$100 grocery challenge ~ week 1

$100 dollar grocery challenge  ~  week 1


Let's start with what I spent in the last week:

local farm : $54 (grapefruit, lemons, cabbage, cauliflower, eggs & greens)

grocery store : $92 (lentils, black beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, yogurt, sugar, almond milk, carrots, tortilla chips, salad greens, cucumbers, lime juice, bananas, apples, 2 pounds coffee)

*we ate out once, after a very long day of painting the house, $30

Menu for the week:

breakfast ~ oatmeal, granola & yogurt, banana muffins, pancakes & frozen fruit, pb toast

lunch ~ leftover dinner, popcorn & smoothies, kale & cheese pasta, smoothies & pb toast

dinner ~ nachos & big green salad, burgers, spaghetti w/ sausage marinara sauce & salad, roasted squash & wild rice w/ sauteed cabbage, carrot soup and big green salads, bean-rice-veggie wraps, veggie sandwiches

I had hoped to have a big green salad or green smoothie at least six days…. we actually did this five days… hopefully we'll do better next week.

How did you do? I would love for you to share your thoughts, challenges, successes in the comments below!

On another note……

I thought I would talk about two things that came up over the last week with readers and in emails.

Menu planning & snacks.

I think one of the biggest ways to save money is to plan a menu. I know some people do this once a month, every two weeks or weekly. For us, it works well to do the shopping weekly. I plan a weeks worth of dinners. Check the pantry and freezer for staples & then plan the grocery list off of that. This keeps us eating lots of fresh produce during the week and helps eliminate those little grocery pit stops that always knock me right off my budget.

I don't use anything fancy. Two sticky notes does it. One for writing down meals, the other for shopping. I try to list my shopping items in columns as to where they are in the grocery store. That way I don't zigzag back and forth to grab items. It's especially helpful when you are in the store with little ones and you need to focus and get in and out as quick as possible. I know you know what I mean by this.

The other great thing about menu planning is that I can see what we're eating, make sure we're getting salads several nights a week and varying our orange and green veggie intake as well. I usually plan two nights a week with meat as a main course, one to two leftover meals (more on that later on in the challenge) and the rest bean & rice vegetable rich dishes. This works well for our family.

And then there are snacks. My kids are eaters. Voracious eaters. Every two hours they are bugging me for food. I try to keep boiled eggs and roasted nuts around for a quick easy protein based snack. While I do love raw almonds, my little ones are not as fond of them. And carrots. We eat so many carrots. They are good dipped in peanut butter and organic carrots are HALF the price of organic apples. Celery with peanut butter and raisins is also a regular. I do encourage them to drink a lot of water too.

And popcorn. We love popcorn.


$100 dollar grocery challenge  ~  week 1


$100 dollar grocery challenge  ~  week 1


Today I am sharing our recipe for popcorn. It's easily made vegan. My husband says it's like hippie movie theater popcorn. Rich in b vitamins. Some good fats if you use good quality oil or butter. And cheap. One bag of organic popcorn is $3.50. One half cup of popcorn makes about 16 cups, perfect for each of us to have a bowl full. One bag is roughly 3.5 cups of popcorn….. so that means it costs about 50 cents to pop up a batch. Even after adding butter, olive oil, sea salt & nutritional yeast it is still around $1.50 for a huge batch. 

We pop a half cup of popcorn in our air popper. I melt 3 TBSP of butter or olive oil (I usually do a little of each) over low heat. Add a spoonful of nutritional yeast. Stir to combine. I drizzle this a little at a time over the popcorn, stirring well after each drizzle. Then I lightly salt it to our liking. Nutritional yeast is sort of cheesy-buttery tasting. It takes some getting used to…. but now we love it!

Popcorn is a great snack. It's really good (and easy) plain as well. We love it for lunch with hard boiled eggs, a handful of nuts or green smoothies to round it out nutritionally. 

What are favorite snacks in your home?

