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Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Budget

Why-We-More-than-Doubled-Our-Grocery-Budget-Pin

It’s taken me weeks to work up the courage to write this post. But I finally decided the day had come… and I’m going to press publish on this, even if it means that some people don’t understand or are disappointed with me.

You see, for years, our family has been known by the fact that we have a really, really low grocery budget. In fact, this site started as an outgrowth of people’s interest in how we’ve kept our grocery budget so, so low.

The Lean Law School Years

I will never forget our lean law school years when we didn’t have more than $17 to $30 per week to spend on groceries, when we had to just drum up the best meals we could with what was on a great sale and what I could get for pennies with coupons, when we had many meatless meals because we couldn’t afford to purchase more than a pound or two of meat each week, when we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day for lunch for weeks and weeks on end.

It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

Those short-term sacrifices eventually paid off into many long-term benefits. One of which was putting us in a position where we had the wiggle room to raise our grocery budget.

After my husband finished law school and our income had significantly increased, we toyed a lot with raising our grocery budget. And we did raise it a little — first to $40 per week and then, a little while later, up to $50 per week.

I Just Couldn’t Bring Myself to Spend More Than $50

I just couldn’t bring myself to spend more than $50 per week for groceries, though. {Note: The $50/week number was a little ambiguous because we do get free samples, review products, and high-value coupons from companies on a fairly regular basis because I’m a blogger. It was also a bit skewed because we buy some of our groceries with Amazon credit from Swagbucks. But for the past few years, we only spent $50 cash at the grocery store each week.}

After we moved to TN and we made the transition to Jesse being home full-time, I began noticing that $50 per week just didn’t seem to be cutting it. Not only has our family significantly changed our eating habits, but Jesse is no longer eating out each day for lunch. Plus, he is doing intense workouts three time per week and our kids are growing and have sports activities multiple times each week. Needless to say, we just seem to be going through a lot more food.

As Jesse has become a lot more interested in health and fitness, he’s also been doing a lot more of the cooking and he’s been loving trying out new and healthful recipes. He started wanting to spend more at the grocery store to purchase ingredients for different recipes he wanted to try.

Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Budget

Why I Was So Stubborn

In all honesty, I really didn’t want to raise our grocery budget any more. Why? Well, mostly because I felt like I owed it to you all for us to keep our grocery budget really, really low. I felt like I was being a fraud if I have a site called “MoneySavingMom.com” but didn’t also have some insanely low grocery budget.

So I kept saying “No, let’s just try to make $50 work.” I tried to get more creative. I tried to really look for bulk deals and local sales. I tried to think of new ways to stretch that money further.

It wasn’t working, but I kept being stubborn about it for a few more weeks. I didn’t want to let you all down. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. And, to be perfectly honest, I know there was a part of me that prided myself in the low, low grocery budget we’ve kept for so long.

But I finally realized how silly I was being. In the name of not letting my readers down, I was making life difficult for my husband and kids.

Family Comes First — Or Do They?

I’ve always said that my family comes first. That all blogging decisions will be made first and foremost on what is best for my family. That I won’t let the blog trump my family.

Clearly, I was forgetting this mantra. And I finally woke up and realized I just needed to let go of my arrogance and stubbornness, admit that it was time for a change, and be free from guilt over it.

While this was happening with me, Jesse had been researching different meal plans online and he came across a site called MealFit that offers meal planning specifically for people who want to eat healthfully and live a fit lifestyle. I was really reluctant to pay for this service. It seemed extravagant, costly, and nothing that was in line with my usually frugal ways.

Handing Over the Grocery Budget

At the same time, though, I could tell that Jesse really, really loved the idea. So I did something very uncharacteristic: I handed the grocery budget over to my husband and told him he could decide on what amount seemed best.

We paid for a short-term subscription to MealFit and shopped almost entirely according to their weekly grocery lists. I thought that eating according to the MealFit menu plan was going to massively increase our grocery budget, but I knew that we’d recently trimmed our budget in some other areas by at least $90, so I was willing to try it out and just see what would happen if we shopped and cooked according to the MealFit plan.

It was really hard for me for the first few weeks, but I could tell that Jesse was loving it and I enjoyed almost every single one of the MealFit recipes. They are packed with flavor and nutrition and there have only been a few duds or ones that we didn’t love.

Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Bill

Yes, We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Budget

After about 4 weeks of experimenting, we realized that, yes, shopping and cooking according to the MealFit menu plan did increase our budget — but not to a crazy high number like I was expecting. We’re averaging around $130 per week now for groceries for the five of us, including the cost of the MealFit subscription.

This is more than double what we were budgeting before, but it’s nowhere near the $250 or so that I’d initially pictured it might be. More importantly, my family is eating healthfully and my husband is much happier. He’s made many, many hard sacrifices over the years to allow us to stay out of debt and save aggressively and I’m so happy that he can now reap some of the fruit of that sacrifice.

So there you have it: the completely honest truth on why we raised our grocery budget. I have a feeling some readers will be disappointed and upset with me. And that’s the hardest part about me writing and putting this kind of post out there. I don’t want to disappoint people, but I also want to be authentic.

No matter what you think of me after reading this post, I hope you know how much I appreciate you being on this journey with me. My heart hurts for you if you’re in a season where you don’t have any wiggle room in your budget. Please don’t give up! I truly believe that someday soon, those short-term sacrifices will pay off in big ways.

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508 Comments

  • Katie Rankin says:

    Well,I’m glad you did it. I personally am struggling to feed my family the way I want (ie fresh and healthy) for $200/week. I think frugal is about being a good steward in each season of life as much as it is being cheap. Keep following Jesus and listening to your husband–and then fickle people can do what they please.

  • Valerie says:

    Good for you! Family should ALWAYS come first. Spending wisely will never look the same from family to family either. 🙂

  • Diane says:

    Love this, thank you for sharing! We have had to increase our grocery budget since our toddlers are eating so much even with nursing and my husband and I are both very active, too. I should probably increase it more but for now, we have just enough every month in our food budget, nothing left over but lots in our stockpile, too.

  • Rebecca F. says:

    Good decision. Something also to consider is the cost of food has greatly increased over the last three years. Staple items are 50¢ to $1.50 more each. That along increases the budget. In our area, also, the coupon values have greatly decreased. Products that used to publish a 50¢ coupon are now publishing 2/50¢ coupon. Cutting the savings in half.

  • Johanna says:

    Crystal,

    Thank you for being vulnerable and real on your blog. It is not easy to “let go” of something no matter how big or small it may seem, especially when you have lived a certain for a long time and your blog is about saving money. I think it is great that you are now living a life that you don’t need to scrimp and save for your daily food. It is a testimony of the Lord working in amazing ways in your families life! And keep being you as a child of God and that is a “money saving mom”! You are you no matter what! God is faithful!

