Saturday, November 5, 2016

Grocery Spending: The 50% Challenge

Full disclosure, November always makes me feel a little insecure about my money.  Between November 1st and December 31st, our household of two encounters, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and two birthdays.  It can feel a little overwhelming.

One thing that overwhelms me is our grocery bill.  We have all of the regular breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals to account for PLUS the things we are obligated to bring with us for holiday meal gatherings we attend.  This is why the weeks preceding Thanksgiving are so important.

At our house, we go to the grocery store once per week typically.  On average, it is a hundred dollar trip.  This week, I issued myself a 50% challenge.  If I could achieve this kind of savings, I could reallocate that same money to some of the holiday extras!  That being said, could I really buy our groceries for the week for HALF of our normal spending?  If I was going to try, I would need a serious game plan!  I am one of those people that seriously likes rules.  The "do" and "don't" categories work for me, so I created some guidelines to help myself out, and if you decide to take the 50% challenge, I encourage you to follow them as well!

The 50% Challenge

  1. Analyze your assets!  You probably have tons of things that you can use to your advantage in your pantry, freezer, or refrigerator.  Go rummage through them.  You will build your week around the things you already have working in your favor.  It turned out that my assets included tons of grains, beans, canned tomato products, and pasta (frozen and dried).
  2. Decide how many different meals you need.  They key word here is different.  Our breakfasts and lunches are identical 5 days a week.  What about dinner?  As a time saver, we cook 2 big meals on the weekend, and reheat them for dinners during busy week nights.  So, for my household, that's 4.  We need 4 different meals!
  3. Decide WHAT those meals are going to be based on your assets.  My breakfasts and lunches will be the same that they have been, and dinners will be some version of burritos or rice bowls and pasta.
  4. Make a grocery list.  Only write down realistically what you need to fill in the gaps.  The point in the list is to avoid impulse buys.
  5. Buy only what is on the list!
  6. Be willing to compromise on brands in order to get sale prices.
  7. Buy in bulk.  It's cheaper than prepackaged most of the time.
I admit that I was doing a little mental math as I walked through the store, but I was still unsure of the total since I had some bulk items in my basket.  I got everything on my list for $48.06.  My goal was $50, which effectively slashed our grocery store bill in half!

Mission Accomplished!

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