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 1: 6/30 – 7/6
What I spent on groceries: $37.94
What Groceries I Bought this Week:
Meats/Frozen Food/Dairy: Chicken breasts, 1 block of cream cheese, 1 gallon of 2% milk, 2 containers of whipped topping (cool whip), 1 dozen eggs, 1 lb. sandwich meat, 1 lb. bag of sweet peas – frozen, 1 bag (40ct) pizza bites
Produce: 1 lb. strawberries, 1 lb. baby Bella mushrooms, 10 lbs. russet potatoes
Pantry Items: Wheat sandwich bread, crisp rice cereal, wheat snack crackers, hamburger buns, 1 lb. spaghetti noodles, 1-12oz can evaporated milk, pancake syrup, 4 large boxes of gelatin mix (two blue and two red)
Meals that we ate this week:
Friday 6/30: Chicken Asparagus Rollups with Rice. (All of these ingredients were already in my fridge or pantry so I did not use any of this week’s groceries for this meal.)
Saturday 7/1: We ate out for supper as we were out and about shopping for furniture for our newly finished basement
Sunday 7/2: Sloppy Joes & Cheesy Mashed Potatoes. (I had everything for this meal already at home except the hamburger buns. While I did buy more potatoes, I used up the ones that I already had.)
Monday 7/3: Tex Mex Tamale Pie with Spanish Rice. (Again I had all of the ingredients on hand for this and didn’t use any of this week’s groceries.)
Tuesday 7/4: Leftovers for supper. I did make deviled eggs & red, white & blue jello parfait cups to take to our 4th of July party in the afternoon. (This is where the strawberries, whipped topping and four large boxes of Jello came into play!)
Wednesday 7/5: Grilled Chicken with Rice & Teriyaki or Soy Sauce. (chicken breasts were the only item that I didn’t already have on hand.
Thursday 7/6: Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs. (all ingredients were already in my pantry.)
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. I eat leftovers most of the time but I did make a sandwich with the meat and bread this week.
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, I only needed to buy hamburger buns for our Sunday night meal. This means that I have more money to spend on another night’s meal or that I can stock up on pantry items that I am low on.
Successes: I was able to spend less than $40 this week on groceries!
Failures: While I did “fail” at some things this week, I want to point out that I am going to use this section’s comments to hopefully improve week by week. I knew that I wasn’t going to be perfect and admitting where I made errors allows me to learn from those mistakes.
So right off the bat I have to admit that I did a terrible job of monitoring produce this week. I planned to have stuffed mushrooms as a side dish this week but the mushrooms got moldy before I could use them. They got thrown in the compost bin.
I did not use this DIY two-ingredient produce wash on the strawberries within the first day or two of getting these home. Half of them got too mushy too use so half got thrown in the compost bin. I bought the strawberries to chop up and put in the Jello parfaits. They were too mushy and sour to use in those or even to freeze and use in parfaits.
I did not actually cook six meals this week because we ate out once and then we had leftovers another night. I don’t necessarily consider this a failure because we did only eat once this week.
Takeaways & Things to Improve on:
1) Wash, chop and store veggies immediately after getting home from the grocery store.
2) Do a better job meal planning so that I use up the perishable items first during the week.
Frugal Tips – Eggs:
1) Deviled Eggs make for a cheap & delicious dish to take to a gathering or potluck! – I usually boil a dozen eggs (at Aldi a dozen eggs range from $0.46 – $1.12 depending on the week). I always have mayonnaise, mustard, sugar and paprika on hand. So at most I probably spent $2 on the ingredients for the deviled eggs and I didn’t need to buy anything to make them!
2) Eat breakfast at least once a week for supper.
– As I just discussed, eggs are extremely cheap! This doesn’t mean that you have to eat scrambled eggs every time though! Most breakfast ingredients are cheaper so you could make breakfast casseroles, egg burritos, omelets, etc. The choices are endless!