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Budget Eating Challenge: The Plan

Posted Apr 16 2012 8:04am

Well…{she says timidly} Good morning!

It was quite a weekend. We were gone this weekend for a work meeting for David that Hailey and I tagged along on. It worked out well because Hailey and I were able to catch up with some friends

Hailey and Parker

and family.

Uncle Kris and Aunt Cara

It was fun to see so many people I love, but I’d be lying if I said the challenge controversy wasn’t always in the back of my mind. I wasn’t sure how to start today’s post, but realized that there is such a great discussion going in the comment section and I think it’s best for me to simply keep moving forward. So, I went grocery shopping.

Hailey with the grocery list

Hailey and I attacked the grocery store with list in hand to buy groceries for the week. The meal plan looks a little something like this:

Monday: Spicy Mexican Black Beans and Rice with Chicken
Tuesday: Chicken Vegetable Soup
Wednesday: Vegetarian Chili
Thursday: Vegetable Pizza
Friday: Tuna Melts and Roasted Vegetables
Saturday: Vegetable Egg Scrambles with cheese and toast
Sunday: Catch-all. Whatever is left. If nothing is left, PB&J and Veggies
Lunches: leftovers, rice and beans bowls with frozen veggies, Clif Bars, sandwiches
Breakfasts: Greek yogurt, eggs, bananas, bagels


It was a great learning experience for me. Although I tell myself I’m not, sometimes I am sometimes swayed by marketing.

strawberry preserve comparison

But can easily save a buck by buying the store brand, which is the EXACT same thing- ingredients, nutrition, color of jar lid  Winking smile

strawberry preserve comparison ingredients

I found some great sales.

diced tomatoes on sale

brown rice is cheap

And appreciated the things that are naturally cheap like organic carrots.

carrots are cheap

Like I mentioned before, everything we are eating this week came from this grocery trip. This means I had to buy things like flour and peanut butter, which would be more budget friendly if bought in larger portions and used over the course of a couple weeks, but I didn’t want to use anything I already had, so my grocery list looked like this:

Interior Aisles
1 loaf Whole wheat bread
1 whole chicken
1 lb dried black beans
1 lb dried kidney beans
1 lb brown rice
1 small bag flour
active yeast packet (just need 1, but mine came in a 3 pack)
pizza sauce
1 pack whole wheat bagels
Peanut butter
strawberry preserves
1 can Rotel (Mexican style)
3 cans diced tomatoes (2 chili style, 1 plain)
1 small can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 large can light tuna fish in water
sweet salad cubes
freezer ziplock bags
clif bars (2)
1 small block of cheddar cheese
shredded mozzarella
2 containers (16 oz each) plain 2% Greek yogurt
18 eggs
2 lbs carrots
4 onions
4 sweet potatoes
1 serrano pepper
1 bag frozen peas
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 bag frozen cauliflower and broccoli medley


full cart

And the total cost?

EBT budget challenge grocery total


I saved $8.06 by using the store’s savings card, but did not have any coupons. Although this should last us for the week, I’m glad I have some money leftover in case I find myself in need of a few more items.

I know there is a lot of discrepancy between whether or not this budget is even a challenge. To me, it is. I could easily eat for cheaper than $72 a week, but the challenge I set up isn’t to just to fill my, David’s and Hailey’s stomach (if so, I would have stocked up on Ramen noodles and mac ‘n cheese). The challenge is to try and create a balanced, healthy menu consisting of as many whole foods as possible with no eating out at all.

I really appreciate the tips people shared. Andrea mentioned buying a whole chicken (a tip I am using because you can get a whole chicken for so cheap- $5!) to use the meat for dinner one night and boil it into a soup the next. Check it one method to do this here on Purposely Frugal . Love it! I also was referred to Poor Girl Eats Well , which is an awesome site that I look forward to taking a closer look at. Feel free to share your favorite budgeting tip! I’m hoping to compile a list to share.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I’m off to eat some toast and peanut butter with banana. Let the challenge begin!

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