    Blessings from a long time reader,
    Johanna

  • Robyn says:

    Why should anyone be disappointed in you? Pinching Pennies is a wonderful thing to do in a bind, or during a season, but nobody says you have to stay that way forever! When the rough times are over, you celebrate it! Congratulations! You made it! It doesn’t mean you have to live that way forever. Especially now that there is no need.

  • Shelly says:

    Your advice is still solid and sound, and we would be incredibly unrealistic to think your budget would stay the same forever. If anyone is that disappointed, then they should use that as motivation to start their own blog.

    This reader is not going anywhere. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    I think that even as a blogger–you have to do what you feel is best for your family. You not only encourage saving money on here, but you are putting out there a very family oriented type blog. Again, doing what is best for your family as we do for ours. I love this post and thank you for being so honest and again, encouraging. I am not hurt in any way. 🙂 I talk to my friends about saving money and coupons–they are often impressed, but I do tell them it is ok if they get discouraged some weeks because of not finding the right deal–thus spending a little more than they wanted to.

  • Jacki says:

    We have had to increase our budget just because the prices of groceries have been rising through the roof. We were given a deer each of the last 4 years and this year we will have to do without. I hope we can find another deer hunter to fill our freezer. It lowered our cholesterol as well as our budget.

  • Just wanted to say that I’ve been reading here for years now and I feel excited for you! What a fantastic blessing that you’re able to make these choices during this season of your life! Your blog is still so helpful, and you haven’t lost any credibility at all in my book. Thank you for your transparency!

  • Kathy says:

    As always, I appreciate your honesty. You have to do what is best for you and your family. We still try to stick to a $40 a week grocery budget but it’s just the two of us now. Your blog inspired me to shop smarter and match coupons to sales and try new recipes. We now have a $30 a week “entertainment” budget which I use for movies, books, magazines, and eating out. All your blogging and sharing of your hurdles made me want to do better for my family. I am happy for your success and that you share your ups and downs with us. Thank you!

  • Becky says:

    I think $130 is still an incredibly good deal for a family of five. Keep up the good work, I enjoy your blog.

  • theresa says:

    I still think $130 is crazy low for five. I’m lucky to keep it to $75 for one here in Seattle and I’m not 100% organic, local, etc. If I did that it would be much more. Thanks for being honest. While I agree we shouldn’t be wasteful, I also don’t think food is where would should try to cinch our budgets. Healthful, good food is important.

  • Cheryl says:

    Thanks for your honest sharing! Isn’t it amazing how some of the things in our lives that started out so good can slowly morph into idols? Love your willingness to set aside pride and truly honor your husband by being open to his new ideas. Though I may have found you originally because of your low grocery budget, that’s not why I stick around. Thanks for inspiring me!

  • Amy says:

    Thank you so much for being honest. Everyone spends money differently–this is something we all need to remember before we judge. Yours is similar to the route we’ve taken, and I honestly feel like we’re saving more by being healthier (fewer trips to the doctor for oe), and we exchanged other things like entertainment to put more money toward what we eat every day. Your family absolutely matters. Anyone who judges you isn’t someone you are living with every day, someone you’ve been charged with caring for. As loud as their bark, people are (hopefully) not going to lose sleep over it. You shouldn’t either. Thank you for all you’ve done in helping others!

  • Wanda Schlabach says:

    Wow, I had no idea you felt so much pressure to not offend. You have a beautiful heart. I’m sure some will be ok with it, and others not so much(I’d never survive in your shoes). I don’t think you are betraying your name…you are still a mom who saves money. I’m hoping I win the free subscription to the meal plans. We also are trying to eat healthier, and it does cost more but it’s better foods for us, and prevention (from illnesses) is far better than trying to cure. So, cudos to you for allowing your husband to lead, and make the best decision for your family. I hope your opinionated readers go easy on you. You may inspire some to put their families heath first, too.

  • Samantha Jones says:

    I love this post! $50 a week is amazing, but so is $130 considering the family size. Right now, I’m spending $350 a month for three, plus another $150 for baby formula. And that’s a lot lower because of this site! Every day you post deals that help me save money, and I’m thrilled! As far as I’m concerned, you are certainly still the Money Saving Mom!

  • Anna says:

    Awesome post, and wonderful decision! I tried staying on a super low grocery budget, but with 4 growing kids, 4 nights of sports, church activities, full time jobs, little time to coupon for food items, and few coupons for whole food, I could never do it consistently on < $500 a month. We were also eating very unhealthy, prepackaged stuff. I just hired a trainer and am overwhelmed by how to eat healthy meals on a budget that all of us can actually enjoy, with no time to plan meals. I will give this site a try. Thanks for sharing, and for your honesty. God first, family second, and work/blog only after that!

  • Lindsay Ayers says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate your authenticity because I believe so many people have run into this issue. Ultimately, you are investing in your family’s health and improving their lifestyle which is worth the extra cost. Family comes first.

  • amber says:

    Thank you for your honesty. Our family eats healthy and we struggle to keep our budget around $50 a week. I love your blog and ideas. Keep up the great work!

  • Kristin F. says:

    I am glad you made a decision that it best for you and your family! Everyone goes through seasons, and be blessed that you’re able to make that adjustment to your grocery budget! It’s wonderful (and not going to lie, makes me feel better because that’s about where we’re at on our grocery budget 😉 )

  • sheila says:

    I love how honest you are! And yes as our “seasons in life” change we have to make some changes. 😉
    I do hope you will continue to post about some of your shopping trips and the breakdown. I just love those!

  • Candice says:

    Nothing but support here! I think that buying healthy foods and eating healthy is definitely another way of being a good steward of your resource. Yes, you can say you feed your family for $50 a week but maybe there are some repercussions of eating one too many PBJ.. 🙂 I’m happy that you guys have come far so don’t be ashamed to say that you spend more on groceries now! It doesn’t affect how I view this website!

  • Amy says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I used to live in TN, and it has a high grocery tax (8.75%, isn’t it?). That pulls a chunk of change out of the amount you actually can buy.
    I appreciate your statement that Jesse used to eat out when your budget was $50.
    I would read your menus, and wonder how you family could possibly be full eating those foods, since mine would not (“something else to eat?” is an almost daily refrain). I’m glad you are at the place in life to eat well.

