Have you ever done something that you thought was perfectly normal, only to get surprised looks when you share it with the rest of the world?
The first time it happened to me was when I went to college and realized that everyone there thought I was crazy about safety when I put my socks together in the laundry. ROLLING THEM IS JUST NOT THE SAME.
And the last time this happened to me was when I posted my monthly grocery bill on my blog. I quickly realized that my grocery expenses were not entirely normal, especially after receiving comment after comment from MyMoneyWizard.com subscribers like this:
“I want to know how to only spend $ 100 a month on groceries. This is absolutely wrecking me. Haha. Please share your secrets. “
“How the hell do you spend so little on groceries each month? What are you buying? The instant noodles? Obviously I’m joking, but seriously. What are you buying there? “
“Besides, how do you keep your grocery bill so low? Have you ever posted something like a weekly / monthly meal plan that makes it possible to be so frugal? “
Ask and you will find out!
A look at Money Wizard’s weekly shopping.
I’m writing this a few minutes after returning from the usual weekly grocery store drive and snapping a picture of this week’s grocery shopping before cleaning it all up.
Here is the picture of what a typical weekly shop looks like for Lady Money Wizard and me:
Total cost? 69.37 US dollars, around 52 euros.
These costs are for two people. So we are dealing with a total cost of less than $ 35, € 30, per person, or less than $ 150, € 130, per month.
Looking at recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports on the cost of groceries, which put even the smallest grocery budget at $ 190 per person per month (and up to $ 370 per month), you notice that my shopping habits are apparently unusually favorable.
Let’s go through the process from start to finish and see if we can uncover any secrets.
1st step: The menu
I found out that I have to plan my meals over the weekend. If I don’t have this overview, everything will get out of control and before I know it I’ll be ordering food for the third night in a row.
To avoid this costly doom, I have developed a set routine. Every Sunday morning I put together a weekly meal plan and go shopping for groceries during the day.
To be honest, “meal planning” makes it sound pretty complicated. In reality, I just turn to Lady Money Wizard and ask, “Hey, what do you want to eat this week?”
To help the memory, I keep a running list of all my favorite dishes on my phone. Every time we try a new recipe that is a winner, I’ll add it to the ever-growing list.
When I feel really adventurous, I’ll spend a few minutes browsing my favorite food blogs for new dishes. Some of my favorites are:
Typically we try to plan five full dinners at home. For us it’s a nice balance and we have Friday and Saturday to treat ourselves to a dinner together as a reward for sticking to the meal plan.
This week we agreed on these five meals:
- Crock-Pot Pulled Pork – A classic. Slow cookers are great because you can set them early in the morning and when you get home from work you can have a nice hot meal right away.
- Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli – We have made this dish multiple times and it is always a hit.
- Fried Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Thini Dressing – I still need to improve my salad intake, but this recipe is a good start. It’s one of the few salads I count as a full meal.
- Apple Cider Dijon Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Apples – Another recipe that comes up regularly in the Money Wizard’s kitchen. We always want to cook at least one simple “meat with a vegetable side” dish per week.
- Chicken Pot Pies – I’ve never made this meal before, but Lady Money Wizard felt like baking. I look forward to seeing what comes out of it!
My usual lunch is some cooked chicken with hot sauce and a serving of yogurt, fruit and maybe a couple of cheese sticks. I usually cheat and just grab a grilled chicken that I can turn into about four servings for a total of four to six euros. Simple, healthy and comes to around 2.5 euros per meal.
I didn’t grab any grilled chicken this week, so I’ll probably only be taking leftovers from dinner. Most of the time, leftover dinner is a full lunch, and when I’m looking for a side dish, I’ll grab whatever fruit and vegetables are on offer.
I stopped eating for breakfast a while ago. It turns out that the myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is based on research sponsored by a brand … Kellogg’s.
On the flip side, there is tons of legitimate, unbiased research that shows fat loss and the benefits of intermittent fasting. This is another fancy way of explaining that you can go twelve to 16 hours a day without food. That sounds really brutally long, until you realize that if you just skip breakfast, you are already at over twelve hours.
I noticed that my body adjusted quickly and after two to three days I was no longer hungry in the morning.
This is a pretty great trick because:
- I can now eat pretty much anything I want for the rest of the day and still stay at a healthy weight because I don’t exceed my daily calorie limit.
