2012 Grocery Budget Challenge

It is time to set your grocery budget for 2012 {and enter for a chance to win}

How much will you spend? Don’t worry about how much your neighbor spends. Figure out how much or little you can spend on your groceries for your family. Take a little inspiration from Mavis’ $100 a month goal. Some of us other fabs are taking some inspiration from Mavis and although we do not plan to report to you every week what we are buying we will report how much we spend.

This is not a competition between fabs or a competition between readers. If you are participating in the challange you are winning because you are now thinking twice about buying things you do not need.

Decide what your grocery budget means to you. You may combine groceries with personal care. You may have a separate eating out budget. See what Mavis is counting in her grocery budget.

Get your budget number ready! You can track it here on fabulessly frugal and each week that you do you we will be entered to win random giveaways! We are thinking amazon, Albertsons and Target gift cards to help you stretch your budget a little farther!

It is important that you set a goal that works for you. Consider your previous months spending, family size, and overall budget to come up with a number that works for you. Push yourself to improve on the spending you have been doing in the past. Take a look at what others are doing to get ideas, but do not compare yourself to others!

Check out what the fabs are doing…

Cathy: Feeding a family of 9!

Monthly grocery budget: $600

Spending this week: $109.76
Savings this week: $18.74

January Spending:  $109.76
January Savings: $18.74

Year to date spending: $109.76
Year to date savings: $18.74

Mavis: Feeding a family of 4.

Monthly grocery budget: $100

Spending this week: $65.17
Savings this week: $88.83

January Spending: $65.17
January Savings: $88.83

Year to date spending:  $65.17
Year to date savings: $88.83

Read more about Mavis’ spending in Monday’s with Mavis

Monica: Feeding a family of 4.

Monthly grocery budget: $150

Spending this week: $23.62
Savings this week: $15.74

January Spending:  $23.62
January Savings: $15.74

Year to date spending: $23.62
Year to date savings: $15.74

I do not plan to show you every week what I buy, but this week I happend to have my camera ready, so once in a while I may share some pics. 🙂

I did 4 transactions at Albertsons and spent $10.62, I bought…
6 pouches of  Tuna FREE w/coupons
2 cans of tomato paste FREE w/ coupons
20 cups of yogurt .30 each w/ coupons
2 gallons of milk $1.09  each w/ coupons
And left with a $2 catalina and free yogurt coupon to use this week!

I went once to Costco and bought… 2 loaves of Bread, 2 gallons of Milk, 5 heads of Lettuce $13.00

So yes I still have my Costco membership and use it when I need staples that are not on sale or in my stockpile. Find out what else I still buy at Costco since I started couponing.

So are you ready to track your spending and join our challenge?

#1 – Decide on your monthly grocery budget.

#2 – Complete this form with your #’s… remember, this is you competing with YOURSELF, no one else!  Share your email if you want to enter to win our challenge giveaway… your email will be hidden, but all other answers will be public.

#3- View the results below and see what sort of goals other Fabulessly Frugal readers are setting!

#4 – Come back next week:  we’ll announce a winner from entries on this form AND we’ll give you another chance to submit your spending and saving!


This week the random winner will get a $20 Amazon gift card!


TOOL:  Here is a grocery budget tracking spreadsheet to help you keep track of your spending/saving each week. It’s nothing fancy, but it will help you track your spending so you can quickly enter in your #’s each Monday afternoon.

Submit Your Numbers Here:

View Entries Here:


  • Kristin

    Thank you for posting the XLS!

  • Amanda

    I signed up, but haven’t went shopping this week. My stockpile is pretty substantial, so I may not go until next week. I just wanted to explain all the 0s from signing up.

  • Gaby

    How can you possibly eat healthy on $100 a month for four people? I have plenty to learn yet but never see myself going that low. The more I save on toiletries and supplies the more I look healthy.

    • christina

      Its very possible but does take a lot of time and effort to find deals. I get mostly 80% of our fresh fruits n veggies from our local 99cent store believe it or not. I also stock up on bulk bagged vegetables when they go on sale. Last month Food4less had a bulk 20pound bag of veggies squash, carrots, broccoli for $2.98. Spent $10 n brought them Home, separated n put them in 15 one gallon bags. 15 possible. Sides or stir fry meals for $.60 a piece. I purchase a lot of chicken breast when they go on sale, also Tyson chicken grills can usually find them for $2.98 a 4lb bag (every 2-3 months at that price) and we get $1 off coupons every few months as well which for me was in December n I purchased 10-4lb bags for about $20 with coupons. Like I said, its possible but first you have to have the coupons and second, be patient and wait for a good match up price.

