Budget Revisited

So even though I tried pretty hard, I failed pretty bad with my food budget this month. I have been asking almost everyone I visit with how much there families spend on food each month. It seems like most people with a family of 4 spend at least $450 as a very minimum. Help me out friends. Please let me know around how much you spend on food each month, and where you buy your groceries.  Gracias! I really do want to spend less, but I am finding it tricky to try and figure out how to cut back and still eat really well.

Amanda - March 29, 2011 - 8:44 pm

I budget $600, but that’s for all household items, prescriptions, etc. And even at that, I’m not sure I stick to it every month. I mostly go to walmart, but also frequent Macey’s…which I realize you don’t have. SAMs club also sucks up a lot of my money…

Leandrea - March 29, 2011 - 8:45 pm

We spend around $75 per week on food. Of course, we live in a different state. We eat lots of produce and very little processed food. Coupons have saved us so much money!

Karli - March 29, 2011 - 9:02 pm

I think I spend about $100 per week. I use only cash, and lump everything together with gas, along with household items as well as any entertainment for the week. So, I get $200 in cash every Wednesday, and buy gas (for 2 cars), and what I have left goes towards groceries, diapers, and anything else. Helps me to do it that way because sometimes I need more than $100, but sometimes I can get away with less and I can kind of plan around the weeks I’m going to need a monster pack of diapers or whatever. Or, if we go out to eat, I have to buy more frugally.

Jasmin - March 29, 2011 - 9:27 pm

Okay now I feel crazy. We spend $300 a week on food. That does include household goods such as toiletries, etc. But it doesn’t include diapers and wipes.

Amanda - March 29, 2011 - 9:58 pm

I haven’t been tracking this year, but last year I entered every single food receipt into a spreadsheet so that I could track what we were spending. When I included our summer CSA box (~$20/wk; Gathering Together Farm), the cost of a quarter cow (local, happy cow!), and alcohol (not much), we spent about $500/wk on food. We eat mostly organic and local as much as we can, so our cost was inflated by shopping at First-Alt and perhaps somewhat by the farmer’s market (although I tend to weight that by lower medical costs we will have in the long run). Our costs now are only inflated by the extra calories that I am eating while nursing, which isn’t much. $500 sounds like a lot, but when I posted about it on Facebook last year, I got a lot of comments from friends in CA that they were spending way more on food that wasn’t as fresh or as good. If you are spending $450 for your family, you are doing really well and not overspending (IMHO). As far as I am concerned, spending money on good quality food is one of the best investments that you can make. ;-) One of my goals for this year was to cook with more basic ingredients and less processed food, which should be cheaper and better for us. My success so far is mixed, but I am having fun and remain optimistic…

kara - March 29, 2011 - 10:42 pm

Wow, I am seriously amazed at how much all of the budgets vary!!
I shop mainly at winco, trader joes, and I have been getting organic produce from Sunbow. Last sumer we were able to eat from our garden a lot. I also have part of a cow in our freezer that my mom gave us, so that is nice. As I have been trying to spend less money, we have been eating way more of our canned peaches, applesauce, and pears from last summer. OH, and I have been going through all of our frozen berries too. Leandrea, I need to learn more about couponing. I never have gotten into it, because it seems like the best deals with couponing are on processed foods, so I would love to learn about your healthier finds. Do all of your budgets include eating out, or is that separate? Amanda, I agree that feeding your family well should be looked at as a long term investment, but I am just trying to scheme the best way to do for as cheap as possible. I am thinking we should do a once a week series on easy/delicious recipes to feed your family on a budget. I am already thinking of meals I make that I know cost very little! I would love for you all to share some recipes with me as well!!

Jasmin - March 30, 2011 - 7:51 am

My budget does include eating out. I do all my shopping at the Coop but I get a 15% discount because I am a support-owner worker and work 2 hours a week there. Otherwise, we would not be able to stay in our budget. This does not include my payments to a CSA which will hopefully bring down the budget (I will probably make it up with tasties at the Farmers Market, like Zia’s burritos and expensive lemonade). Anyway, it is interesting to see what other people make happen. I probably should try harder. I mean I really didn’t need chocolate covered pecans and ice cream ;)

Casey - March 30, 2011 - 9:23 am

The real question is why Jasmin hasn’t accepted me as a facebook friend.