{pssst….. new to the challenge? read more about it here}


34 thoughts on “$100 grocery challenge ~ week 1

  1. Sounds like you eat the same kind of stuff as us! I’ve been making lots of veggie and rice dinners lately, and making enough for 2 nights. I get dirt cheap rice, it’s like pennies per meal. Veg curry, veg stir fry with eggs. We had popcorn this afternoon, my 5 year old likes it plain, my 2 year old and I like it with mild olive oil, garlic and chili powder! But their favorite snacks are homemade sugar free granola bars and banana cookies. The recipes are on my blog. I’ll link them here so you can see them, I promise I’m not trying to be spammy! http://www.littlewoodlanders.com/sugar-free-banana-cookies/ and http://www.littlewoodlanders.com/sugar-free-granola-bars-oat-bars/


  2. We like popcorn too. Another favorite is celery and apple slices in peanut butter yogurt dip. I mix a couple of tablespoons of yogurt with a tablespoon of peanut butter. A couple of drops of vanilla extract or a bit of honey or cinnamon are nice mix-ins. Applesauce and mini-muffins are a few more ideas.
    Thanks for sharing this adventure! Thinking about giving this a try as well!


  3. I like this series. I am not a menu planner, though I would like to be. Because not having a plan means I often get stressed out about what to make for dinner. So this helpful to read. I like your simple method w/ the sticky notes. Sounds easy.


  4. yum smoothie. we make a grid on the back of scrap paper. 5 days x 3 meals. we also try to cook at least one thing every weekend that we can freeze for meal or snack during the week. like banana but muffins or ratatouille.


  5. hooray for this! i am a weekly planner. would love to move it to monthly but it seems planning that far ahead is difficult. am trying this year to stock up the pantry with staple so i always have a quick meal to put together in a jiffy.
    we are on a budget but somehow haven’t managed the $100/week. love the snack ideas though, that’s what we’re working on now. healthier snacks around the house!
    i had to laugh though when you said about your notes. i seem to always find about seven pages of meal plans and grocery lists in my bag!!!


  6. I’m also loving this series!! This week I tried something new: Costco. A friend of mine who is a farmer for our local CSA brought me and showed me some of the organic things you can buy there. I’m not sure yet if it’s worth the membership price, but it did save me some money this week. I’m glad to hear someone else say that their children eat about every 2 hours! Sometimes I’m so out of snack ideas! Some of our snacks: apples and peanut butter, homemade muffins and granola bars, bananas. I like the celery idea as well..will need to try that. Thanks for this series, I’m excited to see your weekly recipe! Also, did meal plan this week based on what I already had in the cupboard/fridge and it was great.


  7. So you sort of melt/ dissolve the nutr yeast? I will have to try that. I don’t care for it sprinkled on top.
    I drizzle melted coconut oil over mine (with sea salt, of course). I can’t eat enough of it!
    My kids love roasted chickpeas for a protein snack. Mmm now I’m hungry. πŸ˜‰


  8. I’m really loving this series, bet it could be a regular blog year round. I am trying to eat what is in the house, and only what is in the house. This week I bought milk but I did splurge and buy Chinese take-out one day – since I really shouldn’t have done that I made sure the amount was deducted from my monthly $130 food budget (just for me) – since I’m eating up freezer and pantry shelf supplies, I’m hoping to stay less than $35 for the month to buy milk and fresh veggies and fruit. Its already the 9th and all I’ve spent from the budget is less than $10 – which is great since my granddaughter is staying with me on Monday and Thursday afternoons and therefore snackies are in order.


  9. Cooking + freezing is such a good idea! I try to do this with dry beans….. make a double batch & freeze them. It's so nice to have beans ready to eat in the freezer. Sure makes for an easy soup night!


  10. We are doing $100 per person for the month….. So for our family of six that means $150 a week. It isn't easy! It sure is making me plan for a garden this summer though. I am the queen of sticky notes…. they are the handiest little thing ever. Plus, when I leave I can stick the grocery list to my phone making it nearly impossible to lose…. which is exactly what I need πŸ™‚


  11. I try to plan our meals based on hat is in the freezer/pantry. To use things up & to save money. It helps. I am looking forward to checkin out a costco when we head north. We don't have them here…. but I used to use them & save a bundle on the basics. (So long as I avoided the ever tempting snack area…. oh my!)


