Grocery Budget Reality Check

A second title option for this post is “Why I Am Totally Okay With Our Grocery Budget NOT Being $10.00 Per Person Per Week”.

One of the popular subjects I am seeing many articles and posts about is getting and keeping a grocery budget, and I, personally, think that is a fantastic way of getting spending under control.  When we learn to plan and budget in one area, we can then use that knowledge and success in another area of our spending.

That is all well and good, except that I am finding that a good portion, not all, but a good portion of the posts and articles fall under two categories:  vague, generalized tips and food quality compromise.

As a mom and budget nerd, I am genuinely interested in finding those little nuggets of information that will help me to save money and/or get more for my money.  The generalized tips like:  use coupons, buy 2 for 1 specials, and keep your eyes open for deals, are frustrating.   Really?  That’s it?  I didn’t just take up valuable time reading the article to get “duh!” tips, did I?!

While I understand saving money is important, so is food quality.  Have you ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat”?  That is such a true statement.  Our children aren’t just processing food, that food supplies everything they need to grow.  If they are going to grow up healthy, strong, and with a fantastic immune system, they need REAL food.

I think this, shared by From Couch Potato to Marathon Mom, does a great job of showing the gravity of the consequences of what we eat and drink:

I have no interest in buying processed foods just because they are cheap.  They are cheap in price as well as in quality.  They do not provide the nutrients a body needs to stay healthy and be strong.  I do not want my family ingesting dyes, chemical preservatives, refined sugars, and GMO ingredients, just to name a few. If you can’t read the ingredient label and really get hungry the way you do when looking over a menu at your favorite restaurant, don’t buy it!

It is hard enough to purge the junk out of our diets and find quality foods to purchase without be pressured to purchase processed junk to save a little money. Besides, the doctor bills from being unhealthy cost a lot more than healthy food!

I have had the pleasure of reading a few good posts about real ways of saving money while eating healthy foods, and I have been surprised to find just how well these work at not only saving money, but also being organized.

Menu planning is one that surprised me with not only saving more money than I thought it would, it also helped organize our kitchen and streamline meals.  Bonus!

Canning and preserving our own convenience foods is another one.  One example from my own pantry is refried beans.  I bought dried beans in bulk and canned my own refried beans.  We also buy fruits and vegetables in addition to the ones we grow, and preserve them through dehydrating, canning, and freezing.  Local food co-ops can help greatly reduce the price of foods by buying in bulk.  Simply Canning and Cents to Get Debt Free both have great recipes and instructions for preserving your food.

I want to save money on the ever-increasing cost of groceries, but compromising and feeding my family junk is just not going to cut it.  I am willing to spend a little bit more per person to give my family the blessing of health.  I may not meet the expectations of those who live to cut budgets at all costs, but I’m okay with that.  We, as moms and dads, are responsible for more than the lowest grocery budget out there.  We are also responsible for providing healthy foods and a healthy relationship with foods.

What say you?  Have you read and/or implemented any tips that actually helped keep your family eating healthy and helped your budget at the same time?  What other sites and blogs offer recipes and tips that will save money?  There are many of us who would love to hear it, so please share!

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8 responses to “Grocery Budget Reality Check

