Today was D-Day. I spent hours making my shopping list and menu plan yesterday, now today was finally the day to shop and see how well I can stick to a budget when the pressure’s on.
Surprisingly enough I was able to stick to my list which helped me (almost) stick to my $60 budget for 10 days. Let me break it down…
I set our monthly food budget to $187 per month, which is $62.30 for each 10-day shopping trip. In preparation, I made a menu yesterday and based my shopping list strictly off of my menu (plus a few other necessities).
When I was making the menu, I tried to have a few items that would serve a dual purpose. For example, one night we’ll have Hawaiian barbecue sandwiches and a few nights later we’ll have barbecue chicken pizza using the same chicken. You’ll also see that about half of the planned meals are vegetarian, which definitely gave me some cushion on my shopping list.
Here’s the peek at the shopping list. To my own surprise, it actually seemed smaller than the lists I normally take to the store (who would’ve guessed?). I don’t know if any of you do this, but I break my shopping list down by categories. I used to do the one-big-list thing, but I found it made my trips longer and I often forgot to get things on my list because things would get “buried.” When I break it down into categories like fruits and veggies, meat, dairy, and dry ingredients it makes my trips faster and I don’t forget anything. Part of that is also because I started carrying a highlighter with me to mark things off as I go (you don’t even realize how helpful it is until you do it).
When I made the list, I was also checking the sales at the major stores where I shop (i.e. Food Depot, Publix, and Kroger) to find the best deals and form my plan of attack. Based on what I needed, I made a list of the best sales on the back of my shopping list so I could quickly access it while I’m in the store.
On my shopping days, the first place I always go to is my local farmer’s market, the Cobb International Farmers Market. I find, more often than not, that the farmer’s market has prices way below Kroger or Publix’s lowest prices on their meat and produce. Just by hitting this market first I’m saving about half of what I’d spend elsewhere on the same things.
And now…the final tally!
I had originally set my budget for the farmer’s market at $40, and I ended up spending $45.59 (not too bad!). And depending on what I spent at the farmer’s market that would determine my budget for the next store, which ended up being Kroger. I set my budget to $20 at Kroger, and I ended up spending $24.97 which did put me over my $60 budget by $10.56 (that is not bad for my first time on this strict budget stuff!). In addition to the money I spent, I also spent about 3 hours preparing my lists for the trip (don’t laugh, I like to take my time) and about 2 hours shopping (now you see why I broke it into 2 days, otherwise it’d be a WHOLE day – gone).
And after all the time and money has been spent, I feel REALLY excited about doing more home cooking! I probably even got a little overzealous in the kitchen today making sauces, dinner, and cookies (I’ll be sharing the recipes tomorrow ^_^).