the grocery budget

this month i've been trying to cut back our grocery/out to eat budget.

bryan keeps our finances (i mean seriously, are you going to let the poet in the family keep the finances?), but i buy the groceries and do the meal-planning and cooking.

my weekly grocery budget has oscillated a lot the past year--the lowest i got it was $50 per week (which basically meant zuzu got to eat and that's it haha), but now i figure i probably spend between $80 - $110 a week--a pretty wide range really.

i'm not sure what is really a good goal for a family of three. i figure this month my goal will be to see how much i actually spend per week on groceries and to keep it under $100. next month i'll try to keep it under $90 each week then go down and down as much as i can.

as for our out to eat budget, i feel that varies wildly--on months where we travel or have family in town, we eat out more often, on months where we don't have anything special going on we don't eat out at all. ideally we would never eat out, but being a working mom it is sometimes hard to get up the gumption to cook a healthy dinner after a long day of teaching instead of head to chickfila.

i'm also going to start researching ways to cut back the grocery bill. a lot of the ways i've heard of aren't possible for me--a working mom, i don't have time for couponing. my yard is far too forested to get much from gardening (as the previous owners warned us), and our small town doesn't have an aldi. farmers markets are a possibility--but, again, its finding the time.

one cheaper option i am going to try is making more things at home; i generally don't buy frozen meals anyway, but there are some things i've recently discovered i can make just fine without a mix. most any dessert, for example.

and as i run out of cleaning supplies, i'm planning on trying some natural homemade options instead of buying more from the store. cleaning supplies are expensive, so hopefully this will help the budget. i'm wanting to especially try making my own laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, all purpose cleaner. and also trying out some homemade all natural health/beauty items--translucent powder, blush, deodorant, toothpaste. i know some of these might be time-consuming to make, but if i make a large batch then i won't have to make them super often. ideally i would make my laundry detergent and such in-between semester breaks when i have much more time on my hands.

so, just to help me out, how much do you figure your family spends per week on groceries?
how much do you spend on out to eat (if any)? any tips on cutting back the grocery bill?


  1. We have a food budget that comprises all eating out / groceries (and "groceries" includes shampoo, toothpaste, dog food, etc. - so it's really more of a food / hygiene budget, I guess) and we spend $400/month (around $100/week). We used to have a $350/month grocery budget and a separate $100/month eating out budget, but we combined the two and cut the eating out budget in half, because we don't want to give ourselves an "excuse," per se, to eat out, by having a cash envelope with money in it designated for that purpose - but if it's the end of the month and we've already bought all of the groceries and we have $20 left, we might go out to eat! Even with staying home, I'm so worn out at the end of the day that ordering a pizza can be very tempting for me - so I completely get why it would be even more tempting for you. One thing we're doing is that, after Milo's birthday party, Tyson is going to build a chicken coop and we're going to start a garden. We learned a lot from this website: http://urbanhomestead.org/ We always thought we'd need to buy more land in order to garden/farm, but we're realizing that we can be self-sustaining without much land. I'm sort of lucky because Tyson grew up on a farm for part of his upbringing and his dad and grandpa were farmers, so he knows how to do all of those things and I'm really just there for moral support. ;) But I'm really wanting to learn, so I'm hoping Tyson teaches me a lot of how he does things, once we start that up this spring.

  2. thanks for the comment heather, that is really helpful! our grocery budget includes random things too--cleaning supplies, kitty things, etc--i like your idea of including the out-to-eat budget, that is more flexible in a way.

    i'm not sure if there's much of anything i can grow on my land because its so shady and we get all kinds of animals--our neighbors (who have much more sun than us) have trouble with the rabbits and deer eating everything they grow. maybe i could try my hand at something buried, like potatoes?? i will have to look into that.

  3. The grocery budget is an endless source of consternation for me. Before having Charlotte, it was easy to spend about $70/week. Now, I am happy when it's $100/week. I try to keep it at $100, but sometimes I go over. Like you, I don't have an Aldi and don't have time to coupon seriously, so I just do the best I can. We spend about $30-35/week eating out. I am glad to know others spend around what we spend. I read blogs where the women have more kids than I do and spend $60/week! How???

  4. i recently just made my first huge batch of laundry detergent (i made the one with the purex crystals, which i pinned somewhere) and it only took like half an hour or so? even with grating the bar soap. and i love it!
    i made dish detergent also, and i don't love that so much, and i'll try a new recipe next time. but it was all easy and quick, so go for it!

    i know we spend at least $100/week (and some stock-up or good sale weeks--more! gah) (4 of us, though, lots of meat, raw milk, fresh veggies and fruit. i make desserts from scratch when we get them and i make lots of things like taco seasoning--also easy and delicious!) do you know about the cheap spices by the produce section? i didn't know that till like 6 months ago, and i bet i've saved a good bit of money there....

  5. (oh, yes, that does include house stuff, toilet paper, etc. in there too!)

  6. @ erin -- its good to hear that other families spend around what we spend. i read online about families of 5 living on $200 a month and i don't understand how its possible either! i did read recently a chart of what the USDA considers thrifty, moderate and extravagant spending on groceries, and $100 per week is actually on the thrifty side! made me feel a little better =)

    @julie-- if you find a good dishwashing detergent recipe, let me know! once i run out of laundry detergent, i'm going to try my hand at making my own. its good to hear it doesn't take all day!

    and i was not aware of the cheap spices... i will have to check that out! thanks for the tip!

  7. oh making your own laundry detergent is GREAT! i use a recipe where you just pick out a nice bar of soap and grate it and melt it in with borax and washing soda and water. it works great and is dirt cheap. i do miss the nice 'laundry smell' from time to time, but when i think about how much money it saves, it's worth the small sacrifice!

    we spend about $100-150 every week on food. like heather, we lump all our eating into one category- so maybe one week we eat out more, but it's all from the same budget. from time to time we will go on a cash system, which really helps me get creative with recipes. making things from scratch is great healthwise and also sometimes moneywise, but be careful! i have gotten sucked into the homemade whirlwind and now i want to make Everything from scratch which is not always cost-effective (even if it is healthier).

    i started to wear all natural makeup about 6 months ago and i love it! it costs about the same amount as i was paying for the other kind, so it was a good switch. i haven't been brave enough to try deodorant homemade though! i was waiting till it cooled off some so that i wouldn't sweat so much! :) maybe i'll make some in november! haha.

  8. i'll have to get that recipe from you! i've been thinking that laundry detergent would be very worth it--i'm not entirely sure if make up would be worth it and bryan has informed me that he will not give up storebought deodorant and toothpaste lol. i'll have to find a balance between saving money, using healthy products and using my time wisely