Budgeting Challenge: Meal Planning #1

Every month, Rich and I make updates to our budget spreadsheet to make sure our expenses are under control and also to identify any potential areas where we can tighten our wallets a little more. (This is what happens when two finance nerds get married.) We’ve done a lot over the last couple of years to add a little more to our net worth, but as with anything, there’s always room for improvement.

Most recently, we cut the cable cord and said bye bye to Comcast, which saves us $80 a month. That’s a saving of almost $1,000 a year. (Expect a future post on how we still watch TV for almost free.) So logically we looked for the next area with potential savings and, after some nitpicking and reviewing of our expenses with a fine tooth comb, groceries was next on our list.

I don’t know about you, but I love to eat. The main problem I’ve found with my love of food, though, is that we tend to go a little overboard at the grocery store. If I see something I want or think I’ll need for a recipe, I’ll buy it. I always have the best intentions to cook a certain recipe, but more times than not, I don’t stick to my plan. As a result, what was once fresh groceries go to waste and into the trash bin at the end of the week. What a shame!

I was inspired by Julie at Julie Goes Healthy, who plans her entire week of meals with a ~$30 weekly shopping budget and things she already has on hand at home. She even has some money to spare for some treats! Last year, we spent a shocking ~$5,700 on at the grocery store and BJ’s combined. That averages out to be ~$110 a week and a lot of food for only two people. The average young adult in America spends $173 on groceries each week, so it could be worse, but we could definitely be doing a little better!

So, in our own attempt to make less waste and add more money to the F. Family bottom line, I’ve decided to get back to basics and start up my weekly meal planning again.

This week we spent only $16.09 on groceries. Here’s our load for the week:

  • Spinach: $3.69  [BOGO free!]
  • Turkey deli meat: $4.97
  • Bananas: $2.42  [9 bananas]
  • Cucumber: $5.00 [2 for $5 ]

We already had these groceries in the fridge or pantry:

  • English muffins
  • Egg Beaters
  • Cheese (cheddar, goat, Laughing Cow)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Morningstar veggie patties
  • Baby carrots
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Turkey bacon & meatballs
  • Dried cranberries
  • Lite honey mustard dressing
  • Buttermilk
  • Condiments (mayo, mustard, honey, peanut butter)
  • Ragu sauce
  • Pasta noodles
  • Apple & clementines
  • Pistachios
  • Biscuits
  • Various snacks from my November Love With Food box

(I now realize how much we already have in the house that I can use for meals!)

Here’s how we’ll be using it:

  • Breakfasts
    • English muffin with peanut butter & a banana
    • Scrambled eggs (Egg Beaters) with cheddar cheese
    • Turkey bacon [already on hand]
  • Lunches
    • Spinach salad with cucumber, veggie patty, carrots, cranberries with honey mustard dressing
    • Turkey sandwich with spinach, mayo, & mustard on homemade wheat bread
  • Dinners
  • Snacks
    • Clementines
    • Apples
    • Pistachios
    • Laughing Cow cheese & biscuits
    • Greek yogurt & honey
    • Inka Corn snacks

Budgeting isn’t difficult, but I find it’s harder to stick with a meal plan more than anything. There’s so much temptation at the grocery store! I just need to exercise my will power.. and scour the web and newspaper for coupons!

How often do you grocery shop?

Is budgeting a big part of your life? Why or why not?

13 thoughts on “Budgeting Challenge: Meal Planning #1

  1. Pingback: [What I Ate Wednesday #20] December Already?! | cutedogsandhugs

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  3. Tiffany, I read this and I feel it like it was directed to me, I spend way too much money on food, no kidding, around 500€ a month, mainly because I refuse to eat frozen food, or cook frozen fish or sea food, gotta be fresh and that costs money. I’ve been trying to cut off there but since I’m the only one doing grocery shopping so I go crazy, I waste too much food.
    I’ve tried it all, but nothing works, shopping for food is an addiction.

    • Fresh doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Make a list of what you need and how much of it and really try sticking to the list. Throw in a candy bar for good measure as a reward for it!

  4. Going grocery shopping hungry is the most dangerous thing to my wallet. I too am a cord cutter and like finding ways to keep monthly expenses lean, so I will definitely be borrowing these tips – thanks.

  5. Wow! What an eye opening post! I guess when I’m budgeting, I don’t really think about cutting out in the grocery area, because we need to eat. But I’ve done a “Cook from my Pantry” challenge a time or two, just to use things up. It is amazing how much we have in the house sometimes!

    • I didn’t either but that’s really the only area left to realistically tighten up. Travel is one area we really refuse to go cheap on since we don’t do too much actual “shopping” besides that. We go to the mall/stores maybe once a quarter.

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