December 7, 2007

The Grocery Cart Challenge


Two years ago my husband and I decided that it would be best for our marriage and our family to leave a very lucrative and high pressure career to start our own business. So, he saved up enough to get us through the first 18 months without a paycheck and we were sure that’s all it would take until we could support ourselves.

Excuse me while I chuckle and snort.

We have gone through some dramatic and intense changes in our way of thinking, in our marriage and family, in our thoughts and desires, in our relationship with God and ESPECIALLY in our finances.

I really thought I had been doing my best by having a grocery budget of $700-$800 dollars a month. I was spending roughly $120 a week for the six of us to eat, keep our clothes clean, our bottoms wiped, my make-up on, our bodies groomed, my house scoured and fresh, entertaining friends and family, and periodically giving meals as gifts to new moms.

But necessity is the mother of invention, and our new life choices were necessitating a change in our shopping. What started as a drastic life change because we had no other choice, soon became a thrilling beat-the-system challenge to feed our family for less. So, we instituted what seemed to be the most ridiculous grocery budget imaginable….

For our family of six we were going to attempt to spend $50 a week on groceries.

I know, you’re first thought is NO-WAY! But darn it, when I set my mind to something I don’t accept failure easily. We were going to attempt to slash our grocery budget by more than half and I knew some sacrifices were going to need to be made.

So here were our parameters:



  • Our new budget would cover food, toiletries, cosmetics, household cleaning supplies, entertaining and food gifts.

  • My goal dollar figure for each week would be $50.

  • We were going to have re-evaluate what we though were “needs”.

  • We were going to have to be creative.


So here is where I get your feedback. I thought it might be interesting to some of you to follow along as we attempt this huge challenge. But maybe you’re thinking…. “Ho-hum, really don’t care, Gayle. Just give us more poopy stories.” So if you are interested please leave me a comment to let me know you want me to do a weekly post on this. If there is a lack of comments I’ll assume you would rather I stick to excrement and chocolate and leave it at that.

Here’s your chance to speak up!

30 comments:

mummyjaan said...

I don't know how you're going to cut down from 120 to 50; sounds like a drastic change. Add to it that it's for a family of 6.

I remember being 50 euros per week being more than adequate for us as a couple, but now with 2 kids, it's rarely less than 100. Even though there are many things in the list which are not absolutely essential.

The easiest way to cut down the grocery bill is to pick up the store's own brand.

Kim said...

I would love to know how you are doing. We too are cutting our grocery bill. So far I have been successful at taking it from $200/wk to $140/wk. I would love to cut it more.

Anonymous said...

I would love to read a weekly post on this subject. I enjoy reading about what other people do, so I can learn from them.

candi said...

I love this idea!! Please provide us with all the details of how you do it. I too am attempting to do the same with my family of 6 but I have yet to stay under $100 a week! I need help! Actually I probably just need self control but that is another story:)

Pam said...

Always interested in saving money!

kari said...

I'm certainly interested in hearing about your experience with this challenge. We, too, are a family of six, so I would love to figure out how to spend only $50/week on groceries. I know we "blow" a lot of money on items we don't really need and that we could surely buckle down in many areas. Good luck!

jtcosby said...

Not only do I want updates, I want the actual grocery list and the meals you are going to make and I will totally JOIN you in this endeavor. Seriously! I would love to learn to spend this little. I know there is a blogger out there that spends 35 dollars a week for a family of 4-6 I can't remember but still, it's great! I am SOOOO in!

Scott said...

I think we can have, as Hannah Montana would say, the best of both worlds.

Money-saving wisdom AND poopy stories.

The best way to save is to PLAN ahead for starters. Maybe we'll join you in an attempt to feed ourselves for $50 a week. It definitely CAN be done.

EEEEMommy said...

I do not lie when I say I'd rather read about frugality at the grocery store than potty talk!
Seriously though, I am NOT at all frugal, but our finances are getting tighter and tighter, and something's got to give! Food/toiletries seems like the best starting place, but I haven't a clue how to begin. I usually go into the grocery store with at best a list of 3-4 items I really can't forget and then go through aisle after aisle grabbing the things off the shelf that I think I need. My mom shopped the same way. After 11 years, it works out pretty well, but it costs a fortune because I'm buying things whether it's on sale or not. I never shop around to find the best bargain. The sales fliers go in the trash without me looking at them at all. I never use coupons. And I've been trying to buy more natural/organic. Yeah, I need help!

Melissa said...

Okay, so I am a new poster on your blog but I've been "hooked" on it for a while. You really brighten my day!!
I would LOVE to hear how your shopping adventure goes. I am a SAHM and my husband and I are always trying to think of ways to save on anything! We live in the Midwest and I don't know how things are in your neck of the woods, but it seems like all the necessities (gas, groceries, toiletries, etc.) are ridiculously expensive!!
Anyway, I wish you luck and please keep us posted!!

jewlsntexas said...

I'd love to follow along!
We are spending about $175. The thing is that anything I read about lowering that budget involves buying all kinds of processed food - things that come in boxes where real stuff has been turned into some kind of powder or liquid. Gross. No thank you.
I want to learn how to do this and have attempted to scale our budget back to $100 - except here is the weird thing - even though I fed them yesterday 3 times - these people keep wanting to eat again every new day! UGH! :)
I have started to use the CVS Extra Care program for toiletries - and that has been nice - it has helped me be able to let my teen girls have some little luxuries like name brand shampoo and make-up that they like, etc. This is a big help if you learn how to play the game and turn the bonus bucks back in for something else you need.

jewlsntexas said...

