Week Four…but, wait…there’s more!

We have arrived! The last week of the first month of our new food budget lifestyle!

Not only have we survived, we are rockin’ this thing!  The budget was under control, the meals were delicious, we had more time (thanks to careful meal planning), and lunches were easy since we always had yummy leftovers we could grab ‘n go.  The best part, though, was that we were enjoying more meals together as a family!

Our original target was a do-not-exceed grocery budget of $550 per month.  That’s about $137 a week.  And, here we were, three weeks in, and we were only at $300!  I knew I wouldn’t spend $250 this week, so….could it be…. that we could shoot for even less of a grocery bill going forward?Lord, knows we were motivated. We had already reaped a hefty amount of savings having cut our grocery bill from last year’s average monthly expense of $1,160.  By spending only $100 a week for January 2018, we were about $600 ahead of where we were at this time last year! If that’s not enough to motivate you to join the movement, I don’t know what will!

I couldn’t help but project as to what our savings would be for the year if we kept our grocery expenses under $450 a month.  If your waiting for me to the math, here it is: $610 a month in savings or – are you ready for this – $8,520 a year!  Let that sink in for a minute! Now are you ready to join me?

THE PLAN

As always, I began with step one; I took stock of what I had on hand.  I looked in the freezer and saw chicken thighs and pork loin.  Since proteins are typically the most expensive ingredient in meals, I start there.  In the fridge, I found plenty of spring mix salad and some leftover kielbasa.  In the pantry, I had a bag of Camellia’s Chipotle Black Bean Soup, Yellow Rice, a cornbread mix, spaghetti and sauces, Panko, chicken broth, and a few other odds and ends.

My second step is to start brainstorming about possible ideas for meals.  So, armed with a list of the ingredients I had, I searched  the Web for recipes that would make good use of the stock pile,  and either (a) not require a lot of new, pricey ingredients or (b) were forgiveable enough that if I needed to, I could substitute ingredients based on what I had (for instance, instead of andouille sausage, smoked sausage for the jambalaya).

I came up with a menu based on some new recipes I found online, combined with some old standbys. I always like to mix things up a bit, because the addition of the new recipes keeps us excited about our meal plan, but the old standbys are great for convenience and ease of preparation.

When I totaled by grocery list, I was, yet again, at about $100! SCORE!  I was far below the $150 mark, making this, our first full month of planning and budgeting, a $400 grocery month for a family of four!

As you can see from below, we are not sacrificing on our menu! In fact, we are eating great – especially with the addition of some new fare that became instant hits. You can see some of these here.

Breakfasts  

Green Smoothies for mom, cereal or instant oatmeal (we had a giant box from a BJ’s shop a few months back) for the kids, eggs for dad.  

Lunches:

The kids’ could choose from the following for lunches:  tomato soup, tuna fish sandwiches,  PB & J Sandwiches, salad, leftovers in the microwaveable thermoses I bought, sliced hot dogs, hard boiled eggs, bell pepper slices, celery, bottled water.  As for me, I like my salads for lunch.  

Dinners:

Basics to Stock Up on:  1 gal. milk ($2,79), 18 eggs ($2.00), 2- 32 oz. coffee creamer ($6.00), 5 everything bagels-a special request from my daughter ($1.98), Philadelphia cream cheese ($3.08), 1 loaf whole wheat bread (.98), 32 count Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Action Pacs ($8.97/.29 each), 2 cases flavored sparkling water ($2.98 ea.),  1 liter sparkling water (.68), 3 lb. bag of onions ($1.69)12 pod coffee ($6.04), toilet paper ($22.95 for 5 packs of 12 rolls of Cottonelle).

Ingredients: 8 chicken breasts (1.69 lb -$12),  1 lb. ground beef ($3.52), 2 (4 ounce) cans canned green chile peppers (.72 cent each),  5 (14.5 ounce) cans great Northern beans (.72 cents each), fresh sage ($1.98), fresh rosemary ($1.98), fresh thyme ($1.98), falafel mix (2.98), whole wheat pita ($2.50), 3 mixed bell peppers ($3.88), Kalamata olives ($2.98), 6 oz. feta cheese ($3.98),  head of iceberg lettuce ($1.64), Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt dressing ($2.98).

GRAND TOTAL $103.22

  • Walmart: $60.07 = $1.37 tax, Other Stores $51.78

* Italicized items bought at BJ’s with the exception of coffee, creamer, and toilet paper (special running at Publix).  All other items bought through the Walmart Grocery App.

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