Our Grocery Bill Was Less Than $26 This Month!

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B and I have a monthly budget we follow. Some months we’re really good, other months, not so good. This month (September 2021), we wanted to be extra good with our spending categories because after almost two years, we finally got blinds and roller shades on our windows! This home upgrade cost us a little over $5,600 in August 2021, so we wanted to save extra money for other home projects we have coming up. 

We use Google Sheets for keeping track of our budget-they have a budget template, all you have to do is customize your spending and saving columns. Right now, it's just the two of us, so we allot $400 a month for our grocery bill. The month of September 2021 we spent $25.94 on groceries. We didn’t use coupons, and we didn’t have gift cards.

How We Got Our Grocery Bill Down From $400 to $26

Ok first let me say, by no means is living off $26/month on groceries sustainable for two people living in San Diego, California. We wanted to take an extreme challenge to see how we save some extra money the month of September for our home projects, and our 2 year anniversary trip in October. 

It is important to disclose what we spent in August 2021. We spent $749 on groceries. Yikes. We spent over $349 on our grocery budget. 

August Total: $749.04 Saved: $0

This is what we bought for groceries in September: 

September Total: $25.94 Saved: $374.06

The most “expensive” purchase is when we bought ingredients to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. They were definitely worth it though! 

I’m going to share how we were able to keep our grocery bill so low this month.

First, we turned off our subscribe and save items on Amazon for the month of September. We usually get Sparkling Ice drinks, nuts, shampoo, toilet paper, dishwasher pods, and laundry detergent pods every month or every few weeks depending on the item. These items can cost around $55.35 each month. We’re also obsessed with Olly gummies, and we also buy them on Amazon, and that can run around $60-$100 a month when we stalk up on the different vitamin profiles. 

For our household groceries, we usually will go to Target, Walmart, Smart n Final, or Grocery Outlet. I can often get in trouble in these stores because I tend to stray from my grocery list and start picking up items and placing them in my cart, that are NOT necessary. Have you seen the meme about going to Target for one thing and then coming out spending over $200? Very accurate.

It was also easy not to spend money on groceries this month because I decided not to go to these stores. Weekends are when I’ll do my Target or grocery runs but I feel I sometimes do that as a form of entertainment. B works weekends so I am alone at home unless I make plans, so going shopping is a little bit of “retail therapy” for me. Not shopping on weekends really forced me to do alternative chores such as spending more time in our backyard tending to our plants, and also doing the dreaded dishes and laundry more often. 

You may be thinking-but what about hygiene products?! Don’t worry. Whenever I shop for non perishable items such as deodorant, shampoo & conditioner, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. I will buy in bulk or buy double enough to last a few months. This month we had enough of those items, we did not need to stalk up on any personal products. This is the same for our household cleaning supplies. One game changer was buying Biodegradable Swedish Dishcloths, a paper towel alternative so we don’t have to keep buying paper towels every month!

Next we really focused on using what we had on hand. We have plenty of dry goods in our pantry to help supplement meals. For example, we have penne pasta, spaghetti, couscous, chia seeds, spices, quinoa, rice, nuts, crackers, coffee, tea and popcorn. We also had a lot of canned goods, dried fruit, and foods in the freezer such as burger meat, frozen vegetables, frozen fish, and frozen fruit for smoothies. For baking, we have flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, etc. In our fridge, other than condiments we had plenty of eggs (since I bake a lot I always buy several dozen), cheese, meat and a few leftovers.

I strongly dislike wasting food, but in our almost two years of marriage we have been guilty of letting foods (mostly fresh fruit and vegetables) go to waste. I think it is easy to buy food and forget about it because there are other more enticing foods to eat before it. Like right now, we have some beets in the fridge that I have not made an effort to eat. In fact I just realized the packaging expiration date was in July 2021. Oops, going to be throwing that away. Beets are great, but not something I’d munch on by themselves, I’d need to put them in a salad. Luckily, when I buy them, I buy Love Beets that are cooked and are fresh sealed so they have a longer shelf life. I also buy the same brand Love Beets powder that I can add to my fresh juices or smoothies. Some foods you can’t freeze-like tomatoes or onions, so those need to be eaten a few days after buying them. If you want to read about 10 ways to make groceries last longer, check out my blog post here

We definitely got creative at times, like for example we made spaghetti with burger meat instead of meatballs, and we had a meal where we made breakfast for dinner. We are also blessed where we work at jobs that supply free lunch for employees, so we took advantage of that and saved money by not buying lunch meals. We also budget $200 a month for date nights, so we had a few of our dinners by eating out, also being mindful of our budget and we were good about staying under budget in that category too. 

September Total: $122.23  Saved: $77.77

This was a fun experiment to do, and it was rewarding to be able to save some extra money for our home and anniversary trip coming up. Living so conservatively this month made me realize I can be more conscientious about the quantities of food items I buy. 

I hope you are inspired to do your own budget challenge to save money where you may go a little overboard. I highly recommend budgeting every month to keep accountable to yourself your financial goals. Saving money is not hard, it just takes some intentionality. 

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