frugality

Menu Planning, Grocery Shopping, and Frugal Food Finds: How to Save Money on Groceries

 

Average Family Grocery Bill

According to the USDA, it uses national food intake data and grocery price information to calculate different costs for a healthy diet at home. The latest numbers for a four-member family: a thrifty food plan, $146 a week; a low-cost food plan, $191 a week; a moderate-cost plan, $239; a liberal plan, $289 a week.

For a family with eight members like mine, our grocery bill would be $292/week on the thrifty food plan and $578/week on the liberal food plan.

We spend between $500-600/month on food for our family. Before you question my sanity or my ability to add numbers. Let me tell you that this is true. It is possible to eat healthy and frugally.

How do we do it?

  • We do not use coupons.
  • We pick our own food. Strawberries, black berries, and raspberries grow naturally on our property. I paid my children to pick fruit for me to freeze and currently my freezer is full of produce for winter.
  • We eat produce from friends and family that had too much in their garden. This year I stocked up on corn and green peppers. Both are in my freezer ready for eating this winter.
  • We hunt. Deer meat is a staple in our family. It can be fixed a multitude of ways and freezes well, too.
  • We buy locally. Apples, honey, cherries, and other produce.  This saves us money, time, and is healthier than grocery store options.
  • We buy generic.
  • We limit junk food and processed food.
  • We eat sensible recommended portions, this helps stretch our food.
  • We eat leftovers.
  • We use a menu.
  • We shop at Aldi’ s.
  • We do not eat meat at every meal, but we do have protein at every meal. Protein can be found in other forms of food besides meat. Protein fills you up and you’re less likely to want junk food if you’re full.
  • We shop at the bread store. Bread and other products are marked down often up to 75%.  Today I got ten loaves of bread for $10 total.
  • We eat fruit and veggies that are in season, otherwise they tend to be too expensive.
  • Don’t eat organic.
  • Cook homemade food whenever possible.
  • Cook in large batches, do freezer meals, once a month cooking.
  • Eat canned or frozen fruit and veggies, if fresh is too costly.
  • Pack your lunch from leftovers.

Grocery Shopping

Typically, I grocery shop once or twice a month for the majority of big shopping trips.

Before I shop for our food, I always make a menu. The provides an outline in which I make my  grocery list.

This was my grocery shopping breakdown for groceries so far this month, which I did today.

  1. Aldis: $118.26
  2. Dollar Tree: $20.52
  3. Bakery/bread store: $11.19
  4. Walmart 45.87

Total $195.84 (Household consumables were $20 of the total, food was $175)

It wasn’t until I put all the items away did I realize I should have taken a photo of my purchases to give you an idea of what our grocery budget is spent on.  Today was spent largely stocking up on items that we were out of and items needed for the menu.

The Menu

My dinner menu for the next two weeks includes:

*All meals include a protein, fruit and/or veggie

  • Salad
  • Taco bake
  • Chili
  • Pancakes and sausage
  • Risotto
  • Mexican Chicken
  • Chicken enchiladas
  • Aldi’s Pizzas (we buy 2-4 extra large Aldi’s pizzas monthly). These are a wonderful treat for our family!
  • Lasagna
  • Grilled cheese and homemade fries
  • Chicken Stir Fry
  • Hamburgers and salad
  • Tortilla soup

Lunch Menu:

Every day my three year old daughter and I have a smoothie. It varies greatly, depending on what produce I have on hand.

My husband and children take packed lunches to school. Their lunches usually do not vary much, but they have no complaints.

Snacks:

We are currently eating apples or dried apples. We buy one half bushel of apples weekly for $10, and eat them several times daily.

Breakfast:

The kids can choose from these choices on the weekdays:

  • Toast and eggs
  • Cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal

On the weekends we have:

  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • English muffins, eggs, and sausage
  • Smoky links and toast

Frugal Food Budget Tips

It does not take any magical formula to create a weekly, biweekly, or monthly menu for your family.

  • Choose one day week to work on it.
  • Have a budget, and a number in the budget that you can spend on food. Do not go over that!
  • Use several resources to learn more about cooking, saving, and sticking to a food budget.

Here are some that you may enjoy:

Hillbilly Housewife

Money Saving Mom

Miserly Moms

America’s Cheapest Family

We are a family of eight, with six of the members being children under the age of thirteen. My son has severe food allergies that we have to work around.

There may be several obstacles that you are facing in your family’s diet, too. However, let me encourage you to set a food budget, try some of my tips, and make a menu.

Challenge yourself to go one month to make a menu, shop only once or twice, and see how much money you can save.

You can do this!

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