Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Ah yes, the almighty dollar. We are constantly bombarded with various posts and articles about how to save money, what to do to build our retirement fund, and how much debt various age groups are in.
My husband and I both make good money doing work we enjoy. I’m not finished with school yet, so when that day finally comes, I’ll be able to make even more money than I do now. You know, to pay off those student loans. insert disenchanted sigh here.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Regardless of how well we might be paid, we still have the ever-looming debt at this stage in our lives. We do what we can to save money, though. I recently made him go through all of our bills and write them down, along with their due dates. I also requested the amount of anything we owe (credit cards, house, cars, etc.), and then our income (we’re both paid bi-weekly, on the same days). My plan is to go through, see where we can put more money to pay something down sooner rather than later, and other ways we can save. Kalen is the saver, and I am, hands-down the spender.
So, since I’ve seen our debt/bills, my efforts to save have been a little been more intensified. It’s not terrible, and we’re not drowning like I know some people are (I’m not judging – full disclosure, I had to file bankruptcy 7 years ago due to medical bills and working for some very stingy lawyers), but I would like to also have more money to allocate for home improvement (fenced in yard, larger deck, refinish the basement, redo the flooring, new counter tops, new stove and dishwasher…you get the idea), and we both have a list of destinations we’d love to travel to (crossing Germany off that list soon though!).
Plus, does anyone complain about having extra money lying around? I don’t think so.
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
So what are we doing to save? Well, we’ll be working out a budget soon (most likely that will wait until we’re back from Germany). We already meal plan, but we’re going to be stricter with it, because we’re also easily tempted by invitations out, or swayed by delicious looking images we see on Instagram (you know you want to follow me…haha).
Enter the Grocery Budget!
I’ve already talked about how we eat the same breakfast Monday through Friday (for him, 2 hard boiled eggs and a banana, and for me it’s 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 kiwi, and another fruit, depending on what is on sale that week), so that stays the same.
Our lunches were previously leftovers from the dinner we’d have the night before. However, I also really love to freeze leftovers when we can (like anything pasta/soup/casserole related), and that’s hard to do when we are taking leftovers for lunch. I also decided that it will be cheaper to buy some lunch meat, bread, and cheese and take sandwiches rather than making say…4 pork chops for dinner so that we have lunch. Those other 2 pork chops can be another dinner for us. We have a large stash of meat in our freezers, and I’d like to keep it that way to keep grocery costs down.
So I have been making a list of what we tend to buy each week (this is rough still):
Eggs (min. 2 dozen)-they are all hard boiled for our weekday breakfasts, and we do usually have eggs on the weekends too.
Milk (2x per month)- I don’t drink milk, only Kalen does
Bananas (1 bunch weekly)
Apples (4x per month)
Lettuce (1-2 packs per week)
Zucchini (1-2 packs per week)
Asparagus (1 per week)
Peppers (2x per month)
Cucumbers (2-3x per month)
Tomatoes (2x per month)
Cheez Its (1-2 boxes per month)
Pretzels (1-2 bags per month)
Rye chips (2-4 bags per month)
The Cheez Its, pretzels, and rye chips are for a snack mix I make, and each “recipe” will yield me 2 weeks of snacks for work. I can alter the ingredients though, so I may do that next time.
Cheddar cheese block (4-6 per month)
Mozzarella cheese block (4 per month)
Shredded sharp cheddar (big bag – 1 every other month)
Shredded medium cheddar (big bag – 1 every other month)
Ham from Costco (2 packs – 2 months)
Turkey from Aldi (1 pack per month)
Coffee creamer (1 per month maximum)-I’m the one who uses it, Monday through Friday, and only 2 tablespoons per 20 ounce cup. It’s almond creamer though, so it’s not necessarily the cheapest option.
Bread (3-4 loaves per month)- made or purchased.
Butter (1-2 packs per month)
Bacon (lower sodium is 1-2 packs per month; cheap stuff depends on recipes)-We buy bacon from Costco, for breakfasts. If a recipe calls for bacon, we’ll buy a cheap package from the store – I am NOT using my good bacon to crumble up on some chicken! haha.
Sandwich cheese (1 pack per week)
Cream cheese (1 block per week)
Heavy cream (1 per week)
Sour cream (1-2 per month)
Shredded taco cheese (1 per month)
Coffee (2 bags per month from Aldi) (1 bag per month from Costco)- I use the Costco coffee for my cold brew coffee because we grind it.
Salad dressing (1 bottle per month)
Peanuts (1 per month)- these are the extra large peanuts from Costco, and Kalen takes a little container to work daily.
Breakfast sausage (1 per week)-If that. We buy them and tend to slice them in half.
Kefir (5 per month)-This is for me and I am going to try to stop it to see if it truly does make a difference in my stomach issues.
Kiwi (2 boxes per month)
Clementines/strawberries/blackberries (enough for 5 days per week)
Fresh green beans (1-2 bags per week)
Carrots (10lb bag from Costco 1 bag every two months)
Green tea (1 per month)
Klar Brun (1 case every 6 weeks)
Ice Mountain (1 per month)
English muffins (2 per month)- if that.
