I have had a lot of friends ask me for my grocery lists the past couple of months so I want to share with everyone how we came to live on this type of budget, and my current shopping list for the next two weeks.
Last year, my husband challenged me to get our grocery budget down to 75$ every two weeks – equaling 150$ a month. In the beginning of last year I would spend between 100-200$ every two weeks at the grocery store. With our income, that just wasnt cutting it. It was way more than we could afford at the time. So slowly, with quite a lot of pain and grumbling on my part, we were able to get our food budget down to 75$ every two weeks. First my husband took over all shopping, and spent a couple of weeks going to every store in the area and compiling a list of the prices of all of the items we regularly purchase. He put it all together on an excel spread sheet then when time came to go grocery shopping Ben would compile the list with a meal plan, then designate what items we would purchase at which store. So I would get the lists, and go to each store and purchase the items at the prices he listed, if not less, and that is how we were able to begin our grocery shopping on a 75$ bi weekly budget.
Now I have gotten to the point where I know how much the items are that I buy every week, and look up the weekly sale prices for other items I may buy only for special meals or deals. I have gotten to the point where i do almost all of my shopping at Kroger, and some things i get at Sams about every 4-6 weeks.
A few of the things that I have been doing that allow my grocery budget to be so low include: Cloth diapering instead of disposables, I have started purchasing Pull Ups for Reilley and one pack of disposables a month for layla that they sleep in at night because Reilley is now potty trained, and Layla gets horrible diaper rashes and this is he only way I’ve found to keep her skin clear. I also have been making my own laundry and dishwashing detergent for about a year. This has saved us TONS of money. It costs me a fraction of a penny per load to wash our laundry. I also don’t use any commercial cleaners. I switched to using Borax, white vinegar, washing soda and bleach for all of my household cleaning.
When I sit down to make my lists, I list the items that I have to get, then I compile a meal list with the meals usually consisting of at least one common ingredient if possible. This week I am using more eggs than usual, so I am making quiche, and pancakes and eggs and egg salad sandwiches for dinner. I look in my pantry to see what I already have on hand as well to make a meal list around the items I have so that I have less items to purchase at the store. I put a price with every item on my list, I know consistently how much milk, eggs, cheese, etc are that I purchase regularly so those numbers are usually almost right on, then I give myself a budgeted amount that I think each item may cost if i dont know, and purchase them for no more than the budgeted amount. If it costs too much when I get to the store I will either a)wait until the next trip, b)put something else back to free up money to be able to purchase it or c)buy a smaller amount or the store brand if it fits my budget better.
Now I know a lot of couponing ladies. And I did try that. But I don’t like to buy things JUST because they are on a super sale. My family has things they like to eat, and if there are coupons I find for the things I know we will eat, or go through on a regular basis, I will include those coupons. But I don’t make my list just based around coupons and what deals are going on. Maybe in the future when my kids are older and eating more and I have more time and energy to clip and organize coupons I will get more into them. But for now, this is what works well for us. I’m not gonna go use coupons to get 10 packs of gum because they are free….my house isnt big enough to stock items like toilet paper, so maybe when I have more storage space to stock things I will be more into the couponing as well.
So, Here is my meal plan for the next two weeks. I dont plan by the day, because I like to cook what i’m in the mood for the day of, so I just make a list of 13 meals. We usually order pizza fridays so I only do 13 rather than 14 meals. (We get 2- 1/2 price cheese pizzas from Mangiamo’s between 3-4pm to pickup, and a salad and spend about 22$ and it feeds us dinner friday night, and lunch saturday)
1) chili – (I have all the things I need to make chili because I purchased them to make it last trip but we ended up getting sick, so now I have one meal ready for the next two weeks)
2 & 3) quiche (I will make this for two nights)
4.) Chicken pot pie
5. & 6) broccoli cheese soup w/ salad and rolls
7.) bbq chicken legs w mashed potatoes and lima beans (i always have potatoes in my kitchen, and i have lima beans in the freezer already)
8 & 9) black beans & rice (i have rice and black beans from last trip to the store)
10) burritos (i have refried beans, rice, and flour tortillas (bulk from sams for 3.60) on hand)
11) spaghetti w yellow & zucchini squash (I make the pasta, but I always have a box or two of ready made on hand, just in case I’m not in the mood for the trouble of making pasta)
12) veggie stir fry (i already have rice, I buy in bulk)
13) pancakes, eggs and fried potatoes (I always have flour and potatoes on hand b/c I bake a lot, so I buy the 25 lb bag of flour from Sams every month or two, and we eat a lot of potatoes, I could make potato soup on the fly as well because i usually have plenty on hand to make that)
chicken legs – 6.00
eggs 5 dozen – 6.50
milk x 2 gallons – 5.50
broccoli – 5.00
green onion – 2.00
pie crust x 4 (2 boxes) – 5.00
frozen stir fry veggies – 2.00
cheese – 4 blocks – 6.00
mayo – 3.00
cream of chicken soup 1 large, 1 small – 4.00
bread x 2 loaves – 2.00
salad – 2.50
bread rolls for soup – 2.00
lunch meat – 3.00
butter (sams) – 4.50
brown sugar – 2.50
zucchini/yellow squash – 3.50
bananas – 1.50
ketchup – 2.00
mixed veggies- 1 can – .75
tomatoes – 1.50
sour cream – 1.00
bbq sauce – 1.00
tooth brushes x 2 adult + 2 kids – 3.00
Now, usually while I’m shopping I will find the items on my list for less than the amount I have budgeted, or I will find them w a managers special price, usually 50-75% less than normal price. Like meats, yogurt, cheese, bread, etc. This is how last time I went to the store I came home with more than I planned to purchase for 3$ under my budget. So i was able to go to starbucks on the way home to celebrate.
I hope this helps someone out there. I may continue to share my lists regularly for those who would like to use them as a guide.
Wish me luck this week , and Happy shopping!
I went shopping today and actually ended up spending only 66.89$. My receipt says that I saved 22.82$ today. Yay me!