July 21, 2014

What Are Your Monthly Food Costs? Chime in.

Jun18

This past month has been a whirlwind of emotion. Our two eldest sons have now officially left the nest. Our eldest has a summer internship and our second son has started college football/summer school. Yes, two children in college is a hard one for this momma heart to swallow , but we spend years pouring into our children specifically for those moments, so I am learning how to do life this summer in a much quieter house.

I’m also finding out what an impact this is having on our family food budget. It’s the first time in decades that I am buying less food. I don’t think I even know how to cook for smaller groups. I am so used to feeding the masses. Anyhow, I ran across this older post on food budgets and the comments hold as much fascination now as they did three years ago. I find the summer is a great time to re-evaluate this area when schedules are a bit more flexible. Enjoy!Last year, during the month of October, I committed to write every day for 31 days. I tackled 31 Days to More with Less, and I loved the topic, but sweet friends, if you know anything about me, that was torture. I am a fly by the seat of my pants, “write my posts the minute before I hit publish” kind of the girl, so writing in depth on any topic for 31 days stretches me.

Stretching is good though, so I decided to do this again and take to task the topic of personal finance, money,  budgeting, and all those things that are so hard to address, while still keeping some sense of beauty in our lives. I’m excited to tackle Balancing Beauty and the Budget.

One of the issues I will address in October is the rising food costs and how that plays a part in our budget.

Honestly, I often speak to groups of people on ways to slash their food budget, yet the one question everyone asks is, “How much do you spend on your monthly food costs?”

That is a loaded question because everyone’s food purchasing needs and desires are so different. Attempting to compare yourself to someone else’s family only brings strife. Some use coupons, some don’t.

Some families prefer to cook with only organic, whole foods, or gourmet style (and priced) ingredients, while others purchase short cut meals with pre-made items. Some families include eating out as part of their entertainment budget, while others always cook at home. There is no “right way” to determine ones monthly food costs, unless you realize overspending is an issue.

There are so many variables, aren’t there? That’s why it’s been very difficult for me to get any real sense of the average monthly food budget for a family of four.  I spent hours researching statistics, but most totals are outdated, so I can only assume that those numbers have gone up. The study I found stated that one average adult spent around $250 a month on food, putting a family of four just under $1000/month.

In case you are wondering, I wrote about our person monthly food budget and how I manage that, but again, I need to revisit that number to make sure it’s still accurate. (And remember, don’t compare. If your food bill is higher, don’t forget I am the queen of making something from nothing. If it’s lower, don’t forget I am feeding three teen boys and two girls who eat like they are teen boys. ;))

If you are looking for direction, begin with my Budgeting for Food post. It gives many tips and encouragement, as well as a free printable to help us with those baby steps of really tackling this area in our finances.

So, please chime in.What are your monthly food costs?

I think it would be fascinating to hear honest answers about what people are spending (we won’t know who you are if you just use your first name). No judgement here. It’s just a place to share in the comments, so I can get a better idea of what is realistic with these rising food prices.

I’ll be back in October to let you know what I found out from all of your input.

So what are you cooking this Tasty Tuesday? I can’t wait to be inspired.

TastyTuesday200pix No Food Waste Week

Simple Rules for Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods –  As always, please link directly to your recipe post and not your blog URL, so that everyone can find the recipe months from now.

Also, link back here in your post so that everyone can join in the fun, it’s just common courtesy of blog carnivals. Please do not link up a recipe meme that you have started. Thanks for your understanding.




Comments

  1. I just wrote about this yesterday, Jen! I’m finding that I have to adjust my food budget ($500 for a family of five) to account not only for food prices rising but my little ones becoming big eaters. Now that they’re in kindergarten, they’re constantly hungry.

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  2. About $650/month for our family of four…that includes daily lunch for my husband to take to work and my kindergartner to take to school. That total also includes household goods like paper towels and toiletries, diapers, dog food, and trips to the farmer’s market…I can’t WAIT til the toddler is out of diapers…big savings! :)

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  3. I spend between $350-425 for a family of 4, that includes two adults and two boys (ages 4 and 8). This also includes toiletries and paper goods. Both of my boys are really good and BIG eaters. I keep our food budget in check by couponing and I love to cook….that whole something from nothing thing! I don’t make detailed meal plans, but do plan each week according to how busy our evenings will be, ie. make one large meal and have leftovers on the nights we have baseball. I also keep an Excel sheet where I keep a log of my grocery spending. Sounds tedius but is SO helps! Love this topic and thanks for hosting as always!

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  4. We spend about $600 a month. We live in Mexico and there are no sales and no coupons. We also try to shop a lot at Costco’s and Sam’s so we have access to more “American” foods. When we lived in the states I spent a lot less. We are a family of 5 – our 3 kids are 6,3, and 1 but they eat all day!

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  5. About 800-1200 per month, including toiletries. That’s for our family of 8, with kids ranging from 2 to 12. So worried about when my 3 oldest boys are teenagers!

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  6. You are right on the money when you say this differs so widely. I have a family of 8, three teens, two adults and 2 growing “tweens” and a 6 year old. We spend on average $1400./ mo NOT including toiletries, which is another $200. Beginning in September I vowed to cut down by at least $500. and eat some of the food we have accumulated as food storage. We’ll see what the budgets say at the end of the month :)

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  7. We are right about $300/mo for our family of 4. This doesn’t include anything besides groceries – no pet food, HBA, or paper goods/cleaning products. It stresses me that it has gotten this high, because my boys are only 8 & 6 and I can’t imagine how much it is going to continue to increase.

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  8. I spend between $400-$500 a month for a family of 4. That includes everything like toiletries.

    Thanks for the link up.

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  9. We’re a family of 7. . .I’ve been at $400 a month for the past 3 years. I am a major couponer. . and you were one of the first blogs 3 years ago that got me started on that journey!! Thank you. I am finding though that lately it has been harder and harder to get under $400. . .rising food costs, my 3 oldest are now teens, we have lots of their friends over now, we are trying to eat more fruits and veggies (and thus buy a produce box each week at $18), coupon deals do not seems as big or as often as they once were (am I imagining this??).

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    Jen Reply:

    No, you are not imagining this at all. The coupons have lower values and the food costs are rising. And that warms my heart to hear I was one of the first blogs…so fun!!!

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    Sandy Reply:

    @Su@TheIntentionalHome,

    You are doing a GREAT job. I would love to hear some of your secrets, strategies, etc. I spend about $270 a month and there are only two of us and that does not include non-food items. It does include all lunches and we eat out on an average of less than once a month and then only when we can use a coupon. Any ideas to share?

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  10. I’m at about $675 for 4 (including 2 preteen boys). This includes 3 meals a day for everyone – no one buys lunch out on a regular basis. It does not include toiletries or occasional eating out. I’m a coupon/sale/bulk shopper for most things but I only buy locally raised meat products, which are more expensive. I am feeding one with food allergies and one vegetarian so there are also “specialty” items in there that are more expensive but necessary for our family. My philosophy is to spend carefully and save when I can so that I can spend more where it is important to me. I track expenses closely so I can tell you that our groceries have gone up from $500 over the past year. It’s a combination of rising prices and growing boys.

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  11. If I am being frugal, using coupons, making lists…I can keep our monthly food costs to about $700 month (we have 6 of us, 2 dogs, and two of the 6 are teens!!)

    Sadly, when I am busy, lazy etc, our food costs can be well over $1000 month. I do buy all organic meat, produce and dairy. My kids all take their own lunches, and we buy all our beef from a local farmer (which is more costly, but worth it).

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  12. I just started tracking my food costs again in an effort to use up what we have before buying more stuff. I know we could go a month without buying anything but fresh produce, milk and cream, though I haven’t gotten to that point yet. We’re a family of 7 with 1 teen boy, and a ds7 who is trying to eat like a teen.

    In August we spent $740 which includes 2 large stock up trips and also cleaning products, paper products, & toiletries. So far in September, we’ve spent $600. However, that includes soccer snacks and supplies for school (paper towels, wipes, and cups). So, my plan to stretch our food dollars is working so far, even though I didn’t realize that until I looked at the numbers!

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  13. Michele Laramay says:

    We are a family of 7. All men, but me. The youngest is 13, then 15, 19, 21, 22 and my husband. Plus friends…ALL THE TIME! My grocery budget is $800.00 a month, including toiletries etc… This used to work for me when my Price Chopper doubled dollar coupons. Now that they don’t, it is MUCH harder. The rising cost of food has me freaked out a bit. I am super woman at stretching food and making awesome meals for cheap, thank God. Still, it is a very stretching experience lately when I have to shop. The price of meat! WOW! And you can imagine how much meat my guys eat! Let’s just say chicken is our friend! :-) Still, in all the uncertainty of life, God is our provider and HE has never let us down. Good, faithful Father!

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  14. We are a family of 5 and we spent $1200 last month, including all paper products and toiletries. That’s down from $1500 the month before and I coupon so not sure why so high. I do love to cook, and we eat well–fish, organic products, fresh fruits and veges. This includes 3 meals a day as I pack lunches for everyone. I think I have to incorporate easier meals a few times a week–like grilled cheese and pancakes!! i’m sure that would help! Looking forward to ideas to cut this even more.

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    Becky Reply:

    Adrienne,
    I think that budget is reasonable, especially when you’re buying organic. This forum is predominantly made up of people who are really paying attention to their budgets. I think the majority of people in the U.S. easily spend more like $1800 monthly (including restaurants) on food for 5 without flinching–& that’s not even with organics! At least you’re being deliberate with your spending. You go girl!

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    Jen Reply:

    Yes, Becky, I totally agree!!

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    adrienne Reply:

    @Jen, Thanks for the encouragement ladies!! I am trying to watch the budget so it doesn’t go higher, and am loving all these comments and the new printouts from today’s post, Jen. I’d love to be able to eat well for less money!! Thanks for everything!

    Faith Reply:

    @adrienne,
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one paying more than $500 a month for groceries!! I have a family of seven and spend at least $200 a week on food and that includes packing school lunches for my three in school.

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  15. I spend just over $400 a month for our family of four, which includes toiletries, paper goods, etc., but not eating out. We are planning to raise that amount about $40 next month as we are now eating more produce and whole food,s and I have seen a rise in prices and fewer couponing deals.

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  16. For years our food budget has been between $400-500. It is only food – not toiletries, eating out, or misc. The amount we actually spend fluctuates due to kids coming and going. This summer we were a family of 5 and we spent closer to $500. Now that 2 of them have gone off to college (and are buying their own groceries), it should be closer to $400. We’re keeping it the same without the teenage boys and my husband is hoping he’ll be able to have shrimp and steak more often!

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  17. I spend between $300-$375 for just my husband and me (though that does include most toiletries, paper products, etc.) I used to be under $300 sometimes, but that hasn’t happened in a long time. We also have a separate budget line item for eating out, because that’s a social thing for us rather than a necessary to live thing, and we track food we buy for entertaining separately as well. I cook at home most nights and we both pack lunches, but I do buy frozen pizzas and skillet meals to have on hand for those lazy evenings. :-)

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  18. We are family of 5 – three boys that eat like horses. We do a good amount of entertaining which definitely adds to our grocery bill. Also, we do not eat a lot of boxed items so there are not that many coupon deals that I take advantage of. We also live in an area that is pretty high priced. I do try to save money by buying in bulk, freezer cooking and making from scratch. I spend a good $900 per month on groceries. That number makes me sick because about a year ago it was around $600. Dang boys keep growing!

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  19. For family of 3 our budget is about $400 a month for food. There is about another $100 months allotted for household goods, toiletries and diapers. We also have a different (tiny) budget for eating out 1-3 times a month.

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  20. We’re a family of 8. Four boys (17,15,13,9) and 2 girls (11 &2). We spend $600 on groceries each month. This is only groceries, no toiletries, dog food or paper products. We’ve always had a garden and it is amazing how much that helps the food budget. My husband and boys also hunt so we don’t buy alot of meat. We’re in the process of moving and will need to live at an RV park for a few weeks and I’m nervous about what that will do to the grocery budget. I’m going to try really hard to stay with in $600 but we won’t have the reserves in the freezer like we normally do. I do some couponing but very little for food items. We don’t have any stores here that double and so I usually just use coupons for toiletries, etc.

    I’m excited for the 31 days challege.

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    Angi Reply:

    @Angi, I forgot to mention that I break that $600 down to $20 a day. So if we want to have something like Lasagna for dinner (which for us is expensive since I can never find a good deal on Riccotta) then we need to have a cheap breakfast and lunch – maybe oatmeal and bean burritos. In theory I have $5 for breakfast, $5 for lunch and $10 for dinner. I try to use this as my guideline each day so that I don’t wind up at the end of the month with only oatmeal and bean burritos to serve.

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    Cassie Reply:

    Have you tried substituting cottage cheese for ricotta?
    @Angi,

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    Angi Reply:

    @Cassie, I have but we really don’t like cottage cheese. It’s probably the one thing that we’re picky about.

    Kristi G Reply:

    @Angi,
    Have you looked at any 2nd chance food places? I think I heard about it here, but I don’t remember. Anyway, we have a Town Talk in our area. They sell food that is either expired (but not bad), damaged packaging or overstock from other stores. They don’t always have the same things, but I have seen Ricotta there frequently for pretty cheap!

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    Jen Reply:

    Yes, Kristi – you are right. I definitely wrote a post about them. They have different names all over the country, but they are a great resource for sure.

    angi Reply:

    @Kristi G, We don’t have anything like that here. We have a Walmart, Save a Lot, HEB and a locally owned grocery store. When I lived in FT. Worth we had a Town Talk, it was pretty cool.

    Kristi G Reply:

    @Kristi G,

    Err this is at Angi (not at myself)…

    but that’s probably the same town talk I go to! Up in North Richland Hills? Or close to, off of Beach? :)

    Bree Reply:

    I like this idea of a
    $20 dollars a day break-down. I have ever thought of trying to think of meals that way, it might help create more balance. I have really slacked off on budgeting food and have been making too many trips to the store resulting in way overspending.

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    Becky Reply:

    @Bree, Yes, I agree, that’s brilliant! I have already spent way too much of my October budget for groceries already & was overwhelmed trying to figure out how to make the remaining $$$ stretch. By breaking it down per day which in my case ends up being just under $17 per day, it seems much more feasible. Thanks Angi!

  21. We are a family (5 of us) with multiple food allergies, so we eat just about every meal at home or packed for school/work. I try to keep our monthly food budget (including all the extras) to about $500. But, in reality it’s closer to $600/month. I use coupons as much as I can given the allergies (and yes, I have noticed a poorer quality/quantity of coupons too) and shop the grocery ads and manager specials. I am also able to shop at several stores as I live in an area with a lot of options.

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  22. I manage about $100-120/month, but it’s just me and I can’t eat much and I don’t coupon as much as I should.

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  23. We’re a family of 4 (2 kids – 10months and 2years), so both in diapers. We spend about $400 to $500 in groceries and another $100 on diapers, toiletries. I don’t really coupon anymore because of lack of time. We shop in Bulk at Costco once or twice a month and at trader joe’s once or twice a month, the rest at Kroger/Martins. We eat whole foods and a lot of organic items, like dairy, meat and some veggies. I bake my own bread, so that’s a bit of savings. I do most of my cleaning with vinegar & baking soda, so it helps with those costs.

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  24. I spend between $25-50 a week on groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. Sometimes it’s more especially if I need a lot (why do things always run out at the same time?) or if I’m stocking up on a sale item. My costs are low because I’m only cooking for one. I do think that I could probably cook for two with too much extra added in.

    My weekly total does not include eating out (about once or twice a week, usually at lunch or on the weekends). The number just reflects what I spend at Publix or Walmart on a weekly basis.

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  25. We are a family of ten, six boys and two girls, ages 14 to 13 months, but thankfully, most of my boys are still young. My two football players are eating ALOT this season, though! We have been struggling financially and I have been spending between $400 and $600 a month which includes toiletries, diapers, wipes and formula. I have been making everything from scratch, including laundry, dish and hand soap, buying chicken leg quarters at 59 cents a pound, and we are eating lots of beans, rice and potatoes. I use Walmart’s price matching to get the best deals in one stop. I shop at Sam’s for cheese, butter, spinach, formula and a few other items. My ideal budget would be about double what I am spending right now but it has been kind of fun to create new ways to stretch what we have. My husband is constantly amazed when he comes home to a nice dinner even though the cabinets are bare (to God be the glory!).

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    Ann Reply:

    @Tracy, what an encouraging testimony you have!

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    Becky Reply:

    @Ann, I am humbled & inspired by you.

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  26. Out food budget can vary greatly from month to month, but for the most part we try to keep it under $200 for two adults. That includes take out a few times a month (my fiance LOVES chinese takeout LoL), and of course our three meals a day. Some months, however, I can keep our food bill under $100. It really all depends on the sales going on, and what is going on in our life.

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  27. YIKES!! We are only a family of 3 and we are spending at least $800. We did just buy a house and had to buy all new ‘staples’ like condiments and so forth, but still! That’s outta control! We don’t eat out much but we do buy a lot of organics, fresh stuff and fish and meats, and some ‘gourmet’ category condiments. Everything I read about budgeting for groceries includes at least buying lower quality foods or coupons or going to multiple stores. I live a half an hour from my grocery store already. Not a big savings if it is pending more on gas. I want to go to one location and I don’t want to buy the paper for coupons. I do print some online and I do use some of the store coupons.

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  28. I budget $340 per month for my family of four. (15 yr son, 12 yr dd and construction working dh) My goal is to only spend $50 per week, though. For the most part I do make it. But when I get lazy I tend to use up every penny budgeted. This does not include toiletries, I have a seperate envelope for that and for pet food. And I use coupons and pounce on any amazing offers.

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  29. With rising food costs I think our budget is now up to around $600 a month for a family of 4 (2 boys ages 9 and 6). That includes paper goods (of which TP is about the only thing I buy regularly, pretty much everything else we use primarily cloth) and dish detergents.

    Included in that is about $50 a month for milk straight from the farm, also trying to average out the cost of the half a cow we will buy next month to stock our freezer with grass-fed beef. I do most of my cooking from scratch, making my own breads, soups, sauces, etc. But I like quality ingredients so I don’t get the cheapest cheese, etc. for things where quality is noticeable.

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  30. We try to budget about $500 a month for food for our family of five (children 11, 9, and 5). We are vegetarians so there aren’t too many coupons for us to buy our foods, but we do live by several farms and get produce for really cheap. I also use coupons like crazy for all the toiletries we use so basically get those for free each month which helps with the food budget if we need to spend a little more from month to month. My husband and all three kids always pack their lunches too so that helps with saving some money on the eating out department.

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  31. My budget is $640 per month for a family of 5. (Kids are 12, 9, and 6) This amount includes everything from food, to laundry detergent, to batteries ~ everything! And it is always difficult, especially since we buy a lot of “healthy” stuff. I really wish we could up the amount to at least $800.

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  32. We are a family of four with two growing boys (let me tell you…their appetites are getting bigger by the minute!) I have recently been able to keep our budget (including toilettries and household goods) to just under $400. I coupon a bit, know where every clearance bin/shelf is in every store and buy discounted meat and stock up. I also try to make most of our snack foods from scratch…cookies, rice crispie treats and our new found love…chex mix…I buy the cereal for cheap with coupons and can get several batches out of one box…not to mention I can control what goes in…a little flax meal..extra nuts…cheerios..dried fruit…to boost the nutrition…oh and the website has at least 50 different recipes! It can be a challenge…but I find the “hunt” to be a bit exhilarating! So what if I’m the only one in the household who is esctatic that I scored free peanut butter!

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  33. From $230 to $300/ month is my goal for the two of us. I just changed from tracking by category (groceries, drug store) to tracking by weekly expenses so I need to go back and break the categories back out. I decided to focus on staying on my monthly budget vs. a budget/ category.

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  34. For the two of us, I’ve been spending between $50 and $60/week recently. When my brother was here this summer, I was able to keep it below $75/week. Those numbers usually include paper products and laundry detergent. For other cleaners, I use baking soda and vinegar.

    You know, Jen, I think location also plays a big role in what a family’s budget turns out to be. We’re in the deep south, and lettuce is still $1.89 for a head of green leaf conventional lettuce. My mother in law (in Charlotte) said lettuce for them is $4/head! If the prices really are that drastically different, it’s even harder to compare budgets! I can’t wait to read what you write in October–it’s gonna be great :)

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    Jennifer Reply:

    @Diana, I think you are right about location…my sister lives in PA and milk is $4+ a gallon there! Costs more than a gallon of gas! I wonder why locational prices differ so much…anybody know how food costs are regulated here in the US?

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    Patti Reply:

    @Jennifer, I think in Pennsylvania the dairy industry is regulated by the state… possibly subsidized and in other parts of the country they aren’t. Your sister is probably paying the true cost of the milk vs. other states where the dairymen aren’t making what it cost them to produce milk. I am all in favor of cheaper prices but we do need to realize that food in America is very cheap compared to other countries and that is one reason we have so much obesity. I, for one, can tell you that back in the 1950s 1960s, and early 1970s our families did not eat the snack foods we have today nor the portions of other foods that are served. And we never went out to eat unless it was a very special occasion. Farmers were run by small families, not large corporations. And WalMart certainly didn’t exist to challenge the competition of the grocery stores. Yes, prices are rising. But I want our farmers to earn what it costs them to produce food and I, personally, am willing to pay them for high quality food.
    (And I can stand to lose a few pounds in the process!).

