What's your grocery budget (small families)??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 38 Old 07-26-2005, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I grew up in a fairly large family and am used to shopping in bulk and cooking huge amounts of food. Works well with lots of people in and out of the fridge all day long eating leftovers, etc. But now it's just gonig to be me and my little one (15 months). She obviously doesnt' eat much but I notice that I spend more on snacky things for her like crackers, that I didn't normally buy before. So meals for us are me cooking for myself and dd nibbling off my plate, pretty much.

Maybe I should post in the food forum too. But I would like to know what a very small family such as mine spends on groceries weekly (or monthly), and WHAT do you buy?

Any input is greatly appreciated! TIA

Single student mama to dd 5/04 and ds 11/07.

 

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#2 of 38 Old 07-26-2005, 07:18 PM
 
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We spend a lot, especially by comparison to large families. I've tried so hard to scrimp on the food budget, but I can't seem to squeak it down without giving up eating organic. I know of some large families that have a food budget equal to or less than ours.

I guess a large part of the budget problem is that we eat only organic foods and I am a celiac, so our diet doesn't allow a lot of room for scrimping. It's not like with being a celiac I can wait until wheat-based spaghetti goes on sale for a few cents a package KWIM?

We spend about: $100 - $125 per week. There's only two of us (DH and a preggie me). This seems like WAAAAY too much.

We spend it on the following: Fish, Cheese, Milk, Yoghurt, Fruit, Veggies, Rice/Potatoes/Corn, Beans.

Occasionally, we will buy seasonings, poultry, snacks and juices.

I blog traditional foods and Weston A Price at Nourished Kitchen. See my healthy recipes.
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#3 of 38 Old 07-26-2005, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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nak

thanks snowbunny. yeah, buying organic and trying to be frugal at the same time is frustrating, imo. and if you don't mind me asking (this is totally off-topic) what does it mean to be celiac? :

Single student mama to dd 5/04 and ds 11/07.

 

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#4 of 38 Old 07-26-2005, 09:02 PM
 
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We spend about $100/week for me, dh, toddler ds and baby dd. That is with seriously budgeting. I used to have this ridiculous notion in my head that I should be able to feed us for $50-60/week, but finally gave up on that. I really HATE budgeting on food, but as we know, it is one of the only areas with any "give."
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#5 of 38 Old 07-26-2005, 09:58 PM
 
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We have set $100/week on food, which has been plenty for the past couple of years. It's just DH and I right now (I'm 18 weeks pregnant) and I've found being pregnant has that money not seem to go as far. We do eat almost all organic (and I've been craving so much fruit lately, it really adds up!). If we ever want to go out to eat, we skim off the top of the food budget for a couple of weeks until we have enough (doesn't happen that often).
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#6 of 38 Old 07-26-2005, 10:16 PM
 
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Wow, I spend much more on food, 150-175 a week. We have a family of 4, our girls eat a lot and we entertain often. I like to cook with fresh, healthy food and it cost more to buy quality items. Dh and talked about this recently and we decited that we would rather eat the way we do than spend the money any other way. It's what is best for our family.
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#7 of 38 Old 07-27-2005, 12:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AGrace584
nak
and if you don't mind me asking (this is totally off-topic) what does it mean to be celiac? :
Celiac sprue is a an autoimmune disease (like graves' disease - they tend to cluster together), that results from an intolerance to the gluten found in certain grains like wheat, barley, kamut, spelt and so on.

If I ingest gluten, my body will start to attack the villi (sp?) in my intestines which results my being unable to soak up nutrients from food and I get very sick.

So that's what being a celiac is. It sucks in relation to the food budget, because I have to avoid a LOT of foods and if I want something that is traditionally wheat-based like spaghetti or pancakes I have to purchase a gluten-free alternative which is always super-expensive. But, at least I don't feel sick anymore!

I blog traditional foods and Weston A Price at Nourished Kitchen. See my healthy recipes.
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#8 of 38 Old 07-27-2005, 06:33 PM
 
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For me, dh, and toddler dd, I've gotten it to $125, including one relatively inexpensive "dinner out" a week. (Living in New York with great ethnic foods made waaaaay better than I'd be able to make them, we decided once a week we'd go out for indian, mediterranean, mexican, afghani, etc. food.) It seems like a lot sometimes, and I'm working on bringing it down, but we eat almost all organic, free range, and antibiotic free.

