Declutter Series: Grocery Budget, Week 1

Last week, I took on a Declutter Challenge with a focus on the Grocery Budget. Read more about it here. Our grocery expense is one of the bigger variable expense that we currently have on our books and I thought to take on a challenge to perhaps control it just a tad bit, while also decluttering my kitchen in the process. Below you find the 3 meals/day I prepared for my family for the whole week, both vegan and non-vegan and extra cravings, as well as the total savings I managed to accrue for the week by being budget savvy with my meals.

I practice the envelope system to stay on budget and I have to say, I love seeing money remaining in that grocery envelope. It’s actually empowering and a great stimulus to continue working on improving my expense habits. I also adopted the meal planning system to keep my focus.  I do love seeing a visual of my goals. It helps me stay focus.

How do I plan to save

My goal is to incorporate space occupying items in my pantry and freezer/fridge in our daily meals first so I can finally declutter my kitchen, and save in the process.

Here are the meals I prepared this week:

*Note: V = Vegan

Monday, 11/5/18

  • Breakfast
    • Frozen Waffles
    • V – Coffee
  • Lunch
    • Homemade Philly Cheese Steak
    • V – Homemade Black Bean, Potatoes, Hummus, Rice Burrito
  • Dinner
    • Grass-fed Sirloin Steak and Broccoli Stir-Fry with Fresh Pineapple
    • V – Homemade BLT and Hummus Sub
  • Extra Cravings
    • Homemade Boiled Peanuts
    • Homemade Banana Walnut Bread

Tuesday, 11/6/18 (No School/Election Day)

  • Breakfast
    • Cereal and/or Yogurt
    • V – Coffee and Steamed Cassava Cake
  • Lunch
    • Homemade California Roll
    • V – Homemade BLT from Monday with Black Tea and Fresh Pineapple
  • Dinner (IHOP with the extended fam – we have a separate expense account for eating out.)
    • None made at home
    • V – Black Bean, Hummus, Potatoes, Rice Burrito (leftover – ate before outing)
  • Extra Cravings
    • Skittles (Halloween Candy)

Wednesday, 11/7/18

  • Breakfast
    • Turkey Bacon, Hash Brown, Rice
    • V – Coffee and Peanut Butter Toast
  • Lunch
    • Philly Cheese Steak (leftover from IHOP – B1G1 on Tuesdays, I ordered this as a freebie) with Fresh Kiwi and Persimmon and Chips
    • V – Steamed Cassava Cake (leftover) and Black Tea
  • Dinner
    • Homemade Rotisserie Chicken
    • V – Homemade Paella with Tofu, Fresh Red Bell Pepper, Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, Onion, Organic Chicken Broth with Fresh Pineapple Smoothie
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  • Extra Cravings
    • Green Pea Crips and Fresh Persimmons and Cheese Sticks

Thursday, 11/8/18

  • Breakfast
    • Turkey Bacon and Rice and/or Yogurt (leftover)
    • V – Coffee and Steamed Cassava Cake
  • Lunch
    • Homemade Chicken Sandwich (upcycled leftover) with Fresh Grapes and Chips
    • V – Paella (leftover) with Black Tea
  • Dinner
    • Chicken Noodle Soup with Milk and Vegetables (upcycled leftover)
    • V – Paella (leftover)
  • Extra Cravings
    • Potato Chips and Fresh Persimmons

Friday, 11/9/18

  • Breakfast
    • Cereal and/or Yogurt
    • V – Coffee and Stovetop Oatmeal
  • Lunch
    • Turkey Sandwich with Fresh Spinach and Fresh Grape
    • V – Peanut Butter Sandwich with Black Tea and Fresh Persimmons
  • Dinner
    • Homemade Pizza
    • V – Homemade Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes, Avocado, Cheese, Green Olives
  • Extra Cravings
    • Cheese Sticks and Fresh Persimmons and Ice Cream

Saturday, 11/10/18

  • Breakfast
    • Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Fresh Blueberries
    • V – Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Fresh Blueberries
  • Lunch
    • Homemade Ramen with Frozen Vegetables
    • V – Fruit and Veggie Smoothie
  • Dinner
    • Pizza (leftover)
    • V – Avocado and Banana Smoothies with Kale and Pizza (leftover)
  • Extra Cravings
    • Chips

Sunday, 11/11/18

  • Breakfast
    • Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Frozen Vegetables (leftover)
    • V – Homemade Banana Walnut Bread (leftover)
  • Lunch
    • Homemade BBQ Boneless Pork Loin with Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Zucchini
    • V – Homemade Vegetable Curry (leftover/frozen)
  • Dinner
    • Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (leftover) with Homemade Apple Pie
    • V – Homemade Apple Pie


What I have learned from this first week thus far

  • Because we are in a habit of cooking what we craved for, some days, particularly me, I don’t eat what I planned out; to be fair, I try to eat what I already have at home though. So I have handwritten edits on my week menu printout to adjust my notes.
  • I printed out my menu and posted it on the fridge so I can have a visual and stay focused. This helped me a lot.
  • I talked to my family about decluttering the kitchen and so they are pretty patient with me. My family loves food. So, I try not to make them feel deprived. I try to incorporate that love of food in my weekly planning.
  • I’m not really a breakfast person as I tend to be busy in the morning getting the kids to school and walking my GSD; but, I am trying to get myself in a habit of eating something.  The simpler and easier to reach, the better for me. Leftovers take care of that, most of the time.
  • I love the fact that I don’t have to spend hours throughout the week trying to figure out what to cook for the next meal. I already have it already planned, I have all the ingredients, so there’s no reason not to make it happen. This is a big key to helping me save this week on groceries.
  • I have a lot of food that is just taking space. I really need to use them in my meals. Like the jar of green olives. I have no idea why I have that but I used it as a pizza topping Friday night. I really would prefer not to waste food.
  • Originally, I planned to grocery shop on Mondays but grocery sale prices switch on Wednesdays, and some special weekend deals are available at Lidl so I might have to break down my grocery errand to maximize my savings. I only wish grocery stores post their upcoming sale so I can plan better. (Lidl is one that posts upcoming sale.)
  • I am not eating all that healthy this week.  This is a great reminder for me to watch what I eat. Since posting a month-long food diary last month, it has been helpful to get me back to health and I need to get back on track, most definitely from what I see on the food logged in this week.

How much was my grocery bill this week?

Total Stores: 4

Twice at Kroger to take advantage of the Wednesday sale price change to buy the whole turkey for $0.37/lb, which cost me $5 total, a savings of $15 from the original price.

Total Grocery Expense: $106.06!!!!!! (Minus the $5 whole turkey, $101.06)

Recalling the October monthly expense from my previous post, that’s an approximate of $150/week grocery expense last month, calculating with a 4 week month:

Total Savings this week: $43.94 (or $48.94)


Final words

I find that we were pretty good at staying with the preplanned meals.  Although my husband had cravings outside of our planned meals, so I have to figure out how to work those in the future. I also sometimes don’t feel like eating. Maybe because I’m still full or I’m too tired or busy. The easier the food is to grab, the better, which is why sometimes I just eat the leftovers, no fuss. We do have a habit of eating whatever fits our fancy so pre-planning has never been a technique I’ve used in the past; but, I have to say I do love not having to think about what to cook every day, so I will continue on with this weekly pre-planned meals for the second week of the Declutter Series: Grocery Budget #2. I saved a total of $44 and though I don’t think I can save that much on the second week, I will certainly try to max my savings.

Are you trying to declutter your grocery budget?