Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Budget

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It’s taken me weeks to work up the courage to write this post. But I finally decided the day had come… and I’m going to press publish on this, even if it means that some people don’t understand or are disappointed with me.

You see, for years, our family has been known by the fact that we have a really, really low grocery budget. In fact, this site started as an outgrowth of people’s interest in how we’ve kept our grocery budget so, so low.

The Lean Law School Years

I will never forget our lean law school years when we didn’t have more than $17 to $30 per week to spend on groceries, when we had to just drum up the best meals we could with what was on a great sale and what I could get for pennies with coupons, when we had many meatless meals because we couldn’t afford to purchase more than a pound or two of meat each week, when we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day for lunch for weeks and weeks on end.

It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

Those short-term sacrifices eventually paid off into many long-term benefits. One of which was putting us in a position where we had the wiggle room to raise our grocery budget.

After my husband finished law school and our income had significantly increased, we toyed a lot with raising our grocery budget. And we did raise it a little — first to $40 per week and then, a little while later, up to $50 per week.

I Just Couldn’t Bring Myself to Spend More Than $50

I just couldn’t bring myself to spend more than $50 per week for groceries, though. {Note: The $50/week number was a little ambiguous because we do get free samples, review products, and high-value coupons from companies on a fairly regular basis because I’m a blogger. It was also a bit skewed because we buy some of our groceries with Amazon credit from Swagbucks. But for the past few years, we only spent $50 cash at the grocery store each week.}

After we moved to TN and we made the transition to Jesse being home full-time, I began noticing that $50 per week just didn’t seem to be cutting it. Not only has our family significantly changed our eating habits, but Jesse is no longer eating out each day for lunch. Plus, he is doing intense workouts three time per week and our kids are growing and have sports activities multiple times each week. Needless to say, we just seem to be going through a lot more food.

As Jesse has become a lot more interested in health and fitness, he’s also been doing a lot more of the cooking and he’s been loving trying out new and healthful recipes. He started wanting to spend more at the grocery store to purchase ingredients for different recipes he wanted to try.

Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Budget

Why I Was So Stubborn

In all honesty, I really didn’t want to raise our grocery budget any more. Why? Well, mostly because I felt like I owed it to you all for us to keep our grocery budget really, really low. I felt like I was being a fraud if I have a site called “MoneySavingMom.com” but didn’t also have some insanely low grocery budget.

So I kept saying “No, let’s just try to make $50 work.” I tried to get more creative. I tried to really look for bulk deals and local sales. I tried to think of new ways to stretch that money further.

It wasn’t working, but I kept being stubborn about it for a few more weeks. I didn’t want to let you all down. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. And, to be perfectly honest, I know there was a part of me that prided myself in the low, low grocery budget we’ve kept for so long.

But I finally realized how silly I was being. In the name of not letting my readers down, I was making life difficult for my husband and kids.

Family Comes First — Or Do They?

I’ve always said that my family comes first. That all blogging decisions will be made first and foremost on what is best for my family. That I won’t let the blog trump my family.

Clearly, I was forgetting this mantra. And I finally woke up and realized I just needed to let go of my arrogance and stubbornness, admit that it was time for a change, and be free from guilt over it.

While this was happening with me, Jesse had been researching different meal plans online and he came across a site called MealFit that offers meal planning specifically for people who want to eat healthfully and live a fit lifestyle. I was really reluctant to pay for this service. It seemed extravagant, costly, and nothing that was in line with my usually frugal ways.

Handing Over the Grocery Budget

At the same time, though, I could tell that Jesse really, really loved the idea. So I did something very uncharacteristic: I handed the grocery budget over to my husband and told him he could decide on what amount seemed best.

We paid for a short-term subscription to MealFit and shopped almost entirely according to their weekly grocery lists. I thought that eating according to the MealFit menu plan was going to massively increase our grocery budget, but I knew that we’d recently trimmed our budget in some other areas by at least $90, so I was willing to try it out and just see what would happen if we shopped and cooked according to the MealFit plan.

It was really hard for me for the first few weeks, but I could tell that Jesse was loving it and I enjoyed almost every single one of the MealFit recipes. They are packed with flavor and nutrition and there have only been a few duds or ones that we didn’t love.

Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Bill

Yes, We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Budget

After about 4 weeks of experimenting, we realized that, yes, shopping and cooking according to the MealFit menu plan did increase our budget — but not to a crazy high number like I was expecting. We’re averaging around $130 per week now for groceries for the five of us, including the cost of the MealFit subscription.

This is more than double what we were budgeting before, but it’s nowhere near the $250 or so that I’d initially pictured it might be. More importantly, my family is eating healthfully and my husband is much happier. He’s made many, many hard sacrifices over the years to allow us to stay out of debt and save aggressively and I’m so happy that he can now reap some of the fruit of that sacrifice.

So there you have it: the completely honest truth on why we raised our grocery budget. I have a feeling some readers will be disappointed and upset with me. And that’s the hardest part about me writing and putting this kind of post out there. I don’t want to disappoint people, but I also want to be authentic.

No matter what you think of me after reading this post, I hope you know how much I appreciate you being on this journey with me. My heart hurts for you if you’re in a season where you don’t have any wiggle room in your budget. Please don’t give up! I truly believe that someday soon, those short-term sacrifices will pay off in big ways.

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Get a $5 Target gift card when you buy Men’s Axe, Degree, or Dove

Target Gift Card offer

Through October 25, 2014, Target is offering a deal on Men’s Care Brands.

Purchase 4 participating Bonus Packs of men’s care products and get a $5 Target gift card. Participating brands include Bonus Packs of Axe, Degree Men, and Dove Men+Care.

Target Deal on Men's Care Brands

Plus, you can enter for a chance to win a college bowl game trip! To enter, just watch this pre-game essentials video, then enter for your chance to win. Be sure to enter daily and share the link with your friends to increase your chances of winning.

{This post is underwritten by Lunchbox, all opinions are 100% my own. Read our disclosure policy here.}

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48-Hour Giveaway: Get a free pair of prescription glasses from GlassesUSA.com (3 Winners)

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Need a new pair of glasses? GlassesUSA.com is offering a giveaway for 3 $300 gift certificates today — which should cover the entire cost of your prescription glasses, even more than one pair!

GlassesUSA.com is a company founded in 2009 that offers prescription glasses for up to 70% less than you’d usually pay purchasing them at the eye doctor. A complete pair of glasses with basic lenses is offered from $48 before any discounts.

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They offer a large selection of frames to choose from plus a risk-free shopping experience with free shipping on all orders in the US and Canada, free returns, 365 day product warranty, and 110% lowest price guarantee.

Note: I personally have not used GlassesUSA before, but I have had great experiences ordering prescription glasses online.

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Get a 50% OFF Coupon Code!

GlassesUSA.com offers a coupon code for 50% off your first pair of frames when you sign up for their newsletter. The coupon will be emailed to you immediately after signing up. In their clearance section, they have a number of pairs of glasses for less than $50 total — some as low as $18.60!

Sign up for the 50% off coupon code here.

Would you like to win a $300 gift certificate to use to purchase a pair of glasses from GlassesUSA.com? Just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Three winners will be chosen and posted early next week. This giveaway ends Thursday, October 2, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

Fine print: Codes are good for a one use on a single purchase at GlassesUSA.com. May not be combined with other coupon codes. May be used towards shipping. Codes expire 3/31/15.

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Weekend Giveaway: Good Cheap Eats Cookbook (10 Winners)

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Readers who have been around here a long time will remember we used to live in the same town as Jessica Fisher from Life as Mom/Good Cheap Eats and her family. We loved getting to know the Fisher family during that year we were both in Kansas City together.

