View Full Version : A Grocery Budget Challenge...Anyone Want to Join Me?

05-06-2008, 04:53:15 PM
My name is Julie and I am very new to this site, a few days old actually.

I haven't couponed in years (15+/-). Didn't "need" to. Always had a set amount for food and stayed within that amount but things are getting tougher and with a semi-new DH (2 years now) we are trying to reduce whatever expense(s) we can as everything around us skyrockets.

This is my challenge. Last night I calculated we spent approximately $6535.00 on groceries and eating out for the entire year of 2007, although I think it's a little low. This year I want to cut that number in half. A little hard to do this late in the game as the year is almost halfway over and prices are on the increase for everything we purchase but it gave me a starting point. Here's how I came up with the numbers:

Cash on Groceries (estimated) - $500.00 (I used to only pay cash until around March when I got a new card that offered "cash back" on groceries)

Grocery Charges (beginning roughly in March) - 4230.40

Pizza Delivery (estimated - paid with cash from grocery funds) - $25.00 weekly X 35 weeks - $875.00

Misc. Cash Dinners - $150.00 (occassional sit down and fast food - most times this was taken directly out of the cash grocery fund but not all)

Fast Food - $5.00 per meal X 3 meals weekly @ 52 weeks = $780.00 (this is where I fall short - he probably ate out for lunch most days of the entire year while I was the occassional fast fooder.)

All that comes to $6535.00 and if I want to cut that in half that leaves me $3267.50. To date, I have already spent $2620.28 and still have a couple of grocery receipts that weren't on the statement I just paid (I pay it off in full so there are no interest charges.) That leaves me $647.22 for the rest of the year.:rolleyes24:

Having said all that, we have a small deep freeze that is literally stuffed to the top and so is the regular freezer. I have a custom made pantry that Emeril or Wolfgang would die for (3' deep shelves X 6' long with 4 shelves - all immaculately organized) and it is also stuffed, so much so that I fear for it's collapse! I also have some boxes filled in the lower sections of the floor.

Soooooo....I'm not sure if I can make it until the end of the year on $647.00 so I'm going to bump that number to $1000.00 (because of rising costs and my limited number of available coupons at the moment.) DH is with me and will eat whatever I serve, even if that means breakfast for dinner 2 or 3 times a week, but I have a huge stockpile that could get me through the majority of it while I take advantage of good coupon deals and our weekly grocery money sits in the bank earning interest (minus the small amount we bring home each week in cash for pizza and what-nots.)

Would anyone like to join me on an "End Of The Year Goal"? Possibly share how/what you are doing/eating to stretch that dollar? I would love a buddy or two, or three to help keep me on task and focused!


05-06-2008, 04:59:21 PM
I'm thinking about the challenge and it's a good one. I wanted to encourage you to read jane4girls blog about her YEARLY grocery budget of $800!!!! She started out with that much and STILL has over $800 left.

If I don't end up doing it, good luck and welcome.

05-06-2008, 05:11:51 PM
I'm thinking about the challenge and it's a good one. I wanted to encourage you to read jane4girls blog about her YEARLY grocery budget of $800!!!! She started out with that much and STILL has over $800 left.

If I don't end up doing it, good luck and welcome.

I second that read Jane4girls blog she rocks!!!:BigHand:

ETA: Welcome to the board by the way.

I love grocery challenges.

05-06-2008, 05:17:12 PM
Definitely read Jane's blog. I started reading it daily in the last month and she inspires me in many ways. I've always wanted to ask her if she put her initial $800 in a savings account or a high yield account..?? She could make out even better. I'm doing that next year!!

You can do this. You can do it without feeding your family a lot of processed junk, too. In the last 3 months, I've spend less than $200 in groceries. I'm just starting with serious couponing at the grocery store so I have room to improve.

Good luck and keep checking back here. Shop at multiple stores in your area but try to keep it within your commuting.

05-07-2008, 06:46:36 AM
Welcome aboard Julie! I was just going to tell you to read that blog. Its amazing. I actually just started saving all my receipts because I havent really had any budget and need to see how much Im spending, so Im in :)

05-07-2008, 07:08:04 AM
Count me in too OP! I am all over it. I will take the advice of the other posters and read Jane's blog as well. Let's see how much money we can save. I don't know what my budget is for the rest of the year so I will have to get back to you on that. Let me do some calculations. I would love to know how much I have spent thus far. I have been couponing and I am fairly new as well. So far so good!

