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Monday, July 14, 2014

How I only spend $260/Month on Groceries for a Family of 3

When both my hubby and I worked I would tally our expenses at the end of the month or through the Mint application. I was astounded at the amount of money that we spent on both groceries and eating out. It kind of disgusted me that we were spending an average of $1000 on just food a month. To me that was absolutely ridiculous. 

I would then move us to a budget that we wouldn't stick with and just fell right back in to our old habits. The problem was that we weren't prioritizing health, planning, and budgeting above things like convenience and social indulging. 

When I had to leave my job in 2013 due to health complications with my pregnancy, I had to start thinking about how we could start buckling down more. Our income was cut more than in half at that time so we had to cut our bills more than in half to match it. We owned our own home so downsizing at that time wasn't an option for us due to me being on bedrest and other financial complications. I looked at our bills and tried getting them down as much as possible but again I wasn't in the right frame of mind at that point. I was in and out of the hospital, scared to death that I was going to lose my baby at any moment. 

After I had Liam and he was released out of the NICU our life started to slow down a bit. Of course the adjustment to being new parents and my Father and I's new business took most of my attention but I started prioritizing saving money and living a healthier life above everything else. It was a slow process but now over a year later, a process that I am so blessed that I started then.

Ok back to $260 in groceries a month!

This took me a year to accomplish and my hubby and I have successfully been doing this for months now. We eat healthy, rarely coupon, and are overall happy with our plan. 

I go grocery shopping the first week of the month after the first Thursday of the month. The reason is because my hubby gets paid on Thursdays and that is how I have our cash flows laid out for the month. 

Remember before starting that convenience is not your friend! Do not buy premade items or very processed items. They aren't healthy for you and you are paying in multiple ways for convenience. Aim for healthy as much as possible! Give your children fresh fruits as snacks instead of fruit snacks and alike. You can easily make your own homemade oatmeal with minimal effort or your own granola bars. 

Learn the dirty dozen and always buy them Organic! Learn about different chemicals and preservatives that are in your food and stay away from them. 

Make your own household and beauty products. Stay away from items with BPA or MSG or any of the other harmful chemicals that have been linked to birth defects and cancer. 

In a Nut Shell, do your research! God warns us to keep learning and gain as much wisdom as possible. Read Proverbs if you want to learn more about what God has planned for our lives. 

And let's start!

Step 1: Make an Excel Spreadsheet with all of your bills. Color coordinate all bills. I'm including Groceries, Gas for Cars, Diapers & Wipes, and alike. On the second tab of the spreadsheet it should be your check register for the ONE CHECKING ACCOUNT that you will use to pay all of your bills out of for the month. This will second as your cash flow. This means that every past payment should be included in the table leading up to your current balance and then at least three months of cash flows out in to the future. This will ensure that you won't run out of money. IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE CASH TO BUY IT YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT! I am anti credit cards, mostly because I fell in to the Devils lie that they are ok to use on occasion or for the rewards perks. Well they are until you start using them more and more and more and more until you a have a big hole of debt. My hubby and I are currently working on paying our debt from over a year ago on credit cards, it stinks!

Step 2: In the beginning of the month, take an hour or so and write a Month's Meal Plan. This is so much easier said than done. When I first started, I totally FAILED! I would struggle to find 31 recipes! I then got smart and started going through recipe books for us SIMPLE people like the Daniel Plan. They are healthy and easy meals. Most recipe books to me have nothing that looks appetizing but you have to do the research to figure out what works best for you. And if you know you're going to be on vacation or out a couple days that month then you don't need to meal plan those days. 

Another tip with meal planning is say you're having pulled chicken sandwiches one week. You could have a whole chicken that Sunday for dinner and then use the rest for the pulled chicken or chicken salad wraps, or a chicken sandwich. Match up your weeks so you aren't wasting food. 

Step 3: The Grocery List! Go through each recipe and write it on the back of your meal planning sheet. I cheat and only write the ingredients that I know I don't stock all of the time. For example I on average go through about 15-20 chicken breasts a month, 2 salmon fillets, 5 cups of monzarella, and 4 cups of Parmesan. These are all perishable items that I know in going to use so I make sure I tally them all up from all of the recipes. Sometimes I buy more if they're on sale and I have a little extra money in the budget to get more. My husband and I bought a deep chest freezer for this reason. It is filled to the tilt with meat and breads. After you're done tallying all alike items you can go ahead and write your list. 

Then you can include other things like milk, coffee, crackers, fresh fruit for snacks, and ice cream. I buy all of my Whole Wheat Bread for the month on that first week and freeze it, it is so easy to dethaw and tastes exactly the same. I hate freezing milk so I buy that fresh every week. Buy most of your fruit and veggies for recipes frozen, not canned! Cans have BPA!!!! 

If you're grilling then you would want fresh veggies and so on. But I'll get in to that on the next step.

Step 4: The Plan! The first week of the month you are only spending $200 at the grocery store. Mine is more realistically $160 with a couple Stoneyfield coupons and maybe a Giant store coupon threw in occasionally. 

The other three weeks you will spend only $20 a week. This is for Milk and fresh fruit and veggies that you need. Figure out per week which recipes need fresh veggies and pull those out to a separate list for that week. You don't want your veggies going bad in your fridge before you can eat them. 

Step 5: Go Grocery Shopping! I go to Giant or local vendors mostly. Giant because the self scanner tallies up everything as you go so you know how much you're spending. If you see a great sale on meats or veggies STOCK UP if it's in your budget. It usually is in mine!

And you're done!!!! Freeze your meats, veggies, and breads! And make a plan to pull out items when needed. 

If you have any addition questions please message me or leave them in the comments below!

Love you all & God Bless,

Jess