I've resisted writing this post for a long time because I think it could open us up to criticism. Still, every time I would save some incredible amount at the grocery store, I would think, "Moms need to know how to do this!"
Here's the thing. According to the USDA, our family should be spending $1215 per month on groceries, and that's on the thrifty (lowest possible bracket) plan. Our budget for food monthly is actually $800.
We are feeding two adults, a 16-year-old boy, a 14-year-old boy, an 11-year-old boy, a 9-year-old girl, an 8-year-old girl, a 5-year-old girl, a 2-year-old boy, and a one-year-old boy. Our budget includes diapers, toilet paper, and other household goods, but I can allot those items into our miscellaneous budget category as well, if necessary. It did not include formula when we had to wean Mighty Joe (that's a long and complicated story; if you don't know the whole situation, please do not suggest here that I should have continued breastfeeding him).
We also entertain a fair amount. Every Saturday night this summer our home is open with a BBQ, and we've invited people to just drop in. On Memorial Day we fed 26 people on $35. It was a party in which one guest contributed the green salad (Thanks, Dana!) and one brought a massive fruit salad (Thanks, EK!). No one left hungry, I can assure you :)
The two biggest factors that contribute to keeping our food budget so low are:
-Menu planning based on store sale items
Others factors are:
-making as much as possible from scratch
-buying in bulk
-growing what we can (including eggs)
-having a fixed limit in my mind for certain items. For instance, I don't buy cereal unless it's a dollar or less per box.
There are lots of ways to go about lowering your food bill, so I will share with you what we do with the understanding that our way isn't the best. It's what works for us.
I'll write tomorrow about how I organize and use my coupons.