  • LeahB says:

    Good for you!!! Everyone has different needs and priorities; my impression of Money Saving Mom’s purpose in general is to control the family budget, not let the budget control you and make you miserable. We’ve been spending more on food lately because I’m pregnant, HUNGRY, and exhausted. If we have to, my husband and I know that we can eat rice & beans every day, for a finite period of time. If people get upset with you for doing what’s right for your family, then they’re kind of missing the point. 🙂

  • Denise says:

    Thanks for sharing!!! Sometimes I admit to feeling guilty that Crystal and her family of 5 live on a food budget way smaller than mine and my husbands…but I’m glad to see that you are putting your families needs and your husband’s wishes ahead of a number on the budget. I would like to spend less than we do but there are things my husband really enjoys having on hand and I feel like that is important too. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Ashlee says:

    Every family is different! Do what is best for yours.

  • Leanne M says:

    Wow! I really appreciate everything you said! I just had this talk with my husband last night. We needed to increase our food budget for many reasons and I was being stubborn and proud. My kids aren’t babies anymore. They eat! A lot! The one thing I made a promise to start the increase in the areas of fruits and veggies and not feel guilty. Thank you, now I can stop feeling awful!

  • Natalie says:

    I love your authenticity. My family has been making sacrifices for a while now and I am barely starting to see some (very small) wiggle room. I think it is awesome you put your family first. I wouldn’t worry about those who judge you or say they are disappointed. I love reading your blog and it has helped me and my family in so many ways. Thank you.

  • Katie says:

    I LOVE that you posted this!! As a family on a very tight budget we eat a very healthy diet with virtually no preservatives, prepared foods, etc. I have struggled with guilt and even jealousy over the years over our food budget. I *know* its worth it to eat nourishing, whole foods, but sometimes my heart still sinks when I read of coiponers who are feeding their families for soooo much less. Thank you for being open and honest with us!!

  • Darlene W says:

    Great for you guys!! You held your budget tight when you really needed to and you are still staying within a budget and not just throwing your groceries on a credit card so that is still a great win in my opinion!! You must do what is best for you and your family, your true blog following “friends” will understand!!

  • Terra says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with spending more. I appreciate your honesty, and what you do for your family is entirely up to you. We used to stay around $50 a week, and there are only three of us. But we spent that even when there were only two. When we moved to California from Kansas, I saw that we were definitely spending more, for a while it was consistently at $90. We’ve cut it back again, but on average we’re at $350-$400 month, instead of the $200 we were used to. But I don’t shop multiple stores like I used to. I don’t always use tons of coupons. I buy organic. I buy a lot more fruit and vegetables and we eat out a LOT less than we used to. Groceries do cost more out here than they did in Kansas, but I think the real reason it’s increased isn’t just about costs. It’s about not cutting back what I want to buy, it’s not trying to fit within that $50 week after week. It’s about getting what we need, stocking up on things I want, and worrying only about having food, and not as much about the cost. It’s not like we’re wasting. In fact, we wasted A LOT more food in Kansas. So I’m spending more, and wasting less. It’s amazing, really. And in the end…that is saving money. In some way. And we’re using it more wisely. I think it sounds like your family is spending it wisely too. And that’s never ever a bad thing or something worth apologizing for.

  • I’m glad you shared. Our home is gluten-free, and I just have not managed to get anywhere close to your food budget numbers (even with your “huge” increase). It’s okay to do what works for your family. 🙂 I have learned to save money compared to what we were paying using coupons and Aldi’s, but we don’t have a very low budget.

    • Jo says:

      Our whole family is gluten-free too, and Aldi’s has been a saving grace, but we definitely pay more than $80 a week for 3 of us! It’s just much more expensive with a kindergartener who needs to pack breakfast, two snacks, and lunch. 🙂

  • Kathy in Illinois says:

    You do what you have to do , Crystal. The prices of groceries keep going up each week almost and I don’t think they will ever go down. I do not have a budget, but I know I have been paying more at the grocery store because of rising prices. You have a family of 5 to feed and healthful meals are important. I think most of your readers know you are a “money saving mom” no matter what your budget is. Keep up the good work.
    God bless, Kathy in Illinois

  • Laura says:

    I am glad you are doing what is best for your family. You will probaley always have someone who does not like what you are doing, but I would be more concerned about pleasing my family, you know the ones you live with! 🙂

  • Kenzie B says:

    I’m sure some readers will be upset but I for one am not one of them! God definitely used your time of needing to use a very low food budget to show other people that it can be done!(and with enthusiasm) but on the other hand seeing the needs of your family change and then adapting is also important. 🙂
    We have a budget of $125 a week including food and toiletries and things like paper towels and toilet paper…it’s hard! We eat most of our meals at home and eat as healthy as possible, using food co-ops and warehouse deals. And at times when I feel frustrated…when I feel like my dollars just aren’t stretching enough, you and your readers inspire me to keep trying. You increasing your food budget does not change my feelings a bit. Thank you for being genuine!

  • Rebecca Coolidge says:

    I am personally now hoping you will share some ideas on eating healthy at your new budget. We have made a lot of changes to what we eat and I have had to increase our budget as well.

  • Sara says:

    Thank you for your honestly! The flea market and I are best friends when it comes to making healthy meals. I go and stock up and pay so much less than at the store, about $20 a week and I leave with small boxes of stuff. In case you have one nearby…its super fun too! You’ll also find lots of vegs you don’t normally find at the typical grocery store and they even have discounted fruit and veg stands!

  • Melissa says:

    I appreciate what you said. A families needs can change so quickly. My husband and I have 6 children. They are all very good eaters, active and healthy kiddos. I have noticed that we have to adjust and sometimes increase our grocery budget due to our needs changing. I pack lunch for the 5 school age kids at least 3-4 times a week, plus 4 of them take snacks to school. Then we have after school snacks, snacks for sports/activities. We can’t afford to eat out, so on our busy evenings away from home I will pack our supper. The point I’m trying to make is that each families needs vary from another and those needs change. We can increase our budgets and still shop smart. Thank you for your honesty, that is what I love about your blog the most 🙂

  • Brooke says:

    I’m glad that you finally raised your grocery budget. I’ve been wondering for a while if you would ever raise it. You’re in a position where you can do it and shouldn’t feel guilty about it. You are always an encouragement to me.

  • Jen says:

    To be honest, I’m not sure why you were so worried about this. You rarely ever talk about money saving anymore unless you’re referencing a previous post, defending yourself, or your sisters grocery trips.

    You don’t post your savings, freezer cooking, or hardly anything about coupons. Like 90% of the things you do say relate to motivation and goals regarding non money issues.

