What is your grocery budget? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I keep going back and forth between thinking that our grocery budget is totally outrageous and thinking that it is just what things cost and unavoidable when you want to eat really high quality, healthy foods.  We are a family of four, two adults, a four year old, and a 1.5 year old.  Typically we spend about half of our income on food I think, which is like $400 every two weeks or $800 a month.  Is that insane?  We are always feeling like the money just disappears these days and when I look at our bank statements we are spending the most money by far on food.  Eating out is a second to the grocery budget but we have cut that down more easily by just not going out.  What are your grocery budgets and what do you do to keep the quality up and the cost down?  

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:16 AM
 
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that actually does seem a little high to me...i probably spend that amount - or a bit less and i am feeding a two plus sized parents, a 16 yr. old daughter who has a digestive disorder and needs specialty foods...and a 13 yr old boy ...who, thankfully, has not started to eat us out of house and home just yet - and our 7 mo old...who is eating, but its really negligable

im typically spending  about $125 at the regular grocery store every week

$25 at the health food store every week

$35 at the produce store every week

$75 at the BJ's - (Cosco) once a month

I have  a set amount for what i will pay for certain foods - i stock up when on sale.

 


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Old 03-22-2011, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you eat meat?  We buy all of our meat from BJs (wholesale like Costco) because they have organic chicken and ground beef in bulk there but it still adds a good chunk to our bill.  I think about $300 a month goes toward our bulk purchases at BJs and they other $500 gets spent mostly on produce, some dairy, and bulk bean items from Whole Foods.  I wonder about luxury items like arborio rice, wine for cooking, butter and oil, etc.  They are kind of expensive relatively speaking and we do use them a bit liberally.  

 

Do you think that you could give me an idea of what you would expect to have in your cart for a $100 shopping trip?  I wonder if I am accepting prices that are too high or something.  

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:32 AM
 
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We used to spend 1K per month on groceries- since I stopped working we've whittled that down to $400 per month for a family of 4. No, we don't eat organic and no we don't shop at the high end or specialty stores- but we do eat well. I think it's wonderful if you can afford to spend the extra money on organics but in all practicallity it's paying more for less food. We are blessed in that I am an above average cook and baker and can make most of our foods from scratch- we also live in relative proximity to a lot of farmland and spend our spring, summer and fall shopping from the farms instead of the grocery store. I hate coupons and refuse to be one of those crazy-running-to-30-stores-per-week ladies just so I can save $10. I like our grocery budget and think it's a very reasonable #.

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:34 AM
 
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I think that's totally reasonable.  I have a family of six, four children 17 to 2 years old, we eat almost entirely organic.  We eat meat and dairy, but also lots of whole grains and beans, and fresh fruits and veggies.  Our monthly food budget is at least $1500.  We rarely eat out.  Mostly we cook at home.  I have decided that eating well and healthy is a priority for us, and that I'll cut back on other stuff.  Of course, I have friends who watch the sales more closely, grow their own food, buy in large amounts, etc who spend less.

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:35 AM
 
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We have a family of six, with all of us eating every meal at home (we homeschool). We spend $250 per week. We buy ALL organic and only eat meat 4 times a month. We eat like kings! (and wouldn't touch the food budget, everything is budgeted around groceries)

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:36 AM
 
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That seems a little bit high but not outrageous. If that is what it takes to eat healthy, then so be it. But you can always look for ways to save money!

 

We are also 4 (two adults, a 3.5 year old, and 1.5 year old). BUT my husband is a chef and works long hours and eats at work a lot. Another BUT - my mom lives with us and mostly buys her own food but sometimes eats our meals. And one last BUT - my 1.5 year old nurses more than he eats.

 

Our grocery bill is all over the place. Sometimes I do a great job shopping and other times I way overspend. I would guess on average that we spend about $550 a month on groceries, give or take.

 

Ways to save: Check out all of the groceries in your area and see which one has better prices. It might be worth it to drive a little bit out of your way to go to a much cheaper store.

 

Buy day old bakery items (bread, pastries, etc). At my local grocery store I even find day old whole wheat bread and sprouted grain products at 33% off!

 

Check out the damaged goods section. If there is a canned or boxed good you were already going to buy and you can find it dented and half off then get it!

