Let's talk Grocery Budgets for a family of 5

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Posted 10/21/2011 by jenjules in NSBR Board
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PeaNut 219,120
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Posted: 10/21/2011 7:25:10 PM
Right now ours is $500 a month. I would like to decrease this some, if I can, as we're having to alter our budget a little to compensate for insurance premium increases next month. We're cutting corners other places, too.
I am a SAHM, and we homeschool. DH comes home for lunch most every day, so we are at home for almost all meals. Just throwing that in so you know I need to do breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks just about every day of the month.
I do coupon some, but not in the "extreme" couponing way - although, I would like to try and increase my savings through coupons to help with the grocery budget. I also meal plan, and factor in leftovers when I can.
Is less than $500/month really doable for our size family??
Would love to hear some input on this! Thanks!

ETA: I also include toiletries, paper products, cleaning supplies in this amount, too.

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PeaNut 274,600
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Posted: 10/21/2011 7:55:50 PM
One way to save is to cut down on the amount of meat your family eats. Beans and rice make a good meal occasionally.

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PeaNut 35,457
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Posted: 10/21/2011 8:05:20 PM
Do you have a bread outlet in your area? We save a lot of money from going to ours. It isn't just bread either. We get pizza crust, tortilla's, bagels, english muffins, etc. I went this week and walked away with 8 items for about $9 dollars. I shop Aldi and Costco often but I don't love Aldi's bread selection. The prices are better at the outlet and selection.

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PeaNut 165,323
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Posted: 10/21/2011 8:15:52 PM
Family of five here. I have fed everybody for $20.00 a week when need be. We eat lots of chicken, pasta, potatoes..the cheap sh!t. Hubby would love for us to have lots of beef, but that's like a luxury sometimes at where we are in our budget.


cori in wa

PeaNut 183,307
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Posted: 10/21/2011 8:43:29 PM
If you can, you are wonder woman! Not sure of the age of your kids, but I spend over $100 a week on food just for the 16 year old (he does weight lifting and football and man, can he EAT!).

I think $500 is pretty conscientous already, but I'm not a super couponer, so what do I know?


PeaNut 480,804
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Posted: 10/21/2011 8:46:19 PM
We are a family of 6. I seriously, honestly, can NOT imagine spending only 500 a month. omg. You *have* to tell me how you do it. We spend over that a WEEK. wth??


PeaNut 252,301
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Posted: 10/21/2011 9:02:40 PM
You need to share how you do this!!!We are a family of 4 and spend much more than that. What kind of meals do you eat? Where do you shop? coupons?
Do tell. I'm very impressed.



PeaNut 419,677
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Posted: 10/22/2011 12:46:20 AM
Family of 4 here. I think I spend about $600 a month including all paper products, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products and we have most of a 1/2 beef in the freezer (which isn't counted into my $600 a month.)

I shop w/ coupons, store sales, I stockpile, search online for recipes w/ what I have (or close to what I have in the house), shop at Grocery Outlet, etc.....

You are already doing very well at $500 a month. When dh was in graduate school for 4 years, I cut things to the bone, but that was before we had dd. With a child, I am not willing to live the way we did then in our 20's.


PeaNut 308,882
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Posted: 10/22/2011 1:25:01 AM
Grocery outlet, It can help cut you month budget down quite a lot. We are a family of 5 and only spend about 375.00 a month. We stock up on thing when they are on sale. Last month we found a great deal on chicken breast so we stocked up. Month be for that we got a great price on big cut of beef. I cut it down to meal size out of this one cut i got about 20 meals. We only have a small freezer right now. We do not get a lot of the pre package treat, we don't get sport drink , we dont get bottle water, we make a lot of our own past and bread and sweets.

I have quite a few learing disabilitys that effect my spelling a grammer. I do know my grammer and spelling suck. I have been working on this problem all my adult life.

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PeaNut 40,275
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Posted: 10/22/2011 2:29:50 AM
We spend close to that a month and that doesn't include meat (we raise our own so I haven't a clue what that comes out to per month). We can only buy certain brands of food though.

