Sunday, January 10, 2010

Making it work

I'm always curious to know how much people budget for groceries each month. And that question is usually followed up with:

How many people are you feeding?
Does it include food for pets?
Does it include non-food items like cleaning supplies, paper products, etc...?
Does it include eating out (is it an "all food" budget, or just groceries)?
Which is usually followed up with how often do you eat out (so how much do you cook)?
And if your budget is considerably different from ours, are you cooking from scratch?

Our budget for a family of 5 is $400/mo. I think that is pretty tight. We have no pets, but it does include non-food essentials like cleaning supplies, paper products, lotion, etc... I cook from scratch as much as possible. We don't use this budget for eating out. Unless we are being very, very naughty. Then guess what, we go over in our food budget...Duh! And our goal is to never eat out, which of course is unrealistic. I heart eating out.

This week I found myself having over spent last week, leaving me very little for this week. Ack! I knew I had some freezer meals and a well stocked pantry/freezer, so I thought I'd see just how little I could make it on. And this is how I made it work.

Sunday (today)
breakfast: cold cereal
lunch: leftover chicken noodle soup
dinner: Pumpkin Pancakes (Sam is squaking for them as I type), sausage links, oranges

breakfast: toaster waffles, yogurt
lunch: pb&j
dinner: Mongolian Style Beef, rice, green beans

breakfast: cold cereal
lunch: mac and cheese
dinner: Date night (using a gift card), but kids and grandma are having chili (from the freezer) and cornbread muffins that I'll make that day

breakfast: Pumpkin Pancakes
lunch: at Great Grandma's (she's cooking)
dinner: PW's Ranch Style Chicken, scalloped corn, peas
I'm also delivering a meal to a friend in need but this time it will be take-&-bake pizzas out of our gift fund which is kind-of-sort-of-almost cheating.

breakfast: fried eggs on toast
lunch: Chicken Tortilla Soup (from the freezer, my first time freezing it, hope it's still edible)
dinner: General Tso's Chicken

breakfast: cold cereal
lunch: pb&j
dinner: Chicken Bundles, corn

Here's my grocery list for the week

Cub Foods
$1 block of cream cheese (chicken bundles)
Buttermilk (1/2 C for cornbread)
$1 bag of baby carrots (snacking)
$1 celery (don't need it this week, but we are out and it's on sale)
$1 half gallon of whole milk (for Sam)
I have $3.50 worth of "same as cash" coupons for this store that I earned last week, and enough change to cover the rest.

Jerry's Supermarket (I try not to buy anything but the loss leaders here, as they are super expensive)
$1.59 gallon of 1% milk

So, about $3.50 out of pocket for the week. Not bad!

I'm going to have to start my shopping for the next week a little early, like before lunch on Saturday early.

Sorry to bore you with a grocery shopping post, but I just thought it was neat to be able to feed us for a week out of our pantry/freezer and a teeny-tiny shopping list. And this barely makes a dent in my stockpile though I am using some convenience foods that I don't usually (toaster waffles, mac & cheese). And I usually cook from scratch, the same as we are having, when I bring someone a meal.

Feel free to leave a comment about your grocery budget. I'd love to know. ;)


jennifer said...

Oh my gosh!! I am not alone!!
I feed my family of 6 on $125.00 a week--- I shouldn't even say try because we come up short every week!! I am very interested to see what other families spend and how they make their budgets work. I try to cook from scratch too--- 1 of my 4 kiddos is a vegetarian and I find that I have to cook 2 different meals for dinner most nights!! Our grocery budget includes the same as yours-- we don't have any pets and we don't include eating out in our budget either. The recipes that you posted look great I can't wait to try them!!


Jessica said...

I think you did great with the week's planning and only $3.50 out of pocket!!!

I'm very into menu planning/budgeting at the moment so I'm loving this post by the way :)

Here's ours:
Monthly budget of $400 but we often go $450-$500 (family of 4). Arrrgh! We have a dog, but his food does not come out of this budget. It does include non-food items (baby and cleaning). We eat out once a week (separate budget), although lately it's been a "pick up and bring home" which saves a bit, I think. Breakfast is a combination of pre-packaged (oatmeal, cereal, waffles) and from scratch (eggs, pancakes). Lunch is light & easy (PBJ, soup & sand., dinner leftovers) and Dinner from scratch 5 days/week (gotta use all those cute aprons!), the other two "kitchen is closed" unless hubby wants to cook (which he likes to do) HE, HE, HE.

