How I Feed My Family of 5 For Under $100 Every Month: Part 3

The Fundamental Home

We are going to talk about shopping, and I am going to give you several helps specifically related to the shopping experience and how to save, but first, a story…

This weekend I was sick.  Nothing major.  A little sinus infection.  I was uncomfortable, but I was really fine.  In a way, it was a blessing because being sick in my house means a couple of things.

#1- I am forced to rest.

#2- My husband goes on a insane cleaning spree (assisted by the children).

So, I get relaxation while everyone else does the work to keep the house going.  As we all know, this would never happen if I wasn’t sick.

Anyway, since I wasn’t feeling my best, I pretty much was only capable of playing around on the internet, and I kept coming back to look at my pretty little blog.  I love this thing!  It’s my favorite new toy, and I am constantly looking for ways to improve it or the social media sites that come with it.  That being said, my brain was in a fog, so I wasn’t able to actually do anything productive that was more complicated than pinning a pin or checking out my stats. On Sunday, I even stayed home from church.  Being a little lonely and downtrodden, I checked on the blog in the afternoon to see how the stats were doing.  I figured it would be an encouragement.  It was.  The previous Sunday, 4 people checked out my blog.  This was pretty good because I don’t post on Sunday (so there was nothing new) and it was the first Sunday after the first “real” week of blogging.  At least someone was continuously checking out the site.  This week, I was hoping for more, and I was gratified to see 28 people came to visit.  That’s more than 6x the number of people from the previous Sunday.

Woo Hoo!  That’s exponential growth 😉

Then, the most curious thing happened.  I watched the bar started rising. It didn’t stop rising all day.  In fact, it’s still moving!  Before this Sunday, my biggest day was 179 views.  I was pretty excited about that.  Yesterday’s total was 1,309.

I don’t even know what to say about that.

When I woke up this morning (at 5AM), we were in the 600s.

You people bless my soul 🙂

There was just one little thing that stressed me out a bit, and that was that everyone was looking at the “How I Feed My Family of 5 on $100 or LESS Every Month” series.   That put the pressure on for today’s post.

I had been working on elements of this post, the next part of the series, since last Thursday when Rick got paid.  Still, due to sickness, I haven’t really been able to complete any of the plans I put in motion the way I wanted to.  You see, when I went shopping last week, I attempted to film my shopping experience so that you could come along with me while I shop.  I figured that would help everyone who wasn’t able to take my grocery budgeting class or have me consult with them privately.  I ran into a few snags.  I wasn’t able to film myself in store.  Apparently, grocery stores are uncomfortable with this practice.  This limited what I was able to show you.  Plus, as I was shopping, I realized that I had forgotten that I was supposed to pick up my son from work.  This meant that I had to go change vehicles with my husband and pick up my son mid shopping trip, with cold things in my car in June.  This made me a bit more hurried.   Also, I ran into someone at the grocery store who I am determined to be a blessing to, which completely distracted me from my actual purpose.  Let me say here, I love all of you who are following this blog, but if you are my friend and you have a measure of kindness in your soul, you will understand what I mean when I say that there are more important things than this blog and saving a couple of bucks on groceries.  I went over budget, and I am OK with that.  More than OK.

The end result of my crazy day was that the video is not exactly what I was hoping it would be.  I will still share it so you can get somewhat of a look at what I go through when I go shopping.  However, don’t expect miracles.  It’s just a little something, you know.  Here’s the video.  If you get a moment, you can check it out.

Here is a picture of my receipts:

The Fundamental Home

You can click the image for a clearer picture.  Notice that I spent a grand total of $67.27.  The highlighted items on the receipt are the items that will go into the “Giving” category of our budget.  The “Giving” total was $11.43.  Those items never entered my home.  This makes my actual bi-weekly grocery total $55.84.  Not where I wanted it to be, but perfectly respectable.  I often go a dollar or two over for the first paycheck of the month because I know I can streamline on the back end.  I did have my full $100 in cash.  This meant that I had the flexibility to give to someone I have a heart for and go a little over my bi-weekly budget.  Frankly, if I did not have the cash in hand and I felt compelled to give, I would have broken out the bank card, but moving on.  This leaves me $44.16 for the rest of the month.  That’s totally do-able.

