Do you like to peak into other’s grocery budgets? I know I do! Money spending and saving is a topic I enjoy chatting about with my friends -I’m so grateful my friends indulge my wierd ways! I always learn something and come away with an idea or two to try.
Well, it is about to get VERY real here, but before I give you our detailed grocery budget number, I want to preface it with a few points.
What you need to know about our grocery budget number:
- There are 6 people in our home. 2 adults, a 10 year old, a 6 year old (with a very special prescribed ketogenic diet), a 4 year old, and a 2 year old.
- We eat at home 99.9% of the time. Going out to eat (even getting a pizza or going through the drive through) is very rare. We tend to go out to eat once twice a year.
- Our budget includes all of Husband’s meals at work. He does not go out to eat for lunch unless it is a company event and therefore paid by the company (smile!).
- We eat a well rounded whole foods diet but do not eat organic.
- We live in the Midwest where grocery prices are fairly reasonable.
- The number does not include the cost of growing our garden.
- Besides a medium size vegetable patch we have 2 mature and 5 younger fruit trees, a medium size raspberry patch, and an asparagus patch. Even so, our yard produce constitutes only 1/10 of our produce intake.
- Our grocery budget includes lots of hospitality meals to friends and family as well as a good many Christmas, birthday, and other occasion gifts.
Our grocery budget over the years:
I thought instead of just giving you our current grocery budget number, it would be fun to walk you through how that number has changed based on the size of our family, our circumstances, and our eating habits. Besides, it is a good excuse to put lots of cute pictures of my kids in a blog post!
We married in 2006. I have no idea what our grocery budget was then. In fact, we had no grocery budget and did not keep track of expenses (gah!). If I had to estimate, I would say we spent $3,700 per year or $70 per week for the two of us. I pretty much just went to the store and picked up whatever looked good – ha!
We had our first child in 2007 (9 months and a couple weeks following our wedding). Around this time I got serious about budgets, saving, and tracking expenses. I also got into couponing, although, I wasn’t very good at it. I don’t have specific records from this time, but I remember trying to keep our grocery budget under $2,340 per year, or $45 per week for the two of us, plus our baby.
Money got tight for us around this time. Husband was furloughed during the recession and we had just bought our first home – great timing on that one! We expected him to lose his job any day and we preemptively cut expenses as drastically as possible. Because I had more time than money at that point, I kept a very large garden and canned a lot of produce. We ate more healthfully than when I couponed, but continued to spend approx. $4,000 per year, or $50 per week.
We had our 2nd child in 2011. I estimate our grocery budget was under $3,900 per year or $75 per week.
I do have records from this time period on. We had our 3rd child in 2013. The budget this year was $4,500 per year or $86 per week.
2014 – 2016
I spent $4,900 those years, or $94 per week. Our 4th child was born in 2015 and I began buying even more produce than before.
In January, Christian was put on an extreme Ketogenic diet to treat his Epilepsy and now I find myself purchasing things I never imagined. We buy whipping cream 12 quarts at a time, prepackaged meats, and even diet soda. This has obviously upped our grocery bills, but not as much as I had initially expected. Over the last 6 months we’ve averaged $100 per week, $433 per month, or $5,200 for the year.
What the USDA says
Just for kicks, I calculated our suggested family budget using the USDA Food Plan Worksheet. Using the “thrifty” category, our family budget could be $196 per week, $850 per month, or $10,200 per year. Considering we eat a well rounded healthful diet, I guess I’m doing pretty darn good! I think I’ll pocket the difference!
What do we buy with $100 per week?
So does $100 a week sound like a lot or a little to you? Here are things we bring home from the store every time I make a biweekly shopping run.
- Milk (we drink 2.5 gallons a week, and I make 1 gallon into yogurt every other week)
- Cheese, Cottage Cheese, and Butter
- Eggs (I’ve been able to get about half my eggs from my parents’ in the last year)
- Meat (I aim to keep our meat purchases under $2 per pound which usually means ground and roast beef and pork and whole chickens)
- Tilapia (This is the cheapest form of fish I’ve been able to find)
- Wheat and white flours (as well as other healthy baking supplies like chia seeds, flax meal, wheat germ, baking soda/powder, sugar)
- Olive Oil, Canola Oil, and Coconut Oil
- Fruit and vegetables (eating only what is on season and on sale)
- Tortilla chips (with a little salsa, these are Husband’s guilty pleasure)
- Rice and dried beans
- Coffee and tea (I am continually trying to nix my coffee habit!)
How we make our $100 stretch
To get a real glimpse of how we eat, you must not only see the items we purchase, but also those we leave at the store.
Here is a list of things we don’t buy:
- Prepared or packaged meals or snacks (I will occasionally purchase chicken nuggets or frozen pizza during busy seasons)
- Candy/junk food/pop/juice
- Lunch meats (these usually sell for well over my $2/lb. limit on meat)
- Bread (I make our own, but do keep a couple loaves in the freezer for when I am busy)
- Expensive cuts of meat or fancy fish (like I said, I aim for $2/lb. or less)
- Baked goods
- Cereal (there is not a whole lot of nutrition in cereal and it is terribly expensive compared to oatmeal)
There are lots of techniques I employ to get the most out of our $100/week budget, but here are some of my main money saving practices.
1- Set a target price.
I only purchase items when they are a certain price. Like I said before, I almost never pay over $2/lb. on meat.
2-Keep a price book.
I keep a price book so I know how different grocery stores stack up against one another and also so I know that a sale is truly a good stock up price.
3-Shop the ad and stock up!
Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week because I love perusing the newest grocery ads – simple pleasures folks! When an item hits my target price, I plan to stock up. This insures that I rarely have to pay full price.
4-Shop multiple stores.
This does not mean that I hit 3 or more stores every week. In fact, I rarely shop more than 2 stores every other week. I hit a third store every few months.
5-Make your own.
Making your own can save you gads of money over the course of a year. I make our own yogurt (Yearly Savings: over $200), bread (Yearly Savings: $250), cooked beans (Year Savings: $100 versus canned), granola (no idea what I save here, considering I would never cough up the money to purchase store granola), and raspberry leaf tea. This year I started brewing my own Kombucha to cut down on non-nutritive and expensive juice. If you purchase pre-made snacks or meals (pizza, granola bars, breakfast burritos, bean burritos), you can save a whole lot more by switching to homemade. I also can and freeze fruit and veggies from our garden.
6-Use meat as a condiment
We eat a lot of vegetarian meals and meat is never the main course.
7-Use fillers to fill up your crew
Even if we do serve meat as the main course, I always serve a side of bread or potatoes to help fill up the crew.
8-Don’t shop for meals, shop to fill your pantry
This is a huge money saver. I simply do not make meals that require ingredients I don’t already keep on hand. If I do, it is for a birthday or other special event. I make meals based on what I have in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. Sometimes I like to make a list of meal ideas before I hit the store, but I rarely follow it to a tee.
What is your grocery budget and how do you save at the store?
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