Life has changed a lot in the past few years, and so has my grocery budget. I have tried so much to reach the budget of $400 for groceries, only to fail time and time again. I have decided that no matter where I'm buying food, that's just not enough. I have also found that I can make my budget work better with a little more wiggle room. I have to be realistic. We are a family of 5, and eating healthy is one of our priorities. This means we rarely eat out (maybe 2-3 times a month). I also desire to use natural products as much as possible, but sometimes these products have to come from Trader Joe's... which means I really don't know how natural they are... I just trust Trader Joe's.
Now, with that disclaimer, our current grocery budget is still only $500. For some, this may be a lot and for some, this may be nothing. This is what is realistic and works for our family. There will be months when side work is slim and we will have to lower that... that will be realistic for those months. But our goal will be to never exceed this amount (even when we have more money in side work that month... the excess goes to savings or to pay down bills). We also may have to increase our budget if/when our stock of food dwindles (though I typically keep pretty stocked).
This comes out to about $250 every two weeks for groceries (this is when my hubby gets paid).
Here is the breakdown:
Local, raw, organic, grass-fed milk: $44 ($42 + $2 for ice). I get 6 gallons a month for this amount, or 3 gallons every 2 weeks. This milk is absolutely fabulous. I can't stand store-bought milk after buying this for a while.
Local, grass-fed, organic meat and egg co-op: $100-120 (all meats including chicken, beef, pork and eggs... the co-op I'm in allows a 20% discount off of amazing meat!)
Produce co-op (either not local or local, depending if I use Bountiful Baskets or Greenling that 2 weeks): $37 (non-organic)-57 (organic)-76 (organic/local)
Once the Farmer's Market is back, I probably won't use a co-op for produce (I'll spend that money + some of the Trader Joe's money at the Farmer's market and only get produce there).
Costco, Trader Joe's, and Walmart (for a few items) as well as any online shopping: Whatever is left over (anywhere from $260-310).
This includes everything else... other foods, natural personal care products, cleaners, and detergents, and whole foods vitamins and cod liver oil.
We don't buy these items every month, but these are items that we buy at these places. Right now, we are set on a lot of this... If I order something, I try to buy multiples of that item so that I don't have to order again that month. I am set from online ordering for a while.
- Vitacost or Swanson (depending on what I need and the sales at the times)- Almond flour, coconut flour, sucanat, other gluten free foods (oats, grits, flours, etc), whole foods vitamins, cod liver oil, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, body wash
- Amazon and Young Living Essential Oils- Elderberries and essential oils
- Honest Company- Cleaners and detergents mostly... I order from them about every other month.
- Costco- Oils (Extra-virgin olive, Grapeseed, and Coconut), seasonings and spices, organic apple sauce, Greek yogurt, Kerrygold butter (grass-fed), hummus, snacks (Veggie Straws, Hummus chips, etc), Tillamook cheese (and Tillamoos), gluten free foods (quinoa pasta, crackers, bread, flour), canned organic black beans, canned organic tomato products (diced, sauce, and paste), organic maple, raw/local honey, organic coffee, organic quinoa, organic brown rice, nitrate free bacon... this list could go on and on.
- Walmart- yes... the only things I buy here are Greek gods Greek yogurt (for Robert), Chobani Greek yogurt tubes (for the boys), Earth Balance Soy Free butter (for Karis), Hormel naturals lunch meats (no antibiotic/no hormone/nitrate free), and the occasional treat (yes, I like to buy Oreos sometimes). The only reason I even buy these items here is because Walmart is down the road and these items are cheaper than anywhere else (by a lot). I generally hate Walmart, but I don't have to go very often.
- Trader Joe's- everything else. Including, but not limited to the rest of my produce, half and half, raw sugar (for coffee), coconut sugar, coffee (when I have less in this area of my budget that month), organic whole wheat and brown rice pastas, pasta sauce (when I don't feel like making it), raw cheddar, shredded cheddar or mozzarella, nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, flaxseed, chia seed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds), cereals (we don't buy a lot, but we buy them here when we do), toilet paper, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, gluten free foods, and some snacks. It really just depends on what we need.
Like I said, we don't buy all of these items every month. In fact right now, we're still doing fine with most non-fresh-food items :-). I buy a little here, a little there, and it works great :-).
It seems complicated, but it's really not. I run and get my milk after school every other Friday. It takes an extra 15 minutes out of my day (and is well worth it to me). I pick up my meat the opposite weeks on Thursday evening. The pick up is at a local high school. Again, takes maybe an additional 15 minutes. The other shopping is every 2 weeks at Trader Joe's and maybe every 2-3 weeks to Walmart (not the same weeks as TJ's). I go to Costco about once a month. Ordering online is easy for many reasons and right now I have been ordering from Greenling for produce since I only needed fresh food items, so that makes it easy. I'll just take it one pay day at a time :-).
One thing that I love about Greenling is that they provide recipes to use the produce that you get, so half of my meal planning is done! :-)
Now that I have shared everything with you... what does YOUR budget look like? If it is not where you want it, how can you make it what you want? Maybe some more planning? More homemade foods? If it is lower and you are able to buy nutritious foods, I want to know your secret!