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 6: 8/4 – 8/10
What I spent on groceries: $39.30
What Groceries I Bought this Week:
Meats/Frozen Food/Dairy: 1 gallon of milk, wonton wrappers, chicken tenderloins (~3lbs), 10-pack of string cheese, coffee creamer
Produce: cilantro, Monterey mushrooms, organic tofu, bananas, grape tomatoes, romaine hearts, 2 avocados
Pantry Items: corn flakes cereal, cashews, flour, dorito style chips – 2 bags, cookies, jar of salsa, French dressing
Meals that We Ate This Week:
Friday 8/4: Spicy Tofu Bites & Edamame (I used the tofu from this week and the rest of the ingredients I had on hand.)
Saturday 8/5: Leftover Tuna & Noodle Casserole
Sunday 8/6: Southwestern Chopped Salad (I used some of the romaine hearts, some of the chicken tenderloins, some of the cilantro, 1 avocado and some of the chips from this week’s groceries.)
Monday 8/7: Grilled Chicken Rice Bowls with Boy Choy (I used some of the chicken tenders, the mushrooms, and some of the cilantro from this week’s groceries and the rest of the ingredients I already had on hand.)
Tuesday 8/8: Chicken Dumplings and Rice (I used some of the wonton wrappers and some of the chicken tenders from this week’s groceries, otherwise everything else was on hand.)
Wednesday 8/9: Grilled Chicken, Corn on the cob & Garlic Bread (used some of the chicken tenders from this week and had the rest of hand.)
Thursday 8/10: Breakfast Burritos (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 stayed under $40 this week AND I was able to cook six meals! I was also able to stock up on some items that I needed to help restock my pantry.
Failures: The recipe for the chicken and bok choy bowls wasn’t amazing but it was good enough that we ate it all and didn’t throw any of it away. I tossed this recipe since life is too short to eat “mehh” food!
Takeaways & Things to Improve on: I don’t have a lot to add here. I made sure to get as close to $40 this week as I could so that I could purchase more food items than just what I needed for meals this week.
We recently got an airfryer and the spicy tofu bites recipe was the first one that I tried with the fryer. I have always been a fan of tofu and these crunchy little nuggets were no exception! I am really excited what other foods that we can air fry and keep healthy!
Frugal Tips – Shredded Chicken:
-When cooking chicken for supper, I served the chicken either shredded or in slices. It looks like it is more chicken than if I had left the chicken tenders whole. My husband thinks that he needs X amount of meat at every meal and shredded chicken is a wallet-friendly way to trick him into thinking that he is getting more meat than he really is!
-Salads – these are a great dish where you can use up veggies that are on the verge of going bad. Also, the more veggies that you add to the salad, the more filling it becomes.