What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Here's A Question For Ya

After a winter of only canned tomatoes, around April I got desperate for a fresh tomato on a salad.  So I got two packages from Aldi and put them on my windowsill.  (It has no direct light- just like putting it on the counter without using up counter space).  By the time I got to this one, it had sprouted!

I have been re-working our budget recently (it has been too long since the last time!) because money seemed to be slipping through the proverbial cracks.

Looking back- my grocery budget used to be $200-$250 a month which equals out to $50/$75 a week!  Well, I had gotten out of the habit of using cash to purchase the groceries and discovered ain't no way/no how I was spending just $50.00 a week on groceries and necessities (like diapers, dog food, etc.)  Heck, buying dog food would eat up HALF of that!

So then I started keeping track of receipts and discovered I have actually been spending between $100/$150.00 a week on grocery trips! (Without having budgeted for it, mind you.) But I don't buy name brand, I don't buy almost any convenience foods ( I do buy bread and I do buy tortilla chips), I don't buy 'treats' except for Ritz crackers.  I buy mostly ingredients.  Staples, if you will.  We have our own beef and I grow lots of things to eat/put up/freeze.  We do buy lots of cheese (which could be lessened) and lunch meat for Matt's lunches (which is expensive) so those are unnecessary expenses.

I know food has gotten more and more expensive and I have also noticed (have you?) that the same size packages have smaller weights now?  'Tis true!  So you believe you are buying what you always have been and maybe spending an extra dime or two- meanwhile there is less food!

All of this got me to thinking- how much do other people spend per week on food?  Is $150.00 a ludicrous amount of money to spend on this family or do I have some serious tightening up to do?  It seems an outrageous amount of money for us to give up every week- we could really use that elsewhere.  If I am wasting it, I wanna know.  And if I am not, I'd like to know that too.

So my question is...

How much money do you spend per week on groceries?  

Equally important:
How many people are in your family?
How many meals do you serve at home each day?  

So....yeah.... it's actually three questions.

I am not out to judge anyone's spending habits but my own!

This is a NO JUDGEMENT ZONE, but if you are uncomfortable sharing such personal information, feel free to post anonymously!  

Thanks to all who comment!  I appreciate you taking the time!


Farmers Wife said...

You are still well under my budget, you are at 600$ per month, and we are closer to 800-1000 depending on the month, yep it's high. We also entertain loads, and I really am thankful to be able to bless others with a dinner here and there. We buy our milk and some meat and I admit to buying some convenience foods at costco. Oh Costco, the 300$ store :D

Thanks for sharing, helps me to crack down on ours a bit!

Cathie said...

We spend anywhere between $600-$900 I know not really helpful. I do included everything in there including wine, dog food, cat food, and basically anything we consume.

I am trying to lower mine to more the $600 range monthly and not the high end so much 😂

Don't judge yourself so hard. It's a real struggle and all the prices have gone up and as those little tummies get bigger you may need more again.

Bobbi Anderson said...

Feeding a big family real food costs lots of money! For a family of 6, on most days 3 meals a day (I send lunches with kids and hubby) I'm around 800+ a month, plus I feed chickens and a cat.
-a city mama with a small garden but good farmers market ;)

Annaleah said...

I have six kids, ages 1-8, and I make pretty much everything from scratch, but we don't really produce any food (a few eggs, and a tiny bit of veggies in the garden), so I buy everything. However, I don't buy diapers or dog food. Our family spends around $600-$700 a month, which has gone up quite a bit in the last year or so. I've been looking at our budget recently trying to find ways to lower it. More beans, no extras, less expensive produce (we've been eating more frozen veggies!), etc. My kids definitely eat more than they used to, though!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, for just two of us, I spend $150 a week. I could get by on less, but live with someone who loves meat and cheese and I still work full time, so there are some convenience foods in there, like canned beans. I think you should be proud of yourself for what you are spending. You are doing an excellent job and being a great steward.

Kris said...

