9 answers

What Does It Cost to Eat?

Okay, Mamas - how much is a reasonable amount for weekly groceries for a family of four (two are little girls)? When you budget, do you include cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc, or strictly food?

How much do you spend per week or month on your household overall? PM me, if you want to keep it private. How often do you eat out? TIA for any information - I'm trying to get a better grip on expenses!! I'm also trying to understand how people buy clothes, get manicures, have babysitters, eat out, take trips, etc....without being millionnaires!

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More Answers

My first answer to your question is that, despite what TV and ads would have you think, I believe that most of us who live within our means DON'T buy clothes, get manicures, have babysitters, eat out, or take trips! My DD's clothes are all hand-me-downs or presents from grandparents. I ask for clothes or gift certificates for my birthday and christmas, and use those to buy clothes (usually from the sale rack at the outlets or marshalls). I literally wear my clothes for years. I try to buy things that are classic and conservative, so they won't get outdated quickly. I keep my fingernails short and unpolished, and paint my own toes at home. We very, very rarely hire babysitters, although we do have DD in daycare 4 days/week, since we both work full time. We eat out 1-2 times/mo. Trips are almost always to visit family--so we pay for plane tickets (grandparents are in chicago and ny, aunt and uncle in boston), then stay and eat for free. We eat 75% vegetarian, which is WAY cheaper (and more healthy, and more environmental) than eating meat, and we make our food at home, including bringing sack lunches to work, and avoiding pre-made, pre-packaged, and processed foods. We cook ahead on weekends and use the crockpot a lot, to avoid last minute take out during the week. We also use cash only for everything except groceries and gas. If you don't have money in your wallet, you simply don't buy it. We have food, gas, and a roof over our heads--everything else is a luxury.

That being said, since we've gone on this budget (necessitated by paying off medical bills for our little girl, who was born with a heart defect), we're actually much more comfortable and less stressed about money than we were before. We know what we have, we know we're not overspending our means, and we never get surprise credit card bills that we can't pay. We're saving up for home renovations, put money in retirement and college savings accounts, and pay ahead on our mortgage. Despite what our consumerist culture tells you, you don't need a lot of stuff to be happy. Your girls are your greatest blessing, and enjoying your time with them is free!

Oh, and we spend $150/wk on groceries for a family of 3, including non-food items that we buy at the grocery store. With that, we buy lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and some fresh fish (which isn't cheap).

2 moms found this helpful

I dont really have a budget either, but I try to shop smart. As others have said.. If its a good deal buy more than one. (My most recent example, Albertsons has 6 packs of bottled water on sale for .50- I now have 18 of these packs in my pantry for a total of $9.00. Normally I would buy a 24 pk for 4-$5.00) I do the grocery game and it has taught me how to shop with coupons, and mostly I can do it on my own now. (I have 6 tubes of toothpaste in my cabinets and paid 50 cents or less for each one.) It really is worth the time, I spent 185.00 on groceries yesterday and my savings was 110.00- and I get to buy all name brand. That being said- I normally spend about 550.00 a month on groceries and household products- cleaners, toilet paper, hair stuff etc. There are 4 of us here all the time and 2 teenage boys here part time. We dont eat out much, maybe once or twice a week and thats usually fast food, not a big restaurant. My husband will gladly take his lunch if I will make it. We also try to go out once or twice a month and I just try to plan ahead for the expense of that. I dont get manicures and I may splurge for a pedicure every couple of months, But mostly only during the warm months. When I shop for clothes for any of us, I love to shop clearance racks or it has to be on sale. Let me know if you want more info!

2 moms found this helpful

There are 4 of us as well, with 2 little ones and I spend about $200/week on groceries at Walmart. We don't buy lots of extras, I buy mostly generic, not many prepared foods and I am always amazed at the bill! I buy pretty much everything there (household, beauty, food), so that includes everything. We almost never eat out.

I'm trying to figure out how to do it cheaper, but all those websites with shopping tips like the grocerygame etc seem to take so much time and extra trips/studying etc, that I just don't have time for. There's got to be an easier way to save!

I'll be very interested to see what other people post on this topic!

1 mom found this helpful

We switched over to a cash/envelope budgeting system about 6 years ago and it has really helped us reign in expenses. The idea is that every dollar has a category, and when a certain category is out of money, you don't spend in that area til the next pay period when you re-fill the category.

