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$68 Grocery Budget: What we bought & ate

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here.

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

Kroger Shopping Trip #2

  • Dannon Oikos Triple Zero — marked down to $1.89
  • 1 bag of oranges — marked down to $0.99
  • 2 Carmex Lip Balm — marked down to $0.29
  • Organic Romaine Lettuce — $1.79
  • Kroger Powdered Sugar — $1.49
  • 1 bag of potatoes — marked down to $1.50
  • Total with tax: $8.78

I also ordered a box of trash bags from Amazon because I saw that there was a great coupon available (I don’t think it’s still available? I can’t see for sure since I already used it!)

I used a gift card earned for free from Swagbucks to pay for this, but I still deducted the amount spent from my grocery budget to keep it fair for you all who are following along with our $70 budget.

I got some great freebies in the mail this week! Kroger sent me an envelope of coupons, including coupons for a free box of Cheerios and a free box of Quaker Granola Bars! (If you have a Kroger store, make sure your address is correct in your account. They send these out quite often!)

I also got my free Deer Park water coupon and my free Natural Calm sample. What did YOU get in the mail this week?

I complete forgot to take a photo of my last Kroger shopping trip… but I did do a video on Facebook that I shared above (you can click on it to watch it). Here’s what I bought:

Kroger Shopping Trip #3:

This was one of the salads I ate almost every day this week because it was so good: spinach, avocado, Swiss cheese, and dried cranberries.

I am LOVING those of you who are posting your salads on Instagram and sharing your pictures of salads with me. I thought the above message was really impressive and inspiring!

What We Ate This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. 🙂


  • Cereal, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs, Hard Boiled Eggs, Peanut Butter/Banana Toast, Bacon


  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Yogurt, Grapefruit, Avocados, Hard Boiled Eggs, Salad, Leftovers, Oranges, Cookies


  • Yogurt, Oranges, Cookies, Grapefruit, Chocolate Cookies, Chips/Guac

Taco Casserole, Chicken Tetrazinni/Grapefruit, Fend for Yourself, Chicken Tetrazinni/Grapefruit/Salad, Chicken/Roasted Potatoes/oranges, scalloped potatoes, turkey sausage, oranges.


  • Sunday — Taco Casserole, Salad
  • Monday — Chicken Tetrazinni/Grapefruit
  • Tuesday — Fend for Yourself
  • Wednesday —Chicken Tetrazinni/Grapefruit/Salad
  • Thursday — Italian Chicken/Roasted Potatoes/oranges
  • Friday — Scalloped potatoes, turkey sausage, oranges
  • Saturday — Frozen pizza (for the kids), Dinner out with two other couples (Jesse & I)

Total spent on groceries: $68.41

Psst! Need some help with cutting your grocery budget? Check out my series: 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget.

Cashback earned this week: 125 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards$1.80 back from iBotta for buying Creamette Pasta, Jimmy Dean sausage, and scanning a receipt.

