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Food Budget (S/O food stamps thread)


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Honestly, we are on food stamps. We have seven people in our family - five children (and hungry boys at that LOL) under 11 and two adults.

We get $600/month. We can NEVER get it to stretch for a whole month. We do shop pretty minimally and do not buy junk food (okay rarely junk food like cookies and chips). We shop for sales and bargain deals and don't buy name brand unless its on sale.

 

If anyone has a secret on how to get $600/month to stretch for seven people...let me know! I guess if we just ate cheap boxes meals all month then it'd work. Its all the healthy food that kills the budget! Especially when you are shopping for seven people. One bunch of bananas only lasts MAYBE one day in our house. lol A big bag of oranges (like the ones that go on sale at Safeway occasionally) lasts about 2-3 days. aack!

 

Also wanted to add, that thankfully we are not bad off enough that food stamps are all we have for food money. When we run out before the end of the month, we use our money to buy more food -but its very minimal. We are on a super tight budget. uggh

I have gone shopping at midnight before, but that was because we had a busy night and I had to wait to get the kids to bed, etc before I could go. That's more rare then normal though, and we've never gone shopping at midnight when the food stamp money came in. I'm just grateful that we haven't been to that point of not having any food in the house nor having money for food.

 

We have 7 people in our house (albeit a bit younger than yours) and my food budget is $400/month. I have no problem buying all we need for that amount, usually. I know a lot of people on this forum could chime in with ways to save money on groceries. For us it's cooking primarily from scratch, coupons and sales. Here are some helpful websites: http://www.moneysavingmom.com, http://www.raisingolives.com, http://www.smockityfrocks.com. These are all blogs of women who raise large families and make it work. HTH!

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We have 7 people in our house (albeit a bit younger than yours) and my food budget is $400/month. I have no problem buying all we need for that amount, usually. I know a lot of people on this forum could chime in with ways to save money on groceries. For us it's cooking primarily from scratch, coupons and sales. Here are some helpful websites: www.moneysavingmom.com, www.raisingolives.com, www.smockityfrocks.com. These are all blogs of women who raise large families and make it work. HTH!

 

This is HIGHLY dependent on where you live and the cost of living in your area. When I visit my parents, I cannot believe how cheap their grocery stores are. In my region and with our food allergies, there is no way I could make that work. There aren't enough coupons in the world!

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I cook *all* from scratch.

We eat almost *no* processed food (not even condiments).

We never eat out.

 

 

There is no way we could feed all four of us for 400 a month.

 

I do it on $350/mo. We cook almost all from scratch, don't use paper products except toilet paper and 1 roll of paper towels a month, make our own cleaning products, and don't coupon for the most part. We just have to make it work because that's what there is. I bulk cook a lot, which helps, we have simpler meals for the most part. We do struggle some months to have enough meat or enough fresh vegetables depending on what was running low that month and what we had leftover for stocking up. But I don't have teenagers, either, though one on the verge who will soon kill our food budget lol

 

I think, a lot of times, it has to do with the prices in your particular part of the country, too.

Edited by DarcyB
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I cook *all* from scratch.

We eat almost *no* processed food (not even condiments).

We never eat out.

 

 

There is no way we could feed all four of us for 400 a month.

 

Same here. I *could* stretch it to $400 a month for the 5 of us, but that's only if we are eating no meat, and very few fresh veggies or fruits or milk. That's not even counting toiletries. I rarely buy prepared food. The meat we eat is usually ground turkey or chicken (thighs and legs often!) We drink water for most meals, and use around 2.5 gallons of milk a week. I still regularly spend $180 a week on groceries.

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also remember that 'cooking from scratch' doesn't always mean cheaper due to ingredient choices.

 

 

Family A's homemade mac and cheese is made with enriched macaroni noodles, store brand cheese and the cheapest milk available.

 

Family B uses expensive whole grain pasta, imported or local 'gormet' cheeses and organic milk.

 

The same 'cheap' dish that family A can make for $2-3 cost family B $10. The homemade versions are both from scratch but are very different with just the same 3 ingredients. The two different families will say they just used pasta, cheese and milk.

