Grocery Budget? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 08-20-2011, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We've never been good with setting a budget, but we are contemplating having my husband stay home with the kids and don't have an accurate idea of what we can get by with budgeting for groceries, etc per month.

 

We don't do meat or dairy (DH does some cheese still), do eat fish still and try to do organic when possible (some fruits and veggies, some snacks, vitamins). We've got 2 kids under 4, and 4 cats and a dog.

 

Anyone want to throw some numbers at me to give me an idea of what we can get by with spending per month?

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#2 of 17 Old 08-21-2011, 04:06 AM
 
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I use the USDA cost of food plans as a rough guideline:

 

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodCost-Home.htm

 

We are a family of 4 (kids are older than yours) living in a fairly high-cost area, and if you look at the June numbers, we fall in the "low-cost-plan." Of course, so much depends on how you eat (we do some organic, mostly organic meat when we eat it, don't skimp on fresh fruit and veg, not too much processed stuff, don't garden, etc.) and where you live.

 

PS My DH was a stay-at-home dad for 8 years - it was great!


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#3 of 17 Old 08-21-2011, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks I will check it out. I am crappy with numbers! :)

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#4 of 17 Old 08-21-2011, 05:25 PM
 
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We eat pretty similarly and we spend between $800-$1000/month on groceries.

 

A common recommendation for people looking into being stay at home parents is to try to live on the salary that will remain (yours) for a few months and just save the other one (your DH's) and that will give you a glimpse at how your life will be with only one salary.

 

Good luck!

 

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#5 of 17 Old 09-04-2013, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Bumping. My hubby is SAH now but we're still overspending on groceries. I know a big portion of spending is also our pet supplies (we have a large clan) but still need help cutting back.

 

Any words of wisdom.

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#6 of 17 Old 09-05-2013, 11:21 AM
 
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The biggest thing that has helped me is meal planning. I plan out every meal and try to have at least one that will produce leftovers. I also try to remember to have a couple of very simple dinners, and I look through the pantry before I make the meal plan to see what I have that can already be used. 

 

I shop with a list and only stray from it if something is on sale and then I'll stock up. I generally shop the farmers market /Trader Joes/Sprouts and I'll pop into Whole Foods or Safeway for specific items on sale.

 

I've stopped with snack food like crackers unless it's a special occasion, and surprisingly DS doesn't miss it. I had to get over the urge to have the salty crunchy snacks and I substituted it with popcorn which is relatively cheap.

We probably spend $425/month with a family of three and one dog (who is on holistic high-protein food).

We lost an income recently and so I'm paying very close attention. Only beer and ice cream when on sale, etc.

 

Good luck!

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#7 of 17 Old 09-05-2013, 01:26 PM
 
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I second the recommendation of doing a "trial run" to see what it's like living on your salary for a few months. It will give you a chance to figure out your budget, before taking the leap.

We're a family of 3 (DS is 3.5) and we spend around $400 a month on food. Almost no meat, some fish, organic milk or almond milk, mostly conventional fruits and veggies, only because it's what we can afford at this point. I cook all our meals from scratch, but do buy canned beans, tomato sauce, etc.

When DH does the grocery shopping, we spend almost twice as much- he buys things like fresh berries, snack foods, fruit juice, etc. Point being, your budget will depend a lot on your eating/cooking habits and what you're willing to sacrifice.

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#8 of 17 Old 09-06-2013, 05:11 AM
 
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I've always found that USDA food plan to be really accurate for my family, though it always seems like we should be able to spend less on groceries if I realistically keep track we fall between the low-cost and moderate cost plan. Spending 700/month on groceries for a familhy of 3 seems insane to me because that is most of my monthly income. But that's how it goes. And we do have to eat, and I really enjoy tasty healthy food and feel super deprived if I have to start living off Ramen. 

 

We recently got a big chest freezer and I think it'll help us save grocery money in the long run - I have been putting up produce I find on sale this time of year, and if I see a great deal on meat, bread, milk, butter etc I can snap it up and freeze it for later. It's also great for freezing meals for when we don't want to cook I have homemade burritos, pans of lasagna, and so forth that are way cheaper than buying prepackaged (and healthier). 

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#9 of 17 Old 09-06-2013, 04:29 PM
 
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I've always found that USDA food plan to be really accurate for my family

 

 

I like it too.   I have been worrying that our grocery budget is too high.  We spend about $1200 a month for 2 adults and 4 children and that puts us between 'low cost' and 'moderate'.   On paper, it seems like a huge amount of money, but we eat a lovely, simple diet and I don't see our food bill going down anytime soon.  I could shave a few dollars off, but really I think I am doing just fine.  And I can always cite the USDA food plan when dh comments on ever-increasing food bills. 


