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 7: 8/11 – 8/17
What I spent on groceries: $36.40
What Groceries I Bought this Week:
Meats/Frozen Food/Dairy: 2 gallons of milk, chicken tenderloins (~3lbs), 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, 2 cans of refrigerated biscuits, 1lb ground turkey, 1 package of turkey bacon, 1 pint of heavy whipping cream,
Produce: 3-pack of bell peppers (red, yellow & orange), 2-pack of green bell peppers, 1 head of iceberg lettuce, 1 bag of Brussel sprouts, 1 bag of jalapeno peppers, 1 bag of green onions, 1 lb. asparagus, 1 pint of grape tomatoes, 3 avocados, 3 zucchini
Pantry Items: 10 count bag of flour tortillas, 12 count box of hard taco shells
Meals that We Ate This Week:
Friday 8/4: Trevor & I ate out
Saturday 8/5: We had a family gathering at a family member’s lake house. We brought taco salad. (I used the iceberg lettuce and half of the grape tomatoes. The rest of the ingredients I had on hand already.)
Sunday 8/6: Stuffed Peppers (I used all 5 of the bell peppers, the ground turkey, some of the green onions and one of the zucchinis. The rest of the ingredients I had on hand.)
Monday 8/7: Chicken Tacos with Pull-Apart Cheesy Bread (I used half of the hard taco shells, some of the chicken tenders, the 2 cans of biscuits, some of the green onions and one avocado. The rest I had on hand.)
Tuesday 8/8: Chicken Bacon Garlic Alfredo Pasta with Garlic Bread (I used some of the chicken tenders, half of the fresh mozzarella, part of the turkey bacon, and the pint of heavy whipping cream. The rest of the ingredients I had on hand. I used some of the penne pasta that I stocked up on a few weeks ago when it was on sale.)
Wednesday 8/9: Shrimp Taquitos & Spanish Rice (I used most of the tortillas, one of the jalapenos, and one of the avocados. The rest of the ingredients I had on hand.)
Thursday 8/10: Peanut Butter Chip Waffles (I had all of the ingredients 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 stayed under $40 this week AND I was able to cook six meals!
Failures: I threw food away this week. I hate saying that but I did. The stuffed pepper recipe was a new one and it just did not tickle our taste buds at all.
Takeaways & Things to Improve on: I don’t have a lot to add here. I could have gotten 1-2 more items and still been under budget.
Frugal Tips – Frugal Taco Meat!:
-When making tacos, add a can of beans to the meat. Hence the creation of “frugal taco meat”. I added a can of kidney beans to the shredded chicken for the tacos. It makes the dish tastier and helps spread the meat out farther! You can mash the beans into the meat so that it is more of a smooth texture, or you can leave the beans whole. This just depends on your family’s taste preferences.
I took taco salad to our family event. It was a great way to use up veggies that were in the fridge such as corn on the cob. Every veggie added just made another layer of flavor to the salad.
When making waffles or pancakes, try adding a special ingredient such as chocolate or peanut butter chips or even fresh fruit. It makes them more filling and tastier.