July's Groceries: Budget and Meals

Every month the USDA puts out a Cost of Food report that shows what the national average of money spent on food is. I try to plan my grocery budget around that average. For my family of 4, with 3 people between the ages of 19 to 50 and 1 person between 9 to 11, going by the thrifty plan we should spend about $650 a month on groceries, we actually strive to spend a little less.

Y'all it's not easy, especially when you have two growing kids who eat like they are starving, and you're trying to keep fresh fruits and vegetables stocked. 

I struggle with it some months, I really do.  So I got to thinking that if I posted a monthly expense report here on what I spent it might help keep me on budget. Nothing like throwing it out there for the world to see to keep you accountable. 

What does my budget include?
  • groceries for the four of us
  • household cleaning items
  • bath/health items
  • dog food
What is my budget?

I try to stick to a budget of $600 a month. Which balances out to about $300 every two weeks. I try to shop bi-weekly but doing it that way is really new to me. For year's I've shopped for the whole month at one time. This is one of the reasons I want to start sharing my spending here, to help me see where I can get better at spending. 

I stick to my budget by shopping local grocery store sales, meal planning, and sticking to my list when I go into the store. 

So how did I do this month? 

Overall I did pretty well. I kept my monthly total below the $650 goal but I went over in the bi-weekly. Which made the end of the month meals hard especially when we (read Mike) kept deviating from the meal plan. So we sat down and had a nice meta talk about needing to stick to the budget and how he can help me do that by not buying extra meals after I have a menu planned. I also am going to swap up the way I shop a little bit next month and see if it'll help us meet in the middle of me having a plan and him wanting spontaneity. 

July 1st to 13th

$224 at Brookshires

 I did the bulk of my shopping at the local grocery store. They had some great sales and some of what I got will also work for the rest of the month. So while on the high side it also covers things like our ketchup use for the next month or more. (Mike and Hayley eat a lot of ketchup y'all)

$141.53 at Walmart

This includes trips for things like bathroom supplies and lots of little trips to the store where we picked up odds and ends for meals that weren't part of the plan. 

$18.20 at the local farmers market

This was a splurge for me, I don't usually buy from our farmers market. Most of the produce is actually bought in bulk from outside of the local area and sold as 'local homegrown'. BUT they had real local peaches and I couldn't pass them up. I also got some squash, regular tomatoes, and an heirloom tomato. 

$33.62 at Mac's Fresh Grocery

Mike and Hayley decided they wanted homemade pizzas instead of whatever dinner I had planned. So off to the store they went. 

$24.69 at Grove Collaborative 

Grove is a great online store to buy natural cleaning products, I absolutely love it and get a box in about every 2-3 months. I mainly use it for dish soap, hand soap, and bathroom cleaners. Plus as a VIP member, I get free shipping and 2-3 free gifts a year which is always fun.

Total for the first two weeks: $442.04

This is more than my $300 for every two weeks then I'd hoped for. I'd forgotten that my Grove shipment was coming in and didn't include it in the budget and there were a few extra trips that were unplanned.

July 14th to 31st

$26.51 Brookshires

Most of this was on a night my inlaws and niece stopped by unexpectedly for dinner and I had to grab some pizzas to feed the kids.

$13. 51 Mac's Fresh Grocery

I stopped in for some eggs, milk, cheese, and something else that I just can't remember.

$142.28  Walmart

Most of this was spent in $20 trips every other day to the store to buy little things forgotten or because meal plans were changed.

Total for the second two weeks: $182.30

Total for the entire month: $624.34

What meals did we eat?
*As I slowly get recipes posted I'll start linking to them here*
  1. Cabbage Spaghetti
  2. Pork Chops, black eye peas, steamed broccoli, cornbread
  3. Hot dogs and chili with fruit
  4. Baja Shrimp Tacos
  5. Chicken strips, shells-n-cheese, veggies, fruit
  6. Frito Pies
  7. Steak, baked potatoes, roasted broccoli with red onion
  8. Jambalaya, homemade bread
  9. Red beans and rice, homemade bread
  10. Creamy spaghetti, salad
  11. Breakfast casserole
  12. Homemade pizzas
  13. Sloppy joes, fries, fruit
  14. Po-boys, chips, fruit (we had this A LOT this month)
  15. Chicken tacos, refried beans, corn
  16. Stir fry rice with hibachi shrimp
  17. Rotel Pork Chops, veggies, rice
The remaining days of the month were used as either leftover nights or dinners out with the family.

So overall I did really good this month. I came in under budget which is always great. I am a little frustrated with the way the shopping went and the constant changing of meal plans. Hopefully next month I can get a better system going.  

Did you keep on budget this month? What are some tricks you use to make sure you do?

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