    Occasionally you’ll promote something you’re getting paid for like a sale on jewellery, but your website doesn’t really even relate to money saving anymore.

    Unfortunately, that’s why I rarely come here anymore. I don’t want to know about how often you or your husband work out. I want to know how to save and make money for my family. I want to be a REAL money saving mom. You know, what your blog is supposed to be about. . .

    • Considering the years of blog posts on this website, it would be rather redundant if Crystal were to re-post information. That’s why their are archives. You might find some really helpful money saving information in those. As for savings and coupons, I download free ebooks to read from the list here almost every day, there is an entire coupon database, and I have found some great deals on purchasing children’s clothing and other items I might give as gifts for Christmas… perhaps your browser doesn’t load all of the content on this site.

    • Nowhining says:

      If you don’t like it don’t come here to complain. No one likes a whiner. She posts tons of deals, coupon matchups , etc. I, along with millions of other readers, think her blog is fantastic. The internet is huge – I’m sure you will find something “better” to suit your needs!

    • Anna says:

      I’m sorry you don’t enjoy the newer content on the blog. I do hope you will stick around and still give it a try.

      I personally rely on Gretchen’s shopping trip posts. Her CVS and Dillons trips reflect what I buy and often I’ll see something she bought and would pick that up at the store. Brigette’s trips are just plain awesome, love her store savings (and her frugal and tasty family recipes). And over the last few years, I have regarded this blog more as The Money Saving Team and truly enjoy the different posts by guests and Crystal’s sisters. Plus, learning to eat healthy, make safer homemade cleaners, and staying fit on a budget are still frugal habits we could all learn.

    • Mindy says:

      I have to say I agree with Jen. I am struggling with my budget feeding a family of 3 for $30 a week. So I do miss the money saving post looking for frugal ideas because I can’t go all healthy….

    • Hi, Jen!

      Thanks so much for your comment and for being a reader here! I’m guessing you’ve missed my brand-new almost-daily “How I Saved Today” feature. I’d been trying to come up with something new, fresh, and real-life and I’m so excited about it and the opportunity to show simple things I’m doing every day to save! It’s amazing how much those simple things add up to significant savings!

      You can see all the posts I’ve done so far for this feature by clicking on the “Skip the Deals” tab at the top of the page.

      Thanks again for being a long-time reader! Have a wonderful evening! (Hugs!)

    • Andrea says:

      Spending $130/week to eat well is wonderful and still quite frugal, IMO. I would love to see some posts based on the new budget, including menus and deals to inspire those of us who are eating mostly whole foods and/or living with food allergies.

      MSM has been a big help over the years and I truly appreciate all that Crystal (and her staff) has shared. She’s built a wildly successful business that allows her family to live comfortably and eat well; she’s become an inspiration to many women. And I understand that everything evolves over time, including grocery budgets and blogging styles.

      But, like Jen, I miss the “olden days” of Money Saving Mom. I used to find a lot of frugal inspiration here, but for the past year, the blog has felt like a big advertisement and referral link. I can’t afford cheap magazine subscriptions, deals from Cents of Style or Crystal’s books. I don’t want a bunch of eBooks (even if they are free). I appreciate the posts about decluttering and simplifying. I still find good ideas in the guest posts. Unfortunately, however, the overall impression I get from MSM is “buy, buy, buy!!!”.

      • Malinda says:

        This is almost exactly what I was going to say. I’m looking to save not to buy stuff. The Stitch Fix post bummed me because really who on a budget pays that much for clothing. Great if you can but I’m looking to get by with some frugal ideas. I do like the new post on what I did to save. However I will be venturing on to more blogs about saving this really used to be my daily favorite. But I am in a season of frugal to get by.

      • Andrea: I appreciate your honest thoughts and I hope that you’ll love the new “How I Saved Today” almost-daily feature. I’m so excited about it. 🙂

        I also definitely plan to share more of our shopping trips and menus and freezer cooking again. I had to take a break from that while I figured out our new budget and way of eating and how it was all going to work out. It’s been quite a new adventure and stretching experience for me, but I’ve learned a lot in the process.

        Also, for those who don’t love or want the deals, be sure to check out the “Skip the Deals” tab in the header. That’s there specifically there for those of you who just want to read the content pieces and/or don’t have any extra money to spend on anything but basic necessities.

        As this blog has grown (we now have almost 2 million unique visitors per month — crazy, eh?!!), we’ve done our best to grow in a way that helps the broadest range of people while still staying true to our mission to encourage people to manage their money well and live their lives with intention.

        At the same time, I understand that we can’t be all things to all people and that I can’t help everyone… as much as I wish I could! 🙂

        Thanks so much for being a reader! {Hugs!}

  • Personally, I am THRILLED that you guys have increased your grocery budget in the name of eating better and healthier. There is nothing heroic about eating unhealthy food when you can afford to feed your family what will be better for their health in the long run. I also appreciate your honesty. Our grocery budget is $300-400/month (I try to stay as close to $300 as possible) including toiletries for two adults and a nursing toddler, so $50/week for a family of 5 seems unreal to me. Our family feels like it is best for us to purchase ingredients that are as high of quality as we can afford & only compromise where necessary. We rarely go to the doctor or get sick, so I think it balances out & we also make financial sacrifices in other areas. I would love to read more about your healthy menu plans! 🙂

  • Joy says:

    I completely appreciate your honesty with us. We live in the Northeast, have food allergies and other health issues that require some “more expensive” items to eat healthfully and safely. On the budget you had before that would never have been possible for us; however, with the budget you have now I do see how much you spend as being far more realistic to what we could do. Focusing on healthful eating, in the long run, will save you a boatload of money on medical so you are still saving money 🙂

  • Amy says:

    I always appreciate your authenticity. You’ve worked hard and made many sacrifices which have paid off for you. You’re entitled to reap the benefits. Enjoy!

  • Audrey says:

    Your tagline is “intentional finance, intentional family, intentional business” really says it all. You are being intentional in your decision. You are being you. Relax, you are loved.

