How Much Is My Grocery Budget?



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Figuring Out Your Grocery Budget

Marianne writes:

We have been trying to just spend $50 per week for our family, which is down to 3 people now, but I also did it when we had 4 at home. I find that I am more conscious about what I buy when I set a limit. I focus on the basics. If I don’t need as many groceries that week, I just stock up on something that is on sale.

Do you have a monthly budget that you go by? For me, the planning and preparing ahead of time is what makes me more successful with my shopping. I am not saying this way is right for everyone… I was just curious if you tried to keep within a certain amount to feed your family or if you budget by the month or the year or just buy sales and don’t worry about cost.

-Marianne

 

Jill: Marianne, I don’t usually have a firm budget for my spending. I do plan so that I have a general idea of what meals I will make and then I get what I need for those meals. I’ll also buy other things if there is a really good sale on something I know I will use. Most of my life, I have not had a regular predictable income and I have often had to readjust my spending not only month to month but week to week.

That is why a lot of the typical financial plans and methods don’t work for me and why I don’t believe in teaching that everyone should spend a set percentage or a set amount on certain things. The same plan doesn’t work for everyone. People are different with different life circumstances so each person’s method will necessarily be different from another. I think this is why so many people get frustrated when they finally get serious and try to get out of debt. They are trying to fit into a plan that just doesn’t work for their situation, which is frustrating. It would be like me trying to fit into a size 2 dress. (Is there really anyone who fits into a size 0 or 2 dress?) It ain’t gonna happen. Basic budget principles from one budget to another may be the same but you can’t expect that specific amounts and percentages will work for everyone.

Also, different people spend their money differently. I am in my home all the time. I work here and live here and because I am sick, I don’t get out often. I want a nice home because this is where I spend so much of my time, so my home is where I will put a good chunk of my money. Another person may spend long hours commuting and working away from home. That person may want to have a nice reliable, more comfortable car when all I need is my old clunker.

It is difficult to specify an exact amount for a food budget because I could say I spent $35 on my family of 4 but I may have 2 toddlers and a husband who eats very little. You may have 2 teenage boys and a husband who is a lumberjack, which would make your grocery budget significantly different than mine.

That being said, I do have enough control over my money that I always know about how much money is in my checking account and how much I will need to pay my bills, so I always have an approximate amount in mind that I know I can spend on groceries. For me, that amount fluctuates from month to month.

The biggest thing I did to control my grocery money was not so much making a plan or budget (although please use one if it works for you). I learned about serving nutritional meals- not organic, fat free or sugar free meals but meals that apply basic nutrition to regular food. I did things like give my kids a small glass of orange juice with the exact amount of vitamin C recommended for them for the day. I would include fruits and/or vegetables like potatoes, broccoli and carrots with each meal, following the food pyramid guidelines so they were more than covered.

What does that have to do with a food budget? Well, the human body needs just so much food to stay alive and be healthy. This means you have no choice but to spend a certain amount on food to keep your family alive. I could settle on a grocery budget of $10 which may sound impressive but if my family is starving then the budget isn’t working. By watching our nutrients carefully, I didn’t buy or feed my family any more food than what their bodies needed.

Many people just don’t realize how much controlling portions and nutrients in their diets can save money on their food bills and make them healthier. Many Americans eat twice as much food as they actually need each day (and then many of them spend more money burning it off!). Even if it is organic, fat free or sugar free, they still eat too much.

This doesn’t mean I sent my kids to bed hungry. Of course not. They got to have cookies and other treats sometimes like most kids but because I was so careful with their food and their bodies were satisfied by well balanced diets, they didn’t have the continual cravings that many kids do.

Once, while visiting a national park, we got in the car to leave and a woman ran up to my window and said, “I know you are going to think I am crazy but I have been watching your family all day and I have never seen such a healthy looking family. What is your secret?”

I laughed and said, “My husband started his own business.” I know she thought I was crazy after that! I meant that I didn’t have much money to buy groceries so I had to be careful about what we ate, which helped us eat only what we really needed.

I’m not saying I always ruthlessly restrict everything I eat but when I need to tighten my belt, I’m especially careful about the portions that I eat.

Budgets are fine if they help you watch your money. Try not to make your budget too complicated. Consider that if you buy a baby crib and discover it comes with a 100 page book of instructions you get intimidated and want to give up before you even start. If you pull out sheet of paper with 5 easy steps, you’re much more likely to succeed. That’s exactly how you should think of a budget.

