The Grocery Report – Week 1

With the recent budget restructuring, I have cut our household grocery budget by a third. I have been wondering for some time whether I was being as efficient as I could be with our $340 monthly allotment.

I know for some, this number is completely unrealistic (or may even be excessive) but for our household of two adults, I wondered if I could challenge the status quo.

I initially based this new amount on the concept Jordan Page (of Fun Free or Cheap) talks about — starting with a $300 grocery budget for a household of two and then adding $100 per additional person in the household. $300 would only be a $40 difference for us, so I decided to dig in a bit deeper.

A $90 difference would be more of a challenge but would also have more of an impact. I am including everything that we will eat, toiletries we will use, and household items we must replace during the month in this budget.

As previously mentioned, I do not include dog items in the grocery budget because we have three of them. I buy dog food, vitamins, joint supplements, treats, and fruits and veggies for them — so they get their own category. Anything that I buy for them (fruits/veggies on the grocery order, for example) gets deducted from the separate dog budget.

My goals are:
*plan for one week at a time (one 7 day week and three 8 day weeks)
*choose 3-4 meals (ideally at least 2 of these will feed us 2-3 days, per my s.o. request)
*buy 1-2 household things that we are running low on before we actually run out
*have a few dollars left each week to go towards a bulk purchase/inventory building/reusable replacement item purchase at the end of the month

In all transparency, we do have a bit of a stockpile in our deep freezer at the moment so we are not starting from a total ground zero in this experiment. We have frozen pizzas, a large bag of chicken thighs and chicken breasts, as well as several portions of ground beef. We stocked up heavier than usual at the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was panicking about food/supply shortages, etc. and then again more recently with news of meat suppliers shutting down/operating at diminished capacities.

This will skew the grocery numbers some because I won’t be buying meat as frequently. That being said, I am trying to lean a bit more into meatless options as well as meals that feature meat rather than focus on meat to stretch what we do have. Hopefully this helps to translate this experiment for anyone wanting to replicate the concept.

Nobody truly starts from zero unless they throw out everything they have already. We are all starting from different places and that’s okay. I hope to challenge our current methods and find ways to be more creative that work for our situation. Hopefully this inspires you to do the same.

Every week, I have $62.50 available to spend ($250/4=$62.50). Since I purchase toilet paper through the Amazon Subscribe & Save program, I have deducted that $20 ($20/4=$5) from the weekly spend and am left with $57.50 per week.

Week 1:
Total Spent $51.26, $6.24 leftover

$3.04 zucchini
$0.64 roma tomatoes
$1.12 bananas
$0.50 green onions
$2 Oscar Meyer bologna lunch meat
$3.58 Great Value mozzarella shredded cheese (16 oz.)
$2.38 Great Value skim milk 1 gallon
$0.98 Great Value medium diced green chiles 7 oz.
$1.22 Great Value 5 lb. flour
$0.88 1 lb. Iberia dry black beans
$2.33 Great Value 18 count white eggs
$1.38 Knorr Chicken Bouillon Cubes 24 ct.
$3.97 Blue Bunny Vanilla Ice Cream 48 oz.
$3.42 Clear American Seltzer – 6 bottles (Apple, Orange, Peach)
$3.42 El Monterey beef, bean, cheese chimichangas
$1.72 Great Value Brown Sugar 2 lb.
$2.76 Mission Burrito Flour Tortillas – 8 ct.
$2.76 Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Harty White Bread
$2.48 Great Value Mild Restaurant Style Salsa 16 oz.
$2 Gatorade Sports Drink 32.oz (2 bottles)

Toiletries/Household Items
$0.80 Great Value Distilled Water – 1 gallon
$2.48 Equate Tampons 20 ct.
$1.98 Great Value dish soap 28 oz.

To keep the grocery amounts in the target range, I am choosing to purchase the Walmart brand of most things unless I know there is a noticeable quality/taste difference.

I also focused on buying mostly staple items that we can cook with other items we have already rather than buying prepackaged items like chips, cookies, etc. We usually do purchase more chips and sweets. I have decided to build up a stock of baking ingredients so that I can make something sweet every week to satisfy those cravings and also keep the grocery bill minimal. Flour and brown sugar made the list this week for that reason. We also have cheez-its in the pantry already.

The planned meals for this week (including links to the recipe)

Creamy Mushroom Rice Pilaf Skillet
White Chicken Enchiladas
Turkey Burrito Bowls

We actually only ended up cooking the Rice pilaf skillet meal so as to not waste the mushrooms purchased for that meal the previous week. My s.o. went rogue and made a mushroom caesar pasta that he created at the beginning of the week. That happened to last us three days. So, the white chicken enchiladas and turkey burrito bowls will slide into next week’s plan.

For breakfast, I usually eat eggs and toast, french toast, or some kind of oatmeal and utilize items we always have in the house. Lunch lately has been marinated white beans on toast or a snack consisting of fruit, pretzels, and sometimes cheez-its.

You can see the recipes we’re trying here and the recipes that have passed the test here. It’s my goal to compile eight weeks of meals to simply rotate through eventually.

I plan to summarize the weekly grocery shop/meals each week as part of a new series called The Grocery Report. I am personally fascinated with other people’s grocery shopping trips/meal plans and find it one of the easiest ways to learn new recipes and cost saving ideas.

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