$200/month grocery challenge – Part II

This is the second installment of a 5-part series.  Missed the first part?  Go here

My family and I recently completed a 4-week long experiment in which we aimed to drastically reduce our spending on groceries and continue to eat well, perhaps even better than before.

The outcome
Did we succeed?  Yes and no.  We spent $179.80 on regular groceries (including milk), coming in under budget.

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Here’s what we bought, in a nutshell, over the course of the month:

  • 8 gallons milk
  • 5 pounds meat
  • 3 dozen eggs
  • 1 pound butter
  • 1 pound coffee
  • 3 quarts yogurt
  • A bunch of fruit
  • Some veggies (other than tomatoes and zucchini)
  • A couple of treats (ice cream and candy, once each)

You can find the detailed accounting by clicking on the image below.

$200 grocery spending

What did we eat?  A lot of different things.  All delicious.  If you’re curious about the details, you can peruse our weekly meal plans from the month here.

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When I add in the seasonal cooking project costs (explained tomorrow in Part 3) which were $72.23, and that of the cheesecake my husband bought ($10 that I didn’t spend so I’m not counting it toward the $200 – how’s that for creative accounting?), the grand total is $262.04.

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Not bad for 68 meals in 4 weeks (17 meals per week, on average.  Right on target).  That works out to $3.85 per meal for the whole family.  If you count our 3 people as 2.5 (since one member is quite small, though a rather big eater), that’s just $1.54 per person per meal.  Wowza!  Now that’s some cheap eats!  (And that doesn’t even account for the additional people we fed when we had house guests, took dinner over to family members, and sent meals home with my sister, all within the same budget.)

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I hasten to mention that despite the low cost, we ate very well this month.  We always felt satisfied, and I knew we were well nourished.  My husband’s lunches continued to garner praise in the lunch room at work.  I was even able to stock the freezer with extra soup, stew and muffins.  I think I even lost a couple pounds, but not for want of eating.  The lighter, mostly vegetarian meals and portion control that comes with meal planning (having seconds means no lunch for tomorrow!) meant we rarely overate but always had plenty.

As an aside, this book changed my perspective completely, which helped, too.  I ate all the freshly baked bread and butter I wanted this month and my skinny jeans still fit.  Win-win!  If you can be open-minded and forgive the fact that the author was on “Real Housewives”, her book is worth a gander if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Of course, much of what we ate was paid for in a previous month.  I used a lot of pantry staples (e.g., flour, rice, beans, oats) and items in the freezer (e.g., fruit, meals from months gone by), and zucchini and tomatoes from the garden.  If we ate this way every month we would eventually exhaust our stock and have to do some major replenishing.  But that was part of the objective.  Either way, I’m declaring this a victory!

Tomorrow, read about my seasonal produce dilemma in Part 3.  Tainted experiment or opportunity seized?

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