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We spent $66 on groceries this week!

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 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.

Well, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve done a grocery post! I actually didn’t step foot into a store for around 12 weeks! (We’ve been doing Kroger pickup instead.)

How I have missed shopping and looking for markdowns! It was so good — and a little weird! — to be back to shopping. I ended up going shopping twice this past week.

Here’s what I got:

Kroger Shopping Trip #1:

  • 5 boxes Quaker Granola Bars — $0.99 each when you buy 5 or more participating items
  • 4 bottles of Dove shampoo/conditioner — $2.49 each when you buy 5 or more participating items, used $1.50/1 Kroger digital coupon = $0.99 each after coupon
  • Kroger coconut oil — $3.99
  • Happy Eggs dozen eggs — marked down to $1.99
  • 2 dozen Simple Truth — marked down to $1.49 each
  • Yoplait Oui yogurt — marked down to $0.69
  • Yoplait yogurt — marked down to $0.25
  • 5 bags of Chex Mix — $0.99 each when you buy 5 or more participating items
  • Kroger Cake Mix — marked down to $0.50
  • Kroger Peanut Butter — used FREE coupon that I got in a Kroger mailer
  • Bob’s Flaxseed — on closeout for $1.09 each
  • Milk — $2.59
  • 2 bags of coconut — $1.27 each
  • Cheerios — $1.79 when you buy 5 or more participating items
  • 3 boxes — on closeout for $1.40 each
  • Gallon of water — $0.79
  • Quinoa Bread — marked down to $2.29
  • Salad — $1.69
  • Salad greens — $1.79
  • Total with tax: $49.87

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

  • Honey — $3.99
  • 2 packages Kroger Sausage — marked down to $1.29 each
  • Whole chicken — marked down to $5.37
  • Bananas — marked down to $0.39 each — $1.18 total
  • Total with tax: $16.69

I’m freezing the bananas and I think I’m going to use them for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins or Banana Bread.

Total spent on groceries: $66.56

Our Menu Plan This 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.


Sunday — Mac & Cheese

Monday — Sweet Potatoes/Apples/Sausage in the Crockpot, English Muffin Bread, Steamed Peas

TuesdayBreakfast Casserole, Instant Pot Cinnamon Apples

Wednesday — BBQ Chicken in the Crockpot, Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes, Peas, English Muffin Bread, Salad

Thursday — Leftovers

Friday — I had planned that we were going to get takeout, but the night got away from us and that didn’t happen. I had a salad with hard boiled eggs and toast, everyone else had cereal and other odds and ends (hey, I’m just keeping it real here!)

Saturday — Takeout

The One Book I Finished Last Week (well, actually all of last month!)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

I took a hiatus from doing much of any book-reading and audiobook-listening while adjusting to life with two babies. And boy did I miss it! I’m excited to slowly be adding it back into my life… even if it’s just 10-15 minutes/day most days right now. I’m taking the, “Something is better than nothing” approach. 🙂

Last week, I did finish one book — and that felt like such a victory! Here’s my review…

Stay by Anjuli Paschall

I savored this book in bits and pieces over the last two months. It is a beautifully written memoir-like read. Each chapter can mostly stand alone and is more like individual essays.

In this period in our country with so much unrest, upheaval, and unknown, I thought it couldn’t be a more fitting read. The subtitle is Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking and the author encourages you to not only stay where you are planted and see the beauty there, but also to stay rooted in the truth of how much you are loved by God.

It is an engaging read and the author makes you feel like she’s walking alongside you and in the trenches, learning and growing with you. She’s honest, real, and raw.

Overall, I really loved the book and would recommend it. The only thing I think I would have loved is if the author would have fleshed out some of her stories more. I would have loved to hear even more details and more depth in many places. 🙂

The one other reservation I had with the book was her statement that her only purpose in life is be loved by God. I’m still mulling over that one, but I’m not sure that I fully agree. Although when I try to explain why I disagree, I struggle to put it into words. I’ve so long held to the catechism answer that says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Maybe the fruit of being loved by God is that we will dedicate our life to glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever? I’m not sure… like I said, this is something I’m still pondering. But I did want to mention it.

Verdict: 4 stars

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

How We Deal With Picky Eaters

Do you have a child who is a picky eater at home? This is my best advice on how to deal with picky eaters!

{Psst! Don’t miss this great list of 25+ frugal & healthy snack ideas for kids!}

How to Deal With Picky Eaters

When I talk about cutting your grocery bill, I will often hear from people who ask, “What do you do about picky eaters?

As you probably have gathered from our sometimes non-conventional menu plans, we don’t base our menu plans upon picky eating palates. Instead, we based them upon what’s on sale at the store and what we have on hand.