There are 5 adults in our house. We try to eat low-carb, moderate protein/keto, so LOTS of meat purchased each week, but only if on sale. I bulk buy sale meat. I cook dinners from scratch and leftovers become breakfasts or lunches. I eat oatmeal for breakfast, one person eats homemade waffles, husband eats a deli meat sandwich or hamburger and 2 others eat egg omelets (love the .19/dozen eggs at Aldi's!). We spend about $600-800/month on grocery shopping and eating out. This includes all food and household items, but not dog food. Convenience foods we buy are deli meat, chips, juice, jarred sauces and Pepsi. We are now making our own ice cream. We love in-season summer fruit so lot of blueberries, strawberries and cherries the last few months!

I think you are doing VERY WELL with that amount considering you have 5 children and an adult male in the mix!

Anonymous said...

I hesitate to post this comment Rebecca because this could come as judgmental. I honestly do not mean that.
$600 is frugal for a family your size if you buy groceries like meat, milk, vegetables, cheese which most people do. But you have your own meat, milk, cheese, vegetables as far as I understand so where are you putting the money ? What exactly are you buying, look at it.

There are places where you can buy bulk spices, flour and other necessities. Look at what you are cooking. Are you frugal in your cooking as in use up meat wisely. How much meat are you eating in lbs per meal ? Are you using meat as a side or a main dish. We use $500 for 4 people and buy everything in the grocery store. We buy organic as much as possible.

We eat things like soups, stews, salads, curries which will extend the meat we buy. Hope this helps. Again no judgement here.

Blessings as you figure this out.

Unknown said...

I also think you're doing great! I used to be able to keep my groceries for 8(6 people over 18,and 2 under) under 200 dollars a week. The last few weeks,even with coupons,it's been a bit over. I think you're right about the prices.

Anonymous said...

We are a family of 4 adults. Two of my grown children still live with us. I budget $50 a week for grocery store groceries. In addition to that we go to Costco or Sams every 3rd month with an allocated budget of $200.00 to stock up on bulk size purchases. I also average $40 a month on items from subscribe and save on Amazon. We raise a decent sized garden in the summer(which I can, freeze and dehydrate)and a winter-over garden where we raise assorted greens, beets, turnips and such through the cold months. We also purchase a whole beef and 2 small pigs each year (after processing, we pay on average $600 for the beef and $350 for the pigs).

I think that averages out to be around $525 per month.

Mrs. Marc Otto said...

We're a family of nine. I spend about $120 a week at the grocery store, $60 or so at Costco (we live close to one), with another $20 throughout the week on stuff I forgot. ;) I do three meals a day and I cook most everything from scratch as well. But to me, preparing food is one of the most central aspects of my calling and our family life. Food is not meant to be pinched. It is the center of my budget, not a weight that's dragging me down. On the other hand, I do make a point to resist purchasing pretty much anything else, ever. You probably already have the same priorities, but I think it's good to remember that food is not meant to be a source of guilt. It's a great blessing, given to us by a God who thought we needed to enjoy eating an injudicious three times a day! ;)

Jenn in Indiana said...

Rebecca, I think you are doing great with 7 people in your family. We are a family of four. Almost 16 year old boy and almost 13 year old girl. Our budget is $100 per week. With that it includes all food, pop and health and beauty products and cleaning products. I shop at Kroger once per week for all of their sale items since they are very generous with their coupons. Then the rest I usually make a few trips to Walmart per week for what ever popups. On the same page in a notebook that I keep our written budget I write $100 dollars and then if I go to a store and buy anything from that category it is subtracted so I can always see on paper what my budget is. I love Kroger because a lot of time I can find marked down meat and bread for 59 cents per loaf which is put into our deep freeze. I also cook lots from scratch and also like to keep some what I call "quick meals" available for when life gets crazy. My husband works a night to days swing shift and lets just say it gets crazy! I am also very diligent on meal planning. I do it on Sunday night and list seven meals, and 3 what I call desserts. I usually look in my freezer and say "oh I see 3 pounds of ground beef" so I go through my recipes to inspire me. If I need any little ingredients then I would pick that up the next time I go to Walmart. My daughter packs her lunch (usually leftovers and fruit and a treat). I have chickens so don't buy eggs and have a small garden which I need to work on putting more effort into! I also think that as your children grow, they are going to eat more and more, it just happens! Also, a long time ago I made a price sheet for most of the major things I buy. I mostly have it memorized now. For example, I never, never buy fruit unless it is 99 cents per pound or cheaper. That means we aren't eating raspberries in the winter. So in the summer when they go on sale, I buy them and freeze them. Also about once every 2-3 months I will shop for loss leaders at a chain of stores in the "big town". And I am so excited our town is finally getting an Aldi. At the end of the month, if any money is still in the grocery budget, it is all applied to our hospital bill when my son had his appendix removed. I think you used to be a reader of The Prudent Homemaker, she has great info on getting your grocery budget down and I also like The Fundamental Home on youtube. She is amazing, her budget is $30 per week for a family of five.

Satchell said...

I don't think that is too much money on food.
I have recently found Jordan at funcheaporfree and her advice (which makes total sense) is $100/family member/month.
So...for a family of 6 that would be $600/month for groceries.

Rebecca said...

Wow! Such good information everyone! This is great! I should ask more questions more often!

Anonymous~ no worries. These are the questions I am asking myself- hence, the post. I will say though, in my defense, that we have been out of our own milk since our cow dried up two years ago (and the new cow who should have replaced her apparently can't get pregnant! gah!) so I have been paying over-store-prices for raw milk ever since. I have never made cheddar- so I am still buying cheeses (though I do have mozzerella stored up, it goes quickly with once-a-week pizza night) and I don't grow certain veggies that we eat all the time- like, say, carrots. Also, lettuce in winter. We do eat plenty of meat- but with two cows butchered, beef is not something we have to limit at this point. I buy chicken and pork though and if I really need to cut back, I can cut those things out of our diet. Thanks for the feedback!

Jenn- oh! I'd like to check that youtube channel out. Thanks for the recommendation. (And yes, I enjoy reading the Prudent Homemaker too!)

Anonymous said...

I too don't want to come across as judgemental. Please don't take my ideas that way. I am a granny now, just DH and I who live here. I take care of one toddler grandson about 60 hours a week, last year and this year (but likely not after that). We had 3 kids, then adopted 2, then 50 foster kids and various babysat kids, so what I say has a larger family in mind.
We too have beef, lamb, chickens, and eggs. We provide our kids and grandkids with this protein. I don't count the enormous cost of my husband's time and expenses to provide this against my grocery budget. If I did, well, priceless would cover that. I wonder if your husband would go for sliced meat instead of lunchmeat for lunches? Far less expensive and FAR healthier. Buy a slicer. Use your roasts/hams/chicken breasts. My husband brings a meal to warm up in the microwave. He eats a LOT (and works it off; he is quite slender) but not a lover of sandwiches, which don't feel like real food to him.
I don't buy bread. If I want it badly enough I make it. Might not be cheaper but I can't serve any staple that is "junk" food. (not to sound harsh, please don't take that way). I do buy some junk food (potato chips, heavy sigh) but not pop or sugar laden food.
So, #1 - is there acceptable substitute food for lunchmeat sandwiches for Matt?
#2 - Try to concentrate on real food/real nutrition (you need less of it, and it helps with so many health issues).
#3 - Do you have an Amish store for 50# bags of whole grain flour and spices and such?
#4 - Try to go to the store less often (less impulse buys)
#5 - Separate out your actual grocery items (people food) from the rest (HBA, dog, etc.) You might find that the latter is the actual place you need to economize. I don't buy any soap stuff (including detergent), dog just died of old age, almost no paper products (use cloth), make my own cleaning supplies, etc. And definitely cloth diapers (all my kids, and with the in house toddler). (AGAIN, no slinging guilt. I just don't find them at all objectionable, and I just hate disposable anything).
#6 - Can you barter anything for food? I trade eggs for milk each week. Well worth it.
#7 - I use Amazon for some food items (real pb, collagen, tea, other weird stuff). I keep track of the prices and stock up when things are cheap. This can be time consuming though, and I am not a real fan of pulling mothers away from their children for more internet time. (But, not going to the store? Score!)
GB (Granny Boo)
#8 - I realized as I was typing this that I really gradually worked into getting food from many sources. I know that they save money, but they do take time. One stop shopping might be worth it for you.
#9 - Be willing to accept gifts. I give food to my eldest daughter (4 little kids, babysits an infant, new puppy, homeschooling) all the time, when I can. I look at it as an investment, and a pat on the back. She is doing a truly excellent job of homemaking. Also, other community sources, like food trucks? You will be able to give back more as time goes on, and I know you will. It is your hospitable spirit.
#10 - And, I do think prices are going up. Cheese and coffee are my Achilles heel. I can give up most things but for these... you probably know which items you're just going to pay the price for.