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Guest Alte Veste Academy
also remember that 'cooking from scratch' doesn't always mean cheaper due to ingredient choices.

 

 

Family A's homemade mac and cheese is made with enriched macaroni noodles, store brand cheese and the cheapest milk available.

 

Family B uses expensive whole grain pasta, imported or local 'gormet' cheeses and organic milk.

 

The same 'cheap' dish that family A can make for $2-3 cost family B $10. The homemade versions are both from scratch but are very different with just the same 3 ingredients. The two different families will say they just used pasta, cheese and milk.

 

Yes! This is my problem. I cook from scratch and try to buy the healthiest ingredients. We also eat a great deal of produce. Organic or not (sometimes it's just not available here), it is very expensive to have 5 people eating an abundance of veggies and 2-3 fruits a day. It costs a small fortune. We pay as much for our food as for our mortgage, sometimes more. I could feed us all for $400 a month and obviously would if I had to, just not the way I want to. I'm in central TX.

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I live in Southern AL and our food buget is $800/month for 4.

 

Homemade mac and cheese here would cost:

$1 for pasta

$2.50-$5 for cheese (can't remember the amt needed).

1/4 stick butter $.40

 

Then you would need a vege to go with it: $1/canned or $2.50/fresh.

 

Our budget includes a 12 pack of 2 types of soda/week, a couple of snacks (chips or crackers) and some chocolate. This also includes all cleaning supplies, ink printer cartridges and paper. We also eat only humanely raised meat.

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Yes! This is my problem. I cook from scratch and try to buy the healthiest ingredients. We also eat a great deal of produce. Organic or not (sometimes it's just not available here), it is very expensive to have 5 people eating an abundance of veggies and 2-3 fruits a day. It costs a small fortune. We pay as much for our food as for our mortgage, sometimes more. I could feed us all for $400 a month and obviously would if I had to, just not the way I want to. I'm in central TX.

 

This is us exactly, except there are only 4 here! My mom has said there is no way she could have afforded for my brothers, sister and I to eat as healthy as my dds are able. I didn't grow up with a lot of fresh fruits and veggies but my dds have them daily. I always heard people say it would be cheaper to make everything from scratch but we actually started spending more when we started eating healthier, made-from-scratch meals.

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This is HIGHLY dependent on where you live and the cost of living in your area. When I visit my parents, I cannot believe how cheap their grocery stores are. In my region and with our food allergies, there is no way I could make that work. There aren't enough coupons in the world!

 

This is totally true. I *can* do a month for 7 (5 adults and 2 kids) for $800, but the menu doesn't yield much by way of snacks and such. If I really shopped frugally (by that I mean no organic, Aldi type grocery stores, farmer's mkts, etc), I could probably get it down to $600. And I think I live in a moderately priced area. In a larger city, I would easily have to add 50% to my bill to get what I can here. It becomes even more troublesome when different diets need to be adhered to.

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This is part of what I posted on the food stamps thread, but it really belongs here:

 

I converted the USDA's market basket of foods from pounds into ounces, based on the Low Cost Food Plan. When I made my grocery list, I figured out how many ounces of grains I could buy, taking into consideration the ounces on packages of actual products I buy, so I would know exactly how many loaves of bread to to buy, and so forth with every food group.

 

I took my list for one week's groceries to the store 2 weeks ago. I bought no junk food and no organic food. It cost me $300 and filled two shopping carts. It would have cost $379, except that I saved $67 by buying things on sale and I received a $12 food perks credit (from using the store card whenever I shop there). I didn't use coupons because there were none for the products I bought. I bought nothing except what was on the list.

 

Based on this shopping trip, and actual figures for the past 12 months, my monthly average cost of food for my family is $1300. That is more than the Low Cost Food Plan allows, and is actually what I spend in the average month. It is the average of the Low Cost and Moderate Cost Food Plans. I purchase foods based on their nutritional quality, and do not buy organic produce or meat that costs over $3 a pound. I used to have a $2 a pound limit for meat, but the prices have increased so much that the very lowest I have seen in a year is $2.50 a pound.