05-07-2008, 08:53:51 AM
Not much time to post as I'm at work but I wanted to thank everyone for the information about Jane4girls and will definitely try to find her blog!

Cindi and Tomekay, thanks for joining me! I'm really looking forward to seeing just how well I can do from now until the end of the year and would definitely appreciate sharing with you guys!

Let's have some fun and save some money!!

Julie :smile:

05-07-2008, 09:10:33 AM
The blog is awesome. I think I'm going to join your challenge. I've been planning on crafting a budget & this is good timing for that. Thanks!

05-07-2008, 11:14:31 AM
Sorry, here is the link to her blog - JANE4girls $800 Annual Budget For A Family of 4 (http://jane4girls800dollarannualbudget.blogspot.com/)

05-07-2008, 11:26:33 AM
I would love to join...I need to get my budget for food down as I spend over $5200 a year!!!

05-07-2008, 11:32:11 AM
I'm scared to see how much I spend. I especially want to see how much it costs me when they make an error, like missing a coupon here or there. I dont like calling for every little time it happens, but when I see it start adding up I will be kicking myself lol

05-07-2008, 11:53:15 AM
I'm scared to see how much I spend. I especially want to see how much it costs me when they make an error, like missing a coupon here or there. I dont like calling for every little time it happens, but when I see it start adding up I will be kicking myself lol

See, that's what I let slide. The little ones, not the big ones. I do speak up if I see it happen at the register (I'm usually bagging) or if I'm still at the store I will go back to the courtesy desk, but if I catch it when I get home, that's it unless I'm going to be in the area again soon. I figure, it evens out when they double coupons they shouldn't or occasionally skip an item (no wonder that fourth coupon wouldn't work! She only scanned 3 of the Zataran's!), and considering the number of tear pads & peelies I make off with, it all evens out (I probably come out ahead). I'd rather keep a good relationship with them so when there is a big problem, they don't remember me as the woman who tweaks over $.25. Flies, honey & all.

05-07-2008, 02:00:36 PM
I'll join. I have been serious couponing for about 6 months and have gone from almost zero stockpile (we moved last year and tried to use up everything we could before packing) to tons of stockpile. I have been tracking everything I spend and breaking it down by how much the full price would have been, what I saved due to sales, what I saved with coupons, and what I got back with rebates. I count MIRs, rebates like WAGS & Rite-Aid, and coupons for future orders (RRs or OYNOs) in my rebates numbers. I also break out what I paid for sales tax (so I can be jealous of those without it!) and what it cost to get my coupons (buying newspapers, buying envelopes & stamps to mail trades, pphf for hot qs, etc)

YTD numbers-

$4744.73 worth of groceries
-1629.69 coupons used
-1453.49 sales discounts
- 756.99 rebates, RRs, etc
+132.73 sales tax
+115.79 cost of qs

This is for a family of 5 plus one dog, and 2 of the 5 are in diapers. I would love to do better for the rest of the year as my stockpile is getting huge at this point so I think I can be a little more choosy about deals. Hope to hear updates from all of you!


05-07-2008, 02:44:55 PM
Wow! This is great!!

Maybe some of you know each other from the boards but I don't know anybody. How about a little introduction from everybody? I'll have to take notes for sure until I get everyone straight so I apologize up front if I confuse anyone!

I'm Julie, 42, married to DH 2 years, all our kids (previous marriages) are grown and out of the house, 1 dog. We live in Florida, on the central east coast. These were supposed to be our "fun" years. He's a remodeller and I've been managing a General Contractor/Developer business for over 7 years. Seems like every week there is less and less available to do any of the "fun" stuff we planned on doing. We did get a pool last year, above-ground 12X24 and I will be spending a lot of time in it real soon as the water has finally warmed up. I love swimming and logged just shy of 50 miles last year. I've got a google map of the coast of Italy and am "plotting my course" so when I get there some day (my dream vacation) I can say "I swam all this!"

I was shocked and embarrassed by how much money we spent on food last year but I enjoy cooking and have a dream of opening my own diner some day. I've entertained culinary school a few times but it's SO expensive and not really my style. I even incorporated my own Personal Chef business last year but I never did anything with it because I had two major surgeries, a total abdominal hysterectomy then had to go back 3 months later to have all the scar tissue removed that had attached to my intestines, bladder and left ovary, now I'm minus an ovary.

