A “Real Food” Food Budget

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I’ve recently been seeing some posts on ways to save money by finding areas in which we can cut our spending.

I’m always interested in reading these types of posts since my family lives on a budget.  I have to be honest, the past year and a half has been difficult for my family.  Healthcare insurance through my husband’s job sky-rocketed last year to a point that it was going to cost us more than our mortgage payment.

Trying to find affordable private insurance left us with debt when my son had to take an emergency trip to the hospital and bills started pouring in unlike anything we’d ever experienced before.

Praise the Lord, we’ve since found insurance that is working for our family; however, with cost of gas and other living expenses continually rising, it’s been a priority to budget and cut costs where ever we can.

Cutting Food Costs

It seems to me that whenever we talk about a budget, cutting food costs makes the top of the list.  I recently read an article by Money Saving Mom where she talks about making a food budget as a way to contribute to your families finances.  I was intrigued, however, when I read that a good place to start is $20 per family member per week, I started to shake my head a little bit.

For my family, that would mean $80 per week on groceries.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that for my family and I, real food is a priority.  Coupons don’t work for us.

However, as far as eating real food, I think I do a pretty good job of budgeting our groceries while still eating whole, unprocessed foods.

A “Real Food” Food Budget

I’m going to be starting a series on what I do to save our family money on real food.

  1. The cost saving benefits of owning a grain mill.  This is one of my most essential kitchen items that saves my family quite a bit of money.  I’ll be sharing my recipes for whole wheat pancakes, bread, buns, rolls, tortillas, english muffins and more.  I save so much money by buying my grains in bulk and forgoing the entire bread (highly processed) section completely.
  2. How to shop wisely at natural chain grocery stores.  I wish I could purchase everything locally, however, I do shop at our local Trader Joes and a variety of other chain grocery stores especially during the winter months.  It saves my family money on organic and grass fed items that would otherwise break my budget.  I’m going to share with you how I shop, what I buy, and most importantly what I’m spending. No, I do not buy processed organic foods 😉
  3. Stocking your pantry and buying in bulk.
  4. The cost saving benefits of eating in season.
  5. Bartering. This is something I am especially thankful for.  My family has been able to have a chest freezer full of locally raised, pastured and grass fed meats by bartering.  Now that our freezer is getting low, we’ll have to start budgeting in local meat as well. I do not budge on meats or dairy.  They must be local, pastured, and grassfed.
  6. The cost saving benefits of meal planning.  I have saved quite a bit of money when I’m diligent in meal planning and then following through.
  7. The cost saving benefits of shopping at your farmers market.  By arriving early and establishing relationships with my local farmers, I have been able to save so much money on local, chemical free produce and meats.  I’ll be sharing my tips on how to work it at the farmers market and opening your palate to a variety seasonal foods.
  8. Of course… grow and raise your own 😉  I have an abundance of backyard farm fresh eggs, chicken meat, and vegetables that saves me so much money.

This should be especially helpful for those that work full time out of the home. Just because your busy, doesn’t mean we can’t figure out how to fit real food into your budget and lifestyle.

I hope your ready for this series.  To make sure you don’t miss a post, please sign up for my newsletter below in which I’ll be sending out updates on the “Real Food” Food Budget Series.

Do you have any cost saving tips on real food you’d like to share?  Please share with us in the comments below.

38 Responses to "A “Real Food” Food Budget"
  1. I can’t wait to read this series. We’re another single-income family with a budget. We spend sooooo much on food because like you I don’t want to compromise the quality. We grow our own, barter, and bake our own bread products already but I’m sure I can still pick up some ideas.

  2. We try to cut costs by doing some of these things. This is a much needed series.
    Blessings and prayers,

  3. Sabrina says:

    Looking forward to reading this. I spend $100 a week on our groceries and I really need to cut that as much as possible, especially since I’m considering switching to part time work. I refuse to budge on meat or dairy either, which adds significantly to our expenses as we do NOT have a big freezer or anything backyard chickens (or a backyard for that matter).

  4. Deanna says:

    Exciting to read this series! Love getting new ideas on how to save money and eat good real food as well.

  5. Rachelle says:

    I love eating from my garden in the spring and summer. It really does save on veggies. I really try to keep my dinner budget for 5 people at around $7 -$8 a night for the whole meal. Sometimes less.

  6. Yissell Diaz says:

    awesome! can’t wait for the series!

  7. Lana says:

    I am looking forward to these posts, as I am also big on frugality, but without sacrificing quality. Unfortunately, I cannot grow my own produce as we now live in an apartment (sniff, sniff, had to leave my beautiful garden back in Ohio), but I still grow all the herbs.
    We are in SoCal, and every street has a ton of citrus trees. A lot of people do not know what to do with 50lbs of Meyer lemons, and I learned to go and ask if we can help them pick and in turn get a few pounds. It usually works:)
    I make my own bread, lard, and preserves. I used to brine sauerkraut, but that, also, is impossible in an apartment.
    I hope you have a great week!

  8. I’m looking forward to this series, Diana…I’ve been thinking about doing more meal planning as a way towards shaving a little off the food budget. I hear you about the cost of healthcare…yipes!