 

Stock up on good sales. Sure, maybe you prefer fresh veggies to frozen, but if you see the frozen stuff on sale stock up on it. Then when there are no good fresh veggies at the store for a decent price you can tap into your frozen supply.

 

Coupons! Coupons coupons coupons! You don't have to become a crazy coupon lady, but just printing out some good ones can save a lot - ESPECIALLY if you get the item on sale + coupon. PM me if you need a list of good coupon/deal sites. Most coupons, sadly, are for junk food. But when look harder you will find coupons for household essentials, and I have even gotten fresh fruit and fresh meat coupons!

Think about the quantities you buy. Buying in bulk is usually a better deal -- if the item won't expire. But if you are consistently making dinner, having leftovers, and eventually chucking the leftovers that don't get eaten maybe you need to buy a little bit less.

 

And one last thing - Don't go into the store 100% of what you are going to cook. I go in with a list of staples we need, and then I check to see what kinds of veggies, fruits, and meats are on sale. I decide on what I am going to cook in the store.

 

Good luck!!


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Old 03-22-2011, 11:37 AM
 
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I aim for $100 a week in groceries, that being said my old budget a year ago or was about $200 a week.  Now sometimes it is less, the last couple weeks we have been trying to clean out the pantry so definitely alot less maybe soon the farmers market will be open and should save even more for us.  I try to stock up on items I know I use, I almost use coupons for everything I can, the key is to stock up when on sale, each week there is about 10-20 I can spend on stock up items especially, meat.   For me is varies from week to week I also menu plan on sundays which helps me use the food I have.

 

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:40 AM
 
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We spend about $200- $300 a month on groceries for two adults. DS is almost a year but he still doesn't like eating solids. And we spent about $30 eating out this month.

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:40 AM
 
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We live in a medium sized city in Michigan.  We are a family of 3 - two adults and a two year old. 

 

On average we spend about $200 a month on food.  That is between buying our meat and eggs from local sources, lots of organic fruit and veggies and staple items at the grocery store.  I would say that 75% of what we buy is either organic or local.

 

My hubby eats out quite a bit for lunch and I tend to graze during the day.  We cook maybe 3 big meals a week and then smaller meals the rest of the time.

 

 

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:47 AM
 
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We also make all of our cleaning products; laundry soap, fabric softener, shampoo, conditioner, hand soaps, facial moisturizers. Because these products are many times food, they are included in our grocery bill.

We do not have health insurance, so it is very important to us that we do not eat industrialized food. We don't miss the industrial food at all. It has been a slow process, over two years, and it has become very obvious how bad our old food tastes and makes us feel when we eat it now. We have found that it is a very minor difference between organic prices and non-organic prices. It is suprising how our pallets have changed and how much more satisfying simple food has become.

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Old 03-22-2011, 11:50 AM
 
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I spend some where around $800-1000 on food a month roughly.. And that is for a family of 3 (My husband and I and our 5 month old). I spend about 100 a week at the local farm for eggs, butter, milk and some meat. (Fresh, local, and organic.) I typically by organic and in the summer months I buy local and organic. I cook almost every night and we do eat meat.


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Old 03-22-2011, 11:53 AM
 
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I spend about $125 per week for a family of four. I make all of our bread and yogurt from conventional (cheap) ingredients, make all of our snacks, etc. And, we're vegetarian. The $125 includes household stuff, not just food. I shop at Aldi mostly, pick up stuff at Sunflower Farmer's Market, and odds and ends at Dollar Stores and the 99 Cents Only store. I do plan the meals for the week, so I don't have a lot of waste.


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Old 03-22-2011, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for all of your replies, this stuff is very helpful for perspective.  

 

I have been trying to use more frozen produce and that has actually been a really good thing.  My daughter, the baby, loves frozen blueberries which are like $2.00 for a big frozen bag that is like twice the amount of a pint that runs for $5+ at Whole Foods.  I decided that any produce that is super expensive and/or that spoils quickly and may not get used in time must be frozen.  We have been trying to make larger meals that offer lots of leftovers for lunches to keep us from running out to buy prepared foods that are costly and not as healthy and that has also helped.  And right now we are growing some lettuces and all of the herbs that I use.  I also make our stock and bread as often as possible.

