Because we are only a family of 4 our budget doesn't look anything like a lot of families. We a lot $255 every two weeks for expenses. Expenses include: Gas for our van and my husband's truck, feed for the chickens, dogs and menagerie of reptiles and groceries, personal items and household supplies. So out of that I spend approximately $50-$60 a week on actual food, roughly $15 a person weekly or $60 a person monthly. While I don't think that's too shabby, some may think I'm spending too much. It all depends on where you are in life as to how you look at things.
We do not eat out except for special occasions and then I scour the net for coupons and special deals. If we are going to be in town running errands we pack a lunch or we come back home to eat. (We live right on the edge of the city so this isn't too hard). My husband packs his lunch every day and sometimes gets to come home to eat.
Okay, now with that budget in mind let me also tell you how we eat. We have meat every day of the week and there is not a whole lot of rice but we do love pasta. We do eat fresh fruit and veggies but only what is in season/on sale. We do not eat prepackaged cookies, ice cream, soda etc. I usually make one dessert item a week, such as a pie or cookies. Soda and ice cream are reserved for dining out on special occasions.
The boys eat what we eat.....or they get awful hungry. Of course I keep in mind if they do have severe aversions to certain foods and I be sure to include an alternative if I can, but this doesn't happen often.
I used to plan a weekly menu around our local grocery ads and coupons. This worked well, but I have found that if I wait for things to go on sale and then buy them in bulk I tend to get a better deal. I then simply base my menu on the stockpile of bought-on-sale items in my freezers and my pantry. This post by Smockity is a good reference on how to grocery shop in your own house.
We only buy things like cheese and some canned goods in bulk. We also find that the produce and meat at places like Sams are both a better deal and often better quality.
I find that the HEB meal deals and sales are often worthwhile and will get most of our other groceries from there.
I hate going into Walmart so I try to avoid it at all costs.
The "day old bread store" is a very frugal place and worth the little extra drive. I usually find wheat bread for .85 cents a loaf so I buy several and freeze them.
The farmers market is a frequent stop in the summer, and this year I plan on freezing some of that great produce so we don't have to rely on non-organic during the winter.
This year we were given a 1/4 of a cow by my parents and intend on purchasing one a year. I believe the beef is still partially corn fed but at least I know where exactly its from and who butchered it.
In a few months we will have some meat chickens to process but until then, if its on sale, we eat it.
I do clip/print coupons and pair them with sales but I have some criteria for this.
- The item has to be a really good sale.
- The item has to be something we will actually eat.
While we avoid most convenience items such as TV dinners, pre-packaged snacks and soft drinks, there are a few things we indulge (or you could say invest) in.
When considering whether or not to purchase a frozen pizza for example, I consider the following:
- What is the cost compared to eating out? Take-out Pizza is outrageous!
- What is the cost compared to making it from scratch? I have made pizza from scratch before, but sometimes we are just looking for a quick meal due to busy schedules.
- Am I willing to sacrifice a little spending money in order to not to have to cook this item from scratch? This is what it all boils down to: Am I willing to sacrifice money for convenience? Often the answer is no, but some days the answer is a definite YES and I go ahead and make the purchase, keeping in mind I have to pull that money from spending because that purchase was not in the grocery budget.
We buy paper towels. There I said it...whew, such a relief!
We are less frugal on certain things like buying paper towels but there is always room for improvement, right?
**Disclaimer**We do use reusable rags etc for most chores the paper towels are more for "emergencies".
Other things I have not been so frugal on:
-Bottled Green tea- its the only thing my husband asks for.....ever. So we buy it in bulk for his lunches.
-Disposable Diapers- I went back to cloth and then my parents gave us 2 cases of diapers. So I guess technically we are still being frugal.
- Buying bread- although I am getting it cheap, I know that homemade is better and cheaper still. I used to make my own, but right now with a toddler and a baby, its one of those sacrifices I'm willing to make. = )
- 6 oz of chocolates for $10!!!!!!- well, this was because I felt sorry for the 2 little boys that came to sell goodies for their school fundraiser. But being that expensive I'm enjoying them even more....hehe.
Things I want to try in the future:
-Home-made granola instead of cereal
-making my own baby food
Do ya'll have any ideas? How do you keep the budget trim and slim every month?
I would love to hear suggestions and like to answer questions!