It is harder sometimes to cook for a small family, and especially with a small apartment and severly limited food storage and refrigeration space, so I rarely buy in bulk. Little things have made it noticably easier, though, like making 4-6 servings instead of 2-3 and making dinner one day into lunch the next.

Happy with my DH, 2 kids, dog, fish, and frogs
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#9 of 38 Old 07-27-2005, 06:46 PM
 
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#10 of 38 Old 07-28-2005, 11:03 PM
 
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My family (me, my husband and 3 year old son) spend about 100 a week on food. It's been more lately it seems grocery prices have gone up with gas prices. We have been trying to get in the habit of going to discount nicks n dent stores. The problem with them is that we end up with lots of junk food. I try to get organic produce when I can, but it's pricey.
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#11 of 38 Old 07-29-2005, 10:18 AM
 
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I have a bigger family (me, DH, and 3 kids...including a hollow legged boy at the moment :LOL ) so I can't relate the amount we spend.

I was just going to suggest that if you are used to cooking for a bigger family, and think you could do it cheaper than the smaller servings, then why not cook bigger but freeze the leftovers in portion sized containers?

It would be cheaper in the long run, and easier on those days you don't feel like cooking or are running low on time.

Just a thought.
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#12 of 38 Old 07-31-2005, 10:14 PM
 
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About $75 a week- not organic, not vegetarian, for 3 people.

Things we tend to buy every time are bread, milk, 1 or 2 meat items, cheese, some vegetables. We generally keep things like rice, spaghetti, lentils, eggs, flour, popcorn, canned soup, and oatmeal on hand but do not buy them every week.
With things like meat we plan to get several meals out of them so we might buy a bigger item.

I grew up cooking for a family of 5 big eaters. It took time for me to shift to just cooking what we need for 3 light/moderate eaters.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#13 of 38 Old 08-02-2005, 01:31 AM
 
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Maybe it's just the area I live in, but we only spend $300 a month if that. We are a family of three and eat all organic. The things I tipically buy are milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, bread for dd otherwise we make out own, juice, fresh fruits and veggies, oats, flour, annies mac and cheese, annies dressing, beans and lentils, fish, chicken and turkey. The two annies things are practically the only things that we buy premade. I cook mostly from scratch and buy some stuff in bulk through Azure Standard.

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#14 of 38 Old 08-02-2005, 01:43 AM
 
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We spend between $150-$200/every 2-3 weeks for myself, DH, DS1 & DS2. We eat a lot of organic foods (esp fruits & veggies) & DH drinks a lot of Gatorade at work. We live in the same town as Sarah.

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#15 of 38 Old 08-02-2005, 02:34 AM
 
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We spend $50-75 a week on food for me, dh, and dd (toddler). I make a detailed dinner list for the month and STICK to it. I work with things I already have (spices, leftovers, ect). I never go to the store hungry, never impulse shop and buy only what we need. If dh or myself eat all the snacks in three days then thats it - no running out for more. It works pretty well and helps us with portion control. I'll eat less if I know I have to make it last.
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#16 of 38 Old 08-02-2005, 03:10 AM
 
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At least $150.00 at the grocery & $28.00 for organic produce delivery (it's like x-mas every Tuesday opening that box).

We're 2 1/2 eaters- all organic, mostly vegetarian with an occasional wild fish purchase.
My problem is that I'm cursed w/expensive taste : ...I love good olive oils, fresh shitake mushrooms, brie, fine dark chocolate, etc.
We also have a couple bottles of wine with dinner each week. Food makes us both so happy- it just seems worth the extra cash.
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#17 of 38 Old 08-02-2005, 03:19 AM
 
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We spend $100 to $120 a week and that is at whole foods. Oh, and we get pizza once too!
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#18 of 38 Old 08-03-2005, 03:26 PM
 
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i think i've finally adjusted to the $50 per week budget DH set for groceries (him & pregnant me) The way i do it is every other week, i stock meat, and usually it's meat enough for 2 meals (a larger whole chicken, a 16$ pack of chicken breasts from Sam's club, maybe ground beef, and another meat) and i try to keep stocked on side dish items (rice, mac & cheese, canned veggies) and i shop the farmer's market for produce. for 20 bucks, this week i got 6 corn ears, a huge onion, 2 squash, 2 eggplant, some tomatoes, 6 peaches, a pint of butter beans, 3 large carrots, a side of meat for the beans, 6 large new potatoes & some candy...because i'm craving. Then, i go to this discount grocery store named Aldi & surf for frozen meat & snack foods. I dont buy lunch foods, because i always make 3 servings of dinner so i can take leftovers. So, i do go 3 places to shop, but it's doable.

I realize that if i keep stuff on hand for sides, i really only have to replenish those every 2-3 weeks. Meat, i usually WONT use it all in a week, so that lasts a week & a few days. Stuff we buy weekly is Soy Milk & cereal, because we're both cereal addicts.

it was a REALLY hard adjustment, i wont lie... i was spending about 115-130 per week at first because of lack of planning....
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#19 of 38 Old 08-03-2005, 08:08 PM
 
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We spend $150-175 every 2 weeks. We are mostly organic, gluten-free, and egg-free. I cook from scratch almost always and buy in bulk through our food coop. They deliver every other month. We buy fresh fish (we should fish, given the clean, clear streams around us). We get organic chickens for $6.75 a bird and freeze them. We also go berry picking and apple picking at an orchard near us. (they use soft pesticides, which is better than the store) I freeze all the extras or make apple sauce. We also bought a share with a CSA (community supported agriculture). It's all organic veggies and herbs. It's delivered every week with a minimum of 5 lbs. from June to December.

I'm a not-so-great cook, so sometimes we give it odd names. I guess salmon slurry sounds better than fish mash. We actually make a game out of naming it sometimes. I make gravy with tapioca flour and it turned to glue. The girls would get some on their forks and see how far it stretched. :LOL
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#20 of 38 Old 08-03-2005, 09:33 PM
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I'm working on a three week rotating menu that keeps my food costs down to a bare minimum while providing healthy and interesting meals. Since I already have a lot of spices, this shouldn't be too challenging, or so I thought.

In certain areas of the country, food costs are just really high and it's hard to get around that. When you want to buy organic around here, it's really, really expensive.
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#21 of 38 Old 08-05-2005, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sarahbella and Calimommie, can I ask where you live? You can pm me if you'd like. I'm going to be on a pretty tight budget.... haven't totally figured it all out yet but I was assuming that being able to eat organic was out of the question. It seems SOOO expensive where I'm at, but then again I've never price compared organic to conventional anywhere else.

Thanks everyone for all the input and ideas, it's been helpful!

Single student mama to dd 5/04 and ds 11/07.

 

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#22 of 38 Old 08-06-2005, 12:31 AM
 
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We both shop in the next town over in Chico CA.

Sarah knit.gif married to Micah, mama to dd1 (9), dd2 (7) and ds (2). We love to homeschool.gif h20homebirth.gif goorganic.jpgchicken3.gif
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#23 of 38 Old 08-08-2005, 11:57 PM
 
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We budget for $300 a month -- so $75 a week -- for groceries, and I make sure we stick to that by taking the $$ out of the ATM every two weeks and keeping it in a grocery envelope. When we were paying using our debit cards, we consistently went over budget just by not being sure of how much we'd spent already.

We're in Connecticut, and the $75 a week, plus WIC checks, covers 2 adults, 1 baby, and 3 cats. We're vegetarian, mostly organic. WIC buys cheese, carrots, tuna, milk, eggs, peanut butter, juice, some beans, and cereal -- a lot of the staples. I have two veggie gardens in our backyard which provide a goodly amount of our veggies in the summer and fall (the $$ for seeds and supplies comes out of the grocery budget), and I get the rest of our fruits and veggies from farmers markets as much as I can. Once or twice a week we have friends over for a potluck dinner, which lets us all try new dishes and cuts the food budget for all of us a bit. I buy in bulk at Ocean State Job Lot or XPect Discounts when it makes sense, I shop sales, and I clip coupons from the Sunday paper -- that alone usually saves us $30-$40 from a $120 shopping trip. I try to buy local and in season produce because the quality is better and it's cheaper then.

I think some of our bigger savings come from not constantly buying cleaning products, personal products, disposable diapers, and wipes. We use baking soda and white vinegar to clean just about everything and buy those in bulk. We use baking soda, apple cider vinegar, tea tree, and Dr. Bronner's soap on our hair (and it's much healthier now than when I used shampoo!). I use Luna pads instead of disposable pads and tampons. I just started using hydrogen peroxide on my contacts instead of the standard (expensive!) cleaning solution, on the recommendation of my optometrist. We cloth diaper and use re-usable wipes. I make "butt spray" with water, extra virgin olive oil, and tea tree oil.