 

I have a couple of questions.  What are your top choices for coupon sites?  Usually I find lots of coupons for breakfast cereal, packaged breads, lunchables, etc.  I have a really hard time finding deals on like coconut milk products, organic cheeses, etc.  What criteria do you use when evaluating whether a co-op will be a good fit for you? I always hear people say that they can save you so much money but I get really nervous about not having control over what comes in my share.  What if my family won't eat it?  What if there are things in there that are good but I am still missing enough staples that I still have to go to the store to stock up?  And how do you balance getting the best deal-which I agree usually comes in bulk-with keeping your foods fresh?  

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Old 03-22-2011, 12:05 PM
 
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I spend 400 per month to feed 2 adults and 4 children. No organics, meat probably 4-6 times per week (including chicken, fish, some beef, and pork). I would say a healthful diet, plenty of fruits and veggies, few processed foods, and large portions. 


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Old 03-22-2011, 12:05 PM
 
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It sounds like you have a fairly reasonable budget for food. 

 

I buy my meat in bulk from Costco about once a month and spend about $200. In addition to that, I spend about $120 per week for groceries at Trader Joes or Henry's. Feeding a family healthy foods is expensive. But the alternative (being overweight or sick all the time) is more expensive. 

 

It's all about compromises. I spend more on groceries, but I spend less on things like household cleaners ( I only use baking soda and vinegar to clean my house). I never buy soda or alcohol. We never eat fast food. We go to the park or the botanical garden for fun, instead of Disneyland or the mall. We buy our clothes at Target instead of The Gap.  I have made healthy food a priority. It does cost more, but it's important to me. 

 

We have a vegetable garden in our back yard, but after two years I am still spending more on soil amendments, fencing, bird net, and supplies than I would if I just bought the veggies at the store. For me, the garden isn't about saving money, it's about teaching my daughter about what real food looks and tastes like. 

 

 

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Old 03-22-2011, 12:05 PM
 
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Sacrificing in a few areas and planning meals carefully, I spend $100-$120 a week at the grocery, fam of 4, two of which are young like yours. Also DH eats out $100 to $200 per month though he shouldn't go over $100 according to budget. I get organics for the fruits and veggies that are worst for pesticides, and for eggs since the taste and health are huge difference there. I shop at the farmer's market when there's an abundance of fresh stuff and I can make it there (April-Oct), and I grow some veggies out back (enough to keep us in green beans, summer squash, tomatoes, and carrots through summer, this year potatoes and hopefully lettuce too). Starting last year we've been better than breaking even on the garden if you compare to regular priced organic produce. I feel like I should be able to whittle it down to $80 a week but we refuse to let go of some luxuries, like juice, lots of butter, meat main dishes 6 days a week, cold cereal...

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Old 03-22-2011, 12:08 PM
 
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That does not sound crazy to me. 

 

We are a family of 6, 2 adults, and 13, 9, 7, 2 (9 is a boy). We spend anywhere from $200-$500 every two weeks, with milk and bread, and more fruit pick ups in there. 

We eat meat, not all organic. You would think living in the midwest meat would be cheaper........it is getting closer in price to the local organic meat we used to buy when we had the money. 

I do not buy boxed or processed food and try to buy as local as I can. I will not run from store to store, it is enough to go from Costco to the grocery, to target or some other place for misc. items. We do use mostly homemade cleaners and go to the health food store for a few things. Even when I was in a CSA and a local home delivery program our food bill was the same. Mainly it is the fresh veg and fruit that kills the budget. 

It is nothing for my kids to eat a 2lb box of strawberries in 2-3 days. Add in the apples, oranges, bananas, blueberries and yogurt. You are already around 100 in just fruit alone. 

 

We do eat out some, mainly just my husband and I sharing some time at the local sushi place. This is usually the only time we get with each other, well and the 2yr old. 

We do eat very well, and I have gotten by with $150 every two weeks for all of us when my husbands commissions are not there. 

