I'm setting my goal for $200 again. My freezer is still packed with lots of reduced and sale priced meats, fruit from last year's garden that needs to be turned into jam, and who knows what else.
My lettuce has not come up yet in the garden, so I'm thinking I may have to reseed it.
Gemmbp, welcome to the challenge!!! I know it seems overwhelming at times trying to figure out a budget for food. What I have done is look at what it is we actually use on a regular basis and fill in around that. I also try to locate the cheapest sources for food. For us, I set a budget of $200 a month for groceries. This includes cat food for 3 cats (one on a special diet), kitty litter, dog food for 2 big dogs, all paper products and food for my family of 5. I have a construction worker hubby who snacks between meals, 3 ravenous teenaged boys and myself. Throw in the boys friends who are here quite a bit and eat with us and you have a crowd that loves to eat! LOL!
To cut down on our budget I do many things:
1. buy reduced priced meats and freeze them immediately
2. stretch meals with rice, pasta and homemade breads, biscuits, rolls
3. make lots of pasta based dishes
4. eat seasonally. eat lots of oranges when they are on sale and apples when they are on sale
5.have a small garden (or a large one if you have room), we have a small garden with lettuce, spinach, garlic, onions, brocolli, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and squash. We also have a huge rhubbarb plant, a sweet and a sour cherry tree and a summer apple tree. I freeze, dehydrate and can cherries, dehydrate apples and herbs and of course we eat all we are able to fresh.
6.we pick wild blackberries down by the river and make jam with them.
8. I make our bread most of the time. I do buy hamburger and hot dog buns along with a few other items at the bread thrift stores. I hit those on Sunday after church when they have double punch days!
9. I use coupons on items that we use if I can get them cheaper that way than buying the store brand of the same item.
10. Compare prices and shop those ads!!!
11. We use cloth napkins at the table and rags or washcloths to wipe up spills.
12. I buy my spices in bulk (much cheaper).
13. We buy rice in the 20 pound bags when it's on sale for under $5
14. We do lots of stir fry type meals where you have more vegis than meat. serve over rice
15. to save $ on pop, we buy the store brands unless there is a really good sale. I can get a 2 liter bottle of Walmart soda for .58! Even then, it's a treat item and not a normal part of my budget.
16. We make sun tea during the warmer months. Just take a washed out juice jug, add water and put a teabag in it. Set it in the sun and it brews itself.
17. we get our milk from a local farmer for $1.50 a gallon. I skim the cream off the top and make butter with that or homemade ice cream.
18. I use my crockpot quite a bit. The long cooking time tenderizes the toughest cuts of meat.
19. I make my own yogurt when time permits.
20. I do not serve big portions of meat to my family. I don't think anyone needs a platter sized slab of meat. I'll cut that same piece of meat into 5 portions or cut it up into thin slices and make a huge pot of stronganoff with it!
21. Stock up on loss leaders at the store. I buy lots of an item that I use when I find a good sale. Saves me money in the long run.
Hope this gives you some ideas!!!!