Regarding your budget of $50 per week, I’d say that is very conservative and if you’re able to do it, that’s great! If you had to increase it a little and if you could afford it, I wouldn’t feel bad about it. Certainly as you noted, planning ahead is one of the best ways to save because it prepares you to keep an eye out for sales and other opportunities to save. Lack of planning, on the other hand is the main reason why so many people eat out more frequently or buy more convenience foods, which can significantly increase the amount a family spends on food.

Also, as I mentioned, I do generally have an idea how much I will allow myself to spend on food each month but for me, that amount fluctuates depending on the month. I do tend to spend less even when I can afford more so that when the opportunity for a great sale comes along, I have the money to be able to afford to stock up.

      -Jill

If you would like to know more of Jill’s story about how she raised 2 teenagers on $500 per month, check out her book, Penny Pinching Mama.

 

photo by: valeriebb

Comments

  1. Patricia M says

    Congratulations on your 15th year. Love your blog and cookbook. I would love to read your story about how you managed to raise your family!

  2. Ellen says

    I am a bit overwhelmed at the examples you were using for grocery budgets. $35? $50 for a family of 4? My husband and I have two preschoolers, and we do not eat any processed foods (snacks, chips, soda). I buy oats, rice, chicken broth, potatoes or “keeping” fruits like apples or oranges in bulk. I grow my own salad greens. We only eat meat 1-2 times per week. I never pour out milk or throw away leftovers unless the kids spat in their plate – I save it and use it in my coffee or lunchbox. We bake our own bread – all that and I can barely keep our groceries under $130 per week! Where do you all live?

    • says

      Ellen don’t be too hard on yourself. Prices are different in some parts of the country. I’m not sure where she was from but just keep doing the best you can.

      • Carol Brodeur says

        My grandmother taught me as a single mother to always pay your bills first to keep the roof over your head. After that was the food budget, because you may have to have cereal a couple days for breakfast and dinner, but your still eating. In my immediate family growing up, we had six people which 4 were kids. My parents had to measure out our food according to serving size on the package, but we always ate good according to my memory. If it was hot dogs or hamburgers then we could have 2 meat portions, other meats or fish was one portion. And if we were still hunger we ate more bread. We I got re-married we never had a food budge and bought whatever we wanted at any price; not so in today’s economy. Along with this great website & cookbook, I’m slowing figuring out a food budget. Mom and grandma’s ways aren’t looking pretty bad either.

    • says

      We live in Kansas Ellen. It could be any number of factors of why your bill is higher too besides where you live. Your husband might be a bigger eater, you may have a lot of company over more often. Then there are things that people don’t always think to figure or to check on the prices for example I made my bread and cookies from scratch for many years but when I figured the ingredients out very carefully and all that went with it it was costing me more to bake my bread. I had to even factor in things people don’t normally think of like my family loved my bread so much they could polish off a whole loaf in just a few minutes where a loaf of store bought could last a day or two.

      Then I found that buying in bulk for many things didn’t save me any at all or that much. I’m not saying it doesn’t for you but each individual needs to add these things up themselves and not to assume that because “they” say it is cheaper to buy in bulk, cook from scratch and other things doesn’t mean that is best for where you live and your situation.

      It also depends on what kind of things you buy. From your list it sounded pretty good but some will say I only buy 3 meals worth of meat but if those meats are steaks and not chicken of course their budget will be more. Also little things add up like you mentioned coffee. Someone who has one coffee drinker in the family who drinks one cup a day is going to have a much cheaper grocery bill then a family that has 2 drinkers drinking 4 cups a day.

      This is why I hate to give my budget out because it can confuse and frustrate many who compare themselves to me and you really need to learn just to do the best you can for your own situation and then not to worry about it.

  3. Tracy says

    I like your artical.When my son was very young. We received the
    Wic program and I couldn’t return to my job .And received
    a some benifits from my job which was very little .And my husband and our bills with everything made us spend about 40 to 50 dollars a week . Just two adults. The government program gave me just enough baby supplies to cover feeding with milk,peanutbutter and canned meats etc .We got by eating allot of tuna and beans and veggies soups.
    My son is almost out on his own . Now I keep a budget under 150. a week.
    But I shop at Adlis,discount stores and places that have sales mark down and check on line to each place flyers.
    I make a weekly menu list for all meals we would eat,
    and make a good long list and don’t buy anything not listed.
    And use a counting clicker. And my son is only home for two meals . It can be done. The Hillbilly housewife.com has a $45 to $75 dollars a week menu. On her web site which can be used.

