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I need to lower our budget significantly..help!

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

We have needed to lower our budget significantly, and the only place I haven't lowered it yet is groceries, because it's so important to me to eat high quality, organic foods. I already run a food co-op where I get most of our organic produce for at least half sometimes 75% off grocery store prices because I do most of the work, so that helps a lot, but I do still have to purchase grocery store items. I usually buy in bulk through costco, and amazon..I split items with my family members to make it more affordable on a monthly basis, while still getting the good prices. The issue I'm having is that DH could care less about how we eat..If he was as passionate as I he'd be more understanding..and maybe try and give up his convenience foods that he can't seem to live without. Namely, cereal(bad for you cereal!), energy drinks and chips and salsa. Everyone is gluten free but DH. I don't give my kids gluten because I have huge issues with it, and so does most of my extended family, so I figure, why even bother? Well, it's definitely more expensive eating this way unfortunately. We are also mostly grain free and my daughter is dairy free and can't eat tomatoes yet(she's 15 months, I think she'll probably outgrow it) The grain free part is the kicker. I know if we could all eat grains our budget could be a lot less, but I just don't feel well when I eat grains, and I feel like preparing grains for the rest of the family and not myself would just be a lot of work. We buy almond flour(4.00-5.00/lb), coconut flour(5.00-6.00/lb) and other starches that aren't cheap for baking..I would hate to give those up! We do eat rice and rice pasta occasionally(I dont though...I just make zucchini noodles or something). The kids and I eat mainly meat, eggs, produce, potatoes, some grain free baked goods and some dairy products...very little grain. I also buy a gallon of raw milk every two weeks that cost $9.00! I don't want to cut this since this is the only thing DS drinks besides water. We've already cut our eating out budget quite a bit, bit DH and I have a hard time sticking to it unfortunately. I need help on where to cut the budget. We don't buy organic dairy except the raw milk and butter(but I only buy it on sale) just because we don't eat much dairy and I don't feel the need to focus so much on keeping that organic, but we buy organic meat 95% of the time...this is super important to me because we eat so much of it since we've eliminated some food groups. I don't know what to do!! help! we have health insurance, but I'd honestly rather focus on eating as well as we can and maybe even change our health insurance plan to catastrophic only to save money since we're rarely sick and I don't vaccinate or anything. I don't know..tips?

 

BTW, we are recently debt free!! :)

post #2 of 31
Oh man, I can related, I am grain-free, legume-free, etc. for health reasons and that cuts out pretty much all the cheap foods!!

I would consider just having everyone drink water, and forego milk. I'd also see if DH is willing to give up just the energy drinks (not the chips/salsa etc., those are cheaper, and I don't know that it's fair to ask him to give up everything he likes... cereal is not the worst thing in the world if that's his major vice!) Drinks seem to add up quickly and are just an unnecessary expense, they aren't going to fill anyone up the same way solid food would.

I would also consider cutting back on baked goods. To me baked goods are more of a very occasional treat, all those grain-free flours can be so expensive. And I do think it's worth it to make some grain/gluten-based items for those members of your family who can tolerate them -- much cheaper! DS is gluten-free (but not grain-free) and DH eats everything, I'm the only one 100% grain-free, so I often save money by cooking a bit of rice or beans for them and adding it into whatever I've made, it makes the meat & produce go a bit further.

Beyond that, I can't think of much else, it sounds like you've already cut back as much as you can given your dietary restraints.
post #3 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsBone View Post

