Today’s 64 Dollar Grocery Budget challenge is from my friend Nichole of Butterscotch Sundae. I love that Nichole was up for doing the 64 Dollar Grocery Challenge at Harris Teeter. I’d heard so many things about the grocery chain from regular HT shoppers, and was curious if this challenge could be done without the use of coupons and stocking up on processed foods. Well, Nichole did an amazing job. Check it out!
For the first decade or so of our marriage we were, by necessity, skilled bargain shoppers. First my husband was in graduate school and I was working as a copy editor, then my husband was a post-doc and I was staying home with our first baby and then 27 months later our second baby. So we clipped all the coupons, we scoured the Sunday fliers and we dug through every clearance bin to stretch our tiny budget as far as it would go. And then one day my husband was no longer a post-doc, so he was no longer making post-doc wages and slowly the need to clip the coupons and scour the fliers and buy the dented canned goods faded into memory.
I haven’t gone Gaga in my spending habits, but I was still worried that my bargain-radar was too rusty to meet the demands of Amiyrah’s $64 grocery budget challenge. And then I was a lot worried when I saw which store Amiyrah had given me.
Harris Teeter. Or as it’s known at Butterscotch Sundae headquarters: The Taj MaTeeter. We call it that because it is a shiny and beautiful tribute to foodstuffs and household sundries, and it can take a major portion of your gross national product to shop there.
I love Harris Teeter. It’s always clean and well-stocked, and the employees are helpful, friendly and efficient. But it isn’t the least-expensive game in town. It is, however, possible to shop there on a budget. It just takes planning.
I started my $64 grocery budget challenge by visiting the Harris Teeter website. I flipped through the sales flier and checked out the eVIC loyalty-card specials, and I made note of what was on sale. Then I cross-referenced that against my list of budget meals (“cross-referenced” makes it sound so efficient, doesn’t it?) and made my menu plan for the week, and off to the grocery store we went.
Here’s what we ate:
Our breakfast routine has very little variation. It’s usually pancakes, peanut butter toast and yogurt or some kind of cereal for the kids and breakfast burritos for my husband. He usually buys the burritos from the freezer section, but this week I made a batch at the beginning of the week and froze them for him. They came out to be about half the cost of what he usually spends, so I think we’re going to make that a regular occurrence.
Either leftovers or a PB&J (or PB&honey, if you’re my jelly-resistant daughter).
- Sunday: Roast chicken with potatoes and butternut squash; salad.
My in-laws join us for dinner every Sunday, so we have six to feed rather than our usual four.
- Monday: Sesame noodles with chicken; salad.
Our produce budget is much smaller in the spring and summer because we have a garden. It’s not huge, but it’s enough to keep us in salad for a few months.
- Tuesday: Potato and chorizo hash; salad.
This was basically the filling for the breakfast burritos as well.
- Wednesday: Chicken tortilla soup; salad.
- Thursday: Curried lentils with chicken and potatoes.
- Friday: BBQ chicken pizza; salad.
Making your own pizza dough costs a small pile of change, and it isn’t very difficult. We have pizza every Friday, and I often make the dough. In the interest of full disclosure, though: This wasn’t one of those times. I went to a local pizzeria and bought a couple of dough balls from them.
So it turns out that you can be a frugal shopper at the Taj MaTeeter!
Here are a couple of tips to make it work for you:
Make a Plan
If I go to the store — any store — without a list in hand, I end up buying all sorts of things and most of them aren’t on sale. Do some sales research before you go to the store, and keep a list of your go-to meals on hand to make it easier to make your weekly meal plan.
Stock Your Pantry
I stuck within the confines of the $64 challenge for this post, but the best way to budget shop at Harris Teeter is to take a long-term view of your pantry situation. That’s because they have a crazy thing called the “Buy 2, Get 3 Free” sale.
B2G3 is my favorite thing about Harris Teeter. I always stock up on the staples at B2G3 time. It’s the reason I always have an ample supply of pasta, marinara and canned beans in the pantry, all of which are great items to have on hand in times of budgetary distress. The last time I hit the B2G3 sale, I got five bags of shredded cheese for $1.30 a piece, five jars of Bertolli pasta sauce for $1.20 each and five 1.5-quart containers of ice cream for $2.10 each. (Yes, Virginia, ice cream is a staple.)
Shopping with a longer-term view does make for one larger grocery in a given month, but it evens out when you don’t have to buy as much in the ensuing weeks.
Keep Your Options Open
I was planning to buy and roast a couple of chickens, but then I discovered that Harris Teeter’s rotisserie chickens are marked down to $5 on Sundays. The chicken I was going to buy and cook was $16. So I bought two rotisserie chickens. We had one for dinner on Sunday, and the second went into our meals for the rest of the week, and I didn’t need to cook either of them. Winner winner chicken dinner. Literally.
I also bought yellow split peas rather than red lentils for the Curried Lentil dish; a bag of russet potatoes instead of reds; and frozen butternut squash rather than a fresh one. They were all considerably less expensive than what was on my grocery list.
Clear eyes, full hearts, cash saved!
Thanks for letting me take the $64 Grocery Budget Challenge, Amiyrah!
Way to go, Nichole! The dinner menu alone made me mark Nichole as a huge winner of this challenge. Potato and chorizo hash? Yes! If you’d like to learn more about Nichole, her awesome homeschooling family, and what else is going on in her world, check out her blog Butterscotch Sundae.