My "system" is still a work in progress. I pick up the Wednesday paper on my way to work to get the Publix and Winn Dixie flyers (sale starts Thursday.) If I have time during the day (which I did today) I will cirlce all my items and compare notes. I put them in a spreadsheet according to store then run through my "coupon list" also in a spreadsheet. Because it's only the two of us there aren't a whole lot of coupons we can use, especially since I don't have an abundance yet. I should have gone to BJ's wholesale tonight to check on some pricing but had other errands to run so I will probably do that tomorrow. Saturday morning is grocery shopping morning and I cook what I can ahead of time, hamburger, chickens, etc. Sunday I get the big paper and go through all the inserts and catch the drug store sales at Walgreens and CVS. I pulled out my rotary cutter and mat - after I spent an hour clipping last weekend - UGH! That should save a little time this weekend. I also plan on putting the word out to family and friends that I need more inserts to bump up my reserves. I log in what I can personally use then log the rest for quick reference for auctions or trades, which I've only done one of so far. I'm not sure if logging all my "trade" coupons is going to be time efficient though. I'm thinking not, based on how long it took me last weekend but I'm gonna stick it out another week or so and see what happens.

This week we are finishing off the frozen convenience foods in the deep freeze because they are taking up space. We don't eat a lot of them but I always keep a few on hand for "those nights." Not to mention, hurricane season is fast approaching and I've lost both deep freeze and fridge/freezer more than once so I've learned to start reducing the inventory early.

Next week it's seafood. We've got quite a bit of shrimp, fish and scallops that need to get eaten. The following week it's "hamburger week." Tacos, spaghetti, etc.

So, that's me and my work in progress. Sorry it was so long. I'm just sitting here relaxing a bit after work and am going to check out the pool. How about everyone else?


05-07-2008, 02:49:11 PM
Hi Erica! You and I were posting at the same time - more like you were posting as I was composing my "book."

See, that's what I'm talking about. You're feeding a family of 5 on less than what DH and I were spending. I'm so embarrassed!! Looks like you're doing great though and I hope you stick with us. You could probably share some good pointers!!


05-07-2008, 03:16:57 PM
This is just my last few months though. I used to spend around $400 a month and that was when we were a family of 3. We are now eating better and only spending around $280 and our stockpile has grown immensely. Now that I really don't "need" to buy much each week I am going to try to bring the $280 down even more. We'll see...

You are in the right place to get better at this. I love all the info this website has and the way everyone is able to help each other. Don't be embarrassed at all! I look forward to getting to know you better and giving each other encouragement!

Hi Erica! You and I were posting at the same time - more like you were posting as I was composing my "book."

See, that's what I'm talking about. You're feeding a family of 5 on less than what DH and I were spending. I'm so embarrassed!! Looks like you're doing great though and I hope you stick with us. You could probably share some good pointers!!


05-07-2008, 03:36:26 PM
I totally wish I could join you all on this... we have only superwalmart here and their sales on food are dismal at best. We have two other local stores and their sales suck and they don't take IPcoupons. So... I've had to start doing the Walgreen's deals (we have a WAGs! yay!) to help comp the food budget. We are also hoping to start a garden this year and that should help some... if anything grows. lol.
I'm trying to cut back on everything I can - even drying clothes on the line instead of the dryer (that's an experiment this month and next) so we'll see how low I can get the electric bill. :) It's a big game for me to see how much I can *not* spend on, well, anything. lol.

05-09-2008, 01:55:01 PM
Just checking in. Anybody else still around? I've been reading a lot of the different threads the past couple days (there are SO many!) and got to Janes blog once but didn't get very far. Thanks for the link Cindi.

I've got my list ready for tomorrow morning. It's going to be a little more than I wanted to spend but Publix finally threw Hellmann's on BOGO. Seems like I've been waiting forever! So, I'm stocking up, more so than usual, and it's quite a chunk of change, considering what I'm trying to accomplish.

I guess I will post my results and remaining annual balance each month when I pay my credit card but will check in with my successes and/or failures in between.

Good Luck Budgeteers!

**Edit** ColdPizza (love that name btw) we are doing the same thing. We changed all the regular light bulbs out last week and went to the new high-efficiency fluorescents ($70.00 worth!) and installed a clothesline last weekend. My appliances are all natural gas so I'm looking forward to seeing how much the gas bill comes down by not using the dryer (only to fluff). Not sure what we'll see on the power bill with the new lights but we'll see...

