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Preparing for the EPIC Food Budget Challenge of January 2017

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Before reading any further, please understand that I know that $50 a week for food is totally doable and many people survive on way less.  This challenge in general is only meant to help food over-spenders like us to feel motivated to cut back.  It is not intended to pour salt into any wounds.  Thanks!

My friend, Dee, has had a tumultuous end to 2016.  She got pregnant in September, her husband lost his job in November, they had to tackle some tough financial realizations, and he just started in a new job this week.  Overall, it’s amazing to only be unemployed for less than a month, right?  But they are still tightening their financial belts and Dee mentioned a food budget challenge that had my ears pricking up…$50 a week for 4 weeks straight.

Why I Want to Do the $50 a Week Food Budget Challenge

My husband and I spend WAY more than we need to on food.  Specifically, fast food and restaurants are vices that we dive into happily whenever we feel like it.  This has led our overall food budget to increase from $450-$500 a month to $700+ a month over the last year or two.  That’s a $2400+ a year splurge compared to our budget.  I’ve been wanting to cut that back.

When I mentioned this challenge to my husband, he looked at me like I was made of stinky cheese.  BUT, he said immediately replied “okay”.  We’ve talked, and we agreed that $50 a week is more than enough if we live off the classically cheap stuff like cereal, pasta, beans, and rice.  BUT, we are going to attempt to live on $50 a week while having a semi-balanced diet like we do right now.  Vegetables, fruit, dairy, carbs, and meat…our five main food groups.

We also understand we simply won’t be eating out much at all.

Big Exception

Dee and I have agreed that whatever food we have in our homes at the end of the year is fine to use to supplement the challenge as long as we don’t “cheat” by loading up right before we start.

This will obviously make the challenge easier, but the overall point is just to get control of our food spending.  We rather not spend our time doing cost guesstimates on things we bought months ago…or years in the case of a few things in my freezer.

Hopefully this challenge will shock us back into frugal habits while simultaneously pushing us to clean out our fridges, pantries, and freezers.

Preparations Thus Far

In order to do less work the weekend before we start, I’ve started a list of all of the cheap breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that we already enjoy.  This list includes the ingredients of each dish and their general cost.  I add new things as they pop up.

I’ve also created a sample week of meals and total costs.  I just wanted to make sure we could pull off at least one week.  Looks totally possible.  I’ll start using our slow cooker more often, and we’ll be pushed to eat all of our leftovers.

Less waste and more money saved, win-win!

Join Us?

One set of our teacher friends, E&K, have already heard about our challenge and will be joining in.  It’s $25 per person per week, so anybody can participate, not just couples.  We’ll be starting January 2, 2017 and ending January 29, 2017.  That’s 4 full weeks for $200 or less per couple for groceries and dining out combined.

Would you like to join us too?  Comment below and keep an eye out in January for my weekly updates so you can chime in on your results too!



FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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8 thoughts on “Preparing for the EPIC Food Budget Challenge of January 2017

  1. By the way…and before i forget again: Love the blog design.

    On the food challenge: I’ll skimp on a LOT of things before i’ll skimp on food. Just about my only day-to-day pleasure in life comes from good food and good eating. I rarely eat out (by and large I’m so spoiled on real food that I don’t care for restaurant meals), but I decline to cut corners on groceries.

    Seven hundred bucks a month, however, is wayyyy beyond the pale. Especially when a lot of it is going to fast-food joints and chain sit-down restaurants. Yech! The food in those places is so bad! What a rip… Hope you find ways to eat better and then discover that it’s costing you lots less! <3




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  2. I feel like a glutton that I looked at this and had a mixed response of: that would be great for the pocketbook, but I also don’t wanna.

    We spent $35 on burritos last night for ourselves and a friend who came over and did us a favor. That’s 70% of the budget in one go just because I can’t / shouldn’t lift 50 lbs. *grimace* Also the three of us eat an awful lot … fresh produce for a week costs $20 and then we need some kind of starch and protein. Honestly it feels like I’m just making excuses. We could probably figure it out but the timing isn’t good for us with a ton of family visiting coming up. I shall instead spend that energy wishing you good luck!




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  3. Good luck! Not sure I could convince the family to reduce the budget to $50 a week. The kids eat a lot. 🙂 While we don’t really eat out, our food budget is around $700 a month. That does include all toiletries, paper goods, and cleaning supplies so it may not be apples to apples. I’d be thrilled if I could shrink it by $500 a month, but I don’t see that happening. I just try and save money in other areas.




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  4. I would like to join, thanks!! I recently moved to moved to a small town, and the grocery stores here are more expensive than Publix. The nearest Aldi is an hour away, and Costco and Trader Joe are even further. I go way over budget every month!!

    I am even thinking of taking a monthly road trp to less expensive grocery stores to stock up on non perishables and frozen foods ( I would bring a cooler)




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  5. hello Crystal Stemberger, it’s really great thought to cut down our expenses and live. We can help someone who is very needy. I appreciate your thought to Do the $50 a Week Food. Great job.




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  6. Your goal is totally doable. After the birth of our first son, I decided to stay at home with him for 2 years. We cut our income in half. Budgeting was a total necessity.

    It takes planning and searching for sales. Especially for meat. I would plan my meals and shop for an entire month (except for perishables). That way there were no temptations from deviating from the plan.

    Good luck!




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  7. I can’t say I’ll get down to $100/week for our family, but we’re going to definitely be looking at groceries come January. However we are also going gluten-free so might need some different stuff that costs more, ugh.




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