Tag Archives: saving money

A Week of Dinners- Monday

12 Oct

In conjunction with my $50 grocery budget post I wanted to post pictures of what we will eat each night. Last night was supposed to be sweet and sour shrimp. When I looked up the sauce recipe I realized that I didn’t have pineapple so I just made a soy/honey/ginger sauce instead. My plan was to also have rice with the shrimp. But when I put the rice in the rice cooker I didn’t realize that it was on timer setting and never actually turned on. So instead of waiting 20 minutes for the rice to cook I made couscous in 5 minutes. Nothing went according to plan but everything came out really good!

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$50 grocery budget

11 Oct

Jason and I are pretty thrifty people. We buy just about everything we need second hand or at thrift stores and we have reduced our eating out to about once a month. We don’t take expensive vacations and instead we take short road trips or go to my cabin. But one thing that we weren’t always thrifty about was groceries. When we first moved in together we wouldn’t think anything of going to Wal-mart and spending $150 a week on groceries and other random stuff that we thought we needed. One day we went to Adli‘s and realized that their groceries were so much cheaper. Instead of $150 we were spending $50. At first it took some getting used to. We would go to Aldi’s first and then to Wal-mart for some things that we thought we needed but Aldi’s didn’t have. But eventually we just took on the attitude that if Aldi’s doesn’t have it, we don’t need it.

Even though we used to spend about $150 a week on groceries it still pains/confuses em to hear about people doing that now. I guess its because we’ve been only spending $50 for so long. Some people ask us what we eat or joke that we only eat beans and rice and vegetables (since we don’t eat meat). But in reality we eat awesome meals and there’s never a night where I feel like, gee I wish we weren’t having _____ for dinner but since it’s cheap I’ll eat it.

To illustrate my point that you can spend very little money and eat delish food I documented my grocery shopping process.

  • First, I make a list of what we can have for dinner. I only come up with five dinners because we always have leftovers or a pantry meal I can make on the weekends. I don’t plan breakfasts of lunches because we always have bread for toast or cereal in the pantry and we eat leftover dinner for lunch.
  • Planning a meal around what you have in your fridge/pantry saves a ton of money and uses up what you have before it goes bad.
  • imageFor instance, this week I have a bag of¬† shrimp in the freezer so that is the main component of one meal already. I also have a ton of frozen vegetables in my freezer and one of my favorite ways to use them up is so throw them in the crock pot and make a curry sauce to go with them.
  • imageAfter I make my list I head to Aldi’s. Some Aldi’s have different layouts and some are bigger than others but the main things that I have notice about all Aldi’s is they are all clean, well organized, and well stocked. That is more than I can say for most other grocery stores.
  • imageContrary to popular belief Aldi’s carries that same items week to week unlike close out grocery store which only sells close out items in limited quantities. I have been buying the same fit and active brand string cheese for about 100 weeks in a row (Jason loves them!).image
  • My usual total is somewhere between $30 and $50 depending on what we want for dinner and what we already have on hand to use. I was really happy that the total was only $36 this week! My grocery budget includes paper products and cleaning products as well as food.
  • imageHere is all of my food when I got home! I usually don’t by this much snack/processed food but we have been in the snack mood lately so I picked up some tortilla chips and toasted ravioli’s.
  • I didn’t need bread, Milk, or Eggs this week. Jason and I go through about a half gallon of milk every 2 weeks, a loaf of bread every week or two and we only buy free range egg (usually from local farmers) about once a month. If you had to buy these things every week the total might come closer to $50 every time.

Menu Planning

21 Sep

One thing that has really helped Jason and I save money while we have lived together is menu planning. It seems like such a simple concept but for the first 6 months or so that we lived together we would just go to Walmart and load the cart up with whatever we thought looked good. We would usually spend about $150 a week. Looking back I can’t believe we wasted so much money! Now we sit down each week and figure out what we would like to eat for dinner for the week and then make a menu plan around it.

I don’t make it so we have a specific meal on a specific day. I just make six meals and we decide throughout the week what we would like. I also always include 2 crock pot meals because I have late classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays and if I leave Jason to fend for himself he usually goes and gets fast food which defeats the purpose of our no spend month.

Here is this week’s menu plan-

Breakfasts-

  • Muffins
  • Banana’s
  • Oatmeal
  • Toast

Lunches-

  • Leftovers (I always double whatever I made for dinner so that we have leftovers for lunch)
  • Toasted cheese sandwich
  • Soup

Dinners-

With our meal plan and shopping exclusively at Aldi’s we save about $110 a week. No Joke. We used to spend about $150 now we spend around $40. The only thing we still struggle with is easy to make cheap snacks. Every night about 2 hours after dinner we search for snacks and usually come up empty handed. What does everyone else snack on in the evening?

No Spend Month

20 Sep

Jason and I are by nature pretty thrifty. We buy 90% of our things second hand and don’t generally spend money on needless things. But with the wedding and me going back to school we have been spending money like crazy! So we came up with the idea to have a no spend month for the month of September. It will actually be more of a no spend half a month since we started right after the wedding. But for our first time around this will be a good chance for us to get our feet wet.

So far it has been going pretty good. With the exception of groceries, gas, and parking I have managed to avoid buying anything. Next week I plan on continuing my streak of non spending. One area that I really struggle with is lunch. I babysit from 7-12 then go directly to class from 1-3 and then 5-8. I am usually starving after my 3 o’ clock class and having nothing with me to eat so I cave and buy subway or sushi to go on campus. At about $5 per day this really adds up! This week I am determined to pack my lunch and continue my no spending spree.

There are SO many blogs out there about living frugally and saving money. Below are a few that read on a regular basis and that have helped me to save money!


The Grocery Cart Challenge is written by a women who only spends $60 a week on groceries to feed her family of 6. She also gives awesome recipes, household tips, and money management/saving advice. I first heard about making your own laundry detergent from this site and now it is all I use!

MoneySavingMom.com
I’m not a mom but Money Saving Mom has saved me a ton of money. She offers info on coupons, weekly ads from a TON of stores, recipes, giveaways and several how-to’s involving CVS and Walgreens (both of which I still have yet to figure out/use).


I have always been intrigued by my crock pot but after several failed attempts at making just about everything I had given up. Then I found A Year of Slow Cooking. This lady used her slow cooker every day for a year. A YEAR! She has fabulous recipes and the majority are very frugal.

There are a handful of blogs that I read every day. One of the blogs on that list is Young House Love. They cover all things home. I love love love their blog and the fact that they have tend to focus on budget  conscious designs and products is a huge plus! Be sure to check out their entire blog because its awesome but also take a look at their money saving tips section!