This month I went into ultra-frugal mode. After blowing my eating out budget again, and again, and again, I decided I’ve had enough. It’s time to buckle down, plan a little better, and actually stay within my budget for once. When planning my budget, I found myself faced with a few problems. The first is that our take-home income went down. We’re paying for insurance now, and that’s taken a chunk out of the paycheck.
The second problem is that I’m trying to eat a lot healthier. Specifically, I’m trying to stay away from hormones in milk, eggs, and meat, partially hydrogenated anything, and pesticides. Avoiding these things gets expensive.
Finally, the cost of gas is above $4 a gallon here, so driving all over to find deals isn’t worth it anymore.
My new plan had to take all of these things into account. Here’s what I did.
I hashed out a menu plan for breakfasts and dinners for a month. Lunch is always sandwiches, tortilla wraps, or leftovers, so I didn’t have to plan lunch.
I cut out a lot of expensive foods. My menu this month is largely based on dried beans. Snacks consist of fruits and veggies, nuts, and homemade granola bars. I didn’t buy any cold cereal, which up until now has been a staple in our house.
That left me with some extra money to treat my family to wild fish once a week, pesticide free produce, and hormone free milk and eggs.
Since my son is out of preschool, I had to take him along. I’m proud of him. He hates shopping, but he hung in there with me all morning. I let him take one of his beloved toy cars with him to keep him busy. It worked.
By doing all of my shopping in one day, I made one trip into Medford. I’ll have to go back to Ashland for more produce and milk throughout the month, but it’s closer than heading into Medford. Other than once a week trips into Ashland, I plan on staying close to home.
My grocery budget for the month was $445. On Tuesday I spent $313.27, leaving me with $131.73 for the rest of the month. I think I can make that work.
Like I said, most of our meals are based around dried beans this month. It can be a hassle to prepare dried beans, but I’ll just make extra every time I make them and freeze the rest for use later in the month.
Instead of buying boxed cereal, I made a huge batch of homemade granola. That should last the month, since I’m planning on making breakfast most mornings. My husband is the only one who’s dependent on cereal for breakfast. I’m not getting up at 3 a.m. to make breakfast for him, as much as I love him. :)
Whole grain bread without high fructose corn syrup is expensive. So are tortillas without partially hydrogenated oil. So instead of spending the money on ready made products, I bought wheat bread flour at 47 cents a pound and whole wheat pastry flour at 49 cents a pound and made my own. The bread tastes great, and so do the tortillas (though they aren’t as pretty as the store-bought version).
A little planning can go a long way in saving money. Making a list, making things from scratch, and only making one trip to the grocery store will help save money and fuel. And if it keeps me from eating out, it will save my waistline, as well!
How often do you grocery shop? Does it work for you? Do you shop with a list? Menu plan?
If you like this article, please sign up for free weekly email updates.
I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
In accordance with FTC guidelines, I state that I have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.
Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. I do my best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.