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 4: 7/21 – 7/27
What I spent on groceries: $31.83 (receipt below + $8.00 spent at the Farmer’s Market)
What Groceries I Bought this Week:
Meats/Frozen Food/Dairy: Ham slices (sandwich meat), Package of String Cheese, sour cream, 1 gallon of milk, 1 package of turkey bacon
Produce: 1 dozen ears of corn on the cob (@ farmer’s market), 1-7lb head of cabbage (@ farmer’s market), 1 bunch of baby bok choy (@ farmer’s market), 2 avacados, 1 lb. strawberries, 1 pineapple, 3-lb bag of carrots, 3 bell peppers
Pantry Items: seasoned salt, 1 bag of tortilla chips, 1 package of burrito sized tortillas, 1 can of tuna
Meals that We Ate This Week:
Friday 7/21: Breakfast – eggs, bacon & potatoes (used turkey bacon from groceries this week.)
Saturday 7/22: @ a diaper drive/going away party so didn’t eat at home
Sunday 7/23: Chicken Fajitas with Avocado Salsa & Tortilla Chips and Corn on the Cob (used the sour cream, 4 ears of corn on the cob, some of the cabbage, the avocados, two of the bell peppers, the tortilla chips and some of the tortillas. I had the rest of the ingredients on hand.)
Monday 7/24: Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Pasta & Red Sauce and Garlic Bread (had all ingredients on hand.)
Tuesday 7/25: Sticky Thai Chicken Fingers & Rice (I had all of the ingredients on hand for this recipe already.)
Wednesday 7/26: Parmesan Tilapia with Rice & Corn on the Cob (used some of the tilapia fillets from last week, and the corn on the cob from this week’s groceries. The rest of the ingredients I already had.)
Thursday 7/27: Breakfast Burritos – eggs, potatoes, bacon & cheese (used some of the turkey bacon and tortillas from this week otherwise I had all of the ingredients on hand for this recipe already.)
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. I was also able to spend less than $30 at the grocery store. I wanted to make sure that I had about $10 to work with at the Farmer’s Market. I got 12 ears of corn on the cob for $4, 1 bunch of baby bok choy for $2, and the biggest head of lettuce that I have ever seen for $2.
I cooked 6 meals this week!
Failures: Not to brag, but this was a good week for me! I didn’t have any food go bad on before I could use it.
Takeaways & Things to Improve on:
The avocado salsa was a new recipe that I tried this week and we loved it! I try not to make more than one new recipe a week. If you and your family don’t like the new recipe then there can be some food waste if you decide to toss any leftovers. Only doing one new recipe a week helps reduce the chances that I throw any food away.
I have a ton of fruit in the fridge (the cantaloupe still, the strawberries, and the pineapple) that I need to do a better job of taking with me for lunches or snacks at work.
Frugal Tips – Hamburger Buns:
-Eat breakfast for dinner! Breakfast foods such as eggs and potatoes are cheap, but when paired with other proteins like turkey bacon or sausage, these meals are actually really filling. If you don’t think that you could handle doing pancakes or eggs every week then look for fun twists on those recipes on Pintrest! Breakfast casseroles are also a fun way to eat breakfast and most of the casserole recipes want you to assemble it the night before. This forces you to be more organized for meal time.
-Rice and potatoes are a cheap side dish and are easy to dress up to make them taste different each time.
-Shopping for produce that is in season will also help save you money. I bought a dozen ears of corn on the cob this week and the price per ear is $0.33. That is a price that I can handle! Having a cheaper side dish also means that you have more money to spend on the main dish.
-Whenever I buy hamburger buns and we don’t end up using them all, I will put them in the freezer. Same with any leftover baguettes or loafs of bread. I then use this frozen bread when I make garlic bread. I take out however many slices or buns that I need for that night, left them defrost and then slather them in a garlic butter. Again, this makes for a cheap side dish, it tastes better than if you would buy a box of frozen garlic bread from the store, and it helps you prevent throwing away bread that normally would have gone bad if it had been left out.
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