My grocery budget for our family of 4 is $330 each month. This real food budget includes food, toiletries, household items as well as health & beauty products. It also includes EVERY meal, not just dinner. This post is our monthly budget accountability session, where we share what we spent on food for October 2015. You can read previous reports HERE.
It’s amazing how establishing one simple habit can make such difference.
It’s why I went over budget in June by $40, but have come in under budget every month since.
Care to guess what habit I’ve implemented?
I started counting Thursdays.
That’s the day I pick up the CSA box and it’s a cost I can’t avoid. The weekly CSA box is a known factor of my budget during the season.
Calculating exactly how much I’ll be spending on those boxes BEFORE I do any shopping for month means knowing how much money I REALLY have to spend at the stores and markets.
There were FIVE Thursdays in October, one more than “normal,” so I made sure to start the month with erring on the side of caution. I didn’t want to blow my budget on a bunch of unnecessary items during the first week, only to have to pass up a good sale or go over budget the last week because of eggs!
Here’s what we spent on food for October, and a break down of the food prices in our area (central California).
(Thanks to the Kinda Crunchy challenge, I forgot to take a bunch of pictures – sorry about that!)
CSA Box #21 – $21.59
1 purple cauliflower
1 lb green beans
1 green leaf lettuce
1 red chard
2 lbs mixed tomatoes
1 spaghetti squash
1 garlic bulb
6 gala apples
2 yellow onions
We roasted the green beans with the cauliflower one night, used the spinach to make pesto (instead of carrot tops) and made pizza sauce with the tomatoes. The garlic and onions were added to the garage (where we store cooler items like onions, potatoes and such).
I cooked the spaghetti squash in a slow cooker and topped it with the pesto for a mock spaghetti night!
Savemart – $12.06
bananas x3, 1.49
rotisserie chicken, 6.99
This was actually the very first day of the month, on the way home from picking up the CSA box. I didn’t have plans for dinner (a slight side effect of not knowing what’s coming in the CSA box) so I picked up a whole chicken and served it alongside roasted veggies from the week before’s CSA box.
Marked down bananas because a) we love bananas and b) they were cheap!
Grocery Outlet – $68.95
toilet paper, 11.99
cranberry vanilla tea, 1.99
couscous x4, 1.49
plain yogurt, 2.99
organic butter x5, 2.99
organic cheddar cheese x6, BOGO 2.49/7oz
fresh mozzarella x9, 1.50
garlic powder, .99
fresh basil, 1.99
elbow pasta x6, .33
Mr. Crumbs was enjoying tea in lieu of mineral water, so I picked him up another box. Couscous because it was a GREAT deal – a deal I can only get by buying 10 pounds at a time off Amazon (which I didn’t really want to do).
I stocked up on organic butter ($2.99/lb), organic cheddar cheese (a crazy good deal at $2.84/lb) and fresh mozzarella (for pizza night).
Rice, pasta and garlic powder are staples. The fresh basil was used for homemade pesto (with the spinach from the CSA box above).
Costco – $108.38
mineral water, 8.79
bread flour 50lbs, 10.99
organic chicken x2, 25.90
dried cranberries, 6.79
organic carrots, 4.69
organic kalamata olives, 7.99
pork roasts 2-3lbs x6, 15.89
Mineral water, carrots, oats and garlic are staples. I hadn’t seen dried cranberries on sale in FOREVER (which is why we’ve been buying raisins instead) so I picked up one bag.
Bread flour for baking (we’ve been subbing 50/50 with freshly milled whole grain) and spinach for green smoothies.
Olives and feta because Mr. Crumbs requested couscous this month, and pork roasts were on sale! They had a 6 pack of roasts that were 2-3 pounds each. Doing the math it came down to roughly $0.88-$1.32 per pound and this is a GREAT deal for meat (see “Worth Nothing” at the bottom of the post).
CSA Box #22 – $21.59
1 bunch cilantro
2 lbs tomatoes
1 romaine lettuce
1 frisee lettuce
2-3 trimmed red beets
1 bunch broccoli
2 lbs sweet potatoes
1 1/2 lbs green grapes
1 bunch green onions
1 small decorative pumpkin
This box was the day before we went camping at Yosemite, so we took the avocados, broccoli, sweet potatoes and grapes with us for meals and snacking.
I still have the beets (need to roast for smoothies) and we ate the lettuce when we got back in town in salads. The green onions have been in a glass of water as well, and I’ve been snipping off what I’ve wanted using a pair of kitchen scissors (the fastest way to “cut” green onions, in my opinion).
The tomatoes became pizza sauce and we put the pumpkin on the kitchen table for decoration.
Savemart – $4.69
A one-stop shop for eggs.