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Old 03-22-2011, 12:11 PM
 
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I've found that how far your grocery budget will go varies GREATLY depending on where you live.  My budget is about $550 a month including household items and I am seriously struggling to stay in budget (read:It's not happening).  Our family is DH (likes lots of meat, very little grains, won't really eat legumes) Me (currently off top 8+corn, nursing), DD, age 2 (On the GAPS diet and always eats a ton), DD, 8 mos(doesn't really eat much yet).  I am working on getting mostly organic meat and produce (at very least for the dirty dozen).  I make my own cleaners and cook entirely from scratch.  I've spent an extra $80 or so of my birthday money in the last month on food/household items and we are still over budget.  A year and a half ago when we lived in Colorado $550 would have gone a lot further. 


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Old 03-22-2011, 12:18 PM
 
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It's just my DH and I right now, and we have a pretty large garden, so our monthly spending is not very high, maybe $150. (We also live in a country where whole foods cost less than processed, so that helps.) Anyway, I just wanted second sarkell's statement regarding menu planning - it has helped me a lot! I read about 200 food blogs -- delivered to a feed reader, so I just skim for what's interesting -- and I save interesting recipes in my bookmarks folder on delicious.com, so I can have access to them anytime, anyplace. I tag all recipes, for example Baba Ghanoush (just made it, so it's in my head :) ) is tagged as main.meals, vegetarian, dips, and frugal. I can then search by whatever tag or combination of tags that I want, so when I'm looking to cut my food budget, I often look for main.meals + frugal. I usually plan for the week or, if I'm feeling motivated, up to a month in advance. I bookmark the week's/month's recipes locally, sorted by date, and write out shopping lists for the week/month. I really like this system, and it has definitely helped me be more organized and in turn save some $$$. 


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Old 03-22-2011, 12:18 PM
 
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I wish I had a budget of $800 a month...What could I do...........

 

Mine is $50 - $100 a week depending if I need to restock my food storage... Family of 5 ... 20yr son, 15yr daughter, 13yr daughter and a hungry Husband and Me.

 

Breakfast, (Sack) Lunch, Dinner.

 

We use food storage, and have a large freezer.

 

I cook from scratch mostly... we do have some frozen meals bought on sale in the freezer for those ... MOM I'M HUNGRY NOW moments.

Crock-pots are the best I have 2.

I "CAN" when fruit and Veggie seconds come my way (that's when they harvest a field and then they allow some to go through and pick the lefts - which is not very often).

Eggs are fresh from our Chickens... and meat from the occasional naughty rooster...

We drink Tap Water ... we fill "water-cooler" bottles (at Home) let them air a few days to get rid of chlorine... and it is just fine... and NO FILTER COST.

 

(I include household items in this too...Shampoo, Soap, Laundry stuff, Toilet Paper etc... for cleaning: amazing what you can do with Vinegar, Borax, Washing soda)

We do NOT drink Soda ... Water, Coffee, Iced tea, Milk...

 

I used to go to Farmers Markets but they have become trendy making prices increase.

 

I shop at

Winco

Costco (plus by the time you've sampled...you got a meal)

Walmart

 

 

I shop by a list and I use CASH...

I do NOT coupon...it only caused me to buy stuff I wouldn't normally buy...but that is just me...

If something is forgotten, we do without... no quick stops for one thing...because it is never one thing that comes home.

 

And we if we eat out...it comes out of the food budget...it is FOOD no matter who cooks it...

 

Have fun...it can be challenge... try making it a goal type of "game" out of it... it can be really kinda fun to see what you REALLY need and don't need ...

 

It is especially a good time to DO it when you don't have too. It is not so much fun when you HAVE TO...

 

 

 

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Old 03-22-2011, 12:23 PM
 
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That was my first thought. It definitely varies by where you live. A $800/month food budget could be outrageous to one family and incredibly cheap to another family the same size in another city/state. I wonder if there's a budget rule of thumb for food like there is with your mortgage payment (not to exceed 31% of income)... I'm just starting to track my spending with Mint.com, focusing first on Food. I'm going to have my DH do the same. We will then add tracking other spending trends (entertainment, dining out, shopping, housewares, etc). One thing at a time to focus on will work best for us.
 

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Originally Posted by CoBabyMaker View Post

I've found that how far your grocery budget will go varies GREATLY depending on where you live.


