One of my big goals for September was to reduce our weekly grocery bill by $25. We’re on a serious roll of paying off debt + bulking up our savings account. Now that we’ve got a good start to it, with the assistance of my awesome weekly budget spreadsheet I created, I’m happy to report we’re actually paying off our first (little itty bitty) credit card this Friday. Our snow ball begins!
I’m so-so-so very excited about that. It’s a good path to be on, right?
There were and are a lot of different pieces contributing to us being able to move where our money goes.
- Spending less: not buying things we absolutely don’t need
- Not eating out: we may go out to eat one a month, unless it’s a special occasion (anniversary, trip, b-day)
- Working more: I started teaching group fitness + Jacob does odd jobs
- Spend less on groceries: this has decreased a TON since last year
It was challenging for me to initially get my weekly food budget down to $100. It wasn’t until Jacob put his food down and said that was all I got to spend. I guess I needed someone else telling me what to do because my will power at the grocery store (love) wasn’t enough. Now I’ve mastered spending $100 a week for all our groceries (including toiletries too).
I finally got around to setting up strategies for my grocery shopping trip over the weekend. Better late than never!
First I made a list of all my items I buy at Costco. That trip always throws my budget off. I’ll skip going there for a few weeks then all of a sudden I’ll spend $70 bucks in one trip. That’s not gunna work on a $75 weekly budget anymore.
So I made my list of what we get, then when I was at Costco I jotted down prices.
Now each week while I’m grocery planning I’ll do an inventory of what is out, or what will be out soon. My hope is to only pick up 1 item each time I go to Costco.
I work about 2 minutes from Costco so it’s no problem going there weekly. Plus if I run in and out the trips are super fast.
Next I created our weekly meal plan. Here I also made sure to look around our fridge + cupboards (which I first had to organize!), to see what we already had on hand, plus what I could substitute in a recipe.
Example: Quinoa & Bean Corn Chowder was on my list (so delicious), but the recipe called for canned pinto beans. I had a small amount of cooked black beans left over + a small amount of dried pinto beans, so I used both. It also called for roasted corn, but I had 2 ears of corn on the cob in my fridge so those were substituted in. Instead of almond milk I used coconut milk that was already open in the fridge.
Those simple substitutions easily saved me a few dollars.
I’m not very good at following recipes anyway so planned substitutions work well for me. After my meal plan was ready I was onto the next step.
This is super easy. I went to the ATM, pulled out $75 and put it in an envelope (or your wallet if you don’t keep other $$). This is all there is to spend.
It’s grocery shopping time! I needed to go to 3 stores: Whole Foods, Costco and Fred Meyer.
Normally I don’t go to Whole Foods (it’s just too darn expensive), but with a ‘spend $10 to get $20’ living social in my hands I thought it was the perfect time to go. My living social actually didn’t cost me anything. If you share your personal link and 3 people purchase the same deal, you get yours free which is what ended up happening to me! With $20 free dollars on me I was excited to go.
Whole Foods spending: $46.03 – $20 living social – $15 face cream I wasn’t originally going to buy at a grocery store = $11.03
Next up was Costco. I had 2 items to pick up – litter and soy milk + I wandered around the store jotting down prices.
Costco spending: $20.49
The final stop was Fred Meyer. There is where I buy most of my bulk + produce + random grocery items. I keep track as I go along so that I know how much I’m spending. If it’s getting too tight I cut things I really don’t need. Usually I’ll get my produce, dairy items, bulk then grocery items last. I figure I can create meals best with fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, cheese and bulk items (beans, flours, nuts, seed, whole grains). The grocery items just make life easier.
Tip: substitute while at the store… if a different brand of yogurt than you usually buy is half off, buy that (as long as it meets your standards). Or if kale is cheaper than collards or chard, maybe this week pick that one up even if you really wanted the other.
Fred Meyer spending: $35.71
If that was all the spending that had happened I be high fiving myself right now. But it’s not. Jacob stopped at Safeway twice for Gatorade/PowerAde type drinks for him + his friend.
Safeway spending: $8.53
I kind of feel like I’m cheating by not including my face cream, but I really was going to pick it up at the mall first. Then, once I found out my favorite face cream cost $28, I quickly put it down. The lady said the price didn’t go up and size didn’t go down, but I know that was a lie.
So here it is. What we spend during our first new and improved week being budget-tastic (true word)…..
Grand total for the week: $75.76
Yay, I’m uber excited about this!
Since going meat free our grocery bill slashing has been SO much easier. Beans, tofu and whole grains are all much cheaper than any meat.
I hope these tips help you. They sure helped me along the way. Next week I’m planning to snap a photo of what I bought… show you were the $75 is (wisely) spent.
Want to read more about budgeting and where I started? Check these out…
- Starting the snowball
- The 3-2-2 meal planning concept (great when we were eating meat!)
- Finally hitting my food budget
- New food budget strategies
- Meal planning + couponing
- The good, the bad and the ugly
- February’s food budget
- December and January update
- Where the budget friendly meals all started
Do you have any grocery bill slashing tips? Please share! I’ll compile the tips and share them all tomorrow.
Off to walk the dog… 60 degrees is much better than 50 degrees a couple days ago!
Happy Thursday all,
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