Our kids have learned from a young age that I don’t cater to their whims and wishes when it comes to food. We stick with a budget and we shop the sales and markdowns.

Much of the time, that means I find at least a few great deals each week on some of their favorite foods (and I try to stock up as much as I can when I do!). However, sticking with a budget means that I’ve at least somewhat regularly served things for meals that the kids didn’t think they would like.

kids at a restaurant

How to Deal with Picky Eaters

When it comes to encouraging our kids to eat foods they either don’t really like (or just haven’t tried and think they won’t like), here’s how we approach it at our house:

1. You have to eat three bites.

I know it might almost sound a little juvenile, but for some reason, limiting it to three bites seems to be very doable for our picky eaters. They rarely complain because they know that three bites is all that is required.

Note: The adults need to set the example here. If Mom and Dad are picky, there’s a good chance that it’s going to trickle down to some of your kids, too. Set a good example of gratefully eating food set in front of you and not complaining about food… your kids are watching and picking up on your example more than you know!

2. If you complain, you have to eat three more bites.

It is such a gift to have food to eat and I never want my kids to forget that. Even if you don’t like something, you don’t have to complain about it.

So we’ve instituted the rule that if you complain about something, you have to eat three more bites. This cuts down significantly on any complaining from picky eaters! 🙂

picky eaters cooking own food

3. Once you’ve eaten three bites, you can make something else for your dinner.

This last rule has been the most helpful when dealing with picky eaters!

We’ve found that oftentimes, the kids will think they won’t like something at all, but then they’ll change their mind once they’ve eaten three bites and they’ll end up eating a full serving. If they still decide that they don’t like something after three bites, they can eat something else. This is usually either the sides we made for dinner or a separate meal they prepare themselves.

The kids know that they can fix themselves yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, scrambled or fried eggs, oatmeal, or mac & cheese to go along with dinner at any time — so long as they’ve eaten their required three bites.

That’s right, I let them fix it themselves (and they are expected to clean up after themselves, too). This keeps it simple for me, but it still makes sure that they are eating enough at dinner time.

man prepping healthy food for picky eaters

As our kids have gotten older, they’ve become more accustomed to different foods because of this simple system. In fact, these days, it’s rare that they fix something extra for dinner. The three bites rule really helped them to slowly expand their palate over the years!

They’ve now become quite adventuresome in their eating and will often choose to eat something that they don’t think they’ll like just because they want to try it! I can’t guarantee that what has worked at our house will work at yours. But hey, if you’re struggling with how to deal with picky eaters, let me know if you give it a try!

An Important Note: I know that some kids genuinely have severe sensory issues when it comes to certain textures of foods or certain other issues that are very legitimate reasons for them having a “picky palate”. I’m not saying you need to or should force a child to eat three bites of something — especially in this case. You know your child and their unique needs and I think each parent should decide what would be best for each child.


Do you have any other tips on how to deal with picky eaters at your house? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

How to Save Money on Parent-Kid Dates

Have you ever experimented with the ideas of parent-kid dates? They’re a unique way to spend individualized, quality time with each kid! This post has some great budget-friendly kid date ideas!

Parent Kid Dates

Guest post from Katie of My Joy in Chaos:

As a stay at home mom of five, with a husband who works fairly long hours during the week, our individual time with the kids is quite limited.

We live in about an 1800 square foot house and it feels like there is always someone in every room. As soon as we start time with one kid, there is suddenly an avalanche of additional kids climbing on us to see what we are doing with their sibling. 

As our kids started getting older we looked at the example set by my husband’s parents when they did foster care for teen boys — we take turns taking them out on dates!

Why do we take our kids on dates?

Each of our kids is incredibly unique. God has created them with individual personalities, interests, and talents. If we are always doing everything together as a family, we are bound to leave out a hobby, adventure, or food that someone likes and wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy.

Some of our kids are also completely different in a group setting compared to the one-on-one setting. By spending a few hours focused on each child, we get to know a whole new side of him or her!

The siblings are no longer competing for attention, but rather getting to soak up quality time with just mom or dad. 

What do we do on kid dates?

We don’t do all of these every time we go on a date, but our kids can typically expect 2-4 hours of uninterrupted time with mom or dad when it is their turn.

We often let them dictate the agenda unless we have an errand that needs to get done.

Their favorite choices are:

  • Go out to eat
  • Visit favorite stores
  • Play at the park
  • Visit the library
  • Walk around the mall
  • Run errands

Biking as a Family

How do we save money on kid dates?

Spread the dates out

We used to try and do one date per month. Back when we only had two or three kids, this was reasonable. Now that we have five kids we’ve shifted to doing them in two-month blocks. I take January and February, my husband takes March and April, and we continue to alternate throughout the year. 

