A few months ago, Naomi left a comment on one of posts and said:
“We are also a family of five but we have special dietary issues. My goal this past week was to reduce our weekly food budget to $100 and it was $99! Previously, I thought that I couldn’t save money because of our food restrictions but I wasn’t really ready to try.”
I wrote her back and asked if she could share some specific tips she had implemented. Here’s what she said:
First of all, our restrictions are soy, nuts, and seeds allergies (including their oils). I myself am supposed to eat as preservative-free as possible with high fiber thrown into the mix because of a chronic medical condition. As a point of reference, I was spending about $180 a week on our food.
Here was my strategy:
1) Create a food shopping budget. I based this off of the MyPlate recommendations for food consumption. On my shopping list, I put a dollar amount next to each category that I was shopping. For example, Fruits were allotted $20. Grains were $13 and so on. (My categories are Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Dairy and Protein.)
2) Don’t make a meal plan until I see the local sales. I got this tip from you! I looked all the sale leaflets up online and filled in my shopping list categories, being careful to write down the price of what I was expecting to buy to stay with my category’s budgeted amount.
3) Shop the sales at my local Kroger, Aldi and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. For us, Thursday is “Double Ad Day” at Fresh Thyme, where the previous and coming week’s sales are all up for grabs.
4) I did all my shopping on one day and kept a running total of each category on my shopping list. I knew when I hit $13 for grains.
5) Don’t buy pre-packaged items. A big key for me to make this work for our family was to buy only “ingredient items,” no prepackaged foods. For breakfast this week, we are eating muesli but instead of buying an allergen friendly muesli, I bought the ingredients to make my own.
6) Allow some wiggle room for extras. I gave myself $25 for extras. Fats and sugars fell under this category, along with coffee beans and tea. I used some of this to buy marked down ground beef I hadn’t been planning on purchasing ahead of time. I saved so much, we used some extra money to buy our favorite allergen friendly pizza.
Thanks for inspiring me to try to save! Our pantry and refrigerator are stocked for the week and I feel pleased with myself for saving money.
Faith Keating says
We are a family of 8 with 6 growing children. Our current food budget is $200 a week but I am looking for ways to reduce it to help pay off bills. I am trying to stick to Keto while the rest of my family eats as many carbs as they want. My boyfriend is super pick but I try to buy as few processed foods as possible. Any suggestions other then thorough rotating shopping lists and meal planning? I can sometimes get by with only spending $175 depending on the store I go to, but its hard. I’m open to any suggestions possible.
Would love to be able to do this… but no way it is possible in Canada!
With me and 2 voraciously eating active teenage boys, I spend easily $50 a week just on veggies and fruits .. let alone adding in bread or “meats” (we eat lots of fish and chicken too). A loaf of bread, decent and not just white bread starts around $3.99 for us – and that is at a superstore/loblaws big name discount type place. Fortunately my kids do not eat a lot of bread nor do we consume milk or eggs or nuts. 8 chieken thighs (840 g) is on sale for $10 this week – that will barely feed us one meal with maybe leftovers for me to sprinkle a salad with some chicken bits.
Very encouraging! I’m going to try to implement some of these suggestions, as my food budget for a family of 5 with a life threatening allergy went from $800/month to $300, and I hit panic level red! With kids heading to school for the first time, I was thinking prepackaged was going to have to happen, but this encourages me to do my best to avoid that! Plus it’ll be safer!
We are also a food allergy family of 5. My daughters main allergies are chicken and egg (but she does have some other fruit and vegetable allergies as well). I think what made the biggest difference for us was not buying all the convenience/pre-packaged items and mixes and like you said buy Whole Foods/single ingredients/cook from scratch. When she was first diagnosed I was so overwhelmed and I would buy the $7 allergy friendly pancake mix that didn’t require eggs etc. but then I started searching Pinterest and found a super easy and cheap eggless pancake recipe. I will say it has taken A LOT of trial and error with figuring what egg substitutes are best for recipes etc. and sometimes when a favorite allergy friendly item is on a good sale I will buy 1-2 for those times I need the convenience or for a special treat. I would also add that now Kroger and even Aldi make and carry many allergy friendly items at the fraction of the cost of say Whole Foods. Amazon also has some great prices on some products too. Now that I’m really comfortable with our restrictions (5years later) we are able to spend $400 per month for our family of 5 for all groceries, household, and health and beauty.
Wow! Any chance you would give a sample weekly menu? That would be very inspiring for me. And would any of those 5 be teenagers? I have 3 teenagers and one little and it’s much more challenging to keep within my desired budget now.
Mary Ensley says
I would love to see someone write a quick article similar to this one on their Paleo grocery budget.
Emily F says
Yes, Paleo, or close to it, is killing my budget!
My husband is on the Keto diet and our bill has sky rocketed as well. Now we are at almost $600 a month and I kringe each time I have to buy something. I am going to start with the cost before I go idea and not buying prepackaged breakfast… well except cereal. I will make the pancakes and waffles and oats. Pray for me! 🙁
Yes! We eat Paleo and for our family of 5 I STRUGGLE to keep in under 1,000 a month just for groceries
I too have had take the challenge to reduce our budget this past year as I have left my teaching job of 20 years to homeschool my special needs child. It is only ingredients now and NO convenience food unless its free with coupons. I make a lot more from scratch. We are also working on eliminating certain foods from our son’s diet but we are doing it as a family.
I think another key thing is to also have the fruit and veggies cut up, so they are easy to grab for the kids. I use the rubbermaid produce containers (older version) and they help to keep my Aldi produce longer. If they are ready and available my 2 teens will eat away!!
What a great post! Full of new ideas and great ways to think about old ones.
#2 for me is the game changer. Everyone knows to shop the sales, but if you write down how much everything costs before you go, then you know how much you’re going to spend.
Very encouraging! Keep it up!