The $21 Challenge

CaptureMonths ago I came across a book while I was browsing at the library called “The $21 Challenge”. The idea is that for one week, you challenge yourself to spend only $21 on groceries for your family. The idea is to rely on the food that you already have in your home to come up with meals for the family. The goal is to save money and to challenge yourself in the process. Of course, the idea isn’t to do this every single week, but rather, every once in a while.

Full disclosure: we spend a lot of money on food at our house. Despite the fact that my daughters are only with us 50% of the time, our regular grocery budget is a whopping $640 per month. Now, I will add that this grocery budget also includes toiletries – soap, shampoo and the like, as well as extras like cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. Also, we almost never eat out or order in. Still. This seems excessive.

So I read through the book and was intrigued by the idea. Could it really be possible to feed my family on just $21 for one week? I put some serious thought into giving it a try, more than once, and then honestly, I kind of chickened out. I thought about the amount of effort required behind this kind of experiment and I honestly just wasn’t feeling up to it. And to be honest, I like eating well. So while I may toss an inexpensive meal into our regular rotation now and then, for the most part I prefer to eat better than that.

Now, with the financial curveball life has thrown our way, it feels like the perfect time to finally give the $21 Challenge a try. I checked the book out of the library again, and this week, I’m going to tackle this challenge head on. And of course, I’ll be writing all about it. Is it possible for our family to survive the week on just $21 worth of grocery money? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I would love to hear if anyone has any special tips and tricks for cutting their grocery budget. Sure, this $21 Challenge might save us money in the short term, but I’d love to hear some more long-term solutions.

Until next time,



9 thoughts on “The $21 Challenge

  1. Kelly, just the thought of doing the $21 Challenge exhausts me too. That would take WAY too much thinking and WAY too much energy.

    I was thinking about your toiletries though. I’ve been on a weird hippie-journey thing for the last year and a half and I have saved a ton of money.

    Shampoo – I use rye flour.
    Conditioner – No longer needed.
    Deodorant – Milk of Masnesia.
    Toothpaste – I make my own.
    Soap – I make my own.
    Hair colour – Henna.
    Household cleaner – vinegar and water.

    I’m sure I’m doing/making other stuff but I can’t think of it off the top of my head. My objective on this journey wasn’t to save money but to lessen the amount of chemicals in my life.

    Saving money has just been a bonus.


    • Thanks for the suggestions, Susan. Not sure how the hubs would feel about homemade toothpaste (he’s a bit of a princess, but at least he doesn’t need shampoo!) but you’ve definitely given me some food for thought. Looks like I have some research to do! 🙂


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