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#10 of 17 Old 09-07-2013, 05:34 PM
 
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ok so far I have used the thifty plan i'm a single parent with one child. I can use this plan with no problem.

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#11 of 17 Old 09-07-2013, 05:46 PM
 
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We are best friends, my crockpot and I.  I use it to make large batches of beans, to make veggie and chicken stock, to cook a whole chicken to portion out for multiple meals/soups, for steel cut oats overnight, etc.  Probably one of my favorite kitchen appliances.  It saves me a ton of money and it's super convenient.

 

I don't buy convenience foods like waffles or pancakes pre-cooked.  I make a double batch from scratch and put aside the extras for another morning.  We eat simple meals, nothing fancy.  Tonight we made tacos(beef stretched with tvp for the kids, they didn't even notice) and black beans, tvp, kale, and tomatoes for me.  On the side we had garden fresh green beans that I made the littlest one go pick for me before setting the table, along with peaches I canned last year.  Simple, yummy, and pretty darn cheap.  No fancy expensive ingredients.  And everybody ate it up.  I don't buy cookies.  I make ours from scratch.  I have a handful of good recipes and when we want cookies, we bake up a batch.  Cheaper than grocery store packaged cookies and tastier.  Takes me 20minutes start to finish.  We make our own yogurt and granola.  Again, really simple.  I have a friend who hates vegetables, eats only fast food or processed junk, and she RAVES about my granola.  It's got no processed sugar and very little oil/fat and she would eat it dry all day long.  All it takes is a handful of good recipes and you don't miss the convenience stuff at the store.  It keeps your bill as low as possible while you eat really well.  Yeah, it does take a little extra time but all things that save you money usually do.  And as a sahm, there's more time to do these kinds of things.

 

 

We get $446 for food each month as one adult, one teen, and two school-age children.  That amt allows us to buy some stuff organic.  We eat very well.


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#12 of 17 Old 09-07-2013, 11:00 PM
 
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JustMama-

Will you share your granola recipe?


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#13 of 17 Old 09-08-2013, 12:11 AM
 
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we are a family of 7 and i spend about $800 a month. we do eat organic when we can. i buy organic bread for 50 cents a loaf at a local bakery outlet, use bountiful baskets for at least 3/4 of our produce, and we do go in on bunk locally raised meats (pig, cow, lamb). i have cut out most snack foods that are prepackaged, i make most of our snacks, i have cut down on milk for the kids because they literally drank 8 gallons a week (and organic milk is pricey) we are down to 1/2 gallon a day which has helped a lot. 

we have a weekly menu that goes something like this...

sunday roast (chicken, beef, pork, something big and roastable that can do left overs for lunches)

monday: meatless (usually soup)

tuesday: international (usually ends up being burritos, because the kids love that, but i will do an indian curry sometimes too... this meal may be meatless as well)

wednesday: crock pot (lately it has been something that is like pulled pork, or round roast smothered in BBQ sauce, or sloppy joes)

thursday: grill (usually chops, but can just be veggies)

friday: homemade pizza and salad

saturday: pasta

these meals all include a salad,and/or carrots with hummus, melon, or some kind of fruit.

breakfast is usually eggs, oatmeal or some sort of baked good (coffee cake, biscuits and jam)

lunch can be sandwiches, or left overs, or cheese and salami and veggies. snacks are fruit with yogurt dip, carrots and hummus, cheese sticks, smoothies. 

my oldest son is in high school, but the other 4 are homeschooled so there are some days where i feel like we are eating ALL DAY LONG! lol but still the budget has stayed pretty good. 

my biggest suggestion is STAY OUT OF THE STORE! the less often you go, the less you will spend. :)


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#14 of 17 Old 09-08-2013, 06:42 AM
 
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JustMama-

Will you share your granola recipe?