  1. The menu plan is what works for us. We’re a family of 7 (now with oldest in college), and our weekly food budget ranges $150-250 depending on what we need to restock. We buy bulk where it makes sense and where it makes “cents” (mostly baking needs). We are no longer members of the big wholesalers because I did not find organic or wholesome foods there. We tend to NOT stock up, except from our garden produce and some years we buy 1/2 a cow butchered for our beef (comes out way better tasting for WAY cheaper). We have a small pantry cupboard, and the only “preserved” things that we always buy are frozen veggies. We have 7 hens that we enjoy eggs and “company” from. During the winter, I bake bread while during the summer I buy sandwich bread. Some of the Italian breads have no sugar and no preservatives. We also make our own pasta. We do buy the organic pasta, too. Right now, I have frozen chickens that I bought at a good price at Aldi’s, a bag of bulk Jasmine rice, preserved zucchini for breads, and preserved tomatoes from the garden in the freezers (in addition to the week’s frozen vegs for the menu plan). I haven’t gotten into the canning, yet, but I might in the future (I’m still in the baby-stage, with 5 kiddos under 10). Our meal planning has equal starch and veg on the plate with the meat being the size of each person’s palm. The morning snack has to include a fruit, and we usually have fruit before dinner. The afternoon snack can be more starch or dairy. I don’t bake sweets that often because we have so many birthdays and celebrations when family visit (we live at least 5 hours away from closest family), that we enjoy plenty of sugar at those times. In the winter, I tend to make more cookies–warms the house and SMELLS good.
    I guess the biggest tip is to make that menu plan 🙂 Oh, and I don’t always stick to it—but I leave it taped on the fridge, and if I “get lost” with what to do for lunch or dinner, I check on it.

  2. I hear you! Before I read up on proper nutrition I could get my grocery budget waaay down low when needed and now I’m just not willing to do that. However though, saving money on REAL food is good! We spend about $200/week for a family of 7. That includes the chook feed for our 8 hens, which means we get REAL free range eggs. I join in on bulk buys with friends to get spelt grain at about $3.50/kg from a farmer instead of $8/kg through health shops. We grow a vegie patch – though not as successful as it could be as in recent years I seem to be pregnant or feeding!! I cook in bulk – doubles, triples and sometimes more, so save on over all cooking time and clean up which also helps to save $$. I buy in bulk with friends from a health food wholesaler for things like coconut oil and celtic sea salt. I stock up on sale items like yoghurt AND am looking at going back to making it myself – have tried it successfully a couple of times. Also, raw milk is bought as part of a co-op, saving us a couple of dollars per bottle vs health shops.
    Meal planning is a given – have been doing this for at least 10 years.
    We have a couple of chest freezers so we can stock up and not shop as often. I usually go over the fridges every 3-4 days to check what needs using up, before it’s gone off.
    Think that’s about it here – works pretty well.

  3. Menu planning is also what helps us save big time! We are a family of 10 and we spend about 250/300 a month. Sometimes a little more when we need to stock up on bulk idems. I didn’t realize how much more I would spend until I started a meal plan. Impalse buying went way down too. I go in with my list for the week and that’s all I get…most of the time 🙂

  4. Wow—$250-300/month for a family of 10!!! That’s really impressive! We live in upstate New York, and I know that our food is much cheaper than my sister’s when she lived in Connecticut. I think that’s something (location), too, that affects budgeting.

  5. The biggest thing that has helped us is joining a CSA. We pay $525 a summer and get 24 weeks of fresh, organic produce. We base our weekly meals on what’s in season. It saves us money on the good produce.
    I have to say that I have a ‘small’ family compared to other commenters There are only 5 of us 😎

  6. Menu planning,(you can’t say enough of that… most wasted funds go towards last minute meals0, buying basics in bulk (simple ingredients), frozen veggies, buying fresh fruits/vegs in season. I love Sam’s Club for meats and things like flour, sugar, etc, sales for produce at my local grocery store, and making my own treats, snacks. We do need to keep our food budget low as we pay off debts… and we have a large family with teen boys. (9 kids, 2 adults… growing boys!)

  7. Thank you for this post! I have noticed the same thing and have found myself feeling frustrated when shopping for our family of 6 (I know, we are a small, large family!) and not being able to drop us down more than $150-$175/week.

    Not to sound like a broken record, but meal planning is truly my saving grace. I map out a loose plan for the week because I like the flexibility of offering options on a given day. My weekly plan and the shoppibg list that results from it is an absolute requisite before I ever grab keys to head to the store!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve had the grocery-bill guilt since we’ve been switching to a healthier lifestyle and diet. I’ve realized that healthy eating is not exactly inexpensive! I’m looking forward to doing more of our own canning to try to cut costs. My husband would love it if I canned some refried beans! Thanks for the tips.

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