www.frugalmillennia.com Weekly Meal Plan 10-30-17

Weekly Meal Plan 10/30/17

Hello, my fellow frugal millennials! It’s Thursday which means I spent about a half hour yesterday scouring the Sprouts Weekly Ad Deals and planning my weekly meal plan for the week. Here’s a breakdown of my methodology.

Looking at Weekly Ad Deals

Before I even started thinking about what I wanted to eat I looked at Sprouts Weekly Ad Deals. Here’s what I noticed:

  • Black grapes are a good deal. I will typically buy grapes if they are less than $1 per pound. They typically range from $1.99-$0.88 per pound. The fact that they are as low as $0.77 per pound is a great deal. I’m going to grab a bag of black grapes to snack on throughout the week.
  • Italian squash is a good deal. Italian squash typically cost about $1.50 per pound so the fact that they are on sale for $0.48 per pounds is another good deal. Because this is the best vegetable deal of the week, I’m going to focus one of my meals around Italian squash.
  • Artisan lettuce is another fantastic deal! This type of lettuce typically costs $2.99-$3.99 per pack. It’s on sale for $0.98 which is an AWESOME deal. I’m going to figure out how to incorporate this into my meal prep.
  • Mild cheddar cheese is a good deal. I try to pick up whatever cheese is on sale that week and use it in scrambled eggs and maybe lunch or dinner.
  • There really aren’t very great meat deals this week. Which means I’m going to have a pretty veggie week.

Creating a Meal Plan

After considering the deals, I know an easy meal would be tacos. I can use the lettuce cups as shells, the cheddar cheese that is on sale, and extra lean ground beef is on sale for $4.99 lb. Not the greatest ground beef deal, but it’s the only meat I’m going to eat this week so I’ll splurge.

I’m not too familiar with cooking with Italian squash so I had to head over to Budget Bytes to look at recipes. There’s a recipe for Zucchini Pizza Boats that looks simple enough so I’ll try that.

For breakfast, I’ll alternate between scrambled eggs, pancakes, and protein shakes. These are my typical go-to breakfasts. Plus, I already have all of the ingredients on hand that I need to use up.

You’ll notice that I have a few blank squares on my weekly meal plan. Those are the days I’m planning on eating out. I know that one Wednesday I’m going to grab lunch with a friend. Friday and Saturday I typically eat out. Sunday I’ll probably sleep in and eat a late brunch which means I won’t need to eat lunch.

www.frugalmillennia.com Weekly Meal Plan 10-30-17

Creating a Shopping List

After looking through my refrigerator, I have a fair amount of ingredients leftover from previous weeks. Here’s what I’ll need to buy this week:

  • 1 Red onion $0.69/lb
  • 1lb bulk mushrooms $2.99/lb
  • 6 Italian Squash $0.48/lb
  • 1 can tomato sauce $0.99
  • 1 can black olives (price unknown, probably $1.99)
  • 1 artisan lettuce $0.98
  • 1 lb ground beef $4.99/lb
  • 1 lb mild cheddar cheese $2.99/lb
  • 2.5 lb Grapes $0.77/lb
  • 1 bag baby carrots $0.98

Total estimated cost: These ingredients will cost around $21.50. I’ll also probably grab a bag of chips and maybe some chocolate because I am human after all! But I would expect my total cost to be less than $30 which is a great start to the month. I always like to start the month under budget. That means I can try out more exciting recipes as the month goes on. Or I can grab a few extra treats later in the month.

If you want to learn more about how I meal prep, check out my post on grocery shopping on a budget. 

Grocery Shopping

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

I hate to admit it, but I have a dirty little secret. I secretly love watching Extreme Couponers on TLC. The fact that people can load up entire grocery carts full of food and toiletries and pay next to nothing is crazy to me. How is this even legal? As I’m typing this it sounds as if those people are robbing the grocery stores. And while I get an adrenalin rush while watching the show, I know that I, myself, will never be an extreme couponer. I just don’t have the time or the cajones to dig through dumpsters. So where does that leave me? I could throw in the towel and just spend whatever on groceries. Or, I could use a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years to save as much money as possible grocery shopping.

