We are a family of nine and usually spend between $850 and $1000 per month on groceries. This month, I budgeted $750 and it looks like we might actually be able to pull it off. Don't worry, the children are being very well fed and I have most of my Thanksgiving shopping done.
I usually shop at two grocery/wholesale stores once a week, Winco (employee owned) and Costco. If a store is advertising a loss leader (a grocery item at a very low price) that we usually buy, then I have my husband stop on his way home and pick up that item only.
What I Changed and Rules that I Made:
1. Made Wednesday the only day of the week that I can go grocery shopping.
2. Visited Winco and Costco on a bi-weekly, instead of a weekly, basis (i.e. I went to Costco this week, so I go to Winco next week).
3. Limited my family's milk consumption to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We are only allowed one (breakfast) bowl or glass of milk at each meal. We were drinking ten or more gallons of milk a week; now, we are drinking 8 gallons of milk a week.
4. Only purchased meat or chicken breasts if they were under $2 a pound. Only purchased whole chicken if it was under $0.80 per pound. Turkey was purchased for $0.27 per pound (or less) and I bought two of them (one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas). I want to buy one more turkey for whenever.
5. Only cooked chicken or meat two nights a week. Cut up the leftover meat or chicken and mixed it into other dishes (no recipes, just something that I threw together). This means that we are having meat or chicken at least four times a week, sometimes five.
6. On the remaining two or three nights a week, I made a lentil or bean dish. I bought lentils and beans in bulk or in bags, not canned (the latter gets expensive). To soften the beans, I added a pinch of sugar to the water when I cooked them. I made enough for two nights and lunch one day. I varied the dish slightly by throwing in some new ingredients the second night (vegetables, spices, barley, brown rice, etc.).
7. I alternated what we had for breakfast each morning. We used to always have breakfast cereal, but this gets expensive.
- Wednesday: Oatmeal
- Thursday: Eggs, bacon/sausage, and orange juice
- Friday: Cereal
9. Reminded the children that I had purchased plenty of food for the entire week and that it needed to last us a week. In other words, it is not okay for seven children to eat a 2 pound loaf of cheese in one day. Nor is it okay, to eat three or four bananas each in one day (this goes along with number 8).
10. Made a running list of what we needed throughout the week, so that my husband did not need to stop at the grocery store for forgotten items.
What I Need to Do:
1. Encourage the children to eat carrots, celery, etc. for snacks.
2. Be better about alternating our lunches.
Thank you to my husband, my older sister, and my friend (Elena) for their support and ideas. Thank you to my mom for her example as I was growing up and her advice during the first few years of my marriage (I miss her). Thank you to my dad who used to enjoy cooking eggs, bacon, and tomatoes for us on Sunday mornings.