Starting May 1st and for the next 10 weeks, I am joining my friend Heather of Real: The Kitchen and Beyond in her $29 Grocery Budget challenge, a challenge she started after the furor about Gwyneth Paltrow’s $29 SNAP challenge issued by the New York City Food Bank appeared on Instagram.
As a family of 7, our food budget often appears to be a huge part of our weekly budget. It’s not unusual to spend around $1,200 on food. I’d like to know what we’re spending the money on, and make sure we get the most bang for our buck. I know we’re pretty good about eating whole foods, though we’re not perfect when convenience is an issue.
Dietary Changes for Our Family
Recently, I started the Whole30 program to help me beat my sugar cravings. In the process, I’ve gotten my energy back, my body recovers from exercise stress much more easily, my allergies are better, and my sleep is better, too. After dealing with a lot of illness in my kids this winter and looking at some issues that are going on with them, I am going to be transitioning them to a mostly Paleo diet.
Will these dietary changes affect our grocery budget? I’m sure they will. Hopefully, our spending goes down when we focus on nutrient-dense foods: pastured meat, fruits and veggies, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. We will also be doing some gardening this summer to supplement our pantry.
My Plan for the Challenge
1. I ordered a second Erin Condren Life Planner to help me with menu planning. Not wasting food at home is just as important as shopping deals in the grocery store. I know my family will be more receptive to dietary changes if I keep the fridge stocked with healthy snacks and meal options.
2. I will be sharing an update on Fridays on my Facebook page.
3. I am starting a price book.
Grocery Budget Tip: Figure Out the Cost of Recipes
You know some of your recipes are frugal, and you know some are extravagant based on the cost of certain ingredients like steak. Creating and using a price book regularly to buy your ingredients at the lower price will help ensure you use frugal recipes 80% of the time, and those recipes are as frugal as possible.
What is a Price Book?
A price book is your ongoing record of the lowest prices for items your family uses. Food will make up 90% of the information in the price book. Don’t forget to include other items your family buys on a regular basis like shampoo, toothpaste, dog food, cat food and contact solution. Even prescriptions and eyeglasses can go in a price book if the information helps you save money on your budget.
If you’re new to this concept, I explain the process of creating a price book in depth elsewhere. For the $29 Grocery Budget Challenge, I will be updating a price book I started in my Google Drive several years ago.
The Cost of Recipes
To get you started with determining the cost of a recipe, I broke down a recipe for Homemade Grape Jelly I’ve made using our homegrown grapes. We have a few grapevines on our suburban property which provide lots of grapes in August. When the grapes are ready for harvesting, I pick them, wash them off quickly in water and freeze the grapes in gallon freezer bags.
Later on in the fall when I have time, I defrost the grapes and steam juice them. If I have time, I immediately turn the juice into jelly. Otherwise, I can the juice and make the jelly in December for gifts.
- Homemade Concord Grape Juice FREE
14 cups of sugar 4.32
2 packages of liquid pectin 1.48
14 regular lids .84
14 8 oz. jars FREE
Total Cost: $6.64
$.47 / 8 oz. jar
More “Cost of” Recipes
Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Quick Bolognese Sauce
Pancakes from Scratch
Pancakes Made with Boxed Mix
Raviolis and Spaghetti Sauce
Rice Krispie Treats
Rolled Pork Loin
St. Patrick’s Day Dinner
Grocery Budget Resources
Menu Planning with the Erin Condren Life Planner
Weekly Menu Plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (free printable)
Food Budget: The Cost of Preserving Food
6 Food Budget Strategies