  • heidi says:

    Your first loyalty is to your husband and family (you honor Christ by honoring your husband 🙂 ). Praise the Lord for giving you the courage to do just that. We have started to try to eat healthier and it does cost a little more (mostly, at this point, it costs more time for me). Thank you for your sensitivity and honesty. And, how many of us would be thrilled to have our husbands interested in cooking and family health?! Blessings 🙂

  • adriana bedwell says:

    I think $130 a week is still amazing! You are by no means letting any of your readers down. The price of food these days is crazy. We just moved from MS to Washington D.C. and we had to adjust our budget so we could still eat healthy. Knowing that you are feeding your family amazing food and honoring God in doing so is the best reward. I can speak for many i’m sure when I say we don’t come to your site just for the saving money aspect(although we have learned some amazing things) , we come so much because of the wonderful Godly beam of light that you shine. I personally have learned so much as a mom, wife, daughter, and woman of God just by reading your site daily. Because of you I found the courage to homeschool(and love it), and we have tried so many of the recipes on your site and get in the kitchen together as a family. THANK YOU

  • Kristin Wisnewski says:

    I so appreciate your authenticity! That’s about what we spend on a family of 5, including my pre-teen athlete son and a husband who does hard workouts as well. We also have special diet restrictions which require purchasing higher costing alternatives. I diligently coupon and bargain shop and am pretty proud of my numbers. 🙂 I just don’t understand the disappointment of some over this type of thing. Being too “perfect” can be off-putting and even a stumbling block for women. I know I have struggled with the guilt and pressure of trying to keep up. Being honest is the best thing you can do for yourself and others. You are an inspiration, and it is your humility and honesty that cause others to want to follow your lead. You’re doing great!!

  • Sherri Spence says:

    The only person you have to worry about disappointing is the person in the mirror. From what I read, that person should be very proud of what she has accomplished.

  • Candace says:

    I am so happy for your family. Our family is making it through medical school right now which I am sure is a lot like your all’s financial situation when you were in law school. I applaud you for desiring to please your husband, as God has placed him as the head. I am very happy this makes your family happy and you should not feel ashamed one bit! Love the blog!!!

  • Mary says:

    Hi Crystal, I love your blog and appreciate your return to more personal posts. That being said, as a reader, it’s NONE OF OUR BUSINESS what you spend or don’t spend on groceries. So I hope you never feel pressured to let us in the general public know your “for real” budget 🙂 I love your authenticity. You started out struggling – like we all are as your readers. I’m glad you increased your budget – it gives me hope that as we pay off more and more of our debt and work our snowball that we too can increase our budget and even GASP get a latte and a pedicure and not feel guilty!!! 😉 Dont apologize for doing what’s right for your family!!!

  • Colleen says:

    I’m so glad you posted this! I have also struggled with keeping our grocery budget down until I realized we were having to buy the more expensive stuff. I have one girl with a gluten intolerance, and another girl who has a dairy allergy (not lactose intolerant, but an actual tummy burning, hot fever allergy). When you posted your new budget, I thought that’s exactly where we are! Thanks!

  • Kristen says:

    Thank you so much for being real!!!! I used to be a super coupon cutter back when we lived in Florida, but for the last four years we have been dealing with being in a market with very few coupon options, many food allergies, and changing dietary needs. I will tell you that your transparency takes some of the “pressure” that somehow I need to get that done somehow off of me. So, thank you so much for sharing!

  • I applaud you and your family for eating better and getting fit. My daughter and I are both overweight and I am trying to cook healthier. In the long run I imagine your budget will average out. You probably won’t have as many doctor bills because you are healthier. I enjoy reading your blog.

  • I went through the same struggles when I went from heavy couponing to spending an insane amount at the grocery store (we budget $800/mo now, although we’re in Alaska so I’m hoping that’s part of the increase as well). A few years ago my then 3 year old had a crazy behavioral reaction to red-40 food dye. I started researching food dyes and their affect on children.

    That day drastically changed our eating habits – now we try to focus on more plant based meals, have reduced our meat & dairy consumption, and avoid food dyes, artificial flavors, and other additives as much as possible. I now realize that I can’t skimp in the food department which is ultimately responsible for our long term health. We either pay the farmer now for fresh food or the doctors later for poor health. Good for you for being honest and doing what’s best for your family!

  • Mac says:

    Thank you so much for opening up about this! Please don’t tell MY husband about MealFit, though! LOL!

    But really, Crystal, you totally did the right thing here both for your family AND your readers! When you posted a week or so ago about some of the diet changes you were making, I was wondering how that was actually working with your budget! Haha! I’m happy for you, and looking forward to when we can bump our grocery budget, too! Great job! Nothing but respect!

  • Shayleen says:

    I respect you more now. Thanks for sharing. It’s exhausting to try and figure out how people spend less than $100 per week at the store. Family of six and I still budget $200 per week. Mine has doubled in the last year or two, but not because I wanted it too…good is simple more expensive, quantities are smaller in packages and no coupons are doubled in my neck of the woods anymore making couponing not worth my time!

  • Briita says:

    I love this post, we are a family of 5, soon 6, and I spend so much on groceries! We pack lunches, and do almost all breakfasts and dinners at home, we hardly eat out. We meal plan with emeals, and really like it. I love your site but have sometimes skimmed over things, because I knew that having such a low grocery budget would be impossible for us right now and sometimes made me feel guilty or wonder what I am doing so wrong. So I am really excited for the change 😉 I can relate better to this and I think some others may feel that way too, so way to go!

  • Shayleen says:

    I respect you more now. Thanks for sharing. It’s exhausting to try and figure out how people spend less than $100 per week at the store. Family of six and I still budget $200 per week. Mine has doubled in the last year or two, but not because I wanted it too…food is simply more expensive, quantities are smaller in packages and no coupons are doubled in my neck of the woods, anymore making couponing not worth my time!

    • Amanda B says:

      That is what has happened to us. For a family of 6 we are on average $200 a week. To try and find coupons for items we eat is hard and then when 3 boys decide to have growth spurts at the same time, well… Even our local grown farmers markets are wildly expensive so I feel I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

      Crystal,
      Thank you for being honest. I enjoy reading bloggers who are authentic and don’t give me a sense of I’ll never accomplish that. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Sophie Piper$ says:

    Thank you for this post. Your blog and book have truly impacted my life. I have a wheat allergy and because of that what I spend on meals for my family tends to be around $120 or more. I’ve always felt guilty because I know I can cut costs by buying things are cheaper, but not healthy for my family. I honestly believe it is so important for us to fuel our bodies well, but it’s hard to do when the cost is so significant. Thanks for the freedom that you just offered your readers. As always, you are such a breath of fresh air, Crystal. Thank You

  • Debbie says:

    Good for you!!! That website sounds awesome. Im happy you are doing what is GOOD for your family. Remember haters gonna hate…. 🙂

  • Megan says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I was thinking something similar today. Although being frugal and saving money on food is great, I also value healthy eating. I feel that buying high quality food is an investment in my family’s health and well-being. As we have worked through Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, we are in a place that we can afford a larger food budget. Ours is $440 a month for 4 people one with soy and dairy intolerances.