Here is our menu plan for the two weeks I was shopping for:

The Fundamental Home

You will notice that Thursday, June 4th, we ate off of what was in the house.  I wanted to film, so I had to wait an extra day to go shopping.  This meant that there was nothing on the menu plan.  We ate what we could find in house.  I will also say that we have already gone a bit off plan.  I was sick, remember.  Saturday, I was not up to cooking.  So, the family also ate a bit of what we had in house.  Brian also bought me some Chinese food for lunch.  He’s a good boy who loves his mama <3  Of course, I didn’t want to waste the good sausage, so we ate the Tuscan Soup, Salad, and Bread on Sunday.  Sunday’s regularly scheduled meal, pizza, comes off the list.  We will have this for a special lunch or a back-up dinner if I want something easy in the coming weeks.  Remember.  I said don’t go off plan.  That means, don’t go buy something else.  You are free to switch around what is already on the plan (and we often do for reasons like sickness).

I want to give you all full disclosure, but you know, it figures that everything goes haywire when I want to share the details.

C’est la vie

I will keep you posted on future grocery budget related events.  You can also follow me on our Facebook page (please do!) to see what I am making every day.  I usually post updates about dinner because my life if that exciting.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post…

I have a few tips here that will help you save when you go shopping and create a menu plan.  These tips here to help you make the most of your grocery shopping experience.

Tip #1- Develop a Menu Plan

I put this on the list for those who are not doing it.  Fail to plan, plan to fail.  I don’t know who said that, but they are right.  You have to have a plan if you are going to be on a budget  this tight.  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you saw my video, you know that I write the days down sloppily in my notebook.  Then, I fill in with what we have on hand based on what is on the menu (remember the menu I made in Part 2).  But FIRST…

Tip #2- Consider Your Calendar!!!!!!!

In order for this to work, you need to know what is going on in the weeks to come.  Some weeks my calendar is FILLED with events.  This time, I only had one- our church’s Ladies Fellowship.  I needed to know what I planned to make for that event, and what my family was going to have.  Put your scheduled events on your menu plan before you plan meals.

Tip #3- Shop Your Storage First

Remember, I said to take an inventory before you go shopping (again, this can be found in Part 2).  Go through all of your cabinets and make a mental or physical note of what you have on hand.  You should also make a note of basics you need or want.  If you check out the video, I spend most of it going through what I have on hand (and let me say I am sorry I didn’t take the time to clean first!).  I wrote down the things I thought we needed to stock up on like rice, oatmeal, and chicken broth.  I also wrote down the meal ideas I had based on what we had on hand.  I didn’t write the actual meal on the menu until I went shopping.  This was the part I really wanted you to see, but was unable to film.  I tried, but it wasn’t possible.  Instead, I will try to explain the process.

Tip #4- Make a List of What Items You Need to Complete What You Have

So, you have the backbone of a plan laid out, you have consulted your calendar, and you have checked out your storage.  You should have a pretty good idea of a few things you can make based on what you already have.  Add to your list the items you need to complete these meal.  For instance, I had everything I needed to make a homemade potpie but cream of chicken soup.  So, I added the soup to my list.  If I wanted something, but I needed to buy several things, I might put a question mark next to it on the list.  If I could find all of the ingredients cheap enough, great.  If not, I would get what I could and plan that for the next menu.

Tip #5- Choose Stores Wisely

I don’t go to every store in the county.  I go to two.  My children are older now, but when they were younger, it would have been impossible to do more in one day, even though I have a list and am in and out of the stores quickly.  I just don’t have time or gas money to waste going here and there.  Generally, I go to our local discount grocery store first, the I go to Aldi for basics.  Some days, when I need to stock up on meats, I go to another local store (Ingles, if you are in the area) then Aldi.  On occasion, I will stop by Food Lion on the way home to check their deli meats, but only if I have extra funds and extra time.  There have been times I have gone to the place where there are always low prices, but I normally don’t.  Plan your route.

Tip #6- Look Online for Sales

Once you know where you are going, check online to see what is on sale.  This should be a cursory glance.  Don’t take all day.  Just take a peek.  You don’t want to miss out on a great bargain because you are in a hurry, and I almost always am.  If you look too long, you will think of more things you “need” and this can break the budget.  This week, I didn’t have to do that.  Aldi does a really good job of keeping their prices stable, their sales are easy to identify, and their store is compact.  I can take a peek at the sales as I dash past.  The discount store doesn’t post online, so I just ran out the door without checking.  If I was planning on going to Ingles, Food Lion, or anywhere else, I would check.

