fries, 1 tub of loaded mashed potatoes, Swiss cheese slices, turkey lunch meat, 1 grab-n-go container of fried chicken
Produce: 1 container of tofu, 2 lbs of sweet potatoes
Pantry Items: 1 box of Panko breadcrumbs, 1 loaf of French bread, 1 package or tortillas
Meals that We Ate This Week:
Friday 8/25: Fried Chicken & Loaded mashed potatoes (Bought these from the grocery store deli section so I didn’t actually make these!)
Saturday 8/26: Chicken Patty Sandwiches (I had everything on hand for this recipe.)
Sunday 8/27: Chicken Verde Enchiladas & Spanish Rice (I used some of the tortillas from this week’s groceries, otherwise everything else was on hand.)
Monday 8/28: Brussel Sprouts & Egg Penne with Garlic Bread (I used some of the French bread from this week’s groceries, otherwise everything else was on hand.)
Tuesday 8/29: Breakfast burritos (I used some of the tortillas from this week’s groceries, otherwise everything else was on hand.)
Wednesday 8/30: Sweet Potato Tacos (I used some of the sweet potatoes from this week’s groceries, otherwise everything else was on hand.)
Thursday 8/31: Chinese Chicken Dumplings & Rice (I had everything on hand for this recipe!)
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 made 6 home-cooked meals this week!
Failures: I technically went over my budget by $0.60. (On my receipt it also shows the carpet shampoo and baby card that I bought, which I deducted from my total.) I went 9 weeks in a row and only went over budget once for a total of $0.60? I will take it!
Takeaways & Things to Improve on: It was within my budget but this week was the first week that I bought something grab-n-go from the deli section for supper while I was grocery shopping. This was the only grocery trip during the grocery budget challenge that I did at Wal-Mart though so as long as I continue to shop at Aldi then this won’t be an issue.
-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!
-Did you see sweet potato tacos on my list of meals this week and wonder what the heck?! I made some sweet potatoes in our Electric Pressure Cooker (affiliate link) and then mashed them up. To assemble the tacos you take a taco shell, line the bottom of the shell with some mashed sweet potatoes, top with taco meat, cheese, lettuce and sour cream. If your taco meat is spicy then that helps to balance the sweetness from the sweet potatoes. Everyone in my house loved these! Sweet potatoes are a healthy but cheap addition to your taco toppings.
-Egg sauces for pasta – Eggs are relatively cheap right now and actually make for an amazing sauce for pasta! Crack a couple of eggs into a bowl and whisk for a couple of minutes. Add cooked pasta, eggs, and a shredded cheese of your choice to a heated skillet. Toss the pasta until it is coated in a light egg & cheese sauce. Make sure that the pan is on medium heat. You don’t want it on high as the eggs will scramble and not stick to your pasta.
Check Out Other $40/Week Grocery Budget Posts: