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Friday, February 5, 2010

The 200 Challenge - spending less on groceries in 2010


*Update: Ok, ladies...I have added a link-up at the bottom of this post.  We'll plan on making this a monthly thing.  So blog about this challenge then come back and link up your post!

It's already February and I'm on a new challenge.  A budget challenge that is.  I've been looking over our finances lately and trying to figure out some new ways to cut back on our grocery spending.  I'm all about coupons and they help us save a bit of money, but I've sort of fallen off that bandwagon here lately and it's time to get back on.  However, using coupons and watching sales isn't all there is to it.  I've found that cooking from scratch and planning out our meals helps a lot too.

Our budget for groceries has been at $240 per month, but, like I said, things have been a little off, so I know we've been spending more than that some months.  Not good.

So for the rest of 2010 we're going to be on the 200 Challenge.  That means that we will be spending only $200 per month on groceries for the rest of this year.  It may mean eating a lot of rice and beans, but that's ok.  Actually, that adds up to be $2400 a year.  Ouch!  That still sounds like a lot!  Especially when I read that a family of four spends only $800 on groceries per year.  Talk about inspiration!  If I can learn how to do that, I'll be doing really good!

If you want to join me in spending less and saving more, I'd love to have some company on this journey!  You don't necessarily have to do the 200 Challenge, but just look at your family and your needs and make your own goal for improving your current budget.

Yesterday I went on a big shopping trip.  I bought enough groceries to last us for a month (hopefully), except for a few things we will still have to buy throughout the month, like dairy and produce.  I've spent $157.05 of our $200 budget for this month.  That means I have $42.95 left to spend this month.  I bought a lot of rice and beans, and I'm stirring up my creative juices to find some different ways to prepare them so that we don't eat the same boring meal too often.  :-)

So what's included in the term "groceries" and what's not?  For us it includes all our food, trash bags, dish detergent, and paper products (ie. toilet paper, kleenex, etc.).

Here are some of the main dishes I'm incorporating into our menu this month (most of these we will eat at least 2 times because I usually make a big recipe and freeze some for later):

Chili Beans
Mexican Wrap Casserole
Black-Eyed Peas
Spaghetti
Costa Rican Pinto
Grits, Eggs, Biscuits
Black Bean Soup
Brown Rice Casserole
Nachos
Pinto Beans
Lentil Soup
Pancakes
Fried Rice w/Chicken & Veggies
Pizza
Bean, Rice, & Cheese Burritos
Lentil Rice Casserole
Mac & Cheese, Chesapeake Spiced Salmon Cakes
Tortellini w/Veggies
Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
Minestrone Soup
Simple Italian Pasta

If you have any grocery saving tips or frugal bean and/or rice recipes, please share them with me!  I need lots of new ideas!

And please come join the challenge fun too!  If I get enough reader response, I will put up a monthly or weekly link-up so we can all inspire each other with how we are doing on this quest for frugality.  :-)

15 comments:

Heather said...

I want to do it! We have been trying this for like 6 months now...but some months are better than others.

SnoWhite said...

nice work! You can totally do this.

our favorite rice/beans recipe is "unstuffed pepper skillet" -- with black beans! You can omit the ground turkey from the recipe -- and also double the filling to use inside tortillas. YUM.

Randall and Rachel Beita said...

Great idea! I think a monthly linkup would be good. I would love to do this but because of my living situation it is hard. I will try to send recipes to you. Do you all eat chicken at all?? Where is the Mexican Wrap Casserole Recipe?? Sounds yummy!!

Amy said...

Sounds great to me! Our current budget is $225.00 and I am going to join you in making it $200.00 a month! I have to say though that we have a different budget for paper towels, dish detergent, trash bags and other things like that (it is our "necessities" category on our budget) so for us the whole $200.00 will be food products only. We also spend more on meat than I think you guys do (just looking at your menus) so that does cost a bit more. Still I know I $200.00 is completely doable! Very excited! Can't wait to see some other peoples tips on how they save!