Step 1: Create a Grocery Budget

If you’re like me, you’re probably a single millennial working to live on a budget. Your grocery budget is going to look different from mine. I don’t have any dietary restrictions (other than the fact that I don’t like seafood). I’m not vegan, Gluten Free, or Paleo. Which means, everything in the grocery store is up for grabs. My grocery budget is $125-$150 per month which breaks down to about $31.25-$37.50 per week.

If you’re used to spending $50-$100 per week on groceries, trimming your budget is going to be a bit of a shock. But stick with me.

Step 2: Check the Ads

Now that you have your budget in place, you need to check the ads. So stop throwing away your junk mail! That weekly packet of flyers you get on Wednesdays is going to be key to saving you tons of money. If you go to the grocery store without a plan it is way too easy to overspend. By knowing what is on sale you can begin to search for recipes with those ingredients.

When you’re looking at the ad, stick with the front page. The front page is going to have the best deals of the week. Grocery stores try and lure you in with those front page deals. But if you’re a frugal millennial, you’ll know that if you try and stick to just those front page deals, you’re going to score major savings.

Step 3: Create a Weekly Meal Plan

Now that you know what ingredients are on sale, it’s time to create a weekly meal plan. I try and eat 80% of my meals at home, it saves a lot of money, and quite frankly, it’s better for my waistline. With that in mind, create a spreadsheet (or download and print the one I use here) and write down your meal plan. www.frugalmillennia.com Weekly Meal Plan

If you have no idea where to begin when it comes to meal planning, worry not! A few years ago when I was just starting meal planning I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to cook or grocery shop, but over the years I’ve practiced every week and have become pretty good. My favorite recipe website is called Budget Bytes. It has really great recipes that are easy to follow and they use ingredients that I (almost) always have on hand. If I see that chicken, spinach, and red bell peppers are on sale this week, I head over to Budget Bytes to see what recipes have those ingredients.

Channel Your Inner Julia Child

I highly recommend you avoid processed food as much as possible. Not only will your waistline thank you, but your wallet will too. I’m not going to lie, I love to splurge on an occasional prepackaged meal and treat, but I don’t focus my weekly meal plan around process foods. Processed foods are really marked up and you are paying for the convenience. Unless chips, cookies, or frozen pizza is on sale, I don’t buy it. When it is on sale, I allow myself to pick up a package or two and spread it out throughout the week.

If you want to see what I’m eating and how I grocery shop, check out my weekly meal plans.

Step 4: Create a Grocery Shopping List

Now that you know what you’re going to eat for the week, it’s time to go get those ingredients! First, take note of what you already have on hand. Americans waste more food than any other nation. So, let’s save the earth and your pocketbook and check to see what you already have hiding in your refrigerator. After seeing what you already have on hand, add the ingredients that you need to buy to your grocery shopping list.

I crate my shopping list on the notes app on my iPhone. That way, I’m always carrying it with me and never have to worry about forgetting it at home. I mean think about it, when was the last time you went anywhere without your phone? As I walk through the store I delete items off of my grocery shopping list as I put them in my cart.

Step 5: Go Grocery Shopping

It’s go time! I played sports growing up, in fact, I was involved in everything from soccer to basketball to volleyball to track and field. Sometimes my inner athlete comes out and it’s easier for me to think in terms of sports analogies. I like to think of everything before hitting the store as practice. Checking the ads, creating a weekly meal plan, and grocery list are all prepared for the big game, hitting the grocery store. Now that you are fully prepared, let’s head the field.

Resist Temptations

As with any game you play, you’re going to have to overcome obstacles in order to get the outcome you want. When you’re at the grocery store, you’re going to be tempted to purchase things other than what’s on your shopping list. Try to resist. The more items you put in your cart that aren’t on your list, the more likely you are to overspend.

While overspending a few dollars won’t totally kill your budget, it will add up. The way I look at it, the more I spend on groceries, the less I can spend on other things. You see, if I go over my grocery budget, I have to take it out of my miscellaneous budget. That means fewer girls nights out, brunches, and shopping sprees. When I put it in perspective, it’s not worth it to me to add extra goodies to my shopping cart.