 

I rarely use coupons because they don't exist for most of what I purchase. If they do, I find them, believe me. I plan my purchases based on what is on sale.

 

***

My food budget contains only food and costs me an average of $1,300 a month. This includes $65 a month for 2 teenagers to eat lunch at PS ($1.60 for lunches which have extremely low nutritional quality and don't have enough food -- but the kids can choose to make and bring their own lunches).

 

DH brings his lunch to work: 1 fruit, 2 sandwiches, carrots sometimes, and sometimes 2 cookies or a brownie.

 

My family's serving sizes are those recommended by the food pyramid for each food group and age/gender group. The boys eat more than 3 meals a day, of course. We eat whole grains, very little fish (it is too expensive), cheap cuts of beef, and chicken. We eat a lot of vegetables of many varieties and colors, and two fruits per day per person. We drink skim milk. I cook and bake from scratch, but I buy whole grain, high quality, bread (which is 35% cheaper here than it was in MA because it's always on sale & I figure very few customers eat it). Exception: cake mixes and brownie mixes, bought on sale with a coupon for $1 or less per box, are cheaper than making either from scratch. Also, once in awhile Ragu is cheaper than making sauce from scratch -- I do use canned tomatoes for that unless plum tomatoes are in season.

 

So this is not a household of extravagant eaters munching on luxury foods. I do have a well-stocked pantry and freezer, so I am not shopping for an empty larder every week. I stock up when there are really great, low prices on things I use (like $1/large can of sliced pineapple in juice) -- except for my USDA shopping trip -- and generally buy 2 dozen of those items.

 

I think I spend far too much on food. I'm very good at being frugal, this is just what it costs here to eat a high quality, nutritious diet without being extravagant at all, ever.

Edited by RoughCollie
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Guest Alte Veste Academy
My mom has said there is no way she could have afforded for my brothers, sister and I to eat as healthy as my dds are able.

 

I always heard people say it would be cheaper to make everything from scratch but we actually started spending more when we started eating healthier, made-from-scratch meals.

 

Yes and yes! I also do not find cooking from scratch saves us money (just like quilting isn't cheaper than buying something mass-produced). DH and I frequently talk about how we could not even have afforded to feed the kids like this 10-15 years ago. That's a pretty decent exchange for sometimes feeling halfway to elderly with these young whippersnappers around. :tongue_smilie:

 

OP, thanks for the links and for posting this. I'll look at the sites and see what help is out there to get the budget down.

Edited by Alte Veste Academy
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I would love to have some of your grocery money!

 

I spend about $360 a month for the four of us - two adults and two teens. This is just groceries, though, not household items. I would have to add another $75 to include the money I send with DD for her high school lunches.

 

This also doesn't include what DH spends on the road - he's a railroader and is gone for 24-48 hours and it is nearly impossible to pack that many meals for him to take on a train.

 

DH and DS hunt so most of our meat comes from them. We usually pay about $75 to have a deer processed.

This year DH bought 1/4 cow from his cousin and we ended up paying about $300 total for that meat. It will last us about 6 months.

 

If I add everything together I guess I do spend a little over $500 a month.

 

I don't think I would know what to do with $800 worth of food. I guess I would have to learn to shop and cook a whole new way.

 

ETA: we are in the midwest so I think our groceries are less expensive but according to my family in CO our prices are higher than theirs so I have no idea.

Edited by The Dragon Academy
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:iagree:

 

I think it has more to do with where you live. In NJ, you don't get much for $100.

 

It also has to do with lifestyle, ages, etc.

 

It's important to know that the assistance is not dollar for dollar. If you get income, your decrease in assistance is usually MUCH greater than the income that comes in. In other words, when my husband or myself had an increase in pay, our assistance dropped by more than that increase.

 

This year, none of us are home during the day. Our ability to shop, plan for shopping, store hop, and coupon are limited. Our need for quick, easy sustaining food outside the home is greater. Our ability to cook "from scratch" is greatly diminished.

