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.
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!
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!