On A Budget, Week One: Grocery Store Challenge

25 Feb

Yesterday, I explained why I’m pinching grocery pennies and hoping to save $2,000 a year while still eating wholesome, healthy foods and mostly home-cooked meals.  Today, I’m putting the proof where the pudding is.  Or showing you the meat.  Or … I give up on the pithy sayings.  Y’all are gonna keep me honest, okay?

Now, I only want to do this IF it will save me money and not detract from my happiness.  My time is valuable, and well worth $40 an hour.  So in order for this to be worth it, there’s gotta be a system, and I have to not be miserable while using it.  Mine has three parts:


I already menu plan each week in my family binder.  This week was easy because we’ll be out of town Friday-Sunday.  I try to plan things that make at least one night of leftovers or can be used for alternate meals.  And I always check my deep freezer and pantry to see what we still have to use up.

If you’re not already meal planning, I highly recommend it, both for budget’s sake and for a little less stress in your life.  Sew Curly even has a planner for sale that is simple and stunning.  I happened to win one a few weeks back and it’s gorgeous.

This week it’s:

  • Monday – Spaghetti with meat sauce.  Homemade from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe.  I’m making a big batch to freeze.  Homemade rolls. (The rolls were missing a little something, sugar maybe.  Will be looking for another recipe to substitute in future weeks.))
  • Tuesday – Chicken burritos.  Stick some chicken breasts in a slow cooker with chipotles in adobo, green chilies, and some garlic and it’s perfect for filling burritos, tacos, quesadillas, you name it!  We have plenty of rice and black beans in the pantry already.
  • Wednesday – Veggie Chili.  I’d like a few vegetarian meals each week and I’m hoping this one hits the spot.  We shall see.
  • Thursday – Quesadillas with leftover chicken from Tuesday.

Weekly Menu Plan


I buy organic meat and eggs, if possible, and do that shopping at Whole Foods.  The welfare of the animals matters to me and we find animals who are raised as naturally as possible result in not only a better conscience, but also better food.  I try to buy organic produce for things where we eat the skin, but even when it’s conventionally grown, the quality of the produce is just so much better there.  But there are just some things that the great WF doesn’t have, like Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  With two stores to visit, I’ve got to be organized.  I checked out each store’s circulars and coupons online and made my lists.

What?  You don't write your grocery list on crumpled pieces of torn construction paper?

What? You don’t write your grocery list on crumpled pieces of torn construction paper?


It was easy to hit Whole Foods with the toddler while the preschooler was at school – it’s right down the road.  I walked out of there sans coffee and vegan chocolate chip scone (boo hoo), but did so for $69.33!

But will I have to give up my Stop and Shop curbside pickup?  By putting all the items from the list on the right into my Peapod app, I came up with a total of $55.62.  The same foods at Market Basket cost me $46.75, saving me $8.87.

I think I can save $20-$40 a month just by being more cautious when planning meals, but I can save an additional $8 by walking into Market Basket instead of getting my groceries curbside at Stop & Shop.  Worth it?  I dunno.  That’s another $32 a month, $416 a year.  But it’s also an hour with two kids at the store.  Probably a wash.

Grocery Store Challenge


  • Whole Foods: $69.34
  • Market Basket: $46.75
  • Stop and Shop Virtual Shopping Basket Comparison: $55.62
  • Total Spent: $116.09
  • 4 Nights of Meals with 2-3 additional meals from each cooking session for leftovers and future meals.

So far, I’m please with what I’m learning and with the lower bill this week.  At least it’s progress!  Compared with last week’s bill of $140, I saved almost $24.

4 Responses to “On A Budget, Week One: Grocery Store Challenge”

  1. elise February 25, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    my lists are on junk-mail envelopes 🙂 way to go with the budgeting and planning!


  1. On A Budget, Week 2: Lessons in Frugality | Learned Happiness - March 4, 2014

    […] I decided to go back to the Stop and Shop curbside pickup this week.  The savings compared to shopping in person in Market Basket just weren’t worth my time.  You can see the comparison by clicking here. […]

  2. On A Budget: Week Four (in which I crawl back on the wagon) | Learned Happiness - March 31, 2014

    […] this week compared to the original $140 weekly bill: $26.36, bringing my total savings since beginning this 4-week budget experiment to […]

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