Tag Archives: groceries

Sticking to a Budget…6 Months and Counting…

July 31, 2013

I’m sticking to doing a BIG grocery trip right when my husband gets paid and then one or two little ones until the next paycheck. One pay period this month, I used ALL of the money budgeted for groceries…we had to get a lot of non-edibles (toilet paper, trash bags, etc.).

The other pay period, I had some leftover money (because we’re eating out of the garden). When I have extra money, I put it back into our ‘Garden’ fund to pay for chicken feed and more seeds to plant.

Next on the ‘Garden’ list was to buy paint for the coop but my neighbor offered some old paint he had – we mixed it up and it looks just fine 🙂 (I would say ‘great’ but we painted it…and it’s just for the chickens…so it’s fine)

Our chickens are 21 weeks old so we are expecting eggs any day now. I expect to see a LARGE difference in our grocery bill after that! After buying seeds for the garden, I am planning on saving up for a riding lawn mower. It is not easy mowing this many acres with a push 😛 Then again, we are covering it little by little with cardboard, newspaper, and mulch so maybe we won’t need a riding one afterall…we’ll see 🙂

We’re trying to eat out of the garden, as always, to save on groceries. Right now, we’re eating corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, snaps, cucumbers, potatoes, and kale. Unfortunately, we ate through all of our carrot plantings (I’m continually planting more but they take quite a while to size up) and it is too hot for lettuce and a lot of kale so we are buying some of that from the store.

We are trying to keep it to a minimum and JUST eating out of the garden. It is not easy eating only what is in season when you always have the option of buying whatever you want at the store, but I think it is a wonderful practice in self control and a wonderful nature lesson as well 🙂

Here are a couple of samples of what we eat. We eat simply – mainly raw, roasted, or steamed…saves on time and ingredients 🙂

supper(Clockwise from the top: kale (from the garden) salad with apples and raisins, bean burger on homemade bread (WAY cheaper than store-bought AND much healthier), steamed snaps (garden), roasted potatoes (garden), oven fried squash (neighbor’s garden) – egg & breadcrumbs))

supper(clockwise from top: kale salad (garden – we’re in a lettuce loll, what can I say?), coleslaw (cabbage & carrots w/some mayo), baked beans made in crockpot w/maple syrup to sweeten), boiled corn (garden), steamed pole beans (garden))

In general, we don’t eat meat and limit our dairy intake so other than beans for a good protein kick, I try to load up their plates with lots of veggies! These are both my 5yo’s plate.

For the first dinner, I had to buy apples & raisins, which are already on the list as we eat a lot of fruit as well, and beans (I buy dried b/c it’s cheaper and healthier if I cook it at home).

For the second dinner, I had to buy apples, beans (dry), and cabbage. However, one cabbage goes a LONG way, since I make many batches and freeze them for future suppers. Hopefully, this will help some of you see how we can eat healthy AND not spend very much money on groceries.

Some meals, of course, are more expensive. For example, when we have stuffed shells or lasagna, I make a ricotta mix with tofu, which is not cheap…but still for that meal, I buy tofu, marinara sauce, and spaghetti squash (lasts us two meals). Not crazy expensive and hopefully, in the years to come, the marinara sauce and spaghetti squash will come out of my garden!

I always hate when people are really vague about how they save money, saying, ‘I cook everything at home’ or ‘I use coupons’ or ‘I eat from my garden’. I like specific examples. I hope this helps some of you to be able to visualize how your family can eat simply and healthily on the CHEAP. Please let me know if you would like more examples.

I’m sure I’ll hear about how your kids won’t eat anything other than nuggets or pizza or whatever. Kids aren’t going to go from eating fried, processed food to eating raw/steamed veggies overnight.

Many years ago, we began introducing our children to salads as a snack WITH Ranch dressing AND croutons! Next, we dropped the croutons. Then, a year ago, we dropped the dressing. We used to eat snaps by steaming and then putting butter in them. Now, we just steam them (no seasoning or anything). It is a process. Don’t expect things to change overnight. Work with your kids little-by-little. Get rid of all the bad food in the house. ALL.OF.IT. Be a good role-model.

By the way, we don’t eat healthy, healthy all the time. We eat pizza about twice a month. However, our pizza is with homemade, whole-wheat dough and they are veggie (kale, artichokes, cream cheese) or pineapple pizzas so again, not going crazy with money or health even when we splurge.

Another non-healthy meal we eat about twice a month is quesadillas…we eat these with guacamole (avocado, salsa, lime juice), rice (brown), salad, and refried beans (I make them from dry beans and only use a little coconut oil so they are VERY healthy but VERY tasty). We love the taste on our tongues of a splurge but their little bodies are so used to eating healthy that within 12 hours, their bodies have expelled all of the cheese they have eaten. It seems like a waste of $$ to me but, again, we enjoy it as it goes down!

Non-Food Savings

Another way we are saving on groceries each month is by not buying diapers (woo whoo!) or laundry detergent. Cloth diapering is really working out 🙂

For new readers, I bought 13 cloth diapers off of craigslist back in April with the idea that if I could use them until July, I will have broken even (cost the same as buying diapers from April until July). If I could use them past July, I would be ‘making money’! Well, it’s July and I am definitely continuing! 🙂

I bought 13 because that is how many the lady had for sale but I decided to look for more later. After 4 months of using cloth diapers, I don’t think I really need any more. We use all of them in about 2-3 days and after 2-3 days, it starts to smell so I have to wash anyway. If I had more, I would just want to wait longer and that’s just stinky 😛

I know cloth diapering is different with a newborn because the baby is changed a lot more and is different w/a toddler b/c poops are so much worse, but right now, with a one year old who still gets most of his nutrition breastfeeding, what we have is perfect 🙂

Another thing I bought back in April was Soap Nuts. It is a sustainable product and VERY economical. All of the reviews I read on them were wonderful so I ordered a large bag. If you like your clothes to come out smelling lavendery or citrusy, I suggest using essential oils because using Soap Nuts, your clothes come out smelling…like nothing…which I’m fine with. 🙂 They are incredibly easy to use and clean just as well as other laundry soaps (even on poop stains!).

