The $200 Grocery Budget

>> 6.20.2011

Last week I renewed my domain subscription for the second time... meaning Thrifty Little Blog is about two years old! To celebrate, I'm going to...well... blog (I know that I've been slacking a bit). I've got some budget breakdowns, cheap home improvements, and thrifty little tips coming up, but today I'd like to go into more detail on one of the most controversial topics I've posted on so far- my grocery budget.

When I say that we aim to spend $40-$50 per week on groceries (or $200ish a month), people usually wonder what we're buying and how we can possibly live such a horrible, boring life. I'll be the first to admit that we might be boring from time to time, but I wouldn't say that our meals are all that horrible. Here's a look at what I bought on yesterday's shopping trip:


It might not seem like there's a week's worth of meals in that group, but it's because there isn't. Remember, one of my big savings tips is to stock up on frozen proteins and other products I use all the time when they're on sale. This week, I obviously bought a ton of Fiber Once Cereal because I had a good coupon.

We combine things like these frozen proteins, condiments, and pantry items like flour and sugar to make all of our weekly meals and aim to eat every bit of fresh produce by the next shopping trip. Here's what this week's meal list looks like:

Monday- tacos and Mexican street corn (I make the tortillas from scratch, the corn and beans are left over from last week's trip)
Tuesday- spaghetti and (fake) meatballs with zucchini squash and salad
Wednesday- baked potato and salmon with salad
Thursday- pizza night (this is a weekly tradition that we always follow up with special dessert like frozen yogurt)
Friday- sweet potato fries, fake chicken, and salad
Saturday- we eat out
Sunday- fettucini alfredo
*Lunches are always leftovers or salads and snacks are usually fruit, yogurt, or smoothies. Based on sales or coupons available, we might have a few packaged snack options, but we try to avoid the unhealthy stuff.

With all of the details that I share with you on the blog all about my own crazy tendencies, I'm sure you imagine me running around the store with my calculator and list. I'm proud to say that I'm bit more carefree about it than you might think. The price of the trip is not actually as important as getting everything I need so I make a mental list before walking through the store, grab things if they're part of an especially good deal that I didn't know about, and feel satisfied with the total before the cashier even rings anything up. That's why I'm usually okay when we go a bit like we did this week:

Besides, the high weeks usually balance out with the low weeks:

If I could sum up my top grocery savings tips, I would probably narrow it down to four main points:
1. Always have some sort of a plan- When will that item be used and why do you need it?
2. Avoid processed packaged foods- They pack very little nutritional bang for their buck.
3. Stay flexible with your brands and meal plans- If a great sale comes up, you might just have to jump off of the meal plan or grocery list.
4. Don't let your food go to waste- If your picky 6'4 roommate (*cough cough*) consistently lets half a loaf of wheat bread go moldy... stop buying it for him! Eliminating the unneeded  extra apples or sour cream equals instant savings.

How do you keep your grocery costs low?

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Unplanned Accomplishments

>> 6.09.2011


I get distracted really easily. I might be in the middle of cooking dinner one moment, but dusting the room the next just because I catch an unclean surface out of the corner of my eye. And yes, I do burn food more often than I cook it correctly.

To get myself out of the habit, I made a resolution to "finish the projects that I start" in 2011. This meant that I had to go back and patch/ paint the drywall that my cheapo blue tape pulled off while I taped out the mirror's size (reason #233 why I'm sticking with Frog Tape).


Ta-da:

When I veer away from the to-do list (which I had already completed in this case) and start a project out of the blue, I like to call it an "unplanned accomplishment." It's not necessarily a bad thing, it would have probably made the to-do list at some point, but it's just something that I hadn't fully planned on doing. That's what I tell Nate when he comes home and finds things like the bathroom repainted:
I liked the stencils and they were fun to have for the past two years, but Nate always hated them so I figured that I'd go ahead and take care of the project while I had my paintbrushes out.

I think that the new paint color (Olympic's Plantation Moss- left over from guest bedroom) gives off a sophisticated vibe which is okay because it's at least a little balanced by my feather shower curtain:

I was on such a roll that I went ahead and started taking out the stripes in the half bathroom.... which I later found out Nate actually liked. *sigh*
This is maybe why I should think projects through a bit more before I start them.

Anyone else have a habit of starting projects out of nowhere?

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a bath for the granite and haircut for the hedge

>> 6.01.2011

Do you know when you realize that you've been slacking on blogging? When the person who lives your with projects day-to-day, hears your rants on how to cut costs, and sees you track your spending down to the penny asks, "So, what's up with your blogging?" 

I might have gone a little bridezilla as I screamed, "SERIOUSLY?! YOU KNOW WHAT I'VE BEEN UP TO!!" 

Anyways, Nate, this post about projects we worked on last weekend is for you. You know, just in case you've forgotten or something.

The weird thing about three day weekends is that I feel like I have all the time in the world and therefore can accomplish at least 1,001 projects. So, of course I just knew that we would get the entire yard spruced up for the summer over Memorial Day weekend (ha).

It hadn't rained very much since we put in the new granite path and sod so we hadn't realized that the dirt mounds next to the path could cause any issues until a 3-inch rainstorm blew in last month...


...and moved a bunch of mud around: 

My favorite bendy tree by the firepit area also created a mess of berries all over the once perfect granite: 

So my super-smart soon-to-be-husband came up with  a way to separate the heavy granite from the other gunk:

He realized that sweeping the leaves, berries, and dirt into a pile then scooping them into a wheelbarrow bath would be the most efficient way to clean things up.

Lucky for Hugo, things are looking a lot better down there!

Next, Nate began work on a future flower bed...

...and didn't get far before running out of mulch. 

I know, blog posts without "afters" are really lame.

At least we've gone somewhere!

Luckily, I do have an "after" shot of the second worst* haircut of all time:
Although I did spend a good deal of time trimming up the hedge and stuffing its branches into the lawn bags, it's hard to even call it an accomplishment when it ends up that ugly!


*See worst haircut here.

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