I think the one area where we can really cut down on spending is food. When I was a single mother, my food money was tightly budgeted. Since remarrying six years ago, I have to admit that has gone out the window. Part of it is joy at not having to watch every penny anymore. Part of it is my issues with food being given free reign. Regardless, I’ve gained 60 pounds since getting married and I know that most of this is because without having to budget food I haven’t had to budget portions or how much crap food I eat either.
So here’s the plan. $100 a week for food, personal items, and cleaning products.
There are bloggers doing it for less. But we have a couple mitigating circumstances. The first being, we’re 180 miles away from the nearest major chain grocery store. There are three small family owned stores, one of them a tiny chain, but they don’t compete. They each have the same things on sale each week. Now, we can go to the Family Dollar, which may occassionally have something on a closeout. But otherwise, we don’t have the option of shopping the loss leaders at several stores or going to a bakery outlet. Because we’re in such a small, remote town food prices are higher than in a city.
The second issue is that I can’t eat gluten. So I have to spend at least a little money on gluten free products if I want to eat anything baked.
Okay, so here’s the list I made looking at the grocery ad from our local grocery store for the upcoming week:
- packages of small steaks are on sale buy one get one free–regular price is about $7 for a package of five
- bacon, 2/$5
- 80 oz. chicken leg quarters, $3.39 (at $.67 per pound, this is a stock up price. We’ll get two.)
- 18 pack of eggs, $1.99
- Shredded motzerella cheese, $1.79
- 2 lb block cheddar cheese, $4.99
- 1/2 case of oranges (about 10 pounds), $6.99
- pears, $.79/lb, five pounds for $2.95
- apples, $.99/lb, five pounds for $4.95
- 1 gallon orange juice, $2.99
- Dole bagged lettuce, 2/$3
- bag of spinach, $1.50
- roma tomatoes, $1.39/lb, $3.00 worth
- 5 lbs potatoes, $1
- milk, $2.50
- four loaves bread, $6.00
- tortilla chips, $.87
- store brand corn flakes, $.99 (this is the lowest price I’ve seen at our local store for boxed cereal. We’ll stock up on five boxes.)
- family size broccoli soup mix, $2.97
Total: $68.42. That leaves some money for another gallon of milk later in the week, bringing it to $70.00 or so. We have a pretty full pantry, because we had a 25% off coupon bought with our store’s points that we combined with the semi-annual case-lot sale. We ended up spending about $500 (!) but the store tape said we saved almost $1000 (!!!) So for instance, we don’t have to spend anything but $1.79 for cheese to make the pizza. We’re also stocked up on Mexican tomato sauce, soup making ingredients, and muffin mix. Having to buy those things would raise up the bill.
Here are the dinner plans for the week:
- steak, baked potato, grilled tomatoes (our big Sunday dinner)
- bacon, eggs, toast, orange juice
- homemade cheese pizza
- chips soaked in Mexican tomato sauce served with eggs, cabbage, and cheese
- broccoli soup and corn bread
- bbq chicken leg quarters, baked rice, sauteed spinach
Breakfasts are a get-your-own thing in our house. Choices are usually toast and eggs or hot or cold cereal.
Lunch is where things go wonky. Because I have a habit of eating lunch out. Sometimes breakfast too if I can’t face eating before 7 a.m. This has to stop. My plan is to make some cabbage soup (we already have the ingredients), also to make salads with left over meat. And to make my lunch the night before. I really can’t face food early in the morning.
I think doing some cooking ahead will also make a difference. I have a package of gluten-free muffin mix, so I’m going to whip those up. (The biggest problem with gluten-free baking is that it doesn’t hold well. You can’t make a double batch and eat them all week. They get weird. But if I freeze them, they should be ok. Gluten-free anything is better toasted, so I can stick a frozen muffin in the toaster oven. Nice!) I’m also going to make that soup, and maybe some cookies for the kids.