Thursday, July 28, 2011

Week 1- tentative $

These are my templates for this weeks grocery shopping trip.
I do have a few items that I need to get that aren't on here.

My total not including the items not in the spreadsheet is $63.17
I am hoping to keep my grand total under $75 for the week.

Week 1- Menu

We eat cereal for breakfast every morning. It is a rare occasion that we have a "big" breakfast. So unless it is stated a bowl of cereal with milk is on the menu for breakfast.

My "weeks" also start on Friday. This is the day I go grocery shopping.

My menus follow a bit of a format so it requires less thinking on my part. 

Lunch is on a five week rotation. Sometimes this changes due to a picnic at the park or a grocery shopping trip.

Mondays we eat something we have tried and liked.
Tuesday is always tacos.
Wednesday we something a frozen meal.
Thursday is pizza night
Friday we try something new
Saturday is a crock pot meal
Sunday I make a freezer meal. (I take the meal to be made and double or triple to be frozen to eat later)

Lunch: Porcupine Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Strawberries
Dinner: Orange Glazed Ham Steaks, Rice Pilaf, Blueberries

Lunch: Leftovers (we always clean out the leftovers on the weekends)
Dinner: Chicken & Dumplings, Green Beans, Apples

Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Beef Bourguignon, Biscuits, Pears

Lunch: Cheeseburger, Green Beans, Peaches
Dinner: Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Applesauce

Lunch: Chicken nuggets, Peas, Pears, Biscuit
Dinner: Tacos, Refried Beans with Tortilla Chips, Corn, Strawberries

Lunch: Bean and Cheese Quesadilla, Corn, Applesauce
Dinner: Asian Flank Steak, Carrots, Grapes

Lunch: Spaghetti, Grapes, Garlic Bread
Dinner: Pizza, Banana

Grocery Shopping Process

This is my process of what I do before I step foot in a store.

1) Make a menu.  This can be time consuming, but well worth it. Hardly ever do I stare in the fridge not knowing what to make for dinner because I have a menu. I also rarely have to make a rush grocery store run because I have my ingredients.
2) Make a scratch list. Write down everything that you will need that week or month.
3) Shop your own pantry and freezer. I have a "freezer list" and a "pantry list" to make things easier. This will eliminate buying something that you already have. It will also help you to make sure to buy those random things that you don't buy often. 
4) Enter what to buy on the awesome spreadsheet that my husband made. (I will put that one here once I he gets home to show me how)
5)Print the list
6) Go Shopping!

It seems like a lot. But to spend a bit of time putting this together it makes meal making for the rest of the weeks so much easier and less stressful.

Added information.

Jim and my friend Brie have both mentioned the fact that I do have a small home daycare. So for number purposes, I do feed and extra 2-3 kids breakfast, lunch and two snacks five days a week.

Jim and I were also discussing how long this challenge will last. I said forever, but he was meaning till I feel that I have proved that it is possible. I was thinking one month, but he brought up the point that I have a lot of food already purchased in our freezer. So to make things fair, I have decided that three months total is ample time to prove that it is possible to feed a family of five a healthy (or what I consider healthy) diet for $300.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let the fun begin!

I have decided that I am going to attempt to feed my family of five for $300 or less a month. I currently spend between $400 and $500 a month. This month I spent $473. My food budget will include eating out and food from the store. According to The US Census Bureau in 2009 (published in 2011) the average cost to feed a family of five are as follows:
Thrifty plan-$557.76
Low Plan- $708
Moderate Plan-$876.96
High Plan- $1237.44

This challenge for me started when I read an article that talked about two families who must feed their families for under $300 because that is all they have due to hard times and at times they have to actually miss meals. It also stated in the article that poverty stricken people tend to be overweight because it is cheaper to buy processed convenience foods and eat at McDonalds than buying healthier food. I in all honestly would like to prove this wrong. I want to think that $300 can feed a family. That if we budget, meal plan, and stick to a list and shop at the right places it can be done.

Our family has some dietary guidelines that we follow that may make this a little more difficult (or could end up proving my point even more). We do not buy anything that has food dye in it. So there are things that we buy at the HyVee health market that costs a bit more than a different brand at Aldi. We also eat a lot of fresh produce, this as most know can be expensive. I try to not by things with high fructose corn syrup which if you read labels is in so much. And I buy greek yogurt because of the protein due to Breanna refusing all meat.

I have been doing some reading to try to find some tips.
--I am an impulse shopper. I can go in with a list that should cost $27 and end up walking out with $63 worth of stuff (I did this last week). So I really liked this idea.
Identify weekly, biweekly, and monthly needs.
This is how I  will split mine up:
     Weekly-fresh produce
     Bi Weekly-anything that can be frozen (milk, cheese, butter, meat, etc) and anything that keeps well in    
     fridge (eggs, yogurt, etc)
     Monthly- all non perishables (cereal, noodles, canned goods, etc)
This will keep me out of the stores as much as possible to avoid those darn "gotta have it" purchases. When I walk in to get fresh produce, I go straight to the produce section and straight to the register. I may need blinders for those pesky items they put at the register.
--I am going to organize my pantry, fridge and freezers (yes we have two) so I am not buying things that I already have and making sure I don't assume we have something when we don't.
--I am going to start feezing desserts so when those sugar munchies hit I won't be so temtped to run to Caseys and get a cupcake.

Somethings that I already do to cut costs is:
--Waste nothing. We do not throw aways leftovers, we eat them. Any bananas that turn brown get mashed and put into the freezer for banana bread and the heels of bread also gets frozen for bread crumbs. I never purchase bread crumbs. I am hoping to find more ways to not waste.
--My BFF (as Jim calls her, LOL) and I share a garden. This does/will help greatly with the costs of veggies.
--I also make freezer meals. When I make a meal that can be frozen I double or triple the recipe (or quadruple for pancakes and waffles). We eat one and freeze the others. This helps for those times when you either don't feel like cooking or don't have time to cook and might end up going out to eat or ordering a pizza.
--Jim has is making me a great excel spreadsheet with the price of the things that I buy so I know what I am going to spend before I walk in to the grocery store (thank goodness for a tech savvy husband). I will share that when it is complete.

What I plan to put on here is my menu for the month, recipes, maybe even a picture if the meal looks really yummy, my grocery list and how much I spent. So I guess if you want I can pretty much do your food planning for you assuming that you like to eat what we eat.

My next step is to make my monthly menu and figure up what I need for my three lists. And I am sure a whole lot of adjusting to make it under $300.