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Our Food Budget

After reading other blogs and seeing the comments left on this post, I realize that my husband and I have a very different food budget than most others in the personal finance world.  That spurred me to come clean.

Here’s where our food money has gone in 2010:

1.  Kroger’s

– We spend about $125 a month for perishables like whole milk, Country Crock margarine spread, real butter, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, other fruit that is in season and cheap, Digiorno pizzas, hot dogs, Manager Special steaks, frozen Tilapia, and necessary parts of a menu that we don’t buy in bulk.

2.  Sam’s Club

– We spend about $30 a month on steaks, boneless skinless chicken breasts, pork chops, frozen green beans, frozen corn on the cob, Honey Nut Cheerios, Nature’s Own Honey Wheat bread, and potato chips.  I usually make a Sam’s Club run once every 2 -3 months.

3.  Angel Food Ministries

– Whenever we like the monthly menu for their Signature Box, we buy 1 or 2 boxes at $30 each.  Each box gives us enough food for at least 10 meals and sides for a few more.

4.  Walmart

– We spend about $50 a month on cleaning supplies, hygiene products, hamburger meat, sandwich meat, and miscellaneous food items that are cheaper there than at Kroger with my coupons.

5.  Restaurants and Fast Food

– We eat out at least 1-2 times a week and it adds up to about $200 a month.  It would be more if I wasn’t such a fan of value menus and soups.

Altogether we spend about $400 on food every month, which is actually down from the $600 a month we were spending last year.

  We’ve started eating at home much more which allows us to buy in bulk and throw less away. One way we’re doing this is by using the best meal delivery service which has all the healthy ingredients we need at a cheap cost.

I do use coupons, but not to the extent of true couponers.  I simply spend 20 minutes at work every week cutting out ones that may come in handy and putting them into my wallet.  Before checking out, I pull my cart over in a vacant aisle and spend 2 minutes grabbing out the coupons that match cart items.  I do not even look at the coupons until I’m done shopping since I don’t want the coupons to entice me to buy something that wasn’t on my list or buy a different brand.

Our dinners usually consist of a grilled protein seasoned by hubby and two sides.  Most frequently, these sides are mashed potatoes, green beans, corn on the cob, carrots, or rice.  We also make salads, Pizza Hut Sandwiches (the most delicious and fattening toasted sandwich ever), soft tacos, chili, pasta, taco salad, hamburgers, and hot dogs every month or two as well.  We try a new recipe every once in a while and add it to the normal rotation if it was good.

As you can see, our diet isn’t the healthiest ever, but it looks way better than last year.  We have been using cheap food delivery services too when we’re lazy. Please just take this as the food confession it is and a quick summary of our personal food budget.

Does your food budget include more organic and free range choices?  Or does it look similar to ours?

11 thoughts on “Our Food Budget”

  1. Everyday Tips

    I have never broken my food spending down like you did, good idea.

    I am a nut about coupons. I also have time to be a nut though, and not everyone does. For us it is worth it though, as I save at least 35 percent a week by combining coupons and sales. And, I do not buy things just because I have a coupon, unless it will be free.

    I spend about 125/week on food/cleaning items for a family of 5, which I think is pretty reasonable. Much of my spending is on produce, but I won’t buy it if it isn’t on sale or in season.

    Since we are confessing, my biggest spending is on eating out. Going to lunch with friends is my social life since the kid’s sports take up most evenings. So, my discretionary money seems to go to Panera…

    Great post!

  2. MikeS

    I’ll admit, I keep probably more details on food spending than most. Mainly because it will help me diagnose any problems should they come up.

    BJ’s about $200 per month. We only buy things we eat on a regular basis, that way nothing goes to waste.
    Aldi’s about $50 a month. They are very inexpensive, but they don’t have everything we shop for.
    All Other $75 a month. This includes eating out once a month and other random food purchases.

    Grand total about $450 month, which is also down from a few years ago.
    Big Y (regional supermarket) about $75 a month. All our produce and anything we can’t get at Aldi’s.
    Walmart about $25 a month.

  3. Frugal Scholar

    This is probably the area where my frugal talents shine–so I only spent about $200/month for family of 4. We like to cook so we almost never eat out. I eat little meat; we have some garden vegetables. My key is stockpiling when things are vastly on sale. I don’t use coupons–too messy for me.

  4. BFS

    Everyday Tips, that’s some good couponing! Since Sam’s Club and Angel Food Ministries don’t accept normal coupons, I only use them at Kroger’s and Walmart. I don’t save 35% though! That’s awesome! Panera…yum. I’m also a big fan of Quiznos…good salads and a similar bread bowl soup.

    MikeS, knowing where your money goes is always a good idea. 🙂 Is BJ’s like Sam’s Club or Costco? Or is it a regular grocery store? I’m really impressed that you only eat out once a month or so…that makes for a much happier budget, lol. I don’t know if hubby and I will ever cut back that far or not, but I’ll admit it’s cheaper and healthier. Very cool and thanks for sharing!

    Frugal Scholar, wow. $200 total for a whole month for food?! That’s dang cool! I’m not sure if I’m jealous or if I just feel wasteful. That’s pretty amazing.

  5. Holly

    Food budget could definitely use some help, and our food choices mirror yours, BFS, much more than the vegans and organic folks! We spend between $500 and $700 for a fam of 5; we spend quite often on special events like the kids’ or DH’s birthday or other relatives’ birthdays (going out to eat).

    I am getting space cleared (started this past Sun.) for a ‘pantry’ in the basement which will allow some stockpiling (cans, t.p., tissues, cleaning products, etc.). The only problem is that we get a mouse every now and again in the basement and we can’t figure out where they get in! So, I can’t put anything down there w/out it being protected in some way (wrapped well in plastic shrink wrap or in bins). ugh.

  6. Julie

    BFS, I just bought about 2 months’ worth of meat at the organic farm I mentioned for less than $100.

    Last month, I fed 3 adults and 1 toddler (the baby doesn’t count for eating) on $530.

    Keep in mind this included 2 months of meat and a $250 bulk dry goods (flour, grain, etc) order from Frontier Wholesale.

    The other $180 was broken down as follows:

    -6 1/2 gallons of organic milk from wal-mart ($15)
    -many dozen eggs from a farm ($30)
    -produce from the organic market ($135 for the month)

  7. MikeS

    BFS, BJ’s is like Sam’s or Costco. We usually shop there once a month and stock up on items we know are worth it.

    The eating out only once a month was born out of necessity more than anything else. The last few years we hardly ever went out to eat (no money). Now, we’ve got some flexibility back in the budget. If we do well on keeping the other grocery bills down, we get to go out again. Gives us an incentive to try and spend the money wisely.

  8. BFS

    Holly, it’s nice that we are not alone. Sorry about your basement situation…that would be tremendously annoying. Good luck!

    Julie, it doesn’t look like eating organic costs much more than the simple time of driving to the organic locations (even cheaper on some stuff). That’s impressive. I also notice that you all drink more milk and eat more eggs. Maybe I should be taking calcium or something since we drink about a gallon and a half of milk and 8 eggs every month on average. Anyway, thanks for sharing your budget!

    MikeS, yeah, hubby and I didn’t eat out nearly as often when we were broke right out of college. Try not to make our mistake and go too far when you’re “in the money”, lol. It might save you some weight gain. 🙂

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