How I Feed My Family of 7 for $400 Per Month
Grocery Shopping on a Budget
Grocery shopping can get expensive. Especially when you have kids. I have always tried to shop frugally… for everything… clothing, food, necessities… everything. I am always looking to save some money, and have been budget shopping for groceries since my husband and I got married in 2008. But every year we have had to expand our budget … Why?? We have growing kids… 5 of them to be exact. Here’s how we make it work while grocery shopping on a budget.
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Our Grocery Budget
My kids are still pretty young,(11,10,8,4, and 7 months) so I am sure our budget will change in a few years when they are teenagers. But for now, our grocery shopping budget is $400 per month.
We were only budgeting $150 per paycheck at the beginning of this year, but in order to avoid eating out a lot, we raised our budget a bit to $200 each paycheck. (We still do make a separate budget for eating out… a very small one!) **
Disclosure: I realize that in some areas your prices/cost-of-living may be higher than where we live.
I do my grocery shopping every 2 weeks. Sometimes I spend the full $200, sometimes I am under budget, and I very seldom go over budget. Before I dive into the details of my shopping trips, I want to say this:
I am not an extreme couponer.
I do use the occasional coupon… And it would be awesome if I knew all the one and outs of the coupon world, but unfortunately, I do not…and quite frankly, I don’t have much time for clip coupons. So, for now, I will have to share with you how I manage to stay around $400 for our family.
Places I shop:
Kroger Aldi That is pretty much it. Around here, those are the 2 most affordable places to do my grocery shopping. Kroger has awesome meat prices, and Aldi is the best when it comes to produce. I do my main shopping at Aldi unless Kroger is having one of their crazy good sales. Ex: Buy 5 Save $5 or 10 for $10!
*Edited to say this: I no longer do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi. Now, I split my shopping between Walmart and Kroger. I still stay in my budget!
Here is an example of some of the awesome deals at Aldi:
- Eggs: $0.49/ dozen most of the time!!! Never over $0.79. I buy 4 dozen every 2 weeks. We use them for breakfast, baking, and other recipes. **Update: Wal-Mart in our area has lowered their prices on milk to $1.68 per gallon and eggs are 80 cents for a carton of 36!! (Wal-Mart will be my new place for eggs and milk!)
- Milk: $1.89/ gallon! I buy 2 gallons.
- Bread: $0.89-$1.20 depending on what kind of bread you want. The healthier stuff is more expensive but still less than most stores.
- Fresh sweet corn: $0.19/ ear
- Strawberries: $1.29/carton
- Seedless Watermelon $2.29
- Blueberries $1.49
- Red grapes $1.58 per bag
- Sirloin $5.99/lb
- Chicken breast: $1.79/ lb
The sales listed above were from 2017.
They have different sales every week, but my grocery trip always stays under $200 at Aldi. Even when I purchase my meat here. (This is an overflowing cart full of groceries)
What I like about Kroger is that you can get a plus card. With the plus card, you get a discount on almost everything…plus gas points. You also get good coupons in the mail, that are tailored to what you normally purchase, along with coupons for FREE in-store items.
For example, this month I got free frozen veggies! (this is my occasional coupon usage) Every little thing helps! Kroger has good meat sales most of the time, too. Sometimes they run buy 5 save $5 sales or 10 for $10. These sales are when you get the most bang for your buck.
I use Kroger pick up now that I’ve had my 5th child. It just makes running errands so much easier. Kroger’s pick up costs $4.95 per pick up, but with the money I save loading digital coupons, it pays for itself.
I most frequently use Walmart for grocery pickup. Because…
#1 It’s Free.
#2 It’s normally the cheapest option.
#3 I can get everything I need in one spot!
However… You can not use coupons at Wal-mart. So, there are times when Kroger is the cheapest.
Use my referral link to get $10 off your first pickup order. >> Walmart Pickup
How I Meal Plan:
I usually make a meal plan for 2 weeks. I make sure I have 14 dinner plans…Even if I am going to eat out a couple of nights.
It helps to have a couple fall back recipes for when your not in the mood for that spaghetti. When I make out my meal plan, I ask each person in my family of there is one thing they want me to make for dinner….except, of course, my toddler….so that gives me 4 meals.
(One from my husband and one from each of my older 3 kids).
Then I try to think of 1 meal I really want… There’s 5. Then I either go to my trusty, well-loved recipe box or I go to Pinterest. I pick out the rest of my meals and write down all the ingredients I need.
Then I go through my pantry/fridge to see what I have already and mark it off my list. When I am done, I transfer that list to my grocery list.
After that, I go through my pantry/fridge again to see what other items we are low on and put them on my list.
I also make a list of breakfast ideas. We don’t eat huge fancy breakfast meals every day, but we aren’t really cereal eaters. A typical breakfast for us, when my husband isn’t home, is toast and peanut butter with fruit… Or pancakes and eggs. I also make freezer breakfast burritos for my husband to eat before work. (He gets up super early: 3-4am)
I usually spread my meal planning and grocery cart loading throughout the week. Since I use grocery pick up, I can shop all week!
Whenever payday rolls around, I finish loading last-minute products to my cart. Then I schedule my pick-up time right from my comfy bed! It’s pretty awesome!
No more trudging through the store with 5 little ducklings trailing behind!
I have also used Instacart… but only once so far. It was pretty nice having my groceries arrive at my front door though! With Instacart you can get delivery from a lot of different stores all in one swipe. Use this code to get $10 towards your first order. >>> Instacart
Things we don’t buy to save $$$:
#1 it’s not good for you…#2 It’s expensive. We mainly drink ice tea and water. We also pick up some V8 splash on occasion.
We only buy steak when it is on sale.
Again..unless there is a sale we do not buy shrimp.
We do not buy snack cakes and etc… Not that we never eat them, we just only have them on occasion. We like to make homemade sweets like cookies or brownies.
We only buy tortilla chips for taco salad or recipes. (This has actually changed recently. We buy 2 bags of other chips to have with our lunchmeat sandwiches.)
We do not buy ready to cook freezer meals like lasagna or those Chinese stir fry meals. We make our lasagna and stir fry from scratch.
It all boils down to being a smart shopper.
- Check your local sale ads.
- Avoid the freezer section at the grocery store.
- Make things from scratch….(Yes, it’s more time consuming, but it is healthier and a $$$ saver.)
- Have a plan!
- Use Ibotta!! (<– use my referral link to get $10 when you sign up! We use Ibotta to save on groceries at Walmart and Kroger… There are a lot of other stores you can use it with as well!)
I am always looking for new/better ways to save some $$. I’d love to hear how you Leave it in the comments.
Grab your Meal Planning Printable >>> Monthly Meal Plans