  4. Lea Stormhammer says

    Here I was thinking that her $50 sounded just about right! LOL!!!

    I think a lot of it depends on local prices and how much your family eats. We spend $40-$50 per week, also for a family of 4, and have gotten there over time from a $250/wk budget down to where we are now. A big way I cut costs is to have a “buy” price for meat – under $2/lb for anything but chicken and under $1/lb for chicken. Another way is to buy our vegetables at our local Farmer’s Market and blanch and freezer for the whole year. We have fantastic prices at our Farmer’s Market so this really helps us. I have heard of others who pay an arm and a leg for Farmer’s Market produce, so the store is way cheaper.

    Jill is right about portion sizes – a package of 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts is usually 20oz which is roughly 5 servings at the recommended 4oz each, not 3, which is how most people serve it. Watching those portion sizes and not buying things we don’t eat or need helped us cut back to $75/wk and I went the rest of the way by setting “buy” prices and couponing.

    My mom lives in an area of the country where she just can’t get our prices and $75/wk is the lowest she can go for two people. I say, do what you can and if you’re comfortable with it, leave it alone. If you’re not, try some different things until you find what works!

    Happy grocery shopping!
    Lea

  5. Ginny Darkwood says

    Such practical, wise advice! I wish more people understood that providing a nutritionally-responsible diet and living within one’s means are not mutually exclusive. Thank you!

  6. Jana says

    I have noticed since I stopped buying lots of junk food, we have saved a ton of money! That $2.00 brand of generic chips, can add up when everyone is eating them just to snack on! Same with pop! Now if we occasionally want a special treat I will buy an individual “cheap” brand of pop (think Shasta, etc). We’ve been eating baked chips sometimes, which do cost more, but they are special, so they are only with a meal and measured proportions!

    I have always watched portions with my daughter, not wanting her to get in the habit of overeating, and she isn’t allowed to go to the kitchen to “look for something”. She is bored and needs to find something constructive to do. She has a snack after school, then dinner (breakfast and lunch too of course!). Sometimes a small bowl of cereal or an apple with peanut butter, if she’s extra hungry that day.

    I have been teaching her how to look at packaging for portion sizes and getting that amount. It is really helpful and she doesn’t go without. She is one of the few kids in her class that is not overweight, but at normal weight. It’s been more about teaching her limits and how much food she really needs. I made breakfast one morning for us and she also had a friend over. I thought they would take a couple slices bacon and the rest of the stuff and come back if they wanted more. Her friend took 8 pieces of bacon! The rest of us got 1-2 pieces! There was none leftover because she took it all! Now when she has a friend over, I tell them what they can get or portion it out myself :)

  7. Sandra Johnson says

    In 1957 I had a grocery budget of $10 a week. For two adults and a one year old child. I shopped very carefully. My treat was a womans magazine which was I think 15 cents. Sometimes I would buy an extra one for the baby so she could tear it up, one of her favorite playthings! I saw a recipe for prime ribs and innocently asked the butcher for two ribs. I about fainted when he told me how much it cost. He was not happy with me when I told him I couldn’t afford it. I was so embarrassed. I learned to check the prices after that!

  8. says

    I live in the north. well south compared to the Northwest territories but still north of almost all the people here.
    I read a report last week that says the people in the north spend about $60 more a week for groceries than the people in the south of the province.
    This 2 week period I decided to live out of the freezer. I still spent $100. getting things that like spaghetti (I finally used all in the cupboard) fresh fruits and vegetables break and buns.
    No meat and no frozen vegetables. No cleaning supplies just stuff that goes bad quickly.
    It will probably go up another $50. as there is another week to go.
    But that is a big savings for us. We are a family of 2 and I am married to a carnivore. So meat of all sorts are required.
    I save big time when I get to shop in the city. Just before Christmas we had to make the trip so I bought quite a bit of meat.
    As a special treat for christmas dinner I picked up a prime rib roast that would do 6 people and it was only $25. At that price I picked up 2 one for the freezer for a later meal or meals.
    A friend and I were shopping and she looked at the rib roasts as she wanted a special meal for company. The same size roast was $40. I told her to buy my extra one. So she saved a lot by my forethought. And I got a bit of extra room in my freezer which was packed with goody trays I was giving as presents.
    If you can afford it stock up on the expensive things when you see a good deal and have it in reserve.