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    Jennifer Reply:

    @Patti,
    Thank you for clarifying Patti.

    I did not mean to imply that I do not value the farmers. I wish family farming were valued today as it was back in the day. Unfortunately, progress has moved along and left a lot of those farms without a way to keep up with the current market.

    I have a family of five to feed and I cannot afford to pay a higher amount for my food. I do my best to feed my family as healthily as possible. We do not eat snack foods except on a very occasional basis. We serve appropriate sized portions to each family member. We do not buy organic simply because it is cost-prohibitive. I believe in supporting our agricultural families, but I cannot do so at the expense of my children.

    Betsy Reply:

    @Diana, And we pay $1 for a head of green leaf lettuce! And, yet, I still spend a lot on groceries it seems. Thankful that I’m not paying $4, though.

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  35. We are a family of six and spend about $125 per person each month, which works out to about $750. But that does include non-food items, like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc. I buy organic when I can, use coupons on things I already buy (not just to use them because they are there), shop the sales, and cook most of our meals. I remember being so excited when we potty trained our last child (she’s four) and thought that would save us money on diapers every month and we would have extra…but then my oldest son who is almost 11, turned into the bottom-less pit and all that money stayed just for more groceries. I am scared for in a few years time when i have three teens at once…pretty sure the price is just gonna go UP UP UP. After we buy a house–currently we are renters–I hope to be able to try a garden and see if we can’t get that money to stretch a bit more. :)

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    Jennifer Reply:

    @Jen, Jen have you considered container gardening since you are renting? That way you can take your garden with you when you buy a home! :)

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  36. I have a family of 5 (me, hubby, teenage son and two girls – who eat like their brother!) and we spend about $500 a month. I read somewhere that a “grocery” budget should be about $25 per person per week. So I shoot for $125 a week for our family. This includes all HBA, cleaning and paper supplies. I could probably cut this down a little bit by cooking no-meat meals, but my hubby doesn’t consider it a meal unless it has meat! It is interesting to see what the government considers food should cost a family. This link has the food costs numbers for July from the FDA: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2011/CostofFoodJul2011.pdf

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    Betsy Reply:

    @Betsy, Sorry, I mean the USDA, not the FDA! LOL

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    Kristi G Reply:

    @Betsy,

    I heard Dave Ramsey say he recommends your food be no more than 20% of your income. But then again, he said if you have low income it has to be higher and high income it should be lower (his example is that “if you have 20% of a million dollars for food… you’d be quite fat” lol). Anyway, I’m nowhere near this, but it’s a guideline I heard this morning.

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    Kristi G Reply:

    @Kristi G,

    Ack! 12% not 20%!

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    Leah Reply:

    @Kristi G, Even at 20%, that’s $400 to feed our family of six. And we live in PA where milk is $4 a gallon. I try but people do come over occasionally so it’s hard to keep our budget on track sometimes. I do buy everything, toiletries etc…

  37. We’re a family of five (three teens who eat more than the adults, one who has metabolism issues and needs to eat 1/3 more calories/day) and we spend about $600/month for all grocery, pet, paper products. I’d love to figure out how reduce that, but we’re trying to include more whole, organic foods. I did start a garden this year, but the materials cost more than that produce. I ‘m looking forward to next year’s produce as pure savings.

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  38. I was just thinking about this. I used to be able to shop for $50/week to feed our family of four. Now we have three at home and it’s closer to $75/week. It’s frustrating because I meal plan but it still goes so quickly. This includes packing leftovers in lunches.

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  39. We’re a family of 5. Three boys ages 10, 7, and 5 plus my husband and me. Lots of times, my 10 year old will eat more than me! We average $650 a month on food. Our main cost is meat and fresh produce. We eat a LOT of fruit! I don’t use coupons regularly. I used to, but by being more careful about what and when I buy an item, I save more than I did when using coupons. Now, only if there’s a fantastic one (like the one I just got – $5 off fresh meat), I’ll use it.

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  40. We’re family of five, husband (big eater), two sons, and daughter (another big eater..and she’s only 4 yrs old!). I also do daycare for three children M-F. So our grocery budget is $700 for the month. This includes toiletries and non-edibles. One of the daycare kids is full time so that includes breakfast, snack and lunch for her. Two are part time before and after school so that includes an afternoon snack for them. Plus I make my husband’s lunch every day. And also lunch for me and my kids.

    I used to be a couponing maniac (loved the adrenaline rush of a good deal!) but the stores in our areas are cutting back on store coupons and it takes too much time out of my already insanely busy life (I homeschool our three kids in addition to doing daycare) to keep it up to a point where I see big savings. So, I try to cut back on meat consumption by doing more dinners that tend to be vegetarian, shop the meat clearance section at Albertsons and Safeway, shop only for the loss leaders at Albertsons and Safeway and do the bulk of my shopping at WINCO.

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    Jennifer Reply:

    @Jennifer, Oh and we live in Oregon in a middle class suburb of Portland.

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    Jennifer Reply:

    @Jennifer, Forgot to say that our children are 9(boy), 7(boy) and 4(girl). My husband is 36 and I am 31.

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  41. On average our monthly food bill (including) eating out is $400 a month for a family of 5. This doesn’t include toiletries/household cleaning supplies etc. I used to count it but hubby says we can eat toilet paper. LOL! We have a 3, 6 and 8 year old. Hubby says that he knows that we’ll have to go up at least $25 extra dollars per child a month once they reach the teen years. As it is…they eat us out of house and home. Thankful for the hungry bellies though. :)

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  42. I’ve gotten our monthly shopping bill down to about $60/week=about $240 per month. This is for two adults and an 18 yr old son and also includes cleaning supplies and toiletries. If you include the dog food and treats, it would probably add another $40 per month because I buy her really good food that rarely goes on sale or has coupons. This past month, I haven’t been shopping except for fresh produce because we are so stockpiled that we need to get through it all (and there’s no room for more-I refuse to “hoard” and fill every corner of my home with stockpile items). It’s amazing to see how much extra money we have for other things these days, since I’ve been “crazy couponing” for about 2 years now.

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  43. Honestly, we spend about $100-$115 / week at the grocery store, and $25 / week eating out, for a total of $500-$550 a month for 2 adults & 2 toddlers. I would love to spend less, but do try to buy organic for many items, and we do buy some convenience snacks and meals.

    I have been amazed at how much prices at the grocery store have risen over the last year, and how much less we are getting for our money. Looking forward to some good ideas on how to stretch that budget!

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  44. My husband is in charge of grocery shopping (he’s a much better couponer than I am), but I think we spend about $150 per month on groceries. That covers food for 2 adults, a baby (who now eats formula and homemade baby food), a cat, one meal a week with guests, and any other non-food kitchen items. We have a separate budget of $50 for eating out once a week. We buy organic when it comes to meat, eggs, and certain fruits or veggies.

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  45. We are a family of 3 + an 8 yr old boxer. With 2 adults, a 4 yr old DS, & a hyper dog. We spend @ $50 a week including groceries, paper goods, cleaners, doog food, etc. I coupon & we eat mostly whole foods but I only buy in season fruit & produce. W have a 99 cent store in our area that carries great quality fresh & frozen foods and I always stop buy hter before I go to the grocery store to see if they have a better deal that what I already know I can get the store sale prices + my coupons. I have a decent stock pile for our family size. I only buy at rock bottom prices and will just wait to buy it until it goes back down to that price again. It has definatly been hard the past several months to stay at the $50 mark each week. I use transfer prescription rewards to and that makes a big difference when they are avaliable… Thank you so much for your blog! It is so inspirational! :)

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  46. We’re a family of 6, the kids are 9, 7, 4, & 2. We budget $550 each month for groceries (just food) and $100 for dining out.

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  47. Our family of 2 adults, 1 toddler and 1 baby on the way budgets $200/month for only groceries. And it’s turned out to be not near enough the last couple of months! Our toddler is a vegetarian right now and consumes so much fruit, cheese, crackers that we have a hard time keeping up. :)

    We do not eat out but maybe once a month, sometimes we never eat out unless it’s with my family or his and they always pay, they’re sweet like that. :)

    I menu plan our dinners and my husband takes the leftovers to work for lunch the next day. He never goes out for lunch during the work week. I eat the leftovers or a sandwich for lunch.

    I do not shop with coupons, I just haven’t felt like it’s made a difference for me. I buy all fresh ingredients and make almost everything from scratch so coupons just haven’t worked for me. I shop at Aldi and love it and feel it has almost all the best deals. I buy most of my meats at Kroger when they’re on sale and stock up. So if boneless/skinless chicken breasts are $1.99/pound or less (I usually hope for less) I stock up and buy 20-30 pounds. When I get home I divide it into 1 pound portions and bag it in a ziploc bag and put it in our deep freeze and take out when needed. I also buy whole chickens (from Aldi) and cook them in the crock pot. I then shred the meat off the bones and place it in bags in the freezer and use when things called for shredded chicken. The whole chickens are a HUGE money saver for us.
    I buy frozen vegetables instead of fresh (unless they’re in season). I buy a lot of fruit and cheeses for us and our toddler and those items are big expenses.
    The rising food costs are no fun to watch as they continue to rise, but it’s all part of it I guess. I’m going to try gardening next year, mostly vegetables, I hope that helps with our expenses.

    And someone said it all depends on what part of the country you live in as to what prices are and how they affect the grocery budget. I totally agree. It has a lot to do with that I think. Interested in seeing your posts for October!

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  48. My menu plan post yesterday was about our food costs because my Aunt had been asking me about them. I try to keep our costs to $100 at the most per week. That does not include household supplies. We have a family of 6: 7 and 10 year old boys, 13 year old girl, and 16 year old boy (who is on the swim team so is hungry all the time!)

    I cook most everything from scratch, and buy very little processed foods except for the granola bars or fruit snacks or chips I get at a great price with coupons and sales. Even with the food prices soaring, I feel that this is one part of the budget we can have control over and keep to a minimum, if $450 a month can be seen as a minimum.

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    Annie~Savor This Moment Reply:

    @Annie~Savor This Moment, I forgot to add that I linked to your post on cooking hamburger in the crockpot, too. Tried it and loved it! I just drained all of the grease/liquid out, chopped it again and continued cooking for another hour or so.

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  49. Wow! After reading all the comments I feel that we are WAY overspending – our budget is $600 a month and it seems like we always go over – now that is only for 2 adults (but my hubby eats for 2 by himself – LOL!) and our two dogs. That also includes all dog food, cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc (also any thing that the hubby decides that he just HAS to have a Walmart)! So, maybe I need to get a better handle on what goes into the grocery cart. I try to coupon, but it just doesn’t seem to work too well – and, since we are retired, there is NO way that I can leave the hubby at home. If anyone has any suggestions I’m willing to listen!

