Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Food Budget Tips…

First, I want to thank everyone for the wonderful responses to my {challenge} last week!  The number of responses I received was overwhelming – and I am so excited to be on this journey with so many of you!  Keep it up!

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

A couple of Fridays ago, I posted asking what people were interested in me blogging about.  The number one response was “budgets and recipes”.  I do intend to respond to each person’s topics, but I figured this was a good place to start!

So, our family of 10 {at home}’s budget for groceries per month is:


That works out to $60 per person per month!  This includes food, hygiene, cleaning products, and paper goods.  So, how do I do it?  COSTCO!

Actually, while Costco does tend to be my “go to” store of choice, there are two strategies I incorporate into my food budget – buy in bulk and make it from scratch!  Cooking like your grandma used to do!
There are a few tools that will be helpful to invest in:
*Food Grade Buckets
*Grinder {if grinding whole wheat for bread}
*Roasting Pan
*Tightly sealing containers for dried good pantry storage {i.e., canning jars, tupperware - like containers, etc.}
*Stand Mixer  {Heavy Duty is best!} - although currently I am kneading bread the old fashioned way - by hand!

Your number one investment for purchasing in bulk will be your freezer!  We actually had one for many years that we picked up at a garage sale.  When it died, we had some sweet friends give us one that had been their father’s.  Even if you live in an apartment, I highly recommend finding space for even a small freezer.

I have done my fair share of canning, and I still think it is a great hobby and a fun way to put up the harvest, but freezing is so much easier and fewer nutrients are lost in the process.

I have two rules of thumb for pricing: Meat is no more than $2.00/lb. and Produce is no more than $1.00/lb.  Occasionally I will splurge, but typically if you buy in season and in bulk, you will be able to stay close to these ranges. (Here in the Pacific NW!)

As I am typing, I have a batch of Pork Butt in the roasting pan.

While this picture doesn’t do it justice, trust me – the aroma is Heavenly! {This pork will be “pulled” and then used for a number of different dishes like BBQ Pulled Pork  and Pulled Pork Tacos-to name a couple.}

Some other tried and true hints are:

*Use rice as filler – we usually use brown rice for a higher nutrient content

*Bake your own bread – I make a yummy whole wheat bread for about .50-.75/loaf {I recently discovered Azure Standard for purchasing my wheat in bulk.  I also purchase other ingredients like Peanut Butter, Oats, Coconut Oil, and more from them.)

*Make as much from scratch as you can: muffins, granola bars, granola as cereal, seasoning mixes, salad dressing, breakfast foods, pizza the list is endless!  I figure my time is money…my savings per meal add up to a good wage per hour!

*Eat simply! Pick a few simple dishes, perfect them and use them over and over! {Wednesday night is Oatmeal Night at The Cottage! I’ve heard of others doing Taco Tuesday, etc.}

*Plan! Plan! Plan! {This uses what you have and prevents you from doing the last minute grocery store pickups, which we all know usually includes at least one item you didn’t know you needed!}

*Beans!  High protein – high fiber – low price!  Buy these dried, they are less expensive this way, have more nutrients and can be precooked to save you time in the dinnertime dash to get something prepared. I have a ton of fun recipes, but so does the internet! {Be careful regarding price here though – DO NOT go over the $2.00/lb mark for beans…you can usually find dry beans for less than $1.00/lb!}

*Be willing to substitute ingredients…just remember to use a “like” item…vinegar/lemon, Italian seasoning/oregano, basil, rosemary, teriyaki sauce/soy and brown sugar, etc…I’ve had great success in this area, only I can never duplicate the recipe! J

*Drink water instead of milk or other beverages (I posted about this here!)

This is just a sampling of our food strategies… I will continue with other budget saving ideas in future posts!  Feel free to shoot me a comment with any questions or challenges…I may have found a solution along the way!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!


  1. My husband LOVES the granola that I make from the recipe you shared years ago at the MOPS meeting. I've made many variations of it. Thanks!

  2. are SO welcome! I will post the recipe for all to enjoy! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Your house, as I have personally witnessed runs like a well oiled machine! What is great, is whether you have a large family or small, these tips can help save some much needed $$$ especially in this economy. Glad you are sharing my friend! Blessings to you!


  4. How much couponing do you do? I had someone recently asking me to pay $10 to go to some kind of extreme coupon class. It seems like usually I use coupons for more expensive name brand very processed food or for hygiene products. The cash off next purchase coupon at the grocery is nice but if I don't use it right then I usually forget or lose it. - Elizabeth R

  5. Elizabeth, I'm embarrassed to say I do almost zero couponing! I only use the Costco coupons that come monthly, and then only for items that I would already be purchasing! I think couponing works for some people, but I just have never been able to get the hang of it!

  6. From one "Cook" to another - Lora, I LOVE your blogspot! Although I only have 1/2 of # of family members, my teens eat like there's 10 in the house! Where do you find the large food-grade buckets for bulk foods?
    Also, I tip I have is label everything, esp. the leftovers & the date it was made, opened, etc. I love my roll of masking tape & Sharpie! :)

  7. Do you have a whole wheat bread recipe you could share that works well for sandwiches? I've tried a couple recipes that tasted good, but when sliced don't hold together well enough to make sandwiches out of them.
    Thanks for your ideas!

  8. These rules of thumb should also apply to the babies in your house! My mom and I compare notes on who has the lowest produce prices (there is a fruit market close to my house that is almost always the cheapest, and they send out a $2 off coupon monthly on top of that!), so I can buy a 10# box of yams at Costco, steam and puree, at a cost of 69cents/lb, and buy 15lbs of spinach at the fruit market, steam and puree, at 87cents/lb after my coupon! And with $60/month, that gives me $2 a day --and the baby is NOT going to want 2lbs of pureed yams in a day!