WEEK 4 Update and Wrap Up: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Three weeks (or a lifetime) ago now, I posted a grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read Week 1 here, Week 2 here, and Week 3 here. If you would rather skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 4 results and wrap up.

This challenge, in a nutshell came about because while most of our children were younger, our grocery budget was consistent and small. They were small. They didn’t eat much and I tended to avoid the more expensive pre-packaged snacks and sugary treats, juices, etc. The bulk of our budget, honestly, would go towards produce. As they have gotten older and bigger, they eat more, and coupled with increasing prices, my grocery budget has also had to grow. And I allowed it to become overgrown.

This year, April was a grocery budget disaster (I have three grocery/food categories that I track: Groceries, Restaurant Meals and Junk Food, and Health and Beauty (includes household consumables, like toilet roll). I generally, at this point in our family’s growth, would like to stay at $600 a month for groceries and HBA and $75 for Restaurants and Junk Food (includes pop, ice cream, etc). Looking at that figure now, it looks crazy high, but keep in mind that I do generally prepare five lunches each day (kids and husband), seven days a week, six to seven dinners a week, six breakfasts a day seven days a week, plus provide all snacks, treats, and drinks (mostly milk and free water for the kids though, truth me told!) out of that budget. Not to mention toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid, etc. etc. etc. So, overall, it’s not horrendous, just mildly alarming, I suppose. Crunching the numbers (well, getting my spreadsheet to do the math, really), it would seem that I have gone over budget by about $170 each month from January to April. YIKES!

So, this month, I’m bringing sanity and reality back to our grocery budget. Drastic cut backs will ensure that I prepare meals with all of the ingredients that I already have on-hand and use up all the bits and pieces hanging around the cupboards. My goal is to spend no more $60 PER WEEK on groceries, knowing that just about all of that amount will go toward milk and fresh produce (my kids consume, on average, around 18 – 24lbs of apples each week, just to give you an idea of the scope I’m talking about when I saw “fresh produce”).

In the spirit of honesty though, I must admit up front that before deciding to do this, I spent $15 on a Good Food Box (local produce) which I picked up last week. We still have some potatoes, onions and peppers left from that box – see the WEEK 3 Update for a picture of the contents. I haven’t included that amount in any of the weekly tallies though, I guess I’ll consider it a “Happy Spring!” gift to the family, lol.

Week 4 Update:

This fourth and final week went fairly well. Now that I’m well and truly on the right side of my gallbladder (the side waving goodbye to it!), I was able to reflect on some of my grocery shopping behaviour and I have come to realize that I may suffer from a semi-severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to great ‘stock up’ prices. Coupled with my resistance and aversion to paying regular price for groceries (or if I’m being honest, paying regular price for anything really), is one of my greatest struggles when it comes to strictly adhering to my (self-managed) grocery budget.

For example I have enough salsa to last a good while, but the one that we like does not go on sale terribly often, and while it is not a super expensive fancy brand, I do have that aforementioned aversion to ‘regular price’ so the it went on sale during Week 3, I bought 2 jars.

Similarly, when I check my weekly PC Optimum points bonus offers and receive a good offer and I find that I can pair it with a sale or good price-matching opportunity, I struggle to let it go and not take advantage of the offer, knowing full well that the item in question is definitely something that we not only will use, but it is something that we regularly run through quickly (like breakfast cereal, berries, milk or apples).

But I’ll stop the blathering and get to down to the nuts and bolts, the brass tacks, spill the tea, give you the skinny, ugh, just stop me – here are the numbers.


May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual: $65.54
Result: (- $5.54)

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual: $30.16
Result: +$29.84

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $86.46
Result: (-$26.46)

May 23 – May 30th – Goal: $60.00
May 23 – May 30th – Actual: $70.69
Result: +$10.69

Monthly wrap up:
Spending Goal: $240.00
Actual Spent: $252.85
Difference: $12.85 – OVER BUDGET

Average Weekly Spend: $63.21
Average Weekly Overage; $ 3.21

So, I did not make my $60/week goal, but I’m still going to let the Fresh Prince dance for this one, because going over budget by $3.21/week is the equivilant to three heads of lettuce or four pounds of apples, which I cannot begrudge or regret at all.

