What Happens When You Reduce the Grocery Budget Drastically

In the spirit of the No-Spend October Challenge that Andrea (from Saving Joyfully) and I are embarking on, I’m excited to announce that I only spent $70.24 on groceries this week.

Granted, we like to eat relatively simple meals, but my family normally spends between $100 to $125 per week for our family of five, and sometimes it’s a struggle to stay within that limit. For our No Spend Challenge (you can find the guidelines HERE), we chose to stick to a budget of $100 or less for groceries, hoping that we could save even more than that.

Tip: Before you head to the store, grab my FREE Grocery List Templates to help you stay on track! Find them HERE.

The Mindset in the Store

While I tend to shop using the thrifty mindset anyway, this week’s shopping trip was different. I arrived at the store well-fed (so as not to pick up any random items) and promised myself that I would not purchase a Coke (one of my weaknesses). I looked over my list and was careful to avoid any aisles that I didn’t specifically need to go down.

At one point I picked up a block of cheese out of a display. It’s was off-brand (and not shredded like I normally buy), but I thought it would probably be cheaper. Turns out, the grated cheese WAS less expensive, so I traded those out and saved an additional dollar!

What I didn’t compromise on

My lunch typically consists of a lot of tuna so, while the tuna I normally buy was $1.07 per can (more expensive than it normally is), the off-brand was only $0.99. I determined that the difference between the two wasn’t great enough for me to change my purchase, so I did lose out on an additional $0.32 for the four cans I bought.

In retrospect, I probably should have caved in and just saved that money.

Purchases that weren’t on the list

I did deviate once when it came to my list. Remember that dollar I saved on the cheese? Well, tragically, it was spent on the second can of olives because, while I only had one can of olives on my list, I know how much my family enjoys them.

So…that might be considered a fail…or success depending on how you look at it. (My daughters both believe it’s a success, though, so… popular opinion has spoken.)

What I Didn’t Buy

It’s important to remember if you are comparing your budget to mine, that I didn’t purchase any household products on this shopping trip. As I’ve mentioned before, I actually have a separate fund in my budget for household products including paper plates, cleaning products, toilet paper, etc., and that remains intact at this moment.

I’m sure I will have to make a trip to Costco to get those things this month and, if I’m being honest, that might be a harder trip to navigate than simply heading to the grocery store.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep you apprised.

The Menu

Of course, what you’ve been waiting for: My Menu.


In our home breakfast always includes oatmeal with cinnamon and brown sugar (added nuts for those who enjoy them). As my husband gets up earlier than everyone else, he often has a special box of cereal for himself. This week I purchased him a box of Honey Nut Cheerios.


Everyone makes their own lunches in our home and they normally consist of a peanut butter (or turkey) sandwich, a piece of fruit, some sort of chip, and a yogurt or granola bar. We actually had turkey and peanut butter leftover from last week, so I didn’t purchase that but did grab some yogurt, apples, bananas, and a bag of chips. The granola bars we have should last us until the middle of the month (thanks Costco!).

As I mentioned, I bought tuna for my own lunches as it is one of the easy (and gluten-free) items I can make when I’m home during the day.


This week we put together a list of all of our favorites. We definitely took a look through our cupboards in advance to make sure that we used the items we already have. Of course, we don’t tend to stock up on items (shopping on a weekly budget does that to you), so we didn’t have a lot to pull from.

Most of the recipes are exactly as they sound because we are that simple when it comes to food.

Meal 1: BBQ Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Vegetables

Chicken: Justin will lightly season the chicken thighs with whatever seasoning we have in the cupboard and place them on the barbecue until completely cooked. We love to barbecue and tend to do so year-round.

Potatoes: Cube the potatoes, coat them in oil (avocado oil is my favorite), and add some Montreal steak seasoning to them for flavor. Cook them in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or so.

Vegetables: Pull a bag of frozen vegetables from the freezer, add them to a microwave safe dish, and microwave until hot. (I appreciate frozen vegetables because I don’t have to worry about wasting money the same way I do when I add fresh produce to my fridge. For some reason, we never can eat it all before something goes bad.)

Meal 2: Mongolian Chicken with Rice and Broccoli

Our favorite Mongolian Chicken recipe is a twist on this Mongolian Beef recipeWhile we enjoy it with the beef, chicken is cheaper so we normally have Mongolian Chicken instead.

Meal 3: Turkey Burger Spaghetti

It’s exactly what you think it is: spaghetti made with turkey burger instead of ground beef. Of course, you can choose to use whatever is cheaper, but in our area, I can get five pounds of turkey burger for the same price as two pounds of ground beef, so I’ll take the turkey burger and enjoy the savings!

Meal 4: Breakfast for Dinner

Our breakfast for dinner is a big hit in our home. Our early morning breakfasts tend to be rushed, so cereal or oatmeal is a staple. Around dinner, though, we have the extra time to make eggs, bacon, sausage, and, on special occasions, even pancakes or waffles.

This week we have chosen to have eggs with peppers, onions, and tomatoes, and sausage on the side. It’s simple, and yet everyone in our family loves it!

Meal 5: Chicken Breasts with Rice and Steamed Veggies

At least once per week, we have what we refer to as “Make Your Own Chicken Day”. Of course, Justin takes all of the chicken breasts out to the barbecue and cooks them until they are at a safe temperature. He doesn’t add any seasoning to them, though, and everyone pulls out their favorite condiment from the fridge to dip their chicken in.

I, personally, prefer Buffalo Sauce, Justin prefers a spicier sauce, Krista loves the Honey BBQ Sauce from Sweet Baby Ray’s, and Rebecca (and my father-in-law) will err on the side of traditional Ranch Dressing. It’s a win for everyone!

Meal 6: Chicken Fajitas with Red Peppers

Another staple around our home includes just about anything that you can put into a tortilla. This week, rather than making traditional tacos (we had those twice last week), we decided to have some chicken fajitas and add refried beans, olives (two cans!!), and the red peppers purchased specifically for this meal.

No one goes away hungry.

Meal 7: Bratwursts with French Fries

The final meal to choose from this week includes bratwursts and French fries. Like most of the food in our home, the bratwursts will be cooked on the barbecue. I’m gluten-free, so we don’t always purchase buns for the bratwursts (or burgers either), so we will just have them on our plates with a full helping of French fries. Typically, this is the meal that accompanies family night, the time that we spend together watching Shark Tank or Forged in the Fire.

Make Your Own Plan

I’d be happy to give you a breakdown of each and every item I purchased, but I actually don’t think that’s helpful, mostly because, depending on where you live and shop, your prices are going to be different than mine. What I can say is that, if you want to follow this menu and keep it under your budget, check out the sales on meat and substitute your meal plan with the most cost-effective options.

Tips for Success:

  1. Don’t shop hungry. (Seriously, it’s the quickest way to ruin your grocery budget!)
  2. Only purchase “sale items” if they are part of your weekly meal plan.
  3. Stick to the list.
  4. Check your cupboards for items you can include.
  5. Find more tips HERE.

Seems simple enough, right? So, how will you save money on groceries this week?

Tip: Before you head to the store, grab my FREE Grocery List Templates to help you stay on track! Find them HERE.