We've started 2011 with a very tight budget, working with renewed energy on our 2011 Financial Goals. I've set our grocery budget at $500/month for our family of five, which is doable but has been a little challenging with our dietary changes (I eat gluten-free, and my husband is losing a lot of weight; we're eating a lot more produce and no free/cheap junk food). The USDA tracks the average cost of food at home, and even for the “low-cost plan,” my family would spend over $800. We're fine at $500, with a couple of key strategies:
- I give myself $100 to spend each week; the extra $100 is meant for stockpiling of frequently-used-foods when they're on sale, such as the 12 jars of salsa I bought for .50 each a few weeks ago.
- While we still eat steak, fish, even shrimp occasionally, it's balanced out with meatless meals that cost much less. This gives us a wide variety of foods as well as a balanced budget.
- I use the sale prices and grocery ads to plan my meals for the coming weeks. As I show in this How-To Meal Plan video, when certain proteins (chicken, eggs, etc.) are at their lowest prices, you'll find them on my meal plan.
- When we're out, we do without. My husband and kids know that I shop once a week, and if we're out of crackers, snacks, juice, etc. they'll have to make do with something else or do without. That helps us all eat appropriate serving sizes at mealtimes and keep snacks small.
With all that in mind, here's this week's meal plan:
Sunday–Hamburgers with sauteed mushrooms, sweet potato fries, corn
Monday–I'm going out to dinner with a friend (yay!), so I'm leaving them with Spaghetti & Meatballs and asparagus
Tuesday–English muffin pizzas (green pepper, mushrooms, olives–and I'll use a gluten-free English muffin), salad
Wednesday–Pineapple Pork Chops, brown rice, green beans
Thursday–Slow Cooker Taco Pie, leftover salad
Friday–Garbanzo & Artichoke Quinoa (my husband will probably have leftovers from last night)
Saturday–Eating out! I have a Groupon to Austin Grill to use up, and I love their huge gluten-free menu.
Are you shopping with a grocery budget? I'd love to hear how it's going and what you find challenging. You'll find lots of meal plans and recipes to cover all budgets over at OrgJunkie. This post is also linked up to Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom.