Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's Talk Grocery Budgets ...

I wrote this post for my Menu Plan Monday post over at my cooking blog but decided to post it here as well ... I'd love to know your budgeting thoughts and if you have any ideas, suggestions, great CHEAP but healthy recipe ideas ....

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

So, last week, we spent way over our grocery budget. Various factors contributed to it ... including my constant frustration that our weekly budget is too low. But ... the way we have structured our finances doesn't leave room to make it bigger, and that is totally our choice (meaning we could change it but we've chosen not to) so I'm DETERMINED to find a way to make this budget work. $220 a week. Feeding a family of four, three meals EVERY DAY. We eat out very infrequently. Working it out per meal, you're looking at $10 a meal EXCEPT that we buy toiletries, laundry/dishwashing/cleaning supplies and cat food out of that $220 as well. I don't know exactly what the breakdown is to be able to determine how much that makes it per meal that we are working with ... But, that one of my new goals.

In my menu planning, I am going to use the online shopping site to determine how much each meal will cost to make. I'm going to do it as if I had to buy every item and then list that price with my recipes. So ... for future menu's I'll be able to choose according to price as well ... and if I already have some of the ingredients then the price will come down and that is a BONUS ! I think that with proper planning, I can still cook the way we are accustomed to me cooking, but within the confines of our budget that we want to stick to.

I need to shop more in season too. I'm not real good at knowing what is 'in season' since we can get most things year round here. But ... obviously, there are seasons when they are 'in season' and they are cheaper. I'm going to buy meat at the butcher. I'm going to try and get back to doing one bulk meal a week (or maybe a fortnight) to freeze for later weeks. I am going to try and bake something each week to go in the lunches. And I'm going to experiment with making grain bread in my bread maker. Did I mention I am determined ?!?!

We've also got grand plans to expand our little garden beds so we can grow as much as we are able. Australia has great weather for growing veggies year round and we are trying to get our garden established so we can take advantage of that.

Our plan for this week, through Thursday ... I will shop on Friday ... is to get through without going to the grocery store. I had to buy milk and a bag of oats this morning. Cost me $3. But ... we were totally out of cereal and Rory needs milk for his coffee so those had to be bought. As for the meals, we're getting creative ... using up what we have in the pantry and fridge/freezer, which isn't much.

So ... there you have it ... I'd love to know your thoughts !!

If you want to see what we are actually going to be eating, you can read the menu part of this post over at The Beans Blog ...


Travis602 October 26, 2009 at 11:01 AM  

Hi Bonnie,
I am in Australia as well. I too find that the weekly groceries budget can easily blow out ( especially if I take family members shopping with me!)

I have a little system that seems to work for us. I have a big list of meals that we enjoy and make menus based on this. I then sticl up on the ingredients when they are on sale. Then you are just left with your standard things to buy fresh each week. One week for example, you might buy 5 soy sauces and not buy them again for six months, then next week it may be rice.
We buy our meat at the butchers and grow a lot of our own vegies.I also bake bread and cook much of our things from scratch.
We are a family of four and I allow $180 per week. This is often too much and we put the surplus into a jar for use in stocking up on specials or to take with us on holidays for extra treats.

I hope this helps. Considering how fantastic your site is and how well organised you are, I think it won't be long and you will have a fabulous system worked out.



A Vision Splendid October 26, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

Sorry Bonnie, for some reason Google signed me into another account! (??)

My site is


Kayren October 26, 2009 at 1:19 PM  

I'd be curious to know how your cost of living compares to ours in the U.S. I know it can vary a great deal from state to state and even city to city, but overall how does it compare. For example, the least expensive gallon of 2% milk is probably at Wal-Mart or on sale at the grocery store, and can be as low as $1.49 up to $1.99. But if you buy it somewhere else, or not the store brand or on sale, it's more, and if you buy organic, the best price we've found is $5.49 a gallon. A dozen large eggs was just under a dollar (maybe $.88) last week. Maybe that gives you something to compare to ours.

Bonnie October 26, 2009 at 1:28 PM  


I emailed this response to you but thought I'd add the comment here too for others who might be interested ...

I have found the cost of living is higher here ...

I pay $3 for the generic brand of a dozen large eggs.
A 2L milk ... which is 1/2 a gallon of milk costs me $2.50 and that was for the cheapest generic brand of 2%.

I have to change my mindset from what I would be spending if we were still living in the States to how is the best way to do it here ... because it is so different. We can't even save by buying bulk. There's not Sam's Club. No Costco. Nothing like that. And the grocery stores are only just starting to do somethings in bulk. But ... only just. There are no coupons either. Eeek !!

It's a challenge ...

Cate October 29, 2009 at 10:33 PM  

check out the meatless monday blog. it has a what's in season section. the whole premise of eating vegetarian meals comes from ww1 or 2 (?) when there was rationing. having a veg meal once in a while can really cut down on your food costs.

also, right now:

winter squash (not zucchini or summer squash)
sweet potato

good luck! xoxo

for fall.

Cherry B October 30, 2009 at 10:28 AM  

We struggle with the same thing!! I have a few recipes on mine that are cheap and easy (I review them all). One of the best was the honey mustard baked chicken. Ours usually last two people for a week and is far, far more economical than eating out! Sometimes I pay the price in time spent cooking, but I've gotten much better at it.

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