$30 per Week Grocery Budget

$30 per Week Grocery Budget

This past month my husband and I set a challenge for ourselves- to spend no more than $30 a week on groceries. Our reasoning was part to ease the the feeling of heaving spending in December and part to put aside more money for upcoming vacations. We did it… and we are so proud of ourselves for the money that we saved!

I made a video showing exactly how I created our meal plan each week. I walk you through my process of starting with the food we had in our house, building a meal plan around those things, and price-shopping to get as much grub for buck as we could.

$30 a week is not realistic for my family…

Now, please know that $30 a week is a personal number for our family of two. If you’re interested in challenging yourself to spend less on groceries, definitely consider the size of your family, cost of living in your area, and any dietary needs you have when setting your budget.

How much did you spend/save?

We were averaging $450 in groceries per month for our family of two. We started this challenge in the second week of January because of the holidays. So for the four weeks of January we challenged ourselves {Sunday 1/5 to Saturday 2/1} we spent just shy of $120 total on groceries- exactly on target for our $30 per week goal.

This means we saved about $330 that we can add to our savings account for vacations. THREE HUNDRED THIRTY DOLLARS. That’s more than enough for a round-trip flight to Orlando (hello, Disney World) for one of us.

Is this your budget for forever?

Now, this is NOT a sustainable budget for us all year long; it was simply a short-term challenge. I haven’t had hair conditioner {which I am considering a grocery item} for a week because I used that $6 for food. Don’t you worry though, I simply borrowed my travel size conditioner from under my bathroom counter. Next week I’ll be able to replace both.

Also… our freezer and pantry are looking a little bare. It was great to use up a lot of those items because too often we would ignore that stuff saying, “We’ll use it when it’s an emergency or if we forgot to plan a meal.” But when you wait too long, those things go bad. “We’ll use that frozen chicken when we forget to plan a meal,” is also a nice lie I would tell myself… we didn’t take the time to defrost chicken when we needed a quick meal, we would just get fast food!

What we learned, the long-lasting benefits of this challenge:

  1. How much “x item” really costs.
    • By price shopping at different stores {so easy to do on your phone/computer from home!} we learned the best prices and average cost of items on our standard grocery list.
    • Now we know when it’s really a good time to buy a product or when it might be a good idea to wait until it’s on sale.
    • When a shredded cheese topping or a special sauce cost $7… is it really worth spending more than 20% of our weekly budget on one item? We found most of the time it wasn’t worth the money- so we found a different recipe or just did without!
  2. It’s really worth saving the 30 cents or dollar on an item, even if it’s at another store.
    • We have two grocery stores literally across the street from each other. Before the challenge I would never have visited both stores to save a buck.
    • I learned that saving 30 cents on an onion, a dollar on chicken breasts, and 50 cents on pasta now means that I have $1.80 to spend on sauce for my meal. For the same dollar amount, I can get an additional item. That makes it practically free if you ask me!
  3. How to waste less food.
    • Buying fewer groceries, by default, meant we had less food in our fridge, pantry, and freezer in January.
    • We also had a specific meal plan that covered three meals a day for every week. We spent a lot of time making the plan each week, which made us want to use up the things that we’d bought.
    • Every bit of food we made felt like a carefully spent dollar. So we either planned to finish a meal up as leftovers or we made sure to freeze leftovers portions before they went bad.

So what does grocery budgeting and meal planning have to do with yarn?

Well, you get to tell your dollars what to do. If you save money on groceries, you have extra money to spend how you please. We went from $100 or more a week to $30 or less a week. That means we now have $70 extra dollars PER WEEK. Even if my husband and I had decided to split the savings {instead we put the total toward vacation} and each have a little fun money, I would still have $35 dollars per week to buy something I love- like yarn! By the end of the month I would have $140 dollars, just by spending less on groceries. I could probably buy a sweater’s worth of yarn with that!

Budgeting isn’t just for the times you don’t have enough money. Budgeting is a way to tell your dollars exactly what you want them to do, so you can spend your hard-earned bucks where you see fit.

Check out the video to see how I made our tight meal plan and grocery list. Please share your awesome grocery budgeting tips in the comments!

Now, excuse me while I go find the best price for conditioner.

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty