Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Meal Planning and Grocery Budgeting! HELP!

I know I have posted on this topic before but the thing is, I am still struggling so much with meal planning and grocery budgeting. I started a few months ago and it was my goal to drastically reduce our outrageous grocery bill but I still have yet to be able to do that.

A family friend of ours that has 5 children recently shared with me that their grocery budget is between $300-$400/month and that they try to stay at $75/week. I have scratched my head and twisted my grocery list every way possible and I can get nowhere near that number, even with coupons. So obviously I am doing something SERIOUSLY wrong! We spend over $700/monthly on groceries and that doesn't even count the meals we eat while we are away from home, on the road to ball games or wherever else we might go. I try to plan meals from scratch and we rarely eat meals already prepared so I just don't understand where I am going on. And I know there are coupons out there but here's my problem with coupons.......I can NEVER find any for any foods that my family eats. They don't generally have coupons for meat, vegetables, etc. and these are the types of meals that we have. I occassionally find them for other things that we use but rarely.  

So I started researching on the internet and found this website,, where you calculate how many people are in your home, their ages and gender and then it tells you how much you should spend on groceries. I expected the number to be WAY off compared to what I spend and it was..but in the other direction! According to this calculator, I should be spending $995.57 on groceries!!! 

"ResultsBased on the latest prices, USDA's Low-Cost Food Plan indicates your family can achieve a nutritious diet that meets current Dietary Guidelines for America by spending an:

estimated $229.76 per week for your household
estimated $995.57 per month for your household"

 Now I don't know what YOUR grocery budget looks like, but there is no humanly way possible that we could get by spending THAT much of our budget on groceries alone!!!  (Not with gas prices the way they have been anyway!) This number doesn't even include household products, this is for food alone. *Gasp*

So here are some meal planning tips I found on the site that I think look like they might be helpful to someone like me!  I am going to try using this strategy this week when I grocery shop and I will let you know how it goes. I typically spend $150-$175/week when grocery shopping. My goal this week is to cut our bill down to $120. This might be difficult because the kids are now home from school which means they will be eating 3 meals plus snacks every day at home but I am going to try really hard. I will write a follow up post after my visit to the store.

Meal Planning Tips

1.) Check what you have in your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards that need to be used up, and fill in your menu plan using these items first. This is your “go-to” list.

2.) Serve what they like. When you serve food your family likes, you avoid waste. Make a collection of economical, nutritious recipes that your family likes and serve them often.

3.) Consider your schedule. When planning your menus and shopping list, think about how much time you will have for preparing food in the coming week. If it’s a laid-back week, use the extra time to make meals ahead and freeze them. If it’s a “chicken-with-its-head-cut-off week,” use some of the meals you stockpiled earlier or just keep it simple. Make sure everyone pitches in, especially if you’re having a crazy week.

4.) Check newspaper ads. Use local store ads to see if there are weekly sales. As you get to know the costs of items you purchase frequently, you will be able to quickly identify true deals

So allow me to be nosey for just a minute. How many are in your family and what is your food budget?  How do you cut costs in the grocery line?  If you have a low-cost meal that you would like to share and be featured, send it to me via email to and we would love to share it. I just wonder if others are struggling with this same problem because I know I can't be alone!

I am looking forward to hearing from you all!


  1. Their is 8 of us total and one on the way. I spend $150-$200 a week on groceries. I use coupons and like you said it's hard to find coupons on meat and can veggies. Crazy I know. But here is what I do. When things like toliet paper, soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, femine products and of course paper products. I try to stock up on those when on sale and use my coupons. That way later on I don't have to buy it for a long while and that saves major money on our grocery bill. Also, if you can get a good deal and you use condiments those will stay store up for up to a yr. So, I stock up on those too. All this helps less my grocery bill later. Right now I won't have to buy shampoo or toothpast for my family till next yr. I am working on toliet paper as you never have enough in this growing family.

    As far as meats I shop and Winn Dixie for those as they have a lot of buy one get one free deals. That too helps. I really don't have to buy meat for awhile b/c of that but when they have a good deal I jump on it. I also comp a lot of ads at Walmart to save gas money too. But some places are worth going to like Publix if you can get a store coupon and a manufacture coupon so double savings. They also take some other store coupons as well. It really is time consuming but it's worth saving the money! Since the enconomy has went down hill it actually made my grocery bill sky rocket but since I started couponing and watching the sales ads I got our grocery budget down. I plan meals based on what is on sale.

  2. I have heard a lot of people say they plan their meals around what is on sale for the week. I'm going to give that a whirl and see where that gets me too! Thanks for your suggestions!!!

  3. Based on the latest prices, USDA's Low-Cost Food Plan indicates your family can achieve a nutritious diet that meets current Dietary Guidelines for America by spending an:

    estimated $191.21 per week for your household
    estimated $828.50 per month for your household

    thats what mine said. family of six. 2 27yr olds, 5 yr old, 4yr old, 2yr old and 1 yr old. we spend anywhere from 75-125 wk. i wish we could spend that much a week!

  4. I know! Don't you think those numbers are extremely high?! I wonder how many families could truly afford to spend money like that at the grocery. I understand it costs more to eat healthy but that is crazy!

  5. estimated $113.52 per week for your household
    estimated $491.88 per month for your household
    (my husband, myself, and our 1 year old!)

    We have a monthly "shopping" budget of $200!! That includes everything from groceries to toilet paper to diapers. ANY money I spend has to come out of that budget (including eating out!!).

  6. Things we do to help save money:
    bountiful baskets... There are usually enough fruit and veggies in the baskets to last us a week... and it's $16.50 per week.
    We get out chicken and beef from Zaycon foods. Right now they are only serving the pacific northwest, BUT, I'm buying chicken (100% natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients) tonight for $1.64 a lb (beautiful large chicken breasts!)

  7. I don't have a clue how much we spend each week. I have never paid attention, to be perfectly honest. I guess I should! We buy a lot of off-brands, shop sales, use store cards (the kind that give you more discounts; one that we use is for Food Lion, they have an MVP card, and when you go in the store you can scan it in this machine and it will print out more coupons for you), and I keep a running list of things we need; as we run out, I write it down. That way I know what we don't have.

  8. I shop at aldi for things like rice, butter and some juices and such. We use cloth diapers, we are a family of 8 with 5 kids under 10 and 2 2 and under in dipes. I shop at the regular grocery on wednesday when they seem to mark down meats and then divide if needed and freeze what I won't immediately use. We planted a garden to take advantage of veggies for a lot less. We use unpaper towels I made and dishtowels. We buy toilet paper and laundry soap in bulk as well. I used to clip coupons and such, but I ended up with things we didn't use, and I don't have time lately since our youngest has a lot of medical issues. I am nursing her and found out she can't have dairy or eggs, so we are eating a lot less processed stuff because everything seems to have some form of dairy/egg in it. We do a lot of lentils and rice, chicken type stuff as well as roast. It really just depends on what I find marked down and what we have in the freezer. Hope that helps!

  9. I have to say that I am hating that we don't have an Aldi here in Arizona. I hear so many great things about it!


I love comments!! Thanks for taking the time!