Cutting Our Grocery Budget in Half

December 11, 2012

Last week while I was browsing Pinterest, I came upon a site that talked about how one woman was able to feed her family of four on just $50 a week! Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Since Joe and I typically spend quite a bit more than that (usually hovering around the $100/week mark) I felt a little silly. If that woman could feed four people on $50 then I certainly could feed two on the same amount, right?

I read her tips (be willing to do without, make swaps, give up on your favorite brand name items, shop the weekly ads, etc.) and set to work making my list. Instead of simply scribbling my list down on a piece of paper like I usually do, I decided to make a spreadsheet in Excel to tally up how much I was going to spend on each item. It proved to be very helpful since I could quickly see what items were busting my budget before I got to the store.

Here’s a look at what I brought home:

HyVee Greek Yogurt: 10/$7
18 Large Eggs: $1.69
HyVee Orange Juice: $0.99
HyVee Original Almond Milk: $2.50
HyVee Chocolate Milk: $2.19

5 lb. bag of potatoes: $0.88
1 yellow onion: $0.39
Broccoli: $1.99
1 sweet potato: $0.34
1 green pepper: $0.50
8 bananas: $1.63
1 bag Brussels sprouts: $2.53
2 apples: $1.56

HyVee Crushed Tomatoes: $1.49
Garden Fresh Hummus: $2.99
Mrs. Grimes Chili Beans: $1.50
Hunt’s Pasta Sauce 24-ounce: $0.88
HyVee Green Beans: $0.29
HyVee Corn: $0.29
HyVee Great Northern Beans: $0.50
Peter Pan Natural Peanut Butter: $1.69
HyVee Ketchup: $0.99
HyVee Taco Seasoning: $0.50

HyVee Coffee: $5.99
Mission Flour Tortillas: $0.99
Truvia: $3.59
Apple Cinnamon Chex Cereal: $1.88
Trash Bags: $3.49


I soon realized that my savvy Pinterest friend was right. We had to learn to do without some of our favorite items/brands and shop the sales. Here’s a look at what swaps and “sacrifices” were made:

The Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter I usually buy got replaced with Peter Pan Natural, which was almost $2 cheaper on sale. And potatoes weren’t on the list this week until I saw that a 5 lb. bag was on sale for just $0.88! Although we don’t usually eat many regular potatoes, this deal was too good to pass up. I didn’t buy name-brand Greek yogurt but I was not willing to sacrifice on Greek yogurt all together. Instead, I found that HyVee was having a 10/$7 sale on their house brand. And that Starbucks coffee I’m so attached to? It didn’t make the cut. Instead, I purchased house-brand coffee from HyVee. Truth be told, I can’t even tell a difference.

As you can see, I was a few dollars over my budget, but not bad considering we practically cut our weekly spending in half. Based on what was purchased, this is what our week of eating looked like:

Monday: Breakfast for Dinner (eggs, toast (we have bread in the freezer), orange juice)
Tuesday: My Mom’s Fabulous Chili (we can get at least two meals out of this, and vegetarians can enjoy it, too, if you keep the meat separate)
Wednesday: Enchiladas (with ground beef for Joe, green peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, etc.)
Thursday: We went to a friend’s house for a bring-a-dish dinner and I brought mashed potatoes
Friday: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Oven Fries (with the potatoes we bought), Black Beans

After going through the week, I was surprised to realize that I didn’t feel deprived compared to the weeks in which I spent $100. Since it was relatively easy and we didn’t feel as if we were missing out, I hope to keep this up. It’s a super easy way to cut back on unnecessary spending.


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  • Reply Allison December 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    My husband and I spend about $100/week at the grocery store as well, and I have been wondering if this was normal! Granted, I have several dietary restrictions (no gluten and no dairy), so things tend to be more expensive. I am going to have to try this out, and see if I can cut my grocery spending too!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry December 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Allison, it’s nice to know we aren’t the only people who spend around $100/week. It was interesting to experiment with eating healthy while still managing to not spend a lot. Even cutting it by $20-$30 a week adds up!

  • Reply Livia December 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    So what will your menu for the week be with those items? I can’t imagine much options IMO.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry December 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      Livia, just keep reading! I listed out what our meals looked like for the week toward the end of the post. I’m happy to report that we didn’t go hungry. 🙂

  • Reply Lori Capel December 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Gotta be careful though…. check out the amount of sugar, in that greek yogurt, OJ, hummus, ketchup and potatoes. Sugar turns to fat if it’s not completely burned. Doesn’t have to be name brand, you just have to read the label. You may be saving money, but you aren’t saving regarding health.

  • Reply Marisa December 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    My husband and I also spend about a $100 a week on groceries. I’ve been working to cut that down to $75. I’ve found that when my fridge is really clean I spend less on groceries because I can see exactly what I have and what needs to be used up.

  • Reply Sarah Crosby December 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    This makes me feel guilty yet have hope. Our budget is $150 a week! Normally it’s around $100-$125 but still, that’s a lot for 3 people! We were cleaning out our fridge yesterday and threw away too much food. I was sick to my stomach how much waste we had! Time to cut back and go with off brands! You have convinced me of that! 🙂 One question though: Did you feel like you were compromising not as healthier choices by choosing different stuff? Just curious!

  • Reply Brindi B December 11, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    My husband and I try to keep our budget around $80 a week. I’m the one who does the shopping…if the hubby comes along we tend to be closer to $100. He needs his meat and his snacks, so I often find myself putting back things I want to balance the budget. I don’t need brand names, but I want to make sure what I’m buying is still healthy. Also curious to see if you sacrificed healthier choices….

    (I’m with you on the peanut butter….I have the Smucker’s one right now. I used to buy Target’s archer Farms Natural Almond Butter but I can’t find it any more!)

  • Reply Rachel December 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    this is great! I easily spend $120 per week on groceries, though that is for breakfast, lunch and dinner for both of us for 5 days. There was a time when I had cut it down to under $100, but it certainly took a lot of planning. I hope to get back there someday!

  • Reply carla December 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Can you post your Mom’s chili recipe?

  • Reply natalie@thesweetslife December 12, 2012 at 12:31 am

    well done!! we try to stay around $250 for the whole month…it used to be $200 but i swear food prices are increasing!

    do you have an aldi near you? highly recommend that for super cheap produces and basics (oats, eggs, butter, baking items, etc.)

  • Reply jaime @ asweetroad.com December 12, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Awesome! I love it when I can find cheaper healthy products!

  • Reply Emilia December 12, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Ah great timely post with the holiday season upon us!! I also have to say I LOVE making savings on groceries (most of the time – although I also love buying salmon steaks and overpriced super luxury yogurt sometimes too 🙂 ). Looking for offers is a great way of doing it, as is making really good use of potatoes which are just so cheap! Making homemade stocks at the weekends also works really well – soups are cheap and so filling and if you make them with homemade stocks they just always taste like real gourmet food. And veggie stocks are pretty much free to make with leftovers! 🙂 xo

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