As I have stated before, I have decided it is a good idea for us to try a $210 grocery budget. Before last month our monthly budget for food was $280, which I considered to be very low! I always read Facebook posts or Pinterest articles where people are spending $300-$400 on food every month. I thought we were doing good! Then I read this article and it got me thinking. I knew there were places I could cut back but could we really live on $200 a month for groceries to feed two adults and a hungry hungry 8-year-old? I decided to challenge myself to do so, but went a head and gave myself another $10 to work with. It makes it feel more doable to me for some reason.
Last month I didn’t quite make it. Since we decided to diet after I had gone shopping for the month (yes, I shop monthly not weekly) we didn’t have very many calorie friendly options and I broke down a couple times and bought some vegetables and such. This month I was prepared!
Being on a budget of $210 and making it work does take a lot of effort! I am not going to sit here and let you think that it is sooo easy to spend less money. If you have ever cut back spending in any area in your budget you know it takes work, thought, and determination!
I like to use coupons. I know a lot of people don’t, but I have saved so much over the years by just keeping an eye out for the coupons I know we will use. I don’t go crazy but I do things like clip coupons from magazines or the paper when I have one, check sites like coupons.com and Moneysavingmom.com, and of course if there is an option for buying a product with a coupon attached or not I choose the couponed package.
A lot of planning goes into my grocery shopping. As a matter of fact, I work on it for a few hours here and there. I will do my best to explain my little system.
First, I look at my calendar and count up the number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners I will need that month. If I know of a meal we will not be having at home because of parties, potlucks, date night, etc. then I will not plan a meal for that time. This is a short month so I ended up needing 28 breakfasts (Pete and I don’t eat breakfast so this is for Landon only), 26 lunches, and 26 dinners. Because It is a short month I went ahead and planned for 27 lunches and dinners to get a jump start on March.
Second, I check my coupons. I print off any coupons I think we may use and clip any coupons that I have from magazines or papers. I go through my older coupons and throw away the outdated ones. I quickly look through store ads incase there are some amazing deals or deals that will match my coupons to make an amazing deal.
Third, I make a list of anything we need around the house that won’t necessarily be included in a meal. Toiletries, paper goods, things I like to have on hand like flour, nonstick cooking spray, Ziplocs- and things like that are included in this list. I mentally figure up how much I will need to set aside for these things, which when subtracted from my $210 lets me know how much I have to spend on actual meals. This month I decided I had about $10 for Landon breakfast, $80 for Lunches (this is our bigger meal), and $70 for dinners.
Forth, I check our cabinets, freezer, and fridge. I try to plan our meals around what we already have on hand. This month we didn’t have much to use in a meal! Beans, rice, a couple cans of tomatoes, oatmeal, and some corn tortillas were really about it. But hey, that’s a few less things I have to buy.
The last thing I do before actually going to the store is to make a list of meals. I loosely figure how much each meal will cost and try to steer clear of recipes that use a lot of different ingredients. Thankfully, my family doesn’t insist on a huge variety so we can repeat recipes often which allows us to buy in bigger bulk and use every last bit of ingredients. Anything that can be made from scratch at home will usually save money as well.
Here is our menu for February-
Breakfast for Landon –
Boiled egg, apple, and toast (8 days. Toast is from bread from my bread machine)
Cereal and coconut milk (10 days)
Oatmeal and frozen fruit (10 days)
Spaghetti, garlic bread, frozen veggies (6 days. Bread from bread machine. Going to try and make homemade noodles!)
Slow cooker bean chili, cornbread (3 days)
Skinny Orange Chicken, rice, frozen veggies
Korean Chicken Soft Tacos, salad
Cream Cheese Chili Chicken, rice (2 days)
Dani’s Spiced Chicken, baked potato, frozen veggies
Slow Cooker Veggie Chicken Soup, homemade rolls (2 days)
Chicken Taco Soup (2 days)
Veggie Lo Mein (2 days)
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana sandwiches (on homemade buns)
Bean Quesadillas, salad (5 days)
Microwavable Tai Pei
Frozen Pizza (5 days)
Turkey Burgers with homemade buns and homemade fries (2 days)
Breakfast for Dinner (2 days)
Baked Potatoes w/ cooked onions, salad (5 days)
Spinach Pita Sandwiches (5 days homemade pita bread, spinach, laughing cow cheese, and marinara sauce, heated in skillet)
Chicken, Salad (4 days)
Ramen ( 4 days)
As you can see we have cut out snacks and desserts, although I did buy some applesauce and crackers for when Landon just MUST have a snack, and I am sure there will be some cookie baking in our future.
I ended up going to 3 stores, CVS (where I got toothpaste for .75!), Kroger (5 frozen pizzas, BIG bag of romaine lettuce, celery, 3 half gallons of coconut milk for $20!) and Wal-Mart where I was able to save almost $8 with coupons!
My total spent today was $152 including all of our toiletries, paper and “extras”. I will spend $24 tomorrow at Sams on boneless skinless chicken breast. I have really stuck to the $2 a pound rule for meat the last two months which hasn’t always been easy.
That brings my total to $176 which leaves me $34 to buy fresh vegetables later in the month and a little leeway to purchase anything I forgot or incase those homemade noddle’s don’t work out!
The key for both our new eating plan and our new budget plan is to cut out what we don’t really need. I have cut out almost all butter from our diets which gives us more calories to use on other foods but it also gives us more money to spend on vegetables! Little things here and there that we are learning we can live without make all the difference. Of course what we cut out may be different from what you cut out. The whole idea is to take a second look at what you are spending and challenge yourself to cut where you can! For those of you willing to try good luck!