Groceries on a Budget

Our family has been working to get out of debt for a few years now.  I'm happy to say that we've paid off many little debts, including one of the cars, and cut our overall debt in half!  That is a great feeling!  But we've still got a ways to go before we can truly say we are debt free.  Since I don't bring any money in, I've been doing what I can to cut costs at home.

A great way to save money is by eating at home instead of eating out.  In my monthly meal plan (a must!) I included eating out for dinner 3 times this month - and that's generous!  My goal is ONCE a month, but like most things, if I try to do it just once or cold turkey the first time, I'll probably fail.

This month I decided to try buying all of our groceries up front with a budget of $350 for the month. That doesn't include toiletries, dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, or cat litter.  The $350 is only for food items.  I went shopping at Costco and WinCo, our 2 favorite places to go.  I spent $328 (this was the most I have ever spent on groceries, and it was a bit overwhelming and scary!)  I'm hoping that making one trip to the grocery store each month will cut down on impulse buying, and also save gas.  Some of the things I got are as follows:

2 bags frozen chicken
Block of cheese
Bag of avocados
Bag of sweet mandarines
Ritz Crackers
2 bags Organic Baby Carrots
Marinara sauce
Organic Ground Beef
Frozen Hamburger Patties
Parmesan Cheese (in green shakers)
Jasmine white Rice (yes, yes.  We eat WHITE rice.)

WinCo (just a few of the items, there really are too many to list)
Healthy Choice frozen lunches
Cans of soup
Baby Food
Sweet Corn
Pizza Sauce
Tortilla Chips
Rice a Roni
Lara Bars
2 Whole frozen Chickens (for crock pot cooking, so easy!)
Whole Milk yogurt

I actually did buy a small package of generic diapers, which was $5, so technically I only spent $323 on food items.  So, there's a glimpse into the foods I bought.  With them I'll prepare very simple meals, as I am not a chef by any meals.  We'll be eating things like meatloaf, spaghetti, chicken parm, tacos, enchiladas, chicken and rice, breakfast for dinner, chicken soup, BBQ, and the like.

The money that I have left over ($27) is for miscellaneous fruits/veggies that I'll need to buy weekly.  Isaac loves bananas and eats at least one a day, so that's something that I'll need to purchase regularly.  I have SO MUCH LETTUCE growing in my garden (another way to cut costs!), so that's not something I need to purchase (yay!).  I'm looking forward to my tomatoes, zucchinis, and pole beans being ripe, and not having to purchase those for awhile.  Other things we like to eat are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bell peppers, cabbage, brocolli, and onion.  I'm very blessed to live in a place where there are countless "u-pick" fields of berries (waiting till things are in season is another way to cut costs!)  I think I'll take Isaac blueberry picking next week.  He calls them "blue babies."  There are also fruit/veggie stands along the side of the road, where I can get local produce at a decent price.  Again, blessed.

I'm looking forward to see how long all this food will last us.  Will we have enough main courses to make it to the end of the month?  Will we have tons left over?  Will we need to spend more than we thought on fruits/veggies/random things we forgot?  We've had a food budget for quite awhile, but we hardly ever stick to it.

A few other ways we save money:
  • Wash our own cars (have a bucket, soap, sponge, and hose?)
  • Make our own baked goods (flour, sugar, butter anyone?)
  • Buy in bulk (Costco)
  • Consolidate trips to Portland by doing multiple errands in one trip
  • Buy online (Amazon Prime = free shipping!  I know that it costs money up front, but it literally pays for itself in just a few purchases.  This is great for buying detergent, bday presents, books, even almond milk!  Just make sure to shop around and don't over pay.)
  • Swap things with friends!  (need some clothes for your kids, want to use a food processor but can't buy one right now, cloth diapers?  Ask your friends to borrow them instead of buying them.  This has saved me so many times!  I have great friends!)
  • Buy used items! (I can't tell you how many times I've gotten things that were never used or gently used for a fraction of the cost of buying it brand new!  Now, I'm not talking about underwear, but other clothing, books, air conditioners....)
  • Netflix! (I. Love. Netflix.  I use it everyday.  And now there are Disney movies streaming!  Yay!)
How do you stick to your budget?  
What do you do to save money?

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE having garden food. wish it was year around.

    once-a-month shopping can be VERY effective for saving dollars. but you are so right about setting aside money for the produce and impulse shopping.

    I found a really cool blog post on Costco- specifics on what is a great deal and what isn't. http://www.squawkfox.com/2011/04/15/costco/

    I wish we could eat out less. we should work on that.


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