Well, please don’t forget everything – just the parts I shared a few years ago about how I can feed my family of six a whole foods diet for less than $500 each month.
See, I thought my kids ate a lot of food at that time (2011)…because they did. They’ve always been very active and have had hearty appetites. But now? Well, we can polish off 2 pounds of meat, 2 pounds of strawberries, 1 pound of frozen vegetables, 5 pounds of potatoes, and a half gallon of milk – in one meal. An hour later they’ll need (and I do mean need, not want) more food, so we’ll eat a bowl of apples, four bowls of popcorn, and a hunk of cheese.
The boys who used to look like this:
Now look like this:
The little one who loved dressing up in costumes and climbing on my bulk groceries…
Can now eat his weight in bulk groceries. And he’s the youngest one of the bunch. You should see his 6’3″ brother eat. Those 50 pound bags just don’t stretch as far as they used to.
The food portions we put on our plates at meal time still look like this:
But that’s just a warm-up. An appetizer. A teaser plate. They polish that off and go back to heap more onto their plates, twice, or maybe three times - if there’s anything left. I typically have to act quickly if I want seconds (or firsts as is the case at times).
I love this. Feeding people is fun for me, watching my family eat great food is a joy, and observing healthy appetites does my heart good. Bring on the food, bring on the appetites, bring on the healthy eating!
But it does come with a price tag – an ever growing price tag that sometimes shocks me, especially when see the shopping cart, the bulk co-op purchases, the cases of food delivered to my door – and I know how long the food will (won’t) last.
This is what my grocery cart usually looks like (weekly) - filled with fruits and veggies to go with the farm fresh meat, eggs, and milk – plus all of our bulk food purchases.
Do I really mean for you to forget everything I’ve ever said about how to keep a low grocery budget while still feeding your family a whole food diet? No way. All of my tips and tricks still hold true. Our grocery budget would be increasing whether we were eating whole foods or not. I don’t even want to think about how much I would be spending every month if we were eating large amounts of processed food. I believe eating healthy whole foods is what is keeping our food budget as low as it is right now. Therefore, we’ll continue to:
- Make as much food from scratch as possible
- Buy food in bulk to cut cost
- Avoid eating out much
- Do freezer cooking
- Find great deals online
- Shop through our co-op
- Take advantage of Amazon Prime/Mom/Subscribe and Save
- Eat less expensive foods like rice, potatoes, beans, and pasta
- Grind our own grain to make whole grain flour for our baked goods
- Drink mostly water instead of purchased drinks
- Avoid wasting food (as if there are ever any leftovers to waste)
- Watch for sales on items we buy at local stores, then stock up
Our grocery budget increases, but only because we’re eating more food, and there’s not much I can do (or want to do) to change that. If they are hungry, let them eat. Just save some for me, boys!
To accommodate the changes in our grocery budget, we’ve had to shuffle some numbers around in our overall budget. Eating is not an option. The money has to come from somewhere, right? So where has it come from?
Well, as we’ve taken a look at all the line items in our budget, it can look at first glance as if there is no flexibility. After all, we try not to spend money on anything we don’t feel is necessary, so what can we possibly cut out? Nothing, really. And while I’m on the subject, can I tell you how nice it is to have a clearly itemized household budget so that we can put a name on every dollar we earn and spend? There is so much comfort in this, even if there are sometimes question marks about how to adjust those numbers.
What has worked for our family is this: Our boys are now able to earn money by doing various jobs such as mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, babysitting, and other miscellaneous jobs people call on them for. Our two oldest boys are licensed soccer officials, which means that in the spring and fall they are called to the soccer fields 4-5 days/evenings each week to referee games. They are good at what they do, they enjoy the work, they earn nice paychecks, and they are good savers. So guess what? In an effort to both help our household budget and teach them how to manage money, our boys have become more responsible for purchasing many of the items they need.
As a result, we’ve been able to shift some money from our clothing budget over to our grocery budget. We let the boys pay for their own outings with friends, church youth functions, part of church camp costs, etc. Aha! It’s a win-win. The boys get to continue eating (you’re welcome, children), plus they learn about budgeting for themselves.
I’d love to hear how you manage your grocery budget, how you cut food costs, and how you teach your kids about managing money.
Also, I want to encourage you to take advantage of what BudgetFocus offers in the area of setting us a specific (but simple!) household budget. I love this resource! Through the end of the month, you can use the code HH33 to receive 33% off a 12-month plan.
Now let’s talk grocery budgets. How are you holding up with growing appetites at your house?