Snackuary 2021: January Food Budget Challenge

It’s the first monthly budget challenge of the year-after-the-year-that-changed-everything.

This month we’re working on food costs, a return of Snackuary from last year, but wow is the world different.

If thinking/talking about food isn’t a good fit for you right now, please check out our 21 in 2021 Challenges or 2021 Bingo: Choose Your Own Adventure and skip this month’s challenge.

If seeing food content isn’t good for you - You can click at the bottom to mute this thread you don’t see this category in the “latest posts”!

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PLEASE put a spoiler over any content that mentions intentional weight loss or dieting for weight loss. And - please no negative commentary on other peoples’ bodies or food choices, that stuff never feels good! You can spoiler your comments using “hide details” under the little wheel. If you can’t figure out how to spoiler, just “flag” your own post and a mod can help you spoiler it.

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Snackuary will run from January 1 to January 31.

The goal is to understand your food costs better. Many of us have a complicated relationship with food, and at the end of a day, it isn’t an expense we can make go away entirely because it’s fuel! For many households, it’s the 2nd highest expense in their overall budget (after housing).

I found that my food costs changed a LOT in 2020 due to lockdown/pandemic supply chain/no free coffee at work. I’m working to establish a new baseline.

Your Snackuary goal could be as strict as a no-takeout-all-month ban or as simple as a goal as “track my food expenses this month”. Or making coffee at home or simply tracking what parts of your food budget went up since Snackuary last year.

Maybe your goal is to cook more - batch cook each week or bring a packed lunch to work (if you are going into work these days). Perhaps you want to focus on reducing food waste! Or maybe you want to set a cash weekly budget for groceries and not go over it. Maybe you just want to track your food costs for once.

Whatever it is, make sure the goal is generally aimed towards understanding your food costs better.

Snackuary will have a special forum badge and even a STICKER for people that complete the whole month, that will (probably) be cat themed.

Basic rules:

  1. You must establish your own rules about how you are going to lower or track your food costs this month. State them in the first few days of the month to get us kicked off in the right direction.
  2. Each weekend you will report how you did on your challenge for the week on this thread . You can report on where you’re at, and what your biggest challenge and victories of the week were. Then, you’ll put your predictions/goals down for the week ahead.
  3. If you want, build in a celebration meal (fancy cheese or a dinner out- covid-safe of course) at the end of the month. It’s nice to have a reward!

Who This Challenge is For

Anyone who wants a little public accountability and discussion about reducing food costs. If you liked any of our previous challenges and want to keep it going, here we are!

This challenge pairs very well with Dry January and Uber Frugal January

What do you get out of participating?

  • Lower food costs ideally!
  • Lower environmental footprint than dining out and/or wasting food.
  • (maybe) healthier food choices
  • A community to support you as you resist getting takeaway for the 4th time this week
  • A CUTE forum badge for participating in the weekly check-ins
  • And if you do all 4 week check-ins, you get a STICKER mailed to you.


If you’re in to participate (or on the fence and need encouragement), comment below with your goals for Snackuary.


So excited January is for food again!

1 Like

Ooh yay! Just spoke to Ponder and we’re going to track joy per $ spent on food. Details will need to be sorted out.


Omg that is such a cool metric, I love it.

Definitely in! Back in yesteryear of crazy savings (the year we saved/paid off debt with 73% of our incomes) I tracked groceries by category. Broke my spending down. I would love to do that again, at least to some degree!

Note to myself later:



For the love of all that is crunchy and munchy I WILL ONLY SPEND $300. This will include all groceries, takeout, coffee, etc, for myself and shared dinners with my boyfriend.

I know I’ve done this for multiple challenges but I WILL SUCCEED THIS TIME GOSHDURNIT


Oh this is a challenge I can get behind! We finally moved into our new house. After spending all summer and fall building a house we ate out too much. The goal for us in January is to not eat out at all. We do have a few coffee gift cards that are an exception to this.

Secondary goal is to go to the grocery store 4 or less times in January!


I’m in. I’d like to track more thoroughly - which really probably just means going back through curbside pickup orders and separating the food from the everything else.

Also need to eat down the deep freezer some as nothing else will fit.

We won’t eat out or get takeout, but that’s not a challenge as neither of us will be done with the vaccine protocol in January even if somehow we got the first shot next week, which we won’t. Once we’re both vaccinated, I’m going to drive to the city for Thai takeout (assuming the Thai restaurant made it).

I want to limit the number of trips to get curbside grocery pickup, but not sure how much. 2 or 3 trips in the month unless cases really spike. That’s our usual anyway (no delivery options here).


Oh I like this. I want to track how many trips we make, and I’ll split out in store vs pickup.