  12. We don't like it sprinkled either…. it doesn't exactly melt….. but combined with the butter it actually sticks to the popcorn and doesn't make you choke when you try to eat it! The fine powdered stuff is best, but last time I got the flakes and we all still like it. I have got to try roasted chickpeas!


  13. Fantastic! We splurged and got burgers from a local place one night…… we had worked on the house & painted all day. It was such a treat to grab something easy! I spend the most on produce, for sure. But fresh veggies are so good for us, I don't mind at all. It's keeping me very mindful of how much money we could save with a thriving garden!


  14. Our ancient popper is on it's last leg…….. then we're headed to the crazy shake the pot over the burner way again! I love coconut oil…. but the kids do not dig it. One reader mentioned flax…. we'll have to give that a try. But yes, popcorn is so easy+cheap+good!


  15. The citrus, right?! Amazing. I will surely miss it when we head north this summer. We get gifted with bags of citrus from neighbors. So many lemons that my girls have been making pitchers full of fresh lemonade from meyer lemons…….. amazing + delicious!


  16. Hei! So, I guess I am the only one responding from Europe (Slovenia; under Austria, between Italy and Croatia); calculating your budget shows, that we are really close with our effort of making it lower πŸ˜€ so, it means cca. 75 eur / person. That seems resonable. BUT it means no extras, no eating in restaurants + I can’t include school and kindergarden meals, becouse 100 dollars/month is a bill for each kid/month (they get breakfast and lunch in school and kindergarden). Anyhow,for us, that also means shoping mostly in hipermarkets, becouse on the vegetable market everything is soooo expensive as we have winter …
    Ok, I shall not extend this writing too much, I am just saying I will try to keep up with you.
    p.s. I always amazes me, that popcorn is a meal-food for you πŸ˜€ for us it is just a “junk-food-snack” (no hard fillings, please, I know it is not that bad for health + it tastes good, very good). Our favorite snack are: apples, pears, kivi – fruit in any form, and … sometimes chocolate B-)


  17. Oh, I am a sticky-note girl all the way, in all other areas of my life, but I feel like I have to mention this because it might change someone’s life as it has mine. My husband and I use a free app on our smartphones for our grocery list. We both usually have our phones on us (or nearby) so no matter where you are in the house when you realize you used the last of the mustard (or whatever) you can update the list. You can categorize each item by department too!! I can also enter ingredients by recipe, so if we know we’re making something later in the week I can just look at the ingredients list, see which things we need, and add them to the list. You can have multiple lists for multiple stores…And we share it, so if he happens want to do the shopping for the week on his way home from work, the list is right there on his phone. I can even update it while he is shopping! Anyway, we use a free app called “our groceries” but I think there are a bunch of them out there.


  18. Welcome to the challenge! It's funny about the popcorn, because when I was a teenager we had a foreign exchange student from Germany and she loved microwave popcorn! In it's whole form, corn is more nutritious than wheat….. so it's a good substitute for bread! But often when you buy popcorn, it is totally junk food! Fruit & chocolate is the best snack ever!


  19. I love asking the snack question in my interviews! In our house we snack on popcorn with nutritional yeast, right now apples and oranges, cashews, whole wheat crackers with peanut butter or cashew butter, date-nut balls. raw coca nibs to beat the chocolate cravings, whole wheat pita and hummus, carrots, different varieties of olives, lots of avocados. I’ve got to bottomless pits to feed and like yours they want something every two hours. I can’t forget Irish cheddar. It has to be Kerry Gold or they won’t eat it. Oh and chΓ¨vre.
    I love radishes as well, but I’m the only one who eats them in the house.


  20. Hello there from New Zealand.
    I have an ancient popcorn maker too, which I got for a 21st birthday gift 16 years ago this year.
    They are great for popcorn. I also discovered something through trial an error which made me so happy, I though I should share…It also can cook nuts and seeds! Yes, and it is super fast and delicious. Your little ones might enjoy some sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or their almonds toasted? It is easier than popping corn! Enjoy.


  21. What a wonderful idea! I know for sure they would love toasting raw nuts for their salad. Try as I might, they far prefer toasted nuts and seeds…. but this would be a wonderful way to do it on our own. Thank you! Also……. our popcorn popper was a gift to my husband for his birthday over twelve years ago!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s