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PeaNut 502,481
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Posted: 10/22/2011 2:55:35 AM
That really isn't much per head, per day!
I think if you can, its the animal protein that you'll have to cut. Pulses, lentils, peas, beans etc are a lot cheaper than meat but you have to be careful that you don't spend a lot on the cooking! You can use them to "pad out" meat meals. eg a tin or two of cheap baked beans into a chillie. I make a good soupy lunch dish with lentils,carrots etc and just a small amount of chorizo.
Its the same with cheaper cuts of meat, you need to cook them for ages sometimes so you have to be careful, having said that I don't know the fuel costs in the USA. We pay about $225 a month on electrcity ( for 2 in an appartment)....
I buy mince beef and chicken in big quantities, cook a variety of dishes then freeze. You can cut the portions down a little when you freeze and get an "extra" serving out of it.
Can you grow any veg or fruit? If you home school its a good education oppertunity and you can grow quite a bit in containers and pots.

Here in Europe food is a lot more expensive and especially in Spain where I live, coupons and "offers" are virtually unknow. We've felt the pinch here as the £ only buys 1.1 euros where as 4 years ago it bought nearly 1.5euros and we're both on UK pensions paid in pounds.

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PeaNut 252,301
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Posted: 10/22/2011 8:33:37 AM
What is a grocery outlet and how do I find one?



PeaNut 510,579
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Posted: 10/22/2011 10:28:00 AM
Personally, $500 a month is pretty bare-bones. Do you eat out at all? That is where I cut when necessary because you spend so much more that way. Do you drink soda? Definitely check out Aldi and if you don't have that, Target and Walmart have the lowest food prices I've seen. You could crank up the couponing to get your health and beauty products very cheap.

"People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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PeaNut 29,130
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Posted: 10/22/2011 10:46:24 AM
I spend at least $500 a month for two people! My SO buys lunch out when he eats it and I don't include that in my food budget. He does drink Coke and only out of a can so that's about $12-18 a week. I spend at least half of my weekly grocery budget on fresh fruit and vegetables and haven't ever seen a good way to save money there.

I really think you're doing well at $500 a month for 3 meals a day!


PeaNut 219,120
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Posted: 10/22/2011 2:19:11 PM
Thanks for all the responses so far!

To answer a couple of things:
We've had the $500 budget for about 3 years - we can't increase it very much, if any, so I don't have a lot of wiggle room. Someone asked about the ages of the kids - they are almost 8, almost 5, and 1. So not huge eaters yet. Although my 1 year old can really put it away! HA!
We don't eat out very much at all. This month, only once so far, and that's going to be it for the month.
We don't buy sodas very much either. That is my husband's weakness (he'll tell you that, too! LOL) - so occasionally we do have some in the house for him. I might drink a 20oz soda 3-4 times a month.
We have WM, Kroger, Save-A-Lot, and a local chain grocery in the area to shop from, and a Big Lots. We do have a bread store - I will definitely add that to my list of stops next month - that is a great idea!!

I try to buy a lot of fresh produce and we are planning to plant a garden next spring. I try to avoid processed food/snacks when possible. I also don't by prepackaged lunches/meals (like Lunchables, etc) b/c I know those can add up fast. I like to bake and cook from scratch, which I know also saves $$. If I make a large pan of lasagna - that will be 2 meals for us, usually, but I am seeing now that some recipes I may have to double to get a second meal out of them. One thing I know I am going to start doing is freezing extras - for example - if I make a batch of pancakes, I might make a double batch and freeze the extras.

Unfortunately, I don't have a deep freezer - so I can't really stock up on meats, etc, the way I would like to. That is definitely on my wish list.

Jennifer - wife, mom, friend
I've lost 49 pounds!!!


PeaNut 219,120
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Posted: 10/22/2011 2:21:48 PM
Also, we use cloth diapers, so diapers thankfully isn't an expense that is part of our monthly budget. I made a lot of our baby food this time around, and I was able to save a lot doing that!

