Monthly Challenge: March - $200 Grocery Budget
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, Anthony and I have had a big life change as of this last week. In an effort to take charge of my student debt, and as Dave Ramsey says, "gazelle" to financial freedom - we moved back in with my parents and took over their lower level to throw all of our old rent expenses towards my student debt.
We are super excited for this new opportunity this has afforded us to to not only re-do our budget to throw a lot of money towards student loans, but also as a chance to stop lifestyle creep, get to know my parents as adults, and have a year to reevaluate what we want our lives to look like in the next year. It's a pretty freeing feeling to know if an opportunity comes up in the next year, we aren't tied down with leases or mortgages to stop us from jumping on something.
With reevaluating our lives and budgets, I intend to start challenges to myself to help us reduce our spending, live smarter, and pay down debt faster.
My intention with this is at the end of every month, I will recap how the challenge went last month, and reestablish what we are doing next month. I want to be able to clearly lay out the benefits we already have to help us do this, show you my intentions for these challenges, and hopefully give you a couple ideas for inspiration to apply to your life!
So for March 2019, I will be diving into our grocery budget, and try to reduce it to $200 for the entire month.
Some stipulations for how we budget (because everyone does it differently):
We consider alcohol as a separate line item, as is eating out. While we are still generally reducing both of those things significantly, Anthony does still eat out for work lunches on occasion, and I will sometimes work at a coffee shop and order a coffee while there. I consider our cats supplies separate for this challenge as well. I have always included paper products and laundry detergent in my grocery budget.
When I quickly announced on Instagram that I wanted to do a $200 budget, I got a ton of messages saying that was insane. We are in a very different situation because we are living with my parents, so we do make meals together and share some ingredients with them. It does change things when you want to make a recipe and you know you have 1/3 of the ingredients at home! We will also be strongly relying on cleaning out our freezer and pantry of the ingredients that have been sitting there wasted for too long.
Here are some of my intentions in how I hope to achieve this budget reduction:
1. Be smart about meal prepping
In a world of Instagram and Pinterest, it is so easy to think every meal has to be a whole creation worthy of a picture and a unique flavor profile. My intention is to go back to being simple, still healthy, filling, and cost effective.
Some recipes that I intend to make include basics like:
-Piles of roasted veggies
*links are just the online recipe blogs I have used in the past for these recipes. I am in not affiliated with these blogs, I just like these recipes!
2. Shop the deals
Since we have moved, I am closer to Aldi, which is a discount grocer, and a Walmart. Considering the town we moved into really only has other "high end" grocery stores, being smart about where we shop will be vital to not fall into paying too much, or giving into lifestyle creep. While there are definitely some brands we will never sway from (Reduced Fat Jif Peanut Butter is something you will have to pry out of my cold, dead hands) we are totally okay going generic and doing what we need to do.
This also means taking advantage of what we find on sale and change our plans accordingly. If we find a good deal on pork one week - I will change up my meal prep plans to make it work!
3. Plan our weeks accordingly to go into this prepared
I have already laid out the calendar for the next month to know the weeks that Anthony is gone (prepping less food for just my bariatric belly, and sharing more meals with my parents) compared to when my parents will be out of town and I am cooking 3 meals a day for both my husband and I. It also helps knowing as much as possible for what nights I am meeting up with friends, or may be in a position that a meal will be provided for me. This means less food being prepped and wasted.
To help combat weekend spending, I am also planning to implement instant pot Fridays at the end of the month for me and Anthony. We can make a more "fun" recipe to try new things and make a date out of it.
I will be planning to keep a budget and running list of what we do to help us hit our goal and report back at the end of the month. We will see how we do... wish us luck!