My grocery budget for a family of 4 is $330 each month. This real food budget includes food, toiletries, household items as well as health & beauty products. This post is our monthly budget accountability session, where we share what we spend on food. Today marks the end of January 2015. You can read previous Counting Crumbs reports HERE.
Welcome to the first budget accountability session of the new year!
I’ll admit guys, I’m kinda struggling over here. I’m fairly confident in my numbers, but I’ve been knee-deep in making meal plans for you guys, that I haven’t had much of a chance to make one for my own family!
We’ve got meat and pantry items and plenty of “food,” but it’s a real challenge putting it all together when I can’t think beyond what should be on the menu in March, lol!
I know it’ll take some time to adjust, and we WILL find our groove, but in the mean time, I’m thankful for our Fiscal Fast in February. I know it’ll give us a clean slate, and a ground zero of sorts in terms of our pantry and food. Plus it’ll force me to take a few minutes and make a plan for us, since there’s no way we’ll survive a whole month unless we do!
So, you’ll see how I’ve shopped the month below. There’s definitely more trips than I like to see, no thanks to the stores being so close and me not having a solid game plan, but that’s our season right now and it’s how I’m surviving!
Savemart – $8.97
pretzel rods, 1.99
pretzel twists, 2.99
First day of the new year and Mr. Crumbs wanted something crunchy. We needed milk. The cost of organic milk seems to be astronomical! They didn’t have a full gallon of non-ultra pasteurized milk, so we settled on a half gallon for the time being. Mr. Crumbs chose pretzels.
Costco – $7.79
We were at Costco for a different, non-groceries-related purchase and I had remembered that we were low on apples. Might as well since we’re there, right? So we got some apples.
Dollar Tree – $18
pepperoni x14, 1
onion powder, 1
corn meal, 1
corn starch, 1
My first serious attempt at curbing our grocery bill this month and I hit the mother-load on pepperoni. Now, before anyone gets in an uproar over nitrates, you should know that pepperoni and the occasional “fancy” meats are the only processed meats we buy. Pepperoni is strictly for pizza night and “fancy” meats are a way we treat ourselves to a nice dinner, without the big bill of eating out. We’ll pack up dinner and take it to the beach, like we did here.
The spices and corn starch are to replenish the pantry, and cornmeal to make Tamale Pie on February’s meal plan.
Savemart – $4.77
pasta shells, 1.49
Marked down bananas have been scarce lately, so I bought them at 59¢/lb. Pasta shells were for a homemade macaroni dish I wanted to make (that used up all the random pieces of cheese we seem to have), but ended up not making after all!
Savemart – $8.77
whole grain penne, .89
whole grain rotini, .89
Penne was for this creamy squash pasta bake, and I picked up rotini so I wouldn’t have to keep making last-minute stops to the store when I needed pasta, lol! A full gallon of milk this time – it’s gone up a whole dollar since last year. This right here is making us re-think our game plan for milk in the kitchen…
Farmers Market – $21
We had a CSA last summer, which meant having fresh produce already picked out for us each week. Before that though, we used to frequent a few of the local markets when the budgeting and scheduling stars lined up. Since CSA season is over, I’m trying to get back in the habit of the markets again.
It’s hard to say exactly what each item cost, because the peppers and grapes were both marked down to $1 per bag (I immediately froze the peppers into strips, washed the grapes and we used the squishy ones in smoothies, having the rest for snacks).
We froze half the strawberries (smoothies later), ate the rest as snacks. Carrots for dinner, froze half the basil for future pizza, used half for pizza the next night, and had mangoes for snacks too.
I’m not sure if ya’ll know this or not, but we use vegetables A LOT in our meals, and fruits A LOT as snacks. That’s how we make sure we’re eating plenty of produce.
Costco – $57.13
baby kale, 4.79
peanut butter pretzels, 8.89
brie cheese, 5.99
antipasto meats, 11.49
Finally, this Costco trip was on purpose. We were out of apples again (and with Mr. Crumbs having oral allergy syndrome, we have to be particular about which apples we buy) and wanted kale for recipes and smoothies. As a treat for the family, we splurged on crackers, “fancy” meats (like salami, prosciutto, etc.), brie cheese and peanut butter pretzels. We often pack these up and have dinner at the beach as a family (here again). The kids think it’s a huge treat to have these pretzels (and it is!) and Mr. Crumbs and I kinda feel like we’re on a date with the cheese and crackers and fancy meats.
