I got to interview Crystal Paine earlier this month all about her grocery budget challenge (link to session 133). She is challenging herself to stick to $70 a week for her family of 5. After I got off the phone with her, I started talking to Jason about the challenge and we both agreed that we NEED to do this for our family! So listen in to how we are doing it:
Listen to the Podcast:
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Our Grocery Budget Challenge for June:
Jason and I have really been needing to work on our grocery budget. We needed to sit down and take a look at what we’ve been spending and then come up with a budget to try to stick to! So we’ve been excited to undertake this challenge…but it’s been tough!
While I think it is so neat that Crystal is doing $70 per week for a family of 5, it’s just not feasible for us to cut down that far. But part of this, is because we are trying increase the health of our food. So while we want to be wise stewards of our money and we want to cut down on our spending so we can save and give more – the ultimate goal for us is not to get our grocery budget to the lowest possible.
The quality of our food is very very important to us. So we could fit our grocery budget down or keep pairing down if we sacrificed on the good quality but that’s not the goal. I want to increase the health of our food while at the same time trying to be frugal about it. So I’m going to be sharing how we are cutting costs while not sacrificing our health.
American’s are spending less and less on food…and that might not be a good thing.
“Here’s the story. Thirty years ago, the average household spent about 17% of its income on food. Today it spends about 11%. It’s a global trend: Food is getting cheaper relative to incomes everywhere with rising incomes. But there’s also a distinctly American thing going on here. We spend less of our cash on food than any other country — “half as much as households in France,” according to Dorothy Gambrell.” – Cheap Eats
A chart on their website shows that American’s are spending just 7% of our household budget on food, the lowest of any industrialized country. The UK is 9%, Canada 10%, and all the way up to Egypt which spends 44% of their household budget on food.
In 1900, a whopping 43% of a family’s annual income was spent on FOOD (source). By 1950 this dropped to 30% as processed and cheaper foods became more widely available. And as more women moved into the workplace and home cooked meals as home started to become less and less. This same study shows that the number had fallen drastically to just 13% in 2003.
First things first: Setting a budget
I would begin by adding up your last three months worth of grocery spending AND eating out. The number might be shocking if you haven’t been following it! I know that our worst months are when we eat out without really tracking it…that number really climbs as a family of 7!
Then Jason and I just kind of low balled what we thought we could try for in June. We seriously just picked a number and said “Let’s try it!” It would be great if we could shave off a few hundred dollars (especially in eating out)!
And then we decided to look up the USDA Food Chart to see how our number stacks up against their plans. So I wrote down each family member and their ages and what we should spend. And our made up budget landed exactly right on with the “thrifty” plan. Now that we are a few weeks into our challenge, I think we will probably end up closer to the low-cost plan.
But this can be a great place to start with a food budget! Check out the chart here.
Our Grocery Budget Challenge:
Okay so for our family of 7: two adults and five children we’ve decided that $800 will be our grocery budget challenge for the month. So this breaks down to $200 per week and it’s been TOUGH!
We also decided to take most household items out of this, which obviously makes that easer to hit. I don’t spend extravagantly on cleaning and household products. I always look for the lowest price and deal and will stock up on them when I find them rock bottom prices. So there’s really nothing we can cut out from this.
Diapers and wipes: We also decided to take these out of the budget for now because we have THREE in size 5 diapers and we go through a LOT of diapers. Lord willing, we will only have ONE in diapers soon!!
One of my big missions lately is to get better quality meats. This is of course a challenge when trying to stick to a budget but it’s important to us!
Meat: Watch the local ads each week, stock up on the meat when it’s a fantastic price, and then create my meal plan around this. We are also trying to stretch our meat meals and use a little less.
Dairy: Dairy is the next category that we’ve been really trying to increase. We just started getting raw milk again after not having it for several years. It’s crazy expensive to get in California and when our herd share tried to raise the milk per gallon to $16, we just couldn’t do it. We just started getting it again from a family friend and it’s $8 per gallon! So we get 3 gallons per week for $24 and we make most of our dairy items from it: butter, buttermilk, half n’ half, sour cream, kefir, and yogurt. So it’s an amazing deal then when you add those in. And then we buy blocks of organic cheeses.
Bread products: Because we have a grain mill, we use it for EVERYTHING. Seriously, we don’t buy any store bought bread or wheat products. So this helps a lot because what we make it cents on the dollar compared to store bought.
What I’m doing to help this challenge:
- Make a price book
- Sign up for the ads at our local stores (especially health stores)
- Download the Whole Foods app if you are a Prime member
- Shop the deals on the big items (i.e. MEAT!)
- Plan your meal planning around that
Meal Planning Help for Eating Healthy:
I am really excited to share with you the sponsor of today’s podcast episode: PrepDish! If you ever feel like you wish you had a little help in your meal planning, then I highly encourage you to check out PrepDish. They offer gluten-free meal plans and paleo meal plans.
But you don’t have to eat a gluten-free or paleo diet in order to take advantage of all that PrepDish has to offer! In fact, almost half of their customers don’t eat those diets. The meals are healthy and non-processed and work well for anyone who is trying to eat a healthy diet. And PrepDish is offering a super special TWO week free trail when you sign up through this link (how awesome!!)
When you sign up, you’ll receive an email every week with a grocery list and instructions for prepping your meals ahead of time. After only 1-3 hours of prepping on the weekend, you’ll have all of your meals ready for the entire week. I absolutely love how easy they make it.