The Thrifty Plan Grocery Challenge: Join Me!

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Man, am I behind on posts or what? The last time I wrote Evelyn was five days old. Now, she’s 15 weeks old!

I have so many posts to write about routines, emotions, mommy-shaming, parenting styles and more, but today I’m starting a food challenge and I need to blog about it to hold myself accountable.

I call it, “The Thrifty Plan Grocery Challenge.”

What is the Thrifty Plan Grocery Challenge?

According to the USDA, a “thrifty” food plan for two adults (one male, one female) in the US costs $384.80 per month. Last month we spent a whopping $431 on food (which is still less than the USDA “low cost” plan, thankfully), and I felt like we really needed to reign in our grocery spending.

So the challenge is simple: Don’t spend more than $384.80 on groceries. I’m not going to include household items like toilet paper during this challenge, simply because the USDA doesn’t include them.

I’m also not going to start with an empty pantry: Most food challenges require you to pretend like you have no other food in your pantry, fridge or freezer. Since most of us have at least some food left over from last month, I’m going to allow myself to use everything I already have on hand.

For transparency’s sake, I will make sure to disclose which items I purchased last month, alongside my current grocery receipts, when sharing our meals for the week. There are no other rules except to spend under $384.80 for the month.

Where I’ve Been Going Wrong

Our main issues with our current food budget are that #1 I’ve stopped diligently┬ámeal-planning and #2 We have been shopping last-minute. What do I mean? We’ve been going to visit family during the weekends and coming home late on Sunday evenings, making careless trips to the store where we just buy what we think we need for the week.

And then I’ve tried out a couple grocery delivery services to save me time only to end up spending too much on delivery charges, tips and processing fees.

Trying Out Amazon Fresh

Here’s the thing: I still hate grocery shopping, we still only have one car, we still have a three-month-old, our income has finally increased, AND time is money. All that considered, I think it’s worth $14.99/month for us to use Amazon Fresh delivery (we already pay for Prime).

I can never make it to, in, and out of the grocery store in less than one hour, and if I use Amazon Fresh three times a month, that’s $5/hour to pay someone else to shop for me. Is it a luxury? Yes. Is it worth it? I think so!

Not Buying Overpriced Meat

What about the fourth trip? Last week I did some calculations comparing Amazon Fresh groceries to what I paid at Market Basket. Amazon Fresh was more expensive, in general, but not so much so to keep me from wanting to try it out.

That is, until I saw the exorbitant meat prices. Besides a weekly polish kielbasa link, I don’t believe in spending more than $2/lb. for meat except on special occasions. Amazon Fresh didn’t have anything for under $5/lb., with chicken breasts for $7/lb.

Um, nope.

Instead, we are going to make one big trip to either Market Basket or Price Right this weekend to purchase enough meat for the whole month, and then I’ll freeze it in meal-sized portions to be used as the month progresses. While we’re there, we’ll shop for the other groceries we’ll need.

The rest of the month I’ll enjoy shopping online from the comfort of home ­čÖé

Disclaimer: Amazon Fresh charges $9.99 for delivery if you don’t spend $50. I think we’ll easily hit the $150 over three weeks, so I’m not worried. If you are, keep in mind that Amazon Fresh sells household and beauty items, so I’ll grab laundry detergent and shampoo to pad the cart.

If you want to try it, you can get a 30-day free trial of Amazon Fresh here. If you don’t already have Amazon Prime (how do you survive!?) go here┬áto get a free 30 trial of that first!

Want To Join Me?

My plan (to hold myself accountable) is to share our weekly meal plan, grocery list and actual grocery receipt with all of you.  This challenge is running from November 5 to December 5, since I purchased food for this whole week with our October budget last weekend.

If you’re up to the challenge, check out the USDA’s Food Plan and find the “Thrifty” budget for the size of your family. Then comment here and follow the blog for updates! I’d love to know I’m not alone ­čÖé

We’ll check back on December 5th and see how we did!

Please feel free to read my affiliate disclosure.

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