We have needed to lower our budget significantly, and the only place I haven't lowered it yet is groceries, because it's so important to me to eat high quality, organic foods. I already run a food co-op where I get most of our organic produce for at least half sometimes 75% off grocery store prices because I do most of the work, so that helps a lot, but I do still have to purchase grocery store items. I usually buy in bulk through costco, and amazon..I split items with my family members to make it more affordable on a monthly basis, while still getting the good prices. The issue I'm having is that DH could care less about how we eat..If he was as passionate as I he'd be more understanding..and maybe try and give up his convenience foods that he can't seem to live without. Namely, cereal(bad for you cereal!), energy drinks and chips and salsa. Everyone is gluten free but DH. I don't give my kids gluten because I have huge issues with it, and so does most of my extended family, so I figure, why even bother? Well, it's definitely more expensive eating this way unfortunately. We are also mostly grain free and my daughter is dairy free and can't eat tomatoes yet(she's 15 months, I think she'll probably outgrow it) The grain free part is the kicker. I know if we could all eat grains our budget could be a lot less, but I just don't feel well when I eat grains, and I feel like preparing grains for the rest of the family and not myself would just be a lot of work. We buy almond flour(4.00-5.00/lb), coconut flour(5.00-6.00/lb) and other starches that aren't cheap for baking..I would hate to give those up! We do eat rice and rice pasta occasionally(I dont though...I just make zucchini noodles or something). The kids and I eat mainly meat, eggs, produce, potatoes, some grain free baked goods and some dairy products...very little grain. I also buy a gallon of raw milk every two weeks that cost $9.00! I don't want to cut this since this is the only thing DS drinks besides water. We've already cut our eating out budget quite a bit, bit DH and I have a hard time sticking to it unfortunately. I need help on where to cut the budget. We don't buy organic dairy except the raw milk and butter(but I only buy it on sale) just because we don't eat much dairy and I don't feel the need to focus so much on keeping that organic, but we buy organic meat 95% of the time...this is super important to me because we eat so much of it since we've eliminated some food groups. I don't know what to do!! help! we have health insurance, but I'd honestly rather focus on eating as well as we can and maybe even change our health insurance plan to catastrophic only to save money since we're rarely sick and I don't vaccinate or anything. I don't know..tips?

BTW, we are recently debt free!! smile.gif

Congrats on being debt free! Sounds like you know the areas you should cut back on but don't want to, id keep thinking about those things. For your ds, I don't know how old he is but if he's over 4-5 water is all he needs. I would try to do more vegetable based meals and cut back on meat. Meat is so expensive. greensad.gif We also stock up when stuff is cheaper. Also do you buy snacks? My family will eat 2 boxes of nut thins a week if I buy them so we don't do snacks. If the kids get hungry between meals they can have fruits, veggies or leftovers. Hope something here is helpful!
post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 

the only snacks we buy are if we're out and I forgot to pack something, and I buy larabars and organic cereal only if they are on sale. I don't buy crackers or anything like that. I only buy gluten free bread on occasion when it's on sale..it's not a staple in our house. I do the baked goods instead of buying a lot of snacks I guess.. I don't think I could stop buying the raw milk because I'd still be buying milk for DH to use for cereal, and he likes the organic milk, but he gets lowfat or fat free. If there's milk in the house, DS will want it..I don't think it would be fair to tell him he can't have it anymore when we'd still be buying it for DH and his cereal, and I really don't want him drinking lowfat/fat free pasteurized, homogenized milk(some of you might get this some of you might not) DH doesn't like the raw milk, that's why he uses store-bought. Winter will be easier for making meals stretch because I can make soups and stews and one pot meals..lots of veggies and less meat! DD is not a picky eater, but she's hard to feed..she gets low blood sugar easily(it seems from my observations) and goes from happy to cranky and hungry but not wanting to eat unless I force feed her in minutes!! So I need quick easy things to feed her when she gets like this(she's just like my nephew..ugh)..we do hard-boiled eggs, cheese, larabars, nuts, veggies and fruits for snacks around here..and the occasional almond flour cookie or bar or something. I make my own mayonnaise, salad dressings, pickles, and we buy ketchup, bbq sauce and other condiments(not organic). I used dry beans and rice, I cook with plain seasonings(no mixes, canned soups, boxed good etc) make my own pasta sauce and pizza sauce and the only canned product we buy is tuna, coconut milk and diced tomatoes. I feel like I'm doing pretty good already, but my budget still seems so high at 650/mo for a family of four(that's including a toddler and a preschooler..so it's really like feeding only 3 people). I guess looking at it all it's not too bad. I just wish we could eat like normal people and that grain didn't bother me. It would make all of this so much cheaper lol.

