When I first began to wrap my mind around the budget crunch that was set before us, I think I panicked for maybe 10 seconds, but almost immediately the wheels in my stubborn brain began to turn.
“No. We will be fine! I’m just going to have to tweak a few things, that’s all!” my brain immediately turned the obstacle into a project to be tackled.
In my previous post I outlined what my new goals were: no extraneous spending (eating out, snacks and drinks on the run, activities that cost money) and to cut our weekly grocery bill in half.
Therefore, this week’s menu is going to look a LITTLE different. I’m still eating clean (and obviously not going out to eat), but I had to mostly work with whatever we already had in our pantry. I was also pretty motivated to use more of what we already had on hand after spending (another…ugh) week without a garbage disposal it was painfully evident to me just how much food was wasted in our house. So it was time to get to work!
First step was to inventory everything we already had on hand. Like many American families, this was an exercise in discovering just how blessed we really are. With pen and paper in hand, I wrote down in separate columns the types of produce, dairy/eggs, canned/pantry and frozen foods we had and discovered we actually had a lot to work with.
Next, Josh and I sat down with our various resources (I’ll list some sites and books we frequent at the end), our list of things we had on hand, and my trusty dry-erase board and created a menu that included breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners for the four of us for the next week.
There are a few blank spaces in order to allow for using leftovers and working in snacks, but here is what we came up with:
The last step was actually shopping for the few things we needed for the week: eggs, milk, some produce, canned tomatoes, some spices, oatmeal and a few other basics. My budget was $50: surely it could be done, right?
After making my list, the first thing I did was go onto Kroger.com and looked through their ecoupons. I filtered the list to only the categories that were already on our list so I wouldn’t be tempted by a “good deal”on something we didn’t need. I went through and selected coupons that applied to our needs and loaded them onto our card. (The cool thing is if you also had paper coupons, paper coupons can be used on top of whatever is on your card.)
Kroger also has this really cool “Freebie Friday” deal that I was just made aware of. Every Friday they give away an item. Last week it was tortilla chips, this week it was a can of refried beans. Even though we didn’t NEED them: why not? It’s free. And maybe I could work it in later.
While shopping here is how I stayed on track:
- Strictly stuck to my list
- Kept a running total of how much I was spending (keeping taxes in mind, so always rounding up) in my head
- Looking for store brands
- Keeping my coupons in mind (sometimes a store brand item -even organic!- was cheaper than the name brand with a coupon, so watch out for that!)
- Looking at the per unit price of items (for example, we go through a lot of milk and buying a gallon of organic milk was cheaper than two half gallons, even though at first glance the half gallons appear to be the better deal….and buying a block of cheese -on sale this week!- was cheaper than buying a bag of preshredded or sticks)
- Reminding myself that we have things at home that can be used (so when it came to maybe getting some facewash that would’ve pushed us $2 over budget, I reminded myself we have some that needed used anyway and we are soooo blessed)
- Kept the kids happy by giving them a banana from the basket provided by the store and allowed Noah his $1 box of mac n cheese 😛
The three of us were in and out in about 30 minutes and our grand total came to *insert drum roll please*
$46.00 for the week!! 😀
Wahoo!! We did it!
Now…to stay on track over the weekend….
We do have a few “suprise” (I’ve known for a few weeks) expenses: a birthday party and a baby shower. Here’s my solutions: utilize a Kohl’s gift card for the birthday gift and utilize necessities I have saved up on hand as the baby shower gift.
Goals Accomplished This Week:
- Eating clean (no processed food, no going out…except Noah’s mac n cheese)
- No extraneous spending
- Groceries under $50
Bread: used a recipe from the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Cheesy Rice and Veggies Recipe: http://thegoodmama.org/cheesy-vegetable-rice-recipe/ (zucchini is not in season, so we left that out and will just doubled yellow squash)
Sweet potato chips: recipe from the book Fixate
Blueberry muffins for the kiddo’s snacks: http://www.wellplated.com/healthy-blueberry-muffins/
Egyptian Edamame Stew: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249376/egyptian-edamame-stew/
**The rest of the meals are things from our freezer or the lentil and egg dish with peppers and onions is one of Josh’s specialties and super easy (you could easily Google it, though)
Hope this post has helped someone else! Let me know if you have any questions about our menu/recipes (because it’s really written in my own shorthand) or budgeting!