Saturday, March 19, 2011

re-thinking frugal


We have been re-thinking frugal around here.
Well, the kids haven't.
They are impossible to deal with sometimes.
These children continue to believe there is an endless supply of
free money coming from...somewhere.
Actually, I have moments that I pretend to believe that too.
That's a whole other problem.
Lucy did say the other day,
"I need to turn off the TV to save some electricity."
Thata girl.
Perhaps we are getting through to them.
At least the little one.
Maybe.

I've been focusing on groceries the last couple of months.
According to this site, one can widdle-down the food budget
to $50 per person, per month.
At first, I was like...okie dokie...I can do that.

Well, it turns out that, okie dokie...I CAN'T do that.
I think we are spending around $75 per person, per month.
Although...if I were to dig a little deeper in my research,
I'm sure I'd find two boys who are each consuming
about $140 each...and two tiny girls, $10.

So anyway,
I'm NOT a coupon gal.
I've tried.
It doesn't work for me.
For many, many reasons.
Don't make me list them all here.

But suffice it to say that if I do come upon a coupon for something
that we use/consume on a regular basis, I will do my darndest
to use it at my next shopping trip.
So that generally shaves off about 75 cents a month on my
total food bill.
That kind savings is padding our retirement quite nicely.

Ok so, do you all have any idea how much you spend each
month on food?
Do you try to stay within a strict budget?


Please tell me your magic formulas for keeping your food costs
super low.

Please tell me you have magic formulas. Please.

28 comments:

Angie said...

Yeah, I'll be curious to read what other people say. I just don't have the time to be coupon cutting/comparing and driving to multiple stores to get all the good deals. I will say that one store we have here has excellent manager specials...like 1.69 for organic lettuce mixes that serves us all for a couple meals. Or mac&cheese for 45 cents per box if you buy 10. I can do that. I watch certain stores for deals, and try to fix meals that don't cost much, but with large families and growing boys that are ALWAYS hungry...it's hard! Do you have a garden for your own veggies? I also save a ton by making my own laundry soap...$12.00 per year!!

Anonymous said...

We do better when we grocery shop at Sam's Club. I have not used it but have relatives that use the Angel Food Ministry to grocery shop. There is a website and you can search to see if it is available in your area. It started out only available to low income families but is now open to everyone. I feel your pain. I am feeeding 3 TEENAGERS too! Bottomless pits! There is one raiding the pantry as I type! :)

John P said...

HA!

The food budget is our highest column, only topped by our mortgage.

I am not a coupon person either, probably for the self same reasons you aren't. :P I have friends who do coupons religiously, go to 3 or 4 different super markets a week because of the deals. Spend Saturday on the plan for the next weeks shopping spree.

Yeah, whatever.

I shop at Costco, the fruit store and Trader Joe's. I found if I buy in bulk, shop every 3 - 4 weeks for the main things, and be creative with the stuff leftover and not run to the store as soon as I START to run out, but instead when I am almost OUT of things, then I don't go and see what I never knew I needed.

After comparing budgets with one of my friends who is a weekly coupon clipping/multi-supermarket shopper, I found out I over spend about $30 a month, but wasn't wasting my time on shopping & clipping & making plans on Saturdays.

TOTALLY worth $30 in my opinion.

Not real helpful, but another thought.

Madeleine said...

OH! That is my up there!! I didn't realize I was on John's account. :P lol.

Kristy said...

Same problem here... and I hate coupons! When I do have one I end up not using it because the generic brand is cheaper anyway.

Southern Savers has lots of ideas:
http://www.southernsavers.com/

I click on CVS and then their add for the week. They tell you exactly what to but on sale, with coupons, and CVS bucks to get everything you buy for free or close to it. Problem for me... I don't like storing stuff up for if or when I may need it. I do it from time to time and change mine up from theirs. Also, CVS bucks are only good for a short amount of time so if you don't go weekly your bucks expire and you end up losing all the great savings. Check it out... maybe this all makes sense:)

Kristy
www.adaywithmygrays.blogspot.com

Joanna said...

