Paying Cash to Grocery Shopping – Final Report

We had so many changes happened within a short timeframe. Before the move, our grocery budget was $400. Few days before the move, our parents landed. And few weeks after we moved to the new place in a new city, our refrigerator died.

With all the changes, I had no idea how much to budget for grocery shopping. To give a little perspective, we buy good quality ingredients/organic products and eat at home majority of the time. Even though we enjoy eating out, we eat at home for health reasons more than saving money. However, spending $1000 a month on groceries are not ok with me.

To recreate a budget to accommodate the changes in our life, one of the steps I took is to go all cash-in for grocery shopping. We use credit cards for all our shopping (FYI – we pay the credit card bill at the end of the months before it’s due).

Paying Cash To Grocery Shopping:

The concept is, you pay cash for all your grocery shopping rather than using credit/debit cards. Before February started, I withdrew $500 cash from the ATM, carried it in an envelope and paid only from that amount for all my February grocery shopping.

Until the last week of February, I spend around $419 (here is mid-month update). so, I had $81 left when the last week of Feb started. Since I started work during the last week of February, we did some major shopping at the Indian grocery store (the one closer to us is 15 minutes away. So, we stock up the grocery and only visit there once a month).

In that trip, I spent $144.87 for Indian groceries. So, the total spending for the month of February was, $564. My budget was $500 + $50 flex budget.

$564 is for 4 adults and 1 toddler. Even if we consider just the adults, that’s like $5 per adult per day. Even though, I went over the set budget, I’m happy.

My Opinion About the Concept:

It’s quite a different experience than swiping the card. To be honest, I could have reduced the bulk purchase and stayed within the budget. After all, I had $81 left for Indian grocery shopping. With me going back to work, we didn’t want to take a chance as we know time is more precious at this phase of our life.

If you’re struggling to stay within the budget or if you’re someone who wants to put together a grocery budget, I strongly suggest you try this method at least for a month.

When I started this challenge, I thought I’ll be spending too much time counting $$ at the checkout counter. To my surprise, it’s not the case. I probably spent few more seconds than before.

My New Grocery Budget:

This past month, I didn’t splurge much and I was doing more couponing than before. Even then I spent $564 on groceries. Groceries include food, toiletries, diapers etc. This clearly shows, we need at least $564 per month. So, I’m increasing the budget to $600 per month.

Continuing Paying Cash to Grocery Shopping:

The primary intention of this challenge was finding out grocery budget for our family. Now that I know our set budget, I’m going to go back to using credit cards. Why leave the rewards points that we get from credit cards.

But I’m definitely open to trying to challenge more often. After my parents leave, I’ll try this concept again for our family of 2 adults + 2 kids (toddler + newborn).

I’d suggest you give it a try at least once. You’ll be surprised how it affects your shopping mindset.

Tofu Masala Burger Patties

Lately, we have been using tofu as a burger patty when making burger for dinner. I used to buy organic veggie burger patties and they are so expensive (1 patty was more than a $1). Instead, I started making burger patties using organic tofu. I typically marinate tofu with salad dressing and the end result was decent.

For the past couple of weeks, I decided to marinate with indian spices and the result is soooo good. The burger patty came out spicy and tasty that we started eating it as an appetizer.

As I mentioned earlier, not all my recipes come out well (example, my Instagram rambling here)

So, if I’m sharing a recipe here, you can assume that it tastes good. If you love Indian food and want some spicy veggie burger patty, you should give this one a try.

Ingredients:

Direction:

  1. Remove the tofu from the package and press well to drain the water
  2. Place a heavy object on top of the tofu and let it sit for 30 minutes to drain the water completely (I keep my Instantpot on top of tofu covered in cloth)
  3. Once all the water is drained, cut the tofu into 8 pieces
  4. Combine all the other ingredients above in a bowl
  5. Marinate the tofu with the mix and let it sit for 30 minutes
  6. Pan fry the tofu for 5 minutes each side and serve

My burger contains 1 piece of the tofu patty, 1 spinach omlette, and cheese. If I have more time, I serve my burgers with over baked sweet potato french fries.

Post Pregnancy Weight Loss Tracking

I gained 24 pounds in my first pregnancy and a whopping 30 pounds during this pregnancy.