  • LaToya

    Monica – how’d you get the tuna free…? It went 10 for 10 last Wednesday….but there were no doublers…?

  • Amy

    Thank you for this challenge!!!! I love your site so much! I have been telling everybody about it. This year is going to be awesome 🙂

  • Thank you for doing this!! I really need that extra push to stay on budget!! Good luck everyone!!

  • Tracy

    I have decided that I will only spend $120 per week for our family of 4 for all groceries, personal care items, household products, clothing, and gasoline. This will force me to look at more than just our food budget for ways to conserve.

  • April

    When you count your “grocery” budget, do you count cleaning supplies and toilet paper, etc.? Just want to be sure when adding up my amounts…

    • You pick April. I decided to do just food, because I have 2 in diapers… so you decide. You are competing against yourself! 😀

      • April

        So, may I ask what you budget for the other items??

        • I stock up on those other things when I see a good sale… I get my diapers from Amazon (about 1 box per month on subscribe and save… I postpone the shipment if I’m not needing more). We buy wipes at Costco, and I use vinegar water and microfiber clothes for the majority of my cleaning. I used to have a great stock of laundry detergent and fab softener, but that depleted and I missed sales to stock up, so we just buy at Costco as needed. I’m not sure you could say I “budget” for these things. I can’t limit myself to a certain amount because these are the types of things that, if you need them, you need them! 😀 Not sure that my response is very helpful, sorry. 😀

          • April

            Thank you, Cathy! I have been couponing for a while and always wondered why my budget didn’t seem to match up….believe me, it has dropped a lot thanks to your site, but there are still those things that (like you said) either don’t go on sale or you miss the sale. My husband will also only use one type of TP. 🙂 Thanks for your responses. I really appreciate it.

  • Virginia

    I’m so excited about this challenge. Can’t wait to check in next week and see how well everyone did! 🙂

  • Deserae

    This should be fun! I am including all food, non-food, and the cost of newspapers for coupons.

    • ben

      Including the cost of newspapers is a great plan. I think to often some of us (myself included) talk about the savings…..but we forget what we paid for the newspaper, or in rare stock up transactions what we paid if we used a clipping service to get extra coupons. I just used a clipping service for the first time last week to score 60 of the Big Cup Nissen Noodles for free…..I told everyone I got them for free…..but in reality I paid $3 for the extra coupons.

      • Tracy

        It is great to include the expense of getting coupons. (They never do this in the “Extreme Couponing” show!). My husband gets a year “Sunday Only” subscription. Last year I only paid $9.88 for the entire year. I sure hope they have this deal again!!

  • Amy Conner

    Monica and Cathy,
    What you have started here is AMAZING! I have been with you for almost 3 years now and I can’t believe 1)that it has been that long and 2) what an amazing group of ladies you have here. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to write 3 people or company’s that make a difference in my life everyday and you ladies are by FAR #1 in my life. You empower all of us to do so much good for our families by saving our pennies to do more activities or just making things not seem so tight. Don’t stop what you are doing cause without you…well…i don’t want to even think about it. You ladies ROCK!! I am so proud to be a fabuLESSly fruGAL.

    Amy Conner

    • Amy! So nice to hear from you! What a fab resolution you made for yourself… and how lucky we are to be on the receiving end. 😀 It’s been a blessing to us Amy, and thanks for all you’ve done to help us out (especially in the early years). Hugs to you!

    • Monica

      AMY! I feel like I have not seen you in forever! So glad to know that the blog is still blessing your life. Thank you for your kind words. It makes my night. Or should I say morning? 🙂 You rock Amy!

  • Rebekah Pontow

    This is overwhelming to me – I’m a huge weight loss kick and have increased our budget for the next 3 months, but don’t plan on keeping it that high….how can I join the challenge??

    • Just increase your budget Rebekah. You make this work for you! Weight loss is important too! Next week I’ll share my fears and insecurities about sharing my budget. But I’ve come to the fact that I’ll do what works for me and it doesn’t matter if other people don’t approve. You can do it!

  • Lana

    I would love to hear more specifics from Cathy. I also have a family of nine and found it hard to try and feed everyone following Mavis’ budget. (She’s amazing.) We drink milk like it’s going out of style and lots and lots of food!!! I would love to follow what and when Cathy stocks up and buy items for her larger family 🙂

  • Rosa

    This is SO perfect for me. I have been working as a freelance writer for the last 2 years and contributing to our family’s budget each month to the tune of about $1,000 per month. Since having baby #6 last July, I have had a really hard time maintaining my current job situation and really need to make some changes. Anyways, this is going to result in a drastic cut in my income for at least awhile until I figure out a more workable plan.