Spreading out for your family might mean once per week or once per month. Look at your calendar and your budget and get realistic about where you have wiggle room in both.

Sign up for restaurant deals

I’ve taken kids to Chili’s for as little as $14 with tax and tip because we had a free kids meal coupon, I ordered off the 3 for $10 menu, and we both took food home for later in the week!

Other places may send coupons for a percentage or dollar off, free appetizers or desserts, and other discounts to your email. Many also offer accumulated rewards where you earn points for eating with them and can cash them in at certain levels. 

Many restaurants will also tell you what day of the week they offer free kid’s meals. For instance, every Tuesday is Kids Eat Free at Pizza Ranch. If this is what one of our kids chooses for a date then you better believe we make it happen on a Tuesday!

Choose not to eat out

Our kids have gotten pretty accustomed to dining out being part of their date but we’ve made it a part of our budget and are okay with it for now. But should there come a day when that doesn’t work, we would find other things to do. Eating out, especially for full meals, can get pricey quite quickly so looking for alternatives is a great way to keep costs low. 

Look for free or discounted events

Libraries, book stores, toy stores, craft stores, and other places around your town might offer fun events for kids and families. We have done LEGO builds at Target, JoAnn, and Toys R Us that always add an extra bonus to a date. 

Our movie theater often runs kid series with older movies that come back to the theater for a limited time for a discount. They usually offer a free small bag of popcorn with each ticket as well. They also have $5 Tuesday showings (all day for every movie!) and Student Thursdays. 

Be honest with your child about the budget

Our kids LOVE sushi but it’s completely out of our budget to take them to a sushi restaurant for every date. Instead, we allow them one sushi date per year. This makes it a special treat, plus we can plan accordingly for the expense. 

Kid Dates with Dad

What are the best free kid date ideas?

Visit the library

Reading the same books over and over at home can get old. Hit up the library, grab a stack of books, and curl up on the couch together. Many libraries also offer board games now which would make for a fun afternoon. 

Our library also offers lots of different classes and events that are free when you register. In February and March, they had multiple Harry Potter events for different ages, and around the holidays they offered craft classes to make small presents – all for free!

Go on a walk or bike ride

We can only take advantage of this idea during a few months of the year because we live in the frozen north, but try to get out and enjoy nature!

Our town is full of bike and walking paths, and now that our kids are getting older they can handle going a further distance without complaining.

Venture out then find a place to stop and talk before heading back home. 

Pack a picnic

My kids adore picnics. Eating outside is an adventure that never gets old. Throw some peanut butter sandwiches and veggie sticks in a container and find a new place to explore.

The point is to spend time getting to know your child; the food is just a bonus. 

School events

Our school district offers so many free events that it’s easy to find one to attend.

Check out a concert, visit the art displays, or take in a play.

Most school sporting events will have an admission fee, but some may have free entrance depending on the school and sport.

Park events

I’m always amazed at the number of events our park district offers for no charge or with a small canned food donation. 

They have done movie nights, craft events, inflatable game parties, and more – all for no charge!

If you aren’t doing dates with your kids or at least doing something with each of them on a regular basis, I want to encourage you to try.

It can be as simple as grabbing one when you head off to the store, to drop books off at the library, or while taking the dog for a walk. 

We only have so many years with our kids before they are off on their own. Spending intentional one-on-one time with each of them gives us the chance to learn who they are as people, discover what’s in their hearts, and have a little fun along the way!

Katie is the wife to Micah and mom of five smushed into six years. Her goal is to help moms find joy in their everyday chaos by offering practical homemaking tips, inspiration for growing their faith, and simple family activities on her blog My Joy in Chaos.

