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Even though it seems like all we do is play and wear toddlers around here, I actually have been pretty good about keeping up with my housewife challenges.

Chris’ dad came Thursday night for a visitso I’ve been really good about cleaning the past few days.  I felt so accomplished and ready to take on an in-law Thursday night with the floors freshly mopped and laundry done – something that rarely happens in the middle of the week.  I even enjoyed making the guest bed so much that I had to take a picture:It’s not as nice as the guest room we used to have, but better than an air mattress!

I started tracking all the groceries we buy in a spreadsheet so I could figure out how much we were spending and on what.  Since I’ve been buying groceries with cash since October, I’ve been less aware of actual spending and more loose with the budget than I ought to be.  I had mentioned a few months ago that our increased budget was about $70 per week;  we also started to look at food spending on a monthly rather than weekly basis, which makes more sense for things that last more than one week (oils, cereal, etc.).  The last four weeks, we spent more than I would have liked on food, $321.09 or approximately $80 per week.  Here’s the break down:(Don’t ask me why eggs and protein are separate categories…I think I originally did that because eggs are also used quite a bit for baking.) After analyzing my spending, I realized it only took five abnormal purchases to put us over budget: that fried chicken for Chris, bags of pecans and peanuts, a horrible impulse buy of pre-fab brownie mix (what is wrong with me?), and some pricey organic dried cranberries for a soup I’m maybe making this week (maybe because I realized we don’t have any sherry and I haven’t decided if I want to spend the money to buy some…).  Removing those five things puts the weekly average at $73.

Besides slicing and dicing my own spending, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs that talk about grocery budgeting, like this one.  The best one I’ve found so far is Mama Says, which has a whole section on frugal food tips.  She did a “food stamp challenge” and fed her family for under $3/day/person for a year and wrote about how she did it on the blog.  Now, she’s becoming more aware of eating real food and has a some posts about real food on a budget, which is nice because a lot of the other blogs don’t have that information.  It doesn’t really help me to see that someone is feeding their family cheaply on hot dogs, ramen noodles, and margarine.  It’s also challenging for me to translate a lot of the money saving strategies that other people use (and that we used to use) to Nantucket.  We can’t buy in bulk because of a lack of storage space and we can’t price shop, because we don’t have a ton of different stores.  I never bother with the sale fliers or coupons, because they’re always for stuff we don’t buy; I’m not going to get tricked into buying something I wouldn’t normally buy just because it’s a “good deal.”

I’ve only just started thinking about how we’re going to reduce the grocery bill again and I’ll be testing it out over the next couple weeks when Chris is home.  I want to get our monthly bill down to $270 – so that our per person per day cost is $3, which I figure is generous considering that Nora doesn’t eat a whole person’s worth of food and Chris doesn’t normally eat more than one meal hear per day.

How much do you spend on groceries?  Do you have any money saving strategies?

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4 responses

  1. Lauren Relyea Avatar
    Lauren Relyea

    My goal is to spend $60-80 a week on all our groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies and such. I’ve recently fallen head over heals in love with couponing and stockpiling because I can get ridiculous things like toothpaste and pasta for free, which allows me to buy more fresh organic produce than I did before couponing. I’m picky about the products we use that soak into our skin, but less picky about other things. I love having extra food and supplies to help friends and guests too, but I do have to work hard at making sure I’m buying consciously and conscientiously.

    1. Lovelorn Poets Avatar
      Lovelorn Poets

      Lauren, What sites or sources are you using for coupons? Like Amber, I’m one of those folks who typically ignores them as many of the items that are in the store flyers aren’t for things I would want to eat.
      Hope you and the family are doing well!

  2. Lovelorn Poets Avatar
    Lovelorn Poets

    I’m pleased to say that I think you are the only person I know who would put grocery items into a spreadsheet. 🙂
    I’m a geeky budget keeper myself so I’m thoroughly impressed!

    While my situation is different as I’m bringing a lunch to work 5x/week (and not so focused on creating variety), on thing that helps me is to make a big pot of “something” every weekend. These days that’s a mix of either brown rice or kasha with a puree of various root veggies that I still have from the CSA. I portion it into single servings and freeze and then throw one in my bag when I leave in the morning.

    I’m also a huge oatmeal fan. I bring that to work and the awesome smell of apple and spices makes everyone very happy (and it’s so much healthier/cheaper than the pre-packaged sweetened kind)! Both of these things are super cheap and even if you can’t bear to eat them everyday like I do 🙂 having it every other day would certainly save $$.

    Have an awesome week!

  3. Milehimama Avatar

    Thanks so much for the link and the kind compliments! I’m planning to run another “food stamp challenge” in March and I would love to see your future posts about your grocery budget.

    BTW, Mambo Sprouts is the best place I’ve seen to find coupons for organic packaged items. I’ve also found coupons here and there by visiting manufacturers websites, but that can be tedious and time consuming. Hope that helps!

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