On a tight budget? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: How much do you spend per week on groceries and all household items?
under$100 67 44.67%
$100-$150 55 36.67%
$150-$200 11 7.33%
$200 -$250 5 3.33%
$250 and up 12 8.00%
Voters: 150. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 32 Old 01-05-2005, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How much do you spend per week on groceries and all household items? My dh and I are trying to find a good way to handle our money situation. We're trying to save up to put a down payment on a house. It's so stressful asking for money.
I have a family of 4 and a dachschund too. What is a good amount to spend on a whole family? I like to buy organic produce too.
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#2 of 32 Old 01-05-2005, 04:13 PM
 
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We try to keep our grocery bill at about $200 every two weeks this includes alot of other household things like cleaning supplies, dog and cat food, any extras...

This is only in the winter when we tend to eat more and don't have a vegetable/herb garden. I think it would be about half the amount as we tend to eat alot more salads and lighter all round.
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#3 of 32 Old 01-05-2005, 04:24 PM
 
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I have had to give up all organic and only select the items that need to be all organic. In summer, I have an all organic garden but in winter I do my research and get some things conventional.
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#4 of 32 Old 01-05-2005, 04:24 PM
 
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We try for under 100$ per month. We make all our own bread, and the most expensive thing we buy is meat and an occasional bottle of wine. Every Sunday, we do a big cookoff and prepare meals for the week. We're also lucky to have an awesome market down the road. They get all the overstock items from the big grocery stores and it is soooo cheap!
What helps our budget is shopping several times a week for little things, and freezing pre-made dinners.
We also only buy things we will use that weekl. We do have a pantry for flour, sugar, and baking needs, canned goods and the like- which we stock up on every 2-3 months.
We're a family of 4 in a small apartment, so not much room in the kitchen for extras.

Mama to 5 babies. UCer, too!
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#5 of 32 Old 01-05-2005, 04:39 PM
 
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Would you mind sharing some of your meals? I really need help in this area. I have six to feed.
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#6 of 32 Old 01-05-2005, 07:07 PM
 
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We spend aout $200 dollars(Canadian) per month on groceries and household stuff like catfood and toilet paper in the winter. I garden and I can, freeze and dehydrate all year. I organize a food coop and get wholesale on bulk grains and beans. I sprout seeds for green veggies in winter and make everything from scratch. I am known as the lady to give all your extra zuchinni, caabapples, ect to! My garden is organic but the only organic I buy in winter is the discount bin (older stuff ut fine) at Superstore. BTW, my kids are big eaters compared to other kids we know, me too, actually! Oh, and we are vegetarian.
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#7 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 01:47 AM
 
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We spend about $70 per week on groceries and misc. items (cat food/litter, laundry/cleaning supplies, toiletries, vitamins, etc.)

We use organic milk, and we buy some things from the natural foods section of our grocery store (healthy PB, soy chips, organic tea, oatmeal, cereal,eggs).

To save money, I buy mostly nonorganic produce unless it's a type of fruit or veggie that is hard to wash thoroughly. I also stock up on canned and frozen fruits and veggies. We eat meat only once twice each week. (My husband grew up eating a "meat and potatoes" dinner every day, so this was hard for him to get used to.)

I shop for staples (TP, paper towels, bottled water, dry goods, lunchbox snacks, frozen foods) at a wholesale club every other month. That saves a lot.

I make creative,eclectic, cheap meals - a lot of soups, casseroles, and we have breakfast foods for dinner once a week.

I'm always looking for ways to reduce our grocery bill w/o sacrificing our diet too much. We are hoping to buy a house soon, too.

Good luck!
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#8 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 01:07 PM
 
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Thanks for sharing your approaches - I am always trying to get the total down.

We used to spend about $150 per month on groceries and items like shampoo, toothpaste, dogfood, etc. but we are spending more now (probably about $200) as my younger son is allergic to milk, eggs & tomatoes so I have to buy some pricey items as subsitutes and had to eliminate several of our favorite thrifty meals from our menu. We only eat out once a month and my hubby brown bags it to work each day so I feel like this is a good investment...

Here is how we keep our bills low...

