Thursday, February 3, 2011

Our Grocery Experiment

As many of you know, Jon and I are on a pretty tight budget. In December, we began paying back Jon's student loans. As a result we need to be very careful with how we spend of money. God has provided for us each month and for that we are very thankful! However, we are trying to see if there are any areas that we can cut back so that we will have enough money to make our monthly payments each month.

This month we are conducting an experiment to see if we can spend less money on groceries. Usually we go to the store about once a week. I am still following the Weight Watchers plan, so I try to eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. That normally means that I buy enough to last us a week or a little more. However, I have been wondering if this is the smartest way to go shopping.

For the month of February, Jon and I are conducting an experiment. As a wife and woman on Weight Watchers I feel it is my responsibility to plan out our meals. So, I made a menu for us for the entire month of February. I am talking breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

I wrote everything out on a calendar that I found for free at Tip Junkie. Then I taped this list to our fridge.

I wrote out a meal list as well, so that if we need to be flexible with our meals we can be.

After making my list, I researched each recipe to find out what ingredients I already had and what I needed to buy from the store. I made a shopping list of everything that we would need for the entire month. I knew that fresh produce would not last four weeks, so I made two more lists of fruits and veggies. The first list we purchased last night at the store and the second list we will use for a very small trip to the store in about two weeks.

I also did some research to find out how much canned and frozen fruits and veggies would cost. I thought, maybe we can start buying more of that to tide us over until the next time I go to the store for fresh produce. We will see how it works out, like I said it is an experiment.

I think that we will be able to save money this month only if we are able to stick to the menu. It took a lot of time to plan everything out, but if it will save us money then I think it is worth my time. What do you think? We will save money this month? How do you plan your meals each month? I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and feedback.

For those of you who would like to know what Jon and I will be eating the entire month of February, I have made a complete list below.

February Meal List
Meatloaf Muffins
Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
Seven Layer Dip
Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
Steak & Potatoes with onion
French Toast
Bajito Chicken
Easy Beef Enchiladas
Chicken & Rice
Taco Junk
Skinny Sloppy Joes

Weight Watchers Strawberry Pie
Chocolate Chip Cookies


-J.Darling said...

When I was married (way back in 2001-2005) we never spent more than $30/week on food. We didn't use meal planning, but we went the opposite route.

We started shopping at several close stores and buying what was healthful and ON SALE. This ment if Chicken was on sale, we had chicken that week. The next week, usually something else would go on sale and we'd move on to that. I also lost 30 lbs during this period by eating healthy and working out - so the strategy worked.

We RARELY bought canned (too much sodium). We almost ALWAYS bought fresh.

We didn't buy many prepackaged foods either. Most of the things we ate we made from scratch (we didn't have a microwave).

Now, to account for inflation, I RARELY spend more then $25/week on food, and I always by fresh and on sale. There are very few things I'll treat myself too that are not on sale (like my favorite, locally made salsa).

What I discovered is by building my meals around what was fresh, in season, and on sale, I expanded my pallete (I'd never cooked turnips and beets before, but they are AWESOME fresh and great comfort food), learned how to prepare new foods, and saved a lot of "green"!

Good luck!

-J.Darling said...

PS. Try bringing your own grocery bags! Most stores (at least in Cali) give you $.5 back for each bag you bring/use! Those nickles add up!

Vanessa said...

I think it's great that you are willing to challenge yourself and try something new! I have been meal planning for the past 4 or 5 months now and it has definitely helped keep me more focused on what I buy at the grocery store. I used to go to the store with no idea what I was going to make for meals and bought a bunch of stuff that I didn't really need "just in case" I needed it for a meal.

To help save money, I checked prices at other stores and found that I could find things cheaper at another store. I definitely look at the sales flyers and plan my meals according to what's on sale. When products go on sale and I have a really good coupon, I stock up on that product if it is something that we use often or something that I can use to make a good meal for my family. I recently got an AMAZING deal on soy sauce and a fairly good deal on rice so we have been eating a stir fry meal once a week. :)

One other way that I have saved on groceries is to prepare mostly simple meals for my family. At least once a week I usually prepare a simple marinated chicken meal with a vegetable and a starch to go with it. There are some who would probably get bored with this or may not be able to do this if they have special diet needs, but it is working for us right now {especially since I am a busy mom with 2 boys!}

By meal planning, we have also saved on eating out. We hardly ever eat out now since I have a meal planned every night of the week {except Sunday--this is my "night off"--we either have leftovers or breakfast for dinner}.

I hope this challenge works for you! If you don't see huge results right away don't get discouraged! It took me a while to know which stores had the cheapest prices and to get my coupons organized and in sync with the sales. The extra effort is definitely worth it...just a couple of weeks ago I was able to save over $30 in one shopping trip on groceries and household items just by using coupons and finding the best prices!

mrsmarkdave said...

I'm very anxious to hear how this works for you.

Danielle Hawes said...

This is what I do. I plan our menu, then I look for those items in my coupons and online for coupons. I go twice a month shopping. One is a "big" trip, the second is about half the amount. It seems to work well for us! I hope it goes well for you!

Glucosamine said...

some great management by you for you meal. keep it up.


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