Eat Real Food: What I Buy and How much I Spend

I’ve been asked quite a few times over the last couple months how much I spend on groceries and what I buy in a normal month. So for the month of February, I wrote down and calculated everything I spent.

Our basic budget for groceries each month is $300.00. I don’t go over this. How do I not go over it? I spend only cash! Never ever do I bring a credit or debit card out when paying. It helps me not only stick to my weekly budget, but my overall budget as well. I normally plan on spending about $200.00 at the supermarket, $50.00 on bulk items, and $50.00 at the farm.

Since the items we buy rarely have sales or coupons, I stock up on most of our staples the first week of the month, spending about $125.00 for that week. The remaining 3 weeks I normally spend $30.00 to $40.00 at the grocery store and the rest at the farm. Of course none of this is “set in stone” and some months I do vary how and where I spend our money.

Another thing you should know is that we get all of our beef from the freezer! Last summer I sold a few items I no longer needed and saved up to buy a quarter of a grassfed cow which came to about 70 pounds of meat. My husband also went hunting so we had 80 pounds of venison in the freezer as well. Before this our grocery bill was still the same, we just ate less meat! But with the Lord’s provision for us this year, we’ve been able to eat like kings! And being pregnant the meat is a wonderful source of protein and iron for me.

Also, the cost of our groceries had come down for a couple of months, but since my husband has been eating a gluten free diet, I’ve had to spend a bit more while trying to stock up on different flours and things that he could eat.

Without further ado, here is what I spent last month and what I spent it on:

At the local supermarket I spent $151.54.
-6 bags tortilla chips (my husband the snacker)
-2 zucchini
-8 lg apples
-2 jars applesauce
-3 broccoli bunches
-canteloupe
-8 lbs banana
-3 lbs sweet potatoes
-gluten free granola bars (I wasn’t feeling well and knew I wouldn’t have time to make my own)
-15 oz tomato sauce
-2 celery bunches
-plain whole fat yogurt
-3 lbs organic onions
-4lbs chicken
-1 lb baby carrots
-10 lbs whole wheat flour
-1 pkg organic romaine lettuce
-2 boxes gluten free peanut butter crunch cereal (1st time I’ve bought cereal in about 6 months. But again, I wasn’t feeling well and this is hubby’s favorite, it was on sale, and he was complaining about the state of his breakfasts)
-mothers milk tea (clearanced at 1/2 off)
-toothpicks
-5 kiwifruit
-potato chips
-toilet paper (6 roll)
-4 lbs of grapes
-4 cans of soup
-gluten free, organic taco kit (clearanced at 1/2 off!)
-hair gel
-vacuum bags (1/2 off clearance again!)
-head of lettuce
-baking soda
-1 lb green pepper
-can of peanuts
-large container of vinegar
-diced ham for homemade soup
-onion powder
-pineapple
-fresh mushrooms
-2 bags of oranges
-dried beans
-5 lbs of potatoes
I also came home with 2 bags of apples that I never put in my cart and actually didn’t pay for. Why didn’t I return them? Well, because any food item returned just gets thrown away and my sister who works there told me to just keep them.

At the local health food store I spent $59.81. (normally would be much less, but I picked up a few splurges for Todd as he was severely missing some of his normal gluten and dairy-laden foods!)
-2 boxes brown rice pasta
-1 dz eggs
-white rice flour
-baking cocoa (my splurge! for hot cocoa)
-baking powder
-dried cranberries
-raisins
-tapioca flour
-organic chocolate chips (splurge)
-hemp milk (splurge – clearance item)
-rice dream ice cream (major splurge)
-1 qt raw honey

At our local bulk/restaurant supply store I spent $51.33.
-5 lbs frozen peaches (for smoothies)
-5 lbs shredded mozzarella (lasts us about 3 months)
-5 lbs shredded cheddar (lasts about 3 months)
-24 oz sliced white cheddar cheese
-6 lbs 10 oz of tomato sauce
-2 64 oz jars of salsa

At the farm I spent $32.75.
-3 dozen eggs
-1/2 gallon cow milk
-3 gallons goat milk

All together it came to $295.43. I stayed under budget. Some months I spend more at the farm when I have to buy honey and syrup. Other months I spend more on bulk items and stocking our pantry. It all depends on what I currently have in the cupboards and what we need to eat.

I’m also looking into buying in bulk at a local whole foods coop. I just need to get my order ready and for this I plan on using some of our tax refund. Hopefully this will substantially lower our overall food bill (where I can spend less each month and save the rest for a future order) and fully stock our pantry. Especially important with the baby due in about 6-8 weeks time! I’d rather not have to run to the store for awhile if I don’t have to. Todd will be on grocery duty! Which is a bit worrisome. Notice all the chips and salsa? Yup, mostly him. Such a snacker. But after looking at this monthly list, I think I’ll have to be cutting back in the chip department! That’s way to much money on junk snacks!

So that’s how and where I spend my money. How do you afford a (almost) whole foods diet?
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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.

Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    This is great! It inspired me to really keep track of everything I buy this month and see where my grocery money goes. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mom2fur says:

    I sure wish it were possible to buy half a cow here!
    Your comment, “my husband the snacker” made me laugh. I only recently discovered that I can freeze tortilla chips. I should have known, since I already freeze tortillas, LOL! (I just put them in a big, hard container so they don’t crush and only take out what I need.)
    Do you freeze the bananas? The doctor I work for is Indian and she had a lot of fruit left after a special prayer meeting. (Hindus use a lot of fruit and flowers.) I cut up and froze most of them, and my freezer smells really good every time I open it, LOL!