    Anyway- I had already decided to track my spending and savings to see how much “income” I can earn through mere savings. The problem is, I’m a total lazy slacker and am ridiculously externally motivated. (True story- how we manage to homeschool escapes my logic many a day.) If I don’t get some payoff, it’s pulling teeth to keep myself on track for a project like this. You just offered me the PERFECT carrot-
    1. A spreadsheet that does all the work for me.
    2. A prize to keep myself going and updating each week.

    Seriously, y’all rock!

  • ben

    Just curious how you ladies are calculating your savings? Are you calculating them based on actual coupon use or are you including things like club card savings or compared to regular price? I know it is up to me, but I can’t decide and wanted to know what you guys were doing.

    • Deserae

      I use the tracker I linked above. I include everything saved. I had already entered my receipt info for the week so all I had to do was copy the information from the top of the page.

  • laurrie

    hello all i have extra coupons from sunday the 8th of this month. i am asking .50 per insert.. please keep in mind you are not buying the inserts but pay for my time to get them and get them to you. i have a total of 3 different inserts two of the ss and one of the rp.. if you are interested in getting some please feel free to email me at angeltwo@q.com.. also if you live out of the boise area if you are willing to pay the postage i will send them to you as well.

    thanks for you time

  • Tiffany

    This is a great idea and I’m on board! However, I’m a little confused by the tracker. If this is a tracker for the budget, then wouldn’t the “savings” mean any amount left over on the weekly budget (that could be carried over into the following weeks)? Why would the actual coupon savings be relevant to the budget tracker?

  • Amy

    Wow I’m feeling really depressed on how much I spend on groceries a month. We have 2 kids with autism and are on a gluten free casein free diet which is really expensive. A loaf of their bread costs $5 and they eat at least 2 a week. I’ve tried making some from scratch, but ends up getting thrown away. I started couponing 4 months ago to try to get a hold of our food budget was $1200 right now I’m making baby steps at $900. I would love to hear how people budget on restrictive diets.

    • Katie

      Try looking at alternative coupon sites like mambosprouts.com or searching for specific coupons on Ebay. We try to eat mainly organic so couponing for us is a little difficult too. 🙂 I will keep my eyes out for GLCF coupons too and pass any info along that I may find!

  • Tina

    My question. Is week one jan 1 st through the 7 th? Or is it starting this week the 8 th?

    • Monica

      Great question Tina! Week 1 is Jan 1-7. Sorry we did not give you forewarning. But it took us a while to recover from the holidays and get our ideas for this challenge finalized. 🙂

  • Katrina

    Wow! Thank you for posting the tracker!! I have felt that I don’t do a very good job of saving my family money on groceries – but after plugging in the numbers from my grocery receipts – I do really see the difference!!! It gets me excited to try a bit harder to save a bit more and find better deals in my area! I wish more stores doubled coupons (we have only 1) and had better deals – but we are doing really good so far!

    Thanks again for a valuable tool!!!

  • Melissa

    Are we updating the totals every week? This is exciting.;)

  • Harmony

    I am going to attempt to spend no more than $400/ mo. For a family of 5 ( 2 adults 3 teenagers…and all their friends ). I manage an apartment complex, another rental unit, sell Avon, fill in at 2 other side jobs as needed run my kids to all of their activities as well as coupon since this past summer and last Monday I started college and already loads of homework. So, I’m not going to officially join the challenge because I just don’t think I can get the data entered on time and I tend to shop a lot one month and then go a month or two with only picking up necessities. But I do want to thank you for the spreadsheet, Ive been wanting to see what my savings have been. I have all my receipts in a box ready to enter as time allows. My husband thinks I have cut our budget in 1/2 if not more since Instarted couponing. I look forward to seeing how everyone does and hope to join the challenge next year if you do it again. Thank you ladies for all you do. Without you guys doing all of the research, talking to the stores and the newspapers, etc. I would not have done well couponing and would have been over it by now. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Hollie

    can you only input on Monday, i just did mine on Sunday and its not showing up? Also is there a downloadable spreadsheet everyone is mentioning but i dont know where it is?? THX so MUCH

  • Jennifer Hunter

    I live in NJ and I am thinking I need to move!!! We only have a Shoprite here and keeping it to $200 a week for a family of five is a struggle!!! I feel a failure! I don’t even know where to start. I have no stockpile and I really need to start meal planning. My kids are so picky though. You guys are awesome!!! I wish I could get myself on the ball!!

  • Katrina

    Do we have to enter this weekly?? I was ready to enter Week #2’s totals (for last week) but did not see the change from week 1 to week 2. Can someone clarify???

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