My personal challenge to spend only $300 for groceries (for 2 people, 3 meals a day) during the month of February was actually pretty successful!

While I probably could have done better, especially if I had been able to use coupons, overall I think I did pretty good! I only slightly surpassed my $300 limit.

I guess what I’ve learned from this “experiment” is that it’s possible, even without coupons, to provide healthy and tasty meals without a lot of expense. I tried some new vegetables, namely rutabaga, I tried new recipes and ideas in the kitchen, and I got creative and little hungry at times! I also tried to increase my intake of fruits, yogurt, cottage cheese, and fresh seasonal vegetables – which are all cost effective and healthy!

I have also confirmed that having a plan for your meals makes shopping a lot easier, and sticking to your grocery list, while a near impossibility, is important for helping you not go over budget.

This experiment made me really look at the cost of some of the foods we eat. For example, OJ and Grape Juice cost between $5-$8 per Liter, and a bag of chips with dip tallies almost $8 too! I could personally do without these items for the most part….maybe as a special treat every once in a while. I think in the future I will keep the new-found practice of weighing cost to pleasure and belly-filling quotient. Does this item’s cost justify the pleasure it will bring me and will it keep me full?

I have also found that substituting tofu in your recipes, or using it half and half with the original ingredient, can cut down on cost but not flavor. Tofu is cheap and while it takes some getting used to, if you blend it well with your other, very flavorful ingredients, you can’t even tell it’s in the meal. Tofu is healthy, low cost, and easy to use, especially in items like muffins or lasagna.

Something else I found is that the fresh produce in your grocery has a wacked out pricing scale…when an item is abundant, local, and fresh, it’s often cheaper than if it’s imported, not as fresh, and more scarce at your local market. When produce is imported it often is picked before it’s actually ripe or at it’s peak to ensure it makes it to market. It also costs more due to transportation costs. I suspect that these items also have more pesticides used on them to protect against their bruising during travel, to get a ripened look on the outside for the consumer, who knows what else.

If you can find coupons, definitely use them! I happened upon an in-store coupon for my favorite cottage cheese the other day and saved 50C !

Also, make sure to stick mostly to the outer aisles at the grocery as they usually contain the healthy, fresh, cheap, items you’ll need at home.

Well, that’s what I found from my challenge. I’d love to know what tips you have to add for saving $ at the grocery!