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Week 3 – Our Epic Food Budget Challenge – Four Couples, $50 a Week, Finding Our Rhythm!

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Food Budget Challenge | Getting into a Frugal Food Groove | How to Save Money on Groceries

Please understand that I know that $50 a week for food is totally doable and many people survive on way less.  My hubby and I have simply been overspending.  This challenge is meant to motivate, not to create friction.  Thanks!

My friend, Dee, had a tumultuous end of 2016.  She approached me with a food budget challenge she found online, we made a few changes, and we convinced our husbands to participate too.  Then two sets of our friends joined too!  Our challenge was born – $50 a week per couple for all food for 4 weeks straight from January 2-29, 2017.

Our Two Caveats

In our challenge, we can use all of our pre-existing food.  That means using any perishables in the fridge, pantry goods, and our stocks in the deep freeze.  All of the challengers started with some reserves we needed to clean out.  We just weren’t allowed to stock up in December for this challenge.

Also, I’ll make a note or point it out when any of us use a gift card.  It technically won’t count, though Len and I are acting like they do for us just to see how it works out by including them. Our general goals of this challenge are to spend less, waste less, spend consciously, and make healthier choices than regularly eating fast food and restaurant offerings.

Meet the Challengers!

Dee and Vee have been married about 1 1/2 years.  Dee is a teacher, 5 months pregnant, and is lactose intolerant (but ignores that frequently).  Vee started a new job that requires a lot of travel and prefers classic dishes like meat and potatoes.  This challenge was Dee’s idea.

Len and I have been married for 11 1/2 years and we’re fully self-employed.  Our businesses mean we are in and out of the house all day and Len refs varsity sports some evenings.  Our short-term main goal is to spend $200 or less over the next 4 weeks on all food.  Long-term, we’d like to stay at $400 or less a month and hope this challenge pushes us to form better habits like wasting less.

Kay and Andrew have been married for 3 months and are both teachers.  She avoids processed foods, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.  He avoids all carbs.  They like a lot of different types of food.  They jumped on to the challenge to cut back on their spending, waste less, and to incorporate more fresh vegetables and fruit into their diets while cutting back on meat.

Hillary and Gary have been married for 10+ years.  She runs a small business’ office and is a professional pet sitter, and Gary is an Uber driver while he finds where he wants to plant his flag next.  They are also eclectic eaters too.  They joined the challenge since Gary lost his job in December, dramatically decreasing their income.  Plus they already keep their spending in check and are keeping us on our toes.

Hillary Food Budget Challenge - Bratwurst in Pretzel Bun with Mac n Cheese and Green Beans

As you can see, we have different tastes and lifestyles, so this challenge should be fun to “watch”!

Week 3 Results!

We all did very well!  The spreadsheet results are below, but to summarize:

Dee and Vee spent about $44 since and used some of the stocks from their first week.  Dee is still being extremely detailed.  She sends me over a full spreadsheet with exactly what she bought, how much was used, how much was frozen or leftover, and lots of notes.  It’s impressive.

Len and I came in around $48 if you include the gift cards we used.  We’re tracking our gift card spending to see if we get close to the $200 even if we include it.  Our favorite dishes this week were chicken fajitas and chili.  Overall, we are both really throwing ourselves into this challenge.  Feels like something we can control.  🙂

Hillary and Gary hit around $59.  This total included $9 at Taco Cabana.  They also sent over pictures of the delicious meals put together on the other $50!

Hillary Food Budget Challenge - Pork Chop with Homemade Mac n Cheese and Baked Beans

Kay and Andrew, the natural eater and the low/no carb eater, were traveling for a friend’s wedding and I haven’t received their update yet.

Food Budget Challenge Week 3

Steps We’re Using

  • Leftovers List on the fridge of what we have left to eat.  This has been a huge help on reducing waste!
  • Meal planning
  • Shopping lists based on those plans.
  • Freezing (and labeling) anything we’re not using during the current week.

I’ve started using our slow cooker more often, and the leftovers can be saved in labeled, single serving containers (wrapped in plastic before I put the lid on) to reheat as wanted in the future.

You Are Welcome to Join Us!

Interested in working on your food budget too?  Set your own terms, comment below, and hop on in!  We’ll be tackling this from January 2-29, 2017.  You can totally be more or less strict than us, and all participation is welcome!



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 $80,000-$100,000 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!).  I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. 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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