When my friend Mel, from Adventures of Mel, agreed to try the 64 dollar grocery budget challenge, I was so excited. Not only is her photography amazing on her blog, she does a great job of providing easy recipes, sharing fun places to travel to with your family, and interesting conversations about life in general. She’s a wonderful blogger! Mel took on this challenge at her local Harp’s grocery store, and I think she did an awesome job. Check out how well she did below.
Amiyrah’s $64 Grocery Budget Challenge could not have come at a better time. To me, food is one of the most important expenses because it’s what will fuel our bodies and give us the energy we need to get through each day. But with a desire to have more money for family experiences, I’m always looking for ways to cut back and budget even more. With that in mind, I eagerly accepted the challenge.
I won’t even hesitate to tell you how doubtful I was about sticking to a $64 grocery budget, especially at my local Harp’s grocery store. I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. However, as I wheeled my cart through the store, filling it with the items on my list, it became obvious that a $64 grocery budget is doable. It CAN be done. And you know, I think I gained a LOT more confidence and awareness by doing this. It made me more aware of what I was adding to my cart and how much I was spending on each item.
So, how did I do it? Well, let’s get to it!
I like shopping at Harps because it’s smaller, more local (locations in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma), and employees are super friendly. We definitely have our favorite cashier. It’s also easy for me to make my store list by department because of how familiar I am with the store. I kinda break my list up with lines between each department I’m shopping, making it easier to find the things I need.
There are a few tips I would give to anyone planning to shop at Harps.
Use the Weekly Ad to your advantage. I like getting online when I’m making my menu/grocery list and browsing the sales. There are a few main areas of the ad I stick to, though… Produce, Meat, and Dairy. I’ll still glance through the other pages (especially canned foods and pasta/rice/etc.), but those 3 areas are my main focus areas because they provide the foundation for most of our meals. If I’m shopping, per the sales, I can usually plan a nice menu based on those sales and partly what I still have in our pantry/freezer/fridge. The nice thing about the weekly ad is they make it possible to add each item to a printable shopping list.
If your Harps has a gas station, use your rewards card. For every $50 you spend in groceries, you get $.05 off per gallon of fuel. You can accumulate rewards on your card for 1 month before they expire. I love my rewards card; it’s always a nice surprise when we’ve let those rewards accumulate and are able to save a significant amount at the gas pump.
Shopping through the summer? Play the Harps summer game! This is a pretty frequent topic of conversation between anyone who shops at Harps throughout the summer months. The cashier will give you a game board and then every time you shop, so many game pieces (depending on your purchase). It’s a fun way to win prizes and sometimes find a coupon in the midst, saving you even more when you shop.
Shop the perimeter of the store first. I know, this tip has probably been talked to death, but it still rings true. Shop the perimeter of your Harps store, and you’ll have your produce, your meat, and your dairy. Then, if needed, move inward to gather the rest of what you need. If you’re especially trying to stick to a budget, this will give you the foundation for your meals, and you’re more likely to skip the junk food.
Don’t always go with generic. Sometimes brand name items are the same price or cheaper! And sometimes they’re only a few cents more. It’s really your preference, but don’t feel like you always have to shop generic, especially if you’re brand loyal.
Be willing to try new things. Not to reiterate, but again, if an item is cheaper, maybe give it a try. You never know, it may become your new favorite!
So, you probably want to know how much I spent. My total (drumroll please), with taxes, was $62.79. When I originally shopped, I completely forgot my tuna, so I had to go back for that, but it’s included in this total.
I planned for 3-5 days of meals for my family of 4, focusing in on dinner, though I’ll be honest… we go through about 2 gallons of milk and 2 loaves of bread in about 4 days’ time. I’m telling you, this challenge made me so much more aware of what I was spending/purchasing, as well as how much we’re consuming.
I usually have normal staples like milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, fruit, bread, etc. added to my list. We already had yogurt that we hadn’t even opened from the week before (my kids go through phases where they want it, then they don’t want it), and we still had some fruit and, of course, a few eggs from our chickens. Our garden is also starting to produce, so we have a few beans, peas, and tomatoes ripening, ready to eat.
Here is a list of what I actually purchased, and I’ll share the meals I planned below…
1.96 pounds Bananas at .56/lb – 1.10
1 box Grape Tomatoes – 1.99
1 bag Organic Carrots – 1.49
1 bag Mini Sweet Peppers – 2.50
1 bunch Red Leaf Lettuce – 1.89
5 pack Sweet Corn – 2.99
2.74 pounds Red Seedless Grapes at 1.99/lb – 5.45
1 loaf Honey 7 Grain Bread – 2.49
1 loaf French Bread – 1.89
1 package Spaghetti – .99
1 pack Ground Beef – 5.75
1 Tyson Whole Chicken – 7.44
1 pack Butter Sticks – 2.50
1 Kraft Sharp Cheddar Cheese – 2.50
1 dozen Natural Large Brown Eggs – 2.99
1 gallon Harps Skim Milk – 3.27
1 pack Frozen Peas/Carrots – 1.00
1 Creamy Peanut Butter & 1 Crunchy Peanut Butter at 2/$3 – 3.00
2 cans chili beans at .68/can – 1.36
1 bottle Chili Powder – 1.00
1 jar Pasta Sauce – 1.00
1 can Tomato Sauce – .58
1 can Diced Tomatoes – 1.25
1 pack Taco Shells – 1.58
2 cans Chunk White Albacore Tuna at 1.00/can – 2.00
Total with Taxes – $62.79
Eggs & Toast (this is our norm every morning through the week, just because it’s super easy and keeps us full ‘til lunch; we usually switch it up on the weekends.)
Peanut Butter, Banana, and Toast
Breakfast Burritos – We still have tortillas in our pantry
Sandwiches, Veggies, Fruit
Chicken or Tuna Wraps
Tuna Sandwiches, Salad, Fruit
Whole Chicken (Slow Cooked), Corn on the Cob, Veggies or Salad, 1/2 French Bread Loaf
Meatless Spaghetti, Salad or Veggies, Garlic Bread with other 1/2 French Bread Loaf
I even had enough pantry items, along with my butter and milk purchases, to make a chocolate sheet cake for dessert.
And that’s how to spend less than $64 on groceries at Harps, in a nutshell. If I can do it, you can too!
Great job, Mel! I love how she not only listed the items that she purchased at Harp’s, but the meals she created from her grocery score. What an informative and inspiring post.