Jennifer - wife, mom, friend
I've lost 49 pounds!!!

Bree the Pea

PeaNut 446,722
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Posted: 10/22/2011 2:49:50 PM
When I used to eat a lot of casseroles and canned/boxed food I spent $40 a week (for a family of three) then we added two kids, prices have gone up up up and we try to eat healthier... now it is closer to $140 a week.

That includes everything but diapers and toilet paper (I don't buy those at the grocery store). I do 95% of my shopping at Winco. I guess that is around $600 a month for a family of 5. I don't coupon since we don't have any stores that double coupons here (Pacific NW).

DH takes lunch to work.

We eat out once every 3-4 weeks (not included in the above budget).

Love Letters Pea

PeaNut 65,852
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Posted: 10/22/2011 4:27:09 PM
I think you are doing really well.

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PeaNut 59,875
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Posted: 10/22/2011 4:38:58 PM
I think $500 per month for a family of 5 is already phenomenal. I don't see how you can go lower! Our daughter is away at college and I am only buying groceries for hubby and I am spending about as much as you are!

I don't understand how people feed themselves for so cheap. I swear, with coffee almost $10 for a can, lunch meat almost $10 for the week, cat food $10 for a case, dog food $40 for a bag, toilet paper $13 for 24 rolls or whatever... HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO IT?

We do not drink pop. I am not buying porterhouse or t-bone steaks here. I buy generic as much as I can.

But I can't get out of Meijer without spending at least $125 per week and last week I noticed the price of freaking cheese and yogurt went up again.

I am not willing to feel food deprived and live on Ramen. I am not eating extravagantly, I just like to have fresh fruit and vegetables and meat protein is absolutely essential to me, even if it's hamburger or chicken. I do NOT feel full when I do not have protein. My husband has a sensitive gastrointestinal tract and hates beans.
I use coupons when I can, but since I can't find coupons for milk, meat, and produce most of the time, and I am buying generic, I don't get to use coupons often.

Again, how do you do it??



PeaNut 219,120
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Posted: 10/22/2011 7:54:09 PM
I think the Extreme Couponing show is making it harder for people to get great deals because stores are cracking down (no more stacking, etc). That's being discussed on another thread, so I won't go there. I think what started me thinking about it (other than needing to tweak our budget) was reading that a family of 5 can get almost $800 in foodstamps/EBT each month - that's $300 more than I am spending a month - so I was wondering if our food budget was way off...
I wish we had an Aldi here - we had one where we lived when we first got married, and it was so nice. There were only a couple of items I had to go other places to get, and we were able to save a LOT on groceries by shopping at Aldi.
Several have asked how I "do this" and I guess the bottom line is I just have to be creative and make it work. Sometimes things that would fall in the toiletries category have to wait - like a new bottle of nailpolish, or sweets like ice cream. Esp as we get toward the end of the month. All food that goes in the cart has a planned "food destiny" - either as part of meal, or a snack, or a staple for the pantry, like flour, sugar, etc. Thankfully we can sit down at the beginning of each month and see when we're going to be home for the most part, and when I need to factor in making sandwiches to take the ballpark or we'll just have time to warm up leftovers, things like that. A huge budget sucker for us is MILK - we can easily go through 3-4 gallons of skim and a half gallon of whole a week! I try to watch stores for sales on it and load up... without a sale it's around $3.60 a gallon for skim.

Jennifer - wife, mom, friend
I've lost 49 pounds!!!

PEAceful Pea

PeaNut 14,521
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Posted: 10/22/2011 8:09:48 PM
Cassandra - here is the link to Grocery Outlet ...I don't currently shop there, but they were a staple store for me when I was in college.



PeaNut 421,100
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Posted: 10/22/2011 9:10:00 PM
We have a family of 5, a 7 year old, 5 year old and a 4 year old. I have a tight budget of $200 every two weeks, so a total of $400 a month. That includes all dishwasher, toilet paper, shampoo, body wash, dog food (Eukinuba) then the people food. I look at the ad and see what is on sale, then I make meals from that. If I make quesideas, I add rice to the shredded chicken for a filler, so then I only use 2 chicken breast. I clip coupons but nothing like the show.