Tip #7- Fill in the Rest of Your Menu Plan According to Sales

When I made my plan, I had practically everything on hand.  I purchased the extras I needed to complete my meal ideas.  Then, if I had any days left over, I filled them in with sale items.  This time, I had plenty, so I didn’t need to add too much.  If I had two or three meals I needed to fill in, I would look at the meat first to see if there was a deal to be had.  If not, I would buy whatever was cheapest to buy and build a meal around and that is what we would have.  If it was chicken soup for two days, so be it.  We eat what we can afford.

Tip #8-  Leave Room In the Budget For Deals and Stocking

This will determine whether or not you can stay under budget.  Some folks get a little extra money and buy snack items or comfort food.  I stock up on necessities.  Believe it or not, I only needed about $25 to complete this meal plan.  The other $30 was for healthy extras (I found some great deals on produce), some other bargains (hot dog buns for 39 cents and hot dogs for 79 cents), and stocking up (ground beef and turkey, which are always good to have on hand).  If I was limited, I didn’t have to buy them.  There have been times when I only had $20, and I made it work.  If you make a habit of stocking up and catching deals, you will be able to get by with very little, too.

Tip #9- Don’t Buy Your Children Things They Ask For

This tip is meant to help you all with little ones.  When our children were little I always bought one treat when we went shopping.

ONE!

TO SHARE.

I always told my children that there would be a treat afterwards, but it was a surprise that mommy would pick.  If anyone ASKED for a treat, there would be NO treat.  If anyone complained, there would be NO treat.  NONE.

I NEVER give in.

NEVER.  EVER.

EVER.

I think our children are pretty well behaved, but that is because they know we mean what we say.  When I say, if you ask for something, you won’t get anything, I mean it.  NOTHING.  No amount of crying will help. In fact, it will lead to some disciplinary action.  Don’t get in the habit of buying what they ask for because they will learn to ask.  Then, you will feel guilty when you can’t provide what they want.  They will not learn to be grateful, they will not be as disciplined in the store, and you will blow your budget.  It may sound a little harsh in the moment, but you have to understand that your role as mom requires you to see the bigger picture.  There is more to developing good character than pleasing a child in the moment.  It will also help you to develop character.

Our children are older now, but they still get a treat sometimes.  The boys work and can get their own treats, and they spoil Briana to death with treats, so I don’t feel too bad when we I get something just for me and Rick.  This week, it was a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food from the discount grocery for $1.  I had a spoonful.  Briana had a spoonful.  Then, Rick ate the rest.

If any of you have suggestions in regards to keeping your husband from eating all the snacks, I am all ears!

Next time, we will be talking about how to make your groceries stretch.

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.

(The series is now complete.  You can also check out Part 4 & Part 5)

NEW!!!!!!!!!!  We make a video update every six months, and the new one is just out.  Check it out to see us grocery shopping and take a peek at our bi-weekly grocery haul.  Here’s the video-

You can also find the bi-weekly menu plan on the blog.  Click HERE to check it out!

Can I answer any questions for you?  Is there anything you do to save on your shopping trip?  Be sure to comment down below.  I look forward to hearing from you!

SEPTEMBER 2017 UPDATE- Want to know how to find you own extreme grocery budget based on your family’s needs and prices where you are?  Join me for the FREE Back to Basics Living Summit!  I am one of 30 speakers who are helping you to cut down on your grocery costs, make things from scratch, preserve food, and develop many other money-saving and money-making skills.  YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS!  So click this link to sign up- FREE Back to Basics Living Summit!!!   

Back to Basics Living Summit with Amanda from The Fundamental Home

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22 thoughts on “How I Feed My Family of 5 For Under $100 Every Month: Part 3

  • June 9, 2015 at 12:16 am
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    Hi Amanda! My name is Cindy. I live in OK. We homeschool 3 of our 4 children. Our oldest is grown. I am always looking for new ideas to save money and live more simply. I have been enjoying reading your posts. Thanks a bunch,

    Cindy in OK

    P.S. I’d like to know how to get DH to stop eating all the snacks, too! 😉

    Reply
    • June 9, 2015 at 12:56 am
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      Cindy, thanks for commenting! We love being a homeschooling family! My oldest is “grown,” too, but still at home (at least until I can get him married off). If someone could figure out how to keep husbands from taking snacks and make a tutorial about it, that thing would go viral! 🙂 Glad the blog has been a blessing to you!