  9. says

    Over the years we have gone from a family of 7 with tons of company to feed to just 2 of us and an occasional family or friends dinner guest. However, we are still frugal about our food budget especially in these times. This year I bartered my counceling services for $250.00 worth of organic lamb, beef and goats meat. I barter an artist friend for organic eggs and I bartered $900.00 worth of my professional counceling for space in their flea market to sell some of my stuff. The Amish nearby have the greatest salvage store around and I have no problem buying slightly dented cans or torn label cans as long as the use by dates are 12 to 24 months away and the same goes for slight squished boxes of pasta or kleenex. Matter of fact I can fill up a whole shopping cart for under $25.00! I love those little Russell Stover boxes of chocolates that sell at the counter for $1.79 and I usually can get them for 25 cents at the salvage store, but about 3 months ago they had cartons of them for 10 cents each and 100 boxes or $7.00 worth went into my freezer. We grew all we needed in our small garden last year and still was able to freeze tons of stuff and what we did not grow I bartered for with my paintings I paint.

  10. Stacy says

    I have a family of six. Four boys, ages 16, 13, 11 and 9 myself and my husband. My kids do cyber school so they are home all day which means breakfast, lunch and dinner is up to me. We are on a very tight budget as my husband is the only one working. Our grocery budget is $75 bimonthly. We don’t buy junk. I cook everyday. Dinners are a protein, a starch and a vegetable. I don’t buy anything unless it’s on sale and I have a coupon for it. We are not starving at all. I takes a lot of research for the best deals at the store, but it’s definitely worth the time. Just wanted to let everyone know that it can be done.

  11. Nancy says

    My target for food is $55 a week for two of us. In addition, we have our daughter and her husband over for dinner about once every week or two. My husband is a light eater and okay with totally meatless meals 3 times a week. We’re in California where I think prices are a bit high, but I try to shop at regular grocery stores as much as possible because they pay their employees a living wage, which is not the case with many big discount stores. As a result, I watch the ads, plan meals carefully, keep a freezer stocked with deals, control portions, and use up leftovers. I make my own yogurt, soup stocks from wilted vegetables and chicken carcasses, and sweet treats. When I manage to spend less than $55 for the week, I put money in the savings account. When I spend more, I look for ways to recoup the next week. In the interest of full disclosure, this budget does not include any personal care items or household items or the occasional beer or wine–just food.

  12. C.K. says

    Yes, I agree with Stacy. I’m a homeschool mom. There’s 8 of us home now with 3 left schooling. What’s left over from yesterday’s dinner may be the next dinner in most homes. But in mine it’s the next day’s lunch. So our grocery bill is still $100 a week ($12.50 per person a week isn’t bad.) including buying huge bulk chicken and local grown beef once a year. We get produce by the case at a market about 30 minutes away. Amish eggs 1.50 a doz. Cooking from scratch and using everything I can for soup, salad, etc. is crucial in maintaining the budget and nutrition. We do buy chips once a month, however, No pop or juice in our life. Go to bakery outlet stores for bread. And this does include cleaning and personal hygiene products. We do have company over often, or minister a dinner to a needy family. I love to read all your stories, let’s keep up being good stewards of our income and passing along the ideas. P.S. Since my hubby has retired he’s an excellent shopper for sales too. He does most of the shopping for me that’s not local. Thanks. CK, Michigan

  13. LD says

    We have 7 at home now. Not sure what I’m spending for the last 2 yrs.I know I can bring it down. Fell off the budget and didn’t want to go back. Enjoyed eating out and everything I felt deprived of :) It helps to hear what everyone is spending to give me a realistic goal.
    I’d love to have your ideas on meals without processed food,no sugar, good fats, no food coloring or additives, no msg, no SOY anything,veggies as the main dish instead of a side.

    I used to spend $300 a month on groceries and all needs. Everything has gone up so high I’ve been discouraged. So here I go again :) Thanks!!!