05-09-2008, 04:52:43 PM
Definitely read Jane's blog. I started reading it daily in the last month and she inspires me in many ways. I've always wanted to ask her if she put her initial $800 in a savings account or a high yield account..?? She could make out even better.

great minds think alike!

yes, I have the money in my online ING account, so much better than the regular bank. When I have to pay for something I use my Citibank Upromise card since I earn 1% plus a % of participating items, then I will just pay it online from my ING account.

OP, it is great that you are making a budget for yourself. Stick with it and in a few years you can get it even lower! good luck to you :BigHand:

05-10-2008, 09:51:04 AM
:BigHand:I want to try also. Count me in!

05-11-2008, 01:03:10 PM
I will join too, I think it will help to have people to be accountable too. My budget right now (for me, DH and our 14 mo baby) is $100 wk. This also includes all HBA items (and food for the furbabies: 3 dogs, and 2 cats). It probably sounds like alot, but I used to spend 200+ a week on just the two of us (mostly me b/c he doesn't eat breakfast and eats lunch while out at work) I know, ouch, it makes me feel kinda ill to say it. :frown: I've been couponing for a few months, and have gotten a pretty good stockpile going, so we'll see if I can get it even lower. Thanks for the challenge, OP, I think it'll be fun. And supporting each other will make it easier for all of us! :smile:


05-12-2008, 12:46:04 PM
Welcome to the newcomers!:wavehi: Thanks for joining me!

All's I can say is, I'm addicted to the "deal" at the moment. Totally blew my "budget" because I couldn't pass up the deals!:hysterical:

There's a post in one of the Welcome threads about couponing being a budget-buster. OH SO TRUE! But as with most things, this too shall pass! I hope! :hysterical:

Well, there's always next week and my goal is an Annual Goal so I've got time to adjust to my new found shopping routines.

How's everybody else doing?


05-13-2008, 06:51:23 PM
I have decided that I would like to shoot for a budget of $100 a month. That may be a bit unrealistic but it's worth a shot. I am excited! So far, I have only spent about $30 for May. My goal is to buy a lot for next to nothing and only purchase things that I need to stockpile or buy on a regular basis. Wish me luck.

Someone mentioned introducing ourselves. My name is Tomeka and I am 35 years old. Most people think I am 20. I guess I have aged well. Anyway, I am also a single mother of 3 living in Cincinnati, OH. I am a Christian and high on life. I am also fairly new to HCW. I have been a member since February. It is absolutely wonderful to be here.

Now let's save some money together. Cheers!!!:smile:

05-14-2008, 12:41:17 PM
Hi Qponmomma and Tomeka!

What are some of the things you have stockpiled? What are some of the things you're working on?

I told DH NOT to let me purchase any more spaghetti/pasta or Rice A Roni. We've got enough for about a year. Same thing with canned tomatoes for chili, soups, etc. I will have to purchase the "flavored tomatoes" though. I use the Hunt's or DelMonte Garlic, Basil, Oregano flavor and add it to a can of Hunt's Spaghetti sauce. (I've been trying for years to make my own spaghetti sauce and just can't find the right flavor and the above concoction works great for me.)

I walked through BJ's last night and wrote down the price of everything we purchase then broke it down in to package size and unit costs and prepared a spread sheet so I can take it with me when I grocery shop at Publix (occassionally W/D) to compare prices, especially on BOGO items. BJ's takes coupons also so I need to make sure I get the best available unit cost, KWIM?

We are hosting a party this weekend for 14 so I won't be shopping this weekend unless it's something I just can't live without. I don't think I'm going to include this in my grocery budget though. I think I'm going to take it out of entertainment or somewhere else so it doesn't affect my end of the year number but I will keep the number handy for reference later.

We never got around to eating the seafood I had planned for this week so that will be next week. Then we will move on to the hamburger for tacos, spaghetti and such. Then it's chicken. I've got 2 roasted birds in the freezer and some other cooked pieces parts. All we need is some fresh veggies each week and that should get us through for a while.

What are your plans?


05-14-2008, 03:16:20 PM
I am also aiming for $100 a month.
should be plenty as I cook from scratch.we have all basics , chicken, onions, tomatoes canned beans etc.just need a bottle of olive Oil and a huge bag of rice from Sams :)

05-21-2008, 10:58:52 AM
I have only just begun my stock pile. Some of the things I have stockpiled are sugar, flour, toothpaste, canned goods, toilet paper, paper towels and things of that nature. I plan to continue to stockpile buy looking for great sales I can combine with my coupons.

