One year ago I wrote a series called Financial Hardships & Surprise Pregnancies. In it I talked a bit about groceries, our food budget, and our meal plan and there were requests for me to write more. So here it is, under the category of "Better Late than Never": the follow up post.
I want to start by touching on a couple of things that help to make this work for our family.
First, because of our food allergies I have to make almost everything from scratch but I do love to cook so it's a small sacrifice. However, it can be hard to figure out what we can eat based on what we have, what we can afford to buy, what everyone can and will eat, and then balance that with feast days and evening activities. All that to say, I love having a meal plan but I sorta don't like sitting down and writing up a meal plan.
Second, our income has increased a wee bit since last year and now our weekly grocery budget is about $130. Travis gives me $260 every two weeks. About once a month I will go to Costco for any variety of things: crackers, bacon, chicken breasts, flour, rice, detergent. I will spend about $50 there and then the rest will be divided between my two weeks shopping budget. Sometimes I will spend $120 one week and less the next but with the envelope system I always know how much cash I have and that I have to make it work for me.
Third, we bought half a cow in the spring from a local farmer (whose parents were the witnesses at my grandparents' wedding!) We still have about 1/3 of that meat in the deep freeze. Buying from the farmer is a big expense up front but it means we only spend ~$3 a pound on roasts, steaks, stew meat, ground beef, and liver (what do I do with liver?).
Updated with a fourth, when I say "groceries" I actually mean everything we eat and use in our house on a daily basis: tissues, paper towels, food, drinks, diapers, wet wipes, make-up, deodorant, cleaning products, garbage bags, hair products, feminine products, tealight candles used in holiday decorations, fresh flowers, and so on.
And fifth, we are a family of eight, six kids and two adults. Our oldest is eight and our youngest is almost ten months. While the baby is not eating a ton of food I am buying some special things for him and his diapers come out of our grocery budget so I think it's fair to include him in the count.
Okay, I think that's enough groundwork. Here goes:
Today I went grocery shopping and spent $109. It should feed us through the week though come Friday (pay day) I may pop back into the store in case I've run out of milk, bread, or sanity. My grocery list looked like this:
I also picked up apples, bananas, strawberries, hand soap refill, Earth Balance butter, shampoo, conditioner, mini bagels, bread, and a fountain soda. I didn't use coupons this week but I did make an effort to buy Kroger products so I would save with my Kroger card + earn fuel points. I know my meal plan says chili on Friday but we eat meatless on Fridays and I don't know why I wrote that down. So I bought no beans and we'll have something else instead.
After shopping my fridge looked like this:
And my freezer like this:
The cupboards have the bread, crackers, cereal, pop tarts, fruit snacks, oatmeal, chips, pretzels, canned food, and other items that make up our other meals. Generally speaking those menus look like this:
cold cereal, oatmeal, pop tart, bagel, toast, Eggo waffle, and sometimes homemade coffee cake or pancakes
chicken nuggets, hot dogs, mac and cheese, fresh fruit, chips, pretzels, mini mallows, carrot sticks, leftovers
fresh fruit, carrot sticks, crackers, baked goods, popcorn, chips, mallows
And then for this week here's what we're having:
Monday: Shepherd's Pie and Biscuits
I make my Shepherd's Pie in a cast iron skillet so I can just bake it in the same dish. Both the pie and the biscuits are easily adapted for our food allergies and I use ground round instead of lamb to save on cost.
Tuesday: Italian Sausage + Homemade Red Sauce + GF Spaghetti Noodles and Frozen Veg and Applesauce
Wednesday: Chicken + Rice + Stir Fry Veggies
Thursday: Soup Bones + Noodles and Frozen Veg and Canned Peaches
I don't have a recipe for this because my mom made this up, but let me tell you it's amazing. She boiled the meat off the bones, took bones out, added noodles to the meat and broth. Then she made a roux, added that to the cooked noodles, meat, and what was left of the broth. She seasoned it with salt and pepper and it's delish.
Friday: Potato Soup and Home Baked Bread
Saturday: Ribs and Rice and Frozen Veg
Sunday: Brinner (that's breakfast for dinner)
I don't know if this is helpful at all but if you have any questions please feel free to ask. I'm sure there's ways I could save even more money (I have two friends who are amazing at gardening, canning, freezing, and baking and I know that really helps them a great deal.) but, again, this is what works for us here and now. Please share your tips and tricks, because the point really is about helping one another feed the masses on our budgets and I'd love to learn from you.
Eat up and enjoy!