We budget $350 each month. This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc).
In November we spent $349.23—We were 77cts under budget. I help with a Frontier co-op, and that small income normally would go towards the food budget. This month, however, we didn’t need it for the groceries so it went towards the larger home budget.
With that money we bought $1002.20 worth of items. If I’m doing my math correctly, we had a savings of 65.15%.
What did we buy with that money?
Free items—1 Kotex overnight, Fruitbu organic fruit rolls, 1 box of cereal, 3 Robitussin To Go, 3 small cans Hunts tomato sauce, 1 lb butter, 1 tuna pouch, 4 free blood glucose meters, 6 Lubriderm lotions, 1 lb shrimp from Earth Fare, 4 cans pineapple, 4 boxes Annie’s mac and cheese, 1 dozen farm fresh eggs (bartered baby-sitting for eggs), and 2 ricola cough drops.
We didn’t have nearly as many free items this month as last month. Some months are like that. Some of the items listed above were donated to our daughter’s school and our church food pantry.
What did we stock up on?
- Our biggest expenditure this month was on organic maple syrup. We paid $52 including shipping on a gallon’s worth of maple syrup. This will last our family about a year.
- I purchased 10 lbs of local sweet potatoes grown using organic measures. They were $15. I know that some will look at that number and think I’m crazy for spending that much. Yet, the flavor is far superior to any store bought sweet potato I’ve ever eaten. They have so much more natural sugar in them, and they will keep for months on the counter in a cool part of the house.
- Our local Kroger store was moving to a larger location and there I purchased 6 lbs of organic butter, a turkey, lunchmeat, 2 lbs shrimp, organic beef, bacon, 2 packages of Sister Shubert’s sausage rolls (my hubby loves these), 4 containers of sour cream, bacon, and 2 packages of cheese all half off.
- At Three Rivers Market, I purchased 6 boxes of the Back to Nature Crackers that were on sale this month with coupons. These will be used throughout the holiday season for snacks and appetizers with cheese.
- I picked up 3 bottles of Star Olive Oil using their Free/$4 off coupons. They were $5.99 each so I only bought three this month. When I return to Memphis I’ll check the price and might purchase the other 2 then if they are the same price or less. (I have not been able to find these locally and while in Memphis found these at Schnuck’s).
Other purchases—(Some of these items were donated to our daughter’s school and to our food pantry at church.
- $14 for a tub of cookie dough. A friend’s daughter was having a fundraiser, and I wanted to support her.
- $19 for locally grown using organic measures pastured milk.
- 1 lb of chopped pecans to use for holiday baking.
- 3 (10 oz) blocks of locally made buttermilk cheese (Sweetwater Valley Farm)
- At Kroger—parchment paper, 6 boxes whole wheat pasta, 4 loaves bread, 3 boxes tissues, sodas, nestle morsels, snack crackers, 3 cans chili, 4 cans evaporated milk, 2 boxes potatoes, 1 box pancake mix, 2 organic chickens, 4 (5 lb each) sugars, 2 boxes Mom’s Best Naturals cereal, 3 bags frozen peas, 2 cans of corn, 2 cans of green beans, organic fat free milk, 1 lb lentils, 2 cans organic garbanzo beans, bananas, organic carrots, 1 lb fresh shrimp, 3 lbs rice, sausage, Purex eco-friendly laundry detergent. febreze, tums
- At Walgreens—toilet paper, 6 cans of soup, 8 cans mandarin oranges, 4 cans pumpkin, 4 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix, 3 boxes cream cheese, honey (I know, shame on me for not buying local, but when I went to the market the honey people were not there and I needed it—I’m not perfect), 4 boxes sugar free pudding mix for my father, 2 (5 lb each) bags of all purpose flour (this will be enough to last us a year since we mostly use freshly milled whole wheat), cashews, peanuts, canned ham, 4 cans chicken broth, 2 detergent, 2 French Fried onions, 1 cranberry sauce, 1 can salmon, 2 coffeemate creamers, 2 werther’s original candies,
- At Target—3 boxes cereals, 2 boxes pop tarts, 1 loaf bread, 4 boxes baby wipes, bag of pretzels
- At Three Rivers Market—organic raisins (stocked up for daughter’s snack day at school), 2 boxes teas, 6 boxes Annie’s mac and cheese, 2 bags (3lb each) organic apples
- From Frontier co-op—teas, toothbrushes, organic candy and lollipops (for Christmas), Tom’s of Maine deodorant
- At Aldi—organic blue corn tortilla chips (I was there dropping off something to a friend)
- 1 1/2 dozen eggs from a friend who owns chickens and bought organic broccoli from a farmer friend
So, what could you glean from this post to help with your budget and shopping?
Did you notice that we purchased some items that will be used for the next 12 months (all purpose flour and maple syrup, for example)? When we find a great price on an item that will keep, we buy extra. This prevents us from buying items out of necessity and allows us to decide what price we are willing to pay for an item.
Because our CSA basket season is over, we made fewer trips to the local farmers markets. Yet, we still made an effort to buy some local items and from local stores. Many of the canned good items and cereals noted above were donated. We are able to do this and stay in our budget because of coupons.
Also notice that many of the items purchased at Walgreens were food items. Many people think of drugstores as only being a place to find toiletries and drug items at a discounted rate. Yet with the in store coupons, sales, and manufacturer coupons, many of these items were cheaper than they would have been in grocery stores.
The last tidbit you might be able to use is to shop when you are in a different city. Because I had the high dollar Star product coupons, I was on the lookout for where I could find their olive oil. A quick call to a store near my sister’s home and a 5 minute shopping trip on the way back to my grandmother’s house, scored some very inexpensive olive oil for our family.
I hope this is helpful to someone out there. Happy Budgeting!