PT1: FAMILY OF FOUR GROCERY BUDGET

8:42 AM

If there's one category in your family budget that can make or break you, it's your food and grocery slot. According to a chart provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, the average American family spends anywhere from $560 a month, to a whopping $1093 a month! Now I don't know about you, but no one in my inner circle is eating up in the higher figure, but I can tell you that so many families I know, even couples are spending that lower figure, plus some, a month on their groceries! Today, I'm going to share six of our ridiculously simple steps to staying out of those statistics. Check back for PT 2: FAMILY OF FOUR HOUSEHOLD BUDGET!

*nowhere in the article description couldn't I find the concrete definition of what was considered "grocery" via the USDA. Grocery to some, includes other consumables such as pet food, toiletries, and other household items. Below, I will go further into depth about how our family cuts the two in half, which works for our unique situation. 

Now first and foremost, Ohio is a very affordable state. Our housing, our taxes, etc, so forgive these stats if you live in a different part of the country where our house would have cost you double what we paid. This post is simply based on one mid westerners obsession with dwindling my costly grocery bill, though the entire strategy can be tweaked or interpreted anyway you and your family see fit.

What if I told you that last month, we only spent $251.31 on groceries and $198.44 on consumables (shampoo, conditioner, dog food, cleaning products). Would you call me a liar? Let me explain.

Our monthly grocery budget is $350.

Think of it this way, $100 per person, per month babies and toddlers, you can cut it down to $75.
Joshua- $100
Kiki- $100
Penny & Harry- $75/ EA

*kids will increase as they get older, making our grocery budget bump up to $100 per person, while still staying under the average figure for American families. One hundred dollars per person, per month for a family of 4, is $400. 

Months where our stockpile is running a little on the thin side, I'll bump it up to $375 or $400, but for the majority of our year, we keep a pretty straight forward $350 a month grocery budget. Remember the lower end of the national average is $560 a month?!* Keeping a modest stockpile of canned goods, pastas, frozen veggies and fruits, can help you during periods when you need to tighten the grocery budget. Say you are saving for a vacation, or an unexpected expense arises, forcing you to tighten up a bit on your groceries. That is what the stockpile is for. Now I'm not saying go full on doomsday crazy. For example, I like to keep eight of each canned items on hand, a variety of pastas, and five or six back ups of frozen veggies. Watching for sales is key. I sourced 1 lb bags of pasta for just 0.79 a month ago, and purchased  ten bags! 

Breaking it all down.....

Our family uses the Every Dollar Budgeting App, and if your new years resolution is to start budgeting, I highly suggest giving it a download. The basic features are free (we use the free version), and it's pretty self explanatory when setting up your first budget.

Everydollar allows you to split your monthly income in a headache free way, that helps keep track of your spending both in your utility category and household. I could go on and on, but for today, we're going to talk about one or two vital categories my family follows: Grocery & Household.


What ISN'T considered grocery?

A: Dog food, toilet paper, hair care products, diapers, wipes, clothing, overall "wants" such as Star Bucks, fast food, and in the moment purchases.

Grocery is simply, what it sounds like. Food purchased with the intent of making meals, lunches, and snacks. Pretty simple right?

1. MAKE A PLAN!

It baffles me when someone tells me they don't make a grocery list. You what?? How do you know what you have and don't have? The answer to this, you make impulse purchases, buy prepackaged meals, and waste a ton of your hard earned cash. The first step to shedding that costly grocery bill is to make a PLAN!

2. CONSIDER MEATLESS OPTIONS.

Now this isn't everyone's cup of tea, and typically where I lose people when I tell them about our micro monthly grocery budget. I do not eat red meat, or chicken ( I DO eat eggs, fish, and cheese), but my family does. It was a decision I made for myself nearly four years ago, and one I do not feel I should be able to make for my children. While I make and encourage them to try all my meatless meals, I do still offer them meat. Joshua loves him a burger or steak here and there as well. With that being said, our meal plan consists of many meatless options, which is a huge money saver! I could go on and on, but I promise you the bellies are full and the complaints are minimal.


3. SHOP YOUR FRIDGE/ PANTRY FIRST

Seems like another no brainer, yeah? The biggest issue I have with someone who high tails it to the grocery store listless, is that they can't possibly know what they already have at home. Hey, if you can do this, you're a super human and I envy you. The truth is, most of us have no idea, and before you have 18 sticks of butter falling out at you every time you open your fridge, base your plan around what you have and fill in the gaps.

Sound familiar? I do the same with clothes!

By filling in the gaps, you're less likely to have multiples of unnecessary items crowding up your space, and more likely to plan your meals intentionally. Less food waste and less headache!

4. SHOP BI-WEEKLY

Why yes, I do pride myself on mastering the art of the bi-weekly shop, and rarely ever have to make an unexpected trip to the grocery store, unless something happens to pop up like a friend joining us for dinner, etc. Still, this little rule of mine forces me to plan with care and accept the run-out rule.

Unofficial run-out rule: if you run out, you run out. Get creative and come up with something new!

5. THE ART OF EATING LEFTOVERS

I'm not sure I can trust someone who doesn't eat leftovers. I'm kidding, but seriously. So much wasted food goes into the trashcan come the end of the week. Even we were guilty of this last year once Joshua made a career switch and could no longer take leftovers work. To cut back on this food waste, we designate one night a week (ours is Sunday) to "Leftover night." Eat what's in the fridge from the week prior, and give mom and dad the night off from making a full blown meal. It's that simple!

6. SHOP INGREDIENTS NOT BOXES

"Cooking is just so expensive." I hate when people try to argue this with me. Really food, ingredients, and time is nothing when it comes to paying that whopping, one time $60 + bill at a restaurant. We hardly ever go out to eat, but when we do, signing that final bill kills my frugal side when I think of all the nights worth of dinners I could have prepared with that $60. Cooking doesn't have to be expensive, and anyone can be great at it with some practice.

When you hold a loaf of brand name whole wheat bread, next to a store brand loaf of whole wheat brand, does your brain connect that they are the exact same thing? Years ago, my dad worked briefly for a big name bakery and bread supplier that can be found in almost any grocery store. While working in the plant one day, he asked an innocent question, "how do you know when to switch the bread for the generic packaging?" He was met by a life changing statement "all the bread is the same, we just change the bag." That moment broke every and all stigma I ever had about buying generic, and I've never looked back.

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In conclusion, our family may eat a different meal rotation than yours and while every family has it's interests, likes, and tastes, this overall principle can work for literally anyone, any family. By lessening our grocery bill, we are increasing money that can be spent or saved intentionally. By lessening our fridge and pantry clutter, we give ourselves purpose and peace of mind. By lessening our food waste, we are bettering the quality of life for our planet and generations to come! What are you waiting for?! Let's clean up that grocery budget!!!

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