Monday, August 31, 2009

The Food budget update....

One of the things I was hoping to achieve this year when I decided to try and "jump off the processed food chain" was to reduce our grocery budget. Last year our average grocery bill was $814 a month...which included food,liquor, toiletries and all dry goods....and seeds for the garden.

After reading an article about the usda's thrifty plan for a family of four (the basis for food stamp allotments) I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to get the "grocery budget" down to $600 a month for our family......the same amount a family of four would be givin if they were on the food stamp program. (I understand this can vary due to income etc.) When I first read the article I was shocked that a family of 4 would receive $600 a month for groceries.....I thought that amount was high....after all....that $814 a month I spent back in 2008 for groceries was for food,liquor,take out,toiletries....ect. I don't know for sure but I don't think you can buy liquor (for my Irish husband and the few parties we host) or take out or even toilet paper and toothpaste and yummy smelling shampoo on food stamp money ....or bags of frozen shrimp, organic cereal, or notebook paper, or ready made meals...

Luckily our family has never had to use food stamps and I am not knocking anyone who has/is...that's not my point here..... I just thought that amount was high. Maybe I'm wrong. When I started recording receipts the goal was to show myself what I was wasting the grocery money on and how to improve my food shopping habits. I've always been pretty thrifty.....we don't go to the movies or restaurants a lot.....maybe we eat out (and this would include the Costco food court) about once a month...if even that.

But we do eat well...very well...and actually this year we are eating better than ever with the help of all the yummy garden produce we are son now likes green beans....
and cucumber and tomato salad....and for Mr. "all I want to eat is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich" that's a HUGE improvement. My daughter on the other hand has always been a big fruit/vegi person....and this summer she has defiantly had her choice of fresh garden goodness to choose from.
Where was I .....the food budget.....anyway back to what I was saying....I personally could live off of oatmeal, rice, eggs ,tea,CANDY and garden goods...but the other people who live here still want (not need but want) chips, sugar laced cereal and the occasional bottle of coke. If I could go back in time to when they were babies I would have gone all organic, homegrown not crappy food....but when most people start out they have little money/knowledge....and instead of taking the time to make homemade dinners and wholesome pancakes for breakfast they turn to cheap processed's quick and easy.....being healthy is first....then it gets to be routine and it's actually pretty easy....

Bottom Line....
you have to want to change.....
and change is hard.... but really only in the beginning
then it becomes routine and easy.

So here's my dilemma....(and's not a bad one to be in)
If I want to stay on target to reach my goal of $600 a month for groceries...etc. for 2009
I have exactly $373 for the next 4 months.
Take away the $200 I am going to need to pay the milk man ($50 a month)and I am left with $173 for the next 122 days....that's $1.41 a day for a family of four.
(and there are some major food holidays and a sausage stuffing party in there)
Luckily I feel I have have 1 major advantage here....

I have major ocd (self diagnosed of course)
which will remain undiagnosed because if I were to go in and get a real diagnoses they would just drug me up and then I would be to relaxed to get anything really why bother....
plus...this is who I am.....and I like why change what's not broken.....(in my opinion).

I have a little food stashed away.....

Just one of the many shelves filled with home canned goodness.....

Freezer #1

Freezer #2

Yes, as you can see...there is processed food in my freezer (mostly meat)......however.....this is a HUGE improvement over last year when we didn't even have an extra freezer (let alone two)
What you don't see in the picture is that the bottoms of both freezers are actually filled with corn, beans, fruit and 10,005 zucchini breads.....
Hopefully enough to get us thru to next year.....


  1. So, do I hear you saying you're going to try to do it?! How about giving the others in your house some sort of stipend for whatever they can't go without for these last four months? Take a census of those freezers of yours and start planning some meals using only what you have and what you know is still to come from the garden. I bet you can come pretty close if you get the rest of the house on board. We survive on $300 a month (including about half of our toiletries and we don't drink). You don't have to publish this if you don't want- I'm just talking out of my armpit:-).

  2. Thyhand.....I think your armpit smells of the truth :) and YES....I am going to try to do this....because I believe in goals....and reaching the finish line. I think the hardest part for me will actually be not running to the store for "that one item" and instead making do with what I have. I have not had to do that in a very long time. I was smart enough to build a small "junk food stash" for the monkeys....and I think if I can get thru the first few weeks I can do it. Wish me luck!

  3. Make an excel spreadsheet of the freezer contents. I'm serious! We're getting a new fridge to replace the one LG is taking to her new home, and we need to get the freezers emptied out. I made a spreadsheet, stuck it to the kitchen fridge with a magnet, and since then have only had to buy milk, basically. It's fun, and everyone gets all excited when we take something out and cross it off the list. This would work well for your pantry too I would think.

  4. Tori...Fabulous idea....I'll ask the handsome husband if we have excel....sadly though I think I'd be the only one getting excited about crossing something off the list with a sharpie....I'd have to rent a camel or something for anyone around here to jump with joy....actually...they may not be a bad idea...

  5. Maci,
    I've nominated you for the Superior scribbler award. You are such a joy to read and try to keep up with. This is the link.

  6. Cool Beans Vickie...does it come with a ribbon?


I LOVE comments BUT if you know who we are...due to the fact that we are currently enrolled in the international witness relocation program because of a moon shining incident in Dingle, Ireland involving 3 Mutton, a pair of red shoes and a road flare .... please do not reveal our personal information.... You know.... like names, places, or our favorite brand of toilet paper :) Hey, thanks!