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We spend ~ 800.00/mo. for 6 (including all toiletries, laurdry detergent, diapers and wipes, etc.). That does include organic beef and dairy, some organic produce, and some random items such as the occasional box of dry cereal. I know I could get it down to probably 600.00/mo. just by switching to conventional vs. organic. I could reduce our expenditures further by rationing produce and portioning out single servings at supper.

 

I am glad that we do not have to do that, but I know that we could if we needed to and still get by.

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We have a tight budget. I feed the 9 of us for $600/month. Sometimes it's less and sometimes more because I bulk buy when I find a sale. We eat many meatless meals, frozen or canned veg (I home do this if I can find a good deal at a stand). We usually only snack on homemade muffins/toast/air popped popcorn. I do have the advantage of living in the midwest and shopping at Aldi. Different parts of the country have such varying prices it's hard to compare budgets. So many inner city folks don't have access to a grocery and so many rural people have no transportation to the store that it's not fair to make middle class assumptions about how they shop.

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I think often people in rural areas or smaller cities, especially not on either coast, don't appreciate how very expensive it is to live in in some of the more affluent areas, especially in more urban areas. Food is very expensive. I live in DC. When I go to visit my grandmother in central Georgia, the cost difference is so spectacular (she gets her grocery staples from Wal-Mart, which we don't even have accessible to us, her produce from one of the state's largest farmer's markets and her meat often comes from local sources where she often gets deals) that I start to seize up just thinking about it.

 

But we choose to live here. Dh makes a salary that is generous and means we don't have to worry about the cost of the food. I'm just saying that sometimes there's a lot of judgement (intentional or not) in the messages about $400 being enough to cover the monthly grocery bill. When you're trying to save money, there are some tricks that work everywhere, but some that won't.

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We have 7 people in our house (albeit a bit younger than yours) and my food budget is $400/month. I have no problem buying all we need for that amount, usually. I know a lot of people on this forum could chime in with ways to save money on groceries. For us it's cooking primarily from scratch, coupons and sales. Here are some helpful websites: www.moneysavingmom.com, www.raisingolives.com, www.smockityfrocks.com. These are all blogs of women who raise large families and make it work. HTH!

 

Holy Cow!!! I can barely get it under $800 per month and I use coupons and do rebates like crazy! Granted if I pulled out snacks and could get them to eat beans it would be great.

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That's amazing! I am a super-careful shopper. Plus, we have a huge garden, and I spent the weekend canning quarts and quarts of food. We also raise our own chickens for eggs and meat.

 

I often wish more folks would share their knowledge. You need to have your own food blog. :) I would follow it!

 

I would love to have some of your grocery money!

 

I spend about $360 a month for the four of us - two adults and two teens. This is just groceries, though, not household items. I would have to add another $75 to include the money I send with DD for her high school lunches.

 

This also doesn't include what DH spends on the road - he's a railroader and is gone for 24-48 hours and it is nearly impossible to pack that many meals for him to take on a train.

 

DH and DS hunt so most of our meat comes from them. We usually pay about $75 to have a deer processed.

This year DH bought 1/4 cow from his cousin and we ended up paying about $300 total for that meat. It will last us about 6 months.

 

If I add everything together I guess I do spend a little over $500 a month.

 

I don't think I would know what to do with $800 worth of food. I guess I would have to learn to shop and cook a whole new way.

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I would love to have some of your grocery money!/QUOTE]

 

There are a lot of do-it-yourself ways to save money on food, and I'd do it if I knew how, had the money to get started, or had the energy. Energy level is important because I have a serious, chronic heart condition. My kids and DH are not interested in becoming farmers or hunters, unfortunately.

 

Where we live, school is out for the first day of deer hunting season. Everyone hunts, except us ... we are citiots.

 

I would love to have a garden, too. I've tried a couple of times, but it didn't work. I may try again next year, but I always say that.