Anonymous said...

haha, I signed off in the middle. It's like I don't know what I'm doing :)

Jennifer said...

You're only spending "too much" if YOU and MATT think it's too much. You're not the sort of person to be sitting around idle for long stretches of the day, so, for your family, budgets are all about priorities. To spend less money on groceries would mean to either spend more time in the kitchen or to sacrifice certain foods. If you two decide that you'd rather spend less time on X in order to spend more time on Y ... or you'd rather forgo X in order to have Y, than that's what you'll do. If you're thinking you'd rather have that money for something else and he feels the same, decide on what time/food you're willing to give up in order to get there.

Our family right now is somewhat the opposite. I want/need more time out of the kitchen and am willing to sacrifice other things in order to have more money for things like pre-made salads, pre-cooked hamburgers for quick husband lunches, etc. We're very frugal in other areas of life (vehicles, clothing, electricity, phone service, etc), but right now groceries are where we choose to spend more, not less.

The numbers: family of 9, all food comes from the grocery store, nearly every meal is made at home, does not include household items like diapers, we spend $800-$900/mo.

- Jennifer

Leah Spencer said...

Whew... I'm going to say it's an average of $300 a week. For a family of 5, in the northwest. This includes some of the non-food items, like diapers for my 5 year old. He is autistic and truthfully all our lives revolve around his needs. He's gluten intolerant, and we have also been told by a doctor to keep him off of sugar, soy, dairy, and eggs! That doesn't happen. We focus 100% on being gluten-free, and fight hard against the sugar issue. We also just recently made a connection that corn may be causing him issues too... As you can imagine, our food options are constantly changing.

Other factors are the need for very portable, non-messy foods. Sometimes we are going from therapy to school to grandma's house and then back to school... I don't want to hand a bowl of soup to my children and telling them good luck! Don't spill on the car seats... I easily spend 2-3 hours a day in my car driving and waiting for related stuff for my autistic son. Sometimes I time the meals poorly and get a "I'm staaaaaaarving! I'm gonna diiiiiiiie!" Child in the car who still has an hour of waiting before we are home. I just finished weaning my youngest a couple months ago, so I can't even resort to that option anymore.

My dream for years, even before children, is to have some land and grow and raise as much of our own food as possible. In our rental house, we have an apple tree and raspberry patch. I was also able to set up a small garden at my mom's, the first time in 4 years I've had access to bare dirt. But oh gosh, the children keep growing! :)

Anonymous said...

My average is about $500 a month. I grow a garden so summer months are less but I make it up around the holidays. Living at home is my husband, myself, 18 year old son, 16 year old daughter. There are always friends of the kids over. It includes all household items but not pet items. We budget $50 in takeout/restaurants a month. We eat 3 meals a day and a snack. Due to dietary issues we cook most things from scratch. We do eat meat every day.

Diapers and dog food are a fortune so if you are including that in your budget then you are doing wonderful. We paid off our debt last year and are trying to pay for my son's college without loans so I try to stretch the budget as much as I can. It has become a game for me.

Only you and Matt can decide what is best for your family. And I have noticed the packages are getting smaller while the price stays the same or even goes up.


Abigail said...

Rainy-day blog reading, and, golly! I guess the world loves talking about food and budgets!

You and I have talked enough about this before for my thoughts to be stale at this point, so I'll bow out except for two cents.

Cent #1: I love the thoughts above that name food as a blessing instead of a source of guilt. As a fellow mama who feeds a troop of barbarians for three meals each day, it's always timely to be reminded that this is a joyful service and a gift to us and them from the Father of All Feasting. (That said, I totally get it. Fitting a regular sense of feasting into tight pockets sometimes seems downright miraculous...except in sunny summer when we gardeners eat like kings!)

Cent #2: I appreciate Jennifer's thoughts, also. They echo what I was thinking as I read your post. There is no magical way to cut food expenses drastically enough to make a large difference in a budget like yours unless you give up things that may be worth keeping. Maybe cutting costs in other areas would serve the same purpose without it feeling as if you're depriving yourselves of what you may enjoy. It's up to you and Matt to decide what's best to keep and discard, according to your family's desires and needs. For now, cutting out the superfluous items that don't bring enough joy to warrant the cost is a good start, but, ultimately, you might decide you want to keep those ritz crackers! I bet Ineke would vote yes. :)

(*One last cent, for good measure. Remember that standard of living differs, too. If you lived next door to Dude and Dudette, your costs for your current grocery items would be through the roof! Similarly, other areas of the country may sell items for less than what you pay here. This makes straight comparison of family grocery budgets a little trickier, so take heart!)

Terri said...

The cost of food has gone up so much in the past few years. Another thing I noticed is different regions have different prices. We moved from the East coast in New York (about 70 miles north of New York City) to Central New York (on Lake Ontario). Wowzers! It's more expensive up here for food and that is probably because they have to factor in the cost of shipping it.

We are a family of 5 adults. My middle son is only home periodically from college and now my youngest is leaving next week, so generally there are 4 of us at home. I cook three meals a day, 7 days a week (except for special occasions). I make everything from scratch, but we don't have a garden nor produce any of our own food. We spend approximately $150-$200 per week for groceries (food, household supplies, pet supplies, etc.), so that's $600-800 per month on groceries.

For a family your size, I think you are doing well. As your kids get older, they probably will eat more so it will go up a bit.

Terri Cheney said...

Just the two of us here and we grow none of our own, though I do buy whole foods and cook from scratch. We average about $320 a month for just us.

I have to point out that you've also had some quite large family gatherings in the last few months and that will add up as well. If you can't afford what you're spending that's one thing but if you can and it's not impulse foods then you're going to have to make a choice to cut way back to stringent or just relax as you watch money flow or find that happy medium in between.

Also consider this: The problem isn't in what you're spending the money on per se it's that you've gone into auto pilot spending. Subconsciously you are comfortable putting that much into your grocery cart each week/month. We tend to determine a set point of spending where we are quite comfortable. We don't feel we're splurging, we are sure we're buying good whole foods but we get into a habit of spending '$X' and seeing a set amount of food in our cart and that's where we tend to spend. Once you become conscious of this fact, it is easier to begin to reset our minds to a more acceptable and lower level of spending.

First go back to the old 'look high and low' when you start to put something in the cart. Be sure you're getting the best price. Ask yourself, 'Can I make that cheaper? Does it taste better?' and MOST important "Do I have time to make it?" Don't overwhelm yourself by cutting out nineteen items and planning to make them all at once. Choose one or two items and determine to make those and only those.

Mostly, just being AWARE of what you're doing as you shop will lower your spending.

Be sure and do a follow up on this and let us know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

I just have to say that I really love what Mrs. Otto and Jennifer both said, probably because I've been in both places and relate so well! If food/meals/cooking are the center of our household, it should not be the first place we look to save money. If we are drowning and somewhat in survival mode and the kitchen/cooking is the last place we want to focus, that is not the time to look to save money there either.