We're at $350/month for a family of five. This includes food, paper products, toiletries, cleaning products, and all the other miscellaneous stuff I can pick up at Meijer! I use coupons some, but they usually don't save me a ton, especially since we don't have many stores in our area that double coupons. I shop every other Friday, since that's when my husband gets paid, and practically never go in between. I check the ads beforehand, and do some of my meal planning based on that, but not all of it. I also don't tend to go to all the stores in town--at the price of gas and the time it takes to bring 3 kids with me, it's not usually worth it. We do have a grocery store less than a mile from our house that I will go to if they have really good deals or coupons for a few things.
Typically, we go to Aldi first and pick up whatever we can there (another reason I check the ads, in case something's on a really good sale elsewhere). After that we head over to Meijer and take care of the rest. We also go over to our local university some weeks and buy some or all of our meat at their "meat sciences laboratory"--regular price of chuck roast, for example, is cheaper than what I can get it for on sale.
I'm sure I could trim my food budget more, but I'm reasonably comfortable with where we are. We don't buy much in the way of snack items, no soda, practically no cookies/ice cream/etc. I make most things from scratch, rather than using boxes, although for some things the box is definitely cheaper, though not better for you. (I mean, in terms of cost, you can't compete with a 29-cent box of mac & cheese.)
Don't know if this is at all helpful, but it's what works for us!

Shonni said...

All right sweet friend, I read all the way to the bottom of your post, excited and expectant, because I just knew that you were going to tell ME the magic formula. LOL,
We have beans and rice once, sometimes twice a week because it is such an inexpensive meal. We buy the beans in bulk and I soak them the night before then cook them nice and slow over the oven all day. If I really need to save money on a particular week, we may have more. It’s good, healthy, and easy to change up with tortilla’s, cornbread or add mexican seasonings and sauces to change it up a little. My children know this is the way it is and no one fusses,
so this is one “works for me” thing.

toknowyoumore said...

Haha! Your post really made me laugh out loud, my husband looked at me like I'm crazy! I understand the 75 cent coupon thing, cause that is us! We don't have any children, but we do really try to save on our grocery bills... one thing we do is have a couple of really cheap meals we enjoy that we try to use a lot. It works for us, but I don't know how well it would work for a large family. I love tomato soup with Ritz crackers, so I eat that a lot when my husband is home late b/c of classes. We also eat chili and rice a lot (my hubby's fave). A can of chili from the store (probably sounds gross, but we actually like it!) is like a dollar and fills up the both of us.
Ok - so it isn't the most nutritious menu... don't judge me!
Amanda

Anonymous said...

Any good ideas for those of us who are not fortunate enough to be stay at home mom's and who have time to cook from scratch?

Holly said...

I feel your pain sister. How do the Duggars feed their brood? Oh wait, they have their own TV show and I'm sure that helps. A LOT.
I too have given up the couponing thing. I have felt major guilt hearing about people who get like $500 worth of groceries for a dollar or something ridiculous but they are also getting tons of stuff that they don't NEED! I for one do not wish to have 1000 sticks of deodorant even if they ARE free! So....I have added diapers into our food/grocery budget and holy cow...we have GOT to get this girl potty trained!! Super expensive! We do leftovers for lunch or vegetarian meals mostly...for dinners, I try to do a meat and a veggie. But the big kids snack throughout the day...more than most kids b/c they are homeschooled!
We shop at the commissary and most things ARE cheaper but then we have to pay the baggers (they work for tips only) so there goes most of the savings...not kidding.
(sigh) I just have decided that this is a season. I don't think I could grow a garden to save my life and I can't talk the rest of my family into giving up soda OR becoming vegetarians. (sigh!)
Please share if you get any magic formulas that don't include 30 hours a week of coupon clipping and driving all over town!

Sally-Girl! said...

We eat rice and beans once a week in different ways like Shonni said. Since going to China at MSP last year, I have gotten really good at making cheap and easy Chinese dinners. It consists of noodles I buy in bulk at Asian store, rice, and tofu. I use two eggs beaten to pour into the noodles right before I take them off the stove. I add whatever small pieces of veggies I have in the refrig leftover from other meals.

I also make homemade pizza once a week as well. Easy and inexpensive recipe on my blog. I add salad with it and that is our meal.

As you know, I make my own laundry soap and use baking soda and vinegar on my hair with occasional use of real shampoo.

Rarely will I use a coupon, don't like em or the time it takes to collect them and then go to the various stores.