Grocery Shopping in a Nutshell

If you’re new to budgeting and trimming your grocery budget, this can be a lot to take in. To be honest, I don’t do everything on this list in one day. I spread out the task over 2-3 days. That helps me feel less overwhelmed.

On Wednesdays, my favorite grocery store, Sprouts, publishes its weekly ad. I head over to the website to check out the deals. After sifting through the online ad, I start to develop my weekly meal plan.

On Saturdays, I head over to Sprouts with my grocery shopping list on my iPhone. I scoop up all of my groceries and put them in the refrigerator.

On Sundays, I meal prep and make most of my lunches and dinners for the week. If my meals are prepped throughout the week I’m less likely to fall into temptation after a long workday. I’m less likely to go out to lunch with coworkers. I’m also not tempted to stop by Chipotle after work because I’m too lazy to cook. If all I have to do is pop my Tupperware in the microwave, I have no reason to eat out.

Breaking up my meal prepping and grocery shopping tasks throughout the week keeps me on track and prevents me from feeling overwhelmed. Try it out, and see what works best for you. The more you practice, the better you will be–I promise!


What’s the Heck is a Raincheck?

How many times has this scenario happened to you? You’re all ready to go shopping, see a great deal on a store’s website or were mailed a great promotional offer. You get in your car, head to the store to purchase the item that is on a great sale, only to find it’s sold out. As a bargain hunter, that happens to me more often than you would expect. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating, and a pain in the hiney! The next time you walk into a store and an item on sale is completely sold out, ask for a raincheck.

What is a Raincheck?

A raincheck is a store’s version of an I Owe You (IOU). If an item is advertised at a discounted price and sold out, you don’t have to leave the store empty-handed. You can find a store employee or store manager and ask for a raincheck. The raincheck will allow you to purchase the item at the discounted price once the item comes back into stock.

How Do I Get a Raincheck?

This happened to me earlier this week. I was shopping at my local Sprouts Farmers Market and saw that almond milk was on sale for $1.99. A great deal! When I went back to the milk section to the store only to find they were completely sold out. Bummer! After asking an employee if they had any more in the back, I was disappointed to find they were completely sold out. As I was checking out I asked the cashier for a raincheck. Without hesitation, he wrote one up for me. The next time I’m at Sprouts I’ll be able to snag my discounted almond milk.

Do Stores Have to Give Me a Raincheck?

The short answer is, it depends. Some states require retailers to provide rainchecks for sold out items. Those states require stores to “make good” on advertised offers. Other states do not have the same consumer protection. A store can also say in the ad that there are limited quantities or that rainchecks are not allowed. During the holiday season, when items are severely discounted, stores will often not allow rainchecks. So if you’re trying to score a great deal on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you’ll want to shop early before supplies run out.

Raincheck Alternatives

Depending on a store’s policy you may be able to purchase a comparable item at the sale price. This happened to me a few months ago. For those of you that have Safeway grocery stores nearby, you’re probably aware of Safeway’s Monopoly promotion. Every spring Safeway allows customers to earn Monopoly tickets for purchasing groceries.

Many of the Monopoly tickets have coupons for free items. This spring I received coupons for free salt, donuts, french baguettes, grocery bags, facial tissue, etc. All of the coupons expire on the same day. I can say from personal experience that the day the coupons expire is pure chaos. I’ve never seen more people at Safeway on the day the Monopoly coupons expire. Needless to say, because many people receive the same coupons and they expire on the same day the store looks like it’s been ransacked. The shelves are completely empty of the coupon items.

Instead of asking for a raincheck, I simply asked if I could get redeem my coupons for items of similar quality. Instead of getting a french baguette (which was completely sold out) I grabbed a sourdough loaf. Instead of regular grocery bags, I snagged bathroom sized grocery bags. Instead of a donut, I got a bagel.

Getting a Raincheck Alternative

The easiest way to score a raincheck or raincheck alternative is to ask. Just ask. Ask a store employee or manager and oftentimes (if you’re nice) they’ll grant your wish. Don’t be a jerk, don’t be rude, and don’t act entitled. If you’re polite and apologetic, more times than not your raincheck or raincheck alternative will be given to you.