Brigette’s $88 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6


1 gallon Whole Milk – $1.31

1/2 gallon 1% Milk – $0.78

1 32-oz carton Half and Half – $1.55

2 64-oz cartons Orange Juice – $3.38

1 pkg fresh Chicken Drumsticks (@ $0.69/lb) – $3.23

1 2.33lb pkg 85/15 fresh Ground Beef – $5.67

1 3-lb bag frozen Boneless Chicken Breasts – $5.39

1 16-oz bag Wild Caught Salmon – $3.99

2 cans Chicken Breast – $3.10

1 pkg Pepperoni – $1.95

4 dozen Eggs – $2.28

1 bag frozen Brussel Sprouts – $0.55

2 bags frozen Broccoli Florets – $1.98

1 16-oz bag Mini Cucumbers – $1.69

1 bag Flat Leaf Spinach – $1.19

2 Cauliflower – $3.98

2 cans Green Beans – $0.76

1 bag fresh Green Beans – $1.39

1 bag fresh Brussel Sprouts – $1.49

1 pkg Romaine Hearts – $1.79

1 3-lb bag Sweet Potatoes – $1.69

2 pkgs Baby Carrots – $1.50

1 pkg Mini Sweet Peppers – $1.39

2 pkgs Strawberries – $2.98

1 pint Grape Tomatoes – $1.19

1 bunch Bananas (@ $0.29/lb) – $0.79

2 pkgs fresh Zucchini – $2.48

2 6-ct pkgs Strawberry Applesauce Cups – $1.98

1 32-oz carton Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt – $3.29

1 32-oz bag Shredded Cheddar Cheese – $4.49

3 8-oz blocks Mozzarella Cheese – $2.97

1 pkg String Cheese – $1.49

1 8-oz pkg Cream Cheese – $0.65

2 24-oz cartons Cottage Cheese – $3.18

1 pkg Cream Cheese Spread Wedges – $1.29

1 jar Pasta Sauce – $0.85

1 pkg Semi-Sweet Morsels – $1.19

1 bag Plain Rice Cakes – $1.15

1 pkg Flour Tortillas – $0.65

1 loaf Sandwich Bread – $0.65

2 boxes Honey Nut Oats – $2.30

1 32-oz box Elbow Macaroni – $1.09

Grocery Total for the Week: $88.69

Weekly Menu Plan


Everyone is responsible for making/cleaning up their own breakfasts. Choices include:

Cereal, Oatmeal, Yogurt, Fruit, Boiled/Scrambled/Fried Eggs, Veggie Omelets, Smoothies, Baked Oatmeal


Cheese Quesadillas, Carrots, Strawberries x 2

Pretzels, Cheese Sticks, Applesauce, Cucumbers x 2

Leftovers, Fruit, Veggies x 3


BBQ Meatballs, Tossed Salad, Green Beans, Macaroni and Cheese, Butterhorns, Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies (company for dinner)

Oven Fried Chicken Drumsticks, Stir-Fry Zucchini, Biscuits, Sweet Potatoes Fries

Baked Salmon, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Rice

Chicken Gravy over Rice, Broccoli, Tossed Salad

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Green Beans, Cottage Cheese Pie (family recipe)

Crockpot Italian Chicken, Garlic Mashed Cauliflower, Broccoli, Easy Italian Breadsticks in the Bread Machine

Crustless Vegetable Quiche, Fruit, Biscuits

This $33 Shower Water Filter Has Changed My Hair

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

We moved into this new-to-us house almost a year ago and I started noticing that my hair just looked icky a lot of the time. It felt like the texture had changed and it wasn’t smooth like it used to be.

I thought maybe it was just because I was getting older or something. I tried changing hair products, but it didn’t really seem to make a difference.

I finally decided to just let it be and figured it just was what it was… until we went and stayed in a hotel and I washed my hair and it looked so soft and smooth again.

Say what?? I was confused. You think I would instantly figure out it was the water, but I didn’t.

This happened two more times over the next number of months — where my hair would look pretty amazing when I washed it at a hotel.

I finally clued in that it was the water I was washing my hair with that was the issue and our water was basically wrecking my hair. (We knew our water was hard, but we found out that it also has really high chlorine content.) 

It was about that time that I realized both girls had had dandruff and their hair hadn’t looked great ever since we moved into this house, too.

We didn’t have it in the budget to put in a whole house water system to soften or filter our water right now nor could the girls and I just run and stay at a hotel every time we needed to wash our hair, but I really wanted to try to do something about it.

I decided to head to Amazon to see if they had anything that might be an option… and sure enough, there was the AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter.

It was $33 and it had great reviews. The Amazon description said this:

Most water filters use too little calcium sulfate, redox media and ceramic mineral balls, replacing them in volume with cheap activated carbon. AQUABLISS is revolutionizing the shower filter industry with a REVOLUTIONARY, PROPRIETARY SYSTEM that BALANCES the four elements you need to eliminate Chlorine, heavy metals (lead, mercury, nickel, chromium), bacteria, pesticides, and inhibits the growth of scale, algae, fungi, mold plus restores what your hard, chemical filled water did to your hair, skin and nails!

The Amazon description also said it could be installed in minutes. I was sold — especially since I had Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks I could use to buy it! I figured that it was worth a shot and it likely wouldn’t hurt anything!

Sure enough, it was super easy to install… and, after using it for almost two months, I am so happy to say that it really and truly works. In fact, I noticed a difference in my hair immediately after I washed it the first time.

Since we installed it, my hair has looked so much better, been so much softer, and been so much easier to work with. All for just $33! I have so impressed that we ended up buying the same shower filter for the girls’ showers, too, and they are starting to notice a difference in their hair, as well.

While we still hope to eventually put in a whole house water filtering or softening system (we need to do research on what the best options are for that!), for now, I’m happy that we have fixed some of the issues by just installing a simple $33 shower filter.

Note: I’ve heard that you might be able to find it cheaper at a local store, so let us know if you know where you can get it for less.

Gretchen’s $85 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan

Aldi Trip #1

I had to go to Aldi two times because while I was there the first time, I had to rush home so my husband could leave. So that’s why there are two Aldi trips this week! 🙂 It worked out in my favor though because the ad switched today so there were different produce sales! (And our Aldi is just one block from our house which is why it wasn’t a big deal to go back. I love having Aldi so close!)

1 bag Mandarins – $2.39

1 pkg English Muffins – $0.99

2 Cucumbers – $0.49 each

2 pkg Flour Tortillas – $1.19 each

1 lb Oven Roasted Turkey – $3.99

1 Unsweetened Applesauce – $1.89

2 dozen Eggs – $0.58 each

1 pkg Applesauce Cups – $1.49

1 box Fruit & Grain Bars – $1.39

1 loaf Honey Wheat Bread – $1.39

1 box Crackers – $1.69

2 pkg Strawberries – $1.39 each

1 pkg Green Grapes – $2.09

Total: $24.61


2 pkg Mentos – $0.79 each, used $0.50/2 e-coupon – $0.45 each after coupon

4 Ronzoni Pasta – $1 each, used $2/4 e-coupon – $0.50 each after coupon

2 Annie’s Mac & Cheese – $1 each

1 Kroger Instant Oatmeal – $1.49, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $0.99 after coupon

2 Low Cow Ice Cream – $1.99 each (These were marked as $0.50 each which is why I purchased them. I didn’t notice they rang up wrong until I got home. Ugh!)

1 SweeTarts Candy – $0.50, used Free e-coupon (no longer available) – Free after coupon

1 loaf Honey Oat Bread – Marked down to $0.49 (Using this for French Toast!)

2 Lindt Truffle Bags – $1 each, used 2 $1/1 printable – Free after coupon

4 Totino’s Frozen Pizza – $1.25 each, used $1/4 e-coupon AND $1/4 Ibotta rebate – $0.75 each after coupon and rebate

2 thinkThin Bars – $1.50 each, used $1/2 e-coupon – $1 each after coupon

4 lbs Ground Beef – Marked down to $0.99 each (SOO excited to find this!)

1 Garlic Salt – $1

2 jars Classico Pasta Sauce – $0.99 each, Received a $1 off catalina for buying 2

4 American Beauty Pasta – $1 each, used $2/4 e-coupon – $0.50 each after coupon

4.57 lbs Bananas – $2.24

Used $0.10 Ibotta rebate for any receipt

Total after coupons and rebates: $26.44

Aldi Trip #2

1 gallon Milk – $1.49

1 box Granola Cereal – $2.49

1 bag Shredded Cheese – $3.39

1 box Crisp Rice Cereal – $1.49

2.26 lbs Green Grapes – $2.01

1 pint Grape Tomatoes – $1.49

1 Half & Half – $1.79

1 Cottage Cheese – $1.79

1 Pineapple – $1.29

2 dozen Eggs – $0.58 each

1 bag Frozen Chicken Breasts – $5.99

1 lb Butter – $2.88

4 pkg Strawberries – $1.19 each

2 bag Frozen Peas – $0.79 each

1 bag Frozen Broccoli – $1.19

Total: $34.79

Total for all groceries: $85.84

Menu Plan for This Week


Toasted English Muffins, Eggs, Toast, Cereal, Bananas


Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Turkey Sandwiches, Mac & Cheese, Tossed Salad Bar, Frozen Pizzas, Crackers/Cheese/Fruit, Leftovers


Grilled Hamburgers (using buns from the freezer), Steamed Corn

Chicken Noodle Casserole, Steamed Broccoli

French Toast, Eggs, Fruit Salad

Taco Bar

Homemade Cheese Pizza, Breadsticks, Tossed Salad

Brown Bag Burritos (from the freezer), Chips, Fruit

Beef & Gravy over Noodles, Steamed Peas

How to stop procrastinating and do the next right thing

Well y’all, after 19 podcast episodes, I’m finally feeling like I’m starting to get my feet underneath me and feel more comfortable with this whole podcasting. So, even though it scared me a lot, this is the first episode where I didn’t plan out every word I was going to say.

