I’ve been working on a food budget. Really working. As I said in my last post, it does feel good to buy the absolute best of the best Paleo food options for my family, but nothing feels as good as a replenished emergency fund will. So, to that end, we’ve temporarily given up our monthly delivery of grass-fed meat and weekly delivery of fresh, organic produce.
I gave myself a month leeway to get a handle of what we need vs what we want at the grocery store and how each of those things adds up. I’m not saying I’ve never paid attention before, but I was really in the “all health food is a must have expense, even if those dried apple chips for the kids are $1.00 a bag” camp. Oh and by the way, also a big fan of the “my kids need those apple chips to take to the gym so they have a snack when I work out” excuse. Not.any.more. Can you believe that fresh fruit is actually just as convenient as the pre-packaged apple chips were? Really. Apples and bananas are so easy to grab and put in our gym bag. My kids haven’t even mentioned the lack of apple chips in the house. Try it.
Anyway, now that I am really paying attention, a tight grocery budget has helped us stick with basics in other ways as well, sticking to lean meat (since it’s not grass fed), eggs, fresh produce, frozen veggies, and healthy fats (and dry beans for my 4HB husband). That’s it pretty much it, although I did make room in the budget for coconut flour and almond flour for some comfort foods (who doesn’t love Everyday Paleo’s Meatloaf)?
Alright, alright. I’m sure you are dying to know…what’s the dollar amount? How much money have I budgeted for groceries each month for our family of six?
Six hundred dollars. That’s roughly $20 per day. Granted, most of the mouths in our family are small children, so it’s really more like feeding 3.5 to 4 adults.
In case you’re curious, during my adjustment month (November), I was only over by $28, which I consider a success, considering it was a month with a birthday in the family (read: special breakfast, dinner, and of course cupcakes!) and Thanksgiving.
It’s December 1st, Day 1 of our new budget. To help make grocery shopping easier, I came up with a few guidelines for myself that has made it easier to stick with this budget. These are not earth shattering revelations here, people, just things I’m implementing.
Six Paleo Budget Rules for a Family of Six:
1. Lean Meat: $1.99 per pound or less (roughly $120/month)
Buy what is on sale, especially if it’s got a special coupon on it for quick turn-around. If you cook it or freeze it right away, buying meat like that is truly a bargain! When I go to the store, I already know what meat is on sale and plan to buy that, but first I peruse the meat isle to see if I can get a better deal.
2. Omega 3-Enriched Cage-Free Eggs: $4.50/18 Pack or Less (roughly $80/month)
I suppose this is a tiny splurge, since you can get regular ‘ol eggs for less than $3.00 per 18 pack. This is one of the three areas that I decided the splurge was necessary, and I made other adjustments.
3. Fresh Produce: $0.99 per pound or less (roughly $30/month)
There is always fresh fruit on sale. I buy bananas every week since my kids love them, and usually apples since they are in season, but I make up the difference in what’s on sale. Hubby and I don’t usually eat fruit, so this is a kids-only expense.
Fresh Vegetables are hit or miss. I always buy baby carrots, but I rarely buy other fresh vegetables lately unless I feel like it’s a real bargain. Frozen vegetables are already ready to go…and are always on sale!
4. Frozen Vegetables: $1.79 per 16oz bag or less (roughly $90/month)
I can usually get a way better deal, but there are some things we can’t do without (Cauliflower, for example)! I end up spending less money on vegetables this way because I don’t throw any away. I am very particular about fresh produce… It has to look pristine, or I toss it. I’m sure I will get better about that, but for now, I’m sticking with what’s working, and that’s frozen all the way, baby!
5. Healthy Fats: (roughly $60/month)
Coconut Oil: $20/month
I buy Nutivia Organic Coconut Oil on Amazon Subscribe and Save for about $20 per 54 ounce container.
*Kerrygold Grass Fed Butter: $12/month
4 sticks a month ($2.99 each at Whole Foods)
*Whole Milk Grass fed Yogurt: $28/ month
Four (4) Glass Bottles of Traders Point Creamery Brand ($6.50 each at Whole Foods)
*I know the grass fed butter and yogurt are sort of splurges. I’ve decided it’s worth it to get the healthy fats from grass fed butter since we aren’t buying grass fed meat right now, and besides, it’s delicious on veggies! My kids are the only ones that drink the yogurt, but I think it’s a great way for them to get some probiotics (they don’t take probiotic supplements).
6. Other Staples: $100/month
Grass-fed Gelatin $12
Coconut Flour $22
Almond Flour $32
Curry Paste $10
Coconut Cream $14
Dry Beans for my 4HB Hubby $10
The grand total for this list only is $480, leaving $120 a month (less than $30 per week) “wiggle room” for extra’s at the store. I know I can do it, and I’m pretty proud of myself for my performance last month.
It is possible, and I’m going to hold myself accountable to sticking my Paleo Family of Six on a budget of $600 per month. Will you help me*? Want to join in?
*I’m going to try to post a spreadsheet of my exact grocery expenses so you can see that I am actually doing it, and that Paleo on a budget is possible…even with a family!