Tag Archives: groceries

Menu Plan: 7/11-7/17

We had a great time at the concert on Saturday, and we didn’t spend any money aside from a half tank of gas round trip. Now I’m up and ready for work, and it’s pouring down rain outside. I wish I could just go back to bed!

Our total at the grocery store was $58. We weren’t able to hang on to any cash this week, but I’m still counting it asĀ  victory because we stayed within budget.

Here’s our menu for the week:

Saturday: Bean burritos
Sunday: Broccoli cheddar soup
Monday: Oven roasted chicken breasts with corn on the cob & steamed veggies
Tuesday: Fajita chicken Mexican skillet
Wednesday: Chef’s salad
Thursday: Chicken quesadillas
Friday: Chicken Caesar wraps and edamame

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday! Hope it’s dry where you are.

Healthy eating is frugal eating

Photo by nataliemaynor
Photo by nataliemaynor

One of the biggest myths I hear when it comes to dieting and healthy eating is that it’s too expensive to sustain on a frugal budget. This absolutely isn’t the case. In fact, many of the eating habits that are good for your body are also good for your budget.

Despite being on a limited cash budget, I’ve lost 7 pounds this summer using these frugal, healthy habits.

Eat at home.

It’s a no-brainer, but honestly, the best thing you can do for your health and your bank account is stop going out to eat.

Shop smart for whole foods.

One of the biggest reasons I’m not a big couponer is that we don’t buy processed foods, and coupons aren’t available for things like produce and fresh meat. While we could get processed items for next to nothing with coupons, I compare nutritional value. You’ll get more nutritional bang for your buck by shopping for fresh produce and meats.

So how do you cut costs on whole foods without coupons? Shop in season and shop on sale. Fresh fruits and vegetables can get quite pricey, but each week there’s something on special. Plan your meals around these items to maximize your grocery dollars without eating unhealthy processed foods.

Plan your meals and avoid mindless snacking.

Those snack foods will kill your budget and your waist line! When you’re finished with your menu, take a serious look at your grocery list. Eliminate anything that won’t be used for a meal.

Snacks aren’t off limits, they just have to be planned like meals. I buy fruits that are on sale or sometimes cheese if the price is right to eat in a small portion and keep my metabolism up. But the important thing is these snacks are part of my menu plan, and I buy only what I need for the week. Throwing snack foods into the cart because they look good and snacking throughout the day without thinking about it is a good way to pile on dollars and extra calories.

Buy only what you need.

If you’re throwing away a lot of food at the end of the week, you’re not only spending too much, you’re also giving yourself too many options. One of the biggest mistakes I made is buying a huge variety of foods to allow myself a lot of options. However, studies show that when people are presented with lots of options, they tend to eat more. Eliminate the temptation and the waste by making a menu plan and sticking to it.

Eat less.

Two years ago when I lost 40 pounds, the first big realization I made was just how many extra calories I was consuming each day. The truth is, a lot of people are eating much more than is necessary to stay healthy and fuel their bodies. You may have to spend more on whole foods, but if you’re not snacking on processed foods in between and you’re eating the right amount at meals, it will even out.

Menu plan: 7/4 – 7/10

What a fabulous, relaxing holiday weekend! We used our entertainment budget to catch the new Johnny Depp movie, “Public Enemies” on Friday. Then we spent the rest of the weekend barbecuing and relaxing with friends.

It was also a great week at the grocery store. We kept it simple, and ended the week with money in our pockets for the first time in several weeks. $15 to be exact!

Here’s our $50 menu for the week:

Sunday: Tomato basil chicken with side salad
Monday: BBQ pork and corn on the cob
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Pork tacos
Thursday: BLT salad
Friday: Bean burritos

For more menu plans visit Organization Junkie. Have a great Monday!

Menu Plan: 6/26-7/3

I’m ready for a short week after a fantastic, relaxing weekend!

It was a great weekend budget-wise. We only have $3 cash in our pockets today, but we’re getting better at appropriating our cash for the week. After finishing our grocery list and doing price estimates based on past costs, we determined that we were coming in about $10 over budget for groceries. We made some cuts to bring it down to our $60 budget.

I bought contact solution for $3 and a Nylabone for the dog for $10 (pricey, but it’ll last him a while and it keeps him occupied!) We also used our entertainment fund to splurge on a 6-pack of summer ale and some ice cream. :)

Chicken still hasn’t gone on sale! It’s been over a month since we stocked up! We bought just enough for the week at $2.99 a pound, but I’m waiting until it falls below $2 a pound to stock up. Buying meat every week is killing our budget!

