For our family of 7, grocery spending is a huge chunk of my husband’s paycheck, almost a quarter of what he makes each month. With so much money going in our bellies, one of my priorities as the family financial manager is making sure my husband’s paycheck pays for nutrient-dense, healthy food.
With the help of a $29 grocery budget challenge issued by my friend Heather of Real: The Kitchen and Beyond, my price book, and a defined shopping list, I am tackling our grocery budget for the next 10 weeks.
How We Shop for Groceries
Since we moved away from using coupons for groceries to buying 70% whole foods to feed our family of 7, my husband and I have changed how we shop for groceries over the past few years. Part of the change is due to my husband’s desire to have the best quality produce. Part of it is due to streamlining our grocery shopping, and part is due to us enjoying food shopping together. Yes, folks, grocery shopping is date time for us.
Right now, we shop once a month at Costco at the beginning of the month. I share an Executive Membership with my sister and mom. We usually get our meats, frozen fruits and vegetables, many of our baking ingredients, sandwich makings, and cleaning and paper products at Costco.
Every week, my husband buys produce, milk, and eggs for us at a local produce place. The produce quality is always excellent, plus we can save some money by shopping the reduced bin.
Finally, I do a trip to Giant every other week to pick up organic produce and items we can’t purchase elsewhere. I pay for the trip with scrip I purchase from our school; we get a percentage back towards our tuition.
Grocery Budget Spending for Week One
This week, I kicked off the first week of Heather of Real: The Kitchen and Beyond’s 10 week $29 Grocery Budget Challenge. As I talked about on Facebook, I thought the challenge was doable for our family of 7, and it comes at a good time. We are transitioning from a whole foods diet to more of a kid-friendly Paleo diet. I have to balance budget and taste buds during the transition. Having a grocery budget challenge helps to ensure that our dietary changes are sustainable, and not just something we tried one summer.
Since I was thinking more about the family birthday/First Communion party we had this past weekend, I wasn’t completely focused on the $29 Grocery Budget Challenge when we were shopping this past weekend. We also picked up some extra items for the party along with paper and cleaning products which don’t count towards the challenge. Then, I made a quick trip to Trader Joe’s on Monday to pick up a few more items, and remembered the challenge. Such is life!
Costco: $462.15 – paper products and cleaning products ($44.17) = $417.98
Trader Joe’s: $43.26
Total Spending: 517.03
I am in the process of updating a price book I created in Google Docs 2 years ago. The prices in the book should be relatively current. You will see me adding items over the next 10 weeks as I catch up. If you want to copy the price book to your Google Drive, you’ll need to click on File, then Make a Copy and save to your Drive.
Make sure you look at the unit price in the price book. If you want to break down the cost of a recipe, as I shared with you last week, you will need a unit price for starting out. This cooking measurement info from Good Cooking will help you break down pounds and gallons into teaspoons and tablespoons for your recipes.
Menu Planning with Erin Condren Life Planner
I’ve always struggled a bit with menu planning, despite being an organized person. I know menu planning helps me stay on top of dinnertime. Yet, I don’t make it a priority every week.
Part of the issue is finding a way to menu plan that works for me. I’ve tried paper planning which is okay. I’ve tried planning on the computer which didn’t work. Finally, I decided to try using the Erin Condren Life Planner which I’m currently using for organizing my family as a menu planner. I like how the weekly spread is broken into 3 sections, allowing me to write down ideas and recipes for each meal.
I used Washi Tape to adapt the weekly section to fit my menu planning. I jot down ideas for everyone, and a few for me since I’m following the Whole30 program. On the side of the weekly section, I’m keeping a running list of leftovers to use up and snack recipes to make during the week. Making homemade snacks will be a big part of my $29 Grocery Budget Challenge.
In the note section at the back of the Life Planner, I made tabs for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, and Snacks. I will write down recipes that pass muster with my family to develop a list of ideas for better menu planning next month. On large index cards, I am writing down recipes to try with the source noted. These will stay in the recipe list section.