My next goal is to find a way to organize all the coupons I have collected so that they are easily accessible when it is time to make a purchase. I haven't quite gotten that down to a science yet. I have upgraded from my ziploc baggie to a binder but find that my envelopes are getting quite fat and I desire an alphabetical system rather than a category system.

I just took a look at my bank account and surmised that I have only spent $35.77 for the month of May. Wow, that is impressive. Now I am going to scour the adds to figure out what I can get this week for next to nothing along with the necessities.

05-22-2008, 06:51:19 PM
Tomeka! That's Awesome!

Today I did my first big CVS deal. I say "big" but in comparison to others it's pitiful - but - I'm happy with it.

Last week I found a "money-maker" thanks to another poster. I found 2 Hawaiin Tropic Lip Protectors for $4 and got a $10 ECB. In addition, I did a Rolaids thing that got me $2 ECB's. So, I had $12 burning a hole in my coupon pocket. It took me two nights to work it out but I pulled out my May ECB book and my weekly flyer and here's how I came out:

Original cost of all items: $63.89
Deduct q's and ECB's: $22.22
Cost OOP: $41.67
ECB's in return: $35.34

Granted, it's a hefty little price OOP for most but I'm ok with it. I'm considering it my learning curve and my lack of available coupons. My goal is to work that $35 next month to the best I can, only buying "frees" or close to frees that return ECB's. I'm optimistic I can make it grow, therefore, my OOP today is an investment in future purchases.

A shining example of one of my purchases today was the Pantene I purchased. I saved about .07 per ounce today with the CVS sale and the ECB's compared to the normal BJ's price. Who knew I could get it cheaper and hopefully in the future, almost free? :biggrin: Although, I did purchase some Garnier Fructrisse as well for the ECB's (not my favorite) but maybe DH will use it!!:hysterical:

I can't wait to see what how this is all going to play out at the end of the year!

05-24-2008, 06:21:06 PM
Hello all. I need to join as well. Groceries are a weak point. They are very expensive and we are vegetarians.

I spent $45 on over $200 worth of groceries two weeks ago. I still have a lot of groceries. I expect to spend $49 next week.

Where we lacked are the q's to double. Our local q's are $1 which kill any doubling. We are also going back to the local farmers market for fruit and veggies. $5 a bag for apples or oranges is outrageous.

06-03-2008, 05:28:59 PM
Hey Budget Busters! Time for me to report in. Sadly, I've already blown my anticipated yearly goal. I'm not going to make the dollar amount I had hoped for but overall, I'm making better purchases and getting more for my money. With "most" products.

Today, I transfered $800.00 from our grocery budget to pay the credit card bill (again - just groceries and paid in full each month.) That throws me over my end of the year goal of $1000.00 by $157.00. So, I will be way over budget by the time December rolls around.

BUT, that includes 3 "cooler" bags that I can use to carry from store to store and keep my refrigerated items cold while I shop at another store and also a handful of re-usable grocery bags. It also includes my "kick-off" to using CVS Extra Bucks. I had almost no coupons last month but wanted to get the "ball rolling" so I made some purchases that I considered "investments." I rolled the ECB's for the first time last weekend and did pretty well. Even have plenty to use this month for a few good sales. I continue to stock pile for things we use that I find on sale and my growing coupon selection is helping a lot both at the grocery store(s) and CVS. We are making a nice dent in our freezer foods (chicken, chicken, more chicken, and the occasional steak) and the past couple weeks purchases have been limited to fresh fruits, veggies and stockpile items. Publix is having a nice sale this coming week for items we use and can stockpile and that will help out a lot - come next year's budget. I'm on the east coast of central Florida and Hurricane Season started Sunday. Due to loss of power I've lost more food than I care to recall and since have learned to ALWAYS reduce freezer foods through the summer.

So, I'm not giving up. This year I will most definitely not meet my goal but I look forward to each month and seeing how much ~less~ I am spending as the weeks go by. I've turned it in to a game and DH is still right there with me. He gets a real kick out of me when I come home from shopping and asks what the "Bounty Hunter" saved today!

In addition, this weekend we planted three fruit trees, orange, tangerine and avocado. We are waiting for the nursery to get in more lemon and lime trees and they will call us when they are in. DH already planted his tomato plants and I'm waiting for a new shipment of red and green pepper plants. They are awesome when roasted and keep perfectly in the freezer for over a year. I've also been carmelizing vidalia onions by the pound full on the weekends because they also keep well in the freezer.

Would love to hear more about what you are doing and get this thread more active!

Best of Luck to everyone!

