I’m on a new quest in 2012: spend less than $350 per month on groceries for my family of four. Not so easy with a teen in weightlifting, a tween on a constant growth spurt, and two adults. It’ll take some work, planning and determination, but it can be done! Follow the journey and see if you can learn a few things, too.
You may remember in 2010 I managed to stay well below my overall budget of $80 per week. Yay! I had $565 left over for other things at the end of the year. One of the things I learned is that a weekly budget is really hard to manage when you try to take advantage of loss leaders and awesome bargains. I was often way over or way under budget. So, I’ve decided to work with a monthly budget, rather than a weekly one.
A few things have changed since 2010. Grocery prices have gone up around 10% on average, some things more than others. The appetites of both my boys have increased exponentially. I’m working more, with less daytime availability for bargain shopping. Still, I have managed around $85 per week this year (a 23% increase from 2010 in the end), which is under $350 per month. Yeah, I know the new budget is more than I’m currently spending. I anticipate huge jumps in grocery prices again this year. Along with fewer meat bargains, I’m guessing this will be a big cost bump for any family. Election year or not, the price of gas and transportation is high, and that affects the price of groceries. Also, stores are donating short-dated foods to homeless shelters where they can do a whole lot of good — awesome! — which means fewer of those kind of deals to be had in the stores.
Time to get creative! Okay, even more creative.
There is a huge shift on my immediate horizon to more frequent, from-scratch freezer cooking sessions. I do a lot of cooking for the freezer already, but it’s in spurts, and uses many semi-homemade techniques. The from-scratchier I can get, the lower the food bill will go. I’ve already begun my recipe searches, which will continue throughout the year.
In my favor, the boys are developing a wider range of tastes. As long as I try a couple new recipes each month, they’re willing to participate in the experiments. So I’ll be posting those successes here, along with the “not so muches.” I’ve been informed, for instance, that the combination of sweet potatoes and white potatoes is unacceptable, but separately they are fine. Mea culpa.
Seasonal cooking is still front and center when I prepare my menus. We’ve been eating more fruits and veggies, so “cooking with the seasons” will continue to be helpful. Meats have seasons, too, did you know that? I haven’t seen a bargain on beef in a really long time, but it’ll come around again in late May and June. Breads and condiments, dairy, even cereal….all have seasonal deals. Follow along for the best bargains and creative uses.
Whatever works, whatever brings the food bill down, we’ll stick with. FREE vouchers for groceries. BOGO deals. Coupons and stacking. “Double secret clearance” finds. Smarter shopping strategies. I’ll show you how I do it, and tell you where the deals are along the way. Hey, we’re all trying to feed our families.
Who’s up for some Cheap Thrills in grocery shopping?!