The actual facts are hard to pull from the data available. According to Statistics Canada, an average family in Alberta spends around $625 a month on food. What makes it so difficult is what constitutes a family – which is anything from a single person living on their own, to a married couple with 10 children. Averages that cover such a broad spectrum are not very good indicators of what an average family – or in my case, 2 adults and 4 children – would spend per month on food.
I feel that I am a very frugal shopper; I don’t buy a lot of prepared or packaged food or too many “snack” items, nor do we spend much on eating out (between $50 - $100 per month) and yet my food budget over the last year (includes all household supplies like toilet paper and personal supplies like toothpaste and shampoo) ran an average of $1,030 per month. This equals out to $172 a month per person, or $5.85 a day per person. Now keep in mind that I am essentially feeding 5 adults and 1 child and that this amount is in Canadian dollars, but I have been determined to make some changes and get this amount down!
So how low can I go without sacrificing health and nutrition and fearing revolt of my husband and children?
Over the last month or so I have been researching what other families are eating, looking for new recipes and essentially trying to find ways to cut costs. I came across a blog that holds a carnival called Meal Plan Mondays. I also have found a blog from a mom that feeds her family of 6 on $60 a week! Can you even imagine? I spend that just on dairy and produce every week (actually, I think I spend closer to $80 on dairy and produce each week)!
So how is she and others like her doing it?
This last month I determined that I would cut my food budget $200 – my goal amount is $800 per month, which equals out to approximately $133 a month per person (or $4.38 a day per person), and to do this I have already implemented a lot of significant changes:
1. I have started making homemade yogurt.
The cost per month for homemade yogurt is $12.50. I was spending about double that before and we were not eating yogurt ever day, just for snacks. Now about 3 of us have yogurt almost every day for breakfast.
2. I started making my own cleaning supplies.
I read a few articles, looked up countless recipes and then jumped right in! It is hard to guess, but I think I am saving about $175 a year, which equals out to a savings of almost $15 a month.
3. I have replaced canned beans with dried beans and have added more lentils and barley.
Everyone in our family has always loved beans, but switching from canned to dried only took a bit of planning, and it costs significantly less! I make all my beans in my slow cooker, so really, the effort involved is minimal and I can make about a side dish of beans for around .50 instead of $2.50. That is a pretty significant difference.
I am not to fond of lentils (I never had them growing up), but I am working on developing a taste for them. My boys like them fine, but my daughter will not even try them (stubborn girl!) and we all love barley. I have found lots of new recipes and will be trying them out and perfecting them for our family over the next few months. When we try something we love I will share it J!
4. I plan for one meatless meal and one frugal protein meal per week.
I was pretty much already doing this; I love having a good vegetarian meal at least once per week and although sometimes the meat lovers in my house complain (quietly – in fear of losing their meal), all my boys love their veggies as much as I do and I have been slowly turning my husband as well. I have been searching for even more vegetarian recipes over the last month and I think I have found some that everyone will enjoy and will cost less then $10 to make.
I also have been diligently making sure that I make at least one meal with eggs or tuna each week, both of which are very frugal and nutritious. A tuna casserole costs around $7 to make and will typically feed at least two people lunch the next day. A meal with eggs normally comes in around $5 - $6 and my daughter will actually eat these meals.
Cutting our food budget is a daunting task for me – we live in Alberta (a wee bit red neck) and a meal is not a meal without a big hunk of meat on your plate! Yet with a bit of creativity and work I am confident that everyone will leave the table full and satisfied.
So here is our weekly meal plan: (added late - but better late than never!!)
Monday - Pork roast with roasted carrots and onions and mashed potatoes; desert - Rhubarb pudding cake with whipped cream
Tuesday - Bbq meatloaf with potato salad, baked bbq beans and corn
Wednesday - Spicy spaghetti with homemade garlic bread
Thursday - Spicy coconut Rice and beans with curry vegetables
Friday - Asian pork hamburgers with stuffed jalapenos and salad (with ginger dressings and white beans)
Saturday - Eggs and toast with muffins or biscuits
Sunday - FREE FOR ALL!! :)
Breakfasts: cold cereal, yogurt and granola, muffins or toast
Lunch: whatever you can make yourself or find in the fridge :)
Possible desserts: Apple-rhubarb crisp, ice cream with fruit and fudge sauce, lava cakes, cheesecakes (I haven't quite decided what I am going to make just yet for the rest of the week, but here are some of the requests and options)
Frugal Grocery Budget
50 Money Saving Tips