Food Budget Challenge

I have been neglecting my blog and other social media for a few weeks now. When I started my blog, I had good intentions. I have many ideas and sources to share but the process of writing it all out has been challenging because I have been going through a difficult time in my life. My dog, Lizzy, who had been my constant companion for the last 16½ years passed away last week. She had been plugging along like she always had and then her health declined rapidly. I will be posting a little tribute video that I made from photos I had taken of her on my phone. There are many more over many more years but those physical photographs that are currently in storage.


She’s Inspiring…

For Lizzy’s whole life she was a trooper. When she was just a puppy, she was diagnosed with several skeletal issues. Our vet told us to be prepared to not see her live passed age five. She easily surpassed this milestone and, then, when she was fifteen, she was diagnosed with several organ issues. This time, our vet told us to be prepared for her to not live more than six months. She ended up living to 16½ so I was grateful for every extra day that I got with her but it still does not make the sting of losing her any less. However, she taught me to be grateful for every moment and to not let pain or any other obstacle overwhelm your life (she never once, until the end, let her pain show). However, these past few months, I have been focused on helping her so I neglected my self-care. Now, to honor her memory, I have decided to refocus my energies on being healthy. So, I decided to take on a personal challenge:

Food Budget Challenge! 

Often times when I am having difficult times in my life, I overeat and I do not eat the healthiest of foods. So, as a way to not overeat, I wanted to go on a diet, a wallet diet. I want to save money while in no way willing to sacrifice quality or nutrition. For a long time, I have been under the assumption that living in California meant that eating well and eating cheaply could not go together but I have been inspired by many bloggers and experts in the area to give it a shot. A further challenge is that we have difficulty buying in bulk or extreme couponing because we have a relatively small kitchen and a small refrigerator with no extra storage space.

In Comparison 

I know my blog is about living healthy on a budget but, when it comes to food, I am still a work in progress. So, I wanted a guideline as to what a reasonable food budget might look like for my family. I live with one female adult. So, I took my estimations from “USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food Report for August 2014.” According to them, a family of 2 (male and female) between 19-50 years on the Thrifty Plan was $390.00 for the month and $497.30 for the Low-Cost Plan. By the end of the first month, I want my total food costs to be below the Low-Cost Plan. Then, next month and into the future, I want my target to be below the Thrifty Plan. Furthermore, my plan during this time is to share recipes as well as any tips and tricks that I pick up along the way.

 Starting Off…Week One Shopping 

I started this last week by combing through the ads that were sent in the mail. Based on the items I found in the ads and cross-referencing these with ads online from Oliver’s Market (a local chain grocery store), I created a list for the week. I wrote down all of the items plus their sale price. I also included any other items that I knew we would need for the week. Then, we went shopping at Costco and Trader Joe’s. I wanted to go to Costco and Trader Joe’s first because I wanted to see if the items on sale at the other stores were more or less than these two stores since I was unable to find prices at these two stores online. Some items were less expensive per ounce at Costco and others were more expensive. It was good to have my list to compare. The main items that were cheaper at Costco were POM Pomegranate Juice, Organic Strawberry Jam, organic pasta, and organic cereal. The items that were cheaper at Trader Joe’s were frozen vegetables, sunflower nut butter, and bread. Then, I went to Oliver’s and Sprouts Farmers Market. It was a lot of stores to visit and more expensive the first week but that was because we had not gone regular grocery shopping in months. We were either eating out or going to the grocery store to buy a few items every day. So, our cabinets and fridge were pretty sparse. But, we felt pretty accomplished for the space we have, the time it took, and the quality as well as quantity of items we purchased.

Grand Total 

For week one, we spent a grand total of $191.27 this is including prices for other food items that we had bought previous weeks but had not eaten a substantial amount of yet. This means that we have $306.03 left to spend for this month on groceries. This will average to about $102.01 per week. I am fairly confident that we will make within this budget because of how many staple items we bought this week that will last for the month.

Tips and Tricks! 

One of the tricks that I have discovered so far is definitely creating the list based on the ads. This worked very well but it was time consuming. I have the time right now but this may not be possible in the future. So, I discovered some free apps that are supposed to make this easier. I am going to be trying them out this month to see how they go. I will report back on how successful I was using them and if I will continue to use them in the future. These apps are: Grocery IQ, Shopkick, Favado, Ibotta, SavingStar, Checkout 51, and SnipSnap. I also started following some bloggers who do couponing that seemed promising. I believe that saving money
is important but also that time is money. So, in order to make the savings worth the time, it has to be easy and quick.



I will be posting throughout the month both my successes and the lessons learned from any failures. I definitely think it is possible to make healthy choices while also being aware of budget.

Do you have any tips and tricks? I would love to hear them.


2 thoughts on “Food Budget Challenge

  1. Karen

    Thanks for the tips. It does take time to make the lists but you save money because you are prepared and do not impulse shop.


    1. livinwholly Post author

      Thanks for checking out my blog!

      Impulse shopping is definitely one of my weaknesses. My upcoming blog post will delve into how this habit sabotaged my weekly food budget for the week. However, if you can prevent yourself from going shopping more than once per week, you can use your weekly food budget allowance to keep you in track. For instance, if you bought a treat for yourself, you can either eat it all at once knowing that you cannot have anymore for the rest of the week or, when you purchase it, divide it into individual servings that will last the week. If it is a goal of yours, it can even help you to lose weight by not overeating.



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