My House Runs On A $120 Weekly Grocery Budget That Needs To Cover Nearly Every Meal; Here’s Exactly How We Spent It Last Week
This week, ground turkey was on sale, and English muffins were BOGO — so I built my grocery list from there.
Hi! I'm Sydney. I'm a stay-at-home mom of three, and I make homemade meals for my Colorado family every week.
Although my current phase of life is a stay-at-home mom, I've also been a college student mom, and a full-time working mom — and each stage taught me valuable lessons around feeding myself and my family.
One of those lessons has been that meal prep and planning are essential for running a smooth household with three kids under nine. Figuring out all the meals ahead of time allows me to save time and stick to a budget each week. For a long time, that budget was $100 per week — but I've recently had to increase it to $120 due to everything being more expensive these days.
Each weekend — with that budget in mind — I plan all my family's meals for the upcoming week. This includes choosing the recipes I will make, plus the actual shopping. I cook pretty much every meal every day due to a severe peanut allergy in my household. We don't rely on much takeout for this reason.
When planning each week, I start by looking at my local grocery store's weekly sales so I know what items will get me the most bang for my buck. This first step has become more important than ever to my planning and budgeting lately.
With meal planning, upfront preparation is key — but it's also the most challenging thing. Here are a few tips and tricks that I use each week:
4) I buy the cheapest store brand most of the time. Unless it's something that I'm unable to use due to the peanut allergy or an item I absolutely love (or if a different brand is on sale), store brand it is.
5) I ask my kids to help me. Feeding kids is a challenge. They change their minds constantly, and they seemingly get new taste buds every meal. When I ask them to help pick out recipes (usually with them looking at pictures), I find that they are more excited to eat them. I will also let them pick what they want for their lunch, snacks, and fruit and veggies for the week!
6) I shop AT the grocery store, I am not THE grocery store. I don't supply endless options. I'm not going to overbuy produce that will end up going bad in the fridge without being used. I'm not going to be a vending machine for pantry snacks. My kids get to pick what they want their non-recipe veggies, fruits, and snacks to be for the week, and we usually pick two options for each category.
Also, my kids are small! They do not have the same appetites as teenagers or fully-grown adults. I'm aware that my grocery budget will need to increase as they get older.
Lastly, I'm not a chef. I'm a mom who cooks meals for her family. I learn things as I go and pick recipes that seem manageable for me to keep up with — as I also try and be present with my family.
After making my plan for this week, I wanted to get an estimated idea on how much everything cost before I headed to the grocery store. My total sat at $125.41, and if everything went according to plan, we were sitting in a good spot!
Most weeks, I get my groceries delivered to save me time, gas, and impulse buys. (I also opt for delivery because if you've ever taken multiple young kids grocery shopping, you know the struggle!) This week, though, I went to the store myself because I was worried about lots of items being out of stock and my budget flopping.
Also, if I'm being totally honest, our city recently started charging for disposable bags — which you can't opt out of with delivery. So...to the store with my reusable tote bags I went! (No one has ever said I'm not stubborn.)
Everything went according to plan at the grocery store, but I'll admit: It's still always stressful budget-wise. Even though I've planned, prepped, and priced everything out ahead of time, there is always a bit of an unknown on how your total will ring up exactly.
As you continue to build your pantry, it's easier to spend within budget because you'll utilize staples you have already acquired. But for the purpose of this post, several pantry staples (like oats, brown sugar, rice) were included in the $125 I spent. The only staples I did not include were oils and spices.
I also did not include eggs like I normally would because I had recently budgeted five dozen eggs from Costco into my shopping list a few weeks ago. (Read about how I did that here.)