Friday, January 6, 2012

Grocery Budget Challenge

WooHoo it's payday this week!  **Happy Dance in progress**

Oh. . . but wait!  That also means it's time to pay bills, budget and do the grocery shopping.  UGH! 
OK, 'happy dance' has now ended.  :( 

Really it's not that agonizing.  Just takes a little extra planning and work.  Which is where I've had to try and incorporate some semblance of a menu plan/grocery strategy so I can stay on track at the grocery store.  And NO, it's not just because I'm pregnant that I can't stick to a list. . . . . well, maybe a little.  But I 've always had a bad habit of seeing something that looks good and then tossing said item in the cart.  Sounds good in theory. . . . but not so good at the check-out when I have to pay. 

It has been nothing short of a miracle some weeks that I try to feed our family of 2 adults, 3 kids and one baby on $100 a week.  No, I didn't make a typo --- that's $100/week or $400/month!  But do notice the word TRY in the first sentence of this paragraph (see, I even underlined for your convenience).  We do go over budget sometimes and that is ok.  I'm always still tweaking, toying around with different ways to stretch our grocery money.  I've tried bulk buying, local grocery store, big chain grocery store.  Still have to try local farmer's market and this summer we plan on planting our own veggie garden (tips greatly appreciated in this area!!!).  Through trial and error, and error, and error I've come up with some tips I try to stick with.  Such as:

  • MAKE A LIST!  I know, a no-brainer but I still can make errors on this one - *sigh*
  • I always check the weekly sale ads to see what's on sale and try to structure our meals/snacks/etc. around that.  For example, this week 1 lb. cartons of strawberries are on sale so I'll probably grab some and use for fresh fruit snacks or cut up to serve w/yogurt & ice cream.
  • I sometimes use our local meat market.  This week I'm getting a meat bundle for $40 which includes 3 lbs hamburger, 1 lb. bacon, 3 lb. beef roast, 1 lb hot dogs, approx. 1 lb. ground pork sausage and 6 lbs of chicken fryers (2 whole ckns).  This should get us through most of the next two wks - maybe having to supplement a few nights with leftovers, breakfast for dinner or meatless nights.  All totally doable and budget friendly.
  • Keep pre-made/boxed stuff to a minimum.  I've gotten better and more efficient at making things from scratch.  But we do get Ritz crackers, pretzels, Saltines on occasion to eat with fresh fruit & cheese, pack in lunches, to have w/soup and sometimes boxed dessert mixes - like brownies/cake.  **NOTE - I have been known to go off track on this one - I LOVE sweets!  There, I've confessed!**
  • Don't go hungry! . . . and I would add 'Don't go pregnant' because I'm always hungry lately, but I really can't get around that one - blah!
So here's the CHALLENGE!  Can I meet my bi-weekly budget goal this time???  I'm running out of quite a bit in our fridge/cupboards so. . . . guess this will have To Be Continued. . . . . . .

**Any shopping, grocery, menu planning tips/tricks/advice you can offer?  Willing to share what you budget to feed your family and your family size?  Maybe quick recipes?  Would love to have you share so myself and others can benefit!   Thanks!  :)


  1. Hi Ashley! I love this blog idea. It is a difficult task but can be accomplished. We cut our grocery bill from $700 per month to $350 per month and that include diapers and formula. I know we are one less child (soon to be 2) but it can be done. I have a weekly menu and I base that menu on the sale items in the paper and COUPONS. I know wehave talked before but I spend about 3-5 hrs a week matching sale prices with coupons. I always buy 2-5 papers at the dollar tree on Sunday morning and then when there is a good price on something I buy more then 1. I am not a fan of the extreme couponing show because is is EXTREME, but it is rare I will buy things not on sale or without a coupon. There are many items I rarely pay for including tooth brushes, tooth paste, shampoo, deoderant... I also NEVER pay more the $5 on a pack of diapers (usually around $3.50 per jumbo pack). I have had a couple little classes at the house to help others so if you ever want to spend some time let me know. I'm not sure what you have as far as produce markets by your house but we have a joe randazzo's and I go every week to get fruits, veggies and potatoes and my total is no more then $15. Hope that helps a bit. I look forward to reading about your success. :)

  2. Anonymous1/06/2012

    I am right there with you. We feed our family of 7 (2 adults, 4 kids and a baby) on $120-$140 a week and it just seems to be getting harder and harder to do that. Like you I try to make my menu by what's on sale this week. I know lots of people who go to many different stores a week chasing the deals but i just don't have that time.

    Where did you get you meat bundle?

    one of our new favorite meals is red beans and rice. It is about $5 for the whole meal and it will feed us one dinner and then have enough left overs for a lunch too!

    Jaime Williams

  3. Amelia1/06/2012

    Great blog! Meal planning and eating habits are so personal, but saving is universal. Watching the ads/coupons and planning our meals around that is certainly a must. I stick to one store so I know their trends in sales, sizes of products and frequency. And honestly, I tried the extreme coupon thing and "chasing' the deal and found myself spending way more.

    I have been on a nutrition kick with the kids, made them watch "Food Inc." the other week, well, my older two atleast. My most recent trial with them was making our own waffles (and freeze them)from scratch and adding in spices, natural sugar (honey) and flax seed meal. Apparently they were convinced because they asked for more. My goal is to eliminate frozen, packaged waffles all together and only make them from scratch. A small savings, but a start.

  4. All - thanks for the responses!!

    Melissa - how many diapers come in the jumbo pack? We get ours in bulk at Sams so wondering if I can learn your coupon strategy, would it be more cost efficient for us?? I wish we had a Randazzo's here. But we do have a local farmers market in town and there's a larger city market in Lansing that I have yet to check out. Whatever will save us $$, LOL!

    Jaime - I agree, I don't have time to hit several stores so usually it's Meijers, Sams and sometimes our local D&W. For meat, we have been using Merindorf Meats for bundles (, otherwise I just get meat on sale at Meijers or bulk at Sams.

    Amelia - We've watched Food, Inc too! I've tried to incorporate more vegetarian/meatless meals but the majority of us are diehard meat lovers. :-/ Would love your waffles recipe. I do pancakes, granola, granola bars, bread, desserts, etc. from scratch.

  5. When you buy diapers do the math and figure out the pre diaper cost. I have found that Target's diapers are cheaper than Sam's and work just as good as the name brand diapers.

  6. Jaime, thanks for the tip! Is that the base price for the store brand diapers at Target or do you use coupons to get a lower per/diaper cost?

  7. Just the base price. Every once and a very great while I will get a coupon at the check out for a $1 off their diapers