This week was our last cash-only weekend for our first month of cash budgeting. Expect a round up of the month’s successes and failures on Wednesday. For now, I’ll definitely say it’s getting easier to stay within budget, but it’s getting harder to keep ourselves motivated.

Here’s our $60 healthy menu plan for the week:

Saturday: Roasted chicken and corn on the cob
Sunday: Mexican chicken skillet with refried beans
Monday: Chef’s salad
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Chicken and broccoli stir fry
Thursday: Tomato-basil baked chicken with side salad
Friday: Chicken Caesar wraps

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday! I hope you all enjoy the short week!

Menu Plan: 6/20-6/26

This week was really rough for us. Our chicken stockpile has finally run out, but we haven’t seen any good sales on chicken breasts for the past several weeks. We’re still waiting, but that means we’ve been spending a little extra money every week buying meats that are on sale.

We also ran out of several staples this week, so we had to stock up on some things. We ended up spending $75 on groceries (yikes!) and $14 on household items like toilet paper and a prescription.

We’d just barely purchased all of the items we needed this week — we even reduced our purchases to make sure we’d stay within our cash budget. Then we remembered we’d forgotten to pick up lettuce, a necessity for me because most days I bring salad to work for lunch. We ended up breaking down and charging the $4 package of 6 heads of romaine on our debit card. :(

We’ll try to reduce our spending next week by $4 to make up the difference, but if we don’t do it, I’m still not beating myself up over it. The whole point of this experiment was to reduce our spending as much as possible. Even if we make mistakes sometimes and overspend, we’re still better off than we would have been without living on a cash budget. So no biggie, right? :)

Here’s our menu plan for the week:

Saturday: Chicken kebabs with roasted corn on the cob
Sunday: French onion soup
Monday: Carne asada steak with pinto beans and rice
Tuesday: Taco salad
Wednesday: Broccoli cheddar soup
Thursday: BLT salad
Friday: Eggs and bacon

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Have a great week!

New to frugality? What to do first

Frugality is overwhelming in the beginning. I remember reading blogs from frugal veterans who made it sound easy, but I was terrified. Cutting groceries down to $35 a week, zero-based budgeting, coupon clipping, drug storing? It may have been easy for them, but I didn’t know where to begin.

Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that frugality is a major life change. It’s not going to happen overnight. The best way to get started is to jump in, and don’t try to change your life too drastically in the beginning. Frugality is a gradual change, one that you’ll hopefully be able to maintain long term. It’s okay to start with baby steps.

Here’s how to get started:

Figure out where your money is going.

Before you can cut expenses or create a budget, you need to know what you’re spending and where. Link your bank accounts to Mint.com, and spend normally for a couple weeks. This step was incredibly eye-opening for us in the beginning, and we immediately saw some areas where we could easily cut back.

Create a budget.

Next it’s time to face the dreaded b-word. Don’t be scared, though. Budgeting is actually empowering, especially in the beginning. Don’t try to deprive yourself or make drastic changes at first. Just create a zero-based budget to ensure that you’re not spending more than your income. I use Mint.com to set limits on our spending, and then I track it in real time. Every dollar has a purpose, and anything left over goes to savings or debt. You can always reduce your expenses later. The most important thing in the beginning is getting used to tracking and following your budget.

Open a savings account.

Even if you’re deep in debt and struggling to make ends meet, find a way to start saving something. You can always increase the amount later. What’s important now is establishing the habit. Even if all you can spare is $25 or $50 a month, open an ING savings account separate from your checking and start putting a little money away.

Learn to entertain yourself without spending money.

The first step to having fun without spending money is learning to love your library. If you don’t have a library card yet, go get one right now and start borrowing books and movies for free. Check out a cookbook first. If you’re like my husband and me, eating out is probably one of your favorite date night activities. Learn to have fun cooking for yourselves, and you’ll drastically cut your food budget.

Create menu plans & grocery lists.

When you first start cooking at home, it’s tempting to go overboard at the grocery store. You don’t have to cut your grocery spending to $35 a week to make the most of your shopping trips, though. Find a menu planning strategy that works for you, plan your meals with the grocery ads in front of you, and start buying meats and staples in bulk. You’ll cut your grocery expenses without affecting the quality of food you eat.

It’s okay if you makes some frugal mistakes in the beginning. Learn at your own pace. As you master these basic frugal habits, you’ll gradually find yourself learning new ways to save even more money. It’s an ongoing process for everyone, even the frugal masters.

As long as you’re committed to saving money and reducing debt little by little, your life will continue to improve. Remember, frugality is about improving your quality of life, not just cutting your expenses.

Menu Plan: 6/13-6/19

This was a very expensive week at the grocery store. Our chicken stockpile ran out, and chicken breasts weren’t on sale at either of our grocery stores. So we opted to buy a whole chicken, which was on sale for $1 a pound. We’ll use the leftover chicken for two meals and make a nice chicken stock out of the leftovers. We freeze the chicken stock in 1 quart containers to use in soups.

Our total would have been $70 (whoops), but we used some loyalty points to take $5 off our order. So in the end, we were $5 over our grocery budget for the week. We spent about $10 on household expenses (toilet paper, shaving cream, etc.)

We decided to stay in and save our entertainment money to make up for our expensive grocery trip. Friday night we played Scrabble, and Saturday we watched a movie that we got through our Netflix account.

We ended the week with $27 in our pockets. Not too bad. :)

Here’s our menu plan:

Saturday: Grilled haddock with rice pilaf
Sunday: Roasted chicken with roasted corn
Monday: Chicken quesadillas and refried beans
Tuesday: Bean and cheese burritos
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Chef’s salad
Friday: Chicken kabobs with succotash

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Menu plan & no spend weekend recap 6/6 – 6/12

Another successful no spend weekend! We ended the weekend with $30 in cash. We went $5 over our grocery budget, but we decided to stay in Saturday instead of spending our entertainment money. We also made a few household purchases. We still haven’t used our debit cards! :)

Yesterday I cashed two rebate checks and used the money to get a much-needed haircut. The rebate money may have been been better used as extra savings, but I’m counting it as a victory that I was able to get a haircut without affecting our normal monthly budget.

And now on to our menu plan for the week:

Saturday: Roasted chicken breast with salad
Sunday: Minestrone soup
Monday: BLT salad
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Chicken Greek salad
Thursday: Vegetarian chili
Friday: Chicken Caesar wraps

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Hope your week is off to a fabulous start!

Easy ways to cut your grocery spending

grocery-shoppingIt was less than a year ago that I was frustrated with our $85-$100 a week grocery spending. I didn’t feel like we were being extravagant, and yet we couldn’t seem to cut our spending. Looking back, I realize that we were making a lot of mistakes. By making a few simple changes, we’ve cut our spending by $30-$40 a week without feeling deprived. That’s a savings of over $100 a month!

These tips may not apply to you if you’re already living frugally. But if you’re just getting started or you’re struggling to cut high grocery costs, this may be a good place to start.

Plan your meals around the sales.

Every week, we look at the grocery ads for both of the stores in our area. You can do this online at MyGroceryDeals.com. After looking at all of the sales, we plan meals based on what’s on special that week, or we plan to stock up on staples that are on sale to save money in later weeks. Make a list, and stick to it! Impulse purchases are almost always unnecessary.

Stockpile when staple items are on sale.

We cook a lot of chicken-based meals. One of the first things I realized when we started cutting grocery spending is that buying just enough chicken for the week was eating up our budget. If we needed three chicken breasts for the week, we’d pay as much as $4 a pound just to buy what we needed. Now that I stockpile, I’ve realized that chicken breasts go on sale for $1.99 a pound once a month. When that happens, we stock up with 12 or 15 chicken breasts, freeze them in serving sizes, and use it throughout the month. You can do this with other meats as well as non-perishable or freezable staples.

Avoid snacks and other extras.

When I took a good look at our grocery spending last year, I realized that a lot of what we were buying wasn’t for meals. It was extra stuff that may have been on sale or just looked good that we were throwing into the cart. Cutting out these extra purchases will cut your spending and make it easier to avoid snacking at home. In the beginning we cut out everything that wasn’t part of a meal just to get used to the concept of buying only for meals. Now we’ve been able to work healthy snacks back into our grocery trips by shopping the sales and limiting ourselves.

Drink water or iced tea instead of soda.

Seriously. I still struggle with this one because I enjoy drinking a diet soda with dinner, but you can cut your grocery spending by $12-$20 a month just by cutting out soda and packaged beverages.

Clip coupons.

I’ll be honest. I’m terrible at clipping coupons, and this has not been part of my grocery saving strategy. But if you find you have a knack for coupon clipping, you can save a ton by matching coupons with in-store deals. We typically don’t purchase packaged foods, so I’ve found that coupons aren’t very useful for us for groceries.

Add a “leftovers night” to your meal plan.

You can easily cut about $10 a week from your grocery cost by planning for six meals instead of seven. This is also a good way to clear out your refrigerator and avoid wasting leftover food.

Our $50-$60 a week grocery budget is considered pretty high for two people in the frugal world. Many frugal families of four are able to eat well for $30-$40 a week. But we consider groceries to be one of our few luxuries because we love to cook and eat.

What about you? How do you keep your grocery costs down?

Photo by B tal