For about three years, my husband and I have done our best to stick to a grocery budget of $100/week. For a family of six, that is not a lot. It’s quite a feat actually. A few families do it on less, and a lot of families spend way more each week.
However, I’ll admit we frequently go over by about $20 or $30. It’s my fault because I’m a creative cook and sometimes I just have to make something so I call my husband and tell him “I MUST have heavy cream, limes, and chicken.” Or whatever I feel like making that day.
I’ve also been guilty of taking money designated for hair cuts or diapers and using it on groceries. We use mostly cloth at home so I will always have diapers.
But it seems things get tighter and tighter as time goes by and now I have to take a closer look at what we eat and how long we can make it last.
This last week was my golden opportunity as we went lean for a few weeks to save up grocery money for one big shopping trip. My husband currently works at Wal-Mart and once a year we can do one transaction at 25% off.
Since we were already done with making and buying presents, we bought two carts full of groceries. It is more important to eat than to have fancy presents, right?
Because we wanted to use cash saved for groceries, we did not splurge on anything unplanned and stuck to the list. We spent $425 on groceries and ended up with $20 cash leftover! Should have bought some more ground beef!
This was by no means a trip that will last us for months, but I’m hoping it puts me ahead on the budget if I see how long I can go without shopping for groceries, except for things like eggs, milk, and produce.
Once home, I spent the day preparing freezer meals. A few of the recipes came from my amazing friend Jen. Thanks Jen! One is my mom’s famous lasagna, and the others came from Pinterest, which you can find on my board Feezer Meals.
- 3 Large Pans Lasagna (one is for Christmas day)
- 1 large and 1 small pan Chicken Cordon Bleu
- 2 gallon ziplock bags of Cilantro Lime Chicken
- 3 family dinner servings meatballs
- 2 pans Italian Artichoke Chicken
- 1 bag Thai Chicken Thighs
- 1 gallon bag Beef with Barley Soup
In the last two weeks I also put in the freezer 1 big and 1 small Turkey Pot Pie and a large family size portion of Sweet Potato Chili.
Once those were in the freezer downstairs, I took inventory! It was fun and I’m proud I finally did it. Do you know exactly what is in your pantry? Luckily for me, my husband is an expert at facing foods so we have these big shelves and it looks like a small grocery store down there. Next year we’ll have a garden and hopefully I will be canning and freezing a LOT of produce. We have perfect canning shelves, but they are full of kids’ clothing bins and other junk right now. I must purge some more over Spring to make room for more food storage.
Instead of listing every single thing we have right now, I’ll give you and idea and add a photo.
We have several boxes of cereal, 2 canisters of oatmeal, many boxes of pastas. I have home canned tomatoes and peach pie filling. Jellies, peanut butters, and canned vegetables.
We have about 27lbs dried pinto beans and 30 lb of white rice and only 4 lbs of brown rice. I reckon if we ate only rice and beans for dinners, this would last us 5 weeks.
There are several flats of canned vegetables. These come in handy when we run out of fresh stuff in the fridge and it’s several days before I can make it to the store. It will do.
It’s not at all healthy, but I have many boxes of mac and cheese and a flat of Spaghettios with Meatballs. Some days, those two things are my saving grace at lunch time.
At any given time, we have several loaves of Bomdiggity Bread. I rarely buy bread at the store anymore.
FREEZER!!! We are in big BIG trouble if we lose electricity and lose our freezer foods. We have 14 prepared meals in there, frozen fruit, bags of french fries, pie crusts, pies, roasts, bagged raw chicken, and butter. A huge portion of our shopping trip was spent on meat. It would be heartbreaking to lose that.
Does that mean it’s time I learn how to make things like salt beef? Oh Yum, sounds so good……not.
In closing, if you follow this experiment, I will let you know how long these groceries last and what creative meals I come up with as the pickings get slim. It’s like my own cooking game show of Pantry Raid. My kids are not allowed to be picky. And it’s a good thing they all love rice and beans.
As this is the very beginning of the experiment, it will not be the most accurate assessment. We still had a few cans in the pantry, some meat in the freezer, frozen fruit, and other things. The test will be to see what I spend on fresh fridge items over the next 4 weeks and what I spent on the next big shopping trip.
My idea is to save by not making so many small grocery shopping trips. I must put my blinders on for the Dillons Ads! I really love grocery shopping. Is that weird?
Stay tuned for more recipes, pantry stocking tips, and grocery budget ideas! And please please comment on what you do to save money while keeping meals interesting. Let me know if you inventory and what your system is.
Contrary to what many of my friends believe, I am not organized and I love hearing new ideas.