After all of the back to school expenses in August, I decided to challenge myself with a $200/month Grocery Challenge.
I’m also in the process of holding back about $50 dollars a week and putting it towards my Christmas budget.
Anytime I am working on a tight budget, the first thing I do is plan out our meals for the week, 2 weeks, or month. For our family, it is easier to buy the meats, dairy, and non-perishable items on a monthly basis. And to budget a certain amount for fruits and veggies on a weekly basis. The less time I have to spend in the store grocery shopping, the more time I have to spend with my family. I’m not a big couponer, but I do take advantage of in-store sales and also cross-check my list with any digital coupons. The stores I mainly hit for my grocery shopping needs are: Kroger (also called Ralph’s in So Cal), Costco, Aldi, Target. I will occasionally check for store sales at Albertson’s and Tom Thumb. There are 3 main apps I use to help me “shop” for the best deal before I head out to do my shopping.
I use King Ring to keep all of my Store Savings Cards in 1 place. It’s very handy and I don’t have to thumb thru a bunch of cards at the checkout counter. I just ask the cashier to scan my app on my phone and it’s very easy to keep up with.
The second app I use is Favado. You can select several different stores that you frequently shop at and compare any sales/coupons for items that you buy on a regular basis. It will also start to “learn” your preferences and give you alerts for items you typically buy that are on sale.
And the final app I use is Hip2Save. It’s an app that is compatible with both my phone and my Kindle. It is a money saving blog that alerts you for savings deals. I use this mostly for diapers and things I like to buy in bulk. The only problem with this one is that you often times have to take advantage of a deal while supplies last. So if the “sale” doesn’t happen to correspond with a day I am out shopping, then sometimes I get to the store and they are all out of the the product that was advertised. I’m not an extreme couponer, but I have used her tips and tricks to buy certain items on sale and save big. For example, she recommended one time to use a pamper’s coupon (found online), an in-store Target coupon that rewarded you with a $20 gift card with purchase, and a digital coupon found on the Target Cartwheel app-I bought 2 boxes of diapers and some wipes for like $60 and I scored a $20 gift card back. It was the BEST deal ever! So sometimes this one is hit or miss for me-but I still check it out because I will never forget the day I scored diapers and wipes for that much savings.
I also set aside some time every Sunday afternoon to “prep” all of my food for the week/month. If I buy a lot of meat on sale, I will go ahead and cook up a large batch on Sunday afternoon. I will set aside what is needed in the next 2 or 3 days and freeze the rest in portions. I also make weekly plans to have a quick and easy breakfast ready & lunches made for when Monday morning rolls around. I try to do whatever possible to make going back to school/work on Monday mornings as easy as pie. It’s a challenge getting up in the morning, so if I have everything prepared ahead of time, it makes things a lot less stressful on all of us.
With that all being said, September has 5 weeks in it. If you plan on breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 5 weeks=105
This is the first time I’ve ever shared my shopping list, planning with anyone. So I do want to warn everyone that there ARE some things I already had on hand and didn’t need to buy. I usually bake quite a bit and keep stocked up on All purpose flour, sugar, and sticks of butter, eggs, and milk. I am going to publish the meals I’ve planned, and then add pictures/recipes as I make them throughout the month.
So with that being said, here is the list:
Goal Hold Back $80 for weekly Fruits/Veggies/Bread ($20 per week)
I ended up overspending on my meat/dairy-so I have $36.26 left to spend on 4 more weeks of produce. But we are still in the game.
Reserve $60 for non-perishables
$60 for meats/Diary
16.47-5.49/lb at Kroger-3 steaks
2.79-2.79/lb at Kroger-1 ground beef
5.00-2.50/pkg at Kroger-Lunchmeat (turkey & roast beef)
Dairy 12 items
crepes (if in the budget)
Monterey Jack Cheese-large Kroger
Sour Cream-Large (32 oz for 2.00 at Kroger)
4% cottage cheese
Non-Perishables-33 items $66.48
BBQ Chips, Funyons, Cheetos, Tortilla Chips, Fritos
semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cans Veggie Chili
1 can creamed corn
29 oz Hunts tomato sauce
Lasagna Noodles-oven ready
ranch salad dressing
jar of roasted red pepper
Beef Broth cubes
Diced Green Chilis
1 can cream of chicken
dried onion soup mix
mac n cheese
ranch style beansx2
peas & carrots
Seasoned French Fries
4 loaves of sandwich bread
Week 1-Baguette Bread, Garlic Bread
Week 2-Tortillas, Hamburger Buns
Week 3-Flour Tortillas/Tostada Shells, Garlic Bread
Week 4-pita or naan bread
Week 5-Garlic Bread
Week 1 Veggies/Fruits
Lunch Fruit-On Sale/also for fruit salad
Guac-2 pack or large
Week 2-$12.59 spent, $23.67 left
3/4 pack zucchini
Lunch Fruit-On Sale
Week 3-$13.26 spent, $10.41 left
Lunch Fruit-On Sale/also for fruit salad
Fruit for lunch and fruit salad
cole slaw salad bag
Week 4-$6.51 spent, $3.90 left
week 5-$3.55 spent, .35 cents under my budget 😉 WINNER!!!!
Lunch Fruit-(I had fruit leftover from last week, so I was able to skip this on the list)
onions (special buy at Aldi this week-I got 3 pounds of onions for .69 cents)
Bread, Sunbutter, Lunch meat (turkey & roast beef), Chips, Juice, Yogurt, Cheese Sticks, Fruit
Keep Oatmeal, Eggs, & Cereal On Hand
Make 5 weekly Breakfasts that are mobile-there are times we are rushing to get out of the door on time, and I like to make a breakfast each week that can be eaten in the car on the way to school, without making a mess or lots of crumbs.