      Reply
  • June 9, 2015 at 12:44 am
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    I follow a lot of frugality and homemaking blogs and your video tutorial was one of the best tutorials on menu based shopping I have come across. Well done!

    I follow a similar pantry/menu principal in my own meal planning, but one thing I have never done is shopped before my menu was made. I will inventory, make a menu, and then do my shopping to fill in needed menu ingredients, restock staples, and stockpile exceptional sales. You have convinced me to try it the other way–shopping first, menu second.

    I also have to add that I smiled when you showed your notebook, as I too have one just like it affectionately titled, “My Brain.”

    Reply
    • June 9, 2015 at 12:59 am
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      Aww! I am so glad you enjoyed the video. I had so many hopes for it, and I am afraid it fell far short of my high expectations. Still, it was my first attempt at video making for the blog, and I did run into a few issues. Hopefully, I will keep improving. Glad it made you think of shopping in a whole new way! Let me know if it helps.

      Reply
  • June 11, 2015 at 2:06 pm
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    Amanda, I thank the Lord I found you!!! I have been trying to save money for a family of 6 and I stay at home, and you have been the first one that actually has the same grocery stores I shop at. Its hard to compare when others shop at stores that aren’t in your area yet they get great deals. I was on the right track and you have just showed me I can do it. Thanks Jill

    Reply
    • June 11, 2015 at 7:20 pm
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      I am so glad I could help you, Jill! It is hard to figure all the details out when they are different from place to place. Let me know if I can do anything else to help you.

      Reply
  • June 18, 2015 at 7:30 am
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    Excellent Post and you have certainly provided a great plan to follow to still eat well but keeping within a budget. Thanks for sharing with us at #WednesdaysWisdom

    Reply
  • June 21, 2015 at 2:05 am
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    WOW! This is a super informative post! We have been trying to be more practical in our grocery shopping, this was the perfect motivation! Also thank you for sharing your 2 week meal plan, very helpful! Thanks so much for joining the Link-It To Me Link Party, I hope you will party with us again next week!Thanks so much for joining the Link-It To Me Link Party, I hope you will party with us again next week!

    Reply
    • June 21, 2015 at 5:16 pm
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      Thanks for your kind words! I hope it is helpful. Let me know how it goes. I love Linky parties, and I plan to join up again!

      Reply
  • May 31, 2016 at 8:39 pm
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    Hi Amanda! You are my holy grail. I have recently started grad school and can no longer work, which means cutting back a lot. For years we have had two incomes and life was “easy” buying whatever we felt like and going to the store without a real plan, ect. Not budget friendly whatsoever. I used to budget and prioritize down to the dollar and then as our income increased I just stopped. Now that my family has undertaken this huge sacrifice so I can attend grad school, it was hard getting back up on the saddle again. However, your site has made it so much easier! I can’t thank you enough. All that wasted money going to stuff that went bad or frozen to death seems like such a waste, not to mention eating out. All that money wasted. I feel pretty foolish as you can imagine. Ive been using your methods, like taking cash to the store for a couple months and it’s been incredible! We’re actually saving money on a stripped down budget if you can believe it. You’ve earned a loyal subscriber and I don’t want to let this lifestyle change go. I don’t see the point in buying more/spending more on things we don’t need, and I find that I spend more time flexing my cooking muscles for my family now than I have in years! I’ve cracked open pie recipes I haven’t made in years! You’re an inspiration and honestly I feel more accomplished sticking to a budget than graduating college. Honest to goodness. And we have officially adopted the “giving” budget because it’s a fantastic idea. I found a crazy good deal on ground beef and bought two extra for my neighbor, she’s taken in five kids in her retirement years and needs all the love we can give.

    Reply
    • June 2, 2016 at 8:34 pm
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      Your comment has been the biggest blessing to me! I am so happy to hear that you were able to help your family, but even more happy to hear that the blessing is being passed on to others. You have brought me much joy today! Praise the Lord for allowing these blog posts to do so much!

      Reply
  • June 1, 2016 at 8:48 pm
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    Thank you so much for your hard work in this! It has been a true help!

