Saturday, January 03, 2009

Grocery Challenge - 2009

For one month of 2008, I challenged myself to keep the grocery bill for five to $125 or less. Did it. We cut back a little, but it wasn't too difficult.

Once I finished the month, I figured it would be a cinch to keep my bills lower, without extra work. I stopped planning a few days in advance, and returned to my normal pattern of "what do we want tonight?" I was wrong. The weekly spending in October and November crept up a little each week, until I hit $200/week. Reigned spending back during December, by $40-50/week, simply by going back to planning 3-4 days of meals before heading to the store.

I'm going to see how low I can keep my average weekly spending this year. I know the under $150/week target is easy to hit, with plain old, ordinary shopping at Kroger, Publix, Whole Foods & Trader Joes. No cut backs required, just that little bit of meal planning. But, what happens if I go for the bulk items at the international markets? Rice, flour, oats, pasta, beans, coconut milk, tofu - all cheaper than at standard stores. Same thing for many of the root veggies, which last quite a while when stored properly. Can setting up a vague monthly meal plan for staples, in addition to the weekly planning, make $125 or less the new "easy"? Can I get it down to $100?

We're also working to expand our "try something new" at meals beyond just a couple times each week, by adding new side dishes with old favorites, or alternating days between the familiar and the unusual. Tying the planning necessary to keep the kids trying new foods to the planning for shopping seems like a no-brainer.

The first week of shopping, the stock-up week, was split between 2008 & 2009, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. Here's my rules:
  • Weeks will run Sunday to Saturday, and I'll be posting my weekly total for the previous week on Sunday nights, after prep for Monday morning lunchbox packing. (Or Monday mornings, after the kids are at school and I have my coffee.)
  • After the weekly amount, I'll post the updated weekly average.
  • This is only grocery items. I handle shopping for most health, bath and home products during a once a month trip to Costco, Target or CVS. I will include any food items purchased on those trips with the grocery total. Even if that item is a bag of dark chocolate twix bars. (Which it won't be, ever, because I never do anything that unhealthy.)
If you're interested in what we're eating, you can take a look at Supper Wars.


HangryPants said...

This is cool! Kind of similar to what Mark and I are doing this month. Is this for two people?

mappchik said...

It's for five. Two adults, three children (ages 7, 9 & 14).