March 22, 2011

Extreme Grocery Experimentation

Picture by MFinderup

I've been thinking about this idea for a few weeks now, and it was solidified last night.

Ben & I were talking about how we're trying to pay off the car this year (the original loan would have gone to 2014!), and how we might need to get a little extreme to do it, and I was telling him my idea for our grocery budget.

Every month we take our income and tell it where to go in our budget. What exactly we will spend it on. X for Mortgage, X for Utilities, X for Gasoline, etc. And it clicked in my head: Why can't I do the same with our grocery budget?

We've been doing groceries on about $400 a month for the five of us. My usual way of doing things has been "Ok, I have $400 so let's just get whatever we need until I hit that limit". Which sometimes leads to $50 left for the last week of the month.

I've been a bit better lately, with only buying for the meals of the week and sticking to a weekly budget, but that hasn't allowed for stocking up and keeping extras on hand - which I like to do.

So we've decided that for the month of April we're going to try this experiment.

I've looked over the things we've bought in the last three months and added up how many of each item. How many gallons of milk, cartons of eggs, etc. From that I've picked an average number and we will be buying ONLY that amount of items in April. If we run out, we have to wait until the next month.

For example, I can get 8 gallons of milk (2/week), 14 cartons of eggs, 1 25lb bag of flour, 4 lb pasta, 15 lbs of meat at $1.50/lb (that's usually the price I buy it at, if not lower).

By going through it last night, we figured out we can drop our budget by $50 so far. We're keeping a lot of our "luxury" stuff for now just to make sure we don't hate the process. I figured we can try it for a month or two and if we feel like it, cut back even more. Or go back up to our usual budget.

Ben brought up that this will allow me to stock up on our non-perishables and freezer storables quit easily and quickly. If I am buying a big bag of rice every month, or 4 pounds of pasta every month - whether I need them or not - then we will soon have a surplus. Either allowing us to get through a lean time if it comes, or letting me cut the budget of a future month so we can put the extra on debt.

I'm really excited about this plan, and can't wait for April. I'm hoping we can soon cut down even more. The garden we have planned will help a great deal with this as well.

And I think this will play a big part on the road to my goal of self-sufficiency... But that's another post.

Happy Tuesday,


Farm Girl said...

I can help in the eggs department right now I have two 18 packs just sitting in my fridge if you want them.
I would like to see you make your goal and pay off the car sooner too. I think it might me neat if you had air conditioning and heat. I don't know but I am weird that way. :)I know you guys have done just fine with what you have though. It is cheaper. :) But eggs are here.

Allison said...

Amazing! Truly! You have inspired me to be more thoughtful in my grocery shopping. You don't even want to KNOW what groceries cost here for a family of six, but let's just say you wouldn't get out the door under 1000 dollars a month. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Thank you for this bit of inspiration! I must just join you in sketching out a food budget for next month!

Dawn said...

Good idea! You seem to have many of them:)
I better re-vamp my budget're inspiring me!

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