Monday, April 7, 2008

How I Feed my Family of 8 for $300 a month Q&A- Part 1

I have gotten asked quite a few questions since beginning my grocery budgeting series. I thought that it would be beneficial to others to share some of the questions I was asked, and my answers. So here we go!

I wanted to ask you, you only spend $70 a week on food. Is it just on fill in what you are missing?

The short answer to this question is, yes. I do try to only fill in what I am missing.

This is one of the goals you should have when trying to save money on groceries. If you're having to buy every ingredient for every meal, it will get expensive.

This is why I put aside at least $10.00 every two weeks out of my budget money. It is to stock up on the great deals. I am starting to get a nice stockpile going so over the last few weeks the money I have spent has gotten even lower. I have been spending right at about $60.00 a week for the last month or so. This has given me even more money to stock up on the loss leaders.

I do still have things that I will have to buy no matter what. Like fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, and meat. Those things will never change.

I have 9 to feed... but we haven't quite got it to $300. How do you convince the kids they don't need milk ? :) I buy whole milk, pour out about 1/3 and fill it up with cold water... no one complains and when it goes down, I add the other 1/3 plus more water! Any other tips?

You wouldn't believe how many people think it's impossible to keep a grocery budget low because they buy so much milk. It is very possible! We go through quite a few gallons every week. What I do is budget for 1 gallon a week out of my money. I then will work a few more gallons into my CVS deals or into a grocery deal that i'm paying nothing for. It works out.

About adding water to the milk to drink. We don't do that, but sometimes I will add a little water to a recipe when it calls for milk. I buy only whole milk, so adding a bit of water doesn't hurt anything when cooking. It's a great money saving tip!

I was just wondering when you say you feed your family of 8 for 300 a month, is that just for food or does that include other things such as paper products, feminine care, cleaning detergents, etc? If it doesn't include those how much do you budget for those other things?

This is the biggest question I get asked by people. The $300 does include everything! If you've read my whole series then you know that I use CVS and Walgreen's to buy all paper products, feminine care, cleaning products, diapers, and more. I will say that my budget before learning to shop at CVS and Walgreen's was about $100.00 a month.

The past several weeks (about a month) we have been spending around $70 a week. It's my husband and I and 3 kids-ages 6,almost 4, and almost 1. I feel like I have to be doing something wrong considering what you spend on your size family. I have been menu planning and I feel like that has already made a difference. I use organic soaps, shampoos etc. I know that cost's more, but I wondered if you have any advice. If I can find a coupon online I will use it, but I don't get a paper. I do a lot of scratch cooking. I don't buy many box foods at all. I don't buy snacks very often either. We do homemade crackers or cereal, or some chocolate chips etc. I'm just wondering if you could give me any helpful advice to get my bill down even more! I don't do the cvs thing b/c I don't use many of those products.

I wanted to put this question in here because I wanted to show how no two families budgets will be alike. If you feel it important to buy all organic, then do so unless of course you just don't have the money. I will buy organic when I can, and we garden as much as possible, but I am not all organic. If I was, then I would need to increase my budget.

For this lady, I would say, get the paper! You never know what coupons you may find. I also say to shop at CVS and get things even if you don't use them so you can get the items you do use free. You can always bless someone else by giving them the items you don't use. Look online, there are printable organic coupons. Plant a garden, raise chickens for eggs and meat, ask your local freecyclers for produce, make your own soaps and cleaners. Even with an all organic diet, you can still save money, you just have to get creative.

Please don't look at my budget and think that you're doing something wrong because you're spending more than I am. There are alot of variables at play when planning a grocery budget. The goal is to save what you can, to make changes in areas where you can save, and to think outside of the box. All of us can lower our budgets by some if we have to, but it may not be the same as what other's are spending.

I think that I will wait and post all of the CVS and Walgreen's questions in another Q&A session. I love questions, so if you have any please leave a comment, or you can email to me at


Anonymous said...

I don't really have a comment, but I wanted to say thank you.

Amphritrite said...

Also, something to remember is that not all parts of the country are equal. For instance, in my neck of the woods, we don't have CVS. We don't have stores like Kroger who double and triple coupons.

