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Week 4 – The End of Our Epic Food Budget Challenge – Four Couples, $50 a Week, Money Saved!

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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.  THIS IS THE LAST WEEK!!!

Our Exception

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.

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.

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.

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

Week 4 Results!

It was an interesting week!  The spreadsheet results are below, but to summarize:

Dee and Vee spent about $54.  Vee ran the meal making and budgeting this week.  Dee thinks that helped him see what’s actually involved.  They did great!

Len and I came in around $48 again.  We’re tracking our gift card spending to see if we get close to the $200 even if we include it.  Our favorite dish this week was red beans and rice (I put in a lot of sausage along with a few slices of bacon).  Overall, we both really threw ourselves into this challenge.  Felt like something we could control.  🙂

Kay and Andrew, the natural eater and the low/no carb eater, ate out at real restaurants twice this week, and their budget took the hit to the tune of $109 total.  Kay also mentioned that they spent nearly $30 this week on just beverages and beverage related items like creamer.  She seemed excited with their overall results even though this week wasn’t their best.

Hillary and Gary hit around $53 on meals like tacos and a chicken bacon noodle bake.

Food Budget Challenge Week 4

Results of All 4 Weeks!

CHECK THIS OUT!!!  We all did great!!!  Len and I stayed under the $200 mark even though we did grab some convenience foods a few times a week!
Food Budget Challenge All 4 Weeks

Tips We Used

  • Meal planning
  • Shopping lists based on those plans.
  • Leftovers List on the fridge of what we have left to eat.  This has been a huge help on reducing waste!
  • 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 Next Month!

Interested in working on your food budget too?  Len and I are planning to keep our food costs low.  We are setting a $300 goal for ourselves for February 2017 with the same rules.

  1. No stocking up in the next 2 days.
  2. Gift card spending will count for us.

Set your own terms for February, comment below, and hop on in!  We’ll be tackling this from February 1-28, 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 $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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4 thoughts on “Week 4 – The End of Our Epic Food Budget Challenge – Four Couples, $50 a Week, Money Saved!

  1. My husband and I have had a food budget ever since we got married. It started out around $250 or $275. That was 7 years ago. We bumped it to $300 a few years ago and stayed steady until we had our daughter. Now we have it at $350 a month but if we come in under that amount we pat ourselves on the back. We do eat in a lot. We eat dinner out maybe once a month and will have take out once a month.

  2. Wow, $200 for a month! That is impressive. We did the Uber Frugal Month Challenge with the Frugalwoods this January, and I set the goal for us to stay under $400 for the month’s groceries (down from probably $500-550). There are two adults and two small children in our family, but still we needed to cut back on the spending. It was a great opportunity to use up our freezer and pantry items, like you all! That plus better advance planning helped us stay at about $355 for the month, which I’m pretty stoked about. Ours is not including eating out, which we did more of than we’re used to, but oh well! It’s still great to reset our spending defaults so we can save more money!

  3. Congrats on your efforts! It’s quite impressive! Toward the end of last year when I was working on the budget for our family (my wife and I and our now 15 month old son), I worked in $125 per week for groceries. However, since we have been watching more closely we are now unofficially playing the game of “beat the budget” every week, and have been averaging more like $80-$90 per week give or take as my wife will sometimes buy snack food items at Target or Big Lots at a much lower cost. One of the key things I found very quickly for us was that meat seemed to be one of the most expensive weekly items (other than the occasional bottle of wine of course..) on the list. Then, one day we happened to be at the grocery earlier in the morning than usual (the baby helped with that), and picked up a pack of two filet mignon steaks marked “special today” for a total of $7 (the usual price is roughly $18-$20 or more for a pack of two). It was then I realized that around 8 or 9AM in the morning the meat department would begin severely marking down meat that had to be sold that day. The light bulb went off and now we make an effort to do our grocery shopping earlier in the morning if possible and we typically catch pretty good deals doing this. Often, when possible we will stock up a bit and freeze the extra to save on future weeks grocery bills as well. I would suggest to anyone finding out what time of the day (usually the morning sometime) your local grocery starts rotating their meat stock out, and starts marking down those items. It has saved us quite a bit of money.

  4. @Holly, yes, this definitely taught us that eating out is indeed the expensive part. We also crave crappy convenience food less. Now we only cave into our cravings for specific items and eat a lot more homemade meals! Sounds like your family is on the ball!!!

    @Mrs. COD, “reset our spending defaults” is a great way to put it! This challenge definitely helped us do that!

    @Chad, I never thought about figuring out when our Kroger actually adds the meat to the Manager’s Special bin…now I’m totally going to ask if it always happens at a specific time! Thanks!

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