    Reply
  • September 17, 2016 at 9:40 pm
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    I have so enjoyed listening to your videos and reading your blog. It is such a great help to me that you explain “how to” in such detail. Keep up the grew job. You are such a blessing.

    Reply
  • October 22, 2016 at 8:29 pm
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    Love your blog and videos I just found you today and I’ve watched like 4 videos lol. How come you don’t mention the name of the regular grocery store or the discount one but you do mention Aldi and Walmart etc. I live in Canada a suburb of Ottawa Ontario and I love grocery shopping and cooking and price matching ( only a couple stores offer that here and our coupons etc can’t be stacked like in the states but I use coupons to try new things. Our grocery budget is much higher then yous but we also can’t get as great a deal 🙂 I’d like to bring it down now our kids are in highschool they will have collegenand university we have to save for. Keep up the good work. Love the posts and videos can’t wait to see the recipes as I also menu plan roughly before shopping and then get crazy deals like marked down breakfast sausages etc and switch things around. Do you also have a deep freeze as I’m quite impressed you only have the one fridge with a freezer. We have a deep freeze and 2 fridges one holds sauces, condiments, my homemade kosher pickles and sauerkraut etc and overflow when I do groceries and the other tends to have lunch and breakfast stuff and fruits and veggies. I am planning next grocery shop to use more from my pantry and freezer so I can empty stuff out more.

    Reply
    • October 24, 2016 at 6:38 pm
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      I don’t mention those stores for privacy reasons. No deep freezer yet, but I would like one. I hope you are able to find some solutions that help bring down your budget. Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  • December 26, 2016 at 6:35 am
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    I just got done doing a detailed inventory, revamping my recipe box, and setting up a two and a half month menu plan. Then I ran across your blog this evening. Now I wonder if I could do better yet. Wow! I raise a garden, can and freeze food. I have stock piles of food and still only got my weekly budget down to $60 this last couple of weeks. Then my husband got a really good deal on end of season apples and also bought some bulk cinnamon.
    We were spending anywhere between $80 and $120 week before. I really only started out to make the menu because I was getting ready to take an online college course and needed to tweak my time schedule by having meals figured out ahead. I am finding that it is a great way to unstress your life and then it dropped the grocery bills down too!
    My family size is a little different than yours in two ways though. I have several sons that are around 6’6″ tall. I also have 12 children. Four of my children are under age 18 and are still homeschooling. Three of my adult age children are half in and half out. Two of my adult age children are newly married, but pop in occasionally for a meal. (Lets face it – learning to cook when you are first married is tough!) So, I cut a lot of my cheaper-by-the-dozen recipes in half and plan to make that size my new supper size meal except for several dishes that go over extremely well as leftovers.

    Reply
    • December 27, 2016 at 4:23 am
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      Wonderful! You sound as though you are really dedicated to lowering your food bill. With a plan and a positive attitude, I know you will meet your goals. Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me 🙂

      Reply
  • January 13, 2017 at 10:42 pm
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    Hi Amanda,
    I just discovered your blog and videos today and have been busy all day figuring out how we can save money and waste less food. We are now “older” and it’s just the two of us, but in our child-rearing days we had four kids at home at once. We had to really budget closely as I was a stay-at-home mom. As the kids got older and left home, I went to work and we had a large disposable income and were not careful about how we spent money on food. Now however, my husband is retired and works a part-time job, and I quit my job a couple of years ago to be a full-time nanny for my two young grandsons (at no pay, so my daughter can make ends meet). So sometimes I can only go grocery shopping once a month when the SS check comes in. I’m pretty good at finding bargains, but your inventory, shopping and menu ideas are really good ones and I’m going to give them a try. Just wanted you to know that seniors can benefit from your excellent system and ideas too. What do you do about personal and paper products like toilet paper, soaps, etc. I do make all of our laundry detergent which has saved a LOT. Thanks for the help, and by the way, the only way I’ve found to keep the husband from devouring all the snacks is to hide them.
    Linda

    Reply
    • January 16, 2017 at 3:43 am
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      I have to hide snacks from Rick 🙂 For personal items, I just buy only what I need. I use vinegar and peroxide as much as possible to clean. We buy inexpensive shampoo, but good soap. My husband and boys use the soap on their hair, too. The main thing is we keep it simple. I only buy what we need.

      Reply

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