Questions I get about my food budget:
1. Tell me about your food budget? Doesn’t it cost more to eat healthy?
I strive very hard to stick to a food budget of $600 for our family of five. I’m happy to say that many months I am able to stick to this budget. This food budget includes everything I purchase for my household needs in addition to food. Things like paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, paper plates, foil, baggies etc.) laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo, toothpaste, shaving cream, hair gel and other hygiene needs, light bulbs, batteries, etc.
I don’t purchase any beverages for my family as they are water drinkers (yay!!) and LOVE green smoothies! Much to my dismay, my husband hasn’t kicked his diet soda habit…so that is included in this budget as well. Yes…it goes completely against my REAL food philosophy, but this is my REAL life and I want to share as accurately as possible. Plus if you bump into me in the store, you’ll understand why this REAL food blogger has diet soda in my cart 😉
*Not included in my monthly food budget are the 1 or 2 times a year I buy organic grain or coconut oil. But I haven’t been baking all my bread ever since we’ve had our third child so my monthly food budget also includes bread.
*I also buy quite a lot of produce (fresh fruit & veggies), all our meat is organic and we buy only free-ranges, pastured eggs from a good friend. This is all included in our monthly food budget.
So to answer the question, “Does it cost more to eat healthy?” I’d say, “No, not in our home.” Not to mention, by eating healthier you’ll spend less on doctor visits, medicine and health insurance in the long run.
2. Going along with the food budget question, what are the ages of your children?
My girls are 12, 8 and 3. They have a HUGE appetite and it seems I am always struggling to keep them full. My husband is a meat and potatoes guy. He doesn’t like anything green except my green smoothies. 🙂 So most nights it doesn’t count as dinner unless I’m serving meat. I am able to integrate meat into our meals most nights instead of it being the main focus of the meal as you see by most of my recipes (flat bread pizza, pasta dishes, mexican dishes, soups etc.)
3. What about eating out? Can you fill us in your budget philosophy.
Due to budget restrictions when we first became a one income family, our family never had got into the habit of eating out. This has been a HUGE BLESSING because it forced me to learn how to cook all our favorites at home. Frugality really does spark creativity!! When one doesn’t have a lot to work with financially they are forced to be creative. So we keep an attitude of gratitude around here. We still don’t have a huge margin each month to play around with or for miscellaneous expenses, but what we do have we CHOOSE not to spend on a meal out at a restaurant. A family of 5 at a moderately priced chain restaurant could easily cost $50 plus tax and tip…and that’s probably without drinks and ordering wisely.
Since our meals are more often tastier at home and better for you, we’d rather have that $50 toward something else (like our Disney trips or travel to see family and friends). We focus on the BENEFITS of using that money somewhere else (travel, the luxury of having one parent home, etc) instead of focusing on what some may say is DEPRIVATION. It’s all in our attitudes….it’s not that we can’t AFFORD to eat out, it’s that we CHOOSE to spend our money on other things. 🙂
It’s important to get the kids in on this mind set. It’s much easier sticking to a budget when they aren’t asking for things everytime you turn around. Our girls are somewhat aware of our budget, and what we have to work with after bills. We include them in decisions, and they also would much rather travel to see family/friends, have vacations, do fun activities than eat out. Besides…we really do like the home cookin’ here!
4. What about coupons? Do you use them?
The only coupons I use are at Costco. Most coupons are for pre-packaged or processed foods, so I don’t bother cutting or using them. I’m better able to save my family money by focusing my energies on shopping the sales, buying our meat when it’s on sale at Whole Foods, keeping a stocked pantry full of wholesome, REAL foods so that I can make any meal at any time. There are great couponing strategies out there for household products, but that’s something I haven’t learned yet. We don’t use a lot of standard cleaning products since I focus on using natural homemade products around the home. For example, all my windows, glass & counter surfaces are cleaned with vinegar/water in a spray bottle which is a natural disinfectant.
5. What are your thoughts on the rising food prices and economy?
Again this is where we can see how blessed we have been. While we feel bad for all the families affected by the downturn in economy and job loss, we learned early on with our family how to make do without “extras”. For us, it started with wanting to become a one income family to have me home with our daughter and any future children. We also had the desire to home school our family…again, one income is desired. We sacrificed to make that happen, and it has always been a priority. While we can definitely see many extras we have now that we didn’t once have, we are used to thinking about where our money goes and not having a lot to play around with. Therefore, when things really made a turn for the worse, it didn’t affect us in the way it did others. And we are definitely A LOT better off than in our early years of me coming home…not to mention we have two additional daughters since then.
6. What grocery stores do you shop at? Can you tell me more about your shopping methods?
I shop at Publix weekly, Costco twice a month and Whole Foods 1-2 times a month. I write out what we need at each store each month. Then I just keep an eye on the pantry, and add to the list when we run out of certain items. I shop to keep a stocked pantry. I strive to alway shave needed items on hand to make anything in my recipe files. Near the end of the month, we may start rationing certain items if we’ve run out of money for the month. But they are usually not necessities in the house. I always have an abundance of meat in the freezer, spaghetti sauce, pasta, and most items needed for my recipes. It may be that I run low on bread, butter or cheese a few days before our monthly budget replenishes.
A big help to me when first trying to get on a set food budget is to list out everything we need to make the meals we enjoy. Then also make out a list of needed household items. Put prices next to everything, and really think out the amounts you need each month. This will give you a rough idea of what you need, and try it out for a month to see how it goes. Adjust accordingly the next month. I am a firm believer in shopping and cooking FROM my pantry so I can stock up when say pasta is on sale, then making a meal plan for the week and buying the food needed for those meals. Some do stick to what’s on sale with those meal plans, but keeping a stocked pantry is important for so many reasons in this economy.