Portion control is also a big thing in our home. Americans think bigger is better with everything including food portions!

Sally-Girl! said...

Forgot to add that we usually have lentils once a week too either in soup form or used on pita bread with plain yogurt. Very cheap, healthy and so yummy!

We spend about $600 a month of groceries for the 7 of us at home.

Andrea said...

Our Grocery bill is AWEFUL!!
We do shop at Sam's for everything except the meat.
For a while we were drving a couple hours away to shop at WHOLE FOODS...but for a family of 9..it was just too expensive.
Freezing meals has helped becuase I am not"stopping to pick up a few things" for a quick meal- if I am running short on time.
I was doing A LOT of that..so the monthly budget just got BIGGER and BIGGER.
I am looking forward to the responses you get, also. :)

Karin said...

I feel your pain! :) I haven't even tried to figure out if I'm spending too much (although the checker at Target was freaking out over the amount of groceries I bought. haha I rarely use coupons--mostly because I buy a LOT of store brand stuff. I think one key is finding recipes with inexpensive ingredients. Have breakfast for dinner sometime...pancakes and eggs are pretty cheap. Eggs are so cheap if you can find some things your family likes. My kids are so-so on them. I do a lot of casseroles. A LOT of them. It stretches food and I do use whole wheat noodles to make myself feel like I'm giving them something really healthy. haha I would love to use beans more often because they are so cheap and full of protein. We tried the rice and bean thing and it was soundly rejected by my family. Instead, I do a four-layer dip with refried beans, salsa, sour cream and cheese. Bake and wa-la...dinner. :) OK--probably not super cheap, but not super expensive either.

Well, I'm obviously no help.

Charissa said...

Oh yeah, this is an area I could use help in. I've started going to the less expensive grocery store in the area - the one with no frills and no shelves, no bags...do you have one of those. But then I buy my meat somewhere else and bulk items at BJs and sale items at the bigger grocery stores. It is a lot more running around but I've worked it into my weekly schedule so it isn't all at once. I definitely have lowered our bills but we still spend about $100 a week for a family of four. I would LOVE to have some new magic formula to lower our costs, especially as we are soon to be a family of six.

Holly said...

Oh dear...we are doing really bad, I guess. I just figured out that our family is averaging around $80 per person a month in groceries! (That's everything, not just food, but I think that's what you meant.) Yikes, that makes me really want to scale back too. I used to shop a bunch at Aldi. I think I might try going back there again!

Anonymous said...

Store brands when possible. I think store brands are a lot better than when first introduced. I also have a recipe for soup that costs almost nothing. I add any leftover meats, beans, rice and vegetables to a plastic container that I keep in my freezer (even tiny amounts). When it gets full, I defrost it in the refrigerator, and then add some saved chicken or turkey stock, and perhaps an onion, a can of tomatoes, and rice, or noodles if needed. A hearty soup is very filling.

Hezra said...

Ha ha... I was just reading this out loud and laughing. Because WE are doing it too. We have a single teen. He eats like a bird, but when he decides to eat, he is a very big bird. A bird who wants only pizza and ice cream. But that is a whole other problem indeed.
Ok, we are RE thinking all this too. We are planning some raised bed gardens this year. Just beds of what we KNOW we eat. I can't do coupons either. It is sad.
I am trying to shave off the misc. bill first. Each month I am working on shaving a diff part of my budget. Right now I am testing home made laundry detergent. I am planning to blog about this btw. ;-) When I am not busy cooking detergent. lol We buy from SAMS, but only things we KNOW we eat a lot of. I can email you more later.

Beth said...

I never comment but loved your encouragement (and being frugal) so here it goes.

I plan my menus based on what is on special in our store circular, our Super Wal Mart, and in season. We live in a small town and have few choices. Beans and rice added to alot in order to stretch the amount. We are in the middle of paperwork for adoption #3 (and #4) so anything to stretch the dollar!

Chris said...

I wish I could help...I am not keeping track how much we spend on groceries but a quick check tells me that we are about at the $65 per person per month.
We do have 2 discount food stores...they sell bulk and almost out-dated stuff. Very big in our area cause a lot of people have large families. I alternate between two of the stores and Sam's once amonth.

Acceptance with Joy said...

