Groceries, Budgets and a Recipe

My friend Lori recently embarked on a year long challenge– living on $5000 for the next 365 (not including mortgage, existing bills etc.) basically, $5000 for groceries, gas and incidentals including pet food.  Did I mention they have a lot of chickens?

Because it was day 1 of their challenge, she posted her grocery budget for the week- $50 was the goal, for 3 people.  I’m going to take her list tomorrow and and see how prices up here compare to those in Texas.  My immediate reaction is that I will spend at least double what she did on the same items.  We will see.  I am going to check both Target and Cub and see how we come out.

Just for fun though, I thought I would put out my recent trip to the store for ingredients for a single side-dish, jelly making supplies, and fruit for the week.  The recipe for the side-dish was for a particular Napa Cabbage  Slaw that was made by chef  Julian Grainger of the Minneapolis Hilton during my Oink Outings tour with the folks at the Minnesota Pork Board.  I will add the recipe at the end because it was really awesome and I love having new slaw recipes in my repertoire.

The list:

Rice Vinegar: 2.66
Pickled Ginger: 4.59
Red Bell Pepper (1.03lbs) 4.11
Napa Cabbage (3.80lbs) 3.76
Cilantro 0.99
Jalapenos (1.00lbs) 1.29
Strawberries (2.00lbs) 3.58
Bananas (4.08lbs) 2.33
Seedless Watermelon 5.79
Certo Liquid Pectin (2) 6.28
Almond Milk 3.34

Total: $38.72 (16.11 for the salad alone)

On a side note, we have been replacing the boys snacks with fresh fruit- but that means a huge chunk of our budget is eaten up by fruit.  To the tune of $20-30 a week in fruit alone.  Our grocery budget is set at $220 for every pay period, including all paper products, pet supplies, cleaning supplies and disposable diapers for the boys when they are at school.

In the past few months I have eliminated almost all of our center aisle shopping, save basic staples, which also eliminates almost all coupons.  Target is our favorite store to shop at because we can routinely get store coupons for fresh meat, produce and dairy where we usually will not find those coupons.  We also get 5% off the top of our bill with or Target debit card.  I have no problem keeping costs down by buying private label although I do have a few items I will always buy brand name.

Last summer I was awesome at meal planning and clipping coupons and formulating a list, but we had a lot more processed food in our diet then.  Since about November I have fallen off the coupon wagon and have been barely squeaking by, often going over.  Now, even if I meal plan, I forget to post the meals we plan for and end up trying to remember just what we had planned which often ends with me throwing something together, using key ingredients from meals initiating a return to the store.  I need to get back on track with this.  Big time.

Thursday used to be my shopping day and Sunday is our Farmer’s Market day.  The Farmer’s Market isn’t a cost savings for us at all- we usually end up paying 2-3 times what we would at Target, so it really depends on where we are in our budget what we purchase there.  That said, we love our Farmer’s Market (Kingfield Holla!) and almost always drop a good chunk of change.  It’s really opened up vegetables to us (beets, kale and radishes are a staples now) and we need to offset the indulgence of Chef Shack.

Is it bad that the boys are practically trained to ask for donuts as soon as we round the corner?

Sweet sweet Indian spiced mini-donuts.  Ahem.

What does your grocery budget look like?  If you are in Minnesota, how do you keep costs low and menus healthy?

As promised:

Napa Slaw
from Chef Julian Grainger of the Minneapolis Hilton~ serves 2
½ cup julienne red pepper
½ cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
20 cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup rice vinegar
optional: julienne pickled ginger
Combine all ingredients, then toss and refrigerate


  • The prices really do look similar to me. Slightly more, but nothing outrageous. Can’t wait to see a line by line comparison!

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