 

I've always wanted to can fresh produce for the winter months. I don't have to grow it -- there are lots of farms which have markets around here. My concern is that (1) it would cost more than buying canned tomatoes or frozen veg at the store, and (2) canning would destroy the nutrients in the vegetables. I do freeze veg now, but I haven't had time this summer to buy in bulk to do that much.

 

I would also love to have chickens and a milk cow and a beef cow (or whatever they call them). We are not set up for that, and it would be too expensive to build the housing and fences for them. Plus who would kill them when it came time? How much would that cost. Plus, I'm not sure 2 acres is enough for this. I'd have to hire help because DH and the kids are adamant that they have no intention of doing anything related to farming.

 

If I were much younger and married to a guy who would do this, I would want to live a self-sustaining lifestyle for at least five years, hopefully forever. I know it would take a lot of hard work, but I think it would be worth it.

Edited by RoughCollie
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I cannot feed the 3 of us for less than $500.00 a month in New England. It costs me a dollar a lemon and takes three to make a gallon of lemonade. When we were in AZ I got lemons 4/$1.

 

I noticed the cost of lemons right after I moved to Boston -- I needed 19 of them, and it cost me a fortune, compared to what I paid for them in Atlanta.

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Just want to reiterate that it totally depends on where you live. This week, I can (and will!) be getting boneless skinless chicken for $1.49/# and tomatoes for .49/#, etc. We have very competitive grocery stores here.

 

I have never seen grocery prices that low! I am happy to get boneless skinless chicken for $2.40 a pound and tomatoes for 99 cents. If I go to Sam's, I can get chicken for $2.00-2.20.

 

Walmart is no longer cheapest here - in the past year their prices have gone up dramatically. It seems that everything has gone up in all the stores. I was feeding more people last year for less money.

 

I would like to get my grocery budget to $600 a month, but I am not there yet.

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Just want to reiterate that it totally depends on where you live. This week, I can (and will!) be getting boneless skinless chicken for $1.49/# and tomatoes for .49/#, etc. We have very competitive grocery stores here.

 

Tomatoes $1.89 a pound, last week, not organic

 

Boneless Chicken, on sale this week, $1.99 lb, enhanced with 15% chicken broth

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I have 6 kiddos - age 10, 8, 6, 4, and twin girlies 9 months old. I can't really estimate the girls into my groceries - they don't really eat much food yet. So say 2 adults and 4 kids. I don't buy what I'd consider to be super pricey groceries - I've really had to scale back in the last few years (example: we used to eat frozen waffles umm... alot...now it's once a week) and we spend probably $900-$1000 a month on groceries. Life is hectic and I do think I could do better than that - I think with more effort I could get it to $800 a month, but I cannot imagine getting to $600 and still providing milk, fresh fruit, and our typical portion sizes. Sometimes I think it would be helpful to see what people eat. I'm going to start a separate thread about meals people usually eat.

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Walmart is no longer cheapest here - in the past year their prices have gone up dramatically. It seems that everything has gone up in all the stores. I was feeding more people last year for less money.

 

Yep, I've noticed this, too. I've always tried to take advantage of Kroger's sales but now I'm shopping more at SuperTarget as well. Around here Kroger has the cheapest sugar, Target has the cheapest flour. There are still some things WM is cheaper, but not nearly as much as it used to be.

 

Cinder

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I have never seen grocery prices that low! I am happy to get boneless skinless chicken for $2.40 a pound and tomatoes for 99 cents. If I go to Sam's, I can get chicken for $2.00-2.20.

 

Walmart is no longer cheapest here - in the past year their prices have gone up dramatically. It seems that everything has gone up in all the stores. I was feeding more people last year for less money.

 

I would like to get my grocery budget to $600 a month, but I am not there yet.

 

I regularly pay $4.99 a pound for boneless skinless chicken breasts. If I want organic I'm paying closer to $7 a pound. Which is one reason why we are trying to move to a vegetarian diet in my household.

 

I don't think some people have a clue what the VAST differences in food prices are in different areas of the country.

 

And prices are going up like crazy in my area!