That’s a big deal for me as one of my big goals for this year is to be as comfortable on the podcast as I am on live video… but I keep reminding myself that it took at least 30-50 live videos before I started feeling confident. So I know it will take time with the podcast, too.

(In full disclosure, it’s good for my pride for me to put out episodes that aren’t at the level of excellence I’d love for them to be because I’m still finding my groove when it comes to doing pre-recorded audio — which is SO different to me than live video! And every time someone writes in about how they don’t like the podcast because they can tell I’m uncomfortable, it’s a good reminder for me to keep persevering and practicing and getting better!)

So I’m celebrating that I took tiny baby steps with this episode and didn’t rely on word-for-word notes as a security blanket! And I hope that someday soon, I’ll be able to record episodes with just a rough outline. Thanks for being on this learning and growing journey with me. Your encouragement and support has blessed me more than you know!

In this episode, I invited one of my very favorite podcasters — Emily P. Freeman — to join me for a conversation about decision-making. We talk about the best antidote for procrastination, how to know what your next right thing is, and why sometimes now is not the best time to jump into an idea you have.

I also ask Emily about her Theme Days and how this practice works out in her life and how it has helped her be a lot more focused and productive.

By the way, Emily’s podcast (that I adore!) is called The Next Right Thing… and her brand-new book with the same title comes out in April. You can pre-order it here.

You’ll want to tune in to this episode where Emily shares the story of how her amazing podcast was actually originally a book idea.

She started working on the book and then realized it wasn’t supposed to be a book; it was supposed to be a podcast. But then, after a number of months of podcasting, she felt it was supposed to be book, too. 

I love how Emily is so honest in sharing her struggles with decision-making and what she has learned in her own life — even in podcasting and writing a book about decision-making!

In This Episode:

[01:12] – I gave up coffee a few years ago. I know, can you believe it? I share why I gave it up and what I’m drinking instead.

[05:38] – My book of the week is one that I listened to and one that I wanted to jump up and shout “preach it!” multiple times while I was listening to it! (And I’m not a charismatic person; this book was just THAT good!)

[09:20] – Emily Freeman has deeply inspired me through her writings and her podcast, and I’m so honored that she was willing to do an interview with me for this episode.

[11:30] – The Next Right Thing, Emily’s podcast, was originally a book idea. I ask her how long of a process was it for her to decide to turn her idea into a podcast instead of a book? When did she know for sure that it wasn’t supposed to be a book?

[14:53] – Struggling with decision-making? Emily shares some strategies for someone who needs to figure out what the next right thing is.

[17:57] – Emily makes a powerful point that many people would rather make a decision (even a bad one) than live with the uncertainty of not deciding.

[20:36] – Recently, Emily talked about how she structures her week with Theme Days. I asked her to share more about this in detail.

[25:48] – For today’s Q&A segment, I answer a question from a listener about how I got off my allergy medications (and other medications/supplements I was taking for acne and anxiety!).

Links and Resources:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

Sponsor Spotlight

This episode is sponsored by — the budgeting software we have personally used for the past two years and absolutely love.

We were introduced to this budgeting software by my brother-in-law, Justin, a few years ago. He and my husband, Jesse, are both what I would lovingly refer to as “nerds”.

You know the kind of people… those people who think spreadsheets are fun. And who geek out over features in Excel. Yup, those kinds of people.

While the thought of being giddy about creating spreadsheets is so foreign to me, I love Spreadsheet Nerds because they help keep people like me in line and on track! 

Anyway, it was around Christmas time and Justin started telling Jesse about YouNeedaBudget — what we call YNAB for short. Jesse and I had both heard of this software before, but we had been using Quicken for so long that we’d not considered changing to anything else.

