Tuesday, September 02, 2008

$125/week Grocery Challenge Wrap Up

The past week has been a B.C.W. (Big Crazy Week) around the mapphouse, so I'm getting this posted a bit later than planned. More on all that later...

The $125/week Grocery Challenge* is done.
Week 1: $103.97
Week 2: $124.65
Week 3: $120.97
Week 4: $110. 98
Average weekly grocery bill: $115.14

After the first couple of weeks, I stopped posting meals. (Week 1 - Week 2) There were alot of repeats, along with a few evenings where I fixed favorites from Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1.

We really didn't miss out on anything. I baked desserts and snacks, we ate our brown rice pasta with homemade sauces. During dinners, I mixed proteins from other sources in with the normal (small) portions of meat & poultry. Pretty standard. I used mostly evaporated milk instead of heavy cream in making cream/cheese sauces, but still finished with a splash of cream. This is something which I'll probably continue, unless it's a sauce where reducing the cream is the only way to get the right flavor. For most pasta & veggie dishes, it doesn't make enough of a difference to miss the opportunity to save a bit in both fat intake and money.

I made it, but think I could have done even better, without sacrificing anything. The rules actually kept me from doing my regular bulk buying of some items. I was paying regular price for smaller packs of chicken, rather than picking up the 3-4 week supply of fresh breasts at Costco, which I then freeze and use as needed. Same applies to ground turkey, lunchbox staples, etc. Switching back to baking all of the bread used in making sandwiches would shave off more. (Time has been in short supply lately.)

I could have used something along the lines of The Grocery Game (paid service), or spent the time gathering coupons to match up with store sales for some additional savings. I don't think the items I'd have been stockpiling in my pantry would have lived up to my own standards of what we should be eating, so that's not happening. Wenchypoo posted a review of the grocery game recently, if you aren't familiar with the service.

In averaging my receipts from the couple months prior to the challenge, I generally have a week of 25-30% higher than average, followed by a few weeks of 10-15% below. If I continue planning out a few days in advance, and timing my bulk buys, I should easily be able to keep my average at $115/week. Might even be able to lower it. Don't know if I can keep it below $100/week, but I may give it a shot.

*My challenge was based on MSN Money writer Melinda Fulmer "Can a family eat on $100 a week? Hers is a family of four, so making the amount for my five $125 seemed about right.


Rebecca said...

Congratulations! That is a good place to be. I'm not quite there yet ... but I've been having some success with praying for food lately. Just today, when out for a walk, a neighbor pulled me in off the street and gave me a bag of fruit. :)

mappchik said...

Thanks. Still haven't figured out how to cut down much on the non-food essentials. That may be my next challenge. It will require me to resurrect the price book, which is not my favorite thing.

I need to go walking in your neighborhood. Of course, the plane ticket would kind of put a damper on my produce savings... :)