Tightening the Belt


It’s the new year, and I’ve more than blown our budget. Between presents, donations, new Christmas lights and decor, tubing, and city visits, it’s all got me slightly overwhelmed as the bills keep rolling in.

That being said, I’ve chosen to “tighten the belt,” so to speak, in the easiest place I can control – the grocery budget.

I set a challenge for myself: I would only spend $150 a week for my family of four (myself, my husband, and our two ever-hungry boys, ages 6 and 8).

Hitting the store with a list (and assuming there are some solid basics in the pantry) is the key to not overspending. I made a list of all the meals my family loves and wanted to cook that week, checked my pantry and fridge for the things I was missing, and then set out, determined not to overspend. If you need some ideas, you can find some here and here.

As I got to the grocery store, I wondered if this would be possible. I started to doubt myself, but I pushed on.

We made it! I got everything on the list without blowing the budget. Now, the hard part was to use the groceries in the fridge and not let them rot into the crisper drawer’s abyss.

With a bit of dedication to the cause, I ended up cooking meals including potstickers, pulled pork nachos, lamb curry, roti, smash burgers, sirloins with roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes, butter chicken, and kielbasa and cabbage, rounding out a week’s worth of meals and having leftovers for lunch.

I won’t pretend that this is always a sustainable feat. Nor will I pretend that we never eat takeout or go out to dinner because life is real and unpredictable.

My final takeaway is that I was pleasantly surprised that my budget stretched so far and that I actually cooked everything I set out to. It is also possible to eat mostly organic, healthy meals and not pay a fortune, even in Fairfield County.

What’s your favorite way to tighten the belt?


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