Saturday, February 23, 2013

Grocery budget

I feel like doing a post on our grocery budget.  Since we have a budget that I HAVE to stick to, it has become fun for me to try to make our money go as far as possible when it comes to groceries.  I feel like we have a pretty good amount to spend on food.  At least, it is more than we have had for a while so I am happy.  Our budget for 8 of us is $150 per week.   That is only food.  I have a separate budget for cleaning supplies/paper goods (about $10 per week).  Since we don't have to buy diapers (ever) again, this is a fair amount.  We have another $10 per week alloted to personal hygiene items.  This is a stretch, as we have 5 women in the house.

Anyhoo, back to talking about food.  I prepare breakfast, provide lunches for everyone (except for the occassional school lunch but that is rare), snacks and dinners for the 8 of us, and we frequently have company over for dinner.  Well, I would say maybe once a week or like 3 times a month.  If we want to go out to eat, that also comes out of the food budget (except for dates which has it's own budget).  So, we don't go out to eat as a family much. 
Here is the dinner menu I planned for this week:
Tuna casserole
Hamburgers (my mom's birthday dinner)
Roast chicken
Roasted vegetable burritos
Rosemary chicken and potatoes

I just listed the main dishes, but we also always have a 1-2 vegetables and some other side.  Usually rice, potatoes or bread of some kind. 
For breakfasts this week we have had pancakes (my favorite recipe here), french toast, toast and boiled eggs, and cereal.  I get free bread from a friend who gets Alpine Valley Bread day old, so that saves a lot of money for us because it takes about a loaf just to give everyone a sandwich for lunch!  And that bread is so yummy! 

Here is how I stick to my budget:  There are a couple of different ways.  My biggest money saver is ad-matching at Walmart.  My friend does an email with the best grocery deals from the ads every Wednesday and I use that to price match.  I save SO MUCH doing this.

I don't generally use coupons, because I just don't have the time to do it.  I went through a phase where I used a couponing program, and got 6 Sunday papers and all that.  But I don't like doing it.  It takes too much of my brain power, it was for a lot of foods that I don't want to use (packaged and processed stuff) and I felt like it was always a mess with newspapers everywhere.  I prefer shopping the ads instead.  I know some people love coupons and that is great.  It's just not for me.
Another thing that saves money for me is to get most of my produce at the Ranch Market.  Most things are way cheaper there, but I don't make it there every week so the rest I just ad match and do what I can at Walmart.  I will occassionally swing into Sprouts for produce if they have a good sale going on something that Walmart doesn't carry. 

Having a menu plan and shopping list are key to keeping to the budget.  On the weeks I don't do this I feel so out of control, and a good dinner rarely happens on time.  I plan out a week at a time and look over the ads before making my meal plan.  That way I can use mostly sale items in my menu.

I have a few "food rules" that make my food bill a bit higher, but we just deal with it.  One thing is that I don't use sugar.  The only time I use sugar is to make sugar scrub for pedicures.  I use honey, real maple syrup, and sometimes agave and stevia as sweeteners.  And sometimes coconut sugar or Sucanat if I can get it.  We get enough (way too much, actually) sugar in other things, so I feel better when I don't cook and bake with it.  I buy honey and syrup at Sam's and/or Costco.

So, that's how we use our budget for groceries.  Any good tips you have to share?  I would love to hear!  How does this compare to your budget?  Do you plan your menus?  Inquiry minds want to know. :)

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