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Gretchen’s Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan

Dillons Trip #1

I grabbed a few items at Dillons and was planning to go to Aldi the next morning, but my husband offered to go grocery shopping for me since I have an extremely busy and stressful week and I said, “YES, please!” However, he refuses to shop at Aldi so he took my Aldi list and went to Dillons instead. 😉 So our groceries this week were a *little* bit higher than I planned, but I’ll just spend less than planned next week to even it all out. 

3.15 lbs Bananas – $1.54

1 Half & Half – $1.79

1 box CheezIt Crackers – $2.99, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $2.49 after coupon (I got this as a special treat for my son who has been BEGGING for CheezIts for a long time!)

1 Blue Bunny Ice Cream – $4.99 (For our at home date night!)

1 bag Kroger Flour – $1.49

1 Cucumber – $0.59

2 Green Leaf Lettuce – $1.69 each

Total after coupon: $16.27

Dillons Trip #2

2 pkg Kroger Frozen Chicken Breasts – $9.99 each

2 dozen Eggs – $0.59 each

1 pkg Ritz Crackers – $2.99

1 pkg Nabisco Premium Crackers – $2.49

1 Kroger Applesauce – $1.99

1 Kroger Half & Half – $1.79

1 lb Butter – $3.29

2 cans Cream of Chicken/Mushroom Soup – $1.25 each

2 pkg Kroger Shredded Cheese – $3.49 each

1 bag Frozen Broccoli – $2.89

2 pkg Strawberries – $2.50 each

1 box Nutri-Grain Bars – $2.99

1 pkg Grape Tomatoes – $1.49

1 pkg Mission Tortillas – $2.10, used $0.25/1 Ibotta rebate – $1.85 after rebate

1 loaf Bread – $2.49, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $1.99 after coupon

1 pkg English Muffins – $2.79

2 Cucumbers – $0.59 each

Used $0.10/1 Ibotta rebate for receipt

Total after coupons and rebates: $63.27

Total for both stores: $79.54

Menu Plan for This Week


Cereal, English Muffins, Scrambled Eggs, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Tossed Salad, Cheese Quesadillas, Fruit/Veggies/Crackers, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Leftovers


Salad Bar with Grilled Chicken

Chicken & Gravy over Rice, Leftover fruit from last week

Sour Cream Enchiladas, Tossed Salad

Savory Crescent Chicken Pockets, Steamed Broccoli

Homemade Cheese Pizza, Breadsticks

Pancakes, Eggs, Fruit Smoothies

Grilled Steak (from the freezer), Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Ice Cream (At home date after the kids are in bed!)

The Year That Changed the Trajectory of Our Lives

Guess what? Thanks to popular demand, Jesse is back on today’s episode of The Crystal Paine Show! And this time, he’s joining me for the entire episode. We didn’t really plan it… he was just sitting across from me when I went live and his mic was turned on. As you’ll hear… he jumped right in! 😉

We disagree about the weather, we talk about our new shower filter and how it’s made such a difference in our lives, and I ask Jesse to share about the books he’s been reading.

And then we pick up right where we left off in our story last time. If you remember back to our last episode, we told you about a hard place that we were in, both personally and financially.

Jesse had just lost his job, our second daughter had just been born, I was suffering from postpartum depression, and our marriage was on the rocks. That’s the point where we pick up the story today. In this episode, we share about how Jesse’s struggle to find a job and our desperate place of needing to pay the bills actually inspired us to do some outside-the-box things.

Little did we dream that what we would experiment with and set up during that dark time in our lives would end up changing the entire trajectory of our lives. In fact, there is a very good chance I wouldn’t have this podcast or run or be living in TN or have the opportunity to help and impact millions around the world or have the wonderful friendships here we do if it weren’t for that dark season of our lives.

You never know what how God might use a really difficult season in your life to prepare you for something bigger and greater than you could ever dream or imagine!

In This Episode:

[01:48] – Jesse’s mic is live — surprise! (I didn’t even realize it when we went live. I thought he was just going to wait to go live until later on in the show. But nope… that’s not his style if he’s sitting in front of a live mic! And I loved that he got to jump in at various parts to share!)

