Food budget...
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    Registered User momof2boys2005's Avatar
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    Default Food budget...

    I'm really struggling with how to come up with a realistic weekly/monthly food budget for 2 adults & 1 child. I don't want to over-spend but at the same time don't want to go too skimpy. Currently I spend easily $600/ month and that's not really accurate because I always seem to running out to get something we're unexpectedly missing.

    Also what exactly is factored into your food budget? I'm wondering about things like feminine products, paper products, personal hygiene stuff, cleaning supplies...currently these things fall into "groceries".

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    Registered User mslolsalot's Avatar
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    I think the key to setting a good food budget is to plan your meals ahead of time. When you know what you'll be serving, you can know exactly how much it will cost. That includes snacks and all meals.

    You could track your spending for a few weeks. What are you currently spending money on? Is there food waste (those veggies that get nasty before they're used, etc). Are leftovers being eaten? Are you spending a lot of money on packaged foods, drinks, etc? Use a highlighter to mark anything you feel like you could do without and then add up the total.

    I have a food-only budget (well, vinegar is my main cleaning supply... it's technically a food item) averaging $30 a week for myself and 2 kids. My 8 year old eats as much as an adult for sure. I share custody of my kids so they're gone 5 days every other week and those weeks I'm only feeding myself- and I buy very little in the way of groceries those weeks.

    I love to cook and bake, so my budget doesn't include much in the way of packaged foods. We do buy those things (on sale), but store-bought cookies and chips are treats, not daily occurrences. We don't drink soda, and the kids take juice in a thermos to school instead of juice boxes. I don't even buy prepared pasta sauce- I make it from canned tomatoes. Not everyone wants to do that.

    I think that setting a realistic budget has to take into account what you like to eat, how you prepare it, and how much you waste. Not everyone can go bare-bones with groceries and be happy with it.

    One last point- if you're worried about under-spending, set a flexible budget. Say you'll spend $75 on groceries this week, but stash $25 somewhere to use "just in case". That way you don't have to be worried that you're setting the budget "too skimpy". Oh yeah, and shop without the kids- you'll save a lot more money than if they're with you asking for stuff!

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    Do you plan menus or do you just buy stuff to eat/cook with? I find that having a plan can really help. Rather than a cupboard full of stuff, you have ingredients for specific meals. This will also help you cut the need to run out for things at the last minute because you're buying according to the recipe ingredients.

    You can also use this to plan around ingredients you already have, to use them up instead of always buying new things.

    DH and I eat on about $75 a week. (No kids at home, and it does include toiletries and cleaning, but not pet food)) Many do it on less, with kids. I think you can cut your food budget by $200 by doing some planning.

    On cleaning supplies, less is more. You can do a lot with a sponge or rags and some soap and hot water. I limit paper towels to things like picking up the cats accidents and a few necessary cooking uses.
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

    If you're not using the stuff in your home, get rid of it. You're not going to start using it more by shoving it into a closet.

    Use it up, Wear it out,
    Make it do, Or do without. ~unknown

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    Registered User mommy4ever's Avatar
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    Costs of groceries are relative.

    It depends where you live. Costs vary. It depends on coupon. It depends on dietary needs.

    I budget $200/week for a family of 6 plus 3 daycare kids. I have 2 teens and a preteen, so almost like feeding 5 adults most days. We rarely use coupons as it's for stuff we don't eat, and really are few and far between, and double coupons, triple coupons are non existant in Canada, or at least in this area. I just deal with it. It gets transfered every payday and that's what it is.

    If I could get the family to eat more vegetarian, it might be cheaper, but they don't eat alot of vegetarian style meals. Dh doesn't tolerate beans, so a cheap alternative is gone. So I do the best I can to feed us all. That's all we can do.

    That said, we are under what most of our friends spend for smaller families. So it is what it is. I'd love to say we do it for $200/mo but it ain't gonna happen

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    I have four hungry teens and can sympathize with you. We have adopted a dinner menu at our house. This saves time and money when we go to the grocery store. I construct a two-week calendar with some of their favorite meals and also new meals to encourage healthy habits. I then make a list of every ingredient used to make those meals. After this list is finished, I cross off the ingredients that I have in my cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator. I purchase the remaining ingredients on the list, with the help of one of my kids. This teaches them the actual cost of food. I do purchase a few after-school snacks for them, but I find it's more cost-effective to bake them myself. I do not include personal hygiene items on our grocery list. I purchase them in large quantities when they are on sale at our local "big box" store. Overall, we usually spend around $400 per month on food. We have saved tons of money by taking the time to make our menus!