I know this was a SUPER DUPER long post! If you made it to the end, Congratulations! 🙂 If you missed out on planting a garden this year, all is not lost! Go buy kale, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and carrot seeds! Depending on where you live, gardening year-round is VERY doable! You can save on your grocery bills even when it is cold and snowy 🙂


End of June Budget Wrap-Up

July 4,2013

I never did a budget update for June. oops!

My husband gets paid every two weeks. This month, once the paycheck comes in, I have been doing a BIG grocery shopping trip – trying to buy everything needed for two weeks. Then, normally a day or two before he gets paid again, we need a few more things (like fruit). I was able to stick to the budget doing this and had a little extra for unforeseen costs (paying to get into a park and medicine).

I have already gone shopping for the first two weeks in July and I am hoping to have enough extra money to pay to spay the dog…Yes, I said it. We have gone back & forth on this dog thing for about a month now.

My husband wanted to retrain her after she killed a chicken and we were set to get her back a couple of weeks ago (my MIL has been keeping her for us, trying to find a home for her but has been unable to) but then we realized we had to get her spayed…and did not have the money to do so. We told his mother we would take her to the pound this weekend.

I was never really big on having her to keep the chickens safe anyway as our coop and chunnel are really safe on their own. However, as soon as the dog was no longer with us, I noticed bunnies in our garden…A LOT. I decided to put soap in the garden but with all the rain, it was not helping much. Then, the other day we picked some carrots. My son pulled a HUGE one and we saw it was halfway chewed on by a mole (or gopher or whatever).

eatenThis is when I talked to my husband about getting the dog back. Yesterday, there was a fox in the blueberry patch and the decision was made. Dog is coming back.

I was always against getting a dog and after the dog killed a chicken, I was even less thrilled. However, I am trying to all but eliminate the grocery bill by having chickens and a garden so if we can keep the dog away from the chickens and the dog can keep all the other critters away, AND we have a way to pay to get her spayed, I am all for a helpful member of the family 🙂

So, how did I go grocery shopping for two weeks and only spend $120 for seven people (when I normally spend $250)? The garden! We have been getting all of our lettuce and carrot needs from garden this month. We have also been getting green beans (snaps) and blueberries galore from the garden all month and most of our kale has come from the garden.

In addition to all of this, we have signs of more produce: baby zucchini, tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, and cantaloupe (or spaghetti squash), and more kale, lettuce, carrots, and snaps – so I am hoping our grocery bill can stay low during the summer months and that money can go towards paying down debt (except for this month, in which that money will pay for the dog to be spayed)!

bell pepper baby zucchini baby tomatoWe have been on the cash system and have not used a credit card since February of this year. We have paid about 30% of our debt and have not incurred any more (that’s BIG for us).

We actually do not have a date for when we expect/want it to be paid off. From my husband’s part time job, we are able to pay our monthly expenses, by God’s grace. Anything else extra (from my part time job or from him booking weddings) goes straight towards paying down more debt. Because this extra income is so sporadic, we do not know when to expect this to happen. We are just trying to stay faithful not using credit cards and staying within or below our budget and we look forward to the day we will be debt free! 😀

How are your budgets going? Anything I can list specifically that may help you to keep a tighter grocery budget?

May Budget Review

June 1, 2013

May was pretty boring, budget-wise. I guess that is a good thing. We did really well sticking to our budget! The change from $112 to $125/week for groceries was needed, for sure. I did one BIG grocery trip every two weeks and then a small one towards the next pay period, just buying a few things. I went under most weeks and was able to put some of the money into the creation of the chunnel.

We are paying off our debt little by little. I am going to try to work more this next month (I have a work-from-home job where I set my own hours, which have been next to nothing because we have had so much going on lately) so we can pay off our debt bigger by bigger 😉

I also expect to be harvesting from our garden more in June (lettuce, kale, snaps, maybe some blueberries and potatoes) so hopefully more of our grocery money can go to paying off debt.

How are you doing budgeting? How do summertime activities play into your budget?

April Budget Update and Changes

May 1, 2013

A budget update is so boring…I didn’t even want to write about it. But it helps keep me focused and may be a reminder to you all to start a budget! 🙂

In 2012, we spent $150/week ($600/month) on groceries for our family of seven. We also went out  to eat 2-4x month. I tried to pair that down this year to $112/week ($450/month). This is just not happening for two reasons:

  1. We now go out to eat once a month (it seems to always be someone’s birthday) so I am cooking at home more.
  2. My husband has been juicing since February and that adds about $20 to our grocery bill each week.

I have been spending, pretty consistently, $125/week ($500/month) so far this year so this week, when we had our monthly budget meeting, I decided to change our grocery budget to something more realistic.

I could feel like this is a loss (not making my $112/week goal) but I choose to see it as a win because I am saving $100/month compared to 2012 numbers with growing children with growing appetites.

Things I am NOT buying:

Every once in a while, I am not buying kale, broccoli, spinach, and lettuce, because this is what we have been growing in our winter garden. Hopefully, this summer, I will be able to reduce our grocery bill even more as we have potatoes, peas, carrots, beans, and blueberries growing and hopefully we will continue to produce more vegetables as well.

What are you doing to get out of debt/save money? Send any creative ideas my way 😀