[02:24] – My hair had been looking icky ever since we moved into our new house… I finally figured out what the problem was and share in this episode the inexpensive solution we came up with!

[06:39] – I asked Jesse to share what he’s reading right now. And we explain why I don’t ask him this question every month, unlike my other guests. I love how honest he is and how we are so different when it comes to books and reading.

[08:11] – Jesse and I talk about why we love You Need a Budget, this episode’s amazing sponsor, and Jesse shares more about how it works for him.

[11:09] – We recount the time in our lives when Jesse was unemployed and I ask Jesse to share more how it was for him to walk through that dark time.

[16:05] – I share about how that time in our lives propelled me to start — and how I envisioned it was just going to be this little extra thing I did on the side.

[18:02] – Jesse got a contract position at a big law firm right around the time I started and he shares more about that and how he grew so much from the various audiobooks and podcasts he listened to while doing pretty mindless document review at the law firm.

[18:56] – took off from the get-go and far exceeded our wildest expectations. Within a year, we were making a full-time income from it. 

[22:34] – Jesse and I open up about how so many people expected us to buy a house right out of law school and how people thought we were kind of nuts to keep renting. But we look back and are so glad that we did.

[25:15:] – We share more about our crazy goal to pay cash for a house in 5 years and how this motivated us to continue to live as frugally as possible. 

[26:08] – In hindsight, we can see so clearly how God used that difficult year to humble us, shape us, strengthen our marriage, and teach us to dream bigger. And to lead us on this journey we never anticipated… we’ll share more about that in our next episode!

Links and Resources:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

Sponsor Spotlight

This episode is sponsored by — the budgeting software we have personally used for the past two years and absolutely love.

We were introduced to this budgeting software by my brother-in-law, Justin, a few years ago. He and my husband, Jesse, are both what I would lovingly refer to as “nerds”.

You know the kind of people… those people who think spreadsheets are fun. And who geek out over features in Excel. Yup, those kinds of people.

You might as well poke my eyeballs out with a hot iron rod than get to me be giddy over creating spreadsheets. But nevertheless, I love Spreadsheet Nerds because they help keep people like me in line and on track! 

Anyway, it was around Christmas time and Justin started telling Jesse about YouNeedaBudget — what we call YNAB for short. Jesse and I had both heard of this software before, but we had been using Quicken for so long that we’d not considered changing to anything else.

Well, when Jesse saw the features of YNAB, he was intrigued enough to sign up for the free trial. And it was pretty much love at first sight.

Truthfully, I can’t even begin to tell you how often I’ve heard him exclaiming to me, to friends, or just to himself something about, “How cool and helpful YNAB is!”

I’m such a pen and paper and cash girl, but after all his raving reviews, I finally gave in and downloaded it on my phone and had him show me how it works. It’s really, really impressive. I love how we can see exactly how we’re doing in every budget in just one glance.

And since we have multiple budgets for our businesses and personal, it allows us to track them all in one app. Which is so handy!

They usually only offer a 30-day trial, but they are giving you all a FREE 60-day trial so you can really get a feel for it and see how well it works. 

Go here to sign up for your FREE 60-Day YNAB trial.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

Want to save money and eat healthier?

$68 Grocery Budget: What we bought & ate

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here.

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

Kroger Shopping Trip #2

  • Dannon Oikos Triple Zero — marked down to $1.89
  • 1 bag of oranges — marked down to $0.99
  • 2 Carmex Lip Balm — marked down to $0.29
  • Organic Romaine Lettuce — $1.79
  • Kroger Powdered Sugar — $1.49
  • 1 bag of potatoes — marked down to $1.50
  • Total with tax: $8.78

I also ordered a box of trash bags from Amazon because I saw that there was a great coupon available (I don’t think it’s still available? I can’t see for sure since I already used it!)

I used a gift card earned for free from Swagbucks to pay for this, but I still deducted the amount spent from my grocery budget to keep it fair for you all who are following along with our $70 budget.