Spending $500 a month is a great job!


PeaNut 13,660
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Posted: 10/22/2011 10:01:08 PM
We budget $600 for JUST FOOD for our family of 5 (really 6 but she is a baby so she doesn't count yet for budgeting purposes). I think you are doing great. I really think you will have to sacrifice some nutrition if you go much lower. I cook completely from scratch and I do buy organic produce and eggs (through a local farm so it's not as pricey as at a store). I do not coupon at all but I do watch ads and stock up on loss leaders when it is stuff I use. I have friends who spend much less but they are eating a lot more processed/cheap foods than I am comfortable with. Good luck!


Pea All You Can Pea!

PeaNut 36,843
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Posted: 10/22/2011 10:23:20 PM
Making 5 minute Artisan bread is cheap! I buy the yeast in bulk from Costco. I can make about 8 loaves from 1 standard bag of flour; the only other ingredients are water, kosher salt, and yeast. Baking fits in my day easily even when the house is full of kids.


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PeaNut 402,287
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Posted: 10/23/2011 2:07:44 AM
My dh has been unemployed for 2 years. We've been feeding 3 on $150 for most of that time. Here's what I've learned:
Buy generic, & shop dollar stores, sales at the big stores, & bread stores.
Shop the ads, make your menu off of the ad prices. If it's not on sale, we don't eat it!
We eat meat 6 out of 7 nights. I buy chicken breasts or thighs, 80/20 hamburger, roasts. I don't buy boneless, skinless if I can't afford it. I'll just do this myself if I have too. I buy the fattier beef because I drain off the fat anyway. (or at least I tell myself it's healthier as I drain it.)
Be willing to go into the store ONLY for those sale / ad items.
I only plan my menus to buy what's on sale.
Be willing to go to a few stores, Im ok with this because I drive past them anyway.
Over time you'll know a good price vs. Ok or worse.
Dairy can be tricky. Just keep an eye on the ads & what you use. I can't always buy this on sale.
Don't be loyal just to one store, excepting if you find one with constant good pricing. Walmart is not the best price on everything either. Learned that again yesterday.
Buy some mark-out on bread, frozen, & pantry items. Bread, frozen foods or canned foods don't go bad on that date! I buy clearance meat, & either cook or freeze it within 12-18 hours.
I don't buy bottled water, juice or soda.
We use a lemon juice squeeze bottle instead of fresh lemon.
I avoid pre made frozen foods, except stoffers lasagna!
One generic brand snack item (crackers, chips, etc.) per person, per week. When it's gone, it's gone.
I limit household purchases like paper towels & tp until I have a decent sale & a coupon. Costco isn't generally the best price.
I bake a small cake or a dozen cupcakes by using half a cake mix w my 9 yo dSd. She thinks it's great. We have an activity & a dessert. I only buy cookies or ice cream when it's on sale & I have a coupon.
Learn where your local produce grocer or farmers market is located.
I'm always shocked when something fresh is literally double at a national brand store vs. The local produce store.
Become friends with your slow cooker, I'm sure there are lots of recipes out there, I use Internet for searching my recipes. I cook chili, soup, roasts & dark meat chicken in mine. My slow cooker was $15 @ WM.
Use 1/2 the protein per recipe or double the recipe but use the original amount of meat. Add canned beans or veggies it it looks sparse.
Peanut butter goes a long way!
Cook multiples of your protein (not 5 pieces but 10) so as the week goes by you can transform the plain protein into whatever you want with spices & the rest of the meal items. It's less work for you! Robin Miller has some great ideas on the cooking ahead approach, & it's not impossible or exhausting to cook this way.
I also use a website that tells you what coupon to use at what stores on the items that are on sale.
For example, Coupon mom.com does this. Get your coupons free online, or buy your Sunday paper. Coupon mom has some great suggestions on getting started, organized. I'm happy if I get $3 off a shopping trip!
I learned how to cook more things, like roasting a whole chicken. I use the carcass for broth, & make soup. I'm ok with soup & bread for lunch but not for dinner.
One night a week is breakfast for dinner. It's fun for everyone to mix it up.
The food your making from scratch is awesome! Keep it up, I wish I did more baking.
I make my own spice blends, dont buy premade packets.
Learnt how to make broth, basic gravies & sauces.
Big lots or the ethic food aisle is where I get my spices now; $1.00 each not $4+.
Good luck, I think you're doing good for $500 for 5.