I make alot of soup
We eat lots of beans, rice, and cornbread
I shop at a local Asian market about once a month where the produce is
MUCH less expensive (as are some "non mainstream" foods like tofu, spices, etc.
We also batch cook and this includes breakfast items like eggless/milkless pancakes and muffins I can heat up during the week
We do eat meat once or twice a week but usually just as an ingredient in a meal (ie. I throw a piece of chicken into soup or a cutup chicken breast into stirfry)
I buy items like shampoo and toothpaste at a local supermarket chain that doubles coupons up to $1.00 so if I combine them with a sale they are usually free
The staples of our diet are cheap....rice, potatoes, bananas, oatmeals, pasta (and formerly eggs...before allergies we used to eat a bunch of homemade quiche and lots of fried rice and egg drop soup)
I frequently check cookbooks out of the library - that way I can experiment with new recipes and keep our meals interesting without spending any money
We drink water with meals

Our luxury items are coffee/hot chocolate and sometimes soda/beer/wine - I just can't give up the treat drinks

BJ
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#9 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 01:56 PM
 
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It's just DH and I for right now, and we are working to keep it below $50 a week for all food/household/personal hygeine products. We do a lot of the same things BJ does above. I batch cook quite a bit, ususally on Sunday for the entire week and then fridge what can last a week and freeze the rest in meal-size container.

Recently, I figured out that if I can get a really good deal on an ingredient that I like (last week it was cabbage) I can search for recipe ideas by the ingredient at allrecipes.com.

It's been said a million times before, but cooking from scratch really saves money. I used to be really lazy with cooking up dried beans and just bought the canned. I did a price comparison of cooking dried beans for a month and using canned beans for a month and I literally saves about $20 right there.
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#10 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You mama's really impress me! I had no idea that a whole family could live on so little. I do make a lot of things from scratch. I could make some changes, but there's just some certain organic products that I'm unwilling to give up. I think I'm going to work on incorporating more rice and beans into our diet. Switch from canned beans to dried. Look for veggies that are on sale and look up recipes for that vegetable. These are all great ideas.

I also like the idea of having a Sunday cookoff. This would make my life easier during the week too, since I work my sons' after-school program, and when we get home, everyone's so hungry.

If anyone has any great recipes to pass on that are cheap in price and/or are great for freezing, I'd really appreciate them.

Again, Thanks everyone!
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#11 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 02:36 PM
 
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We are big carnivores in our house. So we cook meaty dishes on Sundays.
We make big batches of meatballs, meatloaf, stews, stuffed cabbage, plain pasta sauce.
Our staples are carbs, too. I like to cube and boil potatoes until just tender, then refidgerate them for homefries for breakfast, or baked for dinners.
Our Sunday meal is usally a chicken, so we use the carcas to make stock, and freeze that for gravies and soups during the week.

Mama to 5 babies. UCer, too!
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#12 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 03:28 PM
 
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I posted about this over in the Frugal Mamas thread, but I think it might be of interest here.

I don't get flyers where I live so I check my weekly grocery ads on-line. I look at Wild Oats, Marc's, Meijer, Kroger and Giant Eagle online. I think other stores may have them available too. Giant Eagle posts theirs several days in advance but everywhere else posts them the day of the sale. The flyers also announce if the store is doing a "super double coupon" or "triple coupon" sale.
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#13 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 06:01 PM
 
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I vote under $100.

I buy basically only loss leaders and sale produce. Loss leaders are on the front page of ads to get you in the store, selling things sometimes below cost. If I have to buy something else I usually do it in bulk or plan ahead. I can keep a well stocked kitchen/freezer that way.

We are getting to eat more organic because of two stores. First is Costco, they are carrying more organic and it makes it more affordable to us. Now they carry organic chips, blueberries, milk, greens, and I am sure a few other things. Hopefully the milk will go down in price because they just started carrying it here, when DS starts drinking more I am going to insist on organic. I don't drink it and DH can't stand to pay the price right now compared to regular. So I watch the markdowns on it. The second store is the Grocery Outlet. They carry off and on lots of organic soups, crackers, cheese, pizza, veggies, cookies, and juice. So I stock up on those items when I see them. I also check the regular stores for closeouts on close dated items, like yesterday I got chocolate soy milk for $.99. Now I have to see if DH will drink it He is kind of picky. I have gotten a lot of marked down organic things lately, so I am really excited.