I got some great freebies in the mail this week! Kroger sent me an envelope of coupons, including coupons for a free box of Cheerios and a free box of Quaker Granola Bars! (If you have a Kroger store, make sure your address is correct in your account. They send these out quite often!)

I also got my free Deer Park water coupon and my free Natural Calm sample. What did YOU get in the mail this week?

I complete forgot to take a photo of my last Kroger shopping trip… but I did do a video on Facebook that I shared above (you can click on it to watch it). Here’s what I bought:

Kroger Shopping Trip #3:

This was one of the salads I ate almost every day this week because it was so good: spinach, avocado, Swiss cheese, and dried cranberries.

I am LOVING those of you who are posting your salads on Instagram and sharing your pictures of salads with me. I thought the above message was really impressive and inspiring!

What We Ate This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. 🙂


  • Cereal, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs, Hard Boiled Eggs, Peanut Butter/Banana Toast, Bacon


  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Yogurt, Grapefruit, Avocados, Hard Boiled Eggs, Salad, Leftovers, Oranges, Cookies


  • Yogurt, Oranges, Cookies, Grapefruit, Chocolate Cookies, Chips/Guac

Taco Casserole, Chicken Tetrazinni/Grapefruit, Fend for Yourself, Chicken Tetrazinni/Grapefruit/Salad, Chicken/Roasted Potatoes/oranges, scalloped potatoes, turkey sausage, oranges.


  • Sunday — Taco Casserole, Salad
  • Monday — Chicken Tetrazinni/Grapefruit
  • Tuesday — Fend for Yourself
  • Wednesday —Chicken Tetrazinni/Grapefruit/Salad
  • Thursday — Italian Chicken/Roasted Potatoes/oranges
  • Friday — Scalloped potatoes, turkey sausage, oranges
  • Saturday — Frozen pizza (for the kids), Dinner out with two other couples (Jesse & I)

Total spent on groceries: $68.41

Psst! Need some help with cutting your grocery budget? Check out my series: 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget.

Cashback earned this week: 125 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards$1.80 back from iBotta for buying Creamette Pasta, Jimmy Dean sausage, and scanning a receipt.

Brigette’s $88 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6


1 gallon Whole Milk – $1.31

1/2 gallon 1% Milk – $0.78

1 32-oz carton Half and Half – $1.55

2 64-oz cartons Orange Juice – $3.38

1 pkg fresh Chicken Drumsticks (@ $0.69/lb) – $3.23

1 2.33lb pkg 85/15 fresh Ground Beef – $5.67

1 3-lb bag frozen Boneless Chicken Breasts – $5.39

1 16-oz bag Wild Caught Salmon – $3.99

2 cans Chicken Breast – $3.10

1 pkg Pepperoni – $1.95

4 dozen Eggs – $2.28

1 bag frozen Brussel Sprouts – $0.55

2 bags frozen Broccoli Florets – $1.98

1 16-oz bag Mini Cucumbers – $1.69

1 bag Flat Leaf Spinach – $1.19

2 Cauliflower – $3.98

2 cans Green Beans – $0.76

1 bag fresh Green Beans – $1.39

1 bag fresh Brussel Sprouts – $1.49

1 pkg Romaine Hearts – $1.79

1 3-lb bag Sweet Potatoes – $1.69

2 pkgs Baby Carrots – $1.50

1 pkg Mini Sweet Peppers – $1.39

2 pkgs Strawberries – $2.98

1 pint Grape Tomatoes – $1.19

1 bunch Bananas (@ $0.29/lb) – $0.79

2 pkgs fresh Zucchini – $2.48

2 6-ct pkgs Strawberry Applesauce Cups – $1.98

1 32-oz carton Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt – $3.29

1 32-oz bag Shredded Cheddar Cheese – $4.49

3 8-oz blocks Mozzarella Cheese – $2.97

1 pkg String Cheese – $1.49

1 8-oz pkg Cream Cheese – $0.65

2 24-oz cartons Cottage Cheese – $3.18

1 pkg Cream Cheese Spread Wedges – $1.29

1 jar Pasta Sauce – $0.85

1 pkg Semi-Sweet Morsels – $1.19

1 bag Plain Rice Cakes – $1.15

1 pkg Flour Tortillas – $0.65

1 loaf Sandwich Bread – $0.65

2 boxes Honey Nut Oats – $2.30

1 32-oz box Elbow Macaroni – $1.09

Grocery Total for the Week: $88.69

Weekly Menu Plan


Everyone is responsible for making/cleaning up their own breakfasts. Choices include:

Cereal, Oatmeal, Yogurt, Fruit, Boiled/Scrambled/Fried Eggs, Veggie Omelets, Smoothies, Baked Oatmeal


Cheese Quesadillas, Carrots, Strawberries x 2

Pretzels, Cheese Sticks, Applesauce, Cucumbers x 2

Leftovers, Fruit, Veggies x 3


BBQ Meatballs, Tossed Salad, Green Beans, Macaroni and Cheese, Butterhorns, Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies (company for dinner)

Oven Fried Chicken Drumsticks, Stir-Fry Zucchini, Biscuits, Sweet Potatoes Fries

Baked Salmon, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Rice

Chicken Gravy over Rice, Broccoli, Tossed Salad

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Green Beans, Cottage Cheese Pie (family recipe)

Crockpot Italian Chicken, Garlic Mashed Cauliflower, Broccoli, Easy Italian Breadsticks in the Bread Machine

Crustless Vegetable Quiche, Fruit, Biscuits

This $33 Shower Water Filter Has Changed My Hair

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

We moved into this new-to-us house almost a year ago and I started noticing that my hair just looked icky a lot of the time. It felt like the texture had changed and it wasn’t smooth like it used to be.

I thought maybe it was just because I was getting older or something. I tried changing hair products, but it didn’t really seem to make a difference.

I finally decided to just let it be and figured it just was what it was… until we went and stayed in a hotel and I washed my hair and it looked so soft and smooth again.

Say what?? I was confused. You think I would instantly figure out it was the water, but I didn’t.

This happened two more times over the next number of months — where my hair would look pretty amazing when I washed it at a hotel.

I finally clued in that it was the water I was washing my hair with that was the issue and our water was basically wrecking my hair. (We knew our water was hard, but we found out that it also has really high chlorine content.) 

It was about that time that I realized both girls had had dandruff and their hair hadn’t looked great ever since we moved into this house, too.

We didn’t have it in the budget to put in a whole house water system to soften or filter our water right now nor could the girls and I just run and stay at a hotel every time we needed to wash our hair, but I really wanted to try to do something about it.

I decided to head to Amazon to see if they had anything that might be an option… and sure enough, there was the AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter.

It was $33 and it had great reviews. The Amazon description said this:

Most water filters use too little calcium sulfate, redox media and ceramic mineral balls, replacing them in volume with cheap activated carbon. AQUABLISS is revolutionizing the shower filter industry with a REVOLUTIONARY, PROPRIETARY SYSTEM that BALANCES the four elements you need to eliminate Chlorine, heavy metals (lead, mercury, nickel, chromium), bacteria, pesticides, and inhibits the growth of scale, algae, fungi, mold plus restores what your hard, chemical filled water did to your hair, skin and nails!

The Amazon description also said it could be installed in minutes. I was sold — especially since I had Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks I could use to buy it! I figured that it was worth a shot and it likely wouldn’t hurt anything!

Sure enough, it was super easy to install… and, after using it for almost two months, I am so happy to say that it really and truly works. In fact, I noticed a difference in my hair immediately after I washed it the first time.

Since we installed it, my hair has looked so much better, been so much softer, and been so much easier to work with. All for just $33! I have so impressed that we ended up buying the same shower filter for the girls’ showers, too, and they are starting to notice a difference in their hair, as well.

While we still hope to eventually put in a whole house water filtering or softening system (we need to do research on what the best options are for that!), for now, I’m happy that we have fixed some of the issues by just installing a simple $33 shower filter.

Note: I’ve heard that you might be able to find it cheaper at a local store, so let us know if you know where you can get it for less.