Healthy Budget Eating
Healthy budget eating plans can help you save money and time when it comes to groceries! I’ve just wrapped up my second month of more intentional food budgeting and here is how it went!
February was our first full month of using The Budget Mom’s budget by paycheck system. This system was a total game changer for us! Most notably, our food and variable spending was hugely affected in a positive way!
Food Budget for February
We use Dave Ramsey’s zero based budget method. So when we were looking at everything for February, we realized that we needed to be super smart about our variable spending. The large majority of that is food!
We also challenged ourselves to use only cash for variable spending purchases. This excludes Target which I use the Target debit card for. You do receive 5% off for all purchases using your Target Red Debit Card so I do use it for that. I then drive right to the ATM and deposit the cash I used for my Target purchases.
Since we had less days in February (and more expenses… hello dance mom life!) we decided to reduce our food and household spending for the month. In March I will be breaking out groceries from household goods. For February, food and household items (collectively, groceries) was $950. This was a $150 reduction from January. I knew it would be challenging but I was willing to take it on!
My shopping trips for February included
- four trips to Target for weekly household goods (Total $301.45)
- two trips to Costco for bulk food & household good purchases (Total $289.54)
- four trips to Aldi for weekly fresh food and other weekly food not purchased in bulk (Total $289.23)
- one online cleaning purchase from Grove Collaborative ($20.02)
- two small Amazon orders (things that weren’t in stock at Target) ($19.23)
Compared to January, I did not go to Walmart since I stocked up for a number of items in January. That left me with $35 of which I rolled some into our eating out envelope and the rest to savings.
For someone who used to BLOW our grocery budget, this was huge!! Considering it was a month with $150 less, I was pumped.
Weekly Grocery Trips – Aldi & Costco
How I Saved Money on my Groceries and Household Purchases for February
Simply put, tracking our expenses and being diligent to stick to our list and meal plan is what created success in February.
The exact system I used to reduce healthy budget eating for February:
- Do an inventory on Wednesday before I shop.
- Create a grocery list by store based on the inventory and meal plan I created at the beginning of the month
- Estimate totals spent at each store and write that down at the top of each column in the list.
- Have a challenge with myself to beat the estimated total at the store.
- Use my phone calculator to track each item as I put it into my cart.
- If I’m getting close to the total, analyze items that may be able to wait until another week.
- Use iBotta to get cash back on items I’m buying. Use Fetch Rewards to earn rewards for gift cards!
February Meal Plan
February had a lot of freezer meals which really helped our budget! I had started with a full menu of items and when I realized we had a ton of stuff in our freezer to use, I realized I should take advantage of it!
- 2/1 – Pizza at home
- 2/2 – Freezer Meal
- ⅔ – Family Dinner
- 2/4 – Sheet Pan Dinner
- ⅖ – Sheet Pan Dinner
- 2/6 – Tacos
- 2/7 – Tacos
- 2/8 – Make it Work (aka leftovers/freezer meals!)
- 2/9 – Family Pizza Night (paid with gift cards)
- 2/10 – Friend Birthday Party
- 2/11 – Mediterranean Chicken
- 2/12 – Mediterranean Chicken
- 2/13 – Beef Veggie Soup
- 2/14 – Beef Veggie Soup
- 2/15 – Pizza at Home
- 2/16 – Out of town
- 2/17 – Out of town
- 2/18 – Tacos (freezer meal)
- 2/19 – Tacos (freezer meal)
- 2/20 – Egg Roll in a Bowl
- 2/21 – Egg Roll in a Bowl
- 2/22 – Pizza at Home
- 2/23 – Date Night Out
- 2/25 – Beef Stew (freezer meal)
- 2/26 – Make it Work (breakfast for dinner)
- 2/27 – Enchilada Bowls (freezer meal)
- 2/28 – Enchilada Bowls (freezer meal)
How Meal Planning Can Help You
You may be wondering if meal planning is worth the time and effort it takes. I remember sitting at my kitchen table about four years ago thinking the same thing.
I sat on Pinterest for hours looking up healthy recipes. Then I would spend hours in the kitchen prepping the meals with all of the ingredients I purchased.
It took a lot of time and a lot of money! I didn’t have a good system in place. The only thing that has worked over time is simplifying our monthly and weekly meal planning process.
Meal planning can help you if you have a simple system. Tons of cookbooks and recipes won’t help if you are overwhelmed.
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My Monthly Meal Planning System
- Take inventory of what you have. At the beginning of the month I take an inventory of everything we have in our pantry, freezer, spice cabinet and fridge to see what items I need to buy and what I can use in the following month.
- Print out a blank 30 day calendar. I use the printable PDF calendar from Time and Date.
- Write out all of your commitments for the month. If I know I’m going out of town, I know not to plan meals for those days. I also know that going out of town for the weekend can shift my meal prep day to Monday.
- Make a list of your family’s favorite eight to ten recipes. Write two to three recipes per week assuming you are going to double each recipe. I usually reserve one day a week for eating out, one for leftovers (unless I freeze them) and one day to eat at my parents house.
- Gather the recipes for these items and compare them to your pantry inventory. Mark which items can be purchased in bulk.
- Create your bulk and weekly shopping list and go shopping! Freeze any meat or other freezable items that you’ve purchased for making later in the month.