 

But of course.  It's not mine of course but it's delicious! 

http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/06/16/recipe-connection-homemade-granola-and-granola-bars/


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#15 of 17 Old 09-08-2013, 06:48 AM
 
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Another tip: farmer's markets.  Sometimes they are awesome, some areas they suck.  Find out what happens at yours.  Mine isn't great and super cheap.  It's about the same prices as the grocery store.  BUT my favorite farmers are "chemical free" but not organic.  They are young kids my age who live cheap in an apartment and farm on land their parents own.  They are just starting out but they work SO hard and they love good food and good people.  They don't have the money to be certified organic but they farm chemical free and organically without the label.  I always make it a point to buy from them if possible because their prices are comparable with everyone else, except the produce isn't filled with gmo's and chemicals and pesticides so it's a better deal for my money.  Plus, my kids get to meet the people that grow their food.  They joined the drum circle every week last year enjoying music and friends.  And all the regular farmers know them.  They always stop off to see Bill the honey man for a honey stick.  They visit Chris and Kristina for veggies.  They see "the breadstick man" for samples and he always saves us a bag of breadsticks if we are running late and he's close to selling out.  So while we don't save a TON at the farmer's market, I think the experience transcends budget.


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#16 of 17 Old 09-08-2013, 09:28 AM
 
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We might just have soup today. I crockpotted (is that a word) a whole bunch of veggies over night and gosh it looks soooo good. My plan was to do the chicken today but the veggies look like enough on their own?  Maybe I will bake the chicken just so meal prep is done for a couple days.  Its a bit cooler and rainy today.  I don't want to heat up the kitchen when it gets humid later in the week.  AZ is still in monsoon season and still hot hot hot.  ugh.  I could probably put another batch of cookies or scones in the oven with the chicken too.  hummmm.  Scoop some of the broth from the soup in the kichen.  Yeppers... chicken will be made this afternoon.

 

I love my crockpot, IDK why it took me almost 40 years to buy one.  Now i've only had it a few weeks but i find myself using it all the time- several times a week.


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#17 of 17 Old 09-08-2013, 12:19 PM
 
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A few of my grocery budget tips - 

 

- Coupon. Only clip coupons for the items you'll actually use. Don't buy something just because it has a coupon. But even $5-$10 savings on each trip helps. Depending on the week, I save anywhere from $15-30 per trip. And it doesn't have to be time consuming - I print and clip coupons on my breaks at work, and organize my deals and shopping list either on the train or when I'm watching a show on TV. 

 

- Shop the sales, but don't go crazy. If you have to spend time and gas money driving to five stores every week, you're negating the grocery savings. Pick one or two stores with the best deals to shop at each week. For me, it's Woodmans (local employee-owned small chain in northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin) and Target. I shop Woodmans because they have some of the best prices around, they put out tons of coupons each week on the shelves and they're a local business. I shop Target for stock up deals, because they'll stack coupons (which means they will take both a Target coupon and a manufacturer coupon for the same item - double the savings!). 

 

- Try to stock on things you will always need when you've got great coupons and/or you run across a good sales. Toiletries are great for this because they don't take up a lot of room. We've picked up deodorant, shampoo, razors, toothpaste, etc. (all in our preferred brands) this way. Combine sales with your coupons for the best possible deals. Likewise, we've stocked up on dried beans, pasta, meat (we do have a chest freezer) and other pantry items. It makes cooking easier too, because you always have staples on hand. It seems counter-intuitive, but changing the way I shop in these basic ways allows me to buy more stuff for less money. It really does work. And I'm never running out of something right when I need it either. 

 

- Save all of your receipts. It's the only clear way to understand where the money goes, and exactly how much things cost. It will also help you understand which things you buy frequently in order to decide what to stock up on. You can also start doing your own price tracking - once you have a couple month's worth of receipts, you can see when things to go on sale. There are websites and coupon blogs that track the major retailers for you as well, so if you get really into it, just look up a few. 

 

- Crockpot. I second what other's have said - it's such a great tool. You can make a big meal with less effort and freeze half. Building a freezer stockpile is huge - that way when you're sick or out of time or don't feel like cooking, you can defrost something instead of eating out. Eating out can bust a food budget fast. 

 

- Garden. Even if you can only grow herbs or lettuce greens in your window, that's still a big savings on your grocery budget. A packet of seeds can be had for less than a dollar - and you can get up to hundreds of dollars of produce out of it. Huge savings. If you have the space and inclination, grow enough to preserve. Even just three jalapeno plants has given us more than we can eat fresh, so I've been cutting them in half and freezing them on a cookie sheet, then dumping them in a freezer bag. I'll have enough jalapenos for the next year just from those three plants.

 

- Don't ignore the "scratch and dent" or "close dated" section at the grocery store. I've gotten huge bags of organic bananas that we just starting to go soft for $1. I stuck them in the freezer for banana bread. Same thing with sweet peppers - a huge bag for $1 that were just overstock, and I sliced them and froze them. 

 

- Bring your own bags. Some stores in some areas are starting to charge for plastic or paper bags, and some stores (like Whole Foods) give you a bag refund if you bring your own. 


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