Oh and DH's uncle sells us beef for his cost plus cut and wrap so that saved us a lot this year when we bought a 1/4 from him.

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#14 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 09:55 PM
 
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wow, Im amazed at how low you all can get your bills! I'll have to use some of these ideas!
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#15 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 10:34 PM
 
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We spend right around $100-$150 but I think we have been spending too much. We're probably right at $100 now. We were buying all orgnaic but have had to stop for the most part. We get our milk and yogurt from a local farmer and we bought a 1/4 hog and cow around March so we don't by meat. Once we cut way back on the organic it really helped. It makes me upset that we can't buy orgainc as cheaply.
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#16 of 32 Old 01-06-2005, 11:23 PM
 
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We spend about $100/week. We buy all organic for the little ones and mostly organic for us. Our main grocery store is Trader Joe's (most of their stuff is really inexpensive and really yummy) but we get most of our produce at either Whole Foods, New Seasons, or Fred Meyer. We're a family of four but we also buy food for my mother, who watches our girls 3x/week when I'm at work.
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#17 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 12:47 AM
 
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I just must not have the hang of thrifty shopping down yet. My dbf is a total meat eater and must have it for dinner every night. It is either fish, cow, chicken, uck. I prefer veggis only but he only eats green beans, corn, potatoes and salad. It was too expensive for us to combine our tastes me eating 3 veggi's nightly, him a meat, side like rice and veggi. I just moved over to eating his meals though I dont really like it. But money is super tight. I wish there was a recipe place for frugal mommas where I could budget better. I think I must go look now...
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#18 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 10:33 AM
 
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I voted $200 - $250 but that's not right. (I don't see a way to change my vote.) I don't know what I was thinking because that's not right for the month, either! I think the correct answer would be about $150 a week. I'd love to spend less, but not sure how to do it without moving to thinks like white bread/pasta, eliminating my organic purchases, and never having snack or convenince foods. I already have to be choosy about what I buy organic because of cost. I make lots from scratch, but when I've been out and about all morning, it's nice to be able to cook up a batch of boxed mac and cheese for lunch in about 15 minutes. When I've tried to eliminate these conveniences in the past, I found that I just wound up eating out more often, which is more expensive and less healthy. I keep trying though, and looking for new tips all the time!

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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#19 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 12:46 PM
 
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I voted between $100 and $150 and there's only 2 of us (well and 3 hungry cats)- we are on a very limited budget- I am a student and my finace only makes $10 per hour. I think food is one of our biggest expenses because I like to eat well- wild salmon, all organic, natural animal products- mostly conventional produce but I buy some select organic things. We also spend quite a bit eating out at my favorite Thai restaurant and Sushi bar. We make up for this by renting a very small inexpensive apartment and driving old cars with liability only insurance.

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#20 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 12:53 PM
 
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I wanted to add- some people may be morally or otherwise opposed to this but- a lot of families qualify for food stamps and don't even know it. If you are struggling to eat well check it out. It is amazing how many people qualify- Especially families where 1 parent has no income or very little income and the other parent works a job that is mainly tips or not much per hour (but some people making $9 or $10 qualify it just depends on the number of kids and such). I think almost all women who are pregnant or have a child under 2 can also qualify for WIC as well. These programs are definately worth checking out if you live in the US.

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#21 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 01:45 PM
 
