$100 Grocery Challenge — WEEK 1

Grocerychallenge

Hey there!  So if you are following me on instagram you may have seen my post about our November grocery challenge.  I had this wild idea to challenge myself to only spend $100 in the grocery store for the entire month of November.  Now I do realize that this sounds like an impossible feat.  So let me back up by explaining where the idea stemmed from.  I’m doing this as a way to force myself to utilize all of my frozen goods/meat and pantry items.  You know, like the time I got black beans on sale and so I bought 12 cans.  Yeah, we are going to eat them this month.   It’s time.  So by using my freezer and pantry as the bulk of our meals I should hopefully be able to stay within budget.

Here are some basic grocery budget concepts you should know before we get into the week one results.

  • Shop your circulars.  I thought this was common sense.  Until I showed not 1 but 2 people (who shall not be named) my grocery list and they asked how I knew what the price of the apples were going to be.  Literally, they asked “how are you so sure you’ll find apples for $.88/lb??”   Um, because the grocery store sends their flyer every week and that is what they are advertising.  Duh.  So if you had no idea about that, start there.  If they don’t come in the mail you can look up the weekly ads on their websites.
  • Stock up when things are on sale.  Going back to my 12 cans of black beans.  Let’s say for example black beans are $1.09 a can.  But once every few months my grocery store makes them BOGO (buy one get one).  Well now they are only $.55 each and that’s a great price.  I will buy enough cans of black beans to last my family until the next BOGO sale.  Therefore I am never going to pay full price for the can of beans.  Are you following?  It helps to know what your family consumes when shopping like this.  I know that my family eats a can of black beans every week.  So I would buy enough cans to last a few months.  Another example is cereal.  We go through a box of multigrain cheerios weekly, so when they are BOGO (and even better when I have a coupon as well), I will stock up on that.  Because I know they won’t go to waste.
  • Shop what’s in season.  I cannot stress this enough.  I sent my husband to the grocery once and he decided he wanted blueberries.  Ok, great.  Except blueberries weren’t in season and he didn’t bother looking at the price of them.  He paid $8.99 for a pint of blueberries.  I about died when I saw the receipt.  If you shop the produce in season it will be the cheapest and also the best tasting.  You can research what times of year are best to buy pantry items as well.  I’m no pro, but I do stock up on baking goods (flour, sugar, chocolate chips, etc) around the holidays.  Those items typically go on sale during those times.
  • Meal plan.  I do struggle with this but I find when I do it and I stick to it we really decrease the amount of wasted food in our fridge.  Plan the weeks meals and shop only what you need to make them.  Here’s an example.  When you don’t meal plan, you wander the produce section, realize you need onions so you grab 4.  If you planned your meals you might know that you need onions for 2 recipes meaning you only really need to buy 2.  So you didn’t grab any extra just in case.
  • Re-purpose your leftovers.  I am the queen of this in my house.  Once a week I make shredded chicken in the crock pot or grill up a bunch of chicken cutlets.  We usually have one simple chicken and veggie meal from it.  Then it becomes chicken burrito bowls, chicken quesadillas, bbq chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, chicken ceasar salads, and the list goes on and on.

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Ok, I think we have gone over all basic budgeting concepts.  If you have others, please leave them in the comments.  I always love to read about other ways people have learned to save in the grocery store.

WEEK 1 — What I bought

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I did go a little overboard in week one and spent more than I had anticipated and I’ll tell you why.  I took a ride to Costco with a friend and their price per gallon of milk was over $1 cheaper then Publix, so I stocked up.  Eggs too!  18 egglands best eggs were over a $1 cheaper than 18 Publix brand eggs.  So while I did spend more in the first week, I am confident that we have enough eggs for the month and enough milk for the first few weeks.  (If you are going to do this just double check the expiration dates so you don’t get stuck looking at a fridge full of expired milk)

Eggland’s Best Eggs: 18 count: $2.99

Eggland’s Best Eggs: 18 count: $2.99

Eggland’s Best Eggs: 18 count: $2.99

Eggland’s Best Eggs: 18 count: $2.99

Gallon of milk: $2.32

Gallon of milk: $2.32

Gallon of milk: $2.32

Flour tortillas: 36 count: $3.99

Apple sauce: 3 LARGE containers: $6.99

Peanut butter crackers: 40 count: $5.89

Pancake syrup: $.99 ($3.99 on sale BOGO with a $1 off coupon! Can’t beat that)

Diced Ham: $1.65

Diced Ham: $1.64 (These were BOGO as well!)