I have an almost unreasonably stocked pantry so this can be a subtle “eat down the pantry challenge” for me. I am (have to be) gluten free so any carb I eat is about 2x what it would be for others :confused: I am also a vegetarian as of like a month ago, even though I very rarely ate meat beforehand, so I’m not seeing any $avings flowing in from that lifestyle change. I eat a lot of dairy and absolutely cannot decrease it. Seriously. I absolutely cannot stand eggs, sometimes they can be tolerated in baked goods. The fact that every food budgeting video/advice/article is 80% eggs appalls me. I tried duck eggs for the first time this month, and amazingly they did not taste like too much sulfur! but alas they are over $1 per freaking egg, so … not necessarily helpful information.

Here are my tentative ideas:
week 1: eat down the pantry — $8 budget for extra food

week 2: beans and/or lentils bases

week 3: instant pot meals

week 4: pickles!

other monthly goals:

*try to estimate and track iron consumption (vegetarian)
*price out quesadillas – this is a thing I eat constantly, I’m not sure how much it costs per
*price out making my own gluten free flour blend for baking
*plan to hit $180/mo on groceries in 2021 (2020 averaged $200/mo on groceries)
*visit farmer’s market every Saturday in January


We need to track every last cent we spend on food. Our budget is going to be tight compared to what we’re used to soon, and we need to have an idea of where we overdo it.

What to track:

  • Total spending
  • Broad categories, generally by food group, with “prepared foods” being separate from more basic ingredients
  • What was on the list vs what was a “oh, we probably need that” impulse buy

This sounds like a great challenge, that might really help me. I’m reestablishing a household after several years, so my goal will be building a sane and functional pantry, as well as a recipe rotation.


I am in, I spend way too much on eating out and junk food and at the work vending machines.


  • Track all food spending
  • Reduce vending machine spend (this may mean being more organised and bringing salty snacks to work instead of spending $3.50 on chips) -dont know what dollar goal to set for this, will need to go over the last few months spending

I’m in, I want to track plastic usage in the kitchen and get better at making some of the things I got into the habit of buying premade over the last year. This is going to be a new and interesting year for us with baby starting solids in January and me dropping to part time work in June so a baseline of grocery costs will be good going forward too.


I am in again.


  • Stay with weekly vegetables delivery
  • Reduce fruit delivery to every other week (fruit box is to big)
  • Buying one additional fruit item in between is ok
  • One meat order per month
  • One trip to supermarket in the month (for items not be delivered) including sparkling water
  • Tracking expenses by category

This should be the foundation for a budget, starting February


I want to track food spend because I have no idea what it is since the Shadowy One does basically all the grocery shopping now that they are not an office-worker. I don’t know why I want to know, it’s just weird not knowing.

Also, I want to plan for one intentional splurge from a smaller/local place per week. This might be something from the heritage butcher, sustainable fishmonger, or cheese shop, a meal prep box, or takeout.


My rules/goals are limit of $100 spent on groceries that does not include the Trader Joe’s gift card I got for Christmas from my parents, $200 total max for the month. This is actually a bit up for my usual grocery budget.

$25 from above grocery budget to go toward starting an emergency food supply of nonperishables, water and the like that we have set aside.

Takeout 3x max, $50 total budget (there’s a small handfull of places I like to support, including one vegan spot finally getting a permanent location less than a half mile from my house!).

Shop at the new food co-op at least once.

On eating for a specific health issue

Not exactly about weight loss, but I will also be trying to purchase food and eat more with an eye toward lowering my cholesterol, because that was a thing I focused on for all of one month last year when it was part of a challenge, then abandoned. I don’t know how exactly to approach this challenge-wise: maybe I will just track how much I spend on produce, nuts, and seeds, and evaluate if I want to change that at the end of the month?


Do you want any non-egg budget food advice? I don’t eat eggs and I don’t spend a ton of money on food. Can recommend low cost alternatives for specific meals!


I have tried to track food spend by category off and on, but haven’t had much success. Maybe if I make it a challenge for just one month, rather than “this is how I do things now,” it will feel easier.

So I’ll track by category:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Vegan protein + eggs
  • Meat/cheese/dairy other than straight milk
  • Milk
  • Vegan dairy substitutes
  • Premade grain items (ex.: pasta, chips, bread)
  • Grain ingredients (ex.: flour, rice)
  • Treats
  • Beverages (coffee/tea/lemon juice)

Feedback on my categories would be most welcome. I’m probably forgetting something.

I’m especially interested in seeing how much we usually spend on vegetables to compare to the CSA price. I’m sure our normal spend is less than the monthly cost of the CSA, but we also get way more vegetables in the CSA.

I split just milk out as its own category because I’m very curious how much my kid costs us in milk per month :laughing: