Grocery Geek Presents: Squeaking In Under Budget

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This past week I’ve been trying to build the bulk of our meals from the pantry. My goals for this “Eat from the Pantry” Challenge have included spending $400 (or less) on groceries in the month of January and focusing on what we have. This is at least $200 less than I normally spend. Considering that FishBoy5 broke FishBoy9’s retainer this morning, it looks like I have a good place to put the grocery savings. The replacement cost is $245, so I have some added motivation to make this challenge a success.

Over last weekend and into the week we picked up some odds and ends. Hello! Odds and ends add up! I guess that’s another good reason I’m doing this challenge: I’m learning something about our spending. A pound of Peet’s coffee picked up during Mom’s Morning Out or a box of popsicles that Papa picks up when he takes some kids to Walmart are “hidden costs” that all add up. Keeping a little more careful track this week was eye-opening. We’d gotten lazy with our envelopes and fallen back on the debit card a little too much. Time to get back to some good habits.

While the pantry and freezer still show signs of life, the fridge was starting to look white with all the blank space. Dairy and fresh produce were the major purchases of the week. I was pleased to see a local store had oranges for 11 cents a pound and apples for 29 cents a pound. (You know I had to buy the whole box!) Grapefruits were 19 cents each at Sprouts and I had a rain check for shrimp about to expire, so those purchases were must-dos. That, plus a quick trip through Costco for milk and cheese, and I think we’re good to go for awhile.

All told our family spent $96.74 on groceries this week, bringing our 2-week total to $174.31 since Christmas. So far, so good. For the play-by-play on what we’re eating during the challenge, visit my food blog, Good and Cheap Eats.

How did you do on your grocery shopping this week? If you haven’t yet joined the challenge, it’s not too late to start.

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  1. Wow, those are amazing produce prices!! I could only dream of getting apples, oranges and grapefruits for those amazing prices!

  2. I'm with Margery, great produce prices!
    Sorry about the retainer. As a 16 year old with a drivers License, I accidentally ran my retainer over (long story, but same end result)!

  3. I agree with previous comments about the produce prices! I'd love to find sales like that around here.

    I stopped at the store on the way home yesterday to take advantage of some good sales. I have $10 left in my grocery envelope (started with $225 on 12/28; will start over on Monday) – works out to $107.50 for a family of 4/week. Cash only is one of my goals for 2010. It's still new so I'm finding it to be quite a fun game to see how much I can get for how little.

  4. You hit the nail on the head about 'hidden spending". Seeing the hidden spending has been the best part of this week. I am doing great with our meals from the pantry… but the processed food that we enjoy is starting to run low… primarily cold cereal. This challenge is going to be SO good for us and I am going back to ALL cash!!!

  5. You are killing me with these produce prices! Food is so expensive in VT, I am seriously considering a monthly trip to NY (an hour and a half one way). Even though our gas would go up $15/trip, I would save significantly more on groceries. Another mama is talking about going with me, so maybe we could alternate vehicles each month and leave most of the kiddos home with their dads.

  6. I did well. My grocery shopping has been coming in under budget all month long:-) AWESOME!!

  7. Wow! Those are some fantastic prices! I'd be making applesauce with prices like that!

    We are committed to not going to the store (doing so would mean charging food, which we won't do) since our income has been cut so much this month.

    We started out the month with 200 pounds of potatoes. We ate 50 pounds this week! Potato gnocchi, baked potatoes, homemade hash browns, mashed potatoes, oven-baked french fries, fried potatoes, and potato donuts (those were REALLY yummy!)

    We also had swiss chard from the garden, spanish rice, pomegranate-tangerine chicken (from the pomegranates and tangerines from our garden), citrus fruit salad, pears with pomegranates, chili, and tuna fish sandwiches, and homemade chocolate wafer cookies, among other things.

    So, no shopping for us! We're looking forward to next week.

  8. I'm learning a lot with this challenge, too.

    Re: produce prices, some ppl think that CA is not affordable. After having lived in Kansas City Metro for five years and moving back to So CA, I'd say the only things that are more expensive are housing, gas, and taxes. And salaries! Hubs makes more here than he would in the Mid-West. I've found that I can get as good or better grocery deals here. It just takes a little know-how.

  9. We have a Sprouts opening soon about 2 miles from us. I'm looking forward to snagging some good produce deals during their grand opening. In the meantime, I'll live vicariously through your produce purchases.

    I totally agree with the commenter that said it was time to make applesauce. I love homemade, but haven't seen any apple deals recently that would make it worthwhile!

  10. I am, as usual, so jealous of your cheap produce! A good deal on apples is $.89/lb, but only in the fall. Oranges rarely get lower than $1.29/lb. I was just at Super Target today and their grapefruit were $1.50 a piece! I did not buy those. Your produce is probably much better quality than what we get in Minnesota in the winter too! Tomatoes are not even worth buying because they have no taste and are very mealy. Sometimes they look more pink than red. They are what I call "winter tomatoes". Yuck! We have such high costs because we have to ship everything in from warm places 🙁 Enjoy it all for me 🙂

  11. Ask your orthodontist if the can reuse the materials for the retainer. If they can, it'll reduce your cost a lot. (I got in trouble for throwing a broken one away years ago – apparently it would have saved $100!!!)

  12. Way to go on the produce prices! I should say way to go on choosing the right part of the world to live in!

    We haven't been to the store yet this month, so we're well within our $250 this month for the eight of us. We usually spend about $750 a month on groceries, but I buy paper products and diapers and such in that mix sometimes.

    We too suddenly had a place to put the grocery savings. 🙁 At least the money is there! 🙂 God does provide!

    Thank you for this challenge. I have a lot of friends who have joined in on the fun.

  13. We’re doing pretty good with this challenge and will still be able to carry a good portion of it into February, I think. One thing I’ve found that is kind of a mixed blessing, though — now I have no excuse not to do a deep, thorough cleaning of the frig! lol