  14. Gayla T says

    I joined a food co-op about three months ago and I’m delighted with the quality and prices. Since I live in Kansas the one I am buying through can be found online at prairielandfoods. com and if you like what you see you can contact June@eaglecom.net and she will hook you up with one in your area. Many people are under the misconception that this is for low income people and it would serve them to belong but no one ever asks what kind of money you make. You can be a millionaire and buy here. It’s just a way to knock out the middle man and save that profit. The food is so high quality you would never think of it as low income. The order I picked up on Saturday was my third and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. I have spent right at $100 each time and they carry several boxes of food to my car each time. This is the 3rd and probably last time for a while to get key lime cheese cake and it is to die for. A new frozen item this time is chicken rings and we loved them. I fixed them for the kids tonight and they were a big hit. This is a nation wide buying coop so you can contact June to find one in your area. I’d advise you to at least give it a try one time and see what you think.

  15. says

    To save money during the growing and harvesting season this year my husband bought a small rototiller, he wants to fix the yard by planting more grass seed so I said I wanted some garden areas. We have a huge front yard and I feel kind of silly planting vegetables in the front yard but we have a table cloth size back yard.
    So I now have vegetables in the back yard 2 beds for flowers in the front and 2 raised beds and a med. size bed for vegetables. About 6 hanging baskets that hopefully will have a great crop of salad makings.
    My husband said he loves parsnips but I have never cooked them so I planted a bunch of rows and told him he would have to show me how to cook them.
    I also planted a lot of things I have never seen or heard of before. Asian mustard the leaves are supposed to be great in salads and they are purple. Purple and orange striped carrots. Oh yes I also planted turnips. I love them raw so I may end up giving a bunch of those away to a friend who loves them cooked.
    Wish me luck on the garden since I will have to buy lots of fresh tomatoes to stick in the freezer as all canned tomatoes have citric acid and I can’t have that. We like spaghetti sauces on many things and I make my own usually.
    Now just hope that mother nature doesn’t send us frost any more and lets me garden in peace.

  16. Barb~ says

    Such great stories! I love the “can do!” attitude from everyone. It is so motivating. I have learned so much from Jill and Tawra over the last few years. I love them both and they feel like family to me. This website continues to help and bless so many because their dedication. Thanks Jill and Tawra!

    BTW-i discovered a new money saving tip-small, but every bit helps. I have a laundry room with an overhead light fixture. It requires a large light bulb and I have to turn it off and on each time I come and go to my garage. I recently set a small lamp on my dryer with a long lasting 60w bulb. I am turning that on now for light instead of the overhead light. It works great! I also put a lamp (1.99 from Goodwill) on top of my refrigerator. I turn that on now instead of my kitchen lights. In most cases I have plenty of light and I know I am saving electricity.

    • says

      Thank you Barb. Hope you are doing ok. Good idea on the lamp. I love putting a lamp in my kitchen too because it gives a nice warm feeling in the evening with just a little lamp glow then a glaring over head light at night.

  17. says

    I have 2 under counter lights in my kitchen. Nice to not have to step into things the cat has left me while I stumble around in the morning trying to make coffee. The one is on constantly and the other when Don is making tea.
    I also have one in the basement so I never have to walk down in the dark. Sometimes it is all I need. I hate basements so I enjoy the light.
    The one in the kitchen is enough light to sit quietly in the entire downstairs and gives the house a lived in look when I am here at night by myself.
    You are right they do save on electricity bills.

  18. Ravsisha says

    Hi

    I decided to write down all the food itmes that I waste. Each item carries a $1.00 penalty. At the end of the month I plan to use my penalty to reduce my credit card balance.

    Writing things down helps me to see how much money I waste on throwing food away. It also helps me to see how many people go without, and here I am throwing food away. :(

    • Mari says

      That’s a great idea! I go through phases where I buy way too much and it’s just not possible to eat it all! I threw a load of yoghurts away the other day, and I’m always throwing mushrooms away….I hate when they go slimy LOL

  19. getforfree says

    We usually need to buy less food during the summer when we have our garden. We also get some food stamps and it’s a different amount every month, because our income is constantly changes with my husband being self employed. I never spend more on food than we get even though we get a reduced amount of what they think people should spend. Dome months we only have about $100 to spend on food and I only buy fresh produce and milk. We have 5 people in the family.