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Old 03-22-2011, 12:39 PM
 
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I've done the high grocery budget thing and the low budget and everything in between. We actually got into a fair amount of debt when I was on a traditional foods kick. I wish that I could justify buying all organic/local/fair trade. But it just doesn't work for us right now.  We grow our own organic fruit and veggies and save a lot in the freezer for winter, and we go in and out of having fresh local eggs. I'm hoping to buy a side of beef this year for the freezer.    But the best remedy for our spending has been sales and coupons.   I know, I know.  Coupons get a bad rap. But if you are really smart about it, they work by freeing up money in your budget.   For instance,  in an average trip a week to the store I would spend 160.  This included a pack of diapers (did cloth for a while.....not into it for an older child) a cleaning product a dog food or deoderant or toothpaste...etc...... and some of the same thing every week- chicken, canned tomatoes, canned beans, cereal, bread.....the usuals.

 

Then I started following a blog that did coupon sale matchups for a local food chain and I started noticing a pattern for sales. I was wasting a TON of money by buying the staples weekly instead of monthly. I have stocked my cupboard full of beans, tomatoes, soups, coconut milks, chicken stock, cereals, boxed snacks, coffee, baking goods.....and on and on on coupons+sales.  There are a LOT of printable coupons that are rounded up by these bloggers and they make it so easy to plan for the week, print your coupons and shop.  I buy cheese, meat, produce, milk, organic yogurt and much more on coupons. Not to mention I have a stockpile of toothpaste, deoderant, floss, toothbrushes, pain relievers, razors, dogfood, diapers that was free or practicly free.  So I rarely ever need to make an impulse buy or a toiletry buy with my grocery budget.  I rarely spend more than $100/week on groceries.

 

So anyway, just wanted to give an example of how coupons can be easy and convenient and not just junkfood.

 

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Old 03-22-2011, 12:53 PM
 
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this is a great thread!  I used to spend between $150-200 a week for just two adults and a toddler.  Few tips for what has really gotten me to stay within my $100/week grocery budget:

1. using a cash only system!  I put $100/week in my grocery envelope....and that's all I get to spend.  If I go over, it's coming out of my other spending money for the week, which there isn't much of, so I rarely do that.

2. I menu plan and clip some coupons (but use only the coupons for things I would buy anyway...and I don't buy two of something if I only need one, even though the coupon is for savings when you buy two...). 

3. I put things that I absolutely need in the main part of my grocery basket, and things that are more luxury items (new flavor of tea, chapstick, etc. when I do have some that will work fine at home) go in the top part of the basket.  I ask the cashier to save those until the end and if I've used my $100..I don't buy those things and put them on the list for the following week in case there's room in the budget.

4. we split 1/4 of a local, organic, grass-fed cow every fall and that's mostly the only meat we eat...I rarely buy chicken or other types of meat.

5. we buy a bushel of fresh roasted green chilis in the fall and use them to flavor EVERYTHING!

6. I make my own cleaning products which saves a TON of money on those types of items.

 

I used to think grocery shopping was fun when I spent whatever I felt like...but it's so much more fun now...it's like a game to see how far I can stretch my budget.

 


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Old 03-22-2011, 01:05 PM
 
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I haven't read the whole thread yet, so I don't know if this has been addressed, but regional cost of living is going to come to play in this. I frequently see people here post prices of things and almost wilt with envy (someone here was recently talking about butter going up to $1.20+ a pound, and I almost fainted - the storebrand, non-organic butter that I buy is $3.89/pound for the first on, and $4.39/pound for the second one).

 

Anyway, I don't have a precise budget, but our monthly grocery bill is usually coming in at somewhere around $1,300 right now. That does include some non-grocery items, such as dish soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, etc., but is mostly food. It's been creeping up over the last year or so, with increasing food prices, and my lack of meal planning. I was doing better on the meal planning before I had dd2, but I just haven't got my mental functioning back. This mean I do too much of the go-to-the-store-and-buy-something-that-looks-good thing. I did chicken last night, and spent too much for it, because I had no other ideas.

