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 5: 7/28 – 8/3
What I spent on groceries: $32.82
What Groceries I Bought this Week:
Meats/Frozen Food/Dairy: 1 gallon of milk, cheddar cheese slices, two bags of frozen edamame, 1 bag of frozen cheese ravioli, butter – 4 sticks, 2 dozen eggs
Produce: seedless watermelon, garlic
Pantry Items: 24oz jar red pasta sauce, 2 boxes of Penne pasta, 2 boxes of Bow Tie pasta, wheat sandwich bread, two cans of condensed tomato soup, ground cinnamon, French baguette, 2 cans of non-stick spray, 2 cans coconut water, 1 bag of pretzels
Meals that We Ate This Week:
Friday 7/28: Ate out.
Saturday 7/29: Pizza – Trevor bought
Sunday 7/30: Ravioli with Red Pasta Sauce & Garlic Bread. (I had some pasta sauce in the fridge that I used. The ravioli and the baguette for the garlic bread were from this week’s groceries.)
Monday 7/31: Rainbow Peanut Noodles with Sautéed Baby Bok Choy (I used the leftover bell pepper, carrots, some of the cabbage and some of the boy choy from last week’s groceries. Everything else I already had on hand.)
Tuesday 8/1: Baked Potato Bar with Sautéed Cabbage (I had everything on hand for this except the sour cream.)
Wednesday 8/2: Grilled Cheese & Turkey Sandwiches (I used the wheat bread and the cheddar cheese slices from this week’s groceries, otherwise everything else I had on hand.)
Thursday 8/3: Tuna Noodle Casserole & Garlic Bread (I had everything on hand for this recipe and used part of the baguette to make the garlic bread.)
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 was able to spend less than $40 this week on groceries. Pasta was on sale at Aldi this week for $0.79/box so I grabbed four as this is a great price!
Failures: I didn’t cook 6 meals this week.
Takeaways & Things to Improve on:
While I did stay under $40, I wish I would have spent a few more dollars and bought 1-2 items from my list of things that I am running out of and need to stock up on soon. Being able to shop your pantry first is only effective if your pantry is full!
Frugal Tips – Hardy Vegetables:
-The first hardy vegetable on the list is cabbage! As noted in last week’s post, I bought a huge cabbage at the farmer’s market. I added it our fajitas last week, to our Rainbow peanut noodles this week and as a side dish where I sautéed it with some bacon. AND I still have a huge storage container full of cabbage. It is a cheap, healthy and filling staple to have and add to your dishes!
-The second hardy vegetable to help make your grocery budget go farther is the potato! Try doing a baked Potato Bar for supper. Potatoes are cheap and filling. You can appease all of the picky eaters in your house by letting them choose their own toppings. Favorites at our house include crumbled bacon, cheese, sour cream and green onions.
-Dressing up grilled cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese sandwiches are a guilty pleasure of mine and I made these a little more adult by adding some turkey slices in them.