06-04-2008, 12:32:18 PM
Julie-sounds like you are doing pretty good even if you have exceeded your budget. I think it takes a while to really get your budget down. You have to have a good stockpile in order to never pay full price, and it sounds like you are really working that way. Keep plugging away little by little.

I am officially burnt out on deal seeking. We moved last year and had to put every thing in storage for a few months so we ate up the majority of our stockpile before we moved. About the only thing we did not use up is toothpaste (I have not bought toothpaste in a year and still have about 10-12 tubes-I even pass on the free ones now!) I was starting from scratch when we got settled in to our new house last November. Well I now have 6-12 months of most HBA and could live on buying milk, eggs, and fresh produce for months. I am tired of shopping. I plan to take a break this month. I went to the store today and bought a bunch of produce to get us through a couple weeks and got several free items (5 bottles greased lightning cleaner, 4 boxes band-aids, 1 Yoplait Kids yogurt). I spent more than I planned to with all the produce but overall it was a good trip, and I will probably stay home for a while.

Here are my May numbers-
$1770.93 worth of groceries
-698.65 coupons used
-600.59 sales discounts
-271.36 rebates, RRs, etc
+ 46.87 sales tax
+ 32.60 cost of qs

My budget was $290 so I did fine. I am going to challenge myself to stay under $225 this month. Not sure if I mentioned before this is for a family of 5 with two in diapers and also 1 dog. The $225 includes all food, HBA, dogfood, diapers, etc.

Good luck in June everyone!

06-20-2008, 07:37:28 PM
I am with you! I'm new too, but used to coupon a few years ago and fell of the wagon. Well, I'm back and I NEED to cut our grocery budget. Currently I budget $300/month, and it's ALWAYS at least $100 more than that per month. I just need some inspiration and good ideas. I think I'll read that blog the OP's have been talking about!

Good luck!!


06-23-2008, 07:55:17 PM
Hi - My name is Kelly and I need to join. I am a teacher, I'm married, and I have a 1y/o DD. We also have a dog, but he's not included in my current budget.
My first goal is actually going to be to stick to my budget. I was budgeting $100/week a the beg of the yeat, not including eating out, but I think my new goal is $500/month including eating out and diapers. To some of you, I'm sure that sounds huge.
So on July 1, I'm going to set aside $500 CASH for eating only. That also happens to be our anniversary and we will be going out to an expensive dinner ($60-$70) that night, but we haven't done that since our last anniversary. Part of me is thinking that it will be a little easier to stick to this month b/c DD and I will be out of town for a week, but DH might make up for that by eating out the whole time we are gone - I will try to plan some foods for him though.
For the rest of the year, I plan to still get that $500 out each month, but try not to spend all of it on food - I will put back the savings. My second goal is to get a new TV for our bedroom b/c ours only works some of the time. My next goal will be to put back the savings and pay them toward our credit cards. Once the credit cards are paid off, I would LOVE to hire a maid 1-2 times/month w/ my savings.
I'm trying to start a stockpile - I'm starting w/ just a few things - soap/shampoo/cleaning products/toilet paper/paper towels - if anyone can suggest a thread that will give me more info on stockpiling those particular items or great deals on diapers and wipes, I would appreciate it. I've got a couple of days to figure out some deals and start shopping and saving on July 2.

06-24-2008, 01:18:24 AM
I am great at saving for groceries, but we spend WAY too much on eating out. :D
So I'll join you on the cutting down on the eating out part. ;)

06-24-2008, 01:52:57 PM
:wavehi: Kelly!

I would suggest the CVS forum (if you have one nearby) for the deals on the paper goods and health and beauty. Thanks to this site I've learned how to get great deals on toilet paper, toothpaste and such. Most of which is either free or literally just pennies out of pocket! Keep us posted on how and what you are doing to keep that budget down.

As for being gone - fix DH some freezer foods he can heat and heat. Most everything freezes well. Especially for a week. Make a small lasagna or other casserole and buy a bag (or two) of salad mix so he can have a quick salad. Brown up some hamburger so he can make a taco salad one night (using same salad mix), or he can add some meat to a can/jar of spaghetti sauce and pour over cooked noodles. Cook the noodles a day or so before you leave and drizzle them with a tiny bit of olive oil. They'll keep in the fridge for a couple days until he's ready to use them. Piece of cake and keeps him from running through the drivethru!!

Congrats on the upcoming anniversary dinner! Don't include it in your grocery budget. That's a very special occassion! Enjoy it!!