 

In general, I try to keep down the processed foods, although we do eat a lot of dry cereal (I'm not the biggest fan, but the kids eat breakfast before i get up, and I have no other suggestions right now, and dh is all about cereal), which eats quite a bit of our budget. I also have a soft spot for Kashi bars (like to throw a few in the diaper bag, so I have something for the kids if we're out longer than expected or whatever), which I try to only buy when they're on sale. We also eat a lot of dairy (cheese and yogurt are the big ticket items). I go through a lot of fruits and vegetables, many of which I buy on sale, but I also keep certain items - broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes - on hand, no matter how expensive they may be. We eat a lot of potatoes and onions, but they're cheap! We also eat a lot of raw nuts and dried fruit. The dried fruit is mostly raisins and dates, which are cheap - but the nuts are pricey.

 

This is for a family of six, although the toddler is still breastfeeding a lot. My teenage son is down from his peak consumption years, but we're essentially feeding three adults, two kids and the toddler.

 

 

ETA: We don't have coupons here. I mean...we have coupons, but we don't have coupons like you seem to have in the US. We can't combine store coupons with manufacturer's coupons, and there aren't generally the really huge savings to be had. I do use BOGO coupons, occasionally, but most of them are for things we either don't use, or don't have room to store, so I don't use them that often. At my favourite store, coupons are more often for extra "points" (loyalty card system) than for cash savings. We do like the points, and may be getting a "free" Blu-Ray player with them, but they don't take anything off our shopping bill.

 

I just saw a poster above talking about the rhythm of sales. I have noticed that I almost never pay full price for cheese or coffee. Both pretty consistently go on sale when I'm running low, which saves me anywhere from $4.00-$6.00/pound on coffee.


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Old 03-22-2011, 02:22 PM
 
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For a family of 4 (2 adults, one is a bottomless pit) and 2 children (4 and <1) we used to spend about $400 a month.  That included packaged foods, beer/wine etc.  

I was able to get that budget down a bit by getting my food delivered (I know!)  There is a local business that buys food from local farmers and then delivers it.  including the delivery charge ($3), it's cheaper than buying produce at the store.  Plus it's local and organic.  With that service we just go to the store for the things they don't sell, like milk and cottage cheese.  

Now we probably do about $350.  I should mention that I live in a small city where things are pretty average priced.  I do menu planning when I'm feeling up to it (though i usually don't end up following the plan) and cook ahead quite a bit - i find that if I know i have a lasagna in the freezer then I won't be so quick to order a pizza or go out to eat. 

 

I'm blown away by some other's budgets!  $1500!  wow!!  I suppose when my boys get older our budget will start to look like that... guess i'll have to get a job at a catering service or something where I can take home leftovers!!  

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Old 03-22-2011, 02:31 PM
 
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thank you for asking this question!! I struggle keeping to a $800 /month budget for two adults, a 4 year old and one year old who recently weaned. That includes household items, meat at (almost) each meal and mostly organic. My son can eat his weight in yoghurt and I tried making it at home but wasn't successful...any good tips or recipes for yoghurt? Also, anyone with good farms or coop suggestions for the south denver area?

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Old 03-22-2011, 02:48 PM
 
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We spend $390/month on 2 adults and a nearly-two-year-old.  We could definitely use more money if we had it to spend.  We also have $50 for "entertainment", which we usually spend on eating out.  We use the envelope system (cash only), so that really helps rein in the budget.  We don't really buy organic stuff, and I wish our fresh fruits and veggies could be more varied.  I'd also like to buy better meats.  As it is, we just buy cheap chicken thighs and ground turkey.  I cook nearly every night and our lunches are boring.  :-)


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Old 03-22-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birthuwant View Post

thank you for asking this question!! I struggle keeping to a $800 /month budget for two adults, a 4 year old and one year old who recently weaned. That includes household items, meat at (almost) each meal and mostly organic. My son can eat his weight in yoghurt and I tried making it at home but wasn't successful...any good tips or recipes for yoghurt? Also, anyone with good farms or coop suggestions for the south denver area?


Some people make yogurt in their oven or with a heating pad but I use a yogurt maker!! :)  If you are serious about making it, it makes the process really easy.   I just simmer 4 cups milk (plus a sprinkle of powdered), turn it off, put in the special thermometer till it hits the "add starter" point then I stir in 2T of plain yogurt and ladel it into the cups. Put it in the yogurt maker for 10 hours and have really yummy yogurt!  And its easy for my kids to grab one and help themselves. We add granola and frozen berries, or homemade jam.

