The growing trend of how to eat whole, organic, gluten-free, and even allergen-free has Freebs everywhere wondering how they can possibly afford to feed their family REAL food, while maintaining a tight grocery budget. We all know I love corn dogs and canned soup (working on it! baby steps!) so I've enlisted help today. My friend Kami from Cleanse Your Life is the ultimate whole/healthy/gluten-free/allergen-free/organic eater and managed to spend just $500 this month…for a family of 6! You read that right. That's even $100 less than what I recommend! Way to rock it, Kami! I asked her to share exactly how she did it, and I think you'll all be surprised by how simple it is. Take it away, Kami!
Thanks Jordan! We are going to jump into weeks 2-4 of September so you can see how we ended up. Be sure to check out WEEK 1 for my free meal plans and how we got started! Let's start with my week 2 blog post:
Its Week 2 of my #cleanseyourlifechallenge!
I have to say – I am really pumped about sticking to a budget. I definitely feel that it's rewarding. I am determined to stick to $500 – I still feel nervous but coming in under budget this week really helped me get a little more excited and hopeful!
We have several things leftover from Week 1, such as eggs and cheese, so this trip was mostly a trip to get produce. I still have some various meats in the freezer so I know that when I have to buy meat, the budget will go up a little bit. Keep in mind that my pantry is pretty well stocked with bulk items so that helps keep the budget down this week.
This Week's Real Food Budget:
This week I shopped at Sprout's. I don't live nearby but was close to it because of a doctor's appointment (which I'll write about soon), so I decided to stop in. Here's the breakdown of what I purchased:
Organic corn $3.99 each package (2 packages)
Cotton Candy Grapes $6.38 (a total splurge for my kids)
Cucumbers $.96 (2 count)
Yellow bell pepper $1.50
Orange bell pepper $1.50
Red bell pepper $.98
Organic loose golden beets $1.55
Organic baby carrot bag $1.69 (1 lb.)
Organic kale $1.99
Organic rainbow carrot bag $1.50 (2 lbs.)
Organic red potatoes $4.99 (5 lbs.)
Organic yams $3.99 (3 lbs.)
Organic celery $1.69
Organic cilantro $1.29
Sweet mini peppers $2.99
White onions $1.12 (2 count)
Organic rice cakes $3.58
Coconut cream $1.99 each (2 cans)
Suja juice $3.49
Uncured salami $6.99
Baby food (not pictured – for hungry toddlers!) $3.58 (2 count)
Cinnamon chewing gum $1.29
Week 2 Total: $73.76
Monthly Total So Far: $285.39
(My husband stopped in to the store and spent $11 on two bags of organic tortilla chips, lol)
I am so stoked about that total! I am hoping I got enough and won't need to shop until next week. My last trip lasted me a week and a half. I'm anticipating this will last at least until next Monday but hopefully until Wednesday. I am going to try to stretch food as far as possible. I'm really excited that I have still been able to purchase at least 50% organic food this month!
We have been eating a lot of rice and beans lately but we are all satisfied and happy and best of all full!
Weeks 3 & 4 of my #cleanseyourlifechallenge!
Are you ready for my last shopping trip!?! I was able to stretch my other trips long enough, that I went shopping yesterday (Friday) which should be able to stretch until the end of the month, thus ending my #cleanseyourlifechallenge! I do actually need two things (buckwheat and fresh basil) so I'll come back and add those in later.
I went to Costco on Friday knowing that I had $216.61 for the remainder of the month – in order for me to stay on track for spending only $500 on my family of six. Remember, my goal was to buy all REAL FOOD (meaning, as little processed food as possible), as well as keeping it all gluten free because of food allergies and autoimmune disease in my family!
I decided to aim to spend $200 at Costco since I knew that could last us until the end of the month. In order to stay on track, I precariously balanced my cell phone set to the calculator all while entertaining my toddler and 3 year old…go me!
Here's what I got:
Organic hardboiled eggs $6.99 (24 count – these had a coupon for $2 off, so regularly they are $8.99. I decided to buy them because they came out to the same price as the eggs I'd normally buy and score! I didn't have to peel them.)