  3. Donielle says:

    My parents used to freeze tortilla chips too. They bought them in bulk in a huge bag! I’ve thought about it, but our freezer isn’t big enough with all that meat in there right now. :-)
    And the bananas -we mostly eat them fresh! I know, it seems like a lot, but I use them in smoothies a few times a week and my toddler loves them for snacks! When they start getting to brown I’ll quick pop them in the freezer though and use them for breads and muffins.

  4. Marianne says:

    That is amazing! I’m feeding 2 pre-teen boys, so a grocery bill that low is not in my future. But I have a tip for you! Buy tortillas, cut them into triangles (or strips), lay them on a foil lined sheet, spray lightly with olive oil spray (or whatever you have) and then sprinkle with cumin, salt, or any seasoning you like (my kids like cinnamon sugar), and bake at 400 for about 8 minutes. Voila, cheap, healthy tortilla chips.

  5. Do you freeze your shredded cheeses? How to do you get it to last so long?

    Great grocery list…making me hungry. :)

  6. I spend 120 a week- but that includes cleaning products. We eat about 50% organic. I am hopeful that with smart budgeting I can work organic meat into our budget this year.

    I am hoping we can buy a big freezer this year too, so I can stock up on things when the prices are good. My biggest cost is organic fruit and milk.

    Now that we are moved into our house I have room for a stockpile and I am looking forward to increased savings.

  7. Donielle says:

    Marianne – I’ve thought about doing that before but never got around to it. Now my hubby has to eat gluten free so I’ve had to buy corn tortilla chips. The cinnamon sugar one sounds great though! I’ll have to try that our for myself one night!

    MB – I buy my cheese in large 5 lb bags. When I get it home I put 2-3 cups (I eyeball it!) into a ziploc bag, squeeze out all the air and freeze. It lasts just fine. Longest I’ve had it in there is a few months, but never any problems. Chunk cheese does get crumbly though. And the white cheddar slices I buy tend to go crumbly too, but those are just for my grilled cheese sandwiches. I don’t know how raw cheese would freeze as I’ve never tried it. Right now, that’s just not in my budget! So we stick to store bought cheeses.

  8. FoodRenegade says:

    We buy everything we can from local farmers in bulk. Bulk meat purchase, bulk veggie purchases (via CSA), part of a raw milk buying co-op, bulk grain purchases, etc. We also eliminated all packaged foods from our diets (this cut down on expenses A LOT). We feed a family of 4 on $400/month.

  9. jodimichelle says:

    Do you have another budget for toiletries and cleaning supplies? I know you mostly use vinegar and such – but how do those other monthly costs fit into your grocery budget? We try to spend less than $400 a month on EVERYTHING. Food, toiletries, cleaning supplies – anything you can buy at a grocery store. We eat mostly organic and a TON of produce. Plus I am buying meat right now.

    I love these kinds of posts because it gets me all excited to try and rework our budget or gives me the energy to keep planning and saving when it’s really hard for me to feel motivated. Plus it’s just fun to know what other families are doing :)

  10. Donielle says:

    Jodi – Yup, all of our toiletries, paper products, cleaning stuff and diapers come out of our grocery budget. Basically anything on the “grocery” side of Meijer!

    Toiletries – I’m still stocked from last year on lots of things from CVS. Hopefully in about 3 months I can run across some great deals again.

    Paper products – We don’t use paper towel so really the only thing we buy is TP and I can usually get that on sale every few months and stock up. This last month we obviously didn’t buy any.

    Cleaning – yea, I use mostly vinegar and baking soda where I can. And I’ve also been blessed recently with products sent to me to review.

    Diapers – Cody is in cloth only and hopefully the new baby will be mostly in cloth although I have been stocking up on disposables when I can find a great deal on them. I need to do that again this month!

    It took me about 6 months last year of spending a bit more in order to stock up on essentials. Now I try and only buy whats on sale. The next few months might be higher though with the new baby coming and all. I just don’t have the energy to make everything from scratch right now!

  11. AudreyO says:

    Wow, I’m so impressed you were able to keep track for a whole month. I buy some things in bulk and so there are a few things I only buy a few times per year. I buy meats, poultry, fruits and veggies fresh.

  12. Our budget is about twice as yours but I still have a hard time keeping under it. We buy from Trader Joe’s, organic and natural items from Costco, bulk foods and natural meats from a local “whole” foods store, I buy raw milk from a local drop point, and subscribe to a weekly organic produce delivery service. Once a month I also order from Azure Standard for a few bulk items. I did not see meat on your list, which is by far the priciest item, do you guys eat meat or did I just miss it?

  13. Anna- As of right now, our budget does not include any beef since we saved up last year and bought 1/4 of a cow and then my husband got 2 deer during hunting season. Before that though, I did buy meat at the store, we just ate less of it.

    It probably also depends on how many mouths you feed. I just have to feed a pregnant me, my husband, and a 2 year old right now. I also buy very little convenience foods and make most everything from scratch. I’d have to say that’s where our biggest savings come into play!

  14. Hi there,
    I just came across your blog tonight, and I’m loving it!!

    I was just officially diagnosed with PCOS a few days ago. I’ve known I had it for about a year now, but it was a bit of a rigamarole to get it diagnosed.

    I’m currently seeing a homoeopathic doctor for comprehensive treatment, which has helped alot with general health.

    I have also become much more conscious about food, and since I love cooking, it’s not been that hard to do. My grocery list is quite similar to yours, in alot of ways. We tend to fill up a large portion of our cart in the produce aisle, and then fill in the rest as necessary. I cook almost everything from scratch, and my husband definitely appreciates the taste/quality benefits! We have both become food snobs, and even restaurants aren’t that great anymore. 😉

    Anyhow, I look forward to following your blog- I’m sure I can learn alot from you. :)