The $200 Per Month Challenge
Welcome to the $200 per month challenge! The challenge that sees me feed my family of 4 on $200 per month.
This is where I will show you what I would buy and make if I could only afford to spend $200 per month on food for all my family’s meals. Now, don’t be fooled, $200 per month IS a challenge. It is no easy feat and that’s why I have called it a challenge.
4 people for an entire month means I am looking at 120 serves of breakfast, 120 serves of lunch and 120 serves of dinner. I will also be supplying snacks, treats and desserts. It’s a hard task but I know we can do it!
The concept is that I will start with bare cupboards and have to build everything up. For example, month one requires me to buy a lot of staples and spices because the pantry is completely empty, but in month 2, I will build on what is remaining from the first month. You may already have a lot of the products on the shopping lists so feel free to spend any spare money on more fruit and vegetables or save it for a special occasion.
I will provide you with free meal plans, shopping lists and recipes for the meals I have created for my family in case you feel like taking the $200 challenge too.
Below are links to the monthly meal plans, each meal plan has links to the recipes included in that months plan as well as the shopping list of the required ingredients. I hope you like it!
Please see my about me page if you’d like to find out more about me and my family.
This challenge is different to others I have seen online in the following ways:
- The $200 covers all meals. That’s breakfast, lunch, dinner as well as snacks/treats. Most others I have seen only cover dinners or tell you that you can’t afford snacks and treats on this budget.
- $200 per month is less than $50 per week, I have not seen a budget meal plan based on less than $50 per week, especially one that covers all meals.
- My first $200 per month is starting with bare cupboards. I will not assume you have anything at home. No flour, no sugar, no salt. This means the first month of the challenge will be especially lean, but after that I will hopefully be able to provide you with more variety.
- I have based this on what my family would eat, however, I have 2 young children so I have upsized their meal portions to accommodate what my husband and I would eat instead of our children. So essentially, this is a meal plan to serve 4 adults. Not 2 adults and 2 children.
- I have tried to make all the ingredients as accessible as I can for everyone. I have only shopped at three major supermarkets; Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. There is no point in me telling you I found a great bargain at my local butcher if you live 600 k’s away.
- I have not bought any items on special or that have been marked down so you may be able to do your shopping cheaper than I did. Fruit and vegetables do fluctuate in price and I base my meal plans around what is in season and cheap and I encourage you to substitute the fruit and vegetables for the cheapest in store at the time and buy any marked down products you can.
Before you start this challenge you need to consider a few things.
- This is the food I feed my family, you and your family may not like the same things we do.
- I have not catered for any allergies, intolerances or families larger than 4. If you fall into any of these categories then you may be able to modify these recipes to suit your family, however, it will undoubtedly cost you more.
- This challenge includes food items only. It does not include cleaning products or toiletries.
- Before you do your shopping you need to know the prices at your supermarkets. Looking them up online is a great way to determine if Coles or Woolworths etc is cheaper. You may have another supermarket with some of the items on special and be able to buy them there. Or your local butcher or greengrocer might be cheaper than the supermarket. If that is the case, then please shop there to save any money you can. Remember it costs money to drive around so don’t make special trips to shops that are far away if you’re only going to save 50 cents.
- I buy my gift cards online at Cash Rewards. If you buy gift cards online for Woolworths you are able to save 5% at some sites. Sometimes this amount is even higher. So, if you were to spend $200 on gift cards, you would actually have $210 you could spend, or your $200 shopping trip only cost you $190. This means that when you’re checking the prices prior to your shop, your competitors prices need to save you more than 5% before you bother to buy them from there, otherwise it’s cheaper to buy at Woolworths with your discounted gift card. I have occasionally seen Coles gift cards discounted, but this seems to be infrequent. I use this discount to stay under $200. If you are not prepared to buy gift cards online then you will pay closer to $210 per month.
- Even if you do not follow my guide completely, it may still help you save money on your future shops. Couples could follow this guide and eat for longer than one month too since the meals I have prepared cater for 4 adults.
- With this first month I was unable to buy much fresh fruit because I was buying staples. Chances are you will have some of the items on my shopping list in your pantry already. If you do not need to buy staples or if you can save any money I suggest you buy some fruit. Otherwise, do a lot of little shops at Woolworths with your children. They allow each child a piece of fruit from the basket at the entrance for free. I know it’s not ideal but I also know some people shop every day and this is a good way to get items for free.
- I could easily save more money on these items if I shopped around or bought food marked down. In fact, at the time of writing this, Steggles factory outlets were selling chicken drumsticks for $2 per kilo or 6kg for $10. Had I bought the drumsticks from Steggles instead of Woolworths I would have had twice as many.
- A lot of people feed their families on limited funds because they are saving for a holiday, paying off their mortgages faster or simply want to save money, but some people have no choice. If you have no choice there are alternative places to buy food than from the supermarket. My local Seventh Day Adventist church does food hampers once a week. These bags cost $5-$10 and contain a great variety of foods, usually a box or two of cereal, some fresh fruit and vegetables as well as some pantry items. They are great value and worth a lot more than $10. There are other church groups that also have a shop set up, you can buy heavily discounted items on particular day. Please contact your local churches and see if they offer anything similar. These usually occur at a venue for several hours 1 day a week. For some you need to meet their criteria like having a Centrelink Card but others are available to the entire community.
- I know that not everyone will like my meal plan, my recipes or my site. I can’t cater for everyone, if you don’t like what I’m doing then simply don’t read my blog.