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PeaNut 211,494
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Posted: 10/23/2011 2:26:51 AM
Here is one way I save on meat. One of our grocery stores has a section in the meat department for the packages that are nearing the use by date. These items are discounted quite a bit. A large package of pork chops may be orgianally marked $14 but they are marked down to $9. There is nothing wrong with the meat. I just bring it home and freeze it immediately.

I also shop the bread store a lot. My kids love it because Hostess snacks are discounted there too. I don't let them buy Twinkies at the grocery store but I let them get them at the bread store. Last time I was there I got 6 loaves of bread for $5. This was Homepride Wheat. I buy lots of loaves and then freeze them.

Watch for case lot sales too. Our local grocery chain does this and you can get canned goods for a pretty good price. When there is a case lot sale I stock up.



PeaNut 378,405
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Posted: 10/23/2011 10:18:36 AM
Do you have Bountiful Baskets in your area? It's a food co-op that costs $16.50 a week for the regular basket. Yesterday in mine:

Yellow squash
Sweet potatoes
Romaine lettuce

It's always what's in season and it's a great deal.

Lost and Found in Pea-land

PeaNut 138,098
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Posted: 10/23/2011 10:28:56 AM

Do you have a bread outlet in your area? We save a lot of money from going to ours. It isn't just bread either. We get pizza crust, tortilla's, bagels, english muffins, etc. I went this week and walked away with 8 items for about $9 dollars. I shop Aldi and Costco often but I don't love Aldi's bread selection. The prices are better at the outlet and selection.

^^ This is exactly how we do it...bread outlet, Aldi and Sam's. We are a family of six and spend $400-$500 per month.


PeaNut 438,080
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Posted: 10/23/2011 11:24:20 AM
This thread has been interesting to read, especially the people who are really saving money.

I came across this table this morning, it's the USDA Cost of Foods for August 2011.

USDA Aug 2011 Table

For a family of 4, the monthly cost ranges from $540 - $1218. I was curious because I spend about $300 a month for one person (all inclusive with cleaning supplies and household whatnot.)

And I also make my own bread - the 5 minute recipe from Artisan breads. Produce is pretty expensive, but the main $$$ are coffee and meat.

Typical Liberal

PeaNut 221,236
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Posted: 10/23/2011 11:32:58 AM
I just had to pop back in on this thread and say that I tried out a new store here in the Houston area this morning - Joe V's Smart Shop, which is apparently an "outlet" for our HEB stores - and spent half what I normally do going to the HEB further down the road. It's a warehouse type environment, no pretty displays, and the selection is limited, but I was able to get some incredibly cheap produce and meat that looks to be very fresh and nice quality. I had to go on to Target after that to round out the things I couldn't get at Joe V's (Greek yogurt, the particular kind of bread we like, and a few other things), but all in I still spent about half what I spent last week, and both the fridge and pantry are packed.

If you live in Houston I encourage you to check out Joe V's. Go early in the morning before it gets overrun.

Really Red
Pea-ceful and Hap-pea

PeaNut 24,951
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Posted: 10/23/2011 11:37:34 AM
I know you want to cut costs, but man - for my family of 4 (3 athletic growing kids), we spend $700. This is not eating out at all, but does include wine (5 bottles a month) and most paper products and makeup (2 girls!!).

I know we could cut back, but I really really like organic and that eats (ha!) into our budget. We do not eat a lot of meant, too! Maybe 2x/week at most, but we do have fish at least 2x/week and that is not cheap.

I think planning is the key. We do waste more than I'd like.


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PeaNut 190,156
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Posted: 10/23/2011 11:55:39 AM

Making 5 minute Artisan bread is cheap! I buy the yeast in bulk from Costco. I can make about 8 loaves from 1 standard bag of flour; the only other ingredients are water, kosher salt, and yeast. Baking fits in my day easily even when the house is full of kids.

UTPea - can you share how you make your Artisan Bread? I have never had much luck making bread from scatch.

P.S. - love your pea name, my daughter is a senior at UT right now!


PeaNut 219,120
August 2005
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Posted: 10/23/2011 12:23:51 PM

Do you have Bountiful Baskets in your area?

I don't think so - but I will look into it for sure! That sounds like an awesome program!

Jennifer - wife, mom, friend
I've lost 49 pounds!!!


PeaNut 111,904
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Posted: 10/23/2011 1:04:21 PM
For those looking for the 5 Minute Artisan bread recipe google "five minute artisan bread" recipe. It's very easy and very good. We make most of our bread (this recipe and others).


PeaNut 368,067
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Posted: 10/23/2011 1:32:26 PM
I agree with the bread outlet- I shop two inorder to get the supplies I buy- 1 for bread ($1 for whole wheat Brownberry) and the other for buns ($69 each). I imagine you have a freezer, BUT- you may want to get two- I have one am planning on buying a second so I can use one for meats and prepared meals and the other for breads, cookies and snacks. I do not buy many prepared meals, so that helps a LOT, and I invest in mostly 'basic' things- flour, sugar, salt, rice etc. Not on;ly is it healthier, but I can make a HUGE meal and freeze it in smaller packets using my food saver. I use the largest crock pot I can find and make enough that I can freeze meal-size portions that I can then use all month. Also- chart when essentials go on sale in your area. Certain key things will always go on sale around the same time with most stres. These ityems will cordinate with the event/holiday (Football-pop, Memorial day-pop, 4th-beans, ketchup, mustard, Thanksgiving-canned goods, turkey, Christmas-baking supplies, canned fruit, Easter-Ranch Dressing, flour) This is when you stock up to last the year- most of the time items are being sold at or below cost!


PeaNut 393,905
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Posted: 10/23/2011 3:15:54 PM
Me, 12 yr old boy, almost 8 yr old boy, 3 yr old boy. DH is here half teh time (he travels for his jo.

I spend around $400 monthly for groceries adn toiletries.

Its tight and I make use of leftovers, buy larger cuts of meat and plan for 2 meals from them, and meal plan down to the letter.

I think that for every meal and snack at home $500 is very reasonable...I dont think you could go much less than that!


PeaNut 199,946
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Posted: 10/23/2011 3:51:23 PM
We are about $450 to $500 a month for a family of 4. My dh and son take lunches to work and school to save. I found a lot of coupon matches for stores on thekrazycouponlady.com. They have changed the way I shop. I stock up during sales and use drug stores for most of my paper products.


PeaNut 90,718
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Posted: 10/23/2011 4:21:37 PM
You might want to try emealz - a few years ago when the kids were home I relied on this plan - they give you lots of meal ideas, shopping lists, etc. for a very small membership fee.

I also love 5 minute artisan bread - good luck to you!

NSBR - Where every day is Thrusday

PeaNut 32,476
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Posted: 10/23/2011 4:30:05 PM
You're doing well. There's been some great suggestions on this thread. I do a lot of them: buy only sale items, buy marked down meat, less meat. Here's some other things that I do that haven't been mentioned yet.

I get a lot of my toiletries from the drugstores. I do this by stacking coupons and watching for sales.

Check out websites that list what's on sale at the stores that you have available in your area. I use hotcouponworld.com, I know others recommend afullcup.com.

Learn how to bake multiple items, like hoagie rolls, pita bread, french bread, and english muffins.