 

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Old 03-22-2011, 03:38 PM
 
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Our budget is $100/ week for groceries, including household items like cleaners, shampoo, medicines, toilet paper, diapers... Although I will say lately the actual spending is more like $125-$150.  And I do tend to spend more in the winter because i am working 4 days a week so some convenience foods come into play, like granola bars, frozen dinners/pizza, peeled baby carrots, yogurt, cold cereal (which in turn makes you buy more milk), etc.  

I do try to buy organic where I can, and I can definitely see the worth in buying organic fruits/veggies instead of regular because most of the time it is not that much difference.   I can also get good organic (bulk) eggs for about the same price as the brand I like in the grocery store.  But meat is another story.  The organic/local meat offered in the health food store is wonderful but super expensive for most items.  Chicken is pretty comparable to the organic brand in the regular store but that's about it.  They don't have sales like grocery store chains either, so no chance to stock up.  When we eat meat for 5-6 meals out of 7 it's just not feasible for our budget.

I make my own yogurt in the summers which saves a ton of money. Instead of paying $3.99 for a quart of organic yogurt or a six pack of yogurt cups I buy a half gallon of (non-homogenized, organic) milk for the same price and make yogurt.   I usually only buy the plain yogurt anyway, and add my own fruit or homemade granola.  It tastes better than regular yogurt and less waste, too ;)

Stocking up when there are sales is key - I almost always cook meat out of the freezer and when shopping look for the meat that is on deep sale or in the manager's special bin (this is the meat that is about to expire but if you are going to freeze it that day anyway, what does it matter?).

I also don't buy certain fruits unless they are on sale, for example, berries:  I always buy organic berries and so I wait for them to go on sale because I can't pay $5.99 a pint for blueberries/raspberries/strawberries/blackberries because we can down one of those in about 5 minutes!  Earlier this month they had organic blueberries on sale bogo free for several weeks, yum!

As for farmer's markets, we have wonderful one here but it it generally not cheaper than grocery store prices.  Still I like shopping there when I can because it is fresh and of course, local.  

I do have a garden (about 175 sq ft) in the summer and I grow peas, lettuce/spinach/arugula/kale, broccoli, potatoes, green beans, squash, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes/peppers/eggplant (hopefully I can get my timing right this year and get a good crop of these; our growing season is quite short), and this year I am trying sweet corn.  I also have an herb garden and grow enough thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary to dry and use through the winter as well as some basil for summer.  

Meal planning is something I do weekly based on the meat and staples I have on hand in the house, supplementing at the store w/ fresh and stocking up on staples as they go on sale.  I think this saves me a lot of money on meat, pasta, grains, beans, cereal, and frozen veggies/fruits.  It takes a little while to get used to shopping this way, but is worth it imo.  I don't usually clip coupons but I save them and use them if I need them.  Name brand coupons almost always seem like crap because even after the coupon the store brand is often still cheaper.

I am considering joining a CSA for fruits and veggies this summer and looking for a local, affordable meat source.  We have tons of ranchers in our area, and I am hoping to find someone with reasonable prices.  Of course that means getting a deep freeze... so may not be a possibility right now. But it is becoming more and more important to me to eat locally processed meat and fresh produce so we will see how it goes with our budget.  

 

I forgot to add that we are a family of 3, soon to be 4.  Myself (pregnant), dh, ds (3) and the baby will be here in late June/early July.  

 

For making yogurt, I used this site: http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com/  There are a few threads on mdc about it too.  I think it is important to use non-homogenized milk, but I am not really sure where I read that - I buy the Strauss Family Creamery milk in the glass jug at my hfs because of that reason and because you bring back to jusg and they re-use it (no waste).  I also like to use greek yogurt for my starter.  I don't like tangy yogurt.  I use a cooler with hot tap water jugs to ferment my yogurt and I don't use a double boiler (I continually stir).   A thermometer is really important though.  I finally got a nice candy therm to use because I messed up my instant-therm from the steam.  So hopefully that helps you with the yogurt thing ;) 

 


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