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  50. All of you are so organized! My food budget is on a sliding scale of $100/week. I say sliding because I am really bad at tracking how much I spend, and since I limit myself on everything else and barely buy anything, I let myself get the extras when I’m at the grocery store sometimes. I think I end up spending $175 a week for a family of 2 adults, a 2-year old, and an 8-month old. Sheesh. I’m bookmarking you for October!

    I wish I could say I could write about one topic for 31 days, but I think I’m better off just reading all of yours for 31 days! That’s enough for me.

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  51. I am trying to get a handle on the food budget we have. But I would say between $500-$600 a month for a family of 5, with kids 13, 11 and 7 . I do not buy paper products, expect toilet paper, and I make my own cleaners, including laundry detergent. But I do buy organic when I can, and buy grass fed meat. I make compromises where I need to, in order to buy what I chose to.

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  52. Thanks for asking this! I have been contemplating the need to raise my budget lately, and it looks like I probably should. I spend $100 a week for 5 of us, all toiletries, all paper products, all dog food, all 21 meals. Once or twice a month, we go out to eat (all 5 of us) or get take out (2 of us).

    It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to feed us for $100. Takes a lot of brain power. :) I do coupon (some), and I shop at a huge international market for produce and bulk grains and spices. Those things help a lot. We eat very, very well for our budget, but I could probably gain some of my mental space back from worry if I increased it by $25/week.

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  53. For my family of 3, we spend around $1200/mo. After reading everyone elses posts, Im seeing that is a lot. I use coupons, but I love to entertain. Thats one of my problems. Also I never stay with the list, although I try. Target gets me everytime :) This includes cleaning supplies, diapers, etc.

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  54. Mine varies from about $65-$100 per week($260-500 per month) for a family of five (two adults and three tween boys). It depends on what’s on sale that month and if I have enough coupons to match up with those sales. This does NOT include toiletries or household items like laundry detergent. I budget $50-$100 a week for those items.

    But lately it is getting harder and harder to stay in that range because of rising food costs. Plus,the major vegetable growing season is over here in the Northeast. Meat is my biggest budget buster. In summer, our food bill is a lot lower because of more fresh local veggies, no school lunches and eating at lots of friends and family BBQs/cookouts.

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  55. I allow $500/month for food, gas, and “luxuries”. This was no sweat and left me money at the end of the month when my husband was deployed for six months. Even when he got back it wasn’t a big deal. The month from September 15 – October 15 is much, much tighter! His children ( 8 & 11) came to visit for a week while on fall break and his mother came also. I didn’t really buy anymore food than I normally do, there just wasn’t as much for leftovers and lunches later. This month we also had his daughter’s birthday party while she was here and my son’s birthday party is next weekend. I use coupons for everything, so I was able to drop my grocery bill from $1200/month when we had his children all the time, to $500/month for food & gas. I am also able to shop at the commissary, which doesn’t always give you free stuff, but if you have to pay full price for something, their prices are definitely cheaper. My husband asked for lunch meat this week so I went to the grocery store by work, turned around and walked out. The same brand & size I pay $2.59 for at the commissary was $7.49 @ the grocery store!!

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  56. Well, I have recently upped it to $500 a month for my family of 6. But that number isn’t accurate. It doesn’t include when we go apple picking and spend $75 on apples. It doesn’t include buying maple syrup by the gallon or a half a pig and 30 lbs of local, organic, grass fed ground beef. It doesn’t include the CSA we do in the winters. That $500 is what I spend at the grocery store on items I can’t get locally. Last year I tracked my grocery spending for the entire year and was shocked to find that some months I spent over $1000 and some months I spend $200. If I remember correctly we averaged $600 – $700 when all is said and done. I have a child with food allergies and her special foods impact my budget by about $30 a month. We also avoid all HFCS and artificial colors and have to be very brand specific to accomodate that and the food allergies.

    So, that is my not-in-a-million-years cut & dry number.

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  57. My family of 3 (me, my husband, and our two year old) spends between $300 – $400 a month on groceries. This includes diapers, paper goods, toiletries etc.. I coupon some on the products we use and I have found the internet to be a great resource for coupons I can’t normally find. (Like Stonybrook Farms … sign up for their newsletter and get coupons for their yogurt which my daughter loves!) This budget also includes trips to Costco every 2-3 months to stock up on certain items.

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  58. We spend between $250-$300 on groceries (including toiletries and paper goods) each month for our family of 4. This includes having company over a couple of times a month also. This does not include our entertainment or eating out, which is about 1-2 times/week. My girls take their lunch everyday as part of this $250-$300/month. I have a daughter with a high sensitivity to dairy, so we have 3 different kinds of milk going at all times. I make most everything and bake a lot.

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  59. That’s a hard question. I’m a pantry kind of cook – and believe strongly in food storage. So, when there’s a good sale I stock up. Other months I’ll spend less. Summer’s are cheaper because of the garden produce and fresh fruit from the orchards. So – I guess it depends on the month! How’s that for being specific! ;)

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  60. We’re a family of four (one toddler, one infant) and we include formula, diapers, paper goods and toiletries in the grocery budget. A typical month is $450-$500. We use e-mealz to plan all our dinners and I don’t do organic anything.

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  61. Our official budget is $260/mo for a family of 3. I’m coming to realize that is too low and there is a good reason that I can’t seem to keep it below $300/mo! Groceries are really going up. I don’t coupon, but I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi.

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  62. Sorry; I misnamed my link. The only called “Tanya” is actually a blog post about trimming food costs by making homemade syrups, pancakes and granola bars!

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  63. I am so happy I found this post! I have been working VERY hard to lower our grocery bill. I have been writing down every single thing we spend (for the last 3 months) to try and see where I can do better. We are a family a five (including a teenage boy who eats for two :), 9 yo boy, and 2 yo girl in diapers). We live about 30 mins outside of DC (I think this must greatly effect our food bill?). We spend $800/mo just on food (paper products and toiletries are additional). The boys eat at subway once a week with their dad (this is separate and not included in the food budget).

    I make a ton from scratch. We buy almost no prepared/processed foods (except a few condiments and a few things like crackers, pretzels and graham crackers-which I always buy on sale). I don’t use coupons unless it is for some kind of natural brand and then I might splurge on granola bars or maybe one cereal. There just aren’t many coupons for shopping the outside isles so I have started to shop the weekly sales. I know I can still improve in this area (I need to stop by and pick up a flier and then plan my meals!). I have tried Walmart for pantry items (pasta, canned toms, oatmeal, beans, flour, sugar etc). I am trying to get a bit ahead on food storage/pantry items when they are on sale, but I don’t seem to be able to buy enough extra and still stay within my budget.

    How do you start food storage and still stay within your budget?

    We used to buy all organic and shop our local co-op. We absolutely cannot afford to do this anymore! I have cut our food bill at least $4oo/mo by not buying all organic (this is a necessity as my husband was out of work for a while). I still go to our local farmer’s market and buy in season produce (but it isn’t that cheap!). I still buy kindly treated/local meat and dairy so I know this is an expense (we are x-vegetarians so it is the one thing I still have not compromised on yet). We can only afford to eat meat/fish about once, sometimes twice a week. I am working with a food allergy and 2 in the house are lactose intolerant (buying the least processed/best quality dairy means they can still eat dairy).

    I feel like we spend a great deal of money on food and I want to do better. But I also feel like good healthy/quality food is preventive medicine. Balancing these two things is hard sometimes. BUT I like a challenge! I am going to let our Costco membership expire and see if I can lower our budget that way? I usually buy frozen fish, cheese, bread (when I am not making it), some produce and a couple healthy lunch snacks for the kids (as back-up when we run out of home made) here. But I have a feeling Costco really blows my budget.

    Does anyone have any additional ideas for super healthy eating on a budget? Thanks!

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    Lydia Reply:

    @Julie, Julie, I’m sure living outside DC does make things more expensive.

    As for your question about healthy eating on a budget. Do you make your own yogurt? It’s really quite simple and much cheaper than buying it. We love the homemade yogurt that I make and don’t even really like the store bought any more! Also, I don’t know if you like granola or not, but there are some great granola recipes that aren’t super expensive and since they are so filling it doesn’t take much for each breakfast.

    And I love soup season! I find that I can make all kinds of tasty soups that are quite inexpensive. I’m convinced that it helps out our budget!

    Sounds like you are doing a lot of “right” things. Just keep at it! I’m impressed at how you are tracking everything…that’s a lot of work!

    Blessings!

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  64. For my family of 7, I typically spend around $100 a week for groceries which includes make-up, cleaning supplies, and paper products. I try to cook from scratch and bake lots of bread. We probably average $400-500 per month.

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    Jennifer Reply:

    @Jill, WOW! You should share your tips too! :)

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  65. We spend about $350 a month for food and toiletries items. I use to be super strict to $50 a week for groceries, but that was hard work because I was really couponing hard and there were better deals than now. I also buy more whole foods and less convenience foods which makes a big difference.

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  66. We are a family of 4 adults, basically (2 teens — I eat less than anyone in my house). I probably spend between $600 and $700/ month on groceries being VERY cautious (that does include all HBA, OTC meds, but not eating out once a week after church). I’m still learning couponing/ stretching and am thankful for sites like this, but I also am particular about what I will buy for my family, so to some degree I am willing to pay extra.

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  67. I budget $70 – $80 a week for our family of four (averages to be about $300 – $350 a month). I try to see it as $10 a day and keep that in mind when meal planning. This includes toiletries but I do make most detergent, soap, and cleaners myself. This does not include food for our animals/pets or eating out (which we do once a week). I do most of my shopping at Aldi and then go to a local grocery store to stock up on good sales and items I can’t get there. We have a garden, chickens for eggs and try to buy local for produce as much as possible, but do NOT buy organic items at the grocery store.

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  68. We are a family of 3- 2 adults, one 3 yr. old, but ALL big eaters. I am a serious couponer and although we live in PA where I find food prices to be a bit higher I’ve been able to keep our grocery budget at $190/mo. That does include all cosmetics, household supplies like TP, cleaners and also diapers. We don’t eat out very often and when we do that comes out of a separate category.

    But like someone else mentioned, I’m finding it harder and harder to stay under budget with rising food prices, less good coupon deals etc. We’ve been talking of raising our monthly budget a bit next year.

    Oh, one thing that helps immensely is that we get milk from a local farmer for less than half the price that we could at the store. Milk here is over $4/gal. for whole milk and we only pay $1.50/gal. And I use milk to make yogurt plus we go through lots of it otherwise too so that is a HUGE savings for us!

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  69. I just read that Lydia pays $1.50/gal. of whole milk or $4 at grocery store. I pay $3.50 for 1/2 gal. of organic. I’m spending $14/week just on milk! I’m in Chicago, so maybe it’s higher here than elsewhere.