  • Brenda Deibel says:

    I have never commented before, but just wanted to say thanks for posting this! As my husband’s salary and our family size has increased, so has our food budget. I would be fine with the same meals over and over, but my husband is adventurous and loves to cook, it is a hobby for him. So I love that you decided to love your guy in this way and tell us all!

  • Helene says:

    I think we don’t have a choice..since inflasion has effected the foodd prices..a specially over the holididays! Thank you for sharing!

  • Leigh says:

    You have to do what’s best for your family. I live in the Nashville area as well and my family of four has a higher per week grocery budget than your family of five. I sometimes beat myself up that I can’t feed the four of us 3 meals and snacks. My kids are both still in diapers. My youngest is on formula and not the kind that you can find coupons for. My three year old has lots of food allergies. But because of those allergies we eat better food. We cook all our meals from scratch because it’s hard to shortcut when you’re dealing with food allergies and most restaurants can’t accommodate us (shoot, most of our family members find it hard to accommodate us). I appreciate your honesty. I can better relate to you now. I spend far above $130 each week so you should be proud you can feed your family on that budget; especially with food prices going up the way they have.

  • Jamie Klotz says:

    I think people will LOVE this! Personally, I felt horrible all the time because I spend 275 a week on all groceries, paper items, pull ups, food, etc, for a family of 8 and 6 of them are guys! They eat a lot. I’m always running out, yet always beating myself up because I see posts that say they can feed their family on 50-100 a week and I’m a failure. Your new budget seems so much more realistic and something we can relate too! Spend on health now, and prevent doctor costs later! 🙂

    • Corrie says:

      I was just thinking how I always feel a little bad when I see the posts with really low grocery budgets. I usually spend about $600/mo (includes paper supplies, shampoo, etc. for 4 ) but am not good about shopping at multiple stores due to my schedule. I always work for health and then the $….eating better now is better for my kiddos in the long run.

  • Charla says:

    Here’s to being real! This is a great post.
    My husband has taken advantage of his job, that pulled him out of the 100hours a week oil field job he had previously, he has acquired a healthier lifestyle – clean eating and triathlete for the last two years. In addition, we have very active teen boys and just as active 11 year old daughter – the appetites in our home are monsterous. It is hard to keep a small food budget while eating as clean we want to. We are a family of 6, my daughter the youngest, and we try to stay at 400.00 or less every two weeks. It’s not easy, takes a lot of planning, but we have learned that the only way we can spend less is to buy more processed/boxed foods which we are not willing to do.

    God will cover you family in provision and health. Good job mom.

  • Rachel says:

    Good for you! We spend about $150-200 per week for our family of five. That includes some gluten free items (mom has to be and we are trying making the whole house g free) and that makes it a lot more expensive. We are not extravagant people, and we bake a lot of our own stuff (and buy stuff that is g free naturally rather than modified packaged goods) but groceries for a family of five really adds up!
    Enjoy!

  • Amanda says:

    That’s great! I’m so glad you have the flexibility to do what’s best for your family right now.
    I’m one of those people with absolutely no wiggle room right now, trying to feed 7, soon to be 8, on a budget of $75 a week. It’s rough, but we all have to do what we can!

  • Donna says:

    Don’t apologize or feel guilty about this! You are doing what is right for your family. They MUST come way before your readers. I respect you for honoring your husband’s wishes and for being open about these household changes. You are still saving money by not eating out and treating your bodies right with wholesome and nutritious food. I cannot imagine anyone criticizing your personal choices about how to spend your hard earned money. Don’t you dare let anyone make you feel guilty.

  • Anna says:

    Crystal, I love this post! I have been reading your blog for several years and have loved watching all the transformations you have gone through. I think budgets are such a personal process based on your current needs, wants, and values; and I love the way you portray this in your budgeting advice on the blog. I also truly believe spending more on healthful food can work wonders for your health and vitality. I’m so happy you are enjoying some breathing room in your food budget and would love to hear more about what you and your family are buying, cooking, and eating these days! Many blessings to you and your family.

  • Monica says:

    I was just saying today when my son is grown, I’m never cooking again and look forward to eating out every night lol. I think it’s a natural progression in life to pick and choose where you want to save money. There is a time value to our money and there’s a point where stressing about menu planning, coupons, and budgets is outweighed by the value of our time. I don’t believe you’ve let anybody down as you’re still providing money saving tips from friends, other bloggers and previous experiences. Thank you for being so candid!

  • A. Perkins says:

    Thank you! This honestly makes me want to keep reading your blog. I had noticed your healthy changes and we eat much the same way. (all organic meat,dairy, most produce, no processed sugar,etc. ). For a family of 6 we spend $700/mth and this no longer includes all our household items. I bust my hump trying to find ways trim it down or find the best deals and this is the best I can do. I didn’t understand how the healthy food you were eating could cost so little and thanks for sharing too that there are quite a few offers you receive because of the blog that offset your costs. It’s makes those of us who put health first, but still want to be smart with our money feel better to see the full picture.

  • Dana says:

    Of course you should double it! If God has blessed you with more income, enjoy (Ecc. 7:14)! He wants us to be thankful for what we have, whether that’s a lot or a little. It’s sad that in the blogosphere there’s so much criticism and pressure of what others think, and we’ll likely never meet each other on earth anyhow. I try to do what is best for my family with what we have and I look to mom blogs for ideas, but often it’s just defeating because of indirect criticism and bragging. Thank you for this post! We recently gave ourselves a $15/week grocery raise which has given me more time to enjoy my husband and children, and less time stressing over my grocery list.

  • Missy says:

    Crystal,

    $130 is still great compared to most! We spend $100 for a family of 4 with toiletries included. Thanks for being transparent with your readers!

    PS Thank you for sharing my freezer cooking post on Facebook this week! I truly appreciate it!!

    Have a great weekend.
    Blessings,
    Missy

  • Deanna says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’m excited that you guys have it in your budget the ability to do it. We are all in different stages of life and have different priorities and different finances available. There is no right or wrong number to spend. 🙂 I know my husband is looking forward to someday increasing our grocery budget so we buy more meat. 🙂
    We budget $150 a month for our family (2 kids – 3 1/2 and 17 months) and cook from scratch and eat real food. We are trying to cut back on grains. Paleo is definitely more expensive. We are finishing up our first Whole30 and will have spent double our normal grocery budget! We are planning to add back in grains but just in lesser amounts.

    I hope you share some of your recipes and amazon, vitacost, health food store etc shopping trips again – I always enjoy those (especially from real foodies)!

    Have a great weekend.

