Monday, June 22, 2015

Setting up our Budget- $60 grocery budget

Setting up a budget the first time (especially when you had one that was actually so broken and ignored) is not a fun experience. On the same level as pulling teeth. Not actually that bad. I would rather make a budget then ever have a tooth pulled again.

To get started I recommend checking out the budget tool on Dave Ramsey's site - good place to start out.

So... when we were doing my first budget my husband asked "What are you going to spend on groceries for this month?" Now before I gave the outrageous number I am about to tell you I did give it some thought...
1- we have lots of food storage, I keep telling myself I want to rotate it more
2- I want this number to be as low as possible to we can get a snowball rolling
3- We *JUST* went to Costco last weekend. I should have enough of the big stuff
Then I said with every confidence "$60" "Are you sure $60?" came from my husband. "Yes $60 but that can't be every month just this month." "okay 60"

Now in all honesty as we reviewed our numbers a week later I added 20 to that number to make 80. But that was after I took an actual inventory of what we had and after my children destroyed my deodorant and I realized I was going to have to spend money on deodorant. Now that 60 now 80 was not including what was just spent at Costco, and it was not including the cat's food or liter since that was a separate budget.

Now looking at $80 isn't a whole lot. But I figured taking into account the other stuff it should be enough. After all prior to starting our money make over I was spending between $250-300 a month depending on if it was a Costco month or not (we do not live near a Costco, we only go every other month). I don't know if we have a "Year Supply" or not, but we do have an impressive amount of food storage that is mostly rotatable. So this should totally be possible. **in full disclosure that budget number did not reflect what we spent eating out. I am so ashamed of that number I am not going to tell you what we WERE spending eating out and letting food go bad, Not any more**

How I shop (tips for thrifty shopping):
1-Now I already have tried to follow the "Once a Month Grocery shopping" except I have made it a twice a month shopping (comes out to once a paycheck)- one BIG everything trip, and one other time trip for milk and some fresh veggies and fruits (whatever is on sale) with the occasionally totally forgot item. I normally send my husband and he is awesome at buying only exactly what I put on his list. I find it is easier to spend less money the less times I walk into a store. I learned about it from this blogger at Blissful and Domestic. Although I can't find her original post that got me thinking about it and changing my attitudes on how I shopped. 
2- I do not coupon. I know it could save me money but it is hardly worth it for me. Here are some of my reasons- it takes a lot of time, I have a hard time obtaining coupons (I refuse to buy newspapers), the coupons friends save for me are normally expired or not what I need by the time I get them, when I have used them I don't feel like I saved money because I end up spending money on things I wouldn't have normally bought, I have got viruses on my computer from downloading coupons and coupon apps -no more. I am not anti-coupons. I do use the on a blue moon. But most of the time they are the ones I get from the store to use on my next visit, or the rare one I found online or was given that is perfect.
3- If I don't have it I find a way to make do! Leave it out, find a substitute, make from scratch, mend it, put it on the list for next month.
4- I make shopping lists. One running list of when I use something up, and I make a list- based off of that week's Ads and what I need of exactly what I am going to purchase. My shopping list has 3 columns One for the item to be purchased, Two for the expected purchase price with the number next to it of how many I plan on buying, Three to fill in at the store of how much the item actually costs. If my list of what to buy is over my budget then I have to decide what comes off the list- what I don't actually NEED.
5-Save a little in your budget for stocking up (planned from sales or unplanned for that special discount you find when you get there.)
6- Part of knowing what you need is knowing what you are going to make. Plan your meals. Make the list. Use a calendar (I put it into my google calendar so both my husband and I can see it) Now I know this all sounds like I'm an organized "J" personality (Myers-Briggs for "judging" personality type of organized person who loves lists). But I am not. I am as "P" as it gets and so is my husband (and that is where we have made lots of bad choices, because we don't make choices). WE have learned that we have to start making choices, we have to be proactive, and we HAVE to make some lists otherwise we all forget the easiest things. If I can do it- you can do it. 
7- I personally don't are about "organic" or "gluten-free" those are not my family needs. We do look for items that are "Whole Wheat" "no sugar added" and "reduced-fat". These things are things you can personally value. You can value what you want to, but remember that to stick to a budget there are trade offs you have to sometimes make. Fun a new way, make do, or do without.
8- Buy in bulk (it is lasting you a month or two, if you won't use it up in that time then don't buy it in bulk, but there is no need to buy 4 off the small item if you are going to use the large one)
9- Use less meat, I use about half or less of whatever a recipe calls for. I then often add beans or veggies as fillers in the recipe. We try to do one meal a week completely meatless- we started this one not to save money but as a way to feel we were better keeping the Word of Wisdom to "eat meat sparingly". We also have a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid. I rarely buy ground meats. Instead we buy bulk meat and grind it ourselves. I use ground pork or chicken in any recipe that calls for a ground meat.
10- Confession, I don't make bread. I'm trying, but my loafs of bread of super sad. But we have found fantastic bread for .50 a loaf (I can't make it quite that cheap or good). How? Bread factories day old bread or irregular bread. In Mesa (Southern & Country Club) is a bread factory. If you go in the morning (Monday- Friday) rejected loafs or day old loafs are .50 each. On Wed and Friday after one all their loafs are $1 each limit 5. There is no limit on the .50 loafs until they are out of stock. When we go up to Mesa to visit my family we stop in and buy 20-30 loafs and freeze them. When we can't be up in the mornings on a week day we try to find someone to stop by for us and pick up our loaves. If we run out of bread before we go up again, that is when I make our bread.
(we ended up with some funny math because I had to go back and fix the cost of some items)

