This is the first post of my Grocery Budget Tracking in 2018! Can you feed your family a Clean Eating diet and still come in under your grocery budget? I’m about to find out! This is the real grocery budget of our family, who eats 15 pounds a week of pastured meat…and sometimes Poptarts.
Why am I tracking every detail of my grocery budget?
My grocery budget is $600 a month. But…I don’t know whether I was over budget or under budget last month. Or the month before that. Or the year before that, when my grocery budget was “$400”!
My $600 grocery “budget” is an imaginary number. I’ve never actually tracked what I spend on groceries. I decided that considering that
- I have kids who eat more than I do,
- inflation, and
- transitioning to about 80% organic food,
I had better upgrade the grocery budget from $400 to $600.
I’m curious to see what the real numbers show in 2018, because $600 seems very low compared to many people’s grocery budgets I’ve read about that are in the $1200–$1400 range. I think those high grocery budgets must include more than groceries: paper towels, shampoo, and the clearance endcap at Target. (My grocery budget only includes stuff we can eat.)
In this post:
- How much our family eats—because a grocery budget dollar amount and number of family members don’t tell the whole story!
- My failed attempts at tracking grocery budget spending.
- What our family eats—hint: a crazy amount of pastured meat!
- My actual grocery spending—super nerdy and categorized.
To see my 2018 Grocery Budget Tracking spreadsheet, please subscribe to All Day Mom (you’ll get access to all my subscriber exclusives, like this adorable BB-8 multiplication table printable!).
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My $600 grocery budget seems high compared to those posts claiming,“I feed my family of 12 for $200 a month!” I’ve noticed that those super-cheap grocery budgets are heavy on free-with-coupon junk foods and starches, and light on meat and fresh produce. Or they’re a “family of 6” but the 4 kids are under age 7.
Grocery budget dollar amount and number of family members do not tell the whole story.
Here’s how much our family eats so you can compare that to your own family’s size and eating patterns.
- Family of 4
- Husband KC
- Wife Carissa (that’s me!)
- Son Jefferson nearly 14
- Daughter Jameson 11
- We have a piggy, giant puppy too, but we don’t count dog food in our human grocery budget.
- Jameson’s friend eats dinner with us about 3 nights a week.
- Everyone eats heartily at meals. We don’t do picky.
- Both kids eat more than KC and I do.
- We homeschool, so the kids and I eat breakfast and lunch at home.
- KC takes lunch to work.
- KC and I don’t eat breakfast, unless I make breakfast on the weekends, which I usually don’t.
- We eat a ton of meat. I’ve served maybe 3 meatless dinners over the last year. Breakfast is usually meat-free, but the kids’ lunches are usually leftover dinner, which is usually meat-centric. I typically use 2 pounds of meat per dinner. Any dinner with just 1 pound of meat is starch-heavy (like spaghetti with meat sauce or enchiladas).
- I buy pastured, organic beef and pork from CPR Meats. If you live in Phoenix or Tucson, you need to look up Chiricahua Pasture Raised Meats. They deliver to multiple locations in each city once a month! My pick up spot is less than a mile from my home. This is not an ad!
- Organic chicken from Costco and pastured chicken backs (for bone broth) from CPR Meats.
- Antibiotic free bacon from Costco.
- Grass fed ground beef from Sprouts (which I don’t think is high quality but it’s at least semi-grass fed and usually $4 per pound.) Or, grass fed ground beef from Walmart for $6 per pound—Walmart has the best-tasting grass fed ground beef.
- I spend a lot of money each month on vitamins and supplements, but I don’t include that in my grocery budget.
- Nobody snacks—except for my son Jefferson’s extra meals detailed below.
Jefferson is 6 feet tall, and Jameson is 5’1″! Jefferson eats more than KC at meals. He also eats one or more “second breakfast”-type meal almost daily, depending on how much exercise he’s getting. He doesn’t snack at all (none of us do)—if he gets hungry between meals he’s hungry: he can eat 2 sandwiches or a couple pieces of leftover lasagna and then fry up a couple eggs—plus eat fruit while he’s waiting for the pan to heat up. Since I’ve never been a teenage boy, I look on in horror. He’s lean and healthy as a horse though, so evidently he needs the power meals. When baseball season starts next month I expect him to need two extra meals a day.
In a nutshell:
- The kids eat like adults.
- We eat at least 15 pounds of meat a week.
- KC and I don’t eat breakfast but Jefferson’s extra meals make up for that, so I plan for 84 meals a week.
Why don’t I know how much I actually spend on groceries?
I diligently collect my grocery store receipts each month so I can track my spending—until that day (usually around the 10th of the month) when I realize my purse is stuffed with receipts because I have not put them where they belong in 4 days.