So, we separate toiletries and paper products from groceries. Toiletries and paper are $50/month. This might seem low, but think about how often you buy a new bottle of dish soap when there's still a little left -- and that little bit actually will last a full week? The budget has helped us wait to buy things when we really need them. For groceries, we spend about $100/week for our family of 4 (have a son and daughter age 5 and 3). This includes some convenience foods for school lunches (juice boxes, fruit cups, etc), but for the most part is what we need to cook 4 or 5 meals at home for the week. Before shopping we scan the pantry and freezer for what's already there, and jot down a handful of potential meals for the week, and buy what we need to make those things.
The eating out budget is separate too. We eat out once or twice a week -- typically some kind of fast food dinner on a week night (kids eat free at Chick Fil A on Tuesdays!), then a something a little nicer for lunch one day over the weekend.
I put a hair/nails category in the budget too. It means I trimmed my personal lunch money (so I can only eat out once a week at work!), but I get to get my hair cut every 6-8 weeks, touch up the highlights as often as necessary, and pop in for a pedicure a few times a year. The highlights are more important to me than the nails, so I don't have a specific budget for nails. I just get it done if I have any extra cash.
We also budgeted for date nights and babysitting. Since babysitting pretty much doubles the cost of a date, we dont do fancy restaurants. We stick close to home and eat at local places, or eat at home before we leave and just go out for desert and coffee
We've reigned in the kid's clothing budget by shopping resale shops.

1 mom found this helpful

I needed to reign in costs many years ago and discovered www.debtproofliving.com. Mary Hunt writes the newsletter and the online information. She has led me to Leanne Ely who writes www.SavingDinner.com. She has excellent ideas for menu planning, saving money, eating healthy, and recipes. I also bought a book a long time ago and loaned it out (big mistake cuz I never got it back!) that was called something like "Feeding Your Family on $50 A Week". Good luck! B.

1 mom found this helpful

I spend about $125-174 a week, including groceries, diapers/wipes/misc kid stuff, household/beauty supplies, dog food, etc. We eat out about 2-4 times a month....so that's not a big factor in our budget.

1 mom found this helpful

Costco! Not only that, but coupon items at Costco. We sometimes end up with a garage full of things we don't need at the time, but in the long run it saves big bucks! We also get gas there, which really helps. It is always cheaper. We also get a lot of clothes from Costco for the kids. I shop the Macy's Red Apple sales for myself and never ever buy clothes that aren't on sale. No manicures for me. I understand that is a luxury that some moms really deserve, but it saves a lot of money to skip those. Same with trips. We haven't had a vacation since we had kids. I would LOVE to get away, but that just hasn't worked with our life and budget. We also don't go out or use babysitters. Though we probably should do so for our own good, we don't. Sometimes for a special occassion, we make fondue at home after the kids go to bed. I have traded off babysitting with friends during the day for appointments and such, maybe you can find a friend willing to trade off for date nights for you. Basically I am a huge bargain hunter. We live pretty well, and are blessed to not be hurting too badly, but it does take care and really looking at what is necessary and cutting back on some of those extras.

1 mom found this helpful

HI S. ,
I am so glad your asking let's me know I am not alone out there the way the economy is right I am also a stay home at home with four kids my husband works but money is tight we spend about 250 month on groceries and another 100 for personal items but I go to sam's for that it help's I also but non name brand stuff not unless it's on sale or I have coupons as far as eating out we make it just a week end deal depending on money .Also it's good to make list before you head out it lets you know what you really need and dont need lol ....Good Luck
SAHM mom of four great silly kids .......

1 mom found this helpful

I don't really budget. I just shop smart.

I go to Costco once every couple of months and I might spend $300. I am a regular at Market Street, Tom Thumb and Target.

I'm not one to read the ads but when I see a good deal for our family, I stock up. My pantry/freezer can feed us (family of 3) for about 6+ months.

We do eat out often, have date night every week (PRIORITY) and still cover the extras we are not expecting...as in a 13 yr old with constant clothing needs, LOL.

I do not waste my time (TIME = MONEY) and my time is valuable on cutting coupons, grocery game, etc. Just know your products and where to get them at a reasonable price.

Mail order works great...you are not wasting gas money to drive all over the place to catch weekly deals!!!

Again, just know what your family likes, shop for the values that work for you. Like I said, I do not shop by ads, etc however, if I go to Target and happen to see my HE detergent there at a reasonable price, I will pick up about 4 bottles. Same with water, sodas, etc.

Good luck on finding the best way for you.

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