I see you're wanting to grow a garden. If this is your first time, start small. And grow what your family will eat. Many people make the mistake of doing a huge garden, being overwhelmed with the produce and the work, and give up by mid summer. That's a waste of time and money. I'm up to eight raised beds in our garden, and I've been gardening for over 11 years.

Understand that produce comes in seasons in the garden. You'll be drowning in tomatoes come August and September, when you would have killed for one in June. Plan to put away your garden produce by freezing or canning. I see that you don't have a big freezer. You might want to make that a priority purchase in the next year or so. We bought our deep freeze 12 years ago with tax refund money. Best investment into a major appliance that we ever did.

Check out the Tightwad's Gazette - there's tons of little things listed that you can work on trimming your bill. Also, wisebread.com has a wealth of articles on how to cut your grocery bill.

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PeaNut 224,352
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Posted: 10/23/2011 5:41:11 PM

Family of five here. I have fed everybody for $20.00 a week when need be. We eat lots of chicken, pasta, potatoes..the cheap sh!t. Hubby would love for us to have lots of beef, but that's like a luxury sometimes at where we are in our budget.

How old are the people you are feeding? I cannot believe you feed two adults for 20 a WEEK, but three more people on top of that?!

I just have to call BS on that.

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PeaNut 36,843
April 2002
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Posted: 10/23/2011 6:05:45 PM
I just noticed several PMs from peas asking for the recipe for 5 minute artisan bread.

This article has the recipe; I think it's on page 4.
Recipe for 5 minute artisan bread

When I said we made 8 loaves from one bag of flour, I should probably qualify that these aren't the typical loaf pan loaves! I made two batches of the dough and got 4 loaves from each batch. These are smaller artisan loaves. I just asked DH how many slices we get from a loaf and he said maybe 12. We also had some flour in the flour canister (but not much).

Hope this helps!


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PeaNut 272,954
August 2006
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Posted: 10/23/2011 8:40:44 PM
Yes, it's doable. My DS and his wife feed 10 people (4 adults) on no more than $600, and I think it's actually only $400.

However, she makes her own bread. She has an awesome vegetable garden. During the summer, she cans and freezes produce. Her meals have less meat, more vegetables. She doesn't use convenience foods. She makes literally everything from scratch. She shops sales. I don't know if she uses coupons.

When I'm pinching pennies, making my own bread cuts our food budget by about $5 to $10 per week, just for the bread, but I buy wheat in bulk and grind it myself. I make DH's lunches, and he eats two sandwiches a day, so we go through a lot of bread in a week.

Buying milk at Costco is about a dollar cheaper per gallon than at the grocery store. I get a lot of food at Costco because they are usually cheaper, but they have decent quality for most things. I buy a lot of canned goods there. You might be able to get it cheaper on sale, though. I like the Costco produce. Today we had fresh green beans from there. They were young, tender, and delicious.

During colder months, we have what I call "food storage soup" about once a week. It's cheap, but nourishing, and my family all like it, including my picky youngest son. I mix lentils, brown rice, split peas, and barley. I also have dried carrots in my food storage, so sometimes I add that to the mix, but I prefer fresh. I season it with the things we like (onion, garlic, bouillon, pepper, celery flakes if I don't have fresh celery, and sometimes the Costco no salt seasoning, which is great stuff). I add leftover cooked chicken or canned chicken (Costco canned chicken). With wheat bread, it's a very filling meal, and the lentils give us plenty of protein. I use 1 cup soup mix to 10 to 12 cups of water, and cook it for an hour.

I don't use dried beans, but if I had to pinch pennies, that would probably be one more step I'd take. Dried beans are a lot cheaper than canned.

Next year I want to have a garden like DS has.