Or, my record keeping gets derailed (and my perfectionist crazy comes out) when I look at a receipt and I cannot for the life of me figure out what BLS ARMR $6.99 is. Food? Hairspray? Gift? Who knows? And because I like everything to be figured to the penny, that mystery $6.99 bugs me enough that I call the store to ask if they can tell me what BLS ARMR stands for. And of course they can’t. And so I quit collecting my grocery receipts, and promise myself I’ll get it right next month.
A new year is the perfect time to commit to organizing my grocery receipts every month so I can determine my grocery budget—my real grocery budget.
In 2018, I’m committing to tracking my grocery budget twice a month. I hope that will help make it less overwhelming. I have a spreadsheet if you’re curious about every little thing we buy, but I’ll report the general numbers here on All Day Mom (just search “grocery budget” to find all the grocery budget tracking reports).
What Does Our Family Eat?
I know that healthy food is less expensive by far than crappy food, that pound for pound, calorie for calorie, real food always wins. I know, but I’d like to prove it too.
- We are a family of four with two adults and two kids (ages 13 & 11). Both kids eat more than we adults do! (For that reason, each recipe I post feeds at least four extremely hungry adults!)
- We follow a clean eating diet at home, and we eat whatever we want on vacation (and occasionally at home too, because cake is a sometimes food.)
- Nobody has food allergies.
- I make almost everything we eat from scratch, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. No, I have not read any good books lately.
- Most of our breakfasts are based on eggs.
- Most of our lunches just use up whatever is in the fridge or leftovers so nothing goes to waste (we homeschool, so I don’t have to pack lunches).
- Most of our dinners include 4-5 items: raw fruit and/or veggies, green salad, meat, cooked veggies, and either more veggies or a starch (usually potatoes). We’ve cut back on bread/grains a lot over the last 2 years, and I make almost all the bread we eat.
- We don’t drink soda or juice, or even sparkling water.
- We do drink tons of water, and my husband and I share a pot of coffee every morning.
- We drink lots of iced tea (not sweet tea). I buy 500 organic teabags at a time from Amazon; a pitcher of organic iced tea costs 15 cents.
- We hardly ever buy chips, cookies, cereal, snack foods like crackers/pretzels/Goldfish, fruit snacks (neither fruit nor snack), etc. to eat at home. (We do buy the most horrible junk foods for our Disneyland trips.)
- We buy pastured or organic meat, or at the very least, antibiotic-free meat. The more I know about just how disgusting factory farmed meat is (both ethically and physically), the more I am willing to spend on clean meat!
- We buy organic produce whenever the price is reasonable, and when the price for organic is not reasonable, I remind myself that a conventional blueberry is still better for you than an organic chip.
My January Grocery Budget Predictions:
I predict I’ll be under my $600 grocery budget in January. Here’s why:
- I’m doing a pantry/fridge/freezer clean out. When I did an inventory of our chest freezer and fridge freezer, I found enough meat for at least 40 dinners for 4, so I don’t need to buy meat this month.
- We’re hermiting after the busy Christmas season: we aren’t going out, and we aren’t having people over.
- We’re saving money for our February Disneyland trip, so we’re not eating out at all. I’m carefully meal planning to make sure we always have something ready to eat at home.
January Grocery Budget so far: $574.98
(Jan 1-Jan 15, 2018)
Yikes! I’m really close to my $600 grocery budget, and it’s only the 15th of the month!
Not counting restaurants, I’ve spent $424.92 on food so far. That’s still super high considering we’ve been eating out of the freezer! I did stock up on some deals and Costco pantry staples.
Goals through January 31st:
- No more restaurants!
- See how far into the month I can get with the remaining $25.02 of my ideal $600 grocery budget.
- Stop buying food (or anything!) in Glendale AZ! Glendale charges 2.5% food tax, 9.2% sales tax, and 10.2% restaurant tax! I’ve already wasted $6.01 on food tax, when I could have crossed the street into Phoenix and spent $0!
I’m tracking my grocery budget by individual categories so I can see what we spend on meat, produce, dairy, etc., and I’m even tracking how much we spend on junk food, fast food, and restaurants! To see my 2018 Grocery Budget Tracking spreadsheet, please subscribe to All Day Mom (you’ll get access to all my subscriber exclusives, like this adorable BB-8 multiplication table printable!).
Have you read these posts?
- How to upgrade to organic and save money on your grocery bill!
- Put fast food in your freezer for busy nights with these Paleo Chicken Nuggets!
- Feed your entire family a completely organic meal twice for less than the price of one combination plate at your favorite Mexican restaurant when you make Easy Enchiladas!
This post was featured on Thrifty Thursday Link Party at The Thrifty Couple 2/1/2018!