One of my goals for 30 was to work on budgeting and saving for long term goals. While I’ve always done a great job of tracking our expenses, sticking to a budget has never been my strong suit. I’ll be the first to admit that I spend too much at Target and at groceries stores on things we may not necessarily need. Though I can find a way to justify needing to buy the newest Christmas decorations at Target (hello, they are stinking adorable), I know that I don’t need to be spending the money on them if my goal is to save.
I also struggle to stick to my grocery list! It’s not uncommon for me to fall for that newest item at Trader Joe’s or to think of a fun dinner idea while strolling through the isles. What really should be a $65 grocery trip quickly turns into a $100 grocery trip. Shopping at 2-3 grocery stores a week doesn’t help either as I tend to buy certain things at Trader Joes, Giant, and Whole Foods.
Neal and I are working on a big plan for 2015, but I’m committed to working on budgeting for the remainder of 2014 too. As we’re already halfway through November, I’ve decided to focus on meal planning, sticking to my grocery list, and using coupons. I’ll then build upon that in December.
The first thing I did for the week was to create a list of what was already in our pantry. The biggest mistake I’ve made in the past when it came to meal planning was not using our pantry to our advantage. I used to create a meal plan out of thin air instead of first creating a list of what we already had at home.
- Quick oats
- Rice and lentil medley
- Orange cranberries
- Pumpkin seeds
- 2 cans corn
- 1 can peas
- 1 can enchilada sauce
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 jar marinara
- 2 jars salsa
- 1 can pumpkin
- Rice (Brown and white)
- English muffins
- Homemade potato soup (in freezer)
- Homemade Buffalo chicken soup
- Homemade Thai squash soup
- Wegmans marinated Mojo chicken
- Wegmans marinated Brown sugar chicken
- Wegmans marinated Fennel chicken
- 2 cartons Almond milk
- Blueberry kefir
- Shredded cheese
- Turkey ham
- 4 Yoplait yogurts
With a clear picture of what was already at home, I created our meal plan for the week. For breakfast Neal and I will have either oatmeal with various toppings, eggs with an English muffin, or cereal. For lunches, Neal and I planned to have leftovers. For dinners, I planned out the following meals, excluding the weekend as Neal and I have plans.
- Monday – Baked chicken fajita tacos
- Tuesday – Crock Pot ham and potato soup
- Wednesday – Leftover soup
- Thursday – Salads with baked chicken
- Friday – Whole wheat pasta with baked chicken and marinara (Neal is running a half marathon and I am run/walking a 5K on Saturday)
With a meal plan in place I created my grocery list…
- 1 onion
- Fingerling potatoes
- Pumpkin or butternut squash
- Brussels sprouts
- Half and half
- Sour cream
- Steel cut oats
- 2 cartons of chicken broth (had a coupon)
- BBQ sauce
- Fiber One cookies (had a coupon)
- Dish soap
This week I actually did the bulk of my shopping at Target! I had a coupon that if you spent $50 on groceries you’d get a $10 Target gift card. I also had coupons, which helped me to keep my total down to $51.04. The only thing I didn’t get at Target was the produce. At Trader Joe’s I purchased the squash, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, onion, and lettuce. I also bought a jar of jalapeno cranberry sauce, turkey meatballs, and coconut creamer, bringing my Trader Joe’s total to $29.69.
Our total grocery bill this week came out to $80.73, $19.27 below my budget, thanks to our pantry! I also received the $10 Target gift card, which I used to buy baby wipes in a separate transaction.
My goal this week is to stick to our meal plan and to not run to the grocery store for any unnecessary purchases. We should be set for the week!