Gretchen’s $88 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 5


2 bags Frozen Broccoli – $0.89 each

1 bag Frozen Peas – $0.99

1 MooTubes – $1.55

1 Organic Plain Yogurt – $2.69

1 pkg Hot Dogs – $0.79

1 Sour Cream – $0.89

1 Half & Half – $1.55

1 gallon Milk – $2.19

1 lb Ground Beef – $3.29

1 bag Shoestring Fries – $1.79

1 bag Shredded Cheese – $2.75

2 dozen Eggs – $0.98 each

1 Unsweetened Applesauce – $1.95

2 cans Chunk Tuna – $0.79 each

2 pkg Macaroni & Cheese – $0.33 each

1 bag Marshmallows – $0.89

1 Peanut Butter – $1.15

1 Baking Powder – $0.99

1 Ground Pepper – $2.65

1 Taco Seasoning Mix – $0.39

1 pkg Deli Sliced Cheese – $1.79

1 pkg Chunk Mozzarella Cheese – $1.69

2 Avocados – $0.79

2 pkg Flour Tortillas – $1.25 each

2 pkg Mini Cucumbers – $1.99 each

1 bag Spinach – $1.19

1 bag Chocolate Chips – $1.69

1 bag Apples – $2.79

1 box Fruit & Grain Bars – $1.35

1 box Snack Crackers – $1.59

1 bag White Tortilla Chips – $0.89

1 container Peanuts – $1.89

1 pkg Graham Crackers – $0.99

1 jar Salsa – $1.19

1.30 lbs Roma Tomatoes – $1.24

2 pkg Buns – $0.85 each

1 loaf Bread – $0.95

Total: $60.69


3 boxes Mott’s Fruit Snacks – $0.99 each

2 Cheez-It Crackers – $1 each

1 Bomb Pop Frozen Bars – $2.49, used $1/1 Ibotta rebate AND $1/1 Kroger Cash Back – $0.49 after rebate and cash back

1 bag Navel Oranges – $2.88

1 Terra Chips – $2.50, used used $1/1 Ibotta rebate AND $1/1 Kroger Cash Back – $0.50 after rebate and cash back

1 pkg Basil – $1.99

3 boxes General Mills Cereal – $1.49 each

3 boxes Sunbelt Granola Bars – $1.29 each, used $0.75/1 Ibotta rebate AND $0.50/1 Kroger Cash Back – $0.04 each after rebate and cash back

1 pkg Sliced Turkey Breast – Marked down to $2.69

3.80 lbs Bananas – Marked down to $1.48

1 Yoplait Go-Gurt – Marked down to $1.70

1 bag Kroger Potatoes – $1.50

1 Green Leaf Lettuce – $1.49

5 Clif Bars – $0.88 each, used 5 $0.75/1 Ibotta rebates – $0.13 each after rebate (Only four are pictured as one had already been eaten.)

1 Kroger Flour – $1.59

1 pkg Kroger Fudge Cookies – $1 (These were supposed to be free but my e-coupon didn’t work.)

Used $0.10 Ibotta rebate for any receipt

Total after coupons and rebates: $27.78

Total for both stores: $88.47

Menu Plan for This Week


Cereal, Toast, Eggs, Spinach Smoothies, Oatmeal, Yogurt


Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Mac & Cheese, Cheese/Crackers/Fruit/Veggies, Salad Bar, Turkey Sandwiches, Apples & Peanut Butter, Leftovers


Soft Taco Bar

Grilled Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, French Fries

Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo, Cornbread

Easy Caprese Calzones (using homemade dough), Fruit Salad

Chicken & Gravy over Rice, Steamed Peas, Homemade Rolls

Homemade Cheese Pizza, Breadsticks, Tossed Salad

Pancakes, Eggs

My 8 Goals For This Week

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Last week was my first week back to goal-setting after having a baby. And well, I didn’t do that great. But I did something — and I’m going to celebrate that! Because something is almost always better than nothing!

Last Week’s Goals

Personal Goals

1. Take 5 slow walks in our neighborhood. (I got in two, but hey, that’s better than none!)

2. Finish reading Stay. Read 4 more chapters of Heartfelt Discipline. Read at least 10 chapters of The Librarian of Auschwitz.

Home/Family Goals

3. Read 3 chapters of The Boy on the Wooden Box aloud to the kids. (I didn’t get any read aloud time in with the family, but I did put it on my list every night… so at least I’m remembering about it. Let’s hope this week I not only remember about it but actually do something about it!)

4. Complete 2 hours of foster care training. (We had to postpone this online training until June because our kids’ school ended up being able to have their awards ceremony and it was at the same time.)

5. Spend one-on-one time with each of the three older kids doing something they love doing.

Work/Blog Goals

6. Finish the second round of edit to my manuscript. Work on Afterword.

Word of the Year Goals

7. Have a family night and do an at-home Escape Game together. (We had every intention of doing this, but it just didn’t happen. We’re hopefully going to make it happen this coming week!)

And here are my goals for this week…

This Week’s Goals

Personal Goals

1. Walk on the treadmill for at least 10 minutes five times.

2. Finish reading Heartfelt Discipline. Read at least 10 chapters of The Librarian of Auschwitz. Read 6 chapters of Get Out of Your Head.

3. Write a handwritten card and mail it.

Home/Family Goals

4. Read 3 chapters of The Boy on the Wooden Box aloud to the kids. 

5. Go on a date with Jesse. 

6. Spend one-on-one time with each of the three older kids doing something they love doing.

Work/Blog Goals

7. Get back into a good work rhythm after five weeks of maternity leave.

Word of the Year Goals

8. Have a family night and do an at-home Escape Game together. 

What are YOUR goals for this week? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to hear and be able to cheer for you!