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Monthly Grocery Budget.

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by donrae, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm starting this thread to have a place to track how much I spend on groceries/food each month. I figure I'm on byc more than anyplace else, so why not here?

    Two years ago, before I was diagnosed with leukemia, I was pretty tight with our grocery budget. Not tight as in beans and rice, tight as in I knew exactly how much I had to spend and how far it would go for us. I was at $600 a month for our family of 4. Well, getting diagnosed threw everything off. Big change in income, not being home, being home but not able to cook, not being able to shop...lots of changes. I quit worrying about how much we were spending and just concentrated on getting everyone fed. Sometimes that was more convenience foods, sometimes it was relying heavily on preps I had in place before I got diagnosed. Our food preps took it hard the last two years, but that's what they were for! I'm just calling it rotation, and working on re-stocking.

    With my Honey getting his LPN and new job, we need to get back on track with our budget. That means I need to know how much we spend on groceries each month. Our boys are older now, and eat more. We've also added another teenage boy to our family. We tend to eat low carb, so that raises prices some as we don't do lots of pasta, rice, etc.


    We're starting with a lot of pork in the freezer, actually three well stocked freezers with a lot of meat. That's pretty usual for us, and I still buy meat but have the luxury of buying it on sale only. I'd love to purchase half a beef, but we don't have the freezer space until we eat some of the pork down, so that won't effect December's total. We also have a decently stocked pantry, but as I stated above I'm gradually re-stocking a good several month's supply of food. I wasn't able to garden this past year, so home canned goods are scanty. I have a small cold frame going with some lettuce, parsley and Swiss chard.

    I'm just going to use this thread to track my grocery spending for the month of December. . Feel free to join along! I'm not trying to get my bill lower (yet), I'm going to make an effort to spend just as I normally do. If you want to challenge yourself to meet a specific amount, or reduce your current amount, that would be great. If you're like me and have no idea how much goes out on groceries, feel free to track your own spending.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Hey friend. Good read. I hope all goes well with your diagnosis.

    My wife buys the groceries and has a very good handle on how much we spend. Occasionally though, I'll shop too and that cost isn't in her total. She likes simple so she stops at one of 2 grocery chains on her way home from work.
    We have a produce market fairly close to those stores that is much cheaper but she won't drive the 3 blocks out of her way to go there. [​IMG] That's just how she is but that's another story.
    When I shop, usually it is to go into the city to a huge ethnic grocer called Seafood City which is mostly Asian and Latino foods. The meat, fish and produce is much cheaper there as well as having packaged goods not available at the chain stores. We also have several farmer's markets scattered around the area. The biggest one, Soulard Market is near downtown and has been continuously operating since 1776. It is the only one open year round.
    http://www.soulardmarket.com/
    There's a great video of the market on the home page.
    You can really save a lot of money there but it is a half hour drive from the house.
    Next to Seafood City is another awesome fresh fish market that supplies many of the area restaurants. They opened about 40 years ago to fill a niche that had been missing. Bob of Bob's Seafood made weekly trips the the Gulf and brought fresh fish back in a refrigerated truck. Eventually the trips stopped and now fresh seafood is flown in every morning from all over the world.
    I go there when I want something special or sushi grade fish for making ceviche, sashimi or sushi. All the other ingredients for those dishes are inexpensive at the Seafood City market.

    As for meat, I suggest you try to place a value on the meat as you pull it out of the freezer and even the canned goods as they're consumed so they get added to your budget as though you had to buy them. That way adding to your grocery bill you'll have a true value of what is consumed.
    We have 2 refrigerators and 2 freezers. One refrigerator is on the back porch and is mostly used for drinks like cases of bottled water and the rest is either poultry supplies (meds/probiotics/dried whole milk) or meat dry aging or chickens resting. The upright is full but the chest is empty.
    We have a farm up the road that sells whole, sides or quarters of organic grass fed/finished beef. I hope to get a half in the next few months and make use of the chest freezer. You have to place an order about 4 months ahead.
    I provide all the eggs since I pay for all the poultry feed. And we use a lot of eggs.

    I posted so I can follow the thread.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    When I'm home in the UK i go to certain shops first thing on Monday mornings as they always have half price meat / fish. In doing so i can 3 chickens in the UK for the price of 1 here in Nairobi (and the ones here are factory intensively reared so you can imagine the "quality". I don't generally eat my own birds as their eggs are more important to me. I also dabble with using soya "mince" instead of beef mince in things such as chilli and ragu as its cheaper and sits in the pantry almost indefinitely.

    It will be interesting to see how this thread goes.
     
  4. N F C

    N F C Home in WY Premium Member

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    Hi everyone! I think we keep our grocery shopping pretty low already but I could always use some more ideas on how to cut that bill back even more.

    One thing we don't do is eat out but fix everything here at home. DH travels a lot with his job and will sometimes pick up something but even that's rare. Since I'm home all the time, I have time do bake and make about 95% of all our bread items plus deserts (gotta have those!). I've figured the cost of producing a loaf of great bread at less than a dollar. Our homemade pizzas with all the toppings cost around $5. We buy what we can on sale, we're lucky to have a chain grocery store somewhat close by that does buy one-get one free specials every week and that helps.

    Last year's garden wasn't huge, the bugs ate more of it than we did but the year before we got almost all our produce from the garden. Right now I have a stash of sweet potatoes on hand from the garden and onions are out there growing plus some radishes and kale. If I can get a garden that really produces, I'd like to can excess produce to keep on hand.

    We've raised a few meat rabbits but don't currently have a breeding female. Since DH takes care of the rabbits and he's gone quite a bit now, I don't know if we'll keep them up. The kits eat like crazy so even with butchering them around 8-10 weeks, I'm not sure how cost effective they are.

