Grocery Budget Makeover: Week 1

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The Grocery Budget Challenge has begun! I know our four families are going to have a great month working hard to slash their grocery budgets so they can meet their financial goals. To learn more about each family, click on their name and it will take you to their profile page.


  • March total: $652.95
  • Week 1 goal: $130

My advice for Jamey:

Shop at the Commissary. In your geographical area I can assure you it is hard to beat Commissary prices. Remember to check the bargain meat freezer and check the tear pads on the aisles for additional savings.


  • March total: $823.58
  • Week 1 goal: $150.00

My advice for Susan:

Spend an hour on the weekend prepping snacks for your kids for the week. Instead of buying expensive individually packaged snacks buy larger less expensive containers and divide them up yourself. You can buy a large bag of chips and divide them into small Ziploc bags for their lunches. Have the children help you to get it done quicker.


  • March Total: $594
  • Week 1 goal: $125

My advice for Lauren:

Since you shop primarily at Walmart it might benefit you to create a price book. While it might not help you in the short term, it will help you over time to determine which store has the lowest prices on items you buy often.


You might remember that Hawk was trying to shrink the family’s grocery budget so they could put money towards their adoption goals. Due to some unforeseen events Hawk’s family has just grown by two people. While they are still competing in this challenge the new goal is to keep the grocery budget manageable even though the family just doubled in size!

  • March total: $297

My advice for Hawk:

Simplify your meals. Cooking from scratch is great (I do it too) but many times you can spend a lot of money getting one or two special ingredients. Find recipes that use basic ingredients so you can stock up on the staples, which are usually less expensive.

The participants in The Grocery Budget Makeover welcome your advice and feedback. Please leave any tips in the comments.

photo credit: I-5 Design & Manufacture


  1. Do not forget meal planning……it saves time and money……time is money

  2. Great advice! I especially like what you said about choosing recipes with basic ingredients, so you don’t spend $10 on a jar of something you only use 1 Tbsp of at a time.

    Can I add one thing? They say that most people have approximately $250 worth of food in their cupboards at any one time. So what I often do is every now and then have an “eat through my cupboards” week! I don’t worry about the cans of tomatoes that I know will get used, but I do try to use all those jars of things that you only used a bit of, or the cans of something you bought in a fit of passion that just sit there.

    So if you have weird things in your cupboard, eat them! Get rid of them! And then use your cupboard space for the basics. You’ll save money now because you’ll eat what you already have, and you’ll save in the long run because you’ll concentrate on the essentials!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Meal plan by the sales flyers, compare coupons to what is on sale and buy those items. Don’t use coupons just because you have one, if you are not going to eat it. Try generics, most are made by the brand name company just in less fancy packaging.

  4. So now I’m burning to know what happened with Hawk? It sounded like they planned to adopt down the road after saving money. Did they suddenly get 2 children added to their family?!? I’m so excited for them, I hope that’s what happened.

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      They had a death in their family and now have two additional family members they are caring for, I’m not sure if they are children.

  5. Hey Heather,

    Yes our two new additions are two children, 2 and 3. We had an unfortunate death and we were named guardians of their children. So yes, they are children, but no, they are not our adoptions.

  6. A price book — why didn’t I think of that sooner? Great tip! Time to start taking notes.

  7. there has already been some great advice given!

    Having a price book will help you to make sure that the items that are in the sale ads are actually on sale rather than just advertised or featured.

    I am going to add to make sure that you buy only meat that is on sale or marked down. This past week I was able to find some whole chickens on mark down for 58 cents/pound. Granted I only had extra money to get 2 I will be able to get at least 2 dinner meals and 2 lunch meals out of them for my family of 7.

    One other thing, do not be afraid to serve leftovers! We love our leftover smorgasbord lunches. I make sure there is a meat, side, and veggie or fruit available to choose from and they are required to take one of each so that they are having a balanced meal. 🙂

    I am excited to see the results of the families and their accomplishments at the end of this challenge. 🙂

  8. Is this still going? I haven’t seen any updates, and I’m dying to hear how it’s all going!

  9. Lisa Shockey says:

    If you have the room, great way to buy meat is by the 1/4 or 1/2 of cow or pig. It is a chunck of money up front but it saves in the long run. We pay $1.80 a pound for beef, that includes burger, roasts and steaks. Our pork was $1.70 a pound.

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