This is the 2nd post of my Grocery Budget Tracking in 2018: Final Grocery Budget for January! 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.
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.
I went over my grocery budget in January.
I was shocked an appalled by the final number. Here’s what I thought would help me stay under budget this month:
- We were home (i.e., not traveling) 29 days in January.
- We ate out of the pantry and freezer, and I didn’t need to buy much meat.
- I was tracking our meals and grocery budget.
- We didn’t eat out at all as a family.
- KC and I only had 2 date nights, and we spent much less at the date night restaurants than we usually do.
- We spent a whopping $1.86 on fast food this month!
Here’s what I think put me 50% over my grocery budget:
- I had to stock up on pantry staples after the holidays.
- A single month’s grocery budget can’t show the big picture.
I went way over my grocery budget in January, but, I’m hoping I’ll be way under budget in February. I do need to buy a lot of meat in February, so we’ll see what happens. I also want to get back to eating more Paleo meals—we ate a disgusting amount of dairy last month.
While I definitely cut costs where I can, I’m not trying to spend as little as possible on groceries; I’m trying to find out exactly how much we spend on groceries. I am extremely grateful to have the means to increase my grocery budget if that is what needs to happen.
I figured out my cost per meal on 9 different family dinners this month. Read on to see the details on my cheapest and most expensive dinners in January
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My cheapest and most expensive family dinners in January
I was surprised that the most expensive meal I made in January was starch heavy. The cheapest meal I made was a meatless meal (which we practically never have). Even though our cheapest meal was “homemade fast food”, I think it was at least a little better for us than fast food because I used organic eggs. The bread and American cheese are total crap though.
Most expensive meal in January: Beef Stroganoff $15.22
Beef Stroganoff: Average $3.80 per person; huge helpings for 4 people and leftovers for lunch for 1.
- $6.89 1 pound grass fed round steak (CPR Meats)
- $2.00 12 oz mushrooms @ $2.65 per pound
- $0.12 1/4 cup organic onion @ $1 per pound
- $0.87 3 heads garlic @ .29 per head (2 lb = 17 heads at Costco)
- $0.16 2 Tbsp butter @ .08 per Tbsp ($2.50 per pound)
- $0.22 2 Tbsp olive oil @ .11 per Tbsp ($14.99 per 2 L at Costco)
- $1.50 24 oz sour cream @ 1.00 per pint
- $1.50 1 pound egg noodles @ .75 per pound
- $1.96 homemade garlic bread
- $15.22 for pasta, sauce, and bread for 8 (but just the 4 of us eat it all!)
Cost includes garlic bread because we always serve Beef Stroganoff with garlic bread, but doesn’t include fresh fruit/veg sides.
There is nothing I can do to make this meal cheaper. I can make it a bit healthier using organic sour cream (+$1.86), organic butter (+$0.09), organic garlic (+$1.13) and organic mushrooms (+$1). I haven’t found organic egg noodles that are made with white flour; I suppose I could make my own, but ain’t nobody got time for that. This dish (not counting the garlic bread) would cost $17.84 if I upgraded those ingredients (sometimes I do), vs. $13.76 as listed above.
Cheapest Meal in January: Fried Egg Sandwiches $4.46 (56 cents each!)
Fried Egg Sandwiches: Average $1.12 per person; 8 sandwiches (3 each for the boys, 1 each for the girls).
- $1.28 16 slices Nature’s Own bread @ .08 per slice ($1.78 for loaf w/22 slices)
- $0.96 6 slices Kraft fake cheese @ .16 per slice (Jameson and I didn’t want cheese) ($2.50 for pack w/16 slices)
- $1.84 8 organic eggs @ .23 each (My Costco sells them for $2.69/doz!)
- $0.32 4 Tbsp butter @ .08 per Tbsp ($2.50 per pound)
- $0.06 1 Tbsp mayo @ .06 per Tbsp (KC is the only one who eats mayo) ($3.50 for 30 oz)
- $4.46 total for 8 sandwiches (2 without cheese)
This cost doesn’t include fresh fruit for side dishes.
I could make these somewhat healthier using organic Dave’s Killer Bread (we like the White Done Right) and with double eggs for more protein. Unfortunately, the appeal of these fast food-type egg sandwiches is the fake cheese, so I can’t change to real cheese here. Also, KC says organic mayo tastes awful, so he uses Best Foods mayo made with GMO soy.
Here’s the price breakdown for a more hearty version that I expect would fill everyone up longer because of the extra protein, fiber, and of course calories:
- $3.68 16 slices Dave’s Killer Bread @ .23 per slice ($3.99 for loaf w/17 slices)
- $1.92 12 slices Borden fake cheese* @ .12 per slice ($2.48 for pack w/24 slices)
- $3.68 16 eggs @ .23 each ($2.69 per doz)
- $0.50 4 Tbsp organic butter ($4 per pound)
- $0.06 1 Tbsp mayo ($3.50 for 30 oz)
- $9.36 total for 8 sandwiches (2 without cheese)
* I found a larger pack of Borden fake cheese at Winco cheaper than Fry’s sells Kraft fake cheese, so I’ll buy that now, for a difference of 4 cents per slice. Fake American cheese is one of Jefferson’s favorite junk foods, so I buy one pack a month to make him happy.
Lesson Learned from January Grocery Budget Tracking: Make More Burgers!
It’s not the most expensive or least expensive dinners that make or break my grocery budget; it’s the meals I make the most often!
I only make Beef Stroganoff once a month, and I make Fried Egg Sandwiches less than once a month (but Jefferson eats them whenever there is fake cheese in the house for breakfast or lunch).
What we do make a lot of here are cheeseburgers!
We eat homemade cheeseburgers for dinner every Friday. I was surprised to find out that burgers are one of the least expensive meals I make—even though we use 2 lbs of grass fed ground beef!
8 quarter pound cheeseburgers made with grass fed ground beef and homemade organic buns cost just $10.75!
KC and Jefferson eat 3 apiece, and Jameson and I each eat 1.
Compared to fast food, 2 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese cost $10.03! To get the “same” amount of food I made at home, 6 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese and 2 regular Quarter Pounders would cost $39.46!
Now that I know cheeseburgers are a cheap and healthy meal (lots of grass fed beef, organic fresh toppings, and homemade organic buns with just 4 ingredients), I might make them twice a week! Since my kids think any day without kale in it is a good day, they’ll be thrilled.
Total Grocery Budget for January: $600
I went 50% over my grocery budget in January.
Total Grocery Spending for January 2018: $714.34
Total Restaurants & Alcohol January 2018: $184.66
Total ALL Grocery Spending for January 2018: $899
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 that lists grocery spending in each category, please subscribe to All Day Mom (you’ll get instant 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!