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I qualified for WIC for 3 out of my 4 pregnancies. With my second, my husband made too much money. When I got preg with #3, his income hadn't changed but our household size had, so I qualified again. I would say our grocery bill usually runs a little under $100 every two weeks. I cook a lot of things from scratch--chicken and dumplings, chicken noodle soup, steak stir fry, pork fried rice ... all of these dishes can be made for a family of five (with one on the way ) and only use one or maybe two pieces of meat per DISH, not per PERSON. You just chop the meat small then add more vegetables and enough pasta or rice to make a large batch. Veggies and pasta really are cheaper than a lot of meat. You still get the flavor of the meat, it is just MUCH cheaper and probably healthier, too. I always make a weekly menu before I go shopping so I get nothing I don't need. I buy my flour, sugar and rice in bulk because it saves SOOOOO much money. I can get 25 lbs. of flour or sugar for around $12 at my local grocery store and 50 lbs. of rice for $7 (!!!!!!!) at the wholesale club. I just separate them into gallon zip-locs and put them in the deep freezer. That much rice lasts us about a year (we eat rice almost every day), and the flour and sugar I buy about every 4 months or so. As for canned goods, peanut butter and the like, I buy that at the Dollar Store for very cheap. As long as I have rice, etc., in the freezer and WIC to cover dairy, I can actually get by (and still eat very well) for around $35 a week. Sorry so long! I love these discussions!
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#22 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 09:48 PM
 
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We spend an average of $250/month on medical related things becuase of Nitara's reflux and my asthma. We spend about the same on food for a month.

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#23 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 10:15 PM
 
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Wow, this is fascinating. I spent $110 this week and thought I was doing great!
I am also surpised to see some of you successfully using wholesale clubs -- I have been a couple of times, but the deals didn't seem so great, and since I like to buy organic/recycled and they didn't have much of that stuff I didn't think it worth my while. Hmm.
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#24 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 11:17 PM
 
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Quote:
I am also surpised to see some of you successfully using wholesale clubs -- I have been a couple of times, but the deals didn't seem so great, and since I like to buy organic/recycled and they didn't have much of that stuff I didn't think it worth my while. Hmm.
Maybe it depends on the club, but I've found them to be of limited use as well. I buy toilet paper and Kleenex there, and baking soda (if you use it in your laundry and/or for household cleaning, it's way, way, way, cheaper to buy the big containers of Arm and Hammer at the club. If you only use it for baking, it would be too much quantity. I scoop out some into a small container for baking when I first open the package, then use the rest for laundry and cleaning.) Some toiletries are much cheaper there, such as liquid soap refill. But what really pays for my membership are the tortilla chips! I *love* chips and salsa, and I can get a 2 lb. bag of yummy chips (not organic, but trans-fat and cottonseed oil free) for something like $2.89! If you know chips, you know that's cheap! I occasionally buy other things I find there, but those are my staples. They also have some great deals on clothing, but I don't buy them because of sweatshop concerns. Before I became convicted about that issue however, I got some wonderful bargains -- I miss them!

But for just about everything else, especially in the food section, it doesn't make sense because they carry mostly name brands, which are either still more expensive than store brands or sales at the grocery store, OR they aren't the kind of products I want to use. (No natural peanut butter, no whole wheat pasta, very few organics, etc.) Sometimes quantity is still an issue -- i.e. the packages are too big -- although that's getting to be less of a concern the older the kids get. My membership is worth it to me, but mostly because of the chips. If not for that, I'd probably not do much better than break-even.

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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#25 of 32 Old 01-07-2005, 11:37 PM
 
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It must really depend on the club. I forgot that I get organic peanut butter at Costco. They haven't carried it long, but they have carried Adam's for a long time.

Maybe if people request organic items they would carry them. I am going to write a letter thanking them for expanding the organic they carry here. It seems everytime I go (a couple times a month) that I find a new organic item. I do go up and down the aisles to look and find them. I don't buy a lot of things there because I can get better deals on sales, but some items I can't beat. I also get the baking soda there, it is an awesome deal.

Meli65~ You could probably get a guest pass and check out if things have changed if you wanted and then you wouldn't be out of a membership if it hasn't.

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#26 of 32 Old 01-08-2005, 03:38 PM
 
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I think it also depends heavily on where you live. We live in an area where cost of living is outrageous and growing season is relatively short. We are members of a CSA for organic produce, and I'm considering joining a CSA-type group for dairy and meat. We don't eat much pre-packaged foods but I do buy mostly organic. I spend between $100-150 a week; sometimes more depending on time of year and what's going on in our lives. I shop at the local military commissary for non-perishables and whole foods/trader joes/an organic grocery store for perishables and other organic foods I can't get from the CSA. I would love to live in an area where cost of living is lower or there is space for me to have a garden to grow some of our produce.
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#27 of 32 Old 01-09-2005, 01:01 PM
 