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PeaNut 100,930
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Posted: 10/23/2011 9:43:15 PM
when we were on one income and most of it was going to pay cobra I was feeding a family of 4 including a teenager and a preteen.

we didn't go hungry. we ate a lot of biscuits and gravy, pancakes, scrambled eggs, red beans and rice etc. I averaged about 30 dollars a week but this was about 10 yrs ago.

jenjules you really should try to get a freezer. Occasionally you can find them for free or 25 or 50 dollars on craigslist. Our current one we have had for 5 or 6 yrs and it was a freebie off of craigslist.

to the PP who said dry beans etc eat up your savings in cooking expenses I have not found that to be true at all. also presoaking them will cut down on your cooking time as will using a pressure cooker.

you can "fill" in for meat with finely chopped veggies like carrots, zucchini and mushrooms. I have even used brown rice as filler.

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PeaNut 272,954
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Posted: 10/23/2011 10:38:40 PM
Since you're trying to also cut in other areas......

If you aren't a member of freecycle.org, you should be. It's a way to get lots of things totally free. I belong to get rid of stuff. It's a win-win for everyone.

Since you homeschool, some homeschool groups have book sales near the end of the school year. It's a way to get books at a big discount. Library sales can be helpful, too.

And here is a site that might help as well in cutting costs:

Suddenly Frugal

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PeaNut 304,110
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Posted: 10/24/2011 6:40:32 AM
Ok. So, I had to respond to this one. We are a family of 6 and I only WISH I could get our budget to anywhere close to $500. Good for you to get it that low. Adding the toiletries and diapers and such...you don't want to know what I spend!


PeaNut 219,120
August 2005
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Posted: 10/24/2011 7:54:37 PM
I found a website today on Pinterest called Budget Bytes - some healthy, great looking recipes on there - I found a great spaghetti sauce one - that's something I didn't think of - making my own sauce! I am definitely going to try that in the next few weeks! A friend and I are sorta challenging each other to see how long we can "eat from the pantry" (besides milk, eggs, produce) without having to make a huge shopping trip.
Also, I did do e-Mealz for a while a couple of years ago. I have several weeks worth of recipes/shopping lists from then that I saved, I think I will pull those out again.
I am so grateful for the ideas and tips y'all have given me! Thank you! Keep 'em coming!

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I've lost 49 pounds!!!


PeaNut 527,963
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Posted: 11/11/2011 2:34:46 AM
Making grocery budget for the family is hard as you budget for the amount you have and needs of the family. In many city centers and huge neighborhoods, the local drugstore is one of the few sources of groceries. These stores might be convenient, but they are costly. Actually, buying at these shops can be twice as expensive. Drugstore shopping could be costing your budget . Drug stores here seem to actually have some of the lowest prices on many food items, putting out some good sales for low-income folks. But the best bet for your budget is to take the extra time and effort to shop at a grocery store rather than a drugstore.


PeaNut 137,088
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Posted: 11/11/2011 7:07:33 AM
We are a family of 6 and spend about $800 a month, but that is everything from food, formula, diapers and wipes, shampoo and toilet paper....everything. I want to get it down to $600, but even with coupons and stocking up with things on sale, it's not easy.


PeaNut 193,131
February 2005
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Loc: Colorado, but a Texan at heart

Posted: 11/11/2011 2:41:47 PM
Lots of good ideas here! I would guess that we spend 400-500 a month for our family of 3 (not including dh's work lunches - he usually goes out), plus probably takeout or a family-type restaurant once over the weekend.

DH and I are going to check tonight to see what we do average per week, and my goal is to cut it significantly (maybe 25-40%?) for the rest of the year, to free up that money for holiday expenses. I do pay attention to sales, but I could do a lot better.

Thanks to the pp who mentioned Bountiful Baskets; we have one about 30 minutes from us that I'm going to try out!

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PeaNut 261,174
May 2006
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Posted: 11/11/2011 2:56:08 PM

I swear, with coffee almost $10 for a can, lunch meat almost $10 for the week, cat food $10 for a case, dog food $40 for a bag, toilet paper $13 for 24 rolls or whatever

Goodness gracious, where do you shop? I buy coffee at Safeway on Sunday for $2.50 (generic brand) and I buy dog food at Trader Joes for $8 a bag. I don't buy lunch meat very much and we buy toilet paper at the dollar store where it's 4 rolls for $1 because we're not "toilet paper snobs"
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