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!
As noted in THIS POST, I was on my honeymoon from 7/10 – 7/15 so I did not write a post about Week 2 of this challenge. We had enough leftovers in the house that my sister could eat for the week while we were gone. Therefore, I only had to buy a gallon of milk for groceries last week. Doesn’t make for a very compelling post so I skipped writing about week 2.
Week 3: 7/14 – 7/20
What I spent on groceries: $36.78 (note that the receipt below includes purchases of facial tissues, tin foil, dish soap and the tax for these items. I deduct these from my total as these come out of a house supplies monthly budget and not out of my grocery budget each month.)
What Groceries I Bought this Week:
Meats/Frozen Food/Dairy: Unsalted butter sticks, Provolone cheese slices, gallon of milk, 10 count package of tilapia fillets, turkey sandwich meat, 3 dozen eggs, coffee creamer, tub of butter
Produce: Cantaloupe, 2 containers of Bella mushrooms, 5 lbs of bananas
Pantry Items: Steel cut oats (2 containers), canola oil, organic box of spaghetti, honey, 2 boxes of mac ‘n cheese
Meals that We Ate This Week:
Friday 7/14: On honeymoon
Saturday 7/15: On honeymoon
Sunday 7/16: Egg Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes (I had all of the items on hand for this meal.)
Monday 7/17: Lemon Chicken Pasta & Stuffed Mushrooms (I used some of the spaghetti and the mushrooms from this week’s grocery purchase. I had the rest of the ingredients in my pantry already.)
Tuesday 7/18: Zucchini Cornmeal Pancakes & Turkey Bacon (I had all of the ingredients on hand for this recipe already.)
Wednesday 7/19: Garlic Pesto Tuna Salad with Crackers (I had all of the ingredients on hand for this recipe already.)
Thursday 7/20: Breakfast Burritos – eggs, potatoes, sausage & cheese (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. We also ate the bananas that I bought this week with our breakfasts.
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.
To help you keep track of what is in your pantry and fridge, I have created a FREE printable for you to track your food. When it comes time to making a grocery list you can easily check your tracking sheet first to see what ingredients that you already have on hand. Doing this one thing has saved me thousands of dollars over the years!
Successes: I was able to spend less than $40 this week on groceries!
I also didn’t have any produce go bad on me this week! I actually haven’t cut up the cantaloupe yet as it hasn’t smelled ripe enough.
Failures: I didn’t cook 6 meals this week because we were gone for two days. I don’t feel bad about this one at all!
Takeaways & Things to Improve on:
I was happy with everything that I did this week. The Garlic Pesto Tuna Salad was a new recipe but it was not a huge hit at the Paw Print Kitchen house. I will be tossing that recipe in the recycle bin. We enjoy trying new recipes and you will occasionally run into one that you don’t like. I try to make sure that any new recipe doesn’t call for a ton of new ingredients or ingredients that I don’t use very often. That way if we don’t like it I won’t have any ingredients on hand that I won’t ever use again.
Frugal Tips – Breakfast for Dinner:
-Eat breakfast for dinner! As you can see, we had three breakfast type meals this week. We love breakfast in this house! 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! Like the zucchini cornbread pancakes that I made! They were delicious and a step up from just plain pancakes.