I usually have just enough left over from our grocery budget to allow for a reasonable meal out once a month plus a few decaf coffees or snacks on the road and maybe a magazine or two.



Sarah, mama to Qualia, 8.5 months (who just started cross-crawling!)
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#24 of 38 Old 08-12-2005, 01:49 PM
 
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we are a family of three, but one of us is only two months old DH just gave me an $100/week food budget, as we recently moved and made some adjustments in the financial area. before we didn't really have a budget, we just ate as cheaply as possible. like a PP said, we have "good taste" so we eat more expensive stuff than a lot of people. it is crazy, but i have had a hard time only spending $100 a week (that's over $400 a month!!!) when i'm buying lots of fresh fruit and veggies and trying to vary the types of meat we eat (i've been buying more fish since it is more widely available where we are now). DH would say we eat very good, though... not just your typical meat and potatoes type stuff.

we've also bought some dried fruit and other snack type stuff at whole foods, so that is kind of expensive. we've been buying cereal there, too, but that's not too much more expensive than "normal" brands if you buy the cheaper stuff.

it costs so much money to eat fresh, healthy food! however, it is worth it, and i dont think we can ever go back to not eating fresh, homeade food... it's just not as fun!

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#25 of 38 Old 08-12-2005, 03:46 PM
 
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About $50/week for me (pregnant), DH and a 3yo DS. We eat probably half organic, few nonnegotiable for me organic things (like milk for DS) and otherwise a mix. On top of that we have about one $50-70 trip to the health food store a month for vitamins and some bulk goods. DS has eczema so his skin oil and vitamins are most of that total. I count all that in my food budget.

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#26 of 38 Old 09-10-2005, 12:21 AM
 
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I spend $100 every two weeks at Whole Foods for me and my daughter!!! I have got it down to a science.

I wrote down on a piece of paper from my receipts all the regular items I normally get and their price, Rudy's Organic Bread $3.69, WF Organic OJ $3.29, ect. and put a blank box next to each item. Then I saved some space for misc. items I would get once in awhile, special treats, etc. when I have extra money left over from the $100. On the week that I buy laundry detergent ($6.99) and other big ticket items I don't buy any meats as they take up the bulk of my budget. I made copies of this list and use it to make my grocery list by marking next to the box what I need to get. I am religious about my list and don't deter from what I already have written down. This way I know what my bill is before I checkout.

The other thing I do is watch Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals! She makes the most wonderful dishes and I have tried many and all I have to say is Chicken & Dumplings! Quick Chick Noodle Soup! Florentine Meatballs with Cheese Sauce!

She uses chicken tenders for most of her chicken recipies and I buy a big package of chicken breasts and use each breast for a different meal. Both of the above chicken recipies use carrots and potatoes so I buy a big bag of both and also a couple boxes of the chicken stock. The left over I use for pot roast, beef stew, etc. You can download her recipies from www.foodnetwork.com I try to group her recipies together so that the ones I use will use basically the same ingredients. There is usually enough left over for me to freeze and use the next week for a meal.
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#27 of 38 Old 09-10-2005, 01:08 AM
 
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I spend $50 a week for 3 of us - dh, me and toddler dd. This includes household items as well. I did a price book charting all the prices from the local grocery stores. I shop the ads weekly but usually end up going to the same 2-3 places. Sometimes I go to one store one week and another the next. I'll plan to stop by a different store and load up on loss leaders if I see something I'll definately use advertised at a real deal price. They don't like people like me coming to the register with 20 boxes of 33cent pasta. But as long as they don't list a limit you're allowed to do it.

I buy some items at Costco - milk, cheese, sour cream, flour, eggs, bananas, ground beef, oatmeal, tomato paste, condiments (divide into mason jars and store in bottom of fridge), and some sale items. I buy other items mostly at the grocery store around the corner from me that has the cheapest prices in general. I always buy one stock bulk item when going to the store to replace out of stock. If I have to spend more one week to buy necessary stock items, I cut back on other items. I buy veggies when they get discounted and put them in the freezer for later use in dishes.