  9. Rick says:

    Our garden is a big part of keeping our food budget down. Last year we grew almost 750 pounds from our small garden. There is no way we would have been able to afford that much organic produce at the grocery store!! Our chickens help as well. We use eggs for our main source of protein.

  10. Kendra B. says:

    I’m excited for this series, thanks for doing this!

  11. Kim says:

    I am really interested in this series. I have 5 children at home (we have 7 in all). I make all their lunches for school, and all my husband’s lunches for work. I spend about $200 a week in groceries (this includes our weekly CSA box), but I am not buying only ‘real’ foods. Unfortunately the bread aisle still gets my business. But we’re trying and trying. So, any tips and ideas will be much appreciated here!

  12. Morgan says:

    I can’t wait for this!!!

  13. The meat thing makes or breaks it, doesn’t it? What so many people fail to realize is that, even if you are an omnivore you don’t have to eat meat every day. And if you do, it does not have to be more than three or four ounces in a sitting. A good quality meal with meat three or four times a week won’t cost much more than having “cheap” meat like bologna, hot dogs and pink slime every day.

    It takes time to prepare good food and avoid processed convenience slop. As the wife of a fella who had a mini-stroke last year, I can tell you that I would rather spend that time in the kitchen than at the hospital.

  14. I almost forgot… do you have a recommendation for a grain mill? We still buy flour from the store to make bread. Baby steps…

  15. Patti says:

    I’m looking forward to this series. I have a large garden, but need to learn to manage it better. Our first chicks arrived on Tuesday and we are looking forward to having our own eggs. I am very fortunate to have some great local farms, but the meat farmers prices have been fairly high. Recently, a new local farm has started selling eggs and beef. I like their practices and they are trying to keep their prices reasonable, so that all can afford real food.

  16. Katie says:

    I am also looking forward to this series, I can’t wait to hear how you do it.

  17. Steph says:

    I am anxious to read this series & also to read comments from others. We recently made the change from me working full time to being a full-time SAHM, so we are going from 2 incomes down to to 1 so for the 1st time, we are going to need to stick to a budget as well-I have alot to learn! After our house, food is our biggest “expense” but one that I will not compromise on. I just got a NutriMill last week-I have alot to learn & get used to! My plan eventually is to make all of our bread products as well-I will admit-there is definitely a learning curve going from store-bought flour to freshly milled flour! We also plant a large garden in our back yard–this year we are trying to expand with some raised beds & edible landscape as well as planting at my in-law’s home. Speaking from our smaller gardens in the past, this saves so much money on organic produce-the biggest bonus of all is that you know exactly what you are getting, especially when you grow your own seedlings, also a 1st this year. I am making alot of changes at once, so it is overwhelming…I am excited & grateful for any ideas you & the other readers have that I can “borrow”! We purchase bulk produce & buys from Azure Standard and buy in bulk from our local food coops-I too am in Iowa so while there are resources available, you do need to get creative! We were buying Organic, non-homoginized grass-fed milk from Hy-Vee for about $4/half gallon-with 2 adults & 2 small girls we were spending ALOT on milk & dairy products per month. We recently bought a few cow shares from a local Amish dairy farm where we can spend on 1 gallon what we were paying for 1/2 gallon at the store! And this is grass-fed, organic fresh-air raw milk! :) Using this milk to make our own yogurt and other dairy products will save our fmaily alot of money!! Thanks for all of your ideas!!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Steph, I’m still learning as well. A good place to start for me was through Simple Mom. She has such great information on budgeting that is really working for my family. It’s great to hear that you’re getting such a wonderful deal on real milk! I to buy fresh from a local producer and saves me tons of money versus buying from the grocery store. It’s great to know family farmers 😉

  18. Kalista says:

    I’m so excited about this series! We follow a pretty strict budget that include $120/ week for groceries for a family of 5 (one of whom doesn’t eat yet!). We pretty much follow your rules as well…though I still buy flour. I’d like to try grinding my own but have no idea where to start!

    Thank you!

  19. Paula says:

    I’m looking forward to your new series, but I’m more intrested in knowing where did you purchase your health insurance? We were without for a long time and hubs got a job that pays for his premium and we pay for the boys to have the insurance thru hubs work…but the premiums were just too much to add me to the policy. So, I’m still without and I’m getting a lot of pressure from well meaning family and friends, especially about not having received a mammogram for the past few years (don’t even get me started!)

  20. Can’t wait to read this series!

    Also – a couple of questions. How did you get your newsletter started? I’ve been interested in doing one of my own for LONG time.

    And how did you barter your meat? What was on your end of the barter?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hey Ally. For my newsletter, I use mailchimp. Check it out, it’s super easy to use ;D

      As far as bartering for meat, I barter my graphic/web design services. It’s worked out really well 😀

  21. Rebecca says:

    I didn’t see where to sign up for the newsletter…tho’ I’m operating on just a few hours sleep, so perhaps I just missed it.

  22. Looking forward to it! I grew up in Spain, make real food for my family, and am working on a food budget. Perfect!

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