  20. Janice says

    I live in Arkansas. I have been frugal all of my life. I shop at secondhands stores. I have always purchase my clothes on sales. I purchase all my shoes the opposite of the season. I purchase my winter shoes in the summer time and my summer shoes in the winter. I purchase all of my furniture in my apartment secondhand. I purchase this beautiful Seatee from craiglist. The Catholic Boys school have a junk sale every year and I purchase everything from that one place once a year. I make sure I go to church rummage sale, because they have the best. You do not have to pay full price for anything. I am able to save money and travel as well.

    Janice

  21. Tina Owen says

    I have found an easy way to manage my grocery bill is to plan meals based on what I already have, then buy only what I need to fill in the blanks. Not only does this save money, but it keeps us fron wasting too. (:

  22. Tracy says

    I enjoyed reading about food budgets .I think very young families spend more on diapers , formula and baby food.
    And having a range that you spend 40 to 100 per week is OK
    If you have the means. We were living on one income for a short time ,so we did not eat out for meals or for coffee on the way to work .We downsized to having one car for a few years .Gave up the cable and cut our food bill down to no soda ,no junk foods , cooking meals from a cook book each night. Bring lunch and coffee to work ,not buying from the vending machines or out for lunch etc.

  23. Cindy says

    When figuring a grocery budget, does it generally include paper goods, cleaning supplies and so on or do those items come under another category? I usually include everything I buy at the grocery store under “groceries” but that’s not just food.

    • says

      In Tawra’s budget that just includes food items. In mine it includes everything. I spend so little on paper goods and cleaning supplies. Not including toilet paper I maybe spend $10 a year on cleaning supplies and paper plates, paper towels etc. so at $1 a month it isn’t that much for me to even include it in my budget. Tawra, for a family of 6, spends about $5 a month on those things and that doesn’t include diapers or toilet paper.

  24. ChristyM says

    Gayla, I’m glad the food coop is working for you. I have tried such programs several times and have ended up being disappointed in quality and/or service. I’m not snooty or all-organic but the mandatory items were lower quality and/or highly processed, and the produce add ons were really of no better quality or price than what I can find locally. To be fair, we live in an urbanized area with various food buying options: standard grocery store, club warehouse, grocery liquidators, stand alone produce markets, etc. I am responsible for my dad’s grocery shopping as well, so I or the two of us will do a market run maybe once a week and split items that neither household can eat by ourselves (marked down bananas, etc.).

  25. Veronica Tidd says

    Just for fun I pretended I only had $10 to spend and while on a regular trip to our local Walmart superstore looked around to see what I could buy and came up with following list.
    5lbs flour 1.98
    12 large eggs 1.67
    8oz cheese 2.00
    2 oranges 1.00
    1/2lb brocolli 1.00
    1 lb Margarine 1.00
    2 Mushrooms .50
    1 Small zuchini .45
    I have not worked out recipies for these items and assumed I already had things like condiments and spices etc.
    There was no room for milk or cereal, so all drinks would be water, hot or cold.
    The flour can be used to make bread, pasta or pizza dough.
    The oranges are large so would be used 1/2 at a time.
    The cheese has mutiple uses, and the mushrooms can be used in soup, on pizza or in omlets.
    When you have a small amount of such things as tomatoes or mushrooms they go a lot further if sliced extremely thin.
    I would have liked to include dried milk and dried potatoes but the packages were too expensive.
    Another idea I had was to use all the flour to makes bread and rolls and sell them to my neighbors to improve the budget.
    If it was Fall and I had a free supply of apples I could make apple pies to sell

    • says

      Lou we don’t mostly because there are so many ingredients in most hamburger helper recipes. Our Hamburger Casserole tastes the same, has about 1/3 the amount of ingredients and takes about the same amount of time. Our original recipe calls for you to put the casserole in a dish and heat in the oven but when I am in a hurry I just cook the macaroni (about 8-10 mins.), drain them and add the the hamburger and rest of the ingredients into the same pan the macaroni is in and just stir and heat until the cheese is melted.

    • Fay says

      The following site has DIY Hamburger Helper mixes (and many others).
      chickensintheroad.com/cooking/homemade-hamburger-helper/

  26. Stacy says

    Thank you for that article. My struggle is my husband eats way more than he needs and lives on chips and M&M’s. I have tried to make suggestions but he gets upset as he uses food as his pacifier. Consequently, our food bill is way more than it should be and then he gets upset at us not meeting our budget. It has become a vicious cycle. How did you get your husband on board with what you were feeding and no more? Thanks.

