Wednesday, May 23, 2012

foodie "friday"

I dropped the ball with foodie friday... sorry friends! But I decided to try to make up for it by posting a bit about our food budget and how we try to make it work. I've had several people ask me about this and while we're definitely not experts, we are learning a few things about trying to make our food budget go as far as possible, especially with us being a one-income family.

I guess the first thing I should mention is we really, really try not to eat out. And honestly with Caedmon being the active little boy he is - neither of us even enjoy going out to eat anymore. It ends up one of us will be fiddling with him the entire time so we're really not able to chat or enjoy ourselves. Half the time I sit by myself with Michael takes Caedmon for a walk or he sits by himself while I take him to the restroom to distract him with washing his hands. It's more stressful than anything. Sometimes it goes well, but the past few times it definitely hasn't been worth it. It's just easier to eat at home (unless of course my parents are with us or we're on a date... but those are special occassions!). 

So our eating out budget is nil and we're currently budgeting $100 for groceries each week - however, lately we've been going over by about $10-$15 each week. No bueno. I have a friend who was going to price check certain things on different days of the week at farmer's markets... and another friend who shops at 3 or 4 different stores to get the best prices. I wish I was more like that! Unfortunately, I'm lazy, but I will definitely try to do better. We do all of our grocery shopping at Kroger, Whole Foods, or the farmer's market. 

 We start at the market and just look around for different types of produce we want to eat for the week. We're buying almost 90% of our produce there. And just knowing that we're supporting local businesses for some reason really makes me want to eat more veggies. I realized when our veggies our from Kroger I don't feel that pull to make sure I eat them all and honestly we would end up throwing some away consistently. Not so with farmer's market produce for some reason. Whatever, it's working for us! :) We also buy a pound of ground beef each week and a pound of bacon about once a month. So we walk around first, look at prices and decide what we want and then walk around once more and make our purchases.

Here's a little breakdown of what we spent this past week. We might need to try to start bargaining with some farmer's to get a better deal, I mean, people do that, right? So in case you can't read it above, we've got:
Strawberries - $5 from an incredibly sweet couple from Madison Co.
Sweet potatoes - $5 we bought a basket of them and there are about 9 small potatoes in it
Peaches - $5 another basket, there were about 7 in it
Pound of ground beef - $4, from Triple J Farms... we did a CSA with this farm a few years ago and just really like supporting them. Plus this is about the price we pay for beef at Kroger, so I feel like it's a really good deal!
Asparagus - $5 we've been buying some each week, the past weeks it's been $3 and this week they raised their price to $5... we may not be buying this each week anymore!
Onions - $2 for 4 small onions
Lettuce - $4 a bag of 3 small heads of lettuce 
Pasta - $4 for 2 bags of pasta - which is one serving for our family
Corn + Tomatoes - $6 (Corn was .75 each - we bought 6 and tomatoes were $2/lb - 3 tomatoes at 1 lb)
Honey - $7.75, which is very pricey but the size jar we bought will last over a month

So total we spent $47.75 meaning we had a little over $50 left to spend at the grocery store. So after we get home I sort everything and make a meal plan for dinners for the week and then make a grocery list of things we'll need to fully complete our meal plan for the week. You'll see our menu (hopefully) Friday. :)

This week our grocery list was really small - avocado, bananas, ranch dressing, ketchup, milk, yogurt, eggs and bread. But somehow we still went over budget. It was sort of a lack of communication - I knew we already had things like spaghetti noodles and pasta sauce but Michael was the one to do the shopping this week and came home with some more :) And we got extras like ice cream, hummus and pita chips, 2 boxes of cereal, mangoes, etc... But now we'll have some extra things that will go into next week/the week after so hopefully everything will all balance out.

We really try to use the cash system as far as food is concerned and for the most part we do really well. However, when we go over we just put the rest on our debit card. Ideally I think we could put back a few items to make it essential that we only spend the cash amount we have on hand. It's something we're still working on. But one benefit to using cash - it hurts a little more. When you go over it's maddening to hand over all your cash and still need to give the cashier your card. And on the other hand it's incredibly awesome to hear your total and know you stayed in budget.

I know Wal-Mart is cheaper, however, we buy nearly all items organic and Wal-Mart does not have very many things (if anything?) organic. It's just something that we think is important - but I know some people aren't into it. We've noticed as far as dairy items are concerned Kroger and Whole Foods are the same price - both typically have one brand of something on sale each time I'm in there. Kroger also sends us lots of coupons in the mail every few weeks and we really try to utilize those when certain items are on sale. We don't use these every week or anything, but it's something I'd like to get better about.

I saw on Pinterest a tip on planning meals for the entire month at once - I think this could be a really neat option. However she bought most ingredients from Sam's (we're unfortunately not members) and when you're only shopping once a month there's not a ton of opportunity to buy fresh produce (something we're trying very hard to incorporate into our daily diets). So while that would be really awesome, I just don't think it's right for our family. But I'm definitely snagging some of her recipes and the idea to double them and keep one in the freezer. I should start now so we can have a few stowed away as we become a family of four!

So, pretty random :) And maybe more then you wanted to know about our grocery shopping visits... :) But if you have any tips of your own - please send them my way! How do you do your meal planning for the week?

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