The month of June was a little scary because I spent almost all of my monthly budget in the first week! Yikes! Read on to see how I was still able to keep my new monthly grocery budget!
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As most of you know, I’m working through the Grocery Budget Bootcamp I started at the end of April. I’m going a lot slower than I had originally planned, so I’m very thankful it is a self-paced course!
Since I last posted about this topic I have learned quite a bit! I’ve planned out my meals for years because it is just less stressful for me to know what I’m eating that week than throwing something together at the last minute. I’m just not that creative or spontaneous. But I’ve been doing it all wrong! I was planning meals around what sounded good that I found online or in my favorite recipes list and just scratched it out in my little notebook and went shopping. I didn’t shop the pantry/freezer first to see what we already had that I could come up with by supplementing with what was on sale. Not paying any attention to prices or that I would have several expensive meals that I was making in one week rather than spreading them out through the month. Plus I didn’t really plan ahead with our schedule as much as I should’ve which would lead to some food waste after pushing meals back too many days. And sales ads have always been junk mail to me and I knew nothing about loss leaders. You know the huge pics on the front and backs of the ads? Those are usually items the store loses money on. This last week I got an 11 lb watermelon for $1.18 just paying attention to those “junk ads”.
These days for meal planning I’m still doing a combination of Tiffany’s Frugal Real Food Meal Plan and mixing in some family favorites here and there. The meal plan has a full year of meal plans, the recipes, shopping lists and even a prep ahead list to help you know what to plan for ahead. It is super nice to have it all laid out for you! The recipes are delicious and there are several we are adding to our keepers list. We really liked the Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Baja Pork Tacos, Black Bean & Mango Tostadas, Strawberry Feta Salad, Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Thai Chicken Salad just to name a few. And it really is frugal. I’m not even done with the course yet and we are still saving a lot of money just by using the meal plan!
The first week you shop your Bulk List for the month for meats, frozen veggies, staples, spices, canned goods etc plus Week 1 groceries that include produce and dairy. This was also my first month shopping at Costco after getting our membership. Well, that is how I kind of blew it right away. Haha! Even though I didn’t get anything not on my shopping list, I bought a couple pricy items that I probably shouldn’t have bought in bulk, at least not at the time. So after 3 stores in the first week, I had only $78 left for the month. Oh no! How was this going to work?!?
I was feeling a little anxious but still hopeful because we had SO MUCH food in the house. Probably the most we’ve ever had at one time. And I still had a lot of produce in the freezer that I had put up and some freezer meals to fall back on. Obviously I couldn’t do the shopping lists for the rest of the weeks of the meal plan and still make my budget that I created so I had to improvise quite a bit on the menu every week to make it happen.
When I did need to shop for items I got a little creative. Last month I was also reading a book called Stop Throwing Money Away and it had great tips to get rid of clutter by giving away things, trading things, & selling things. So I started a group for bartering and was able to barter with some friends for items that I needed. A friend of mine posted about organic strawberries at a farmer’s market for 99 cents around the same time I needed them to make a Strawberry Feta Salad. I kept a close eye on the sales ads for grocery stores loss leaders to get a few pieces of produce I needed here and there. I used less cheese in some of the recipes and I substituted water, broth, homemade coconut milk and even canned pineapple juice for recipes that called for milk. You can check out my Pineapple Breakfast Cake recipe that resulted in one of my substitutions. It was delicious!
My husband told me several times during the month of June to just go to the store if I needed/wanted to and not to stress about this new budget I set. I told him no I really want to stick with it and see if we can do it. It was nice to know that he was giving me some wiggle room though! After I made it for the 2nd month in a row on the new budget my husband told me he put $950 in savings! He told me the meals were good and he didn’t mind eating on this new meal plan because it was saving him so much money. He also without hesitation told me to buy a new food processor after my “S” blade on my old one completely fell apart one night making dinner (I almost fell apart too at that moment, that thing does so much work for me! haha). It was kind of exciting and challenging with this new game I was playing to see if I could actually make the budget. But honestly, to have my husband be so pleased about the results made it even more satisfying that I had completed my goal and not given in!
So far in July I’m doing better on the budget than last month as far as having more money to work with for the month. I feel like I still spent too much in that first week. Or it might just be because I’m used to shopping as needed every week or 2 and not stocking up for the month in the beginning. I can see I’m still going to have to shop carefully and improvise the menu a bit- but who knows what kind of creation I’ll come up with this month! Stay tuned for the next update and if you are interested in saving on groceries then join me on this Grocery Bootcamp Challenge!
And don’t forget to enter into the Instant Pot/Crockpot Decal Giveaway!! You must enter by 11:59 tonight because I am picking a winner tomorrow!!
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