The Monthly Grocery Budget

For the longest time, our grocery budget was $350 per month. In fact, last time we did the 3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days series, our budget was $300 per month.

A lot has changed since then. The kids have gotten bigger, as have their appetites. We no longer homeschool. I’ve adjusted my views on certain things and placed a higher priority on in-season, fresh and local produce.

Those three factors combined to necessitate a higher budget. So we upped the monthly budget $100 per month and it’s worked perfectly.

It wasn’t an easy decision though. I always took a lot of pride in the fact that we ate so well for $350 a month. And we truly were eating well. That’s why it was hard for me to rationalize an increase until I really stepped back and took a good look at things.

  1. Growing children equal growing bellies. The kids started to request, and eat, second helpings at either breakfast or dinner. This was a huge trigger to me, as was their constant request for snacks. They are healthy and active kids. Their little bodies just needed more fuel. (And my husband, who didn’t always admit it, needed a bit more fuel himself.) So that meant 5 family members with what seemed like monster-sized appetites. Something had to give.
  2. Our oldest two children attend public school now. When we were homeschooling, snacks and lunches were easy. We could eat leftovers, soup, scrambled eggs or any number of cheap and easy meals. And snacks were usually fruit and some kind of freshly baked goodie. Those options aren’t possible now, especially for our kindergartner.  They take morning snacks to school each day and the snacks are all tossed into a large bin where they are then passed out at snack time. A banana or a homemade granola bar just can’t stand up to that kind of abuse.
  3. We all love fresh produce. Previously, I limited the amount of fresh options and supplemented with canned and frozen. While we still rely on frozen veggies frequently, we’ve done away with the canned in favor of fresh. It costs more, but it’s worth it.

So, could I have met our needs in the above three areas while still sticking with the lower budget? Probably. But not without something having to give in one area or another. And it’s still feasible that we’ll be able to scale that back a bit in the future once we’re done with diapers and nighttime underjams.

Tomorrow I’m making out our grocery lists for the big shopping trips, so I’ll share about those and what we get each month with the $450. What do you spend the biggest chunk of your grocery budget on?

Now, I have to tell you what happened tonight. As I was getting ready to start warming dinner, there was a knock on our door. Our next door neighbor brought us a $20 bill and a pizza delivery menu. It was her thanks for my husband’s taking her garbage can out to the curb each week. For my husband, it’s just a job that makes sense we walks right by her can when he pulls ours out each week. But for her, it’s obviously a treat. So she unexpectedly treated us in return. And if you had heard the kids chants of “pizza, pizza, pizza,” you’d understand what a huge treat it really was.

So, we had some wonderful pizza for dinner. And as an added bonus, dinner for tomorrow night is already done!

I’d love to hear more about your grocery budgets. There’s a great conversation going on in the comments from yesterday’s post also.

Don’t forget to see what Jen and Toni over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and The Happy Housewife were up to in their kitchens’ today.