$40 Grocery Budget


Yes, you read that right.  My grocery budget is $40 a week.

And yes, we do eat…and we eat healthy, delicious meals.

I don’t talk about this much, but whenever I do I sure do get loads of questions.  Because of that, I wanted to dedicate a little area designated just for that.

My $40 Grocery Budget - My tips for saving money at the grocery and how we eat for $40 each week!

The Beginning

We started our marriage very young and on a budget.  A pretty tight one. When my husband and I were married he was finishing up his Masters degree and we were living on my salary and his small stipend from his assistantship at the University he attended.  We lived on a cash budget and learned the importance of a dollar really quickly.

We didn’t have much in the way of extras, but we were so happy to be married that I don’t remember it bothering us at all.

Those times helped us build a foundation for the future.   Although I wouldn’t want to go back to living that tight, I’m SO thankful for the lessons that we learned.

We learned firsthand how to budget when there wasn’t room for error.  Daniel started his real job within a couple months of us getting married, so things changed pretty quickly for us, but we held tight to our cash budgeting so that we could save for a down payment on a house.  With simple living we were able to do that within the first 6 months of being married.  And saving just became a part of what we did.  Saving for short term things like furniture and vacations.  Saving for long term things like retirement.  Saving is SO very important.

We vowed to keep ourselves out of debt, to live on a budget, and to always live below our means no matter how much we ever have.  

What Broke Me

Then a few years ago, I found myself spending way more than I wanted to at the grocery.

One day in particular, I was checking out at the grocery store and I couldn’t believe the total…$80!…and I only had a handful of bags!  My way of shopping was to just throw things in the cart.  Snacks, produce, meat…there was no rhyme or reason to what I did.  No menu plans, no grocery lists, and no cash.

And I was tired of it.  Tired of feeling like my pantry AND pocketbook we bare.  Tired of feeling like I wasn’t managing the money the Lord had given me very well.  Tired of feeling like it was cheaper to eat out (when I knew deep down it wasn’t?!).

Driving home that day I decided that what I experienced that day would never happen again.  I felt sole responsibility since the shopping/cooking was my job.  I set out to find a way to reduce it.  I discovered couponing that very day and immediately started reaping the benefits.  Sure it took time, but my bill was shrinking and I was scoring great deals.  For me, it was WELL worth the time.

Setting the Budget

I decided that new year, after about 3 or 4 months of couponing,  that my new grocery budget would be $50 for the two of us per week.

There were some haters along the way, saying it would be impossible to eat well on $50 a week.

I set out to prove that it could be done. Do or die.

My Results

Surprisingly, I found such a love of not only couponing but finding other ways to cut back in the kitchen.  After a month or so, I lowered it to $40, because I was saving so much.  I have been on a $40 a week budget for two and a half years now, and I typically don’t spend all of that.

Just last year I was able to save over $500  from my leftover grocery money…and my average per week was just over $30. 

I’m not telling you that your budget should be the same as mine.

We all have different family sizes and situations.  You have to do what works for you.

What I am telling you is that it IS possible to save some of your hard earned money by implementing some or all of these Strategies to Savings.

4 Ways YOU can lower YOUR grocery budget?

  1. Start planning a menu before you hit the store (Check out my weekly menu posts for inspiration)
  2. Shop at Aldi or a discount grocery store
  3. Fill your freezer (Check out my guide to everything freezer cooking to get started)
  4. Set a budget and stick to it.  I recommend cash, if you only have $5 in your pocket you can’t spend $6!?)

 

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

McKala December 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Hi and thanks so much for all the wonderful tips and info, it is greatly appreciated!! I just have a question; do you have a menu plan(s) on the site someone that includes breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners for the week? I am one of those types that needs guidance every step or I fear I will end up spending too much lol! Thanks again!!

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Katie December 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Hi McKala! I post my menus every Monday, and sometimes I include a full menu. You can check out old menu plans if you want some ideas of what I do…http://www.cuttingbackkitchen.com/category/menu-plan-monday/

Normally breakfast is baked oatmeal, quiche cups (or some sort of egg), or granola bars, and some fruit. Lunch is usually salad, soup, or leftovers. Snacks are nuts, homemade hummus, veggies, or easy things to grab. All of these options are easy, frugal, and you can find the recipes on my blog!

It’s not easy to stick to a low grocery budget with rising food costs, but it’s possible if you stick to a few tips. Plan a detailed shopping list, buy what is on sale, eat produce in season, don’t get too fancy, and make things from scratch. I hope this helps :)

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Kerrissa November 16, 2013 at 1:48 am

My fiance and I are doing this and I found that $40 is actually pretty simple if you stick to the list and really plan out ahead of time. People should also start looking into Dollar Tree! It’s one of the best dollar stores…Aldi and Save A Lot are also great!

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Katie November 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Hi Kerrissa! That’s awesome that you guys are having such luck on the $40 budget…I agree that sticking to your list and PLANNING are totally the key to success!! I LOVE Dollar Tree and if it weren’t for Aldi I would have a lot harder time sticking to budget. Thanks for stopping by!!

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Deb January 19, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Hi Katie – I checked out your blog for the first time today. Question: Do you include items such as paper products and cleaners in your $40.00 budget? Thanks – I love reading ideas and testimonials for saving money.

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Katie January 20, 2014 at 12:57 am

Hi Deb! Yes, I did. At the time I was using coupons and playing drug store games so I was getting quite a bit for free. If I had to pay full price it would have been more difficult. I’ve changed my budget recently because I have to eat gluten free and the $40 was impossible for that, but I’ve been able to do that for $50. I hope that answers your question!!
Katie recently posted…Menu Plan MondayMy Profile

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Rico March 7, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Saving money at the grocery shopping is still based on making a list and stick to it. I use a list app on my phone so it is always with me (no excuses…) and automatically sync with my partner and kids (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gal.appshoppinglist)

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Penny Grace June 20, 2014 at 9:50 am

This is so encouraging. Last weekend my husband and I spent $83 at the grocery store…we had more food than usual but still not enough to justify spending nearly a $100. I’ve decided just this week that we would live modestly, especially when it comes to groceries.

I am also re-newly committed to eating whats in the freezer and pantry before I go to the store. I thin much of my grocery shopping is out of habit. It is one of my favorite activities but for the sake of my finances I must cut back.
Penny Grace recently posted…Sticky Tahini Date CookiesMy Profile

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Katie June 21, 2014 at 12:41 am

Hi Penny! Isn’t it so frustrating to spend that much at the grocery? I’ve certainly been there!! I totally agree with you that a lot of it is out of habit. If you stick to planning out your meals and using what you have you will see some savings for sure. :)

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Ashley September 16, 2014 at 4:21 pm

So glad I stumbled across this site!
My boyfriend and I spend a lot on food. We both have very busy lives and most times food is not prepared so we end up eating out :(
I’m determined to meal plan more and get into freezing meals so we can quickly warm it and even take it on the go if need be. I’m also gluten free AND dairy free..very hard to do while on a budget, but will try!!

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Katie September 16, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I’m so glad you stumbled across it too, Ashley! I hope it helps you!! When I started the blog and started sharing all of the freezer meals/budget info I wasn’t GF, but I have been for 3 years now. It definitely makes it harder and more expensive, but the principles are the same. If you have any questions about GF on a budget I would be more than happy to help you out. :)

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