Organic eggs $6.99 (24 count – I got two packages)
Organic spinach $3.99 (1 package – I got two packages and will freeze one for smoothies so I'm not tempted to make another Costco trip)
Organic red grapes $7.99
Mary's Gone Crackers $6.49 (Not the best sale price, but it did have a $2 off coupon and we were out of crackers! Regularly $8.49)
Kirkland organic peanut butter $10.99 (2 jars)
Local raw honey $10.99
Tillamook cheese squares $10.99
Clementines $9.49 (This is NOT a good price, but my family loves them and I was only going to one store so I made them fit into the budget)
Organic whole chickens $24.88 ($2.49/lb)
Organic gala apples $9.99 (around $1.80/lb)
Organic ground beef $21.99 (I noticed this price went up! It used to be $17.99. Comes out to $5.49/lb)
Bananas $1.39 (per bunch; bought two bunches)
Grape tomatoes $4.99
Kiwi fruit $6.29
Organic baby carrots $4.79
Boxed coconut milk $7.99 (This had a $3 off coupon – I wasn't planning to buy it, but since it had a good coupon, I picked up a box – we don't use this often, but it's nice to add to smoothies)
Organic sweet potatoes $10.99 ($1.09/lb)
Unsweetened almond milk $7.59
Organic Happy squeeze baby food $6.99 (This also had a $3 off coupon – so again, I wasn't planning to buy it, but it makes the pouches come out to $.58/each which is a great price!)
Week 3-4 Total: $200.83
SEPTEMBER REAL FOOD ON A BUDGET TOTAL: $486.22
Okay, so I obviously have a couple more things to get so I'm guessing I'll come in right at $500 by month end but I am so freaking proud of myself!!
This shows you that you can eat REAL FOOD (even gluten free!) and stay within your means. Remember, this is for my family of 6! I am blown away and now I know I can do this!
Here are some thoughts…
- We did end up going out to eat – there were a couple of occasions that were worth celebrating, so we decided it was worth it. We are NOT counting that as part of our food budget and instead are making that in our “entertainment/restaurant” budget. We don't really EVER go out and spend money as a family, so we feel good about placing that in a different category because we really enjoy it!
- I bought toilet paper at Costco so I deducted that from my Week 3-4 total. But if you want to be a budget Nazi, that puts my weekly total at $218.38 ($503.77 for the month). I am a super literal person so when I think food budget, I think FOOD. Everything else goes in a household expenses category. Maybe I'm weird but, it works for my mind a lot better this way!
- We are running LOW on things in our pantry. When I stock up on bulk items, our budget will for sure be over $500/month. I'm not sure how to best do this? I know that $500 is pretty much as low as I can go without doing anything crazy. We have been eating PRETTY simple and plain this month, so if I even stray a little, we would be over budget. $600/month might be more realistic for us, but I'm going to try $500 for another month and see where we end up. Jordan's note: I suggest $100 per person in your family per month on groceries, so $600 is absolutely perfect for Kami's family! See what I recommend and how to track your grocery budget HERE.
- I think the reason I was able to stay under $500 is because I had such a good stockpile of stuff already in my pantry and freezer. Like I said above, when I am restocking, the budget will probably need to shift a bit because well…that's what buying in bulk does. I definitely shop for the best prices when buying in bulk, but it still adds up.
- I am OVERJOYED! And so proud of myself. Honestly, I really didn't think I could do this! Especially when I spent so much in Week 1. But that is kind of a reflection of how I shop. I typically don't shop every single week and instead make 2-3 trips per month. I should have had more belief in myself but this was really cool. It gave me confidence and best of all saved us a bit of moola! Jordan's note: Another huge tip of mine in my HOW I GROCERY SHOP page…only shop 1x per week, no matter what. It really works! Right, Kami?
- I'm pretty pumped that I was able to still buy mostly ORGANIC food! Buying organic is really important to me and there were definitely areas where I had to compromise, but for the most part, I'm really happy that I was still able to fit organic items into my budget this month.
- I'm proud of myself that I made this work for MY STYLE. I do not like clipping coupons or going through ads to find the best sales. I just don't. And that's okay! And if you do love that, that is so awesome. I've tried it and it just doesn't work for me because a) most of the time, packaged food is on sale and I don't buy the packaged food because of allergies and health and b) I just don't want to make the time in my life to sit down and do that or go from store to store to store. I like to shop at one or two stores. I know what good prices are for the stores I shop at, so I'm definitely conscientious of price when I'm purchasing, but I am also okay with paying a little bit more in order to save me a trip (taking 3-4 kids to the store anyone? Not fun).
So, if you'd like to see the entire series in REAL FOOD ON A BUDGET where I post my weekly shopping trips and thoughts, click HERE!
Don't forget to check out my post HERE for what I planned to feed my family this month and get a FREE printable download if you'd like! And, don't forget to follow along on Instagram and Facebook where I'll be posting more of my daily journey with this! Did you join in on the challenge? If so, how's it going for you?
Thanks for having me! -Kami
Wow, if that isn't proof that you CAN eat extremely healthy and whole on a budget, I don't know what is. Thanks for sharing, Kami!