P.S. LOL at the "kind-of sort-of almost cheating" ;)

Jessica said...

Oh, and I forgot to add that last week was one of those "let's see how much I can make with what's in the pantry" weeks for us. I'm always super excited at the end of the week if we've made it! Yea, I'm a geek like that :)

And I've been going on two major shopping trips/month and then just picking up milk and what not as needed, but I'm thinking weekly may make it easier to stick to budget. Does going weekly help you?

shoppin4sophia said...

I have a family of 3. My husband works from home, so our grocery budget has to include his lunches. We budget $75/week for groceries, $300 every other month for Costco, and $100/month for Target. My husband is a REALLY good cook (please don't hate me), so I know our budget is higher just because he cooks with quality ingredients. We eat out on Saturday afternoons only - and only some place where we have a coupon - this was our 2009 resolution. I know this number is really high compared to everyone else, but it is really expensive to eat healthy. Have you seen the price of salmon? We eat fish 2x/week.

Angel said...

Jennifer, isn't it great to know we aren't the only ones? :)

Jessica, wow, our budgets seem identical! I find I'm only able to stay at $400 when I shop with cash. That really makes me keep track as I shop.

Shoppin4Sohpia, that does seem high, but I can tell you that salmon is never on my list. We eat mostly chicken and hamburger, pork chops and roast when they are BOGO. Oh and my hubby takes leftovers to work, forgot to mention that. I can't imagine paying $100-$150/month on just lunch for him to eat out. Plus, it wouldn't seem fair since I wish I could be doing that too. He does get to eat out occassionally, but generally he gets the leftovers for lunch the next day. Oh how I love a man that will eat leftovers!

Thanks to everyone for commenting! I really enjoyed reading this. You too Kim! I'm gonna have to sit at your computer and see why it won't let you leave comments. :(

Colleen/And Baby Makes Five said...

We are also a family of five and our budget is roughly the same as yours, with the same types of things included.

I cook from scratch pretty much every night and I try to have meals tucked away in the freezer to make dinner prep easier from time to time. For example, when I make stuffed shells, one recipe yields enough to have a pan for the oven and a pan for the freezer. I love that! I also love my crock pot. Big time.

My budget bargain for this week was a $4 five pound whole chicken. We had roasted chicken last night and then I threw the carcass in my crock pot with some onion, celery, broth, water, etc. I let it boil away for a few hours and picked it after everything cooled down. There was enough meat/stock for my Chicken Noodle Soup tonight and a pot pie next week. So many meals for an initial $4 investment. Gotta love that too.

I also save even the tiniest amounts of meat/chicken leftovers. They make for great nacho or homemade pizza toppings.

And on and on... We like to eat well, but I hate overspending. You did great with $3.50 this week, BTW!


I'm always happy to find someone else who likes to share recipes too! I found you via The Vintage Pearl...

Angel said...

Hi Colleen, thanks for stopping in! And thanks for letting me know how you found me. The Vintage Pearl is one of my favorites, for sure.

I love to make my own chicken stock too and my kids love my homemade chicken noodle soup. Great to throw in veggies they won't normally eat too. Awesom job with your $4 whole chicken! I've been buying frozen whole chickens at Aldi for $3 something, but they must be a lot smaller because I usually only get enough to make just one recipe from it.

Aren't freezer meals great? Usually a 9x13 pan of anything is too much for us so I split them into 2 8x8's and freeze one for later. What a time saver!

Kacey said...

I told my husband that we would start a budget this year and we haven't sat down to do it yet! We've got 2 birthday parties to get through this month, so February looks promising!

We probably spend about $115/wk for 4 of us, which includes household items, but not eating out. Target is not included in this either!! We eat out 2-3 times a week, usually Fri-Sunday as I refuse to cook on the weekend! I usually eat out once a week with my girlfriends too. DH brings a sandwich from home to work except on Fridays.

Once we sit down and do the budget, I'm sure there will be lots to trim out! Maybe that's why I'm procrastinating...LOL

trudibeth77 said...

Hi Angel! I haven't visited your blog in a while, but I was just telling my friend about your gorgeous designs- and had directed her to your blog. I just saw this post and I thought it was interesting because we are in the process of a new "budget" for groceries (whereas we had no formal "budget" before).