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I regularly pay $4.99 a pound for boneless skinless chicken breasts. If I want organic I'm paying closer to $7 a pound. Which is one reason why we are trying to move to a vegetarian diet in my household.

 

 

 

Not buying red meat has cut our grocery budget significantly. I'm slowly cutting back on chicken, too.

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Guest mrsjamiesouth
I cook *all* from scratch.

We eat almost *no* processed food (not even condiments).

We never eat out.

 

 

:iagree: We have a family of 5, with boys who eat a lot and we spend under $300 a month including dog food, toiletries, and personal products.

 

Instead of shopping at a normal grocery I do food co-ops, meat markets, and farmers markets. We have International Farmers Markets that are open year round and offer fruit and veges for really Cheap. The meat market sells free range, organic meats for really good prices. I buy a family package for $80 that lasts us a month.

If I have to go to a grocery, I usually find Kroger to be the cheapest if you only buy Manager's specials. They often mark down produce, salads, and milk. I also do food co-ops for wheat, butter, eggs, etc...

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Yes! This is my problem. I cook from scratch and try to buy the healthiest ingredients. We also eat a great deal of produce. Organic or not (sometimes it's just not available here), it is very expensive to have 5 people eating an abundance of veggies and 2-3 fruits a day. It costs a small fortune. We pay as much for our food as for our mortgage, sometimes more. I could feed us all for $400 a month and obviously would if I had to, just not the way I want to. I'm in central TX.

 

Exactly. (Although I will admit I'm having a hard pregnancy and freely admit I buy some convenience items). But I am really stuck on organic dairy, humanely raised meats, etc, and we eat a lot of fresh produce. So I spend a ton on groceries and am not necessarily looking for the cheapest way to make things, because those other things are my priority.

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If you have overstock or dent & bent stores, take advantage of them. Aldi's is another. Then figure out which grocer gives the best prices for their produce, meat, and cheese. I have to drive about 20-30min to the one I stock up at. But the other stores are along the way. I only use the nearby grocery (more expensive) or Walmart for milk and other items that I can't stock up on. Cook simply: think meat, veggie, and starch or one pot meals that don't use a lot of ingredients or inexpensive ingredients.

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I spend about $150/mo for 2 people (DH mostly eats out of the house, everyone else buys their own food). We also get WIC. I cook some from scratch, but we eat much more processed/packaged food than I consider ideal.

 

I abuse the heck out of ad matching at Walmart, which since I live in a large urban area means I usually have at least 6-7 ads I can filter through to find the best deals without actually having to go to all those stores. I also buy a lot of generics rather than name-brand products. GV salsa, GV whole wheat pasta, etc.

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These are also good (sale) prices here in GA.

 

I'm bumming that butter is up to $3 per pound.

 

Cinder

 

Kroger has been carrying their 1 pound block of butter for $1.82 recently. For that much savings, I can pick up a knife and cut it. They also run specials on medium sized eggs fairly often--last week they were 50 cents per dozen.

 

I never go to Walmart for only groceries anymore. I might pick up a few things while I'm there for something else, but pricewise it's not worth the trip.

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I s. Sometimes I think it would be helpful to see what people eat. I'm going to start a separate thread about meals people usually eat.

 

I was going to respond to this, but I'll go look for the other thread.

 

We spend around $600/month. And, I get a lot of organic (probably 95%) foods. And, I have two teenaged boys. But, we have Trader Joe's. That helps a LOT!!!!! So, I do get organic cheeses ($6/pound or so), but we don't snack on them! The kids snack on breads with peanut butter, nuts/seeds, yogurt, peppers, carrots, etc.

 

I also belong to a food coop where I can get beans, oatmeal, popcorn, etc in 25 − 50 pound bags at a fraction the cost I can at the store.

 

I get my meat from an Amish farmer/butcher. I spend around $150 every 3 months on our meat.

 

I also make all of my own breads. I'd love to hear more about making your own condiments! We make our own salad dressings and barbecue sauce, but mayo? Ketchup? Mustard? How do you make those?

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I managed to keep my grocery bill to $100-150/wk (6 people, one pregnant ;)), but it's been bouncing between $120 and $250/wk for the past couple of months. I haven't changed my store or shopping habits much, if at all. It just is what it is, and sometimes that's more than double what I'm used to!

 

According to my last September receipt (my customer card keeps track), I've saved $2200 so far this year, when you combine sales and coupons, so that's an average of $200+ more/mo. if I were to pay full price.

 

Anyway, my point is that, if I were absolutely dependent on my original food budget (which worked well for years), I'd be completely screwed right now, through no fault of my own!

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Kroger has been carrying their 1 pound block of butter for $1.82 recently. For that much savings, I can pick up a knife and cut it. They also run specials on medium sized eggs fairly often--last week they were 50 cents per dozen.

 

 

 

Thanks--I'll be checking out the block butter. I'd forgotten about this option because until recently "regular" butter was only a few cents more than the block.

 

Cinder

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Add some veggies and fruit to your bean, rice, lentils, homemade bread, and you are in business.

 

We do eat meat, but it definitely adds to the grocery bill. Beans and rice with veggies is definitely the way to go if I need to economize for a while, and it's probably the idea in terms of health.

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I'm bumming that butter is up to $3 per pound.

 

Cinder

 

I had a bunch stocked in the freezer and ran out, so had to buy some last week and was shocked. I'm wondering if the price for milk being $1.68-2.00/gal is being offset by butter prices going up 33% in just a couple of months.

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How long does dry popcorn last before it get stale?

 

Dawn

 

I was going to respond to this, but I'll go look for the other thread.

 

We spend around $600/month. And, I get a lot of organic (probably 95%) foods. And, I have two teenaged boys. But, we have Trader Joe's. That helps a LOT!!!!! So, I do get organic cheeses ($6/pound or so), but we don't snack on them! The kids snack on breads with peanut butter, nuts/seeds, yogurt, peppers, carrots, etc.

 

I also belong to a food coop where I can get beans, oatmeal, popcorn, etc in 25 − 50 pound bags at a fraction the cost I can at the store.

 

I get my meat from an Amish farmer/butcher. I spend around $150 every 3 months on our meat.

 

I also make all of my own breads. I'd love to hear more about making your own condiments! We make our own salad dressings and barbecue sauce, but mayo? Ketchup? Mustard? How do you make those?

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I spend around $600-$650/month for all items including toiletries and dog food. If I had to lower it, I could, but it would take a lot more time and effort.

 

I like the ideas in this e-book....

 

http://www.budget101.com/budget101-free-ebook/free-ebook-groceries-200-month-2547.html

 

I am fortunate to live in an area with deals, but I also shop very differently than I used to.

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I cook everything from scratch, but I don't buy organic (unless it is on sale). There are technically only 3 of us, but my DH has an exceptionally high metabolism and for practical purposes he has to eat as much as I would normally assign to about 3 people (or else he randomly blacks out) and my DS, while not that bad, definitely has a faster metabolism than me - unless he's teething he out eats me (but then again, I have a VERY slow metabolism, so it balances out)! So in reality I'm feeding 4-5 "people", depending on the day. We also have my brother (freshman in college) over once or twice a week to make sure he gets a decent meal in him. My grocery budget is $175-$250, pending the month.

 

At the end of every month I plan out the next month's menu and then write down everything I'll need. I take stock of the pantry and the freezer and cross off the items I already have (that I'm not planning on using for in the duration of the current month) and then draw up my monthly "stock up" list. This includes all of the meat, onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes, canned goods, baking goods, and household items (tp, feminine supplies, soap etc) that we'll need in the next month. It also includes a week's worth of milk, eggs, and fresh produce (limited to whatever is usually on sale). I limit my shopping to two, sometimes three, stores so that we're not running all over the place. I write down what I think everything is going to cost me and tally it up. I usually end up spending $125-$150, for the initial stock up and then every week I go shopping for milk, eggs, bread (though now that it's getting cooler I'll start making all of our bread again) and produce. I try to keep the weekly bill between $10 and $15.

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