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Extreme Grocery Challenge – Week 2

How to spend less than $250 total for 6 weeks of groceries

Recap – I set a challenge recently, to spend less than $250 total on groceries for the rest of the year. I shared what I am doing here along with tips for free and super cheap food here. I just finished week 2 and here’s how we went.

Where did we get our food?

I am using HelloFresh credit throughout this (you can get $50 off your first box with this link, plus if you are signed up to cash rewards you can get cash back). I don’t always stick to their recipes though. In fact, last week the only recipe I had that was a HelloFresh one was Jamaican Jerk Chicken which might be the best way to eat chicken I have ever tasted!

Get $60 off with Dinnerly ($20 off each of the first 3 boxes), $50 off your first HelloFresh box or $90 off HelloFresh with $40 off your first box, $30 off your second and $10 off each of your third and fourth and $35 off split over 3 boxes with Marley Spoon

I also got a Black Box this week with a variety of things from a taco pack to noodles, pappadums, lavosh and some other treats which my kids loved.

I got some food from Woolworths and spend $39.87, plus we got 2 bags of Thai salad free this week which were used for lunches and tacos.

What did we eat?

This week my kids have been more involved in cooking as well. My 8-year-old daughter is extremely keen to help with everything from choosing the meals, cooking and serving so I am fostering that. This week she focused on fried rice and spaghetti bolognese.

Breakfasts were mostly cereal for the kids. Adults had shakes, although there were 2 days I had to fast for medical reasons.
Lunches were our usual – wraps, salad, fruit, crackers for the kids. Salad for me and protein bars, shakes or leftovers for adult 2.
Dinners were basic and not as healthy as our usual diet mainly because I was tired and lazy. We had:
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Sausages and vegetables (with sausages leftover for other meals. e.g. any of these 20 recipes)
Fried rice
Tacos with Thai salad
Pad Thai
Spaghetti bolognese
I don’t know what everyone had for dinner last night as I’m not there and won’t be home until later this week.

I do have pumpkin soup, lots of chicken and veggies in the freezer plus a HelloFresh box on the way so it will be interesting to see what they eat when someone else is in charge. All my meals are provided in the coming days.

Top tips

Reducing your groceries doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming. I have done challenges like this plenty of times. Here are some of my top tips:

1. Plan!

Seriously, plan as much as you can. Work out recipes your family loves then create either a full menu for the week or at least have a list of recipes you can make with what you have and don’t worry about being exact. Learn to substitute food, for example, a zucchini bake usually has ham or bacon but you can use a tin of tuna. Pasta bake might call for 1 chicken breast, but you can substitute it with 1 cup of any cooked chicken. Recipes such as pizza and calzones can have any toppings, not just ham and pineapple.

2. Source free food

This could be growing your own, bartering with neighbours, using vouchers or looking in Facebook groups.

3. Shop around but only when needed

Don’t go to the shops out of habit or because you ran out of one thing. Find ways to make substitutes or make do. For example, we ran out of bread and wraps, so I made tortilla’s and have made pancakes other times. Make your own curry powder, taco seasoning and pasta sauce. You might be surprised at what you can make with what you have.

If you do have to shop, go at times things are discounted, compare prices and get the best deals instead of doing all your shopping at one place.

4. Try foraging

For the bulk of human existence hunting and foraging were the norm. Check out how to do it and more details in this post.

5. Eat differently

What you grew up with might not be the most frugal meals. Try meals from other countries such as pho from Vietnam, dhal and curries from India, Thailand or other Asian countries and see what you like. MasterChef might have incredible looking meals, most aren’t frugal and what will you do with all the ingredients you only used once?

How do you reduce your groceries?

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