We shop from a grocery list (this was our list for 4/27 and for meals from 4/30-5/9):
vacuum seal bags x2
woven totes x2
6pk solar lights
romaine 3pk 2.99 @ SVT
bananas 0.39/lb @ SVT
Nathan’s beef hot dogs 3.99 @ SVT
sharp cheddar block x3
extra sharp cheddar block
We went to two stores last night: Aldi and SVT (a local grocery store). We spent $20.04 @ SVT (but we rounded up for St. Jude’s so it was $21 even), and $97.59 at Aldi. Yes, there is only two of us. No, that was not all grocery related. Our actual amount spent on groceries was $58.85. Some of what we bought will be stashed in the freezer. Some of what we bought were specialty items that we will use over time. If you are familiar with Aldi, you will know about the Aldi finds. Those were $58.78 with tax of what we spent.
Thai fish sauce=$2.89
chicken thighs (11.11 lbs in two packages @ 0.88/lb)=$9.78 (these will be frozen for future meals)
Nathan’s jumbo beef hot dogs (8 pack)=$3.99
fresh parsley, 1 bunch=0.79
bananas (2.79 lbs @ 0.39/lb)=$1.09
donuts (2 @ 0.75 each)=$1.50 (we had these for “dessert”)
Aldi groceries ($38.81):
jasmine rice=$4.39 (I don’t remember the bag size, but it’s probably about 2-3 lbs)
zucchini (2 @ $1.19 each)=$2.38
cottage cheese, 16 oz.=$2.29
extra sharp cheddar block=$1.99
sharp cheddar block (3 @ $1.99 each)=$5.97
romaine hearts (3 pack @ $1.99 each x2)=$3.98
cinnamon apple straws=$2.19 (Healthy? No. Better than cookies? Yes.)
6 pack of raisins (2 @ 0.97 each)=$1.94 (they did not have any big containers, so I had to get these)
asparagus, 1 lb.=$1.99 (the week before SVT head these for $0.99/lb and I wish I had gotten more)
mini sweet peppers=$2.49
Aldi Finds ($54.93 before tax/$58.78 with tax):
6 pack of solar lights=$8.99
3 pack of large vacuum bags (2 @ $6.99 each)=$13.98
garment rack-$9.99 (to hang our winter coats on in the basement)
4 pack over the door hooks=$3.99 (for guest room and office doors)
2 pack grill and bake mats=$4.99 (I wanted to try these out for veggies, but we may end up using it for pizzas and getting a basket for veggies)
wicker hose pot=$12.99 (our siding is cement/concrete (I never remember) and we did buy a hanging hose holder but we’d have to get special things to hang it, and this looks prettier)
All in all, I don’t think we did too terrible. All the produce will be eaten, the meat will be frozen, the mustards will be used on sandwiches, the cheese is for recipes, the rice will last beyond the recipes we need it for, the ranch will last, as will the canola oil and raisins (they’re for oatmeal), and the cinnamon apple straws won’t be around long haha.
And in an effort to ensure that last week’s produce doesn’t go bad, I’ve prepped that!
Kalen will peel and slice the kiwi (I hack off my finger tips), the strawberries are cut and stored in Pyrex, the mini peppers have the tops cut off, the cucumber is peeled, and sliced, the celery is sliced, and there is a buttermilk ranch dip in the big round Pyrex (I love Aldi’s ranch packets). There’s also a pretty picture of our cheese collection hahaha!!! We snack on a lot of cheese.
And because this is already a long post, let’s just go over our meal plan! As you know, if you’ve been here before, this is only our dinners. We don’t plan breakfasts and lunches.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash & Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash
April 30th: Bacon ranch chicken with homemade mac and cheese, and carrots
May 1st: Simple lasagna casserole with a salad and side of keto garlic bread
May 2nd: Thai turkey meatloaf with some veggie fried rice (I’ll be tossing stuff in to use up before we leave so it doesn’t go bad or get tossed)
May 3rd: Baked buttermilk chicken, zucchini, brown rice (might end up having the fried rice if there’s enough leftover)
May 4th: Dinner with family
May 5th: Greek chicken (we’ll grill it if it is nice out), yellow jasmine rice, and zucchini on the grill (again, if we grill)
May 6th: We’ll either pull something out of the freezer (I recently took inventory) or do a quick marinade to grill something. Sides will depend on what we’re having.
May 7th: Chili cheese beef and mac, and asparagus
May 8th: Queso chicken, yellow rice (Vigo brand), asparagus
May 9th: Freezer meal – most likely some frozen pasta bake thing.
The missing days from between the last post and this one are because we pretty much only ate out while the in-laws were here haha. Which was delicious, but my stomach is very grateful to be eating home cooked food again!!!
Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into how we’ll be adjusting things to save money, which will show on what I post here. I’m pretty open about money, so I won’t shy away from sharing our progress or setbacks (if we have any). And I’ll be trying to make more frugal meals, but our groceries will still be higher than some who are strict at budgeting because we’re not going to budge on fresh produce, cheese, eggs, or meat.
Tell me, do you follow a grocery budget? If so, how much do you spend per week/month and for how many? I’d love to hear!