post #5 of 31

I hear you. We are primal, and do many of the same things you do to save money. The only thing I can think of is if you've looked for a meat CSA. I finally found one in our area, and can get our meat significantly cheaper. We also buy off-cuts often. Otherwise, what about buying part/whole cow/pig and freezing? We gave up Larabars and other snacks we bought due to the cost, and I limit myself to baking something once a week. I try to plan something really really yummy every 10 days or so, so that we don't feel deprrived.

 

What about giving your DH a budget for his goodies? That's one of the hardest things for me, as well, as my DH likes his "treats" I sat down with him with the food budget, and showed how much we were spending, as compared to how much I wanted us to. He's been fine with cutting back since. We are debt-free, but saving for specific things, so I think it made sense to him when I showed him how much things add up. He picked a couple of things I will buy and keep stocked for him, and agreed to forgo the others, or buy them with his cash (we each keep $20 a month for stuff that comes up). We do soups/stews regardless of the weather. I just cook them in the crockpot so that it doesn't heat up the house. For us, the only other thing was eliminating waste. Using up every little bit. I've started keeping a spreadsheet on my computer where I list what I've thrown away, aiming for 0. I've never thrown a lot away, and compost things, or they go to the dog, but little bits here and there add up. Also, for me, planning grocery shopping really really well so I don't have to go back to the store during the week. Telling myself it's ok to run out of something....the sky won't fall. If I need something, challenging myself to only get that one thing when I go into the store.

 

I just noticed, you have a similar age spread on your kids...mine are 12/08 and 7/11 ;)  We had to get a rx filled the other day (epi-pen) and the pharmacist was telling us about this plan where you get the 6th prescription free....she was shocked when I said this was the first prescription we, as a family, have had in 5 years. So, the way I look at it (to make me feel more sane when people tell me they spend $50 a week on groceries) is that we have spent an average of 50 cents a month for prescriptions ($30 copay). Most people I know with kids spend tons on medication. I try to find other categories to cut back in, also, so that I can prioritize healthy food. I just feel like it's that important. We're old-ish parents (45 and 50) so I really think it's worth any amount of money to keep our good health while our children grow up.

post #6 of 31

$650 for a family of 4?  If only I could get mine anywhere near that low!  

 

Grass fed meat can often be cheaper than organic.  Because those who raise pastured animals would have to certify their entire acreage as organic (which gets mighty expensive) many don't bother even though they essentially are.  It's not as big a concern as if they were eating grain.  Price difference?  About 3.00 per lb.  That's retail.  I could probably source it cheaper.  Grass fed meat has omega 3's and all that good stuff.

 

I hear you on the diet restrictions.  I would love to eat more veg meals, but most sources of veg protein are off limits to me (soy, nuts, lentils).   This makes our bill higher that it would be.

post #7 of 31

My only suggestion is that if you're going to be gluten free (which I totally get) and you're trying to save money, you're going to have to cut out (or significantly, significantly) reduce baking.  The almond flour and the like are really expensive.  See if you can find some flour-free recipes you enjoy - such as zucchini cake maybe.  And only buy flour for holiday meals/feasts/etc.

 

We did a very cheap GFCF diet for quite a while.  I started out with what we could have vs. what we couldn't.  We could have meat which was our biggest expense, and vegetables.  And spices, and herbs, and fruits, and water, and eggs, and oils/fats.  I didn't buy any grain substitutes.  I just based our meals around what we could have - like potatoes, for example, with a side of meat.  Or roasts.  Or soups - soups are super easy and cold-weather appropriate.  Vegetable soups, meat soups, etc.  Also salads.

 

None of those things cost a lot.

