Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
Hi! I love your blog and found it via another blog. I have done the menu planning like you suggested and I’ve only managed to get spending to about $130. My problem is this, I have a husband that only eats meat and potatoes (literally) and my daughter is a huge meat eater. How can I spend less when the bulk of the problem is the meat and a picky eater? I would appreciate any suggestions you might have.
Well, it’s quite possible that a $130/week budget is the best that you can do for your particular family. $100/week works for my family of six, but none of us are large people, none of us have large appetites, and none of us are big meat eaters. I definitely am not of the opinion that $100/week is the ideal budget for every family!
If eating less meat is not an option for your family, then you could consider using less expensive meat (chuck roasts instead of steaks, chicken thighs instead of boneless breasts, etc.). Another option is to keep a close eye out for sales on the meats that you like. When you see a good sale on a cut your family loves, buy more than you need for that week and store it in the freezer. That way you won’t have to pay full price the next time you need meat.
You might also want to check and see if other stores in your area have better meat prices. A warehouse club might be good for you, or you may simply be able to shop the loss leader meat sales at traditional grocery stores (loss leaders are the front page sale items on your grocery store’s weekly circular).
I am new to your site and in reading this latest post, I am curious how to get away with an approx. $100 wk. grocery bill with a family of six? It is just me and my husband and I easily spend $130 a week on groceries. There are some things that are non-negotiable. For example, we only buy Honey Bunches of Oats – my husband refuses to eat anything else. I generally catch it on a sale and stock up. The only other thing in coffee, we prefer Dunkin Donuts brand, which is pricey. Other than that, I make my own pasta sauce and yogurt. I buy dried beans versus canned and we are not big on microwaveable food. We only drink milk, juice or tap water, so no soda.
Do you clip coupons? Where do you shop? I generally go to Meijers and maybe that is the problem.
As I said in my response to the previous question, I don’t at all think that everyone on the planet needs to operate on a $100/week grocery budget. $100 just might not work for you and your husband, and that’s ok.
It is definitely worth it to take a look at other stores in your area. I don’t have a Meijers here, but I know that some grocery stores are flat-out more expensive than others. If you’ve got an Aldi in your area, I highly, highly recommend giving them a try. I wrote a post about what and what not to buy at Aldi that might be helpful to you.
Soda is not a healthy drink by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s usually cheaper than milk and juice (I’d consider those beverages to be more of a budget buster than soda). So, if you really need to shrink your grocery budget, consider trading out the juice for water. Milk does at least have nutritional value, but bottled juice isn’t much more healthy than soda and it’s waaay more expensive than water! If you can’t bear to live without juice, maybe you could drink juice from frozen concentrate. This tends to be less expensive than bottled juice.
When it comes to lowering grocery budgets I usually recommend these 10 things (which are in no particular order):
1) Shopping at stores with good prices
2) Cooking from scratch when possible
4) Stocking up when prices are lower
5) Eating leftovers
7) Planning a menu, making a grocery list, and sticking to it
8 ) Eating less meat
9) Switching out expensive foods for semi-equivalent inexpensive foods (oatmeal instead of cold cereal, chicken salad sandwiches for lunch meat sandwiches)
10) Buying generics when possible (I know some generic groceries are pathetic, but some are really good, so don’t be afraid to try them!)
If you’re doing all of those things and are still spending $130/week, then I think you should conclude that you’ve gotten your budget as low as you can, and you should not stress about it any further. 🙂
I was just wondering what you do for organization purposes in your house. Your house always looks so clutter-free and peaceful that I was wondering what your secret was. Bins? Baskets? Furniture that you paint from Goodwill or Freecycle?
Hee. Well, my home is not always clutter-free and peaceful. 😉 I’d like it to be, and I work towards that end, but I am not ever perfectly successful, due in large part to the 4 children that inhabit my home. The last time my dwelling place was completely clutter free was 5 years ago (we had our townhouse on the market) and that took several weeks of focused effort!
That said, here are a few things that help me to keep clutter from taking over our home.
We don’t own tons of stuff. The less stuff you own, the easier it is to keep your house clean, so get rid of stuff you don’t need! Generally speaking, I’ve found that I can happily function with far fewer possessions than I think I can. If I’m on the fence about whether or not I need something, I usually get rid of it and I find that I don’t even miss it.
I have designated locations for stuff. Library books have a basket, the legos have a bin, the dress-up clothes have a chest, and dirty clothes have a hamper. These sorts of locations are simple enough for children to understand, which means that they can put things in the appropriate places (that doesn’t always mean they do, mind you!).
We clean up nearly every day. Picking things up isn’t too hard if the mess is only what’s accumulated in a day. It’s when the mess is composed of 7+ day’s worth of living that it gets overwhelming. We try to clean up toys every day, do the dishes every day, sort the mail every day, sweep/vacuum the main floors every day, and do laundry every day. I know some people seem to function ok with a feast or famine cleaning method, but I’m much better off if I do a little bit every day.
I do deep decluttering semi-regularly. Even with daily or semi-daily picking up, a low-grade level of clutter does eventually build up in my house. So, during the summer or sometimes during the school year, I do deeper decluttering. This summer I’m systematically working through the rooms and closets in our house, getting rid of things we don’t need so that I can start the school year sort of clutter free.
If you don’t have a big block of time to declutter, though, you can accomplish quite a bit in small blocks of time. Try setting aside 15 minutes a day to declutter something small, like a single drawer, or a single shelf. You won’t get as much done as you would in 8 hours, but you’ll get more done than you would if you didn’t spent those 15 minutes getting rid of stuff.
Readers, do you have any good organization/anti-clutter tips for Bonnie? And of course, if you’ve got something to add to the grocery discussion, comment away. 🙂
Today’s 365 post: I hate it when bananas do this.