Just recently it’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t been very clear on how I spend our grocery money every week. As most of my readers know, John lost his job right before Easter and we cut our grocery budget in half, from $60 a week down to $30 a week for a family of 3. So far it’s been going well, although I’ve had some questions as to whether I’m really spending only $30 a week on groceries. I want to clear up some things, to help you understand what exactly happens when I plan my list, do my shopping, and everything inbetween.
I always make sure my pantry is stocked.
If you read my post on how to meal plan, one thing I do every week is figure out what I can make from my pantry. This saves us money every week, as I can “shop” from my pantry and at least make a couple dinners. In addition to shopping in my pantry, I also look at the grocery ads to see what I can stock up on at rock-bottom price. When I do this, I’m in a constant cycle of filling my pantry and using up items that may expire soon.
To be honest, I was under the impression that almost everyone did this in some form, which is why I was confused when I was accused of being misleading when I said we ate for $30 a week. Yes, some of the things we eat for dinner that week are already in the pantry and aren’t included in that $30 budget for that particular week, but I’m still under budget each week so I feel like that counts for something. How do you factor in what you already have into your budget to say how much you’re eating for every week? No, seriously, if you have an answer, I want to know how to figure it out!
My grocery budget includes all household items.
Here’s another aspect of my grocery budget that I probably haven’t made clear but need to bring up: Household items are part of my grocery budget as well. That means toilet paper, paper towels, freezer bags, shampoo, wipes, cleaners… all of that stuff is bundled into my weekly budget. Luckily, since my house was pretty well-stocked when John lost his job, we haven’t had to worry about most of that stuff. But when I was budgeting $60 a week for us, I’d also look at all the household necessities to see if anything was rock-bottom price. John sometimes (jokingly) questioned why I had to have 10 tubes of toothpaste, or if I really needed 7 sticks of deodorant at a time. But when was the last time we had to buy some at full price?
Now that it’s been made clear that I buy all this with my grocery budget, you can see that I was probably already spending only $30-$40 a week on food at times, depending on the great sales I could take advantage of. I’m pretty good at couponing, and my house full of essentials proves I’m wise at how I spend my money.
I supplement my grocery budget with Swagbucks.
Listen, I’m sorry that I talk about Swagbucks every week. I hope you’re not tired of me singing its praises. But being able to redeem my Swagbucks for Sam’s Club gift cards has allowed my family to stock up on the major items, like toilet paper, paper towels, wipes, shredded cheese…. things that cost upwards of $15.00 or more, I can cover using the gift cards. I know above I said I use my grocery budget for these items, and I do that, too, because sometimes I just can’t wait for the gift card to come in. But it feels so freeing to know that our basic needs are covered, partially in thanks to Swagbucks.
Now that all this has been said… do we really eat for $30 a week? I still say yes, because of all the meticulous planning I do every week. Would it be harder if I didn’t have a stocked house? Definitely, and I’m prepared for it if the time comes. I do want to apologize to anyone I may have accidentally misled with these grocery posts; it wasn’t my intention. However, I did want to clear up some things in case any of you had questions as to how I work out my grocery budget, and I hope you understand now. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. I want to help in any way I can!
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Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.