Thursday, September 22, 2011

$50/week groceries - lessons learned

It's been about 6 weeks since I started REALLY  keeping myself to a budget of $50/week.  It's been super helpful for me to post this journey as built-in accountability and to be able to visually see what I'm learning!  I wanted to share 5 lessons I've learned that can help with any budget!

1)  Shop at home FIRST!  Every Monday while Kinley's down for her nap, I spend a good amount of time going through my freezer, fridge, and pantry to see what I've got on hand.  From there, I build my plan for meals for the week and ONLY buy what I need when I go to the store.  NO SPLURGING!

Now if my fridge actually looked like this, it would be a 'nuther ballgame, but one can dream...

2)  Freeze leftover ingredients: I should have been doing this long before now, because I've found that I can save a LOT just by keeping my leftover ingredients.  I've frozen leftover shredded cheese, tortillas, bread, celery, meat, bell peppers, strawberries, and of course, entire meals!  This week alone, I made beef enchiladas & the corn/black bean salsa using these recipes I posted a few weeks ago and all I had to buy at the store was a $0.99 can of enchilada sauce!  I found a GREAT blog post about what all things can be frozen...check it out here!

3)  Learn your go-to ingredients:  For me, I've realized that I'm buying Cheerios, salsa and coffee just about every week.  So now I'm on the hunt to find how I can buy these items for a cheaper per-unit price.  Keeping spreadsheets or lists of the per-unit price will also help in finding the best per-unit price!

4)  Buy what's in season:  This helps specifically with produce.  You'll save a TON by just avoiding the produce traps!  Strawberries in January, butternut Squash in July...DON'T buy out of season, you'll pay an arm and a leg for it!...(and just because something says SALE!  Or LOW PRICE doesn't mean it's actually so!).  Want to know what's in season, check out this interactive chart

5)  Coupon-&-Ad Shop Wisely:  I know couponing works miracles for some people, but I haven't found it to be so for me.  Maybe because I buy off-brands that are cheaper than the "name brand + coupon" price.  What I have found that works great it to take the weekly circulars from the stores near me and compare what their advertized prices are.

A couple more tips here:
  • Shop Wednesdays!  Wednesday are a great day to shop using ads since most stores re-do their ads on that day and will honor last week and this week's ads! 
  • Shop Walmart!  Walmart honors other store's coupons and advertized prices.  So sometimes I'll find all the best deals and then go to Walmart to get them all in one place.  My store recently updated their grocery section and the produce is actually pretty good! 
  • Don't buy just because it's cheap!  Confession...I've fallen into this trap several times in the last 6 weeks.  My "cheap but worthless" purchases included celery (I actually HATE celery!) & grape tomatoes (LOVE but didn't use enough to make it worth the purchase).  You have to know yourself - if you can make the purchase useful, get it; otherwise don't be enticed by the price!

With all that said, I'm going to take a hiatus from posting my weekly meal plans/ grocery bills.  I recognize I can't keep up with the pace I set for myself and Satan would LOVE for me to feel guilty over something that doesn't really matter!  God doesn't desire for me to place all these extra agendas on myself ESPECIALLY when they take away from my time with Him.  My aspire to first be a healthy child of God (which requires time and stillness), a good mom (time and attention to my baby), and a good wife (time and attention to the hubs!).

I do believe learning to be a wise steward of our finances in the area of grocery shopping has been a gift from God and a journey He's wanted me to be one!  But I also recognize in myself the desire to have  people's approval, and that bleeds into my desires for this little blog.  I find myself too concerned if I have a comment, and really caring how many hits there are on my blog.  yuck...I hate having to admit that!

Oh I long for the day when I get to be in heaven and truly have PURE motives in all things!  Anyone with me?!

I'll keep posting cheap recipes and great deals I find, but I want to keep a balance that's healthy! 


  1. I love the helpful hints, the honest comments, the beautiful photos,
    and I too long for the day when my motives are truly pure in all can be a goal achieved only in heaven....