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    Lydia Reply:

    @adrienne, Adreinne, that’s so interesting! Yeah, I’m convinced that those kinds of things are the variables that really cause spending amounts to vary so much. I know ppl in OH that pay barely $3 for a gal. of whole milk. I’m guessing for organic milk that your price is about what we’d pay here. The milk we get isn’t organic, but it is raw, which I personally like.

    Don’t know about you, but I’ve found this whole discussion quite interesting!

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  70. We do our budget bi-weekly. My husband and I work at the same place and that is our pay schedule. We use $75/2 weeks. It covers food and paper towels/toilet paper. We do not eat out unless we happen to have money left over at the end of the pay period. I do coupon and I make almost everything from scratch. I rarely buy anything pre-made or packaged. I am feeding 3 people on this budget (my husband, myself and our son).

    I’m so excited about 31-days! This is what got me into blogging a year ago. And how I found you. Which makes this very close to our one-year-anniversary! LOVE!

    ~Kristi

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    Kristi G Reply:

    @Kristi G,

    forgot to add… diapers and other baby things are an extra $25/2 weeks… but we’re usually over and put the excess back in the bank every few months.

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  71. I am excited about this next month’s topic. My teenage son left for college so my husband and I are anxious to reduce our food budget to help pay for his school costs. (Although he has already told me his meal plan isn’t enough – so, of course, I am sending him food weekly such as nuts, granola bars, soups, etc. that I buy with coupons). I am trying to use what I have – which is hard because I love to go to the grocery store and play the drugstore game. But everyday I am trying to think how I can avoid the store. Tonight I made stuffed green peppers using peppers from the garden, black beans (made from scratch and frozen), leftover rice, tomatoes, onions, spices, and topped with bits of cheese from the freezer. I came up with the ingredients by using http://www.allrecipes.com and what I had on hand. I know I will eventually use my stockpile, but it helps me to wait until I see a really good deal to spend my grocery money on. Even though food prices have gone up, I am still sticking to my usual price points and, so far, I haven’t had to spend more. Now it IS getting harder and harder to find the deals, so I am making substitutes to tide us over (such as eating oatmeal vs. packaged cereal until I find a deal).Can’t wait for this series!!

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  72. I consider myself a frugal shopper, with coupons, matching ads, etc. Up until this year our grocery budget was $300/month for our family of 6. This year I had to increase it to $425 and I’m not sure if that is because we have all hungry teenagers or rising food costs. This does include our household supplies {cleaning, paper products, pet food}. i look forward to your series!

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  73. Jessica Reurich says:

    Our family of 4 spends 400 a month on Groceries and household items (TP, laundry soap, toothpaste etc) We are Missionaries and have to raise all our income via support so every penny gets pinched and saved. this works for us and we eat rather well!!!

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  74. That’s so funny, we were just talking about this tonight at our Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace University class. Here in south eastern PA we spend around $450/month for our family of four (16 yo son, 18 yo daughter). That includes most of our paper goods and some personal items. It also includes any canning supplies such as jar lids or equipment. I have a huge garden, shop at a Farmers’ market weekly, shop at scratch and dent stores and do not use coupons. I buy in bulk at the market to can and freeze for the winter. I save seeds for the garden next year. I cook from scratch because of gluten intolerance in the family. Our beef comes from a friend’s grass-fed cattle (read very expensive) and I have my own chickens for eggs (the chickens are self-supporting as I sell half of the eggs to pay for their feed). I try to plan meals ahead but fall short often. I’ve found that my food budget is lowest when I’ve put in a little time to plan my meals.

    The month of October I am doing a 31 day Pantry Challenge. My pantries and freezers are all full so I would like to keep my Oct. food budget under $100 and start using up all the things I have on hand. I’ll link up on the 1st! Thanks!

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  75. Thanks so much for writing this post! I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments below.

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  76. I do $30-$35 per week for a family of four for food, toiletries (personal care/ health and beauty), medicine, household products (cleaners, paper/plastic), diapers, and pet (cat food/litter). We actually just broke $1000 spent for the year earlier this month. We put all of our extra money into extra mortgage payments.

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    sandysue Reply:

    @Rae, That’s impressive! Feel free to share details on how you manage!

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    Rae Reply:

    @sandysue, As long as I don’t get the “you deprive your family” type criticism that I sometimes get (and I promise, we have gotten used to these changes and are happy and healthy and still eating things we like just not necessarily the things we are craving). It’s a combination of many things. We use meat as a garnish not big hunks (as well as having some meatless meals and for certain meals). I use pureed beans to stretch the meat in certain meals… think taco meat, sloppy joes, meatloaf, etc you can’t even tell. I only buy meat when it hits my target price (which happens maybe 3 times or so per year per product) with no exceptions (*maybe* a big holiday but that is it). When it does hit that super low price, I buy a lot of it and separate and freeze. For produce we use what is in season and on a great sale (the only exception would be things like lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, etc that go on regular sales throughout the year) and work around that (as well as freezing whatever I can get at dirt cheap prices for use later when not in season). Peaches, plums, nectarines, grapes, etc have been a great price lately so that has been our snack item. We had also washed, cut (not the grapes obviously), and frozen them for some cold treats.

    I am not brand loyal on anything except deodorant (Dove) so I will use almost any brand that is on sale especially if I am getting it free. We love yogurt but only buy when I get on a good sale (otherwise we do without or I’ll do a batch of crockpot yogurt). For bulk items, I wait until Sprouts does a 25% off all bulk bins sale then I buy my barley (barley makes a delicious hot cereal really easily in the crockpot overnight), and other stuff like that (unless of course it is an item that will go on sale for 50% off or so like nuts). I use microfiber cloths (and for gross messes, rags made from stained tshirts so I can throw away) instead of paper towels. We do buy paper towels but only go through about 2 rolls per year (and most of those are my husband sneaking them LOL). I recycle anything that I can and use store bags as the trash bags in my bathroom trash cans so I only go through a kitchen trash bag once every week or week and a half and a big trash bag in the garage every 2-4 weeks. I do things like writing companies, participating in BzzAgent, Vocalpoint, Smile.ly, facebook promotions, etc to get some really awesome (often free) coupons.

    Toiletries, medicine, sometimes diapers, and some other random stuff (like Halloween candy) I get at CVS. I spend less than $100 per year there out of pocket and get all of that stuff with it. I love them so much. And that out of pocket is paid with giftcards that I have gotten at a discounted rate (I got $10 ones for $5 through Weshop, $10 for $6 through Saveology, $25 for $20 through a trial program). I put the purchase of the giftcard as part of my grocery spending but then if I pay with the giftcard, I don’t count it (that way I’m not counting that spending twice). With the exception of holidays, birthdays, and just plain old bad days that I need a pick me up, I do not buy stuff that is not on a good sale for any meal (with the exception of stuff like bread, eggs, etc that does not go on a good sale). I generally work with what I’ve got and/or whatever produce or dairy is on sale that week. I also make substitutions a lot too. If I am missing an ingredient for a recipe that I want to try and that ingredient is expensive, I’ll omit it or substitute something else. Lots of other little things that we do but not sure if anybody is still reading LOL.

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    sandysue Reply:

    @Rae, Thanks for sharing, Rae. I would never say that you are depriving your family. I like the idea of mixing beans with meat–beans are so much healthier anyway! Sounds like you are eating healthier than a lot of Americans! Keep up the good work!

  77. We’re between $400-450 a month for our family of 4, children ages 5 & 19 months. That includes everything plus diapers. Our dog has a very sensitive stomach so his 45 lb bag of yumminess is an extra $48/month :) I’m trying to stock pile right now to hopefully get our spending closer to $375…that’s my goal.

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  78. We spend anywhere between $480 – $600 per month for a family of five. In our family we have Dad, Mom, 14 yr old son, 12 yr old son, and 8 yr old daughter.

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  79. My family of 5 spends around $250-$260 a month for groceries only. We do eat out at least once or twice a week but it doesn’t come from the grocery budget.

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  80. This is so interesting! :) I haven’t tracked the exact amount in a few months; when I did, we were at $400-500 for all food, toiletries, and stuff for the 4 of us and the dog. (Two boys, 6 & 9, myself & hubby, and older dog.) I think we might be running a little on the high end of that right now, since we’re feeding an extra boy after school (he rides the bus w/boy9) and after-school snacks look more like a meal around here! :)

    I try to make a decent breakfast; my kids LOVE sausage and meat, so we often have sausages with cinnamon rolls or Pop Tarts (I know, these are full of preservatives, but they do like them once in a while) or maybe I’ll make monkey bread. Sometimes DH & I have eggs, but the kids don’t like them yet. I make breakfast sandwiches for myself often, they’re my favorite! And we do eat cereal a lot.

    For lunch, my kids like the hot lunches about 50% of the time, so it’s either that or a sandwich, or I’ve been making my own “lunchable”-style items to pack. Son6 likes ham; we just got a big boneless ham for $1.69/pound and had the deli guy slice it, some for sandwiches (me) and some in steaks (for dinners & lunches). Son9 loves pizza, so we do a lot of pizza crust slices/sauce/cheese for him, or Pizza Snacks – another full-of-preservatives option he enjoys when I get them. DH and I take leftovers, or maybe he buys lunch some days, and I get taken out or food brought in a lot by thankful co-workers and my mom. :) Lucky me!

    Dinners are decidedly low on the veggies & fruit – I need to work on that – but we do try to balance it a little with what we’ve had during the day. We like chicken, beef roasts, meatballs (I buy them frozen), sometimes pork chops; but we do a lot of pasta and meatless meals. I don’t make my own soup, but we do enjoy it once in a while from Campbell’s. :) One of the kids’ faves is “appetizer night” – I make things like popcorn, nachos, pre-frozen Mozzerella sticks that are breaded (these are son9′s ABSOLUTE fave!) and those muffin-cup ideas (with wanton wrappers, or biscuits pressed in & filled with meat & cheese). They love that! It spices things up a bit.

    Thanks for your dedication to keeping us all within budget, Jen – I love to read your blog, and I’m looking forward to October!!! :)

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  81. I feed our family of 5 (2 adults, 14, 12, & 7 year old) on $400/month using the cash envelope system so we never go over. This includes paper products and all HBA. We have a $30/month hot lunch budget so the kids can still have their favorite school meals. And we also budget $100/month for eating out. Grand total of $530/month. I have recently started to work close to full-time, which is really putting the budget to the test because we’re always looking for what’s most convenient. Unfortunate that it costs so much $ to make $.

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  82. Our grocery budget is $100 per month for a family of four (the two children are young but they only eat regular food, and they eat ALL the time!) I’m assuming this number is going to increase in coming months, especially as I’m buying more organic foods. Also, I buy 85% of produce locally, which makes it cheaper, and I make all of our breads/breakfast foods/etc homemade instead of purchasing which cuts down on costs.