So onto how I spend the $80 this month:
Milk x4 @1.99
Eggs   @11.99 (5 doz pack. Local price 6/16/2015)
Flour    @3.57 (10 lb all-purpose enriched flour, I grind my own wheat flour and most things I use a 3 wheat cups to 1 all-purpose ratio)
animal crackers @1.99 (Huge bag of Mexican animal crackers. My kids like them better than the "organic" Kirtland signature ones at Costco. I use the Costco tub and refill it with the cheapies and my kids are happier- one bag almost fills the cost tub)
Peanut Butter @4.69 (store brand, largest I could buy)
Pineapples x2 @.87each
Molassas  @3.59
Cottage cheese @1.69
Sour Cream @1.69 (larger tub, hurt me but I bought full fat because the reduce fat wasn't on sale- like I said make trade offs for budget)
Yogurt  @1.99 (large tub-vanilla)
Lettuces x2 @.99 
Onion bag  @2.49
5lb bag potatoes @3.69
apples 2lbs @.99
Crazins @2.00
Tomato Soup @1.67 (family size store brand)
small white Corn Tortillas @2.69 (70 tortillas)
Hamburger buns @.89 (small store brand 8 buns)
Block of Medium Cheddar Cheese @1.67
Sliced Cheese @1.99
Chips @1.00 (store brand baked tortilla chips)
Heavy cream @1.49 (this was a frivolous purchase to make ice cream on the July 4th because it is tradition)
Jello  2x .39
gelatin @1.49
Hot Dogs @.89 (store brand, chicken and pork and I don't care what you say)
Frozen Peas @2.39 (largest bag I could find)
syrup @1.99 (I had been making it from scratch for the past few weeks but the cost of the butter and brown syrup actually came out more then the $2 for the jug)
deodorant @3.79 (husband bought the brand I wanted, died a little when I learned what he paid- oh well live and learn)
=with tax= $78.17
Now there was one item I still need to buy and I'm not sure how I am going to buy it. I need to go to the local farmer's market and buy and new large jar of local honey and that is $8. I am going to see if I can make the bit of honey we have last till next month's budget and add my change to next month. Either that or I will be raiding all my coin jars for the 6 something to go buy our honey.

So yes I did it under $80. Yes I bought a few items I could have cut out. But with the gelatin and Jello I am going to make homemade fruit snacks for my kids, I didn't need the can of soup, I found the one I thought I had already in the pantry when I got home, and I could have totally passed on the expensive never on sale Molasses for another day (my husband uses it to make BBQ sauce and I make ginger snaps for my kids). 
And yes if I didn't have a good amount of food storage and spices in my cupboard already (including meat in my freezer). This wouldn't have been possible, but then I would have been buying more of those items and less of the special items like the jello and cream.

What our meals look like:
Oatmeal with brown sugar/pb/fruit, eggs with toast, cream of wheat (made with my wheat grinder), crockpot soaked wheat, pancakes/waffles, homemade cinnamon rolls (Sunday Morning), cold cereal (never more than once a week and only when it was on sale sale), fried rice, egg and potatoes skillet

My husband takes leftovers, or a meat and cheese sandwich with a snack every day for work. We do have Healthy Choice Steamers that I buy on sale when $1 each in the deep freezer as back ups for bad mornings when I don't make him a lunch.
Me and the kids: pb&Js, dino chickens from Costco, noodles with canned veggies, quesadillas (cheese and tortilla), bean burritos/tostadas, ritz crackers/ham/pepperonies/sliced cheese , mac N cheese, cheese sandwich (hot or cold),

I try to have a good variety. But using similar ingredients. Every Friday I make homemade pizza (and extra dough & make the cinnamon rolls for Sunday, they then sit covered in the fridge till Sunday morning when I cook them), Saturday is my husband's night to grill, we tend to grill a lot of pork chops, chicken thighs, and turkey burgers because that is the cheapest meats.
listing off meals: pasta with veggies, lasagna, stir fry, Korean Bolgolgi, Thai Fried Rice, Chicken Alfredo, creamy pasta, Enchiladas (bean and chicken, sometimes pulled pork), pulled pork tamales (baked Tamale Pie), pulled pork sandwiches, pulled pork tacos, pulled pork over zucchini, Pulled pork Taco Salad Stacks, chicken and rice, hay stacks, Curry, Various Chilies, Shepherds Pie (most of the time made with ground pork), Crock pot pork chops, Strogonoff, Ham and Potatoes, PoMan's, Pigs in a cloud (mashed potatoes with hot dogs), Baked potatoes, Omelets, Tuna Noodle Casserole. 

last week dinners:
Mon- Thai fried Rice, Tues- Shepherds' Pie, Wed-Chicken Salad Lettuces Wraps, Thurs- Baked Potatoes, Friday- Pasta Salad (husband and son at Church activity so I skipped making Pizza), Sat- Homemade Pizza
This week's plan:
Sun-Lasagna (mixture of veggies and meat), Mon- Ham and Potatoes, Tues- Left overs, Wed- Enchiladas, Thurs-Crock Pot Pork Chops Fri- Pizza, Fri- Hot dogs (grilled)

Sorry there are no links yet. Eventually I hope to get them all up either to other sites or on this blog.

apples, fruits of the month (pineapple slices this month- I cut and freeze), animal crackers,popcorn, fruit snacks (I make), mini quesadillas, carrots, otter pops, yogurt, crackers (sometimes I make them), slice of cheese, chips and salsa, PICKLES spears

Good luck with your shopping. Next time I won't be explaining all my tips. 

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