Just because you don't have all the tools someone else does doesn't mean that you can't save big - I'm a family of 1 (and two kitties), but I've been blessed with learning enough that I can send items to my less fortunate family members throughout the state, despite not having a CVS or a double/triple store.

On any given day, I save 60%+ on my groceries by following the simple principles of stockpiling and the FOAF (free or almost free) rule. My current best is 74%, and that was only a week ago. Keep your chins up, dears! You can do it, too.

Kate said...

As always Teresa, wonderful, fabulous tips! I'm so excited to be able to tell you that I am going to get to do some stockpiling this month! My monthly trip came in over $30 lower than I had planned, so I'll be using that to stock up on loss leaders, thanks to your advice! Now I just have to decide where I most want to stock up...what fun.

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

amphritrite, yes, that's what I want people to know. Some people just live in areas that make it a little easier. I wish we had stores that doubled coupons, but we don't. Just to think about the money I could save. :-)

Kate, isn't it great to be able to stockpile! It really starts to pay off after a month or so.

Ivy Six-Pack said...

We are a family of eight, but our monthly food budget is $900. I am excited to try some of your suggestions and see if we can lower that over the next month.

We do hace Walgreens and CVS, but I avery brand loyal. Do you use different TP/ tissues/ shampoo each time depending on what is on sale?

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

Hi Ivy six-pack, one thing I have learned since starting this journey is that you can't always be brand loyal.
While I do prefer some brands to others, I actually used to use mostly generic items. I am always up for trying new brands. Especially since they are free!
Good luck as you start trying to lower your food budget.

Cajunchic said...

Someone organic can also go online and find an organic farmer's market near them. Even our small town has one.

Shelly said...

I have been couponing for several months, but not saving a ton. Last month I went to Kroger and Walmart and saved and finally saw some significant savings ($50). I live 15 miles from the stores, so gas has to figure in to my grocery trips. I have tried to cut down on my trips to the "big town" as much as possible. I have a month menu plan and try to go to the store basically once a month, except for milk, fruit...I need to get my grocery budget down. Would it be worth it to go to the store more often even with gas prices?

Thanks for your help here. I have friends that do the CVS thing, but I have never tried it. Your explaination is great! I will be trying it!
Shelly @

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

Hey Shelly,

If I was you I would sit down and look at the weekly ads for all the stores in town. I would then see what I need and how good the sales are. If I would save more than the gas money it took me I would plan one day to go to town.

If I had to travel 30 miles it would equal 2 gallons of gas. That is about $7.00 here right now. If I were to save more than that, then it would be worth it.

I would do all of my grocery store deals, CVS, and Walgreen's in one day so I could save the most time and money.

We are planning on moving out of town here in the next 2 years. When we do i'll have to reevaluate the way I shop. My husband doesn't mind doing the deal shopping so I might ask him to stop since he will still have to work in town.

If you have questions about CVS just email me.

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing all of this! I will take some time and figure out which of your tools I can use... we're in a smallish town in Nova Scotia - no CVS, no Walgreen's, and very few coupons :(

Any tips on where to get coupons from?

soontobemomof9 said...

Hi! My sister sent me your blog link. I have to admit... I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with where to start, overwhelmed with picky eaters, and overwhelmed with my 250 dollars a WEEK grocery budget, adn that does not include beef which is our most consistent meat as we raise cattle!

My husband and I have 7, soon to be 9 kids ages 17 to 4. I KNOW we are overspending. I just have no idea where to start on getting a handle on this!

I look forward to reading through your blog, and coming back! :)

Teresa said...

Soontobemomof9, I understand that overwhelmed feeling. I think we've all been there before. The best recommendation I have is to start by making a list of all your favorite meals as a family and then make a menu from it for a month. Keep all receipts for everything spent for the entire month. After you get you true total you'll be shocked by what you spent. If you're going way over budget, like I was, you'll need to tweak your meal plan to include moore budget friendly meals. Add more sides and less meat. Add more meatless meals. Add more healthy breads to help fill little ones up. You can do it! :-)