So I have had it on my mind to blog about our food budget for a while but it took me a while to actually get around to doing it. Every now and then it comes up that we only budget $300 per month for groceries. I always get people saying, “man it would be nice if we could do that” or “how in the world do you do that??”. So I thought I would share how we do it.
- we drink organic milk & eat organic yogurt
- we buy off the dirty dozen list for organic produce
- we don’t eat most processed foods (meaning we don’t live on mac and cheese!)
- we do our best to eat clean/healthy meals
- our budget includes cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes and all toiletries. But I do cloth diaper my son about 80% of the time.
- Meal Planning – I feel like this is the only way to stick to a budget. When you wing it you end up spending more money! I generally meal plan 1-2 weeks at a time and buy the food we need accordingly. If I can make meals that will also create left overs it eliminates the need to buy as many lunch supplies. I generally plan 5 meals a week which leaves one night for left overs and we have dinner at my in-laws on most Sundays.
- Plan your meals around what you have, what is in season and what is on sale. When I’m planning I always check my cupboards and see what I have on hand. For example if I have a couple of cans of beans and diced tomatoes then I will generally plan to do taco soup or chili because I already have most of the ingredients. We also try to buy what is in season for fruits and veggies. I love fruit but if it’s too expensive we just don’t eat it. Most of the winter we have been eating apples, bananas, and pears. I would LOVE to buy the $5 package of strawberries but it just doesn’t fit our budget. I try to shop the sales. I always try to price compare as I’m shopping and try to find the best price for what I need. Ask around you may find out some useful information. My sister-in-law found out that Fred Meyer marks down their organic dairy section on Fridays. If i can work it into my schedule I stop by Friday mornings to see if I can score organic milk for 50% off!
- Don’t buy junk food!! Ok so this is hard for a lot of people but seriously we don’t buy junk food. My husband will attest to that. We don’t buy chips, ice cream, granola bars, soda or other processed foods. At times it sucks but I’m sure it keeps up healthier!!
- Make things from scratch – I make my own bread 2-3 times a week. I got a used bread machine for $20 and from what I’ve read online it costs about $0.50 to make a loaf of bread machine bread. I buy my yeast at Costco it’s SUPER CHEAP!! You can get a 32oz package of yeast at Costco for less than the small jar costs at the store. I recently started making my own Honey Nut Granola! It’s so delicious and super easy! I make waffles for dinner about once every 10 days. I make a double batch and freeze the left overs for my kids breakfasts. Here is my favorite waffle recipe 🙂
- Don’t buy everything at Costco – I think sometimes people think it’s just easier to shop at Costco but it’s not always cost-effective. We buy very specific things there – peanut butter, TP, dishwasher soap, coffee, cheese, eggs, frozen chicken tenders, half and half applesauce and some baking supplies. I make my list and I STICK TO IT!!
- Be committed to your budget – This is our reality…we can’t afford more than $300 per month so I have figured out how to make it work. And let me tell you we never starve. We eat well…yes my husband misses having ice cream around or having Doritos with is lunch but he has never gone hungry! We buy the necessities and I try really hard not to buy things because they just look yummy!
In an effort to be completely honest there are a couple of exceptions to our $300 per month budget. First of all we usually buy 1/4 or 1/8 of a cow once a year. This is money we don’t factor into our budget. We usually use money from my husbands bonus or from our tax return to pay for this. If we don’t have the cash we don’t buy the beef.
Additionally if my husband gets a nice commission or some sort of extra money there is times I go stock up on a few things at Costco. By stock up I mean maybe spend an extra $100 not $500!!
Basically what it boils down to is setting a goal and deciding you are going to stick to it no matter what it takes. For me as the stay at home mom I feel like it’s part of my job to use our money wisely. I do my best to stick to our budget and by making that a priority I’m honoring my husband’s hard work. There are times that things happen and we end up spending more but it is possible to live on a tight budget…you just have to be a little creative!