Grocery Budget Bust

Edited to add: I share our grocery budget here… and I think it’s pretty low. I’m pleased with how little we spend on groceries and still eat good food. That said, I do NOT excel in all areas of my life. I am a normal person with normal things I don’t do well. There is much more to life than how much you spend on groceries. So if you are looking for motivation or for general tips on grocery budgeting… this kind of blog post was written for you. It’s been fun and motivating for ME to journal about my grocery spending and meal planning. But if you’re happy with your grocery budget and don’t really have energy or time to focus on food stuff… then ignore this post! It’ll be boring, for one, and it’ll make you feel like you’re not doing enough. Goodness knows there are lots of blog posts out there I don’t have time to read… like homeschooling… it’s backburner for me right now. Don’t judge me. There’s only so much of me to go around. I won’t judge you back! :-D

Grocery spending averages per 4 week cycle (there are about 13 4-week cycles per year):
- This includes all groceries except a budget of about $25 per cycle for summer produce (berries, mostly). That does not include any household supplies, which I keep separate. Our family consists of approximately 3.5 adult servings per meal. (2 adults, three small children)-

2005: 209.38 (not exact – this is the year we got married)
2006: 248.05
2007: 242.62 (birth of first child)
2008: 231.58
2009: 197.21 (birth of second child)
2010: 211.90
2011: 187.12 (Bulgaria trip and adoption of third child)
2012 to date: 212.84

Homemade chicken strips...

For the year 2011, my average spending on groceries for each 4 week cycle was $187.12. It helped that we went to Bulgaria for 2 weeks in June… though I don’t know why we spent so little in August of last year… maybe people were bringing us food because we had mono still?

Eater number 1

Anyway, for 2012 I’ve averaged $212 for the first four budget cycles. Not bad. As grocery prices go up and my little munchkins are starting to eat enough to actually make a dent in our grocery bill, it’s gotten harder and harder to keep under my budget. I am usually saving a little bit each month so that I can buy 15+ pounds of meat when it goes on sale. It’s just not happening right now… I’m spending every penny that’s in there. I’m wishing I had some prepared food in the freezer… we’ve eaten all the freezer jam out of there, most of the meat and berries too. I have a baby on the way in 4-5 months and I have a sister and several friends all expecting babies reallllly soon.

Eater number 2

THEREFORE, I’m busting my budget this month. I have a huge grocery list and I’m just going to spend what it takes to get me back on track (my larder full?). After this month, I will be increasing my grocery budget to $230, which is a 15% increase. It will give me some much desired breathing room. I think it will be enough. I sure hope so!!!!

Eater number 3

Am I the only person who looks at how much money we bring in each month… and then look at how much money we were able to save… and wonder, “Where did it go?????” This is coming from me, the person with the spreadsheet that tells me where it goes! But I still don’t know!

Ok, done sharing now. I’ll share my meal list and freezer meal list… and just how much money I spent later. Maybe you’ll find it as interesting as me! :-)

7 Comments

Filed under Everyday Stuff

7 Responses to Grocery Budget Bust

  1. Viviane

    First of all, Jordan looks GREAT! What a handsome fella.

    Craig and I used to shoot for about $1.50 pp per meal, but we always left room for extra expenses like 100% juices, good sales deals, and so on. Now that I have two toddlers, I don’t have as much time to bake and cook from scratch, so our expenses have gone up because we’re buying more bread, for example. We’re also just buying more overall to accommodate the kids’ nutritional needs from avocados at a dollar a piece to put weight on Emilia to organic, grain-fed beef for Rex. I think it’s kind of natural that grocery expenses increase as our families grow and consume more, but I hope that when Rex goes to preschool in the fall, I will be able to do more home-cooking again to curb the rise a little bit.

    Like you, I also hope to do some canning this year again: jams and jellies, pickles, and salsa are on the top of my list. I have a dehydrator now, but never used it. Advice is appreciated.

  2. I love your feedback, Viviane! Yes, I was actually really surprised that our grocery budget has been steady for seven years! (especially since the price of food keeps increasing!) I think it is because I have been getting better and better at meal-planning and effective shopping. Anyway, I am not disappointed that I need to increase my budget, but that doesn’t mean I am going to stop trying to keep the cost down!

    I LOVE my dehydrators. I use them alllllll August/September. They never turn off! :-)
    Favorites to eat: Apples, peaches, strawberries, pears
    Other things that are good: blueberries (a little dry, but ok), root veggies for soup (parsnips, turnips, carrots), raspberries (very pretty dried, but very seedy), etc.

    Any produce you have is worth trying dried. :-) I think the nutritional value is highest when frozen and I’m not sure which is “better” – canning or drying. It’s not really important to me, though, since I only have so much freezer room so therefore everything else MUST be canned or dried if I want to keep it.

  3. The “per meal” price is interesting! If we don’t factor in children, our meal budget is $1.19 per meal.
    If I figure each child counts as half of an adult serving, then we have 3.5 adult servings.. which is just $.68 per meal. At my new budget, I’ll have $.78 per meal.
    Breakfast is our cheapest meal… we spend less than that on breakfast. Which is good – it leaves more for lunch/dinner! :-) Hey, that makes me feel GOOD!

  4. Summer

    Ummm. I think I used to be able to shop for less. But never that less. I don’t buy prepared foods and snacks (minus a huge bag of pretzels for the kids).. and I spend in a week what you spend in a month. Granted, my kids all eat as much if not more than I do. Have you ever heard of Zycon? They do meat sales and have some pretty good sales and quality, though not organic, meats. I didn’t think their summer sales on beef were anything to rave about.. but their chicken sales last winter were. ;)

  5. Yeah… it’s a small food budget, BUT. But our kids are tiny. And if I am doing well on this part of housekeeping… great! Because there are many things I don’t excel at. :-)
    Zaycon can be great! I was debating about their hamburger patties but Safeway has a good beef sale starting Wednesday, so I’ll stock up there instead. ($2.69/lb for 93% lean!) And you don’t have LITTLE kids! I am pretty sure that 10-18 year olds eat approximately their weight each day… especially boys! (breathing a budgetary sigh of relief about having another girl, haha) I have two that eat like birds so far (they eat less than half what we do) and Jordan doesn’t eat much more. :-)

  6. Jenna

    I have a spreadsheet too :) It tells me where EVERY SINGLE PENNY goes. I have to say that I have been inspired by your grocery budget, mine is higher, but I also include toiletries and general household items in mine (toilet paper, cleaning supplies etc).

  7. Viviane

    Yes, $1.50 pp per meal was an average. Our breakfasts were always cheaper since that’s just o-juice and fruit for us. Many lunches were cheaper as well due to being leftovers. We also live 90% vegetarian, so we have very few meat expenses.

    I agree that frozen produce is healthier than dried, but sometimes you just want a raisin on your salad, right? I buy peaches from a local farm in the summer, so will experiment with dehydrating those. I bet this could be a lunch box snack that Rex might eat. He likes prunes.

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