If asked how much money I spend on my kids for their toys and clothes, I am hazy on the numbers, but I know exactly how much money I spend on food. A few years ago, fed up with throwing away rotted produce week after week from the fridge, I started counting my $$. Clearly, I was over buying. Driven by a desire to minimize waste, I started going grocery shopping with a specific dollar amount in my pocket. Once that was done, I was finished with shopping for the week. Over time I have adjusted the amount as our family has grown.
When I read reports of how difficult it is to eat at $5/day per person, I snicker because I feed my family of 4 for about $140 dollars per week. This includes fruits and veggies that need to be organic, organic dairy, and organic meat.
Here’s how our weekly grocery budget breaks out:
1) $50 at the local Farmer’s Market. I walk in with $50 in my pocket and when I have spent that money on our produce, we leave. Over the years I have found that 50 bucks at Farmer’s market minimizes waste (no rotting produce) and this $50 includes our weekly stop at the balloon man and a few dollars as tips for musicians at the farmer’s market.
2) $50 for dairy, seafood, meat, eggs. This includes organic milk (2 gallons @$6 each) and some combination of organic chicken ($13), seafood ($20), organic dozen eggs ($5) and cheese.
3) $40 – the remaining $40 is what I call free money – it is spent on bread, lentils, pasta, rice, tortilla, shopping trips to ethnic stores . This free money is also used for the occasional packaged treat.
This weekly budget feeds us for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole week with a few exceptions:
1) 1 meal we eat out as a family over the weekend,
2) 1 meal we probably eat at a friend’s place over the weekend.
3) My husband eats out for about 3 lunches during the work week.
Here’s why this budget works for us:
1) We cook at home.
2) Portion Sizes: We try to eat the correct portion sizes. Once we started eating the correct portion sizes, we realized how little we have to eat.
3) We use a lot of dried beans and lentils as it is cheaper than cans. I do however keep a few cans of goodies for Armageddon.
4) We eat meat/seafood one meal a day.
5) No soda, juice or juice packets at home or for school for the kids. We do have a soda stream maker as neither my husband nor I can live without sparkling water.
6) No power bars and processed packages for kids school lunches.
7) No chips, donuts, cupcakes, etc.
I recognize that there’s some loop holes in my budget– but my point is that you can eat healthy without really trying hard. It can be done.