- I only have to pay two meals a day instead of three.
The second point might be an exaggeration because breakfast food is cheap, but I’ll count it anyway.
(For the record, Lady Money Wizard thinks I’m crazy for skipping breakfast, and she usually makes herself a quick morning smoothie with a banana, frozen fruit, and a little milk and yogurt.)
Step 2: grocery shopping
The shopping spree started at Aldi and ended at Cub Foods, where I bought the last few ingredients. From start to finish, the whole process took about an hour.
At the beginning of the article I already gave away the total cost ($ 69.37, 60 euros), but what do you get with $ 69 for well-planned groceries?
(Full Confession: The reason I’m posting this article this week is because I finally remembered to keep the bill).
Money Wizard purchase receipt
Milk (half a liter) – $ 1.29
Greek yogurt (five packs of $ 0.69 each) – $ 3.45 (3 euros)
Butter – $ 2.49
Bananas (0.8 kilos) – 0.83 dollars (0.73 euros)
Chickpeas (A can) – $ 0.79
Sweet potatoes (one kilo) – $ 1.72
Crushed Carrots – $ 1.69
Coriander – $ 0.69
Green onions – $ 0.69
Red onions – $ 1.69
Organic Spring Mix – $ 3.99
Apples (Fuji) – $ 3.39
Raspberries – $ 2.29
Cauliflower (one big head) – $ 1.89
Broccoli (one big head) – $ 1.89
Beef broth – $ 1.49
Chicken broth – $ 1.29
BBQ Sauce – $ 1.99
Basmati rice (1 kilo) – $ 2.99
Wheat hamburger buns (eight pack) – $ 2.50
Cake Crust Mix – $ 2.49
Soy Sauce – $ 1.89
Pork Chops (1.4 kilos at $ 2.89) – $ 5.81
Pork loin (1.4 kilos at $ 1.89) – $ 5.19
Angus beef tenderloin top steak (0.8 kilos at $ 4.79) – $ 8.57
Chicken Breasts (1.3 kilos at $ 1.89) – $ 5.67
Total cost: $ 69.37
Overall, this is a pretty normal amount for us, if not a little on the high end. I would say that the cost is more often between 48 to 57 euros. This purchase was a bit more expensive as it is a little meat-heavy.
And by a little, I mean that it’s absolutely impossible that we’ll both eat six pounds of meat in a week. I guess we’ll be freezing some leftovers, which should lower the monthly price even further.
Step 3: Spice up the food
We’re going to the kitchen!
With a little creativity (blindly following online recipes) we have processed our ingredients into these treasures.
Apple Cider Dijon Pork Chops, with the failed attempt to swirl the sauce as cool as real chefs:
Chickpea salad with lemon thini dressing:
DELICIOUS Homemade Chicken Pot Pie:
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork, which is warmed up in the pan for BBQ sandwiches:
I didn’t take a picture of the beef and broccoli, but I promise it looked (and tasted!) Really, really good.
That was a LOT of food. So much so that I spent the entire work week eating leftovers for lunch. What reminds me …
Don’t forget the leftovers!
If I’m trying to show exactly what groceries cost for a week, this must be the worst example of that. (I know great planning Money Wiz ….)
Because even after everything was said and done, we had enough leftovers to freeze two full servings of pulled pork and two pounds of chicken breasts. There is also left over two onions, at least a pound of rice, a couple of yogurt, loads of barbecue sauce, and even a couple of hamburger buns.
Realistically, that equates to almost another week of meals for one person, which means that the actual food cost per person drops to around 22 euros per week.
Conclusion – shop cheaply, live healthily and save money.
So there you have it. An affordable way to fill the pantry with real, nutritious foods that are healthy and inexpensive.
Obviously, this is just a random week that I had time to post – and more importantly, once in my life, I remembered to keep the receipt.
But I think it’s a pretty solid look at my typical routine. And hopefully it will give you some tips on how to save money and remove unnecessary items (such as snacks and ready-made meals) from your shopping cart.
Also, we don’t make rice and beans for every meal.
Instead, this type of approach is relaxed enough that if you want to save even more money, there is definitely some leeway to do that. And when someone tells you how expensive it is to eat healthy, you can have them laugh right out of the kitchen as you enjoy your fifth delicious meal of the week.