P.S. If you’re looking for other ways to save money online, check out my abandoned shopping cart trick.


Consumer Reports Study

2 Things to ALWAYS Buy Generic

Generic vs Brand Name

Ahhh the age-old brand vs generic argument. If you’re trying to save money, you need to consider buying generic items.

If you’re looking to save money at the grocery store or save money at the pharmacy you need to start buying store brand items. Store brand food will save you 30% on average. Store brand medicine, like CVS brand, Rite Aid brand or Walgreens brand pain reliever, or acid reflux medicine, will save you 36% on average. But here’s the real kicker, when it comes to prescription drugs, you will save the most money choosing the generic alternative. In fact, generic prescription drugs are, on average, 80% cheaper than brand name medicine. So if you have a monthly prescription to refill, ask your doctor if you can switch over to the generic version.

Generic vs Brand Name Drugs

Consumer Reports Study

A recent Consumer Report study of 24,000 people who compared store brand and brand name items found that 78% of people came to the conclusion that store brand items are of equal quality. The crazy thing is that most of us don’t buy store brand items. Why? Big name brands that spend millions of dollars annually have convinced us that generic items are not as good as brand name. But the recent Consumer Report study just proved us all wrong.

Scroll down to check out the top 5 items you should buy generic.

Krazy Koupon Lady Generic vs Brand

What to Buy Generic

Choosing generic staples like store brand pasta and beans will save you a lot of money at the grocery store. Choosing generic medicine, like generic Benedryl, will save you about 36% at the pharmacy. And choosing generic prescription drugs will end up saving you major money in the short and long term.

Store Brand Foods

As previously mentioned, store brand staples are some of the best ways to save money at the grocery store. If you’re loyal to brand name items, start small. Start by purchasing store brand staples. When you buy generic staples you don’t sacrifice quality or taste but end up saving yourself serious cash.

Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Frozen fruits and vegetables are some of the best things to buy generic. Because frozen fruits and vegetables are single ingredient foods, you won’t notice a difference between their brand name counterparts. In fact, it’s likely that the store brand items are picked at the same farms and processed at the same factory as the brand name fruits and veggies. When it comes to frozen fruits and veggies when you choose the brand name items you’re paying extra for the marketing and fancy packaging.

Dry and Canned Beans

Similar to frozen fruits and vegetables, dry and canned beans include very few ingredients. Buying the grocery store’s brand of dry and canned beans is going to save you money and you won’t even notice the difference.

Flour, Oats & Sugar

Splurging for brand name staples like flour, oats, and sugar won’t make your baked goods taste any better. In fact, NPR did a study looking at the items that professionals buy generic. According to the study, professional chefs and bakers are more likely to purchase store brand. In fact, they found that the professionals favored generic flour, oats, and sugar.

Generic vs Brand Name Beans

Store Brand Medicine

Store brand medicines have the same active ingredients as brand names. In fact, the FDA requires non-brand name medicines to contain the exact same active ingredients in the exact same quantity of the brand names. The only difference is the inactive ingredients. Inactive ingredients include the colors, flavors, and fillers. AKA: things that don’t matter. So next time you’re at CVS, skip the Tylenol and Pepto Bismol and go with the store brand.

On that note, if your doctor allows it, choose generic prescription medicine at the pharmacy. On average, generic prescription drugs are 80% cheaper than the brand name options. Again, check with your doctor. But if your doctor gives you the OK, switch over to the generic version and keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket.

Check out this video to learn more from the FDA about generic drugs.

CVS Brand Generic Medicine

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to save money, one of the easiest ways is to stop buying brand name items. Now, bear in mind, not all items are made equal. However, when it comes to staples, like pasta, beans, and baking ingredients, you won’t even notice a difference when you switch to the store brand. At the pharmacy, you should always go with the store brand, if your doctor gives you the OK. Generic drugs have the exact same active ingredients, which means they’ll be just as effective as their brand name counterparts.

If you’re looking for other ways to save at the grocery store, check out how I use grocery store apps to my advantage.