Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Food Update

As I mentioned in my IDC Week Three update, I've revised my "food spreadsheet" in an effort to track what we spend on food. My goal is to get our monthly costs - all things included - to below the food stamp allotment of $698 per month.

We didn't do so well in the month of May. I'd like to blame it on the the fact that in just our nuclear family, we have three birthdays and an anniversary in those last two weeks and if you add our extended family there's an additional anniversary and four more birthdays. Essentially, from May 17 until May 31, every other day is a day to celebrate ;).

But that's not what did it, because we didn't follow our usual Modus Operandi of taking everyone out to eat to celebrate and spending hundreds of dollars.

Part of it was going back to the Farmer's Market after a very long winter. Part of it was a crazy-busy schedule which encouraged us to rush out of the hosue unprepared with snacks or beverages. Part of it was just succumbing to the convenience of calling the Portland Pie Company to make our dinner.

But, overall, for the entire month of May (although I may have missed a couple of take-out meals in the first week or so) for the five of us, including eating out and what we purchased at the Farmer's Market, we spent

... drum roll, please ...

a grand total of $873.04.

That includes going to 7-11 and getting orange juice and tea when the girls are at dance class, and frankly, that's the first thing I decided we needed to stop for this month. When you figure each visit costs about $8 (three single-serve bottles of OJ and a large hot tea) and we're there twice a week, it adds up to almost $70 per month - just for beverages we could bring from home with just a tiny bit of effort.

So, Deus Ex Machina gifted me with a really awesome ceramic travel mug for my birthday, and I can bring a tea bag and some sugar to the dance school and make my own tea in their microwave.

And, for the girls, we used the L.L. Bean gift certificate we've had for almost a year and bought metal drink bottles.

If everything is the same, except going to 7-11, we'll spend just over $800 next month, which is still over $100 more than my goal of $698 per month, but we're getting closer.

In Septebmer 2006, we spent $1255 for food - half of which was eating out with most of that fastfood.

I believe we're certainly making progress in the right direction :).


  1. Will you include trips to Pick your own? Or do you budget for that apart from your monthly food budget?

  2. Yes, those convenience stops are a killer. Gymnastics and archery "require" a coffee and sometimes stuff for the kids, too. I should just add up that amount and apply savings towards something... like paying down more debt!

  3. Awesome!!! It's really not that hard when you put your mind to it. I'm a slacker right now and we're spending $300 a month in food. That's insane, I could totally reel it in more than that...but I'm kind of addicted to the feast and famine routine.

  4. Good job!

    I should do something similar. I know I have budgeted $50/week for groceries, and I stay within that pretty well. But we have to go to the store every few days for milk (not enough room in the fridge to store enough for a whole week) and periodically we will grab a bite to eat on the run....

    Of course, I need another list to keep track of like I need a hole in the head. But this one might be worth it.

  5. it would be near impossible to calculate our food expense. accruing two pigs, half a beef and fifty chickens over the course of a year and cost surrounding them, then interleave garden expenses, canning supplies. i'd venture a guess of $1,100 per month. we eat out once per month maybe..

    then there is the milk cow that we have raised from birth. oh, we pay a great deal for our food.

  6. Fleecenik - I will include PYO, in the month we do it. I'm also including the cost of butchering our chickens, and I have to figure out how I'm going to handle the cost of feed and chicks. I'll probably handle it the same way - added to that month's food bill.

    The way I figure it is that I buy lots of stuff in bulk, and I count it the month I do it, but it ends up saving me the next month ... although the next month there'll be something else. So, in the end, it all balances out.

    .... hmmm?

    Maybe I should just budget $700 per month for twelve months and then, if I spend more in April, I have to spend less in May ...

    .... hmmm? Something to think about ;).

    Kaye - I aspire to your budget ;). $300 per month for food for my whole family ... that would be great - or even $500, which averages $100 per person (roughly what you're spending, if you don't count the moochkin :).

    Rach :) - you are so right! It's just too easy to just stop, but it really adds up after a while. We used to be bad at the fast-food stops, too. Getting better, but it's tough.

    Barefoot - I try really hard not to go to the store mid-week. In fact, I'm trying to cut it down to once or twice a month at the grocery. Right now, it's easier, because I'm getting a lot of stuff, including milk, at the Farmer's Market ;).

    Karl - it is tough trying to calculate how much we spend. I haven't even begun to figure in the cost of seeds and garden stuff. I'm sure we're spending more than I'm allowing, because of stuff like feed and buying the animals.

    The good thing about the canning supplies, though, is the jars and rings and kettles are already paid for (and many were free to begin with as a neighbor gave us a bunch of stuff), and the salt, sugar and vinegar is figured into my costs already, and many of the herbs and spices are perennials I've had for years in my garden (like the dill I used last year for my pickles that was a "volunteer"). It's hard to calculate all of that, but what I'm trying to calculate is actual dollars spent so that we can get a handle on how many dollars we actually *need* for food - and how few dollars we can get by with and still maintain our current eating habits.