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Week 1 Spending Report

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As you know, we’re on a budget diet this month. We’re trying to slash our spending, particularly in the area of food-related spending (including eating out and grocery expenses).

I’ve been using Every Dollar to track all of our spending (review to come at the month’s conclusion), and so far things are going well. It’s been tough to keep within our weekly budget, but I’ve been stocking up with some meat and other freezer-foods and we have our Dream Dinners session coming up, too. My hope is that we’ll be able to do a No Spend Week next week (Week 3), only supplementing with about $25ish for fresh fruits and veggies. We should be able to do it based on the foods we have currently, and it would help us to stay within our overall grocery budget.

Week 1 Spending Report

For Week 1 (April 1-7), we spent $129 at the grocery store and $21 eating out. In my original Budget Post, I’d proposed to spend $300 at restaurants/eating out, $450 for groceries, and $250 for Dream Dinners (already committed/pre-paid). That’s a total of a $1,000 spent on FOOD and, as many pointed out, it’s totally crazy! I agree.

So, in my Every Dollar budget I’ve put the planned budget at $200 for restaurants/eating out, $350 for groceries, and the $250 for Dream Dinners (already pre-paid). That would meet my goal of slashing our food-spending category by 20%. If we successfully complete a no-spend week next week, we should be able to hit these food spending goals.

I’m going to pass on Dream Dinners for next month and try to further cut our food-spending by about another $100. If I could get to a $700-ish range for total food spending (eating out and groceries), that would be ideal! I know with some planning and food prep it can totally be done!

One month at a time – I’ll report on Week 2 spending at the end of our current week to help continue to hold me accountable.

What are your favorite generic/store brand items? Are there any grocery-store items you insist on buying “name brand”?

 

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16 Comments

  • Reply margann34 |

    Good job! Stick to your plan, you can do it! My strategy is to try the cheapest brand at least once. If it is really poor quality, I step up to the second cheapest and so on. We have Sure Fine brand at our local grocery store which is usually ok. I will also buy Great Value at Wal-Mart. We prefer name brand soda buy only buy it on sale. I also buy higher quality yogurt.

  • Reply Been There Done That |

    That is an improvement. I still don’t get the restaurants in the middle of a financial storm, but to each his own.

    • Reply Rose |

      I’m curious to hear as well. Looking forward to your thoughts on Every Dollar! I use YNAB and like the zero based budgeting. I did Mint for a long time, and found that putting in my monthly income before I actually had the money in my account led to overspending. To keep myself under control I really need to budget only the cash I have on hand.

      • Reply Ashley |

        I’ll definitely address these questions when I do a review of the program. 🙂

  • Reply Mindy |

    We are on a very tight budget right now as well, sustaining on one income (and still needing to pay for childcare) when we used to have two. I’ve been able to slash my monthly food budget from ~1000-1200 a month to abiut half that by changing the way I shop and plan meals. I’ve started shopping for freezer staples like meat, frozen veggies, etc 9mce a month at the beginning of the m9nth. I typically do this at Trader Joe’s as they’re quality is good and frozen items are reasonably priced. For my weekly grocery trips, I’ve started shopping at Aldi. If you have one in your area, I highly recommend it! I’ve saved a fortune since switching there and I can get in and out so fast! I typically spend 100 a month on frozen meats/veggies and then $50 a week at Aldi for everything else. This gets us breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week. About once a week, we’ll go out to dinner, but only places where we can keep it $20 or under.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I wish we had an Aldi in our area! I’m OBSESSED with Trader Joe’s shrimp stir-fry in the frozen section! We don’t shop TJ’s often because it’s way across town from where we live, but when we go by I always stock up!

  • Reply Joanna |

    I have been using Every Dollar for about a year. I love it and it has helped me better track my spending in real time as I use the app on my iPhone to enter the purchases in as I make them.

    Good luck with your food budget, I am watching for your posts on this for ideas and inspiration. I’m a single mom of 1 and my grocery/out to eat can be about $500/$600 a month. I work in public accounting with crazy hours (60-70/week) and convenience just seems to win out when your exhausted.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I totally agree about the exhaustion and allure of the convenience items! I’ll definitely keep you updated! 🙂

  • Reply Greg |

    I know it’s not doable for everyone (or likeable!) but I found that going vegetarian or vegan 1-2 days a week really helped me save some money. Meat is SO expensive. I pick days of the week where I’ll do “no meat” and instead fill myself up with lots of veggies or cheap grains/beans (think bulgur, wheat, brown rice, etc). I definitely feel more energy on these days. It also seems easier to cook & clean up. Maybe you could try doing a no meat day to see if it saves you money 🙂 But like I said, some people really love meat and I understand that they wouldn’t want to give it up. Keep on truckin’!

  • Reply CJ |

    Check out Pennies Into Pearls on YouTube. She feeds her family of 5 on a budget of $400 a month. Its a lot about meal planning, meal prep and freezing. Lots of great tips!

  • Reply Cheryl |

    Still can’t understand how a family of four with two young daughters can spend $800.00 a month just eating. How many hours are you gone from home a day and do you work weekends?

    • Reply Kyle |

      ^Judgement isn’t going to help the situation. I think if you have any tips for Ashley on how to conveniently lower food costs, that would be helpful.

      Ashley – I’ve watched some Youtube videos from The Melea Show and she has some REALLY helpful tips on stock-up prices. She shares information about how much NOT to spend on meat, paper towels, toilet paper, etc., and the best places to purchase said items. I thought I was on track and getting the best prices but I learned a thing or two which REALLY helped me lower costs even more while still having plenty of food in the house all the times. I really hate feeling “deprived” of the things we enjoy eating, and being able to get our big ticket items at a lower cost allow us to still get the fun stuff without overspending! Good luck on your new journey 🙂

  • Reply Walnut |

    Do you read The Frugal Girl? She posts her weekly grocery budget and dinner recaps every Friday. Lots of great ideas in the comments section also.

  • Reply margann34 |

    I thought of another grocery tip for you. I use an app called Out of Milk. You can build your grocery list and keep track of costs. What I like about it is that you can keep track of the amount of money you are spending as you are filling your cart. So If you are over spending, you can put stuff back and there are no surprises at the checkout line! Today I was trying to keep the amount under $80. As I approached that amount, I decided to pass on a few items. No soda today!

So, what do you think ?