weekly meals & the monthly grocery budget.

On Friday, April 24th I left home for a much needed girls’ weekend in Palm Springs. I arrived home late on Sunday, April 26, and after work on Monday April 27th, I realized that I had skipped my weekly Saturday grocery shopping trip and weekend meal planning exercises.

At the beginning of April, my husband challenged me to keep our grocery spending within $400 for the entire month. Yes, a measly $400 for all food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and pet food. Yes, diapers (for my two children still in diapers) are included in that budget. Yes, cleaning supplies. No, the pets (three pets, two cats & a small dog) do not get their own grocery budget. I was met with a harried task at the beginning of the month. I typically spend an average of $500 a month on groceries, including all of the necessities above, and this was even with meal planning. $400 a month for all of these items felt, in a word, unfathomable.

So, on Monday, April 27th, with very low balance on my grocery budget (about $15), I suddenly felt up for the challenge. We had a few things in the pantry, and the fridge wasn’t totally bare, so I decided to go without making my weekly trip a few days late and rally until the end of the month. Sadly, we ran out of milk & cat food by Tuesday, so I had to run to the store and ended up going over budget by a few dollars. While Taylor and I had to eat lots of weird stuff for lunch each day (tuna salad with Ritz crackers & canned mandarin oranges for two days in a row) and the kids didn’t eat any fresh fruit (just canned), coming close to budget and eating through things we already had available was a huge win. 

This month, I am going to try very hard to stick to this budget again. I am hoping to hit the grocery store a maximum of four times, with one big trip every other week to stock up, capping at $175 a week, and in alternating weeks, to buy any essentials that need to be replenished that we can’t go without (coffee, milk, diapers, pet food, etc.), to cap at (I hope) $25. It’s a lofty goal, but if I stock up on sale items on my bigger trips to keep my pantry & freezer well-stocked, it just might be doable

Well, this last Saturday, I already blew my budget. $28 at the farmers market & $168 at the regular market. The good news: I stocked up enough so that I will only need to get milk and coffee over the weekend (and maybe diapers). This week, I am starting from scratch with a freshly stocked fridge, but I am also utilizing lots of left overs and pulling in some items from our pantry too!

Sunday & Monday: Chicken Quesadillas with homemade guacamole & quinoa salad

Purchased: Everything for the quesadillas & guacamole. The quinoa salad was made using stuff already in the pantry, excluding the green onions. This salad took us through two dinners & two workday lunches this week! The kids ate this meal on Sunday but ate leftover spaghetti with carrot sticks on Monday.

Tuesday: Grilled chicken sandwiches with salad (kids ate more carrot sticks)

Purchased: Pretty much everything, except for some sourdough bread that my friend gave me after a Saturday dinner at her house (thanks Kathleen!). 

Wednesday & Thursday...and Friday: Meatloaf & broccoli rice casserole

Purchased: Most ingredients. I added some frozen broccoli & some old floppy celery to the meatloaf (yes, double broccoli, don’t tell my kids!). I also had some old dried up rice in the fridge that I revived with a quick boiling session and a cream of mushroom soup for the casserole. I made enough of this for three days, and dangit, so what if we get bored of it by the end of the week? That's some epic planning, in my opinion.

Saturday: Chicken chili & grilled cheese

Purchased: This meal is just another product of a pantry restock and is the tentative plan, since the meal technically hasn't occurred yet. It's cold in Southern California today, and we expect cooler temps this weekend, so one last run with a hot bowl of steaming chili before the blistering summer weather rolls in sounds like quite the occasion to me. I don't know if the kids will love the chili. I have some leftover chicken from the office Cinco de Mayo feast so I think I am going to make a separate vegetarian batch for them in another pot. Elliott is rarely adventurous with his food and all meals are hit and miss, even the old tried and true favorites like boxed macaroni & cheese gets turned down on occasion.

How did your meal planning pan out this week? What's your monthly budget, and how do you do at sticking to it?


  1. Wow to spending a little over $400.00 per month on groceries for 4 people... I need some hints... J spend $600.00 per month for 2 people. I need to make better plans (I eat A LOT of salad, which is expensive)... good luck next month, you rock girl xox ♡


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