Laurie - March 30, 2011 - 9:23 am

Oh, Kara! Food budgeting has been a long-term goal of mine ever since I got into a fight with my sister. You see, we were college roomates and shared a food budget. On March 27th or so in 200-something we were in the store picking up a few last things we needed. I picked up two gallons of milk and she protested saying we were over-budget. Really? I said, as I muscled the milk into the cart. Milk? You are going to make me put milk back? Yes, she said, wait until April 1st. I proved stronger than she, however, to this day she has a food budget and I have never stuck to one. She has probably saved $10,000′s more than I. What would I do with that money today if I had it? Hmm. So.. I have seen my monthly spending range wildly from ~350 even up to 1200 (only once or twice) depending on the season. Summer is always more expensive as we are eating fresher food, more farmers markets, more canning and more entertaining. Winters are easier with a steady supply of soups, breads, pantry items and fresh oranges/apples for fruit. Now that we are in NYC – ah! Every item at the grocery store costs $5. Every condiment, every bag of whatever. I have not figured it out yet but would REALLY like to stay under $600 (including costco, diapers, etc. but without eating out/entertainment). I am planning on joining a CSA for the summer but am afraid they are much more expensive than in Corvallis – I mean, come on – not everybody in Manhattan can pay those prices. I promise. Really missing this part of Oregon…actually, missing the people first – then the farms and dirt.

Shawnde - March 30, 2011 - 10:42 am

We’re at $700-$800 per month, not including eating out. This probably includes a some household stuff. I shop at Safeway, Market of Choice, Trader Joe’s and the Farmer’s Market. We do eat organic when we can. We also eat a lot of meat. I know I need to cut back on the bill (and the meat) but it’s tough to haggle over food – especially when it’s good food.

Annalise - March 30, 2011 - 1:06 pm

The only way we’ve managed to spend less than $100/week is to focus more on the cheap staples like grains and beans. So if we are doing that, we can do $50/week, but the more fresh produce, the higher it goes. When we eat all raw it’s probably $130/week (4 people)

kara - March 30, 2011 - 3:52 pm

Laurie,
You guys are entertainers, so I guess if that is one of your priorities, then you just have to plan for it! In fact, I really wish that I could make your food budget go up by paying you a visit. I will be interested to hear what a csa in NYC ends up costing! I mean… it seems like most of New York would be farm land… so you must be able to get good produce?? Oh, and did you put the milk back? OH Laurie, we miss you guys so much!
Shawnde,
Do you think that Market of Choice and Safeway are about the same price? It seems like Market of Choice actually has reasonable priced meat behind the counter. Maybe you guys should look into buying part of a cow!!
Annalise,
Where do you shop in Salem? Do you eat the grains/beans from your food storage?

Margaret - March 30, 2011 - 9:49 pm

This is so interesting because I always wonder the same thing. I’ve talked to my friends about this before and we vary so much. I have one friend that spends $850 a month on food and one that is around $200. Anyway, Austin and I get our produce delivered every week through a CSA that runs year-round. So then I usually aim to keep it at $75 a week for everything else. But it is hard because Austin and I have made the decision to spend more on better quality food which means cutting out expenses somewhere else. But I set a yearly goal every year to add something to our diet. Last year it was local produce. This year I’m working on eating only local meet and local dairy. So that will change my budget. We will see how it goes.
Anyway, I”m also curious about your friend that does couponing on healthy food. I always thought couponing was for processed foods mostly, but if I could find a way to do it for good foods, that would be awesome. I don’t know if I could ever do hardcore couponing, but a little I’d be up for.

Kelly Hesselgesser - March 31, 2011 - 11:23 am

You should coupon! I use like 35$ in coupons each time!

kara - March 31, 2011 - 1:20 pm

What are the best websites to find coupons on? I imagine that I would mainly use couponing for cereal, because there usually aren’t coupons for milk and fresh foods are there. Point me in the right direction to get started!

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