As every boy scout can tell you, one of the basic keys of life is to "Plan Ahead."
This is very important when attempting to maintain a grocery budget and feed ones family something other than Ritz Crackers and instant processed cheese.
(Although...can you imagine the cheers your family would give if you skipped the brussel sprouts and whipped out fake cheese and crackers? You would be a hero.)
Every two weeks, I sit down after the kids are tucked safely in their beds for the evening and plan out what we are going to eat. I construct a detailed grocery list based on that menu and on other items we happen to be running low on at the time. Check out my Grocery Shopping 101 post and also take some time to read a potential list of items found in a well-stocked pantry, courtesy of Everyday Food Storage.
This week's menu can be checked out here.
My itemized list of items purchased at two grocery stores (Wal-Mart for the majority of items and Tom Thumb for specific fruits, meat, and to hit up their juice sale) may be viewed here.
You might notice that my grocery list contains things that are not necessary for this week's meal preparation. Please note that I shop...and menu plan...for two weeks at a time. Fewer trips to the store means less impulse purchases. Everyone thinks they can run into the store real quick for a lemon and some baby wipes....but likely come out with a bag full of items. Force yourself to make fewer trips to the store. Your budget will thank you.
Overall I spent $181.59 , which means we spent approximately 90 dollars to feed our family for a week. If you looked at the list, you will notice that other necessities of life were included, such as cleaning supplies, diapers, and toiletry items. We include these in our grocery bill budget and attempt to get the lowest price on these items as well.
Some important notes about this week are:
* I am able to use previously purchased meat for two of the meals this week. I do follow sale trends and attempt to stock up on meats when they go on sale. However, I do not have a large freezer (and am not very interested in purchasing one) so my meat stockpile is relatively small. At this time we typically do not buy organic meat because the prices are still incredibly high. I do buy fresh meat that has not been previously frozen, attempting to go for very lean cuts. Watch those sale ads for reduced prices on quality meats. Again, your budget (and your husband) will thank you.
*We only purchase organic milk, yogurt, and cheese (when available....why is organic cheese not very popular yet?). I do not feel comfortable with my children drinking/eating large quantities of dairy that are not organic and that contain growth hormones. Our favorite brand of organic milk is Horizon. Our favorite brand of yogurt is Stoneyfield Farms. To us, these are worth the few extra dollars.
*I vary when buying organic produce. Anything that comes inside a peel (bananas, oranges, etc.) that you do not eat, does not need to be organic. Also, in warmer months we visit Farmers Markets because prices (and produce) are much better.
*I feel like often times articles that cover feeding a family on a budget generally over-look breakfast and dinner. Sure, I can feed my family for under a $100 a week if just budgeting for supper. Take a look here to see what typical breakfasts and lunches look like at casa de phillips. Again, such items are included in our budget.
As the week goes along, I will let you know if I had to make any side trips to the store for forgotten items and how much we spent. Make sure you check back at the beginning of next week to see our menu for those seven days and get an update!