When I checked my weight within a few weeks after delivery, my scale showed 18 pounds less. That happiness short-lived. Then, our newborn got fever and we had to admit her to the hospital. I was so upset that the doctor asked me to leave the room when they did her tests. We stayed at the hospital for the next 2 days and this unhappy mom did lots of binge eating that added 3 more pounds on my weight. Ironically, the hospital didn’t provide any healthy meal nor do they have any healthy options in the nutrition room (pantry). So, even the hospital didn’t help either. That said, now I need to lose 15 pounds to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

Food:

Throughout the week I eat clean and once a week I splurge on my meal. It’s mostly pizza or our favorite Chinese takeout.

I also don’t track my calorie intake. I eat whatever I like as long as its healthy.

Workout:

I just started working out last week. Definitely not able to run like before. So starting out slow and walking 20 minutes every day. Then 10 minutes of Yoga. My work out routine will change/improve eventually.

Tracking the Progress:

I will be tracking my progress, meals, snacks, and workout in my Instagram page. It’s more apt for Instagram than Facebook page. If you’re in Instagram, ping me to get to know you.

If you have some extra pounds to lose, I’d love if you can join me in the process. It will be fun if we do it together. Just let me know.

Paying Cash To Grocery Shopping – Mid Month Checkup

Guess what? it’s time for mid month checkup on paying cash to grocery shopping. I had $500 on the budget when February started. As of today, I spent $262.44 and I have $237.56 left for the rest of the month. So far this month, I have not shopped at the Indian store and I probably will shop there next week.

The above picture has my pinky coupon pouch and the cash envelop. Both of them are always in my handbag and they go with me everywhere.

After using the cash to pay for the groceries, I noticed an important change in my behavior. The fact that I’ll be paying in cash is in my mind through my shopping trip and I’m being super cautious on the list of items I buy. Because, I have an inner fear that I’ll run out of money and won’t have money to pay my groceries if I buy too much. I know I can pay using credit card. But my mind is set that I only have $500 for this month and I cannot spend more.

This is the first time I’m trying this method and I learned lots of interesting things so far. Can’t wait to share with you the final results at the end of the month.

If you are following the Facebook page or Instagram, you might have already seen this. The above picture shows the list of groceries I bought in my last trip. Did you notice that the majority of the items are Organic? Through this experiment, I also want to show you that you can buy even Organic products within reasonable budget.

Paying Cash To Grocery Shopping

As mentioned in Facebook page yesterday, our grocery spending in the last couple of months has been through the roof. I spent 2 x my regular grocery budget in January.

Part of it is due to the move from TX to NJ and part of it due to our refrigerator stopped working for a week. We had to through all the items in the fridge/freezer and restock again.

That’s not all. I indulged more than necessary when grocery shopping and lot of junk foods such as chips, mocha and other items were added to the cart. I guess I was giving into my pregnancy cravings.

When I checked our January spending couple of days ago, I almost puked. We were doing pretty good in majority of the spending except Food.

Cash Envelope System:

I have heard about using cash for grocery shopping, but never tried before. I was hesitate to try it for the below reasons:

  • Paying cash at the checkout is not as quick as paying with credit/debit card
  • I’ll losing credit card rewards points
  • Whoever carries the cash needs to do all the grocery shopping. You cannot ask your spouse to stop by at the grocery store and get Milk on the way from work

But this time, only in February, I decided to try cash envelope system just for grocery shopping. I will never move to 100% cash and lose the reward points I get from credit cards. But I believe cash envelope is worth the try if it’s going to save me money and get me back on track.

February Grocery Budget:

As you know from how to plan your money grocery budget series, our regular grocery budget is $400 for a family of 2 adults and 1 toddler. Now that my parents are here, I’m setting $500 as the grocery budget and $50 additional floating budget in case if $500 is genuinely not enough for us. Again, that $50 can be used only during the last week of February.

Tracking The Grocery Spending:

At the end of every week, I will be sharing my experience as well as how I’m stretching the dollars with pictures. The caveat I see in cash envelope system is, I need to do all grocery shopping as I know Hubby won’t do shopping if I ask him to use cash.

Also, it’s going to take more time at the checkout counter and I should be prepared on that as well considering I take my toddler to the shopping almost every time in the last couple of months.

Looking forward to try this new system and really hoping it to work.