 

Our food budget is 50% "normal food" and 50% snacks-that-DH-won't-give-up.  So I hear you on that part.  Drives me absolutely mad.  We could totally cut out the snacks part if DH would just get on board with it.

post #8 of 31
Have you ever tried making Lara bars? I make them more into balls (because it's easier & I like bite-size things!) All you do is grind dates & other dried fruit in the food processor, grind nuts/seeds separately, then mix it all together with any flavors you want (vanilla, cinnamon, etc.)

And you could consider asking DH to bring his cereal & milk to work and eating it there... My DH does this with bread, since DS sometimes gets upset that DH can have gluten & he can't. He brings the loaf of bread and a jar of PB to work on Monday and has that for snacks/lunch all week.

Baking with mashed bananas (instead of grain-free flours) is another way I save money... Mix it with egg & it makes good cake, pancakes, etc. where you don't even miss the grain, though yeah the texture is a bit different.

Bottom line, though, is it sounds to me that you feel like you've already made all the changes you are able/willing to make. At some point we have to accept that we've cut back wherever we can. I'm at this point myself actually -- we've cut out everything we can and simplified our lives as much as possible and there are just a few things that I am not able or willing to give up. For us those things are groceries, like you, and also having 2 vehicles. So now I'm looking at how to bring in more money instead, to make ends meet (which unfortunately means I need to finally apply for disability, since I can't work right now, and state health insurance). $650 doesn't sound bad for groceries! Many of my friends who value good nutrition & organics are spending $500 A WEEK for similar family sizes!! I spend about $450 a month on groceries, so a little less than you but I only have 1 kid, and I (unfortunately) don't always buy organic produce, plus I'm sure there are geographical differences in food prices.
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 

we do buy grass fed! It's certified organic and grass fed from a local farmer..but it's a part of the CSA that we run and we often give ourselves discounts and sometimes have surplus of meat(mistakes in ordering, etc) so sometimes I get part of my meat order for free..We also get eggs from the same farmer and they are 4.00/doz, and we go through 6 doz every 2 weeks..Sometimes I get a free dozen or two of eggs and that's what I use for making ice cream or baked goods:) I think my problem really is that when I go to the grocery store, I'm a sucker for the sales..if I could just go there for what's on my list, it would probably save a lot of money:)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

$650 for a family of 4?  If only I could get mine anywhere near that low!  

 

Grass fed meat can often be cheaper than organic.  Because those who raise pastured animals would have to certify their entire acreage as organic (which gets mighty expensive) many don't bother even though they essentially are.  It's not as big a concern as if they were eating grain.  Price difference?  About 3.00 per lb.  That's retail.  I could probably source it cheaper.  Grass fed meat has omega 3's and all that good stuff.

 

I hear you on the diet restrictions.  I would love to eat more veg meals, but most sources of veg protein are off limits to me (soy, nuts, lentils).   This makes our bill higher that it would be.

post #10 of 31

If you eat a lot of organic veggies and fruits , and you have to really cut back , maybe you could try to buy the stuff on the dirty dozen list organic and the rest conventional ?

I don´t know about where you live , but where I am ( and we are on a tight budget as well at the moment ) , organic produce is in most cases almost double the prize of normal , which makes it hard to impossible for me to buy ! ( and that really sucks ! ) 

post #11 of 31

I have found that chickpea flour bought from an ethnic shop that sells South Asian/Indian/ Arab sorts of foods is way cheaper than the almond and coconut flours if you can have beans. I've made savory pancake sorts of things with mashed beans, egg , green onion and spices that are a hit here.  I grind my own almond flour from raw  almonds from Costco -fresh is good and here that is cheaper than the almond flour.

 

 

 

post #12 of 31

On my part i will suggest to have a part time job at home. Cooking for my working husband is what I love to do. He deserves it from working the whole day.

post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsBone View Post

I think my problem really is that when I go to the grocery store, I'm a sucker for the sales..if I could just go there for what's on my list, it would probably save a lot of money:)

I've seriously changed my grocery buying habits.  I try not to stock up on anything too much.  It invariably gets wasted.  I make very few exceptions.  If society broke down, and people had to rely on what's in their pantry I would be one of the first to go!  We just stop by the store a lot these days and often buy just one of something.  If we screw up and run out, we just make do.  And yes, skip the sales or send your DH shopping (seriously!)  Shop with a friend perhaps?  Even train the kids to say "NOOOO!  NO SALES!"

 

Now we have an itty bitty fridge, a cabin fridge that is duel fuel in case of one of the (long, frequent) power outages we get here in the winter (it is also absolutely silent).  It makes us be incredibly organized about food in and out.  How'd 2 pickle jars get opened?  Guess we're eating a few more pickles.  I get to picking the chicken off carcasses right away.  Veggies don't get to sit there.  I've wasted very little food in the 3 months since we've had it.  The fridge part is about 5 cubic feet of usable space, about the size of many people's freezers. We have a smallish chest freezer in the basement.

post #14 of 31
Thread Starter 

it would be worse if DH went shopping..he's super ADHD and has no impulse control with spending money. He's off limits at the grocery store!! I have much more control than him! :)

post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 

also the nearest grocery store is 15 minutes away..those little stops for one thing just don't work..typically if we are out of something, I just make do with out it...the nearest natural grocery store is 20 minutes away..and the one that has the best prices for everything is 25-30 minutes away...we tend to make do with what we have at the moment than just to make quick grocery store runs..that does help with the spending, but when I am actually out, I tend to stop by the store cause who knows when I'm going to get out next..ya know?

post #16 of 31

If you get a giant bag of rice (the kind Asian people buy) and make rice, it will really help lower your budget!

 

We just got a rice cooker and it makes eating rice so convenient...

We have sushi rice, long and short grain brown rice and even some black rice just for variety.
Wild rice is kind of expensive but it has 80% of the iron you need.

 

You can eat veggies & tofu on top, with a little peanut sauce.  Super yum.

Or anything really...

 

Rice goes with everything!

 

Eating vegetarian really lowers the budget too...
 

post #17 of 31

Also almond milk is great as a milk option (we drink soy and almond at my house...)

one gallon of milk every two weeks isn't that much for such a big family!

 

Maybe you could find some local chickens?  Buying eggs directly from farmers is generally cheaper...

post #18 of 31

P.S. You can treat potatoes as a grain too... making various kinds of potatoes as your starch.  Everyone loves potatoes!

If they get boring you can try sweet potatoes.

 

Good luck!

post #19 of 31

if you have a relationship with local farmers you can often get some very good deals.  My favorite orchard will frequently sell me whole cases of fruit at prices less than half of what they retail them at.  A case of apples will last me a month in the refrigerator and if they are there that is what my kids eat.  Peaches don't last as long but I make jam and/or can them for later.  :Last week I saw some beautiful hubbard squash at the farmers market and the farmer (who I know well) game them to me at half price because I bought 20 lbs.  I just ask and some weeks they just don't want to do it because there is a big crowd or they don't have so much or whatever. 

 

I have recently had a budget shortfall so I had to cut the grocery budget.  My kids eat bread but they only like expensive organic high quality bread.  And I couldn't afford it.  So we just live without bread for now.  I cook potatoes (see my potato thread on here!), I make popcorn occasionally.  But we kind of shifted to eating only meals with fruit and vegetable as snacks.  I was surprised but they haven't complained.  At all. I cut up big bowls of watermelon, carrots, raw broccoli, raw green beans, melons, etc. etc.  They woof it down and are satisfied.  If they were gluten free, I would probably keep it the same and not be giving them the gluten free grain based snacks because they are expensive and they don't actually seem to have much nutritional value.  But instead of bread or other flour related products we are eating popcorn, oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes.  If your kids can have rice, I developed a very nice rice kugel recipe that is sweet  a while back.  I will see if I can find it.   I know that not all of these foods are acceptable for everyone, but maybe it will give you some ideas. 

post #20 of 31

We're primal, too, so subbing.

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