Create a Shopping List to Prepare – NSC Series

Create a shopping list to prepare for the challenge

On the 15th and the 30th of every month I am paid and with those paychecks, we allot ourselves a certain amount of money for gas, food, and all other needs. The past few months this has been $200. We take the rest of the check to put toward recurring bills and the entirety of my wife’s pay and put it toward our debt. We create a shopping list and head out to make our purchases.

In the past, we have spent the majority of my wife’s and my checks on whatever it was we wanted. We would go out to eat multiple times a week and not budget appropriately for anything. We paid the minimum on our debt and felt pretty comfortable with where we were sitting – not realizing that we were literally throwing thousands of dollars out the window each and every month.

Fun fact: with our interest rate on our student loans we gain over $46 per DAY in interest. Which adds up to almost $17,000 in interest added to our principal each year. Yikes!

Anyway, we decided to work on shifting our focus: what would it be like to live on only one income? So we did. Then we thought: what would it be like to live on the smallest of our incomes? So we tried that too. We went even further and thought: What would it be like to live on half of the smallest income? And that’s where we are at now.

So, with that being said and $200 in hand, my wife and I left for the grocery store on December 15th. Mind you, this $200 was meant to cover not only the groceries for the next two weeks, but also the gas to travel to both of our parent’s houses for Christmas, and the extra food needed to get us through the month on our No Spend Challenge.

In order to stay within our budget, we had to create a shopping list. How did we make it work?
Well, that’s what I’m here to tell you!

Create a Shopping List - NSC (1)

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are preparing for our first every No Spend Challenge (NSC), starting January 1, and holy cow, it is approaching quickly.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.




How to Create a Shopping List to Prepare for the Challenge

Speaking of the challenge, the biggest concern we have is that we will not have adequate food supply for the entire month. Therefore, we knew that we had to be intentional about our groceries and resources when we create a shopping list.

P.S. If you don’t create a shopping list for all of your grocery needs BEFORE you go to the store, you should start. Going to the store without sticking to one can end up costing you thousands of dollars each year!

So, in addition to our regular two week supply of food, we found ways to add a few extra items to the list. Remember, if you are completing the challenge with us, the goal is to save money during the challenge. Which means that anything bought in preparation for the challenge should come from a regularly allotted budget (don’t allocate extra funds to prepare).

We broke the $200 down into a few segments. The first was gas money – we knew that we had to find a way to travel to both of our parents’ houses over the holiday – so we allotted $80 to the cause. This may not seem like enough, but our car gets 25mpg and we get money off our gas costs by shopping at HyVee (read about that HERE).

The next $120 was for grocery costs alone. However, we knew that we would need to restock a little bit the day before the challenge, so we set $20 aside to utilize for that purpose – for things like eggs and milk, which won’t keep as long.

So, we had a solid $100 to buy food for the rest of December and to prepare for the challenge. The great thing about Christmas though, is that for a multitude of days – our food is covered. Not only that, but we also have a staff reunion and New Year’s Party that we attend yearly (well, host as a camp) starting on December 30th. So, I have food paid for from Dec 30-Jan 2nd which certainly helps.

So, of the next two weeks – we have to pay for food from Dec 15-23rd and Dec 28-29th – not so bad, right? We also knew that we would get some leftovers from the holiday celebrations so that certainly helped! As we worked to create a shopping list, we looked into what the costs would be to feed us for these few days and knew that we could make it easily on half the money in our budget (or less).

Now, you are probably wondering: what did we add to our list? We thought about everything we would need to create homemade foods throughout the month – which are cheaper than store-bought foods and last longer. Then we began to create a shopping list that fit into our $50 budget for preparation. Remember, this budget was not extra, but instead taken from our normal budgeting.

Create a Shopping List for the No Spend Challenge

I hope that this helps you as you create a shopping list to prepare for the challenge!

  • Flour
  • Dry Milk
  • Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Corn Starch
  • Baking Soda
  • Chocolate Chips (yay!)
  • Cheese
  • Canned and Frozen Veggies
  • Peanut Butter
  • Boxed Mashed Potatoes
  • Rice

When you are preparing your list, ask yourself the following:

  • Will this stay fresh throughout the month (or will I use it before it goes bad)?
  • Does this item have multiple uses?
  • Is this a high-cost item that I don’t need?
  • Will this help me to eat properly throughout the entire month?

When you create a shopping list for this week, what are you adding to prepare for the No Spend Challenge?

Let us know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money through Fronto, Ibotta, and other companies, and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.

18 Replies to “Create a Shopping List to Prepare – NSC Series”

  1. Great ideas for your list. I’ve not been good about writing lists before shopping, but I’m definitely starting this because I do end up spending way more than I should. Plus, we’ve just had unexpected expenses of a washing machine part and car part put a strain on our budget. I can’t believe it’s almost January 1st!

    1. It will certainly be a little bit harder to eat healthy, but we have a few strategies we’re working out. We’ll eat fresh veggies for as long as they are good. We also purchased canned and frozen veggies to ensure we have a good supply of healthy foods! On top of that, we canned some of our own veggies for some delicious meals later. 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Erica!

  2. I am so guilty about not writing a shopping list. I used to work in the supermarket and literally plan my course in my head before I go so I am not distracted by other things

    1. That’s a good way to do it too! If you know the supermarkets really well, you can plan your routes because you understand how they try to tempt you. Thanks for the comment, Kara!

  3. I’m terrible if I actually go to the store without a list and even worse when I am hungry. I do all my grocery shopping online now and stick to a list x

    1. It’s so true, lists are an absolute necessity. And going to the store while hungry can be so detrimental. I completely understand. I always have a snack before I go (or a meal if I can time it right) lol! 🙂 Thanks for the comment

  4. My grocery list is split in:
    -weekly list for food ( weekly menu, at the end of the week the fridge is empty)
    -monthly transport ( we use public transport)
    -chemicals (detergents, soaps, cosmetics)

    To cut from grocery, in case of crisis, I cut completely the chemicals (yes, I wash only with water for a while) and use the cheapest solutions for food.
    But for me the biggest consumption are bills and holidays, so in case of crisis I cut these: light holidays (camping), no phones, no tv, less consumption of heating + water etc

    In plus, I don’t buy anymore books: go to library (or buy second hand ans sell second hand), less gifts, less fast food, less gifts (or handmade).

    1. Those are great tips and a great way to save money. I agree completely. Sometimes chemicals can be homemade too – I’ll be writing a post about those soon, but when you can’t afford them or need to save money (like for a crisis), washing with water is better than nothing. Thank you for sharing!

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