Um yeah - I tried to write this comment twice - and if you see them both - because somehow my page refreshed - please delete the one that looks unfinished!

Rachelle said...

I am so, so, SO interested in this! Our family is the same size as yours, though our children are younger, and right now we spend about $100 - 120 a week on everything you mentioned, plus diapers and wipes. I would LOVE to hear how you cut your grocery bill in half.

penguinsandladybugs said...

I would love to read about your grocery cart challenge! Chocolate stories are okay and the poopy stories are funny, once I get over the gag reflex that often occurs, especially when you include photos :) But I for one am interested in your groceries, too.

Ronnica said...

Sounds interesting! I have a hard time keeping myself to $50 a week, and it is just me. Though sometimes I can get by with just $20.

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

Oh, I feel some stories comin' on. Count me in.

Emily said...

I'm totally on board with the entire internet it seems.

let's see how ya do! (and I didn't grocery shop at ALL last week...so that beats your $50 even.)

I played the game....USE EVERYTHING IN YOUR CUPBOARDS BEFORE YOU GO TO THE STORE...


it's a blast. :)

THE OTHER HUSE said...

I'm a newbie to your site and this definitely brings me out of the woodwork. I would LOVE to hear how you do this. I have only three of us in the house, and I am embarrassed at what I spend on groceries. I cook every meal from scratch with whole foods (I'm on WW Core) so I have cut back and cut back and can't figure out how to get it any lower. Produce is what is killing me. So, I would absolutely LOVE to hear your changes!!

Halfmoon Girl said...

Sounds like a great plan. I am sure that you will find some great ways to cut your grocery bill down. One of Cindy's posts inspired me to FINALLY do the cooking with friends idea that I have been wanting to do for years- i have found that to be a money and time saver!

Leanne said...

Do you really need another comment telling you that I would enjoy reading about this quest?

I'm with EEEEMommy, I'd really rather read about grocery bills and the like than potty talk stories....I think God gave us 5 girls because He knew I couldn't do poop talk!! And yet, I find myself checking in with you daily!!! Paradoxical, I know!

And I agree with jewelsintx, I hate anything processed or boxed. We eat hormone free meat which we buy from friends of our family, organic as much as we can, all natural, and I make everything from scratch, including cinnamon rolls and all my cakes and cookies. I also hate and think it's not cost effective to run all over the world, to this store and that store, to get the 'best deal'.

You would probably drop dead at my grocery bill! But my kids are so healthy we don't go to the doctor EVER (more money saved), and I think it's because of the way we eat.

I will admit to the case of macaroni and cheese that I get at Costco whenever I go, but it's Annie's Organic all natural.

So let the money saving posts commence!

Leanne

ConservaChick said...

YES! I'd be more than interested to read about grocery store fugality. I know it can be done. I have a friend who has in the past bought a weeks worth of grocerys for $30. She does something called the "Grocery Game" (you can google it) She buys only what is on a great sale, and stock piles things when they go for super cheap. Because she ONLY shops super sales, I don't think I'd consider her diet healthy... lots of frozen pizza, etc (but heck, she's skinnier than me). Anyway, I'd love to hear from someone who could shop frugal, and moderately healthy! ~Karlie

PS. With groceries sky rocketinglike theyare, I think we could ALL use a post like this. In fact (I know, post on my own blog) I had a dream last night, that the dollar store turned into the $1.18 store. Seriously. Inflation bites.

Gayle said...

Have you ever read Sherry's blog? She is a fellow homeschooler who blogged at HSB for a long time...here is her blogger address...www.frugaldomesticgoddess.com
This kind of thing is exactly what she blogs about, so she might help you on your journey. You can do it girl! We only have a $100 budget a week, and we are pretty comfy, seriously.
I want to know how you are doing with it, so post away!

Kacie said...

You can do this! Why don't you try calculating the cost per dinner meal? It's actually pretty simple to do, if you're willing to do the math (I blogged about this recently, too).

Plus, if you know that you can whip up a nutritious $5 meal for the whole family, you'd know to include it in your menu lineup more often.

On the other hand, if a dinner costs $10...that can zap your whole weekly budget very quickly.

Homeschool Housewife said...

I love the poopy stories. They crack me up. But we have a similar budget for groceries right now and I am really looking to cut it. CVS deals have helped me stock up on things we will use eventually and getting my littlest out of diaper saves us, but really the bottom line has not shrunk that much yet.

I see how other families are doing it by cutting down on meat, but I have a Texas man who likes meat. Beans are not going to cut it as a replacement. And forget a vegetarian meal :)

So, I want to see what your ideas are. How you do it. Does it seem like you spend more time with the running and preparing? How much can you save.

Please bring on the stories about grocery savings. They may not be as funny, but they are something we can all use.

Cindy said...

You know I want to hear, girl! Bring it on, and SOON!

duckygirl said...

Ummm, Yeah. I think you really need to post about this, wow, look at your responses!! I too would love to hear. Are you looking for tips too or just to let us in on yours??

Can't wait to hear more.

~Laura

Heather Kay said...

I am new to your blog and would love any tips with this. We are currently going into our 4th month of no income. God gives the increase and the grocery budget needs to decrease!!

ConservaChick said...

I just thought....

ConservaChick said...

That you needed....

ConservaChick said...

A few more comments.


I LOVE the number 30!


Now I'm off to go play on my "own" blog... and stop messing with yours! (; Love ya ~K

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