    We rarely buy beef but when we do, a pound will make 4 servings or 2 meals, depending on what we use it for. Instead of buying sausage, I get the ground pork on sale and mix up Italian and breakfast sausage (and it's better than the pre-made/store-bought). Would love to have a small freezer someday but in the meantime, we have 2 refrigerators and that helps for storing things.

    Of course, the chickens are our egg suppliers. Those have been sparse with molting and shorter hours but will pick up again. [​IMG]

    Looking forward to seeing how this thread goes!

    I just thought of a question...when you figure your grocery bill, is that only for edible items or do you include things like dish soap, paper products, etc.?
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    IMHO, the food portion of the grocery bill can be so variable, I would separate out toiletries, paper products, etc. since those tend to remain constant.

    It probably depends on how critical your budget is.

    I also wanted to bring up the topic of quality and fresh vs. canned/frozen.
    This is just my take on it.
    One can fill their belly pretty inexpensively. But is that providing healthy living?
    Fresh produce, meat, dairy and quality bakery goods are pricey. However, there are finds that make them less expensive and to provide health, one needs to eat less of good food than those with little nutrition.
    It's like feeding chickens only cracked corn as opposed to a complete feed. The cracked corn will save you a couple dollars per 50# bag but you'll lose out in the long run.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  6. N F C

    N F C Home in WY Premium Member

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    You make a good point about quality ChickenCanoe. In addition to saving money, that's another reason we choose to eat at home; we have a better idea of what we're eating. (And I know how clean my kitchen is, I get a bit queasy thinking of some commercial kitchens I've seen.)

    I do think frozen and canned have their place but you have to read labels. For example, DH is msg sensitive so I try to avoid buying things that have that in it and if that means going without, that's what we do. Also, it's surprising how much sugar and salt are in some foods, that's another reason to read the labels.
     
  7. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    I used to work in commercial kitchens and it took me 2 years after leaving that kind of work to eat out again - the kind of things that go on can be dreadful.

    CT
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm going to figure the budget for food only, no house hold supplies. Those really aren't that big of a deal here and I've got a good idea what we spend on them already.

    We do have a local produce market, and in the past I've been pretty exclusive to them for fruit and veggies. But, I was there a few days ago and a head of lettuce was $3 (not organic), and broccoli was $2.50/lb. I bought lettuce for a salad, but when I was at Wal-mart later, both those things were around $1. Now, I'm okay shopping at Wallys, it's where I do a lot of our grocery shopping. I've never been a huge fan of their produce, though (or meat, for the most part), but with those price differences I may need to rethink that. I hate leaving the local place, but triple price is just too much to swallow. The broccoli at Wal-mart looked just fine, I'm going to make some broccoli cheddar soup today and we'll see.

    My Honey does do a bit of shopping now and then, when he's at the larger town south. He'll hit Costco and/or Cash and Carry ( I think that's what it's called, a restaurant supply store). But it's mostly me.

    I wish we had a fresh fish market! That would be amazing. Our fresh fish is trout when Honey goes fishing. We've had a friend give us wild caught salmon recently, that's a wonderful blessing.

    Payday isn't until the 3rd and the account is looking pretty bare, so no shopping until then. I'm predicting we're around $1,000 a month, but it will be interesting to see how things look in a month!
     
  9. N F C

    N F C Home in WY Premium Member

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    Rachel, that's a big difference in cost on the 2 products you looked at. (Your soup sure sounds good!)

    We do a lot of price comparing between Wal-Mart and the local store (which we prefer). Some items are cheaper at one and other things are cheaper at the other. We find ourselves usually splitting the grocery list up by store and making a trip to each. Since I bake I buy jars of yeast; Wal-Mart sells them for less than $5, the grocery store sells the same jar for almost $7. Milk prices are almost identical but juice ends up cheaper at the grocery store because we do the bogo sales for it.

    The danger for us at Wal-Mart is all the non-grocery stuff there, it's easy to be tempted into over-spending.
     
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    $1K/mo seems high but I know growing boys can really eat.
    Just a few years ago when both son and daughter were home I think we were just over 100 a week.
    Even at places like Whole Foods (whole paycheck), it is possible to find deals. There is always produce and fish on sale.

    I can't do Walmart, sorry Walton family.
    That's the closest store to us.
    The next grocery store is a well respected one. They sell 2 limes for $3. The produce market just up the road from there sells 3 limes for $2. The Seafood City ethnic grocer has 5 limes for $2.
    I never buy limes at the nearby grocer. That's crazy.

    We ate out more then.
    We rarely eat out once a week now.
    I'm afraid of fast food and most chain restaurants because they tend not to use natural ingredients. An exception is Panera - it's a national chain based in St. L where it is called St. Louis Bread Company. My daughter eats there several times a week. There was a study of 100 fast food companies and it got top billing.
    The whole family is in the restaurant business but my wife takes her lunch just because she can't stand to eat out of the same kitchen every day for years on end.

    My son has worked as a cook/chef while in HS and college at perhaps a dozen or more restaurants from Welsh pubs, to Mexican soul food, to Vietnamese vegan, to fancy hotels, to pizzerias, to you name it. Right now he is at Cooper's Hawk, an upscale casual dining and hand crafted wine bar. In all that time, I've never heard a word about nefarious things going on that would give me pause about going to - at least one of those restaurants. The staff and management always seem to strive to put out the best product.
    The pizzeria and Vietnamese places had open kitchens exposed to the dining room. There were actually seating counters where you could watch the cooking.
    He made up to 400 pizzas a night right in front of the customers, using the wood fired ovens. You can't do anything weird in that situation.
    He was kitchen manager at the busiest store of a local Welsh pub chain and they run a very tight ship.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015

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