I am trying an experiment. Can I get all of our food and household items for $38 a week? My “official” food and household budget is $75 a week. This includes Hubby eating out one lunch a week with a friend. They always go to the same cheap Mexican restaurant, and Hubby only spends around $4, so I am left with $71.
I get most of our toiletries and household products for free or for pennies at Walgreens and Rite Aid by using coupons and rebates, but the one expensive household product I am brand-loyal to is Tide with Bleach detergent in a particular scent (clean breeze). I usually buy the 142 oz. box at Target for around $12. I haven’t kept track of exactly how long it lasts, but I know it’s over a month (I only use about ½ the recommended amount). I have decided to set aside $3 a week to save up for detergent and any other larger household products that won’t fit into my regular weekly budget.
I have also decided to set aside another $3 a week to save for Christmas portraits. That way, by the time we get them taken in early November or so, we will have around $100, which should get a decent small package.
Now, for the tricky part. Our family is growing, and it would be handy (almost necessary, especially when hauling luggage and gear for two young children on trips) to have a minivan rather than our compact car. I am going to try to set aside $30 a week out of the food budget to save for a minivan. Yes, it would take a long time on $30 a week, but if we combine that with the small amount we could get for selling our car, plus perhaps the economy-stimulus check that is supposed to be coming in May, there could be a used minivan in our future within the next couple of years (hopefully before we have a third child, because it would be next-to-impossible to squeeze three car seats in the back of our car!).
So, $75 – $4 for Hubby eating out – $3 for portraits – $30 for the minivan fund = $38 a week. Take out $3 for the detergent fund, and I’m left with $35 a week. Now, I am not starting from absolutely nothing. In the pantry, I have quite a few cans of tomato products and tuna, a couple bags of flour, a supply of oats and rice, some brown rice pasta (easier for us to digest than wheat), peanut butter, applesauce, etc. In the freezer, I have several pounds of frozen hamburger. I also stocked up on cheddar cheese and grapefruits last week when I found a sale.
We like meat around here, and I rarely make meatless dinners. I am going to try to buy chicken one week and hamburger the next, and freeze some of each so we can have a combination of both every week.
Yesterday, I went to two stores—a Kroger-chain store and a discount food store. Here’s what I bought for this week:
2 large packages chicken drumsticks $8.49
2 baking potatoes $.53
2 small heads of broccoli $.54
1 bunch grapes $1.43
1 large tomato $.50
1 bunch celery $.37
1 qt. plain yogurt $2.34
1 package raisins $3.98
1 roll plastic cling wrap $1.73
4-pack lightbulbs (to replace the fluorescent bulbs in our floor lamps) $.88
2 dozen omega-3 eggs $4.10
1 gallon organic milk (I used a $1 off coupon) $3.99
1 large bunch organic bananas (we like the taste way better than regular bananas) $2.34
Total for these two stores: $31.22
Today I went to the produce market and bought:
1 huge head romaine lettuce $1.39
2 oranges $.43
1 large bulb garlic $.50
1 large onion $.41
5 red delicious apples $1.20
I spent $3.93 at the produce market—only five cents over my budget, for a total of $38.05.
Here’s what we will be eating this week:
Breakfasts: Hubby likes the same thing every morning—toast with peanut butter and applesauce. Dear Little Fellow and I usually have scrambled or fried eggs along with some fruit, muffins, or oatmeal.
Lunches: Hubby gets lunch for free at his work cafeteria. Dear Little Fellow and I usually have leftovers and fruit.
Friday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Saturday: Baked Chicken
Sunday (lunch): Chicken Soup; (dinner): eat at church
Monday: Hamburger-Broccoli Quiche
Tuesday: Fried Rice with Chicken
Wednesday: Tuna-Veggie Casserole
Thursday: Mexican Rice Bake
For side dishes with our dinners, I usually make either a green salad or a fruit/yogurt salad, or we just have fruit slices.
I am excited to try this experiment this month and see if I will be able to make it work on a long-term basis!