Ever since I started sharing our family’s real budget with you, I’ve gotten questions about what we actually eat on our low grocery budget.
While we were getting out of debt our grocery budget for our (then) family of five was less than $300 per month. Now that we are debt-free we’ve increased our grocery budget a bit. I just calculated our average monthly grocery spending for 2017 to be $398.
For the record, when I talk about our grocery spending, I’m just talking about food– not toilet paper, not shampoo, not diapers. Just food, which also includes any eating out, which was rare to non-existent when we were paying off debt and now includes an occasional pizza.
Today I’m going to focus on what we actually buy rather than the whole strategy behind keeping our grocery spending low. I will go through how I make my shopping list, what we bought this month including the price break down, and what meals we’ll be eating this month.
In addition to all the words below, I made a video! One of my goals this year is to share more videos with you– here’s the first one! My YouTube channel is brand spankin’ new, so I would love for you to subscribe so you can stay in the loop. I will be regularly publishing new videos.
The video below goes hand-in-hand with this post, so you can watch then read (or read then watch)!
How I make my shopping list
Some months I meal plan, other months I don’t. Lately it’s been mostly the latter. Don’t necessarily follow my example though. If you’re not used to cooking from scratch or on a budget, I would definitely go the meal planning route.
While I don’t schedule out specific meals for specific days, I still have a good idea of the meals that I will make before I make my shopping list.
I try to add a few new recipes each month, so I make sure I have those ingredients on my shopping list.
The bulk of my shopping list is composed of ingredients I use regularly. As I use them, I add them to my mental shopping list for the next month.
Of course, we don’t start the month with a bare pantry or fridge–there’s always food in them–so the restocking portion of my monthly shopping is to purchase those items which I used last month and I’m pretty sure I’ll use again this month. The rest of the shopping is new items for non-staple meals, or bulk purchases as items go on sale or come into season.
What we bought (and what it cost)
Winco = $120
- Spaghetti noodles (16 oz) $.78 x 4 = $3.12
- Penne pasta (16 oz) $.78 x 4 = $3.12
- Lasagna noodles (16 oz) $1.28 x 3 = $3.84
- Brownie mix $.98 x 4 = $3.92
- Canola oil (48 oz) $1.98 x 2 = $3.96
- Spaghetti sauce (24 oz) $.88 x 4 = $3.52
- Diced tomatos (28 oz) $.88 x 3 = $2.64
- Yogurt (6 oz) $.41
- String cheese (24 ct) $4.88
- Frozen peas (32 oz) $1.78 x 2 = $3.56
- Frozen broccoli (32 oz) $1.78 x 5 = $8.90
- Bacon (16 oz) $3.98
- Italian bread crumbs (.88 lb) $2.47
- Enchilada sauce (15 oz) $1.33 x 2 = $2.66
- Dry black beans (16 oz) $.92 x 2 = $1.84
- Roma tomatoes (1.5 lb) $1.47
- Strawberry jam (46 oz) $3.86 x 4 = $15.44
- Pesto sauce (8 oz) $2.89
- Pan spray $1.78
- Baking potatoes (6 lbs) $2.34
- Apples (8 lbs) $8.17
- Tortillas (35 oz) $2.79 x 4 = $11.16
- Celery $.78 x 2 = $1.56
- Flour (10 lbs) $3.28
- Sugar (10 lbs) $4.77
- Potatoes (10 lb bag) $2.44 x 2 = $4.88
- Wheat bread $1.58 x 6 = $9.48
Sam’s Club = $81
- 2% milk $2.45 x 2 = $4.90
- 1% milk $2.30 x 4 = $9.20
- Sour cream (5 lb) $7.26
- Cottage cheese (3 lb) $3.98 x 2 = $7.96
- Butter (4 lb) $10.89
- Country crock (80 oz) $4.98
- Block cheese (2 lb) $5.03
- Shredded cheese (5 lb) $10.98
- Spinach (16 oz) $3.79 x 2 = $7.58
- Romaine (3 hearts) $1.98 x 2 = $3.96
- Bananas (3 lb) $1.38 x 6 = $8.28
So what meals are we going to eat this month?
Now that you’ve seen what we bought, you’re probably wondering what’s actually going to make it to our plates. Like I said, I don’t stick to a strict schedule.
I am a lover of cold cereal, but it’s expensive and we go through it fast! I only buy cold cereal when I can get it for a really great price. I haven’t found any stellar deals in the past month, so we’re eating hot breakfasts right now. We’ll have any combination of the following:
We are probably the most faithful PBJ family you’ve ever met. Seriously. Even hubby usually gets PBJs for lunch (I put 3-4 sandwiches in his lunch each day, but when he works at home he gets warmed-up leftovers). Depending on what we have on hand, everyone also gets fruit, a granola bar, crackers or another snack, and maybe a string cheese or yogurt . I get most of our lunch snacks at Grocery Outlet for amazing prices. (I’ll do a Grocery Outlet shopping video sometime soon).
The lunch staple list includes:
- Bread (or ingredients for bread if I’m feeling ambitious)
- Peanut Butter and Jam
- Apple slices/ Bananas / Mandarin oranges
- Carrot sticks / Celery sticks
- Granola Bars
- Yogurt/ Applesauce
Though some days this exhausted mom of five would like to just skip dinner (Didn’t we just have dinner last night?), we do eat every day. This list isn’t 31 meals long because I’ll make some of these more than once. Plus, we eat leftovers. Hooray for leftovers! I intentionally make more than we’ll eat in one meal so that we will have leftovers!
- Lasagna (will also freeze)
- Mock Lasagna
- Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce
- Creamy Tacos (I make the cream of chicken soup from scratch now)
- Bean Burritos and Beef Soft Tacos
- Potato Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Hawaiian Haystacks
- Homemade Pizza
- Baked Potato Bar (main dish, lots of toppings)
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Baked Chicken Pesto Alfredo (new recipe to try, bought ingredients for 4x)
- Taco Soup
Sides (for Dinner)
- Frozen Veggies (peas, broccoli)
- Spinach Salad
- Romaine Salad
- Soft French Bread
That sums up this month’s big monthly grocery shopping trip! I plan to keep doing these so that you can see how my list changes as I stock up on different items when they are on sale or in season.
I’ll also record my little trips during the month and compile and share those so you get the complete groceries picture. Maybe I’ll do a pantry tour too, so you can see what we’ve got on hand. Oooh, the video possibilities are endless!
How about you?
- I would love to hear how your grocery shopping is different or similar!
- I would also love to hear what types of videos you’d like to see in the future.