Don't be scared of cooking a whole chicken! If roasting it in the oven is intimidating, then use the Crock Pot. Here's a helpful site that has pictures http://thehappyhousewife.com/cooking/whole-chicken-in-a-crock-pot/ I always make stock with the bones and extra skin, you can use it not just for soup, but I also make wild rice in my small rice cooker using stock instead of water to up the flavor and nutrition.
I live in one of the most expensive areas of the country and try to keep my grocery budget at $500/month for mostly gluten free me, a super active dh that eats like a teenage boy, an active skinny somewhat picky 5.5 year old that needs lots of calories and a 2 year old that never seems to stop moving and will eat anything and everything. On months where I need to restock lots of the basics, like butter, flour, sugar, peanut butter, laundry detergent, dog and cat food, etc, I probably spend closer to $600, but those items won't need to bought again for a couple months.
I limit processed/prepared foods, we do not eat any trans fats or corn syrup, and only eat whole grain bread, wheat pasta and wild and brown rice. I buy the highest quality meat/fish I can afford, usually in bulk from Costco, and use less meat in meals (we also follow the 1/4 protein, 1/4 starch, 1/2 veggie rule and I add beans and extra veggies to dishes to stretch it). I get an organic produce delivery every other week that is mostly fruit, salad greens, cooking greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots and celery. I fill in with mostly conventional fresh produce for everything else. My kids alone each eat almost 3 pieces of fruit each day, I buy a lot of fruit. I buy dry beans and make them in the CP. We do not drink juice, only milk, water, coffee, tea and sparkling water and buy very few snack foods, my kids are big fans of homemade muffins, cookies and popcorn. I do buy Costco packs of conventional eggs as we go through about 18 each week and regular milk (but we are in CA, so no growth hormone). We use hand towels for almost everything and simple cleaning products (smaller amounts of eco detergents, no fabric softener or wipes, make my own bleach cleaner).
I keep my grocery costs down by eating simply and using a lot of the same ingredients in different ways so I can buy in bulk without being wasteful. Yes, sometimes it would technically be cheaper to wait until a sale at the regular grocery and then stockpile, but buying bulk at Costco twice a month helps keep me out of the stores and limits impulse buying. I usually only need to go to Trader Joe's once a week to pick up what I can't get at Costco or to fill in until the next trip. It also challenges me to use up everything in creative ways, food waste drives me crazy.
Breakfast: early morning cheerios and banana, late morning toast/waffle/bagel with scrambled egg and fruit, I have an egg and coffee
Lunch: pb&j or turkey sandwich/bagel/quesadilla/crackers,cheese and turkey, fruit, tortilla chips, carrots/celery, dh always has leftovers, I have leftovers or something like egg or chicken salad in lettuce leaves and fruit
Snack: string cheese, wheat pretzels/muffin/cookie/popcorn, sometimes a frozen yogurt tube
Dinner: I always post my dinners in the meal planning threads, helps keep me on track. I sit down on Saturday morning and make a menu for the coming week, using what I still have and adding what I need to my grocery list. I plan at least 7 meals, some super easy and some more time consuming, and post them in the kitchen, then I choose each morning what to make that day. My kids always have fruit with dinner and if they don't like the vegetable that is served, they have broccoli or carrots and celery instead. We rarely have an official dessert, but on some days we have ice cream or the kids will have a whole milk yogurt before bed.
I am working on lowering our budget too. I sort of panic when fridge & pantry aren't stocked, but as a result I don't buy things as needed, I buy them " in case"
As a result we have 2 carton of eggs in fridge, which we will use, but don't need 2 at the time, Kwim?
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