Friday, March 4, 2011

"Food in the Belly"

(by Xavier Rudd) Food In the Belly - Food In the Belly



Today's song really doesn't have much to do with my post, but I picked it for the title. To find out why, head over to my friend Laura's!! I'm guest blogging about stretching the grocery budget...

Updated in July 2011: because there are no guarantees that the post will always be there, I've decided to paste what I posted that day...


Hi again, Laura’s friends! I’m so excited to share another Frugal Friday post with y’all! Today, I want to share a few tips with you on budgeting for groceries. This is a no-brainer, but one huge key to being frugal is having a budget and sticking to it! For me personally, there were a couple of years when I didn’t budget. Way too often during that time, I overspent on groceries. It was easy to justify, because we needed food, right?! But we really didn’t need all those snack cakes & brownie mixes!

In preparing for this post, I did a little bit of research on family grocery budgets. [If you don’t have children yet (or you have younger children), please don’t disregard the rest of this post! It’s for you, too! Please know that I’m not trying to exclude anyone. I would like to encourage you that it’s never too early to start putting these principles into practice! If you are in the habit of being frugal now, then when/if you have children (or they get older and eat more) it’ll be that much easier for you to continue!] In my research, I discovered the following information (via this ehow article):

In 2010, a family with two adults ages 19 to 50 and two children ages 6 to 11, spent $582.60 a month at the thrifty level, $758.90 for the low-cost plan, $949.20 for a moderate plan and $1152.10 for the liberal plan.

I have to be honest with you, when I read those numbers I was quite surprised! I checked a few other sites, and they showed very similar stats. The majority of the sites I found recommend budgeting 10-15% of your take-home pay for food. My husband doesn’t make loads of money, but we are above poverty level ~ yet we manage to get by with a $300 grocery budget per month. And we are almost that average family mentioned: two adults ages 35 & 36 with two children ages 10 & 12. There are people out there who spend even less than we do, but I’ve found $300 to be perfect for our needs. It even allows for some splurges here & there.

One way that I’m able to spend so little is through stockpiling. When our staple items are on sale, I buy a bunch! For example, Kroger recently had a sale on canned tomatoes. I use diced, stewed, Italian-style, Mexican-style, pureed or crushed in almost every meal that I make. When combined with some coupons that I had, I bought 7 cans and paid only 59¢ ~ that’s only about 8¢ per can!

Yes, I mentioned coupons, but I’m not that crazy coupon lady! I have the Sunday paper delivered to my house, but that’s all. I don’t buy a stack of newspapers or trade with other people online. I simply clip the coupons for items that we already use. I don’t generally run around to five different stores in a week (though I did The Grocery Game for awhile, & it’s great to help you learn the process). I mainly shop at the Kroger near my house, with an occasional trip to Walmart or HEB. If a coupon can be doubled or tripled, I use it at Kroger. Otherwise I use it at Walmart, if I happen to make it by there before the coupon expires.

Another way my family is able to eat on a budget is through Angel Food Ministries. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s like a warehouse co-op ~ if that makes sense! It began as a food relief program for 34 families affected by some plant closings in Georgia in 1994. Now, Angel Food feeds over 500,000 families a month in 35 states. It is low-cost, but it is NOT limited to low-income families. There are no qualifications or income restrictions. Each month, they offer several boxes of food to choose from, and you place an order (either online or at the host site, usually a church). Then a week after the deadline, you pick up your food from the host site. One box is supposed to feed a family of four for a week, but we manage to make it last closer to two weeks. It offers more variety than my budget can usually afford, and my family appreciates some meals that aren’t the “same old” stuff. You should definitely check it out & see if there’s a host site near you. The picture below is an example of what you would get in one $41 box:


Finally, there are just a few more little tips that I have put into practice. I buy a lot of generic. There are a few items that have to be name brand (ie. Miracle Whip, Dr Pepper and Eight O’Clock Coffee), but most store brands are fine. I do some warehouse shopping, but only if it really is a good deal. {Sometimes the canned goods are nearly $1 each, and I just don’t spend that much on one can of green beans!} It definitely helps to have an idea of what you normally spend on each item before shopping (especially at warehouse stores), and I almost always have a list! That’s another no-brainer, but it really does help! It helps plan your spending, and it helps you avoid impulse buys. {And if you score a great deal on some items & have money left after you’ve picked up the items on your list, you can always go back & buy those Oreos on the endcap!} There are some “high ticket luxuries” that I just don’t buy at this point. For example, I only buy seafood and choice meats if they’re on sale or “reduced for quick sale”. I also don’t buy alcohol. I don’t have a problem with it, but it’s not something that I spend money on. My mister is addicted to Dr Pepper, so we splurge on that! (And if we’ve spent quite a bit at a warehouse store, he says for me not to buy it for a few weeks).

I hope these ideas help a little! I’m no expert, but this is what works for me! There are many blogs out there with many more tips than what I’ve provided here. If you have anything else to add, please leave a comment! I’m always looking for more ways to stretch a dollar!

Amy

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