This past weekend marked the end of the first of four weeks of the All You grocery contest. As you may recall, the gist of the contest is that you spend $25 per family member per week on groceries for a chance to win a $1000 grocery card.
So how did we do? Drumroll, please: we spent $71.58. For those of you not speedy with math, that makes us $3.42 under our limit.
Here’s how we stayed within our $75 budget:
1. We made several small trips to the grocery store during the week rather than one big shop meant to last the whole week. We only bought the food we knew we wanted to eat over the next couple of days and limited ourselves to those purchases. Typically, I like to do one big shop but it turns out that we’re then prone to some strange hoarding mentality and we often over-shop. By spreading out our shopping over several trips to the grocery store, we actually reduced the amount of food we bought. We were also able to visit two different grocery stores, buying the items we knew to be cheaper at each store.
2. I tried to prepare meals based on items we already had. Needless to say, we had lots of fusilli. On another night we had some bean burritos because, other than a jar of salsa, we had everything on hand. I also specifically shopped for sales, creating other meals based on items that were on sale.
3. Our pre-paid CSA veggies took center stage. I let kale and carrots star in a big pot of soup. I brought the soup and a hard-boiled egg to work for lunch several days in a row. We ate our CSA kohlrabi in different ways. I brought whole cucumbers to work to snack on. By stretching the CSA veggies, we bought very few other vegetables or fruits.
4. We went hungry. Ok, I’m kidding. Sort of. Mark would probably tell you that he had less to eat this past week than usual, but he always gets slightly annoyed when I mess with the quantity or variety of his food.
Though we stayed within our $75 budget, we could have done better. I don’t like grocery shopping with Charlie because we end up buying more snack foods when he says he wants them and we don’t pay as much attention to the sales. Last week, for instance, Harris Teeter offered rainbow trout on sale for $3.99 per pound. I asked Mark to go get some. He took Charlie and went off to buy the fish (he even specified to the guy behind the counter that he wanted the trout that was on sale). When he got home though, I noticed that the trout was priced at $9.99 per pound. I went online to the Harris Teeter weekly specials website and saw that the $3.99 sale was for whole trout whereas we bought the fillets. Fortunately for us, this wasn’t an expensive mistake since two fillets were only just over half a pound. But I certainly wouldn’t have asked Mark to buy the trout had I known it was going to be $9.99 a pound. That said, I used the fillets to try out this very yummy and inexpensive recipe for Asian trout that we paired with roasted beets and kohlrabi from the pre-paid CSA veggies.
Now week two of the contest is firmly underway. We’ve spent about $55 so far this week. We’ll make at least one more trip to the grocery store in the next few days, but it will be for smaller items like apples and bananas since we’ve already bought all the food we need for our main meals. We should have no problem sailing through to week three of the contest. I know Mark is thrilled.