I especially enjoyed hanging out at their house! Not only because I learned so much from Jessica, but because she is an amazing cook. Every time we went to their house, she’d be whipping up some sort of magic in the kitchen. It’s her thing and she does it beautifully.
It was a sad day when their family moved back to California, but we will always be grateful for those many memories we have and for the gift of local friendship and community their family gave to us during a hard and lonely season of our lives. And I will always be thankful for all the recipe ideas, kitchen tips, and life hacks I’ve learned from Jessica.
Good Cheap Eats
Jessica, Silas as a baby, and me in 2010 when our family went to visit their family in California
And I’m excited to be learning even more from Jessica in her new cookbook, Good Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for $10 or Less!
I was excited to get this cookbook in the mail and even more excited to open it up and page through it. It’s packed with yummy, nutritious, and simple recipes — all that can be made on a dime. Not only that, but there are a lot of full color pictures throughout the book.
There are over 200 recipes in this book total, plus lots of great tips and tricks from Jessica. It’s one of those cookbooks you’ll want to read cover to cover and then hang onto to reference for great recipes again and again.
Would you like to win a FREE copy of Good Cheap Eats? I have 10 copies to give away this weekend. To enter to win, just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. This giveaway ends Monday, September 29, at 11:59 pm, CST. 10 winners will be chosen and posted early next week.

Enter the Giveaway

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Save $5 off $15 hair products at Target + enter to win a $50 Target gift card!

Save on hair products at Target

Heads up (pun fully intended)! Check your Sunday paper coupon inserts for a high-value coupon to help you save on hair products from Target!

This Sunday (September 28, 2014), there will be a coupon good for $5 off any $15 purchase of select hair products purchased at Target. This coupon will be valid through October 5, 2014. Participating Brands are: Axe, Clear, Dove, Dove Men+Care Nexxus, Suave, Tigi, Toni*Guy, and TRESemme.

Just clip the coupon, bring it in store, and save!

Want to Win a $50 Target Gift Card?

Head to Twitter and tweet about your favorite hair products or your favorite hair style. Be sure to tag me (@MoneySavingMom.com) and use the hashtag #FreshLookSavings.

On Saturday evening, we’ll randomly choose one winner of the $50 Target gift card from the tweets that tag me and use the hashtag #FreshLookSavings. I’ll contact the winner via Twitter with details on how to claim your prize.

{This post is underwritten by Lunchbox. All opinions are my own. See our disclosure policy here.}

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48-Hour Giveaway: Lumsing Portable Device Charger (5 Winners)

Lumsing external charger

If you travel often and are always needing to charge up your devices, this giveaway is for you! I usually don’t get too excited about electronic gadgets and gizmos, but when I got this Lumsing Harmonica-Style Portable External Battery in the mail, I was pumped!

You see, even though I use an external battery case on my phone, I often will end up running that down if I’m traveling all day or at a speaking event all day. So this Lumsing is perfect for me. It’s so lightweight and portable. I can stick it in my purse or bag and know that I always have a backup battery if my phone is almost dead.

I’ve already used it multiple times on my last trip and it was a huge blessing — especially since I had a 4-hour flight! You just plug it in ahead of time and fully charge it and then take it with you. Whenever you need a device charged, plug the device into the Lumsing and charge it like you would normally charge your device!

Lumsing Portable Battery

Here are the specific details on the Lumsing from Amazon.com:

  • High Capacity, 10400mAh of capacity. Charges all iPhone four to five times, a Galaxy S3 thrice, or an iPad / iPad 2 once.
  • Made with high quality Original SAMSUNG Li-ion battery and premium microchips, within CE, FCC, ROHS certification ensures reliability; 500 + recharge cycles over the life of the battery.
  • 4 LED indicators reveal the battery level; One indicator represents 25% of remaining power. Input: Micro USB 5V 1.5A; Two Output: USB 5V 1A&5v 2.1A ensure charge two devices the same time to enjoy simple life .
  • Stylish & portable harmonica style design; ergonomic design for easy handle by one hand; The UV craft, high wear-resisting; The side wire drawing process,the product more high-grade
  • Multiple protection system inside for safety. It’s designed for avoiding overcharge, overvoltage, overcurrent, and short circuit to ensure reliability. PERFECT for long plane flights, road trips, or whenever you need to charge your mobile devices wherever you are.

You can find out more details on the Lumsing on the product page on Amazon, on their website, or by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

Want to win a free Harmonica-Style Lumsing External Battery Pack? Just click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Five winners will be chosen and posted early next week. This giveaway ends Saturday, September 20, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

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