I'm a crock-pot cook.

Beans, split peas, lentils.... they are all cheap. I buy 25 lbs of Persian lentils for $7.... goes a long ways. We even sprout them. I buy 50 pounds of potatoes at a time and everything else bulk at Cash and Carry.

We are vegetarian. I grow two huge gardens. We have our own orchard and can tons of fruit.We never buy soda, we aren't really into snacking as we eat 3 squares, etc...

And it still costs an arm and a leg to feed this gang of 7! I think where you live makes a big difference on the cost of feeding the family.

Someone mentioned the Duggars. We were watching a Youtube on them and she said her kids favorite food was ramen noodles and then she went on to say that that was good because they are full of nutrition. Say what???? LOL. Somewhere along the way I heard something different about ramen.

Okay, I'm glad my kids favorite food is beans. It helps. But feeding teens is never cheap.

Gina said...

I am not sure about that $50 per person thing. When we were a family of 5, and I really tried, I could get by spending $300 a month. Since then, prices have gone up and we have added a person so now it is about $400 a month. My kids go to a private school, so lunch is also included every day. My only frugal tips are to shop the sales flyer and plan your meals based on what's on sale. Also, add in some meals that are always cheap to make, such as homemade chili, spaghetti, rice, etc.

Wife of the Pres. said...

I haven't figured it but we spend about $400 a month and there are 7 of us.

My biggest tips: don't go out to eat (easier said than done I know and the above DOES NOT include our indulgences).

Also, I have blogged recently about my new lunch plan: each day I make it with the help of one child in the AM. We all eat the same thing (much cheaper btw) and the helper for the day who also incidentally has dish duty :) gets to choose our lunch menu for that day. Even if we go out on a field trip (like the zoo tomorrow for instance), we take out lunches.

Our lunches are generally $1/person per day even with fresh fruit.

BUY IN BULK. I even buy fresh broccoli in bulk at Sams. You CAN Freeze it quite nicely.

I also can make meals like steak for $3.50/person b/c we add in rice or potatoes as a side and salad or broccoli. All of a sudden that $20 package of steak makes a nice hearty meal for a very nice price (much cheaper than a restaurant).

I am still working on coupons, but if you do nothing else play the CVS game. Once you get started, you will virtually be able to get shampoo/cond., razors, toothpaste for FREE with CVS extra dollars. They will even pay you these when your purchase price is $0. Of course they give you a gift receipt redeemable only at their store, but if you buy something it is like cash at CVS.

Also, if you have a Kroger near you, when they have the 10 items for $10, you do NOT have to buy 10. I never pay for CREST toothpaste as I save up coupons (and get them from MIL and mother) and get the 10 for $10 crest deal with a 50-cent coupon that they double.

Coupons do work but they also take time. What did I buy for $1.87? Check this out! (at Kroger btw)

http://roomforatleastonemore.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/coupon-stacking-what-did-i-buy-for-1-87/

Cari said...

No magic formulas or wands here...sorry! I don't do coupons either. Tried but just didn't work for me. We spend about $100 per person so that's $800 budgeted for groceries every month. That also includes things like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, hair products, shaving items, etc. I tried to buy in bulk at Sam's Club once a month and keep the total bill to $400 that way I have $100 for each week of the month to spend at the local grocery store for perishable items and other misc stuff that comes up short notice. Also, at Sam's Club I'll buy all my meat for the month and freeze it.

Debby said...

I'm feeling very lucky that on this single mom's salary, I have the $10 little girl bird eaters...lol....
Seriously, can we talk about how to keep feet from growing?? seems all I buy is SHOES...& they are most definately not mine!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a coupon person but I'm going to become one! I saw the preview for that new show on TLC where she gets $600+ in groceries for $6.

Josh, Janelle, Johanan and Sofia said...

I just finished reading Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy and learned A LOT! Food prices are crazy, especially in Alaska!! (Maybe someone wrote about that already, but I didn't have time to read all the comments.:O)) LOVE your blog! We are waiting on court dates and travel dates to pick up our child in Ethiopia. Blessings on your journey!!!

4kids4us said...

My philosophy has always been "ignorance is bliss". Not effective, but not as guilt filled. I am eagerly awaiting the magic formula you will discover for all of us!

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