Financing the Voyage: The Grocery Budget
Well, it won’t be long now before we’ll begin to put all of our hard work over the last months into usable form in our Captain's Log, but, for today, we have a shipping reality to talk about that has the power to wreck our vessel on the reefs... FINANCING.
The grocery budget is usually hard to define and even harder to compartmentalize. Does it just contain food? What about napkins? Or paper towels? Do you take dog food out of your food budget? How about that quick trip to McDonald’s when you’re grocery shopping over lunch? What if I buy half a beef cow to freeze? Do I not buy any other groceries that month??
These are all questions that you may want to discuss with the “financial advisor” in your home before you start to plan your weekly menus for the Captain’s Log. Unfortunately for most of us, writing out a week’s worth or month’s worth of menus won’t be as easy as picking things off the lists that look good. We also need to be able to *afford* those meals.
Here are some ideas…
The biggest thing that helps me as I prepare my shopping list is to have an idea of how much I will need to spend on each item. To facilitate this, some people use a “price book”, where they jot down the prices of items at each store where they might shop. Since things are often on sale at my “staple” store, this method doesn’t really help me. Sometimes things will be cheaper at Woodmans and sometimes at Aldi, but I usually have a general idea. So this is what I do…
Here’s a list of things that I need to pick up today…
GF Breakfast Bars 5
Ore-Ida Fries 3
Green, Red, Yellow Peppers 3
Beef Broth 1
Canned Potatoes 1
Lunch Meat 3
Chips for Lunches 3
Apples from Farmers Mkt 6
The number next to the item tells me how much it will probably cost. I usually round up. That way, if I find some of my items on sale, I’ll have a little extra available to spend. I might be able to pick up another pack of gluten free noodles on sale, or buy the flour that I forgot to put on my list.
Once I have my total I can compare it to my budget and see if it fits. When doing a week’s worth of menus in the past I’ve sometimes had to cut out meals or change them because I didn’t have enough in my budget to cover them. A roast and mashed potatoes can sometimes be cheaper to fix than spaghetti if you already have the roast in your freezer!!! :-)
As you start to put together your captain’s log you’ll need to have a pretty good idea of your “financing”. If your wonderful menu plan puts a strain on the family finances, this has not been helpful at all!!
I’d like to direct you to three more Hillbilly Housewife / Frugal Abundance links that have been a blessing. These are each a week’s worth of menus that can be made for *very* little. A FABULOUS resource!!!
$45 Menu for 4 - http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/40dollarmenu.htm
$70 Menu for 4 - http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/70dollarmenu.htm
*** I don’t know if the ebooks on the hillbillyhousewife site are good as I haven’t bought any of them. I believe they are affiliated with the new owner of the site, while the recipes and menus that I’m recommending are by the old owner. ***
Gluten Free/Casein Free Menu - http://frugalabundance.com/1001_gfcftrialmenu.pdf
All right, now it’s your turn. :-) Think through your budget and ways to help save. Look through the links. There’s a very special part of those links that we’ll be looking at again - What do you think it is??? Feel free to share your grocery budget tips and tricks in the comments!