One woman's adventures in cooking for her Dutch-American family.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cut the Grocery Bill Challenge

Many moons ago, before my TBI, I followed Dave Ramsey's financial baby steps, and I'm so grateful I did. Before my accident, I was on step 3, building up an emergency fund of 6 months. I was already debt free except my house. Even though I still ended up losing everything, not having any other debt and some money in my account helped me make it a good while.

It's taken awhile to get back on my financial feet, and that's why I've been reading a lot of books on frugal living. It's not that I don't want to have fun or spend money, it's just that I want to be mindful on what I spend, so I can use our money for the things that are really important to us.

I've also been reading about healthy eating, so it's been interesting reading from two trains of thought. I could probably cut our grocery bill in half if I wanted to eat processed foods and meals in a box or bag, but quality food is important to me too and really, now that I have a fully stocked pantry and freezer, I can make most anything I want without having to spend much money at all.

I mentioned before that the average American family of four spends $771/month in groceries. Our family of 2 and a toddler spends about $500 a month, including diapers and household items. I think we can do better.

Last week, we didn't do any grocery shopping, other than 3 gallons of milk, for my son, since he doesn't get to vote in the family financial discussions yet. We spent $6. And we had more than enough good food for the week. Even more if we needed it. So we will continue our new tradition of shopping out of the pantry for the first week of the month. I think it will save us money and force us to be creative.

One of the discussions I frequently see on blogs that discussion average monthly grocery spending is whether or not the average amount includes household items or just food. I've been too lazy to separate them out, but I'd like to try to hone it on that for awhile.

So here are the rules for our new Cut the Grocery Bill Challenge.
  1. Our goal is $100/week ($400/month) for groceries only. We'll move on to household goods another time.
  2. We will start using cash to pay for groceries. It will be a little awkward, but we'll pay for the food items first, with cash, then any other items with our debit card.
  3. At the beginning of the month we'll take the full $400 a month out of our bank account, in order to take advantage of any surprise deals on our staple items.
  4. When the money is gone, we stop spending. This means that if we do find some great deal and spend ahead, we need to make sure to reserve money for our son's milk.
  5. Whatever money we have left at the end of the month gets deposited into our savings account.
Here's where we are so far:
Week 1: spent $6.02 $393.98 remaining
Week 2: spent $151.30 $242.68 remaining
What kind of grocery challenges have you done?

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