CSA Box #23 – $21.59
1 savoy cabbage
1 red leaf lettuce
1 lb mixed tomatoes
1 delicata squash
2 lbs carrots
1 bunch daikon radish
2 1/2 lbs red grapes
1 lbs parsnips
1 white cauliflower
7 granny smith apples
I roasted the carrots and parsnips for dinner one night and we all snacked on the apples and grapes. (Tip: Portion out unwashed grapes when you get them home so they’re ready to go for the family or school lunches. It’s an easy way to prevent them all disappearing in one sitting – just wash before eating!)
We made a spinach salad with the delicata squash (recipe coming soon!), salad with the lettuce and an apple slaw with the apples and cabbage.
The Farm – $7.68
delicata squash, 88¢/lb
I stocked up on apples for snacking and meals, and picked up a delicata squash without knowing there was one in the CSA box!
Target – $9.77
We swung into Target to get charcoal while we were out running errands. We ended up rotisserie a whole chicken, serving half for tacos (that still gave leftovers) and setting aside the rest for other meals.
Savemart – $1.89
No taco night is complete without wedges of limes. Since I can’t help but swing by the banana section to see if any are marked down, I did. And found a bag and promptly grabbed it!
CSA Box #24 – $21.59
1 basket strawberries
6 braeburn apples
1 bunch broccoli
1 bunch bok choy
2 yellow onions
1 bunch green dandelions
1 butternut squash
3 lbs russet potatoes
1 chunk ginger
1 garlic bulb
We added the squash, potatoes, onions and garlic to the pantry box in the garage. The strawberries and apples went into oatmeal at breakfast and snacking. I made a stir fry with the bok choy, broccoli and ginger and I still have some of those and the bok choy in the fridge.
Safeway – $8.52
I saw that whole chickens (non-GMO and no antibiotics) were just $1.99/lb – so I swung by after taking the kids to school and picked one up. And THEN I found out that’s the every day price!
So this is my new stop for whole chickens. They’re a smidge smaller than the ones from Costco, but I’m okay with that – I’m saving 70¢ per pound! That means that if I allot $25 for chickens each month, I can now buy THREE!
(I don’t have a price amount for chicken each month, but that’s not something bad to consider…)
CSA Box #25 – $21.59
1 orange cauliflower
1 bunch spinach
1 1/2 lbs green beans
1 bunch gold beets
1 green onion
1 carnival winter squash
1 bunch Italian parsley
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes
8 fuji apples
1 small decorative white pumpkin
This box is from just a few days ago, so the cauliflower, beets, squash and green onion are still either in the fridge or in the garage. The spinach and cucumber were blended into smoothies for the week and I’ll roast the beets to do the same. We had baked sweet potatoes one night for dinner and the kids are snacking on the apples. The squash and cauliflower will become side dishes and I’ll use the parsley in homemade chicken stock this week.
Savemart – $0
This was a VERY last minute trip for one item – pepperoni. Pizza night isn’t the same without it!
I’ve been earning points at Savemart, but haven’t redeemed them for anything (since nothing seemed to suit my fancy). But then last week, instead of automatically deleting the email they send each week, I actually opened it and explored their reward site.
As it turns out, I can redeem my points for dollars off my purchases! I chose a $5 reward to use points that were about to expire, thinking it would come in handy at some point in time… and then lo and behold, we needed pepperoni. “Some point in time” turned out to be the very next day!
Total Monthly Grocery Spending for October 2015: $329.89
Sign up for free reward programs to places you shop often. Then be sure to REDEEM THE REWARDS. Letting them sit and collect and then expire does no good. Make a note on the calendar to check on the 25th or so of the month (since points tend to expire at the end of the month) to log in and see what’s available.
Also, if you have family members who don’t care about reward programs and such but still shop where you shop, tell them to use your phone number so their purchases at least count for something!
My kids are 6 and 8 and they’re growing. Two whole chickens and maybe another roast was enough to satisfy my family a few years ago. Nowadays though my son (the 8 year old) is eating as much as my husband on some nights. I’m increasing the chickens to 3 per month, and keeping an eye out for great deals on other meat like beef and pork roasts (hence the purchase this month) for the fourth or fifth week of the month.
Since many people wonder how we spend so little while having meat at every meal, I need to state the obvious: we don’t have meat at every meal.
While we enjoy meat, we feel better when we don’t eat a lot of it in one sitting. We also want our diets to be heavy in plants, which means by default, light on meat. I’ve found that aiming for about 5 pounds of meat each week (one whole chicken, or 2 small roasts) seems to work well when you factor in a pasta night, an all veggie night (like stir fry or soup) and pizza night. This is what works for us, and it’s okay if it doesn’t work for you!
How did you do on your grocery budget in October?
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