I clean with vinegar. In some places I just use water if sanitation is not an issue. I have a huge 5 gallon bucket of laundry detergent that I use in very small portions (about 1/4 cup per load). I rarely use fabric softener - sometimes vinegar.

I do a lengthy meal plan and buy the ingredients for upcoming meals when they go on sale. I factor in using leftover ingredients from other meals into the meal plan. I've learned a lot of recipes using brown rice (bought that at an international foods store super cheap for a 25lb. bag). I use a lot of dried beans as well. For recipes that call for 1 lb. of ground beef I use 1/4 lb. When I get a package of bacon I cook it up and use only small bits at a time. The grease is also saved and just a little bit can make some recipes really kick. I try to stick to meals that use meat only as an additive for flavor as opposed to a whole peice of meat at a time. I keep small portions of shredded and diced chicken in the fridge. This thanksgiving season I will get a large bird and spend a whole day cooking it and then picking the bones clean and putting into small portions in the freezer for soups and casseroles (can replace chicken in many recipes).

When writing out my meal plan I first look in my pantry and fridge to see what's there and what needs to be used up so things don't go to waste. I evaluate once a week to see how things are. This eliminates most of those 'discovered' rotten items in the fridge. I jot down notes on what ingredients I have and then sit down at my computer and sift through all my saved recipes and make my meal plans. If I can't find something I'll search recipezaar.com for specific ingredients. If I like a recipe but it has expensive ingredients I search the budget101 website for frugal homemade versions of the item which I can usually tweek to make a little bit healthier. Shopping the ads lets me know what items are a good buy and to find a meal to work them into.

I always keep a dozen eggs boiled in the fridge for quick protien snacks. I make up a big pot of oatmeal on Sunday nights and divide into containers for breakfasts with honey and cinnamon already in the mix - to be microwaved in the mornings at home for me and at work for dh. I use sugar instead of honey when it's run out and I don't have money for more until payday.

I take the large 10# can of tomato paste I get from costco and make up a huge pot of tomato sauce and freeze in bags in the freezer for spaghetti or homemade pizza or whatever.

I grow some herbs in pots on my patio to add flavor to my meals.

I try to keep a few baked goods around most of the time so that dh doesn't get the munchies and want to run out to the store. I rotate out different things so boredom doesn't settle in and get us frustrated with the food budget.

I make my own salad dressings and sauces for the most part. This has cut down quite a few purchases for me. See the budget101 website for copycat recipes for your favorites.

We basically never eat out. On rare occaision that we do, we split a meal. We do mooch meals at dh's moms house every once in a while (we're invited). Friends and family know we are living very frugally and offer a few canned goods, etc. to us when they clean out our pantries. Stuff like that helps.

We are big eaters but I try to plan my meals with some protien and quite a few carbs in them to satisfy our hunger (I am underweight and dh is a runner so we're fine healthwise to do that).

I have a lot of recipes that I've found are really cheap if you buy the ingredients in bulk. I wish I could afford organic but we'd starve.
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#28 of 38 Old 09-10-2005, 03:11 PM
 
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We can comfortably get by on $60/wk. We eat 90% organically. Still weaning DH off a few things he's having a hard time parting with! We spend about 20-30$ at the farm on produce, and then the rest at Trader Joes or Lassen's (health food store). We eat beef about once a week and eat lots of chicken. Also, DH loves to cook (yay!!) and likes to make big batches of soups and pasta sauces that we freeze, so we typically have something quick to grab from the freezer.

This month, our budget was tightened and we're trying to get by on only $40 a week YIKES. That's been a hard one. Especially since my 13 month old DD is eating a lot more food than bf-ing these days.
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#29 of 38 Old 09-10-2005, 04:02 PM
 
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This thread makes me feel better already. I've been spending for a family of five $100-$150 a week. I like the ideas I've seen and I'm going to try and do better. We should be able to eat on less because we had half a beef given to us , all we had to do is pay for the processing. I should be able to cut down since the only meat I buy is chicken.

sophmamma, your an inspiration.
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#30 of 38 Old 09-10-2005, 10:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beccaboomom
sophmamma, your an inspiration.
Aww thanks! Maybe we should start a list of super frugal but still pretty healthy recipes? I've had to learn a lot. Less than a year ago I spent $100 a week on groceries so I've had to cut it in half.
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