$200 Grocery Challenge

Before we moved into our new house my boyfriend and I spent way too much money eating out, take out and fast food. We decided that after we moved we would eat at home and cook more often. So far, we are doing really well. This month we decided to take it a step further and limit ourselves to a budget of $200 for groceries and household items, like toilet paper. The people that I have mentioned this to that don’t coupon think that this number is extremely low. The people that do coupon may think it’s too high. I think it’s a start.

One thing that we are doing with this budget is putting the $200 cash into a jar and when we spend any of it we are putting the receipts in the jar with the rest of the money. I am very curious to see how many of certain items we purchase in a month. For example- We have well water that is fine for daily activities but we don’t use it as drinking water (see my post about it). I want to know how many gallons of water we buy in one month. I want to know how many gallons of milk we buy in one month.

Finding out this information will be beneficial because I hope that it will allow me to make purchases of food and household items in bulk that will last for one month’s time.


The Results-

Our first month of our $200 Grocery Challenge ended yesterday with good results. We spent $197.68 total, almost exactly our budget of $200.


I now know that in one month we use-

– 19.5 gallons of water

– 3 Gallons of Milk

– 4 Coffee creamers (this would have been more but we ran out of money and used sugar and milk instead)

– 4 12 Packs of Toilet Paper

– 2 Loaves of bread

And those are just a few things I picked out.


Some of the strategies we used –

– Shopping at ALDI a discount grocery store – Click HERE to read about ALDI

– Using CVS and Walgreens store dollars to our advantage

– Using what we already had in our pantry and freezer

– Not wasting food

– Buying what was on sale

– And we stopped buying when we ran out of money


What we won’t do again-

– A couple of times we went to the closest store instead of the cheapest store and this really made a dent in our budget.  One of my big shopping trips this month was at WinnDixie after a really long day at work when I didn’t have the energy to make the longer drive to ALDI. I was able to take advantage of their B1G1 meat department but almost everything else that I bought cost a lot more.

– The couponing trips that I was able to make this month saved a lot of money, especially at Publix who probably has the best couponing deals in the area I live in. It is not always easy for me to find the time to do large couponing/grocery shopping trips but it really is worth it. (See shopping trip HERE)

– We bought a large quantity of Ibuprofen that we were out of and it will last a long time, but it was more money than we probably should have spent on one item and we didn’t get that great of a deal on it.

– Next month I won’t forget my shopping list at the last shopping trip of the month and forget to buy any drinks including water. This is very important because we can’t drink the water from the well.



Overall, I think that limiting ourselves to a $200 budget was a good for us because it did help restrict what we bought this month. I wanted to buy B1G1 Tilipia Filets towards the end of the month but it didn’t fit in the budget and we ended up having more meat than we used this month anyway. I have found that it is much harder to stock up on larger quantities of food that we will not use in that specific month because we have budgeted for exactly one month.

I also made the mistake of forgetting to buy drinking water and any other drinks on my last shopping trip of the month and we ran out of everything to drink in the house on the 29th besides milk and even that was running low (see Two Gallons of Milk for the Price of one Forever). It was the 29th and we ended up making a trip to CVS with the $7 ECBs (CVS dollars) that I had left over. We used those to buy water, milk, and a 2 liter of soda which got us through the last two days of the month.

This really does highlight how running to the closest store for a couple things you need can make a huge impact on your budget. It also shows me how much money I save shopping at ALDI for basic grocery items and then hitting sales only at more expensive stores.  We are planning on using the $200 budget again next month and now that I have learned a few things from this month I’m excited to see how it will turn out.

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