Nature’s own wheat bread: $1.69

Pretzel sticks: $1.99

Apples: $.88/lb:  $1.94

Campari Tomato: $.88 package

Cucumber: $.48 each

Grapes: $1.88/lb:  $2.59

Romaine: $.99 each

Bananas: $.59/lb:  $1.53

Yogurt: 2/$5:  2 Containers: $5.00

TOTAL: $57.16

Oops!!  I was only supposed to spend $25 the first week.  So obviously this is going to be way more difficult than I thought.  But that’s why it’s a challenge, right??

I spent a lot more than I wanted because I did stock up on the milk and eggs at that great price.  Also, I can’t pass up syrup for $1!  That doesn’t happen all that often so I had to make room in the budget for that.  Also the ham is something we eat a lot of, so I really wanted to grab some at that price.  Then I had to also grab some snacks for the kids.

Week 1 — What we ate

I needed to take a good inventory of what was going on in the freezer and pantry before starting this, so I knew things that I did not need to buy.  First off, we had leftover produce from the week before so I roasted up all the asparagus, zucchini and carrots before they had a chance to go bad.  So immediately I had vegetables to carry us through week 1.  I found plenty of canned corn and frozen broccoli so that will help lower the cost of produce.  Digging through the freezer I found homemade soups that I had frozen and lots and lots of chicken and steaks.

One night I made an entire steak dinner from pulling a few things together.  I defrosted 2 steaks, heated a bag of frozen broccoli, sauteed an onion, and roasted some tomatoes (that were too soft for salads) with some garlic cloves.  It was delish and didn’t cost me anything out of my November budget!  How good does that dinner look!?

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Juliana has been requesting breakfast for dinner ALOT.  Happens to be one of my favorites as well.  However, at the beginning of this challenge I noticed that we were out of frozen mini pancakes.  That is her go-to breakfast food.  For dinner I usually serve them with eggs, yogurt and fruit.  But I was out, and I panicked!  Those boxes are $2.99 EACH!   To save myself from completely blowing my $100 on frozen breakfast items, I grabbed the box of bisquick and got busy.  By using this squeeze bottle (I can’t find the exact one I have, so I linked a similar set!) I was able to create what felt like a billion mini pancakes.  Then I did the math.  I know that I paid about $2.00 for the box of pancake mix.  I used about 1/3 of the box to make this batch of mini pancakes, so we are talking about $.67 for the batch.  I made 100 pancakes!!  100!!!  So $.67/100 pancakes VS $2.99/box of 40.  It’s a no brainer!  That’s what I love about doing this challenge.  I’m learning even more ways that I can save.

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Another thing that I have been doing is saving all leftovers.  Take this morning for example.  Juliana requested a BIG breakfast.  I cringed, haha.  Doesn’t she know I only have $100?!  I made the kids some mini pancakes, jelly wheat toast, and a fried egg.  Below you can see that even though they wanted eggs, they didn’t eat them.  So I stuck them in a snapware container.  Later when Joey was chasing me around the house with a box of granola bars, I popped the container in the microwave for a few seconds and he got to finish the breakfast that he left earlier.  Otherwise I would have thrown out an entire egg, and I don’t have the time or the money this month for that :)  Waste not, want not, right?

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We also made omelettes and some quick chicken/quinoa/veggie lunches, using the roasted asparagus and squash, and of course we made some black bean fajitas :)

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So week one is up.  I really shopped towards the end of this week since I had lots of things I was able to use up the first few days of the month.  Which means I am starting week 2 with plenty of dairy and produce.  So, I’m feeling confident going into the second week.  I should probably stay out of the stores altogether.  I have enough milk and eggs to carry me through to week 3 that’s for sure!  But we shall see what happens.  Do you think you could try this challenge?  Obviously the only way I can maybe manage it is because we have a full freezer and pantry.  I can’t imagine having to eat all of our meals from just $100.  There are 4 of us and my kids eat like adults.  Holy appetites.  But I’m excited to do it this month, and maybe it will be something that I can do every few months, or even 2x a year.  Just to really clean out all the food that I have been stocking up on and freezing.  Do you have any tips you can offer???  Please leave them in the comments, I’d love to read them :)

Wish me luck, Danielle

2 Thoughts on “$100 Grocery Challenge — WEEK 1

  1. Pingback: The Results of our $100 Grocery Budget Challenge | Mini's Mama

  2. Pingback: Grocery Challenge Take 2 | Mini's Mama

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