    • says

      We get this question so often and it isn’t surprising since the number one things couples fight over is money. First there is no real way to easily answer this with out knowing the people involved or more of the facts. Even though it may seem like a simple question that should have an easy answer, when couples can’t agree on anything, especially money, it is often just the tip of the ice berg of other problems so that means each case is very different, complicated and needs to be dealt with differently. Even the fact that you said he uses this food as a pacifier says a lot. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of things you can try.

      I am a firm believer in both people knowing exactly where all the money is going and to work on it and do the bills together so they both understand what is coming in and where it is going out.
      Another thing is let him do all of the shopping a few times and he may even have to do some of the cooking for a week or two. If he works he can go on Sat. Some husbands just have not been to the store to do major grocery shopping in a long time and don’t understand what the prices of things really are. They need to be educated especially if they are going to be hollering about it. I know you may think it will be a fiasco letting him shop but that is what it may take for a few weeks to get his eyes open. He can’t holler then about how much was spent because he was the one spending it.

      The thing is as a couple you may not always totally agree on the spending of the money but you need to at least be able to compromise, give and take a little, and work together when it comes to money. If couples would spend as much time and energy working together as a team trying to fix their money problems instead of fighting about it and trying to figure out who is to blame, many people would be much better off financially.

      Here are a couple of our articles which go into way more detail and more practical tips;
      Budget Advice for Married Couples
      How do I get My Husband to Change?
      How Do I Get My Husband to Change II

  27. Mary Jane says

    We have learned from a very reliable source, that here in Canada, it is a well known fact amongst economists, bankers and financial services people, that the cost of inflation is running at about 1 to 2 per cent south of Edmonton, Alberta (by latitude) and back east. But north of Edmonton, all across the country, inflation is running at about 7 per cent per year, due to the surge in the resource (oil, gas, mining) industry. It isn’t our imagination that food has sky rocketed in prices. I saw a small bottle of Tide detergent (less than 2 litres, or 2 quarts for the Americans) for $23.00 and change, last year. A 1kg. or about 2.2 lb. jar of peanut butter was up for $16.00 in our little town, which has 2 supermarkets. There is a lot of complaining about people who will not shop locally, but really, who can afford to? Northern people are a tough and resourceful bunch. We grow, raise, hunt and forage for what we can, then drive anywhere from 1 to 4 hours in a blinding snow storm, to the next community to get what we need. Peanut butter is about $9.00 for that 1 kg. jar in the next community, some 60 miles or 100 kms. away. People just wait to go elsewhere for their ‘big shop’. The gas doesn’t become too much of an issue, when you are picking up several items, and getting other business done as well, all in one trip.

  28. Ursula says

    Hi, all!

    I live in Indonesia where the produce is super cheap. However, meat and baked goods are always expensive. I stopped eating out about 10 years ago when I had my second child. I’m now a single mom and I spend on average $40-$50 a month.

    I bake my own goodies, sauces with the flood of my harvest, and soup stock from carcasses (of chicken, shrimp shells), grow my own herbs. Basic vegetables like corn, carrots, onions and potatoes are quite cheap. Rice is sometimes subsidized by the government. Meals in our home of 3 is usually consist of rice, soup with vegetables and little meat+soup stock+ lots of herbs, 1 side dish (can be vegetable stir fry or meat dish) that last 2 days. I always buy lots of bones as they are cheap for my soup stock. I even make my own vinegar from my fruit scraps and my own cleaning products when I found out about effective microbiotics and how to make it at home to the point that I stopped buying cleaning agents.

    Since I was targeted by my government corrupt tax officers, I couldn’t get more money that I make in the US. So I only have the equivalent of $250 a month to spend on everything: my kids schooling, bills, gas, grocery. I absolutely hate it when my kids are on school breaks. That always means more spending, while I’m trying to put money away for their college funds.

    I thought I was being cheap and miserly for deciding not to get air condition even in Indonesian blistering heat of over 100degrees but I’d rather fan myself or open my windows at night. I thought I was crazy when I have strong aversion toward unnecessary spending. Occasionally I can still take my kids out to a movie (probably just twice a year) as it can get expensive ($15/person inclusive of snacks, they checked our bags to make sure we didn’t bring our own).

    I’m glad that I can live frugally and there are others out there like me. It doesn’t matter whether it’s out of necessity or out of habit. We need to stop spend more than we need, eat more than we need and do our best to save the planet by reducing our waste.

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