  • I did the same thing just last week. I’ve had a budget that I’ve stubbornly held us to for years now. My husband switched from working at Chick-Fil-A and eating lunch there every day to working for a landscaping company – making him much hungrier at every meal than ever before. It took me several weeks of hearing him open the fridge to find a snack and sweetly saying, “Hon, do we have any meat?” to get me to realize I needed to buy more food. Bless his heart!
    Thanks for sharing, Crystal!

  • Melissa says:

    Kudos for being open about this. I would love it if you’d go back to posting your grocery shopping trips even if they aren’t as frugal as you’d like them to be. I always wondered how your family ate so little food, even with the free things that you mentioned that you got. My family of 5 goes through so much food a week!

  • Oh Crystal, there is no need to feel guilty whatsoever! I think the point of your site is to show that you CAN reduce your grocery budget if you need to for the short term in order to keep your budget in line to reach your financial goals. I hope I can spend more than $65 a week {which is what ours averages to be} on groceries at some other point down the road!! 🙂 We have never gotten ours down as low as yours used to be – diapers just keep doing me in – but I don’t want to ever have a low grocery budget just to say I can do it. Now, we HAVE to work to keep it low and our kids are little, but as our 3 kids get older {2 of whom will be boys}, I know I’ll have to increase it. My hope it that by then our income will be different and we can absorb those increases. Thanks for being authentic, but don’t you let others make you feel bad in the least!! 🙂

    • Jenny says:

      Very good point…. Crystal, you’ve shown us that it CAN be done… which doesn’t mean you STILL have to do it! It’s actually quite inspiring to see that your previous struggles paid off and now you can spend more…. gives us hope that if we sacrifice now (or when we need to), that it will pay off and we can get back to a worry-free place again!

  • becky groff says:

    I am amazed you can feed a family on $50 a week. There are different seasons in life. I had 2 teenage boys & daughter all 3 in sports and a very tall husband.It wasn’t about quality, it was about quantity.:) Was before the health food craze started. God always supplies what we need, and your heart was transparent and you followed your husbands wishes. Doesn’t get any better than that!

  • PamAlabam says:

    Feed your family, girl! What’s the point in reaching this goal and that goal if your family’s health isn’t the best it can be? We eat fairly healthy and lean towards basic non-processed foods for the bulk of our eating. There aren’t many coupons for wholesome food. My husband and two teen boys are all over 6’4” and the boys are always, always eating. They need filling food and not empty calories. I just do what I have to do during this season. I am a very thrifty person but food and clothing are just not where I can go cheap right now.

  • Sarah M says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I think you’re a great blogger and I appreciate the honesty. I have never been able to do $50/week since my kids were over the age of 4. They just go through SO much, and we make a LOT of stuff by scratch to save money. Our grocery budget is between $100-150/week and that’s almost unheard of where we are. We live near Vancouver, BC, and groceries are astronomical out here. It was much cheaper when we lived in the Midwest. Needless to say, we do Costco!

  • LaNay says:

    I have $130 grocery budget for my family of five …. Two of whom are teen athletes (and boys). You shouldn’t be ashamed. If you can afford to eat better then you might as well. We used to spend $200 a week, but your tips taught me how to shop smarter and simplify my life. I am not a couponer nor a Walmart shopper, but we live better now. You don’t owe your readers an explanation for increasing your budget. Your tips have helped many families stretch a very limited budget. I love that you are so genuine. If you can afford ribeye and lobster … Then there is no need to stick to PBJ for us.

  • Ellen says:

    Loved that you shared this 🙂 You do have to do what is best for your family! And there are so, so many ways you share how people can save.
    With my hubby and two boys having some crazy food allergies, I’m thankful to even keep our food/toiletries/diaper budget around $800/month. It sounds insane to me when I look back at what we used to spend several years ago, but I know that their health is important and I’m so thankful God has put us in a place where I can cook very healthy meals for them that don’t wreck havoc on their bodies. Just praying I can keep it around that price when our new baby arrives next month and I’ll have to be eating nearly as carefully as my husband and boys do while I nurse 😉

  • Mallory says:

    You are spending $130 a week worth of Quality, Healthy, WHOLE foods. That is nothing to be ashamed of! It would be different if you were spending that much money on pure crap, but spending that money is more like Investing that money into the health of you and your family. Worth every penny!! Plus the word frugal means different things to different people, all based on your family’s monthly income, IMO. Considering the considerable increase in your family’s income, the percentage of your budget that goes to groceries is still probably relatively low, thus making it “frugal” to you, if that makes any sense. 🙂 kudos to you & thanks for your wonderful blog!

  • Rachael says:

    Your current budget seems more realistic for a lot if families who are busy and/or aiming to eat well. Thanks for sharing; it actually made me feel better about our budget which is quite similar.

  • Buffy says:

    Good for you! If there is any place to up your spending it is in the food area. With kids growing and healthy fresh foods costing more, its bound to happen. Treat your selves, you’ve worked hard and sacrificed to make it to this point and treat your self!

  • Joy says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Cheap food doesn’t necessarily equate healthy food. Good for you and your family for making wise food choices that will pay off big in the long run, as you enjoy good health.

    In my opinion, being frugal sometimes means choosing what areas you are willing to “live lean” so that you can spend more in others. The beauty of a budget is striking a good balance.

    Thanks for sharing, even when you knew transparency could draw criticism.
    :o)

  • Stacey says:

    I respect you more, not less, because of this post.
    Thank you for being honest about what it really does cost many folks to feed a family well.

  • Eleanor says:

    i think it’s great that you shared that & it’s great that you stepped outside of your comfort zone to enjoy some change & flexibility.

    As my girls have grown & my husband & I too have gotten more involved in our personal health & fitness – our grocery budget has grown too. Did prices are higher, we eat 19-20 out of 21 weekly meals at home & my growing girls are very active & hungry!!! I save where & how I can & then choose to be thankful we can feed our family what we need & want. 🙂

  • Cassi says:

    We spend about $500/month for a family of five. We have athletic kids and we are trying to eat better and lose weight. It is really tough to plan healthy meals on a tight budget! I joined out local fruit club, not to save money on fruit, but to have access to fresh seasonal fruit that tasted AMAZING. There is no point in spending a bunch of $ in the local store for fruit that has been sitting around and has lost its flavor. I may be spending more but we are actually eating more of it! Also, it is tough to keep the budget low when the prices keep jumping!

  • Nancy says:

    I have to say that you should still be commended for only spending $130! We spend so much more for our family of five. I try to save where I can but have very little extra time. The increase in budget makes perfect sense especially with growing children!