Ashley InmanRinger said...

Id love to do this, but i am totally scared! In the past we ran about 300 every 2 weeks, this month we are trying the shop once a month for groceries and we spent 450. Id like to read up on this subject and see exactly how it works.

Lauren said...

I would love to join you and it just so happens that I budgeted $200 exactly for our food this month. My husband and I started off with a $200 food budget at the beginning of our marriage but since we have added 2 little ones it has increased. We include hygiene items, paper products, household cleaning products, diapers and wipes in our budget so this is really going to be a challenge. I have already spent $100 dollars but I think I have enough diapers and paper products to last the whole month. Our food should last us till the end of next week if not longer. Thank goodness February is a short month!! :-)

Alison @ Hospitality Haven said...

Good for you! It's totally possible. I look forward to hearing how you do with it.

Lauren said...

I have a post up about this challenge over at my blog...

http://thedelklegacy.blogspot.com/2010/02/200-challenge.html

Sarah said...

Thanks ladies for the interest and the ideas. I am so excited about what we can learn from each other.

Rachel, I will post the Mexican Wrap Casserole recipe soon. It is SO yummy! And yes we do eat chicken.

Ashley, that's a big budget cut...good for you! Don't be discouraged if you're not able to make it the first month. Sometimes it takes little gradual changes to get to the final goal. :-)

Sarah said...

Lauren, it's amazing that you had budgeted the same amount! I forgot to mention that my budget includes diapers and wipes too. Oops! I went back and updated my post. :-)

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Besides beans and rice, try eating more potatoes! I buy lots of potatoes when they're .20 or less a pound (which is 5 times cheaper than beans! Althught I get my beans in bulk for less than that, too.)

Here are the ways we like potatoes: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/Potatoes.aspx

For rice dishes, I make

Spanish Rice (we had this with pinto beans the other day for lunch):
http://theprudenthomemaker.com/spanishrice.aspx

Chicken Flavored Rice:
http://theprudenthomemaker.com/ChickenRice.aspx

We made lentil tacos for lunch the next day:
http://theprudenthomemaker.com/tacos.aspx

I spouted mung beans (though you can sprout lentils for this instead; a handful will do it) to make stir fry this week: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/stirfry.aspx We also added some bell peppers from the freezer (from our garden) and some swiss chard from our garden.

I have a maximum price of $5 per meal for my family of 7, though most of our meals are $2-$4, and MANY of them include leftovers.

We have been living from our pantry since mid-December (no shopping trips). I was finally able to make one trip this week and I spent $30; that will probably be the only trip this month. Our income has been cut again and we are eating from our pantry and garden (I cooked the first three turnips of the year and the greens this week).

While $200 isn't usually enough for my family of 7.9 (should be 8 real soon) including diapers, while we are living from our pantry, we can keep under that amount :) When we get to resume normal shopping, my goal is $500 for the month, including restocking my pantry, diapers, etc.

Sarah said...

Thanks Prudent Homemaker for your detailed comment! The links are great and sounds like you are doing a great job with your large family. :-)

You are right potatoes are cheap. Maybe that'll be a good switch for next month when get tired of beans and rice. :-)

Brennan's Mom said...

Seriously? $200 a month for more than one person? :)

Maybe it's cause we pay more in Canada and we don't get as many coupons but even planning a month ahead and including a week of "eating from the pantry" I cannot get the groceries under $800/month (and we cloth diaper 95% of the time so we don't have a diaper expense).

I'm very curious to read on how everyone is doing it and keeping it nutritionally balanced... I know we spend at least $100/week on fresh veggies & fruit (and we’re a family of three).

Thanks for sharing all the great ideas! I'll be checking back for more!

Heather_Rochelle said...

i would love to see how you do this . I am a diabetic , and currently a student with only 200.00 a month also to spend. I like to eat healthy , but my main goal is trying to only cook for one! I look forward to seeing your ideas!

Rebekah said...

I'm reading this 2 years after you started this blog...are you still doing $200 a month? This is inspiring. :)