Well, when Jesse saw the features of YNAB, he was intrigued enough to sign up for the free trial. And it was pretty much love at first sight.

Truthfully, I can’t even begin to tell you how often I’ve heard him exclaiming to me, to friends, or just to himself something about, “How cool and helpful YNAB is!”

I’m such a pen and paper and cash girl, but after all his raving reviews, I finally gave in and downloaded it on my phone and had him show me how it works. It’s really, really impressive. I love how we can see exactly how we’re doing in every budget in just one glance.

And since we have multiple budgets for our businesses and personal, it allows us to track them all in one app. Which is so handy!

They usually only offer a 30-day trial, but they are giving you all a FREE 60-day trial so you can really get a feel for it and see how well it works. 

Go here to sign up for your FREE 60-Day YNAB trial.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

6 Tips to Find Motivation to Work Out Every Morning

Struggling to work out each morning? Read this for motivation and practical tips!

Did you set a goal in 2019 to exercise more — maybe even every day?

Finding the motivation to work out consistently on a daily basis can be a challenge, especially during the months when it’s cold outside and you just want to stay in your bed or you just wish you could stay in bed and get a little more sleep.

If you’re struggling to stay motivated to exercise, here are some of my top tips…

1. Have a plan.

It’s not enough to say “I want to work out.” That’s a good first step, but then you have to decide what you’re actually going to do in order to follow through with that desire. You have to plan how and when you’ll work out each day.

When deciding how you want to work out each day or what activity you want to commit to, I encourage you to pick something you really love doing. When you pick an activity you’ll actually enjoy, you’re way more likely to follow through with it!

Don’t choose a certain kind of workout just because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing or you feel like it’s what you should be doing. Find something you love!

Maybe it’s going on a run or a brisk walk, committing to a workout DVD or YouTube workout every day, dancing around the house, going to a workout class, or getting together with a friend to work out each day.

Whatever that looks like, do what feeds your soul and make sure it’s something you’d really enjoy.

2. Go to bed early.

It’s really hard to get up in the morning when you don’t go to bed on time and get enough rest. Going to bed on time will make it SO much easier to get out of the bed the next morning. And when you’re well rested, you’ll have a lot more energy to work out!

(Psst! Need some motivation to go to bed earlier? Sign up for my 5 Days to a Better Morning Challenge.)

3. Dress warmly.

During the winter months, make sure you dress warmly enough. If you’re trying to work out in a tank top and shorts and it’s freezing cold outside, you won’t want to get out of bed!

As soon as I get up, I put on a sweatshirt and socks and shoes. This helps me to stay warm and keeps me from having the excuse that I’m too cold to workout. I typically peel off the sweatshirt soon into my workout — once I’m warmed up!

4. Pair it with something you love.

Make your workout even more enjoyable by pairing it with something you love! Maybe that’s music, your favorite playlist, a podcast or audiobook, or even your favorite hot or cold drink.

I use the treadmill every morning and I love checking in on Instagram while I walk. I typically respond to Instagrams DMs via video while I’m on the treadmill walking, and I always look forward to my time on the treadmill because of this!

When I was running on the treadmill more often and for longer distances, I loved listening to a podcast, music, or watching a tv show while I ran.

5. Remind yourself of how it will make you feel.

Maybe you don’t feel like working out right now, but try to remember that once you work out you’ll be SO glad you did it!

Remembering how it will make me feel once I’m finished is a huge motivation for me. I always look forward to the energy I’ll have after my work out — which makes it so much easier to tackle my day!

So even if you wake up and have zero desire to workout, think about how much more energized you’ll feel after the fact. That might motivate you to start!

6. Find some accountability.

Accountability is a HUGE help when trying to commit to any daily habit — especially exercise!

Find some accountability! Maybe it’s an app or a checklist, or maybe it’s a workout partner that you check in with every day.

Right now I’m loving the MyFitnessPal app for accountability. I log what I eat, how much water I drink, and my daily workouts. It helps motivate me to make healthy choices through each day!

Other Resources You Might Find Helpful:

How do YOU stay motivated to work out? I’d love to hear!