Grocery Game Saved Our Budget

I have never been a great grocery planner.  For years, we went to the grocery almost daily to buy food for that day. This lack of planning also resulted in eating out or getting fast food quite often. After a long day at work, the last thing I wanted to do was go home to cook. My husband had a minor health issue a few years ago. If you’d like to read about it, I wrote a guest post for Budgeting in the Fun Stuff before I even had a blog.

His need for improved eating coincided with our effort to pay off debt and live a more frugal, rewarding life.  We radically changed the way we shop and eat. It has been tons better for our health and wallet, but I still have a hard time meeting my grocery budget.  Ultimately, even if I am using cash, I know I have a debit card to catch me if I spend too much. My husband certainly is not going to complain if I buy too many groceries.  I’m not even sure he knows that you have to shop, but thinks the food just magically appears.  I had no one but myself to  be accountable to, and you can always convince yourself you are doing well.  After all kinds of attempts, I believe that I have finally found a way to be a grocery winner;  by playing the Grocery Game with Canandian Budget Binder.

If you aren’t familiar, click the above link for the rules, but basically here’s how it works. You post each of your shopping trips with your monthly budget along with Mr. CBB. He does a post every week, but you don’t have to shop exactly when he does. He really puts me to shame with his budget of $190 a month for two. We are trying for $350/mo for three people. I’m usually over $400, so this is my baby step for now. If you live in Canada, it is actually a game with real prizes.  Since I live in the U.S., I am not going to win a prize, but if I could reduce grocery spending, that’s a huge win for me.

I have come to realize that by knowing I have to share what I spend, I am much more careful. I even caught an error recently that I would never have seen in the past. If I had seen it, I probably would have just let it go so as not to inconvenience the cashier or people in line behind me.  I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt for shopping that says, “I have coupons, and will take more time in line, you should too!”

As an ode to our family’s better eating habits, I will post my favorite soup recipe. I am not a cook, so if I can make this anyone can.  If you follow Edward at If You Can Read, You Can Cook, I’m going to borrow his title but change it to, “If you can chop, you can cook.”

Cheesy Chicken Chowder

2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped (I like to boil it, then shred it or you can cube it and brown on stove)

2 cups peeled chopped potatoes

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped onion

2 cans chicken broth

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pot, add chicken broth, potatoes, celery, onion, carrots and a dash of salt and pepper. Boil until veggies are tender (about  15-20 mins.) In another pan, mix melted butter and milk and heat on low. Gradually stir in flour. When flour is mixed well, pour in cheese. Take off heat and stir until cheese is melted. This is the only hard step for us non-cooks. Make sure you don’t let it get too hot, or the cheese will stick to the pan. Pour cheese mixture into broth and veggies. Add chicken and simmer for 10-15 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.  Makes lots and freezes well.  Enjoy!

How do you stay on your grocery budget? Do you get the evil eye when you pull out coupons?

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  1. That soup sounds delicious. I think trying to lower the grocery bill is always a great way to save some cash. I need to stop eating out so much so that I can actually lower my budget – I can lower my actual grocery budget all I want but if I go and eat out than it doesn’t make much of a difference. We are not even close to $190/month – we’re probably closer to what you spend, but me and my SO grocery shop separately because he eats so much that he’d make me go broke.

    1. Trying to get my husband to stay away from the store is a challenge. He never buys anything actually useful for meals, but is all about the snack foods. I did get him to make a big batch of chex mix this weekend, so hopefully that will work!

  2. I find most coups are for brandnames and generic is cheaper even when using coups! However I follow the weekly ads very closely!

    1. I stopped getting the Sunday paper for that very reason. Our local stores send me coupons all the time. Lots are for store brands, so those are the main ones I use.

    1. I can’t say anything to anyone about spending because we’ve been so horrible in the past, but besides knowing I have to account for spending, shopping bi-weekly has helped. Can’t spend if you don’t go to the store!

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