Friday, December 26, 2008

Help me rescue my budget?

I'm on the lookout for ideas to help cut our grocery budget. Currently we're averaging $90 a week on groceries. This includes things like toilet paper, but not diapers. About $11 of that is spent on milk - we go through close to four gallons each week.

I buy only produce that is on sale and try to pair coupons with sales for other items (The Grocery Game helps me with this.) I buy meat when it is on a REALLY good sale or else I just don't buy it. We eat a lot of non-meat and low-meat meals.

Maybe I'm being unrealistic and it really just costs this much to feed our family, but it seems like an awful lot of money to spend each week! So I'm looking for comments - ideas for ways to feed my family healthy meals (not just boxed mac and cheese!) without breaking the bank quite so badly.

Ready, think, type! :)


Rachel M. said...

Angel Food! I've been so happy with them.

$90/week for your family sounds very reasonable to me, if perhaps a little low. That's about what we spend, and we go to three different stores to do it, (i.e. it's not easy) and there are more in your household than in ours.

Amie said...

Hey Em-
Our budget is $60/week which inlcudes diapers and toiletries, dog food etc... for our family of four. It is very hard but we do it (and no processed food :-). Stockpiling helps a ton. The solution for us has been freezer meals. I cook double what we will eat and freeze half, I only cook 3 days a week and it we have home-made food 5 days a week. It cut out $20/week in our grocery bill. We also buy alot in bulk sections not pre-bagged and of course coupons coupons coupons !!!


Katie Jones said...

Produce from the 99c store and Azure farms is my winning combo

Amber said...

$90 a week doesn't sound too bad, really. The grocery budget always seems like an easy target, but it is really important to spend what it takes to get good and healthy food for your family.

I'm spending about that to feed 2 kids and 3-4 adults (although I don't buy all the breakfast and lunch stuff for G & S - they like more processed food than I'm willing to buy). I buy beans and grains in bulk, make all my own bread, and we don't drink milk (one advantage of lactose intolerance, I guess - they kids drink soymilk and almond milk, but in nowhere near that quantity. We do go through a lot of cheese and yogurt though)

I buy almost no processed foods - maybe a bag of chips a month, canned tomatoes, tortillas and jarred pasta sauce. That's about it. BTW, this does include TP and other paper products, but not diapers.

BTW, I don't know if you've ever seen the USDA guidelines for what it costs to feed a family, but you'd be surprised at what they say. Here's a link to the most recent PDF.

Erin Dennis said...

Hi Emily! has a lot of helpful budget ideas, as well as coupons specifically for mommies.

Also, has great low meat/meat free recipe ideas, as well as lots of frugal menu plans. Bulk buying is very helpful.

Becks said...

$90 a week for a family of 5 sounds pretty amazing to me! Have you considered using the WIC program to offset food costs? There's also food stamps (they're not actually stamps anymore, it's a debit card). It might feel embarrassing to use them, but we were on them when I was a kid and it's better than being hungry. Seeing as you are a single-income family with three kids living in one the most expensive places in the world, you might qualify! The only reason I say that is, you probably COULD eat cheaper, but it would be very difficult to do so and still feed your family nutritious meals.

When I was growing up and we had a lot of mouths to feed, my mom bought a 100 lb bags of rice and we ate "stuff-on-rice" for years. Every night we had some new topping - usually frozen or seasonal vegetables and chicken. My mom made one or two chicken breasts stretch to feed six of us. It's a good way to eat because it's filling (a good mix of proteins, carbs, and fat), but also nutritious (whole grains, lean protein, lots of veggies). I still eat "stuff-on-rice" to this day - it's one of my favorite easy, nutritious meals.

Ma Torg said...

For a family of 5, I believe the WIC cutoff in CA is 55,000. It might be a bit higher (they raise it a bit every year).

We used dried beans all the time. With some spices, canned tomatoes stocked up in the cupboard and bouillon, you can make a zillion combinations out of beans. White beans, rosemary and chopped tomatoes. Lentils made into Dal. Pinto or kidneys made into chili. To make dried beans easier, you can make huge batches in a day and then freeze them. It's just like having canned beans!

I fed our family on 5 on about $40-50 a week. Of course, we had WIC, which makes a HUGE difference. Without it, I spent about $75 a week, but we ate less cheese and stuff.

I also make our own bread wiht ARtisan Bread in 5 mInutes a day. Easy, and makes any light meal heftier.

Good luck.

Alyssa @ KeepingTheKingdomFirst said...

I think $90 a week is fantastic for a family of your size. Once you really build up your stockpile, you will see it go down. Remember that grocery prices vary a lot by area, so if you see that some bloggers budget less for groceries, they likely have lower prices.

Thankfully, the lower cost of fuel is helping to offset some of the rising grocery prices! Let's hope it lasts!

Amber said...

You know, sometimes I think I should just wait for Ma Torg to comment and then just say "ditto" :-) We eat a lot of beans here too, and I buy them in 25 lb bags, cook a lot at a time, and freeze them so they are easier to use. Marilyn Moll had a good thread awhile back with a lot of good (largely bean) recipes -

I was also thinking about the milk - that's a lot of milk! Susan and I were talking about it and she said that even when her boys were all at home and teens/pre-teens they were only drinking 3 gallons a week (and that's with Gary drinking it too). I was looking up some information and I was seeing that young kids only need 2 cups of dairy a day - and this includes cheese, yogurt, etc. Is it mostly the kids who drink it, or do you and Gabe drink a lot of it too? But then again, for the calories it provides it probably is a pretty good deal.

Becks said...

I thought you might like this article: