Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feeding your family on $100 a month

The recession has officially hit our home and that means time to make cuts. I refuse to take my child out of day care as it's a great source of socialization for him and my husband is concentrating on a few ideas until his job opportunity outlook is better. Finding a good day care is tough and I'd hate to yank Benjamin out and then have to go through the hassle of finding someone new that we all like. Plus, my day care is pretty affordable and I have $400 a month taken out pre-tax that I get reimbursed for. That being said, we have to make some cuts.

I have canceled my gym membership. I have switch car insurance companies. I have stopped buying lunch. I'm done drinking lattes that were costing me $2.50 a day. I'm getting rid of most of the cable channels and the dvr (most of the shows we watch are online). Another place that I will start to trim is our grocery bill.

I make a monthly trip to Costco and Trader Joes though sometimes I will shop at TJs and spend less than I do at Albertson's. So I'm inspired by this article about only spending $100 a month on your groceries and this article about living on $1500 a year for groceries, medical expenses and personal items.

My husband thinks I'm completely nuts but my goal for March is to only spend $100 on food (not personal items, baby formula or diapers). This means taking my lunch. Taking inventory of the refrigerator, pantry. Meal planning. I'm contemplating setting a separate budget for eating out. Maybe $100 for the whole month? Is that cheating? To make sure I'm keeping on the up and up, I will post my results for everyone to see my success.

Now, I've got some planning to do. Watch out challenge, here I come!


1girl1boy4me said...

Jon shopped at Food 4 Less while he was out of work and watched and shopped by the Tuesday food sales ads.

For me, I can't stick to a budget, but I did my part by letting him shop and staying out of Target

Good luck!

Heidi K. Rettig said...

One of those vacuum sealers can help with this a lot. I know in MT I live 40 miles from the store and I depend on that thing. You Costco it up, then come home and vacuum seal the meat into meal-size portions to defrost as needed. And making coffee at home can save you $100+ a month! Trader Joe's has great prices on some items - coffee especially. Loved the post!

Jen F said...

A fun tip - create a potluck lunch group at work. We bring in our leftovers and share, which mixes it up and makes it feel less like you are eating the same thing over and over. And we throw away a lot less food too!

I wonder how that weekly $100 budget would scale for my crazy tribe. Hubby who works hard on his feet, outside all day. Two teenagers, one of whom can drink a gallon of milk by himself in a couple days. And a growing 10-year old that is quite athletic and active. VERY different from having one 5-year old.

We've switched away from processed and pre-packaged foods already and it's *much* cheaper. I use a grocery list application on my iPod that helps me track what we're buying. This family just goes through a LOT of food!!

Alissa Maxwell said...

I always said that I wished I would have started a "latte a day" habit back in college, so that I could start saving money by quitting the habit. =)

Good luck with your grocery challenge. I saw that article in the Bulletin today, but I think a lot depends on what you already have in the pantry and freezer. I've been trying to only buy meats on super sale and stock the freezer.

Fawn said...

I'm excited to seee how this works for you. I've been wanting to do something like this but am a little scared to take the plunge.

mizinformation said...

The Grocery Outlet has some great deals on stuff as long as you're not picky about brands and can resist the temptation to buy stuff you don't need just because it's cheap. Also going meatless at least a few nights a week really helps--even one night is a start.

I found that the more shopping around I did, the less I spent on groceries, but that translates into quite a bit of time. I think the cheapest *week* I ever managed still cost $40 and involved hot dogs. I hope you have better luck!

Oh, and IOU a veggie lasagne, so there's dinner for one night.

Anonymous said...

That's impossible unless you're a 20 year old single person that eats junk food. Let me know how it goes.

Tiffany said...

she has some good ideas and tells you how much the meal costs. I don't know how healthy they are? I used to spent around $150 a month but now I have a 16 month old that eats more than me!

Elise Michaels Media said...

Remember this, you don't have to drive to all the stores for their great deals. Albertsons will take all grocery stores' coupons. So you make one trip, with coupons in hand. Sometimes when I get my bill, I may have spent $50, but saved over $60! And stay out of Costco. It is not less expensive and it's too tempting to overbuy. Food4Less and Grocery Outlet are great, too. (says she whose husband has been out of work since August 1)

monkeyinabox said...

I tend to think a $100 a month food budget for a family is a little too tight. Sure, it's possible, but you need to learn how to be a creative cook to avoid meals that you'll burn out on fast.

For grocery stores and meal planning you have to plan around the ads. Learn the prices of items you usually buy and stock up when the bargain prices hit. You might blow the budget slightly one month, but you'll make it up the next.

You already nailed the easy places to save big money. Nix the $2.50 a day coffee drinks and eating out for lunch. For what you spend on one nice lunch out, you could budget for your entire weeks lunches you bring to work.

mugmkr said...

$100 per month may not be realistic...make sure you eat healthy foods...the comment about cutting down on meat is excellent, you save money and are eating healthier. I shop like this: I have a shopping list. I go to the Grocery Outlet and get things there that are on the list. Then, I go to Safeway, and get things there that are on the list. I then go to Whole Foods, and get the last few items I need. This really does save us a lot of money...I've noticed that Grocery Outlet has higher prices on some things! So don't assume anything. Good luck!

mugmkr said...

Oh, and one other thing, yep, you save a boatload of $$ if you bring your lunch to work instead of eating out. And, you will probably be eating better food, which is so important in maintaining overall health.