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I am on a super tight budget..The only thing I buy that I don't make from scratch is an organic bread from Rudi's...Artesian French..It looks like normal bread to my son and he likes to take it in sandwiches so his look normal like everyone elses...But I only buy two loafs a month..He eats it up he goes to homemade..Everything else I make myself..Much cheaper and it really isn't hard.I try to keep it too 25-30 dollers a week...Some might say I scrimp too much but hey I have to pay the rent and we really do eat pretty good..I went grocery shopping yesterday for the week.I spent about 35 dollers but only because I had to buy some pantry things..But I make my menu out in advance and stick to the list...This is this weeks menu..

Sat..Spagetti and meatballs
Sun..Beef stew and cornbread muffins
Mon..Italian Roast and Potatoes
Tues..Broccoli/Rice casserolle
Wed..Baked Chicken and Potatoes
Thurs..Brown Beans and cornbread
Fri...Chicken Noodle Soup

WE only have dessert on Sundays and I make it from scratch.I always let my son choose..He chose brownies this week.

For lunches we ususally have sandwiches(egg salad,peanut butter or jelly and butter) and Chips..Not the healthiest but it is good and filling..

For breakfasts I buy one box of cereal a week..He loves Kashi Go lean Krunch..On Sundays I always make HM cinnamon Rolls and the other days I might make Hm pancakes,waffles or eggs and hm sausage patties.

I buy lots of stuff from the discount store(AKA dented can store)..I also get my yeast there..I ususally get juice,cereal,yeast,chocolate chips and pasta really super cheap there.And sometimes I am able to find a great treat for cheap that I don't usually buy like boxed mac and cheese(normally I make it from scratch)..I only buy the all natural if I do buy it.We don't do artificial food coloring or additives.

I buy a gallon of milk a week and we drink lots of water...Juice if I find a good deal at the discount store.Sometimes I buy a pint of Breyers natural ice cream if I can find it on sale..We eat plain buy cheap...Cooking and baking everything from scratch I think is the key...I even make hm tortillas.Super easy...I use my crockpot at least 3 times a week if not more.And I plan meals around sales...And if I have leftovers I plan another meal for that..This week for example..The baked Chicken..I bought a whole chicken for 3.49 and plan to Roast it in the oven.Serve with potatoes...I will probably have the breast left and the carcass.I will save it for Friday and make Hm chicken soup with that...So I am getting 2 meals out of that 3.50 chicken..I also do super cooking on weekends...If I can..This week it really wouldn't work with what I have planned but most weeks I do.I buy whatever fruit is on sale...Usually it is pears and bananas or fruit from the discount store..We usually have that about 2-3 times a week.I don't waste the juice from the canned fruits either. I pour into my popcicle molds and wala hm fruit popcicles...I usually get 4-6 out of a can of pears or pineapple.

I love these kinds of threads..I am always looking for new and greater ideas to improve...Thanks...Love Mylie xx
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#28 of 32 Old 01-10-2005, 09:53 PM
 
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I like that recipe website, Selu Gigage. Thanks.
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#29 of 32 Old 01-11-2005, 05:18 PM
 
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DH is paid monthly so we try to buy most things right after his payday. I think we usually spend about $300/month on food and we try to buy everything organic bulk that we can, especially dairy, meats, and eggs. This month is going to be rough though--had to buy plates for the car and get the car heat fixed last month--so we only have about $50 to make it through. We do qualify for WIC and use those monthly (except the milk, cheese, and eggs--yucky hormones and antibiotics), but we don't qualify for foodstamps by about $60/month

Barbara:  an always learning SAHM of Ilana (11) and Aiden (8) living in Belgium with my amazing husband.

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#30 of 32 Old 01-13-2005, 01:56 AM
 
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But then again, its just me and hubby right now. Ask me again when baby arrives and is older and eating!

We try to get health foods but sometimes we have to be really picky. And sometimes I just crave those 99 cent Jeno's fozen pizzas........

Will try gardening this summer to cut down on some costs. Corn, watermelon, okra, tomatos......... YUM!

Writer, teacher, and mama to Rhiannon Morningstar 6/28/05
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