I am a single mom, working from home full time in addition to taking care of the children (4 still at home). I spend about $100 per week and I don't raise anything other than children. For me, right now, it's about getting in and out of the kitchen as fast as I can so that we can spend our time doing other things.

The Other Rebecca said...

Don't forget to factor in age. Gender doesn't seem to matter here - both of the teens in our house seem to eat their body weight in food every two to three hours.

ccsmomma said...

What a great read!
We are smack in the middle of a season of tightening the belt due to a loss of a job. We have 4 kids, 12years old+ and they eat like horses. We serve 3 meals a day to all 6 of us. We went from spending between 12-1700 a month (OUCH! we knew it was ouch!) to spending about 2-300 a month.

Now a little bit of the nitty-gritty questions: We are dairy free, gluten free, and paleo. at least 3 of us are, due to harsh allergies. To top it off, my husband is low carb and will barely touch a vegetable. That meant meat- and a lot of it. 3 lbs everyday at dinner, and eggs for 3 or us every single morning. Those 3 lbs of meat did allow some leftovers (but not a ton, just enough for 2-3 healthy lunch servings)- and we didn't do 3 lbs EVERY night for dinner, but most nights- yes we did. Our budget felt so high at 12-1700 a month and I did not EVER buy convenience foods. No bread (except a loaf from aldi for the 12 yo), crackers, and rarely any pastas (black bean noodles were the exception). I kept cereal on hand for 3-- they had to have their daily bowl of Cheerios and milk for breakfast. We bought no nitrate/no preservative ham and kept plenty of cheese on hand for the low carb husband's lunches. 4 of us ate salads everyday for lunch with some sort of meat (hello leftovers or ham) and everyone ate extra veggies.
We bought organic, no preservatives, and as close to nature as possible. Honey or unrefined sugar or maple syrup were rare treat sweeteners. We did not make trips to farms-- This particular area of central PA is expensive for raw milk and grass-fed meat and eggs. ( I was spoiled when we lived 90 miles west) We utilized sales, bought in bulk at Sams or Costco (I had a price book to know what was cheapest and where) and I made nearly EVERYTHING from scratch. Everything else came from Aldi or the local grocery sales flyer with a coupon (if available). I kept a nice store of backup items in our basement--just in case.
I could see we spent way more than most people, but I couldn't see how to cut the number down. We could afford it, and we did.

Then my husband unexpectedly lost his job. I determined to cut the budget down to about 500 a month. It felt like a huge stretch. I decided I would only buy what we absolutely needed, and to let the super healthy diet on pause until he is back to work.
What I found was we were spending next to nothing on groceries. Of course, gone was the fridge overflowing with fresh produce. Gone iss the 3 lbs of meat at dinner and the low carb/ paleo style of eating. Beans came in (and whatdoyaknow, the husband WILL eat them!), more cheap gf bread options,carbs, and peanut butter were added (made from scratch or Aldi). We don't use sugar at all, and if we do it's a rare teaspoon of white (aldi) sugar in a rare cup of coffee. Breakfast is rarely cereal any more-- those who can tolerate it have switched to oatmeal. But our family is eating. Our bellies are full.

And the cost? I topped the 500 per month goal. I'm down to about 30-50 dollars a week- that's about 200 a month! with the rare splurge of 100 dollars a week when we need to restock the freezer with frozen veg (that we limit to only dinners instead of lunches and dinners). Our stockpile is quite low, and our freezers only contain the bare bones necessities. We eat a ton of whatever produce is cheapest that week at Aldi (tomatoes were the item of choice last week) and we have had a very nice visit to a scratch and dent Amish grocery.
Yes, I miss the veg, and the produce, but I've found I'm okay. This season, while it's lasted since mid-July, is temporary. Better days are coming. And that 500 budget doesn't seem so impossible now.
The 1200-1700 dollar budget? .... I just can't even wrap my head around it!