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  83. We’re a family of 4 in WA state. I can usually stay within $400/month. That includes toiletries but does not include eating out which we do about once a week. It also doesn’t count the fact that my inlaws gave us 1/2 beef for Christmas last year!

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  84. My husband and I spend approx $500 a month at the grocery store (food items only) and we live in San Diego. We follow the Paleo Diet (although I’m not super strict in my eating) so we exclude all grains and dairy (I still eat cheese), so we mostly buy vegetables, fruits, and meat. We also choose locally grown over organic.

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  85. I spend $400 a month to feed six people including three teens and a ten year old who eats like one! I use only a few printable coupons because couponing isn’t working in my life right now. :)

    I could probably spend less, but my daughter has to eat gluten-free for medical reasons and that is a little more costly.

    Looking forward to seeing how everyone else is doing!

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  86. This post is making me feel a lot better about my grocery budget. We are currently a family of 4 about to be a family of 5 in December. A few years ago when I first got into coupons I was spending about $120 per week max. That was all we had to spend. Some weeks I was able to keep it under that amount but most weeks I needed every bit of it. That was for groceries, toiletries, diapers, pull ups, beauty products…all of it. In this season of our lives we are averaging around $600 a month. I got a little lazy this past winter with moving to a new home and then first trimester exhaustion. I am currently getting into the OAMC and finding my budget could go down drastically if I stick to it. I will have to check at the end of October as I just started my freezer cooking on monday of this week. I know its going to save me from hitting the drive thru line a lot and thus reduce spending. But I also think its going to reduce our budget having the meals simple and ready to go. I buy local meat from our neighborhood butcher shop. I try to buy fresh fruit and veggies each week. I shop at Costco twice a month mainly to save on Milk and eggs. I know that alone saves us $5 a week from what I’d pay at the grocery store. One day I will have 3 teenage boys and I know its going to take lots of practice in the coming years to spend wisely and keep the budget in check. So glad to read posts by moms with teenage boys. Its giving me a glimpse into the future. Love the post!

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  87. I spend $160 per month on groceries, toiletries and cleaning supplies for my husband and me. I’ve started tracking it this year and have been pleasantly surprised to realize that I am staying on budget. Some weeks are high and some are low, but they average out over the month. I do coupon and plan our meals based around the sales.

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  88. Wow, I am in awe. I haven’t calculated it out but I am sure it’s in the $400-$500 range at least for 2 adults + 2 kids (12 &8). We do tons of fresh fruit and pack lunches for the kids 4 days a week. This does not include eating out or pet food. I do participate in Bountiful Baskets which helps with the produce cost somewhat. We did buy 1/4 of a local cow a few months back so we aren’t including any beef in that either.

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  89. We are a family of 7 and spend about $700 a month including toiletries. I was really disappointed when I was going over our finances to compare our budget for the year so far. I was trying to keep it at $500 but couldn’t with the price hikes and 3 teenagers. I don’t use coupons as much as I would like for food but try to use them for household items. I am trying to keep fruit and veggies in the house, which also adds up. One thing I heard and live by is, the less you go to the store, the less money you spend. I make a 2 week menu and buy everything I need for my main meals and lunches. I will have to go to get fresh fruit and more milk, but trying to stay out of the store is our best budget plan.

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  90. For our family of 6, we push $800 each month. This cost includes it all. My kids only buy lunch once a week so I pack lunches for 4 kids (8, 7, 5, 18 mo). I teach, so we usually reserve eating out to once a week, and that comes from a different budget. I do my best to hit the sales, but I don’t coupon very much. I try very hard to plan each week, but I would love any tips to help decrease my budget!

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  91. Hi There….I must say when reading some of the low food budgets I am a bit discouraged. Right now it is just me and my honey and we spend from $550-700/month on food and some toiletries. We’re vegetarian and do not eat prepackaged meals or processed foods. Im not sure where the majority of folks who have responded live, but we live in CA and just about the only one on the list that I can relate to is the gal living in San Diego, CA. Is the cost of living out here really that much higher? I look forward to having a year round garden once our yard gets in shape, this I am sure will be a big help!

    Also looking forward to hearing from Jen this month :)!

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  92. We are a family of 5… 2 boys (almost 15 & 8) and a girl (12). My monthly expenditures for food, toiletries, paper products and cleaning supplies (although I mostly use vinegar) are $400-500. I shop for my basic staples at Costco 2x a month. I see their prices rising sharply, which is scary. Cheese is up $.50lb, milk is up $.50 gallon, and hamburger almost $.50lb. My two trips are usually $100 to $150 each… but sometimes I have to go in and just stop shopping when I hit $50. I fill in with purchases from Harris Teeter, using the sale ad and coupons to get the best deals. Several times a year I buy bulk grains and specialty products from the health food store. I also go to Trader Joes and Compare Foods (for low-priced Mexican food specialties) several times a year. I cook everything from scratch, pack everyone a lunch everyday, and we rarely ever go out to eat. Blessings!

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  93. I can’t really answer this one. We were having a hard time coming up with enough money to keep much food in the house. In July we allowed my daughter and her 5 children (and her food stamps) to move in with us when they had no place to do. We did so since she would be able to buy food.

    I got married July 30 and August I tried to keep all receipts and track of all spending. I did pretty well, even wrote it all out in to categories, but then didn’t even add them up. What I see in the grocery category is way way way too much spent on snack foods.

    So….maybe for this 31 day thing I should do 31 Days of Keeping Track of Spending? My husband is not good at all about being up front on how much money he spends each day—nor telling me when he pulls money out of the checking acct. Doing this will encourage me to remember to ask him each day!

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  94. For a family of five, including three teenage boys in sports, we spend a good $1000. This includes inexpensive toiletries, cat food, baggies, etc. It also includes eating out at a place like In N Out once a week. I make a lot from scratch to try to avoid white sugar in our diet and buy good quality meat from Trader Joes or Sprouts and plan our menu once a month. I mix some expensive staples like coconut oil with inexpensive ones, like dried beans. I also use stevia to sweeten my tea, which is hecka expensive, but cannot have sugar, so it’s something I’m willing to pay for. We do not eat a lot of cereal and or milk; instead cook eggs and French toast for breakfasts. Honestly, I feel like I work hard to maintain this amount and find it very hard to lower it without the family feeling deprived. I am trying hard not to compare myself to all the previous families’ comments but am challenged to try to do a little better!

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    adrienne Reply:

    @Nikki, you must have missed my earlier post where I said I spent $1200 for a family of 5 in Chicago. I feel your pain :) !

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    crissy Reply:

    @Nikki,
    I think you’re doing just fine! Keep buying quality. Your families health depends on it.

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  95. I should also add (in my defense) that I live in Southern CA!!

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  96. We live in west central Florida & budget $400 for a family of 3…dad, mom, & 3 yr. old (not in diapers). Toiletries included. We don’t consume enough to make a Sam’s Club membership worth it, so it’s mostly Publix & Wal-mart for us. My in-laws own a produce/bulk foods store & bless us greatly with a wonderful family discount! :) The $400 does not include money for eating out.

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  97. @Traci from a long way back: I am so impressed by your (and many other’s here) ability to budget for a huge family! I am single but I love to cook for friends and family who come over and I usually spend between 200 and 300 dollars a month on food. That seems like a little but compared with a family of ten, it’s crazy. I can’t believe what an inspiration all of you are for me to be more thrifty with my shopping habits. I’m going coupon hunting today!

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  98. Thanks for this post, and I’m looking forward to your 31-day series. For our family of 7 (soon to be 8), I spend about $800 per month, including toiletries, paper products, pet items, and eating out. I also rob this budget for some spending money if I need something for our home or for one of the children. Especially as costs rise, I would love to bring my grocery total down, so I am ready for your ideas!!

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  99. We are a family of 6 (two adults and four daughters 14, 11, 6 and 5). Our monthly food budget is around $650.00. We live in South Korea and shop the military commisary, Costco or local grocery stores or farmer’s markets. Thankfully we have access to the commisary because beef here is outrageous. Our food budget includes toiletries, cleaners, and paper goods. I bake all of our breads, so one less thing we are buying.

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  100. I tend to spend about $300-$400 a month on groceries, paper goods, & toiletries for 4 adults. 2 arent always here, but there is food here if they choose to be.

    I buy meat bulk, usually at Costco or at Value King (a giant eagle step-child) when its on sale. I often get some amazing deals there on meat such as a full slab of New York Strip for $3.99/#. I cut it into steaks myself instead of paying $7.00/# already cut. Or Beef Tenderloin for $4.99 or $5.99/#.

    I also belong to a 20 week CSA ($20/wk) and spend an additional $20 on fresh veggies at a veggie market, also stocking up when I can on local produce, fruit, & prices. I also grow a few veggies, herbs, & garlic around my house so that supplements my groceries too.

    I also use coupons and usually only buy other grocery store items when I have coupons and there is a good sale with it. I stock up when the price is right, as far as my coupons will let me. I dont buy coupons online, but I do get 4 sets of papers on Monday mornings when its half price, so long as the coupons that are in it are ones I’ll use. Also, a friend brings me multiple Red Plum coupons since they dont come in our newspapers.

    I dont buy very many manufactured foods or those containing wheat and I believe that cuts down on my food bill a lot. If & when I do, I tend to have coupons for them which are doubled at my store & bought on sale, often with a catalina deal as well.

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  101. We are a family of 5, but 4 of them are adults (All boys, 12, 20+17), my budget is $650 a month but that includes all household goods, HBA, paper products…and I also have 6 cats and they are figured in that too, they eat premium dry food and 3 cans of cat food a day-and I have 6 litter boxes, they do not go outside (so the litter gets used).
    I actually wasn’t using all $650 a month for a few months it was more like $550. I used coupons a little bit-though I used to be one of “Those” people and I now consider myself a reformed extreme couponer.
    I don’t buy any processed food, except I have started buying frozen pizzas (but not the cheapo Tony’s and Totinos and the like) because I have one kid that is too skinny and he is beyond picky. I just joined a co op and they buy from UNFI (4 weeks) and from Something Better (8 weeks). I am trying to get more organics in us too, and only buy organic dairy (milk $5+ gallon). I also shop Costco and BJ’s about once a month and buy coconut oil on line (Amazon was the cheapest until Nutiva started doing deals on facebook for gallons). I have no problem shopping around and try and use all resources I know of to do so.
    I do rebates (since NC is a NBPR state) but that money goes into a vacation/recreation fund. I get $1500-$2000 a year from them.
    I bake ALL cookies, cakes and breads, I refuse to buy them and I love making them. I also grind my own wheat (I have 4 different kinds).
    2+3 yrs ago I had a grocery budget of $250 a month which included all the same (we had one less cat though) and I bought so much junk it wasn’t funny, but then I started having problems keeping it at $250 (plus I gained 50lbs) and it went up from there. I boosted it to $500 about a year ago and went to $650 this past summer and started concentrating more on better foods.

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  102. Family of five (3 kids ages 8, 5, and 3 who don’t eat a lot, YET), plus one cat. Our budget is $350-$400. This includes all toiletries, paper goods, etc., and as much organic as possible. I also coupon. Five years ago, I didn’t coupon and was spending $500/mo for just 3 of us and that included absolutely nothing organic!

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  103. Lea Stormhammer says:

    I realize this comment is a bit late (sigh) but I’d love to comment on this.

    Before I started meal planning, couponing, etc. I spent roughtly $250/wk for a family with 2 adults and 2 toddlers for food, paper products, diapers, etc.

    Now, I spend between $20 and $40 per week for a family with 2 adults and 2 very tall 6-year-olds. For a four week month, that’s $80 to $160 per month for all food, toiletries, paper products, etc.. We’d like to consistently get to $20/wk but I’m not sure we can do that – that’s one of my goals though! I was spending $75/wk when I had 2 in diapers – for that many diapers, I was very happy with that amount! I have a modest stockpile, make many of my own cleaners, and use cloth cleaning rags, a real mop, and cloth napkins, which helps on costs. I don’t get things like deoderant or shampoo/conditioner unless I can get it for $1 or less (unless I’m really stuck) and I don’t buy toothpaste, dish soap, hand soap or paper napkins unless I can get them for free. Those things add up fast and it’s helped me cut my budget by a ton!

    Thanks for asking about this Jen! I’ve loved reading the comments!
    Lea

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  104. A friend of mine at church showed me about three years ago to play the “drugstore game” and to make the most of my coupons. She was feeding a family of 5 (3 boys) for about $50/week. So when I became a part-time stay at home mom and had to cut costs I got pretty frustrated when i couldn’t meet that $50 a week. I finally stopped beating myself up and got realstic. We are comfortable at $100 a week for the 4 of us. This includes diapers and other toiletries. All of my toiletries are purchased with coupons if possible and rarely pay for any HBA products like toothpaste, shampoo, deoderant, etc. I also meal plan and foudn this to not only save a ton of money but time. It takes time to sit down and combine what you have on hand with what’s on sale but it gives you a clear mission when you do go to the store!

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  105. We are a Colorado family of 6 (2 adults, kids 9,7,5,1.5) and spend $500/month, including all toiletries, paper goods and diapers and we eat mostly at home and with packed lunches. I don’t coupon nearly like I used to because of time and I’m feeling like there are just not as many deals to be had, especially in the quantity I need to make it feel worthwhile. So we shop weekly at Costco (it is very convenient to us), make good use of their coupon books, try to focus on buying ingredients rather than prepared things and don’t eat lots of meat. I bake from scratch, including freshly ground whole wheat bread. It seems to be a constant struggle to keep even to this budget, which is a lot more than it was even a couple years ago, but you do what you have to do. We don’t have any more to spend on food and toiletries, etc., so we simply don’t and I have to get more creative in the kitchen and avoiding wasting any food is a fun challenge. We do eat out or order in (as cheaply as possible) 3-4x/month, which is not included in this number.

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  106. This very informative. Thank you. I only buy organic meats and nothing from a “big box ” grocery store. A very small local grocery store & farmers market that does not have meat recalls. This is very important to me and the health of my family. We also eat a lot of fruit and veggies. These are pricey in the northeast. I wouldn’t want someone to get discouraged couponing when they see $500 a month for a family of five. That is not always realistic. It could be if you purchased pre-packaged, and pre-made. I’m not judging. Just stating the facts. I coupon a lot of tolietries, and other areas. Thanks again. Good luck to everyone. Times are tough all over.

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  107. Melissa Joy says:

    Our family is made up of two adults (one who is gluten intolerant) and one toddler. We spend almost $800 in groceries per month which does not include eating out or household items. We live in Minneapolis which is higher in food costs than other cities we have lived in. In reading other comments I do believe it is possible to cut costs in a big way. I will be following your 31 days for inspiration. Thank you!

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  108. Our family is made up of 6+1 dog (Myself, active duty husband, 8dd, 7dd, 6ds, and 6dd). We are currently in Upstate NY, and I have never seen such HIGH food prices (I’m originally from Oklahoma). I recently took up couponing, and am trying to get on top of our debt. We just moved up here in July, and were STRUGGLING (the first 3 weeks were spent in a hotel with no way to cook or store food), and we were trying to stock back up on staples. But today I’m proud to say we are down to $425, which includes food, personal care, medications (allergy), paper products, cleaning products, school lunches (praise the Lord we get reduced lunches!) and dog food. We RARELY eat out, and when we do it’s usually little caesar’s (yuck!). LOL
    Thanks for all you and fellow bloggers do for us!!

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  109. I am so thankful to have found this post! We have a family of five (boys ages 15, 12, and 9), one large dog and I have multiple food allergies (dairy/corn/gluten/peanuts/sesames). Our food/pet/toiletries has been running $800 a month plus $200 for eating out. It makes me feel better to know that, while ours is a little high (thanks allergies), it’s not as crazy as my husband thought! ;)

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    Jen Reply:

    I am so glad you did too. It’s so interesting to read through everyone’s own experience, isn’t it?

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  110. We only spend 64 dollars a week or 256 dollars a month. I’m pretty strict about this budget, so much so that I was featured on Good Morning America recently because of it. Both of my kids have some type of food allergy, my husband is a midwest, corn-fed, football built guy, and we even have a cat to feed too. We don’t use coupons, and I try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible. It has been difficult to keep up this budget for the past 3 years, especially living in expensive New Jersey, but it’s the one thing in our budget that I’m extremely passionate about.

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  111. We spemd around 500$ for a family of 6.
    Two adults, 12, 10, 5 and 17 month old. No special diets, just big bags of rice and beans and flour, etc, from Sams Club, but we have the HUGE blessing of our ranch providing our beef!!!! :)

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    Jen Reply:

    Ranch providing beef? That is my kind of dream provision (or I should say, my teen boys dream provision. :))

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    Kay (A Ranch Mom) Reply:

    @Jen, Well cowboy’s don’t get paid very well, so it’s considered part of our wages. And yes. Dream benefit! :)

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  112. Shawnna says:

    Chiming in a bit late here. For my family of 4 (ages 2 and 4 and two adults) we spend $250-300 a month, including all toiletries, cleaning, etc. That also includes any eating out, and any other purchases (such as socks or pencils or what have you.) I use to coupon a lot, but coupon deals are few and far between now. I coupon when I can. I buy the dirty dozen organic, and whenever I get a good deal on other organics I buy those. Otherwise, I compare brands to find the healthiest non-organic I can and NEVER buy at Sam’s club or Costco. I did once, and the prices were much higher than buying the individual things at walmart! I’m sure our spending will increase slightly as the young ones get older, but we don’t snack or eat out and the meals I cook now have enough for leftovers so I don’t imagine it will get too much higher.

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  113. Oh, what different lives we all lead! My goal is to always leave the grocery store spending under $40. For the week! But, it’s just me.

    When I make meals for families who had babies or just moved, of course that increases.

    I love to cook but “cooking for one” is pretty much the pits. It’s so much fun to cook for others!

    So, take my budget out of the mix because I’d for sure skew the average. :-)

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  114. Jen, what a timely post. I was just lamenting the other day how much food prices have risen. We live in Nashville, TN and our expenses is about $300 a week, not including eating out. We enjoy eating in restaurants and that is not something we are willing to give up, but a little help on the grocery front would be great. We are a family of 4 which includes 2 teenagers, a boy who is 16(!) and a girl who is 14.

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  115. Jen, Angie again. By the way, is it true that if an athlete plays for a Division I team in college that there is a meal plan he/she can participate in, which basically provides all their meals at no charge?

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    Jen Reply:

    Angie – It’s been beyond a blessing for us. Yes, he received a full paid, everything is included Div 1 scholarship and in my mind, I was thinking how great to have school paid for, but it never crossed my mind the huge amount of money I would save because I don’t have to feed him. This isnt’ true of all Div 1 athletes. If they are a walk on or partial scholarship winner, then food isn’t covered, but for the main athletes, all food is included.

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  116. We have a family of 8 (3 teens-and 3 pre-teens -3 boys and 3 girls) and I find that the costs of groceries+ toiletries + cleaning supplies have definitely gone up with their ages. We have some with extreme food allergies which cuts out all the peanut butter sandwiches, and any other food with nuts. Soy and gluten are another issue for some of my kids.

    We eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, and not a lot of meat. I shop sales, price match, and use coupons at a moderate level… and still find myself spending an average of $1,200 a month. I figured that is $5 a day per person for everything we eat, wash with, clean with, drink, spray on, and shave with! (There are 6 of us using razors, deodorant, and hairspray now! AAAAHHHHH!) :) My grocery bill usually reflects a 40%-60% savings using the coupons and sales.

    I live in AZ, and find the cost for fresh fruit and veggies is very reasonable when I shop the sales. I am loving the 99 cent only stores which have produce and many random frozen foods, dairy, bread, snacks, cereals, and cleaning supplies for only 99 cents each. It feels like a treasure hunt each week. :) But I feel like we are spending so much for food. I am always reminding myself I am feeding 8 adult-like appetites now.

    Thanks for your blog, Jen. I have been encouraged by it for the past several years now. It is one of the first blogs that I started reading, and I am so glad I found you!

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  117. We spend about $1000/month, including toiletries. We rarely eat out, so this covers every meal. We have 6 kids ranging from 15 to 5. Most of our food is made from scratch. The rising food costs hit us hard. Our food budget is the largest portion of money we spend.

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  118. We average $650 for a family of four (two adults and two preteens) which includes organic beef, chicken, & milk; plenty of fresh produce, and Trader Jo’s plus Costco for snack foods. I do watch our budget and limit our wheat intake due to some possible gluten sensitivities. Btw, we live on the west coast and our farmer’s market is much more expensive than the grocery store or Costco! What’s up with that?!

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  119. We have a family of 4, two adults, two teenage girls. We spend about 650-700 per month on groceries and toiletries combined. This also includes dog food, laundry supplies, as well as an occasional bottle of wine.

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  120. We spend between $400-500 per month for three of us – and one is a hungry 16 yr. old. We live 1.5 hrs. from the nearest Costco, and 30 minutes from the nearest Wal Mart, so do most of our shopping locally and that adds up. I try to get to Wal Mart once a month and Costco once every two months. Would love to figure out how to eat healthy (we are mostly vegan) and save some money in the budget!

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  121. Our budget is $225 a month for a 4 (2 kids 4 and under + 2 adults). We live in a medium sized community in Michigan where the cost of living is pretty reasonable. This budget only includes groceries (not eating out or household goods like toilet paper/etc..).

    For a handful of years, I tried to make do on quite a bit less ($175/month – mostly out of an over zealous sense of frugality that wasn’t actually necessary) and it drove us all a little nuts because we’d get to the end of the budget cycle and have hardly anything left.

    So when we increased the grocery budget, it sure made us all more content.

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    Jen Reply:

    It’s amazing what adding just a little bit into the budget does for the sanity, doesn’t it? And $225/month is amazing. :)

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  122. Susan(SJG) says:

    We are down to a family of two, my husband and myself. We spend about $100.00 a week on average. This includes cleaning products and cat food. This does not include beef, as we get a farm raised quarter or half beef every 18 months for our freezer. We use store brands as much as we can to save money. And buy chicken and pork on sale in larger quantities and wrap them for the freezer as well. We eat out two or three times a month but have been blessed with restaurant gift cards from friends and family. That is a joy and really helps the budget. We stock up on canned goods at a discount store every three months or so. This saves a lot of money and we know the brands we like to eat and stick with those. I cook from scratch a lot and bake from scratch as well. Not sure this saves money but we enjoy the results.

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    Jen Reply:

    I shopped discount stores for years and our main one closed last year. I was so sad and it’s definitely affected our budget. Don’t you just love having that farm fresh beef? nothing better. :)

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  123. Kerri Dahlgren says:

    I spend between $320 – 400 each month. I don’t do a lot of coupons but try to shop sales and make meals according to what’s on sale. Meals are kept simple. The meats are mostly chicken, ground turkey, and fish. Family of 4 with 2 adults, a 10 year old son and 18 mo old daughter. I wish we had an Aldi’s as I’ve seen their prices are low. I know you can price match at WalMart even though it’s a 1+ hour drive. I just don’t enjoy shopping there! I mostly shop BOGO sales at Publix and some sales at Winn Dixie. We’ve decided we would rather spend more on fresh produce and healthier foods. Our health is worth the extra cost :)

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    Jen Reply:

    Kerri – you are so right. You will never regret putting a bit more into your health, plus you save the money in the long run with less doctor visits. :)

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  124. When we live from the pantry (http://twoforksonelove.com/tag/pantry-cleanout/) we can live on $80/week or less for my husband and I. When I’m doing my normal shopping, I’m spending $120-$140 depending on how much meat/produce we need.

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  125. I have been going over our budget a lot lately and it seems the only way to cut spending and save money is with the grocery budget, but even that is getting tougher and tougher to do lately. We are just a family of 2 looking to expand sooner rather than later so saving is imperative. I’d love to see a series on this. I am always looking for new tips to stretch a dollar in this department.

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  126. For a family of 7 (with mw being the only female), we spend $800 a month.

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  127. We are a family of 4 plus a dog and cat. I budget $200 per week for groceries but we almost always go over that amount no matter how hard I try. So I suppose I need to adjust our budget a bit… But we also are gluten free because 2 of us have Celiac disease and I buy some organic produce (the dirty dozen) and I can’t stand grocery store milk so I get local milk which is $3.50 for a half gallon. Thankfully my twins no longer drink milk like its going out of style so we can get by on only one of those per week now. I also include wine and the occasional bottle of Grand Marnier which are both must haves (alright so maybe the wine is a must have and the Grand Marnier is an we really love it). We rarely dine out and I cook most everything from scratch. So usually I am scratching my head as to how we could spend so much. Then again, have you ever priced GF bread? I don’t bake and have given up making my own bread. Buying GF bread is insane!

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  128. We live on the coast in California and have a limited selection of grocery store options. Whole Foods is 18 mi away as is Target. All that said, I try to buy my meat at the local butcher which is pricier, but he can tell me whose cow it was. That, in and of itself, is important to me. So with organic meats at least 80% of the time, our budget for a family of 4 is $100/wk or $400/month. My husband likes variety, so we have maybe one meatless meal a week and I rarely make large enough portions for leftovers.

    We pay all cash so I don’t go over budget. It was embarrassing the first time I had to take things “out” of the cart when I didn’t have enough money, but the people behind me in line are always impressed that I pay with cash. When an older gentleman offered to pay the difference, I politely declined and told him we were focusing on getting out of debt and I needed to stick to my budget. He applauded me. :) I use the Vons Just4U app which saves me a ton (it takes a while to get it going with what you normally buy but after a few months it’s pretty useful). It will even give you coupons on beer, so it’s not unheard of for me to get a 12 pack for my husband for $7 instead of the regular price of $18.99. I get rain checks on anything I can’t find in stock that is on sale.

    I buy as much of our veggies at a local farmer’s stand if I can but am not a food snob, and will pick up a bag of carrots at Vons if I need them. I try to avoid buying store cookies, pickles, jams, etc – all things I’ve forced myself to learn how to make. Also, if it’s not on the list – I don’t buy it. That’s the hard part.

    I budget $15 for house hold items (cleaning, paper products, etc), $10 for toiletries, and $40 for diapers/wipes, etc. I buy most of these products at CVS using the register rewards and coupons. So I stock up when I get a good deal and some months don’t spend anything. It takes patience but I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful!

    Been following here for years and am so grateful for this blog and all of your comments and suggestions. Excited for October and the new series! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Robin – you are encouragement to those about discipline and the budget. You are right, it’s so hard, but wonderful to hear of your desire to stay the course. Thanks for your sweet words.

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  129. We spend an average of $800 a month for 4 people (2 teenagers). That includes items that I buy in bulk and stock up on, but not toiletries, household supplies, or pet food. This is such a challenging topic because it is so easy to want to compare, but we have to keep in mind that we all live in different areas, eat differently, and have different sized families. Thanks for all the helpful resources in this post. The comments are full of great info. Thanks!

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  130. We are now budgeting $500 a month for 3 adults, some months I spend more, some less, but that is our average. We are trying to move away from most processed foods, eat more veggies and fruits, and get away from soda. And we have to STRETCH to stay within that budget. Eating healthy is so expensive.

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  131. Heather says:

    There’s just 2 of us & we live in Iowa. I budget $400/month, which includes all paper products for the house, and misc. items like you’d find at Walmart. Also organic eggs & local milk, and anything organic carried by Aldi’s.

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  132. Maureen says:

    Our family of 5 (kids are 11, 7, and 3) spend $500-600 each month. That’s food items only and includes some organic. We have access to many shopping choices, so I coupon a little, but mostly watch sales and stock up at low prices. It doesn’t include hubby’s work lunches. And we eat out about once a week, which is also not included. Otherwise, I cook mostly from scratch. I know I could keep it close at $500 if I were more careful, but I get burnt out watching it that closely for very long and the family complains about certain things being “out of stock” in the pantry and fridge.

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  133. We are a family of 7…4 boys (ages 17, 15, 13, 7) and 1 girl (age 10). Our grocery budget is anywhere from $800-$950/ month including HBC, and paper products. It doesn’t include dog food or dining out as those are separate categories in our overall budget.

    All of my kids are big eaters. I have at least 2 that think that having 3 meals and 2 snacks a day is a good thing. :) My hubby can be at times a big eater but his big thing is that he doesn’t like beans and is a picky eater(eats very limited fruits & veggies). He also thinks that we have to have meat at every meal. So I have worked with that over the years and have gotten really good with portioning out the meat. For example, I buy boneless, skinless chicken bre*sts (only chicken that hubby will eat) and then I will butterfly cut each bre*st so that I now have 2 bre*sts and serve it as 2 pieces of meat. I do this same thing with thick cut pork chops. For the most part, hubby will only take one piece of meat at meal. :) Aside from doing that with the meat, I keep my meals simple with meat, a starch like potatoes, rice or noodles, and veggie and fruit. I have gotten 4 out of 5 kids to eat more of a variety of fruits and veggies than what their dad will eat. :) For snacks, I keep a snack basket with a variety of granola bars, crackers, and muffins in the cupboard and then in the fridge I have designated a drawer as the “cold snack drawer” with fruit, veggies, yogurt, and cheese. The kids are allowed one thing from each place/day. Since setting this up for the snacks, I have made them a bit more independent and I don’t have them coming to me asking what they can have for a snack.

    The rising prices has really put a crunch on us over the last couple years. Despite still couponing and doing the sales, I have had to raise the budget the last two years because of the prices, especially meat & milk prices. I am starting to see that sales really aren’t sales any more but more just advertising products. :( I used to be very brand loyal, now I am not so much for some things but toilet paper and ketchup(both items I get in bulk anyway). I shop at Aldi, Walmart Supercenter, Meijer and Sam’s Club. I use Aldi for basics, like milk, eggs, produce and my corner grocery store/need something quick. I use Walmart for price matching other local store’s sales. I use Meijer for their good sales, like this week is a 10 for $10 get 11th item free Mix n Match Sale. I use Sam’s Club for my bulk items, like spices, flour, sugar, some meat, margarine, yogurt, peanut butter and snacks.

    I have enjoyed reading the other responses. I don’t feel so alone in my “battle” to feed my family adequately.

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    Jen Reply:

    I can relate to your big eaters issue and unfortunately, as you’ve realized, it only gets worse. The good thing is that they can start helping make their own if they are hungry. haha I am similar on the brand loyalty. I go with sales too. Yes, we are on this battle together. :)

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  134. We are a family of three (one of which is our newborn) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I spend $180 a month on groceries, toiletries, paper products and diapers. Although, I stockpiled diapers before the baby was born so have yet to buy diapers in the three months since our son was born. My costs are low and I view this as my hobby and a good challenge to help us save, especially as I am now SAHM. Looking forward to your October series, even as I think ahead to mine!

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  135. Darleneg says:

    We are a family of 6. My husband & I and four little ones under 8 years with two in diapers. Our monthly food budget is $525 a month. This includes food, paper supplies,diapers, and soap etc. This is pretty good for us as we often feed many more people than just our family multiple times per month (especially before baby was born three weeks ago). My husband does our family finances. If things are really tight in the food category, I am able to use our discretionary housing budget for things like batteries and soap. Our biggest food cost is fresh fruit and vegetables which we eat year around. We do pay $4.24 a gallon for whole milk but what I do is try to dilute it with water about 50/50 which comes out to the equivalent of what 2% milk is. I also stretch our meat with onions and black beans and also buy ground turkey on sale instead of ground beef not only is this healthier for us, it helps stretch the food budget.

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  136. I find it hard to nail down our exact food budget because we buy nonfood items at the store. We usually spend about $100-$150 a week for the two of us and some of our pet food. Our dog food is purchased from a feed store and runs about $70 a month for the two dogs. Depending on our schedule we spend $15-$50 a week on eating out. This used to be drastically higher when I was not working from home.

    [Reply]

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