One thing that blows people’s mind away is when I tell them what we spend on groceries, cleaning supplies and paper goods per month in our house. Not because it is so much but because it is so little for eight people.
So I am going to share some of my secrets. The plan is nothing special.
#1 have a household budget and do your best to stick to it.
God gets the first portion, no matter what. Cheating God really cheats ourselves. He doesn’t need our money as much as we need to show Him our love and obedience. We will be blessed for it.
The second portion, in our house goes to mortgage, utilities and insurances. Gas money, money for gifts and car repairs is all saved up from this portion too.Summed up-our bills. We keep our electric bill lower by keeping the heat down in the winter and the air off as much as possible in the summer. Our comfort has to fit our budget. We have dumb phones, $10 a month or less, and we budget our use of them, minus my hubby who has a phone from work. But before he had a work phone, when we were working our way up the ladder, he had a dumb phone too. Remember, you have to put your time in to get to that comfortable place. We have just hit edging into it about 2 years ago. By American standards we are still considered poor with our income.
The 3rd portion goes to food, clothing and education. We have to use what is left and divide it the best we can and make it work. What does that leave us to eat off of? I’ll tell you in a minute.
The rest? If I can keep myself from going over the budget in other areas then we can save towards a vacation. Because we love family camp we try VERY hard to make this happen every year.
#2 Buy meat on sale
This month I buy next months meat on sale. If hamburger goes on sale for a really good price, or chicken, I buy it. I set myself aside about $60 a month to buy meats for dinner at most. The rest we fill in with beans and legumes, which are cheap.
#3 Plan meals & snacks
If you don’t have a plan your eyes and stomach will betray you at the grocery store. A good plan keeps food from rotting in the fridge also.
To make my $800 a month cover all the food, cleaning supplies and paper goods I have to plan. I take stock of my freezer and see what meats I have. Then I plan meals with them, filling out a calender for each dinner meal each day. Off of that I create my grocery list.
Along with that I know, from years of practice, about how many boxes of graham crackers, bags of pretzels and jars of salsa I need a month. I shop accordingly.
For fruits and veggies I buy what is cheap and in season. I don’t buy grapes when they are $3 a lb. I aim for around a dollar a pound or less for fruits, depending on the fruit.
If the bread in on sale for 1/2 price I buy a bunch and throw it in the deep freeze.
Just as a side note-we buy mostly whole foods. I don’t buy mixes, which tend to be much more expensive. I buy individual spices or grow them. Home made enchilada sauce is MUCH better than canned, costs about 10 cents for me to make for my whole family and it contains no high fructose corn syrup!
It may take 3-6 months to get this process figured out but it is very worth it!
#4 When your budget allows-buy in bulk
A few years ago we started buying 1/2 a cow. This is a once a year purchase that is not reflected in our grocery budget. The money usually comes from tax returns right now. It costs us roughly $800 for enough meat to last us 10 months. It is pricey on the surface but look at the breakdown.
I figured out the cost per lb. of meat. It was $3.55 a pound. I NEVER pay more than $2.70 a pound in store, so it sounds like a lot BUT I am not just getting hamburger. I am geting stew meat, roasts, & every cut of steak imaginable! So, if you don’t just but hamburger this is actually a huge savings. Well worth looking into.
#5 Shop Aldi and other less expensive options
Aldi has saved us hundreds. The food tastes just as good as other stores for a fraction of the cost. They also have organic and they are raising their food standards far above most other grocery stores. Need I say more?
#6 Have a Plan for Leftovers
If I plan a simple meal of baked chicken (seasoned with herbs of some type), veggies and a starch then I will plan something like chicken fried rice or chicken pot pie the next night. That way everyone is still excited about dinner and it isn’t really leftovers. You will find you throw away much less food if you do this.
Hope this answers some of the questions some of you have put to me. Good luck budgeting!