Grocery Challenge

I am going to be doing a 3 month grocery challenge (and by default, Scott too!) for May, June and July.

We usually spend between $400-450 per month on groceries alone. . this doesn’t even include eating out!!

After doing some research, this doesn’t seem too unreasonable, but could be much lower! I would like our grocery budget be closer to $350-375 per month.

Now, onto the challenge. . . my goal is to spend $300 per month for the next 3 months.

While, I don’t think this would be sustainable for the long term, I think over the next 3 months I can use items in our overflowing pantry and freezer. And really start to concentrate on making smart choices at the store and making changes in our buying habits that will translate to more savings in the future. In the interest of full disclosure, Scott did make a Trader Joe’s today and bought $36 of “staples” –> dried fruit, peanut butter pretzels and honey roasted peanuts. We will also keep eating out about twice per week and sticking to our normal ‘eating out’ budget.

I will be keeping track of total money spent, amount per store and per week. I will also keep track of groups of foods: i.e. fruits and veggies, meat, carbs, snacks, impulse buys etc. and how much is spent on each one. I will also keep track of savings via coupons.

Also, to make sure that we don’t overspend, we are going  old school with cash in an envelope.

When the cash is gone. . . that’s it! I think it will be easier to see where the money is going by handing over cash versus the credit card, where to be honest, half the time; I don’t even look at the total!

My overall goals for the challenge are:

  • Use Pantry/freezer items
  • Buy staples only on sale
  • Buy only what is needed for the week ahead
  • One weekly trip to the store(s)
  • Menu plan weekly and start by looking at the pantry, freezer and fridge and seeing what I can work with that we already have or will go bad soon
  • Start using coupons – I started following our local grocery stores (HyVee and Cub Foods) on Twitter and signed up for weekly emails from Cub Foods and I am going to start checking out some online coupon sites.
  • Go vegetarian for one dinner each week
  • Take Jodi’s advice and check out Wal-Mart for cheaper prices
  • Continue to bring my own bags – it’s only 5 cents, but each little bit helps, right?

How much do you spend on groceries per week/month? And how do you keep your grocery spending down?? Any tips for me?

18 Comments

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18 Responses to Grocery Challenge

  1. Katie, what a great idea! I look forward to seeing updates on how your challenge is coming along.
    Marnie recently posted..What I’m Reading: Lean InMy Profile

  2. We probably spend close to $800 on groceries every month. There are some differences in our families, obviously. I have a 13 year-old boy who eats enough and an 11 year-old boy who sometimes eats the same as Glenn and I combined. That said, there are plenty of things in my pantry that have been there forever and I think your challenge is SO AWESOME. We are thinking of buying a house soon so I should look into doing something similar.
    Stephanie@nowirun.com recently posted..A “NAR” Run!My Profile

    • KT

      Wow – I knew that boys ate a lot- but WOW! I guess that is even more inspiring for me to work on our budget now so when Luke gets older and if we have more kids, we are prepared.

  3. That’s a great challenge. We’ve been budgeting hardcore since November (but on and off for a couple of years) and although we don’t do the envelope system anymore have been very diligent about keeping receipts and inputing them into an excel spreadsheet I keep with different categories for accountability.

    I recently found out Walmart accepts competitor coupons, but you have to give the coupon before they scan the particular item, so I use a lot of Target coupons (you could also use Cub) at Walmart. If you haven’t heard of “All You” magazine (google for cheapest subscription rates) it’s an awesome magazine that does have some coupons, but really interesting articles, recipes, and savings ideas:-) Good luck!

    Now if I could just consistently menu plan…
    Gina recently posted..31 Weeks (Pregnancy #2)My Profile

  4. Good for you for doing this challenge! Dana and I just talked over our budget and I knew we spent a lot of money on groceries but I guess I didn’t realize just how much we spent! Our freezer is packed with food that we could use up and I should really take on a version of this challenge myself. Good luck to you and can’t wait to hear how it goes!
    Melanie @ Beautifully Nutty recently posted..Chicken Curry Salad in Endive BoatsMy Profile

  5. Good luck & looking forward to reading how this goes! We’ve definitely noticed an increase in our grocery spending, and your challenge has me interested in our actual monthly spend. I’m very excited our local Farmer’s Market is opening this weekend. It’s a great way to buy lots of fresh, chemical-free fruits & veggies on the cheap while supporting local farmers. Looking forward to some baked kale chips since lettuces and greens are the first things in season!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Confessions of a Blogger Newbie: Facebook FailMy Profile

  6. I love this idea and how you’re executing it – I think you have a solid plan in place that will really pay off. The envelope idea is genius. I’m like you – I don’t pay nearly enough attention to what all I’m putting on my card. The only thing I would add (and I’m sure your coupons/emails will take care of this) is to shop for your meat when it’s on sale, since it’s the most expensive item you’ll be purchasing. If chicken is cheap one week, get a bunch and freeze it, same with fish or pork or whatever else, even if it’s not what you’ll be eating that week. I need a challenge like this, too! I’m one person and I spend over $200 each month on groceries. Great post!

    • KT

      Thank you!! Good tip for the meat. We already try to stock up when it is on sale – we have a huge freezer in the basement that is useful for that.

  7. we ususally spend about the same as you guys each month. It gets a bit out of control, these are great tips and I’m going to try and do better too. Thanks for posting about your goal!
    Sharsti@theblondehairblueeyedrunner recently posted..I run what I want, well this week anywayMy Profile

  8. I’m gonna be honest, I cringed at the Wal-Mart shopping idea. BUT… to each their own 😉 We’ve been trying to do a good job of eating what we have in our freezer but since our condo is tiny, we don’t have a lot of room to store food so it is hard to stock up when things are on sale. I can’t wait to have more room and get a deep freeze and a pantry!
    Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted..Our 3-Year AnniversaryMy Profile

    • KT

      Oh my gosh – me too!!! I am totally a Target girl all the way. But I am willing to go out of my comfort zone and check it out. I do wish we had a Super Target in Mankato, while I was in medical school, I did all my grocery shopping there. I love the Archer Farms brand. Our big freezer is one of my favorite things. You just have to be careful not to let it get too out of control – otherwise things can get lost!

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