How can a family eat for $25 per week on a food budget in the USA? Is it even possible to eat for so cheap? That could depend on factors like:
- how many people there are in the family
- if the family follows any particular diets such as vegan, organic, or low carbohydrate, etc.
- what part of the country the family lives in
- if the family shops at inexpensive or high-end supermarkets
- whether or not the family saves with coupons
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Week One Grocery Challenge
In this blog post, I will share Week One of my $25 grocery food budget challenge. This will include the amount I spent, meals, and a recipe. If you read the introduction I posted in July about the upcoming food budget challenge that I accepted from Patty Cakes with pattycakespantry.com, you know that my family includes two people, my husband and myself. Patty got the idea from Amanda at The Fundamental Home. Patty Cakes and Amanda both feed five people in each of their families.
Hubby is an OTR (over-the-road) truck driver. Therefore, our weekly groceries are like having two households: groceries for the house and for the truck. When I travel with him, then the budget fits the two-per household. For my $25 weekly grocery budget, however, I will only include what is used for the house.
The first week was actually exciting. I was fascinated to find out whether or not it was possible for me to stick to $25 for groceries. Although I love to shop at the local farmers market, I did not do so this first week. Neither did I shop at the most expensive supermarket in town. Their prices are always higher than the other stores. It’s a nice store, and it has the best of everything. But you pay extra for enjoying the best. When I began the first challenge week, I spent more time than before on perusing the grocery sales papers.
One particular store has special sales on fruit and vegetables on Wednesday every week. That same store and the expensive best-of-everything supermarket often have meat specials. Then there is one store that is known for being “The Supermarket Low Price Leader”, and that grocery store doesn’t issue sales papers. You have to go in to look for the sales, but I’ve noticed great meat specials on Fridays at that particular supermarket.
Should You Save Coupons?
What is your opinion about saving coupons? I used to save coupons, but I haven’t done so for some time. Since beginning this food budgeting, though, I am more conscious of coupons that come in the mail. I’m not so sure, however, that I care to take up other customers’ time by holding them up in a grocery-store check-out by having the store clerk check a ton of coupons for me. The last time a lady did that when I was waiting in line was in Houston, Texas. It was late in the evening, and there were only about two check-outs open. Oh, my! That reminded me how much I don’t want to do that to other people. Okay, maybe it’s my pet peeve, and perhaps, I’ll use coupons to save on groceries in the future. But for now, I’ll hold off on that kind of savings. For your convenience, following are four ways that you can save on groceries. Add to the list – and do please share with me other ways you’ve saved on groceries.
Four Ways to Save on Groceries
You can find ways to save on nutritious foods such as:
- Look at your weekly grocery sales papers. Purchase only the items you need that are on sale. This might require you to go to more than one supermarket for the sale items.
- Go to the local farmers market for fresh in-season fruits and vegetables. First, walk through the market to shop for the lowest-priced items before buying.
- Buy store brands.
- Use coupons, but beware lest you load up on things you don’t really need.
As I promised, here is my grocery spending for week one:
I spent $24.06 the first week of my grocery budget challenge. WOW! This convinced me that I can make it for one whole week by spending only $25 or less.
My husband and I both like leftovers. This saves food and money. If we didn’t eat the leftovers, we would probably throw away too much food and spend more money buying groceries. So I like to cook a big portion and have leftovers for two or three days. Though I don’t mind eating leftovers, I do occasionally freeze some in freezer bags for later.
I purchased a bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts. During this week I made chicken soup with sweet peas and two chicken breasts in my pressure cooker (see the recipe below). It only takes about thirty minutes to cook the chicken that way – and that’s frozen!
Cottage cheese goes fast in our home – and in the truck. Hubs and I both love it. If you shop at the 99-Cent-Only Stores, you might occasionally find large cartons of cottage cheese. Most of the time, I can only find the smaller cartons there. This week, I came home with two 16-ounce cartons of cottage cheese for my pimento cheese recipe and simply as protein snacks. The pimento cheese makes delicious sandwiches for lunch, packed with the Artisan Lettuce I also purchased at the 99-Cent-Only Store. Taking one piece of the Healthy Grains Bread (only 60 calories each), I stuff it with the lettuce, tomatoes, and the pimento cheese mixture. So good! Also purchased at this store were six itty-bitty jars of Miracle Whip – perfect for the truck. Packets of Miracle Whip are very handy to use in the truck as well. I spent the bulk of my $25 at the 99-Cent-Only Store.
Frozen chicken, butter, cheese, and a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix was bought at “The Supermarket Low Price Leader” in my area – the kind of place where you bag your own groceries. There, I spent $15.69, $12.97 of which was food for my weekly food budget.
Cooking Recipes in a Pressure Cooker
If you don’t have an electric pressure cooker, you don’t know what you’re missing. I LOVE to cook in mine. It’s a 7-in-1 Farberware pressure cooker. One of the things I especially like about it is being able to cook two levels of food at once because of the rack that comes with the pressure cooker. For instance, I can cook meatballs, hamburger patties, and vegetables, etc. in the bottom of the pot while small potatoes or other veggies cook on the rack. It beats cooking in three or four pots/pans on the stove, and the pressure cooker cooks food faster to boot.
Pressure Cooker Chicken Alfredo Pea Soup
Easy chicken & pea soup in the pressure cooker
- 1/2 sweet onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 2 cups water
- 1 can sweet peas
- 1 can Bacon Flavored Alfredo Sauce
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 cups brown rice either precooked and refrigerated, cooked on the stove or pressure cooked beforehand
Chop the onion and celery.
Cook the celery and onion with the coconut oil on the Sear-Roast pressure cooker method with the lid off (about 10 minutes to cook the veggies and brown the chicken).
Add the chicken and water, and lightly brown the chicken on each side.
Stir in the Alfredo sauce and peas.
Close the lid, select the button that says CHICKEN and cook the soup for about 30 minutes.
When the CHICKEN has finished cooking, if you don't manually press the pressure release button, the pressure cooker will automatically release the steam and change over to the WARM method.
Let the soup set on WARM until the steam has been released and you're ready to serve the chicken & pea soup.
I love creamy chicken soup, and I love sweet peas. When I was growing up in Texas, we called these peas “English Peas”. Try to locate them in the grocery store. Not an easy task. The store clerks won’t know what you’re talking about.
This recipe is creamy and includes great nutrition with chicken and vegetables. It’s typical for me to make different chicken soup recipes in my electric pressure cooker with whatever I have on hand. This time it happened to be the chicken and peas. Not sure how it would turn out, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted. I hope you enjoy it.