When Brandi from Mama Knows It All agreed to try the 64 Dollar Grocery Budget, I anticipated that she would kick its butt. She did just that! Brandi is a brilliant writer, but she’s also a great wife and mom. As far as challenges go, she’s always down for a good one. Check out how well Brandi did, and the great tips and tricks she shared for shopping smart at Safeway.
One of my fondest memories of childhood was going with my grandmother to the grocery store. My grandfather would drive us in his pickup truck, and I’d sit between the two of them, happy as a clam because I know a shopping trip meant bubblegum for me if I was good. I was always good. It was no small feat to behave for close to 2 hours every week while my grandmother meticulously worked her way down her grocery list, but the bubblegum was a great incentive! Another perk of those grocery store visits that I didn’t realize until I was an adult, was that I learned a lot about how to shop on a budget. My grandmother fed 7 children and 1 grandchild on my grandfather’s paycheck, so she knew how to make a dollar stretch.
The one thing I didn’t inherit from my grandmother was her ability to organize and manage her budget with coupons. I’ve tried it, y’all, and I just can’t do it. Every time I’ve tried, I end up leaving the coupon at home or worse, having it in my purse and forgetting to use it when it’s time to pay. I’m a gal that loves a challenge, I was excited to give Amiyrah’s 64 Dollar Grocery Budget a try. When she said that it’s possible to feed my family of 3 on less than 70 bucks without using coupons, I was all on it.
In Northern California, our primary grocery store chain is Safeway. There are 3 stores within a 3 mile radius of our home, so it made a lot of sense for me to test out my budget skills there. Each of the stores in my neighborhood are different. One is kind of a micro-grocery stocking just the essentials. Another one is a full-service market. The Safeway that is closest to my house, the one that I go to most often, is right in the middle. It’s a medium sized store with more than the essentials, but not quite everything that you need. For the purpose of this challenge, I went to the store near my house. Since they don’t have a bakery or a large florist section, I wouldn’t be as tempted to blow my budget!
Before I got started, I did a few things to get prepared:
Review the store circular.
I scanned the week’s circular to get an idea of what was on sale before I even started to think about what I wanted to buy. Taking a few minutes to do that before you make your shopping list is a good strategy. Instead of trying to make the deals fit your needs, you can determine your needs based on the sales.
Create a meal plan.
Meal plans are truly essential if you want to save money on groceries. When you know what you’re going to eat and what ingredients you need to make it, you don’t have to worry about wasting money on food that doesn’t get eaten because it doesn’t go with anything. I mean, really, are spaghetti noodles any good without sauce? Or peanut butter without jelly? Sure, I know you can eat them, but gosh, they sure taste better with the proper accompaniment! The meal plan that you create should take into consideration the things that you already have in the house as well as the items that are on sale at the market. I decided to make:
- Turkey and Mustard Greens Rice Bowls
- Garden Frittata
- Beef Brats w/ Sausage & Peppers
- Homemade Chicken Tenders w/ Roasted Broccoli
- Breakfast for dinner (Pancakes & Turkey Bacon)
Make a list.
After the meal plan was I created a shopping list. I made sure to double-check our pantry and freezer to ensure I wasn’t purchasing items we already had. We live in a small place, so it doesn’t make sense to do a ton of stocking up. In addition to the ingredients that I needed for the meals that I wanted to make, I also had some weekly staples like cereal, eggs, and salad fixin’s that we get each week.
Shopping At Safeway
Once I had all of my pre-shopping plans complete, I was ready to head over to Safeway to shop. Alone. That’s another thing. It’s easier to stick to the 64 dollar grocery budget if you can go to the market by yourself. I know it’s harder for some folks to do, but if you can go when the kids are in school, or late at night after they’re already asleep (and an adult is home with them!) that’s the thing to do. Trust me. I remember how hard it was for me to be patient when my grandmother was shopping, even with the promise of bubblegum!
Saving money at Safeway is easy if you think outside of the box a little bit. Here are my top 5 tips:
Instead of prepackaged salad (unless it’s on sale), get the exact amount of salad that you need from the loose greens bin in the produce section.
- A package of ground turkey is always $5 at Safeway. Make sure to incorporate it into one or two of your meals, even breakfast!
- Safeway brand sparkling water is always $3 or less. Make sure you purchase it when it’s on sale and use it to dilute and stretch juice!
- Pasta frequently goes on sale for $1/package. When it does, pick up extra for the week to keep in your pantry.
- Make sure you apply for a Safeway Savings Card and use it every time you shop. There are other ways to save, but your savings card is the easiest, no frills way to save.
How Did I Do?
So, how did I do? I did great! There are a couple of things that stood out about this challenge focused shopping trip for me. First, it took me less time. I knew what I wanted, and while there were a few changes on my list based on what I saw in the store, it was only because I was in that section already and happened to see a better deal. Secondly, I skipped a lot of the snacks. I didn’t even go into the snack aisles because it wasn’t on my list. I still have a couple of dollars left that I didn’t spend, so maybe I’ll pick up a bag of chips or something later. I realized that a big chunk of my normal grocery bill goes to snacks with little nutritional value. Good to know!
The one thing that is a standout in my $64 Grocery Budget Challenge shopping trip is that I purchased a lot more prepped vegetables than I intended. My husband and I both work full-time outside of the home, plus I have several part time projects. Time is money, and I’d rather pay more for veggies that are already chopped so that I can have less time in the kitchen. I actually didn’t need to, though, because the prepped veggie section at Safeway is really quite affordable! Once our family gets larger, it may not be feasible to make one package of the vegetable works, but for now, we’re going to take advantage of it.
I spent a total of $59.14 without using any coupons! I did use the store loyalty program, but that was it. I’m totally giving myself a pat on the back for succeeding in this challenge!
Great job, Brandi! She rocked the challenge, and I love all of her tips. The meals she planned all sound delicious too. To learn more about Brandi and her awesome family, visit her at Mama Knows It All.