We have a family of 4, and my absolute max is $500/ month. Like you, that includes all toiletries (and diapers-- yikes!) I've decided that we will take it all out in cash at the beginning of the month and only use that. Actually, I am hoping we can feed our family for $80/ week or less. I have really gotten into couponing over the last year and that has helped BIG time. In fact, I come home with more groceries than when I was spending $100- $150/ week and we can "stockpile". My rule of thumb is to ONLY buy things that are on sale (unless it's produce we need for a recipe) and buy even when I don't need as long as they will keep. For instance- our whole chickens were also on sale a couple of weeks ago- $.69/ lb. We bought like 10 of them and stuck them in the freezer! My husband is also a cook- he cooks most nights and I take the leftovers to work in my lunch (he also eats leftovers). My kids are in preschool- sometimes they'll eat leftovers, but I usually make up a ton of the homemade "Uncrustables" for my son (4 years) and freeze them. He loves them and they are super cheap to make- plus you can control the type of peanut butter/ jelly/ bread to make them healthier. My baby girl (21 mos) is pickier at lunch time and really loves the Gerber Graduates meals/ Beech Nut Let's Grow. So I try to grab them on sale.

Here's an example of my trip from last night (ok- it's probably my best work yet-- LOL-- I'm getting better at couponing!):

22 Beech Nut Let's Grow cans ($1 ea)
10 Healthy Choice Frozen Dinners ($2 ea- like to keep these on hand)
5 Chobani Greek Yogurts
2 packs Fisher Trail Mix

Total (before coupons)- $49
Total (after coupons)- $1.99

I am much more conscious of what's on sale (and even better- FREE after coupons). So I just stock way up when I can. I think we can pretty easily get our bill down to $80/ week or less. Getting the pantry items for cheap leaves so much more for meat/ veggies/ etc.

Just thought I'd share- I can't believe how much you can save with coupons!! I've just recently discovered some awesome blog sites that match up coupons to sale ads and WOW- it has been wonderful!!!!


trudibeth77 said...

Oops-- forgot to add that we try not to eat out. Occasionally we are "naughty" but not very often. Anyway- any eating out, grabbing an ice cream out, going to the movies, etc-- ALL of that has to be included in my budget of $500/ month. End of story. Only things not incl. are of course mortgage, utilities, gas, etc. But any "things that pop up during the month"/ recreation/ etc fall into the budget... and my kids "pizza Friday" at school comes out of that $500. We do NOT have pets, thank goodness!

Angel said...

Kacey, I'm with you on the not wanting to cook on the week-ends. For a while we used to eat out after church every Sunday. I'd love to get back to that some day. Thanks for sharing your info, this has been fun!

Trudy, hard to believe little J is almost 2! Our budget includes diapers too which is why I've switched to Target brand. I bet we've been following some of the same "couponing" blogs too (hip to save, etc...). I did the coupon thing for quite a while, but got completely burned out and found myself buying things we didn't need. I still look for sales to go with my coupons, but I'm not printing them from a ton anymore like I used to(wasted a lot of ink). We have a store that doubles coupons on Wed, but it's so hard to get there on the right day. I'll be shopping at Aldi a lot. Are you able to shop at just one store to get all the deals you find? I can't stand the running around.

trudibeth77 said...

YEP-- that's it! Hip2save, among others! LOL Love it! I quit printing coupons until I absolutely need them, also-- unless I think they'll be in high demand and go away quickly (AND are a product we actually use!). I get several papers per week and just leave the inserts intact since most of the sites match them based on the date of the insert. Like you, Angel, I was WAY overly enthusiastic when I first started and found myself buying things I wouldn't use. And my coupons were OUT OF CONTROL! I couldn't get caught up. So now I only print/ clip as I need. I shop at Walgreens and CVS... and Publix for groceries. It does require frequent trips, but Wags and CVS are each about 3 minutes from my house. My husband also does a little grocery shopping at Sweetbay and Sav-A-Lot, for the things we don't get at Publix. (we only get the sale items at Publix) So - yes- it does require more running around, but we are definitely saving lots of money now and have a good stock pile going. However, unlike some people on the blog sites/ forums... I consider a "good" stock pile 2-6 months. Another deal has usually come around by then. Some people stock pile 12 mos+- yikes! I don't have the room for that! I also keep my father-in-law stocked up with "freebies" I come across. But other than that, I try to be much more prudent these days and NOT buy things I don't need! My "over" stock pile DID come in handy at Christmas, though-- my co-workers and friends all got gift baskets made of my "freebies" like body wash/ lotion/ chapstick/ Glade candles/ etc. :-)

Oh yeah-- I also found a great forum- (you may be on there, too). The nice thing about it is you can "trade" coupons that you won't use for more coupons that you WILL use. I'm loving that!