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    Registered User momof2boys2005's Avatar
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    Great responses...I will post more details when I get home! Pls keep your ideas coming!

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    It's just me in my house but I spend max $80/month on food for myself. I budget about $20/week for food. I use coupons and sales but I also make meals that are inexpensive. For example, my weekly breakfast budget is $5 which covers either a half gallon of milk and a box of cereal or a half gallon of milk, a package of bagels, and butter. I budget $2 a week for a snack just so there's something in the house to snack on. I budget $1 for lunch and dinner so that's $14 for the whole week. I just look up recipes that come out to $1 or less per serving and then I buy those items for the week. For example, I make stir fry using an inexpensive cut of beef (I think the kind I use is called skirt steak) which is about $2/package, a package of pasta which is less than $1, a package of mixed veggies which is $1, and some soy sauce for flavor which is a few cents for each serving and that comes out to about $4 for 4 servings so $1 per serving. I'm not a big eater so I guess that helps too. I don't buy beverages unless I can get them really cheap because I'm perfectly content drinking filtered water from my sink.

    Oh and that $80 doesn't include health and beauty or cleaning items or paper products. I budget $20/month for that. But again, I live by myself. And again, I shop for those items using coupons and sales.

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    Registered User Nishu's Avatar
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    The USDA publishes data on it, if you're interested. They only take into account food, not personal products or anything like that.

    You can see how you compare here...
    USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food Cost of Food at Home

    The above chart has several levels of thriftiness.

    For a simple version of the same thing, you can use this.
    What you should spend

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    I can easily spend $1000.00 a month on food for two adults in fact I was before I stopped to look where the leaks were.

    I saved my receipts for a few weeks and then sat down and looked. Two things JUMPED out at me. 1) We were spending as much on restaurants as we were on groceries, or maybe more. 2)We bought a lot of magazines.

    Cutting those two things, that's all, cut my food bill around $400!

    Then I started really looking at things. The biggest other piece I found was that we love fresh veggies. I bought a lot of them, and the end of a lot of them wound up in the trash. So the next big piece was to make myself use up all the veggies I got.

    I do NOT meal plan in advance. Of course, there's only 2 of us and if I dont' make dinner until 9:30 or we eat cheese & crackers, it's no big deal, there are no children here. What I do is look at the left overs, what has to be used. Tonight it was the chicken & rice. I pulled a box of sugarsnap peas from the freezer and cooked them together. We'll have it w/ grated parmesan, sliced tomatoes, and that will be dinner.

    So that's what I do these days.

    We still throw out some food, and I still want to over spend if I'm not careful, but if I watch it, I can feed both of us for around $50 a week, sometimes it's less, sometimes it's more. I only buy meat on sale, rarely use coupons, but almost everything I buy IS on sale.

    That reminds me, I have 4 bananas I need to use tonight too...

    IHTH!

    Judi

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    That was pretty nifty, Nishu.

    Here is what it said...

    estimated $180.62 per week for your household
    estimated $782.64 per month for your household

    I do better than that! About 450.00 a month.

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    Registered User lisaflex's Avatar
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    gosh you people are so disciplined..i admire that! i sometimes do really well, others, well, not so much!

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    $50 is pretty much my average spend too -- I just make it my goal to stay as close to that as possible or be significantly under

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    Registered User sahm2boys's Avatar
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    im a couponer..
    i check the meat section for manager specials and try to get several pieces or really good deals..like Food lion had 10lbs of chicken leg quarters b1g1 so $7 for 20lbs
    then i bagged them in separate bags for different meals
    then when i coupon i get minum 2 papers on sunday and buy whats on sale with a coupon and that way i can get at least 2 (stocking) it awesome when you cant something for little to nothing...then you fix meals with what you got..took a while to have a lot..and took a couple of weeks with extra money to really stock up but those were weeks i got 3-4 papers and really got a lot of stuff...

    last week i spent $45 at kroger for $120.00 worth of groceries i was super excited about that i buy stuff i dont have coupons for too like drinks for school and stuff..

    good luck..id say i spend btw 70-100.00 a week for a family of 4 with coupons but i could cut that back..which i have to now...

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    Moderator mauimagic's Avatar
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    Coupons don't really work well for us since we don't use much if any proceesed foods. Weekly meal planning has really helped us keep costs down. This week I am planning on spending no more than $50 on food - so far, so good.

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    Registered User Mom2-3's Avatar
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    We budget $120/week for the 5 of us. Everything is included in that, except for pet supplies. About twice per year we get an extra check and we use $100-$200 to stock up on meats.

    I use coupons, shop at CVS and plan around the sales ads.

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