There are so few who do a happy dance with as much aplomb as the Fresh Prince, amiright?

Now, I still am housing a very well-stocked pantry and full freezers that I would like to cycle through, so I will need to think on a good pantry/freezer challenge to tackle for June or July, we’ll see how the rest of this week goes.

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.

Five frugal things that I have done this week

I work hard to save my family money everyday.  I shop the sales (always with a list!), price match, coupon and cook from scratch as much as possible.  We reuse and re-purpose and up-cycle as much as we can.  So, I should have more than five frugal things that I have done to save money, stretch the household budget and reserve resources everyday.  Some days I do.  Other days I do not.  But, always in the back of my mind, I’m thinking up better and more cost-effective ways to run our family and manage our budget.  So, with that in mind, here are five frugalicious things that I have done this week:

1) Hung our laundry to dry inside (I have been doing this for a couple of months now, since Mr. K.B. built a killer drying rack for me.  I have not used our dryer once and it has cut our Hydro bill by at least $30 a month – sweet!)

I love this rack.  It folds flat for easier storage, holds at least two loads of laundry at a time and will dry two twin-sized comforters at once.  It is just the best!  :)

I love this rack. It folds flat for easier storage, holds at least two loads of laundry at a time and will dry two twin-sized comforters at once. It is just the best! 🙂

2) Prepared all meals at home, dinners made from scratch (lasagna, jerk chicken with rice, pork loin roast with pan gravy and veggies), lunches are leftovers and sandwiches etc, breakfasts are cereal, bananas and milk.  Snacks are fruit, veggies and yogurt.  It is amazing how much food you can buy and prepare for the cost of just ONE dinner out.

3) Took my pre-school aged girls (one is mine, the other I watch three days a week) to a free program at the local elementary school aimed at preparing them to enter Kindergarten in the fall.  It is an excellent program, I highly recommend checking to see if your local area has a similar program if you have babies heading to kindergarten soon.

4) I re-wore my yoga pants (*snort* yes, I wear yoga pants even though the very thought of actually doing yoga makes my hair hurt.  And yes, I am aware of the absurdity of wear yoga pants for everyday living, but they are comfy  and they fit.) Hell, I wear running shoes but would be hard pressed to tell you the last time that I actually ran. I’m a walking fashion contradiction (or disaster). Being at home with the kids means that unless one (or more) of them vomits on me or uses me in place of tissue (happens more often than I care to reveal), that I don’t really get my clothes dirty, so I can wear them more than once (undergarments excluded – ewwwww!).  Saves time and money because I’m not washing and hanging clothes unnecessarily.


5) Made use of some coupons for Garnier Body 7-day lotion which resulted in getting purchasing six bottles for $11.14 (including HST), instead of $20.14, the “sale” price, that is a 55% savings.  Anytime I get purchase things that our family uses, eats or needs for 50% or greater off the retail or sale price, I’m a happy mama.  (Oh, and by the way, the Garnier Body Intensive 7 days lotion line is FABULOUS.  It is my new ‘go to’ lotion for dry skin, I have tried them ALL and this is the first one that has made a difference for me.  Wal-Mart – $2.97 Rollback right now, SDM had a tear pad coupon $3 WUB2 but there are other coupons for this product out there because it is still a relatively new line.)

Loooooove this lotion!  If you try it, let me know what you think of it!

Loooooove this lotion! If you try it, let me know what you think of it!

So, that’s a glimpse into my frugality this week. 😉


 P.S.  If you’re not ‘Liking’ The Keswick Blog on Facebook or ‘Following’ along on Twitter or checking out The Keswick Blog on Pinterest, then you’re missing out on micro-blogging that happens when time or circumstances do not allow for a full-blown blog entry 🙂  Come on over and share the insanity!
P.P.S.  Apparently The Keswick Blog is on Instagram now, find thekeswickblog there to see some random things that do not make it to Facebook or the blog – Too. Many. Sites. Where will it end?  *thud*