Savemart – $19.09
hot wing sauce, 2
chicken breasts, 7.19
Gorgonzola cheese, 4.41
Mr. Crumbs is known for his serious pizza-making skills, and we were hosting friends over for dinner who hadn’t had his pizza before. One of his specialties is buffalo chicken pizza, but that’s not possible unless you have buffalo sauce, chicken and blue cheese dressing. Obviously, that’s what the sauce and chicken was for. We made our own blue cheese dressing from this recipe, but substituted Gorgonzola for blue cheese since it’s a bit more affordable.
Walmart – $18.35
whole peeled tomatoes x4, 1.24
yellow onions, 1.58
mozzarella cheese x2, 3.64
Another first for the month – an intentional list of looking ahead at the week and trying to shop for what I KNEW we needed! Tomatoes for pizza sauce, onions are a staple, cheese for pizza and bananas because we eat them like we’re monkeys.
Walmart – $2.56
whole wheat spaghetti x2, 1.28
This was a super quick stop since we were already at the library (which is just across the street). The kids picked dinner for the night and chose “fancy spaghetti dinner,” which means we make spaghetti, light candles and dim the lights.I picked up an extra box, since it’s always nice to have one on hand.
Savemart – $26.10
BBQ sauce, 3.99
bell peppers, 1.29
bell peppers, 1.50
chicken drumsticks, 4.79
chicken thighs, 4.76
This is what happens when your husband says he’s cooking dinner for your parents.
I LOVE the fact that he’s willing to serve them, and that he takes the initiative upon himself to do it (I didn’t help one bit with preparing or cooking dinner!), but he admits that he could use some practice in “shopping the kitchen” first.
We had homemade bbq sauce in the fridge.
We had peppers.
We had potatoes.
We had lettuce too.
We didn’t have asparagus, but that’s because it’s not in season (which he recognized AFTER he came home and said “I got asparagus, but it was really pricey – like 5 bucks!”).
In either case, dinner was good, we’ve got sauce to spare and I love my husband!
Farmers Market – $27
green beans, 1/lb
kiwi x2, 1
bell peppers, .50
Another run to the market for more fresh produce. This time Mr. Crumbs came with, so it’s a slightly bigger haul than last time (more hands means we can carry more bags, lol).
The prices above are what I remember and saw. The receipt doesn’t tell you how much per pound, but the apples and oranges were around $1/lb each. Strawberries and zucchini were marked per bag at $1 each. I blended the strawberries up and froze them into ice cubes, and we’re making a chocolate zucchini snack cake this week with the zucchini. I’ll freeze whatever we have leftover for future muffins.
I froze half the bananas already, and we’ve eaten the others. Fresh spinach for smoothies and salads, apples for snacking, limes for tacos, carrots and celery for dinner, kiwi for smoothies as well. We’ll use the green beans for dinner one night and the oranges are for smoothies and snacking.
Costco – $46.66
mineral water, 8.79
contact solution, 14.99
dish washing tabs, 11.49
We originally weren’t going to go to Costco, but we needed something non-grocery related anyway. The fact that we were down to one last sponge and only a few dish washing tabs didn’t help either, lol. Contact solution was also on sale, and mineral water for Mr. Crumbs.
Grocery Outlet – $29.34
baking powder, .99
fresh mozzarella x4, 1.99
spaghetti x2, .89
vanilla yogurt x2, 1.99
unsalted butter x2, 1.49
diced green chilis x2, .99
all-purpose flour, 1.99
maple syrup, 4.99
Baking powder is a staple, fresh mozzarella for pizza night, spaghetti to replenish the pantry and butter is a staple too.
We normally make our own yogurt, but I’m finding myself struggling with the cost of milk ($6.99 for organic) plus starter yogurt ($2) when yogurt itself doesn’t cost much less already made. I need to crunch more numbers on this, but I bought it this time because it was $2 for 32 oz.
We use diced green chilis in tortillas soup, all-purpose flour for some baking, oats for breakfast and maple syrup is a staple.
I would ordinarily buy many of these things at Costco, but I crunched numbers and before this trip we had only $60 left in the budget. If I had gone to Costco, I would have walked out with a much higher bill. At least this way, I’m able to replenish the pantry with things we needed WITHOUT breaking the bank.
Total Spent on Food January 2015: $295.53
As of the time writing this post (Thursday afternoon), we have $34 left in the grocery budget. Mr. Crumbs and I want to cook dinner for my parents again, but aren’t quite sure what to make yet. So we’re coming up with a game plan tonight, and plan to use the last $34 to cover the costs. I’ll update this post with our purchases if/when we make them.