  • April says:

    Family first. Always. No apologies. I am working with $450 per month for a family of 4 and I am pregnant too. I need the protein and luckily my Daddy raises cows and we put half of one in our freezer recently. I have a feeling it will need to be more but hubby just finished nursing school in May and we are just getting back on our feet. Best thing is we are able to put money into our savings account. I would do the same as you…whatever makes the hubby happy!

  • Julie C says:

    This post is quite refreshing! I’ve seen a lot of old articles in your Facebook news-feed featuring ideas that suggest you can feed a family for $30 a week. That just is not realistic in this economy anymore unless you have a huge garden and animals you raise for meat, eggs and dairy; of course, you have to feed those animals to get that food, too!

    Are you including the freebies (and “free” Amazon items) in your new $130 total?

    You can spend money on healthy food or spend money on doctor bills long term as a result of being under nourished via your eating plan.

    • Just to clarify, the $30 grocery budget post is for one person and it’s for a short-term season to help you be able to save aggressively in order to put money toward bulk purchases, etc. If you’re in a hard season, I want to share strategies to help people think outside the box. Sometimes, you just have to do the best you can do. 🙂

  • Jenny says:

    This post makes me feel SO much better about the money my family of 5 spends on groceries. My kids go through fruit like you wouldn’t believe and my 5 year old never stops eating. Every time I see my grocery bill, I feel guilty thinking of you and your successfully low budget… it makes me feel so much better to know that you’ve raised yours a bit! It’s still nowhere near what we spend each week on groceries, but it’s much more realistic! And P.S… I hope all of the positive responses here shows you how much we respect authenticity! And you bring us SOOOO many good ideas, good opportunities and good energy that it would be nearly impossible to disappoint 99% of us! Keep on keeping it real! 🙂

  • Dorcas says:

    I’m glad you’re changing your grocery budget because of the different season of life that you’re in. You’re absolutely making the right decision! I came to this blog to learn how to coupon, but now I barely look at those posts. You have been a huge inspiration to me in so many other areas. There are still lots of good money saving resources on this blog for those seeking that content.

  • Liz says:

    So glad you’re taking your own advice and doing what works for *your* family! And I’m so glad you guys are so happy. Y’all deserve to enjoy what you have worked so hard for: financial freedom! 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I particularly appreciate your openness and willingness to be authentic about something you are so passionate about. Blessings!

  • Lisa E says:

    I think a lot of your readers may be thinking the same thing. I’m trying to eat healthier as well. I’ve been going to the store looking for pet food/treats/toy deals to pair with coupons to take to the shelter. I have 2 boxes to take next week. I haven’t gotten anything for free. I think if you’re spending money to do good things (health, charity), you should be proud! I am debt free but not loaded. If you hear of any more pet food deals, please let me know.

  • Rachel says:

    Crystal,

    I so appreciated your post, thank you for updating us. I do not know how I came upon your blog but it was over two years ago and I have been almost a daily reader..for a time there you didn’t post as much… and you came back and told us why.. You are authentic.

    As your readers we see that you are not in the same financial place you were five years ago… But that’s ok, and it’s good! You and your husbands hard work and sowing seeds of good stewardship is paying off.

    And I must say… this post made me feel better… I buy a lot of fresh produce ( organic) or from the farmers market and it’s hard to truly nourish a family on $50 a month… Ours mirrors closer to your new set budget!

    Have a blessed evening! Hugs and so proud of you!

  • It is great that you have learned how to abound with little and with much! That is what it is all about. There is nothing more wonderful about being able to make it on a $50 a week budget, unless you don’t have more than that each week for food.
    Do what works for your family and don’t worry about the rest!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank goodness! I have a family of 4 but here lately we have had company every weekend. I just spent $200 tonight and that was just for odds and ends for next week. The grocery prices have gone up and to eat healthy it is insane! So glad you changed the budget:)

  • Jessica says:

    Good for you! I find it inspiring that you sacrificed for so long and are now seeing the benefits of hard work! Thanks for your honesty and heart! Blessings to you and your family!

  • lynn m. says:

    I spend roughly 250-300 every two weeks for mostly organic, gluten free (I have a medical issue) food for three people, pet food for six pets, and all cleaning supplies and toiletries. I’ve been following for several years. Don’t apologize. You aren’t a hypocrite, you still teach saving, pass on deals, and give insight. It’s your family and your wallet do what is right for you all.

  • April says:

    P.S. We had to use SNAP for a short time recently and even on it I received $675 per month for 4 people. THAT IS A TON OF GROCERY MONEY. So, as soon as hubby graduated and started getting a reliable check from his full time job with his degree I called and canceled our SNAP. It has been a shock to go from that much to so little, but totally worth it to pay cash instead of taxpayer money. So very thankful for the help when we needed it the most. I do not regret doing it…it was what I had to do at the time and Moms do whatever it takes to nourish our little ones.

    • Sarah says:

      Wow, that is a nice chunk of change for groceries for 4 people!!! Glad it could be of help to you in a time of need. 🙂

      • April says:

        Makes me wonder about some that complain about the lack of $ they get on SNAP. It was more than we needed and then some. And yes it was ALOT for 4 people!

        • august says:

          Each state is different on their allowances. Actually, each county can vary as well. It depends on how much you bring out, how much your sending out, and the age of the children in your home. A family of 4 in my county making zero a month qualifies for about $600 as well. However, a family of 6 in the county over bringing in barely $1300 qualifies for only $25 because only two of their children are under the age 6.

  • Thank you for posting this. I really watch our food budget while at the same time focusing on organic, local, and paleo eating(which isn’t cheap!) and I am proud to keep our budget around 175-200/bi weekly for our family of 5. I pack my husbands lunch and kids everyday and freeze a lot of meals as well. I was always blown away at how you could go on 50/week. And as selfish as it sounds it’s really nice to hear your budget is closer to mine. Kind of an “i’m doing something right” for me. Thanks!!

  • Melissa says:

    Hi Crystal, I’ve been a long time follower and I agree with what most of the others are saying in regards to doing what is best for your family and for being transparent. However, I would like to add something else. You have been living frugally for a long time and you are now able to reap the benefits of that and enjoy some of the better things in life. And isn’t that what we all want. You are sharing a beautiful example of what can be expected if you are willing to make sacrifices up front. Seems to me like a perfect example of Dave Ramsey’s saying “live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” Keep up the great work!

  • Darcie says:

    Oh Crystal! It is so refreshing to know that you’ve raised your grocery budget! it gives ME freedom to know that it’s so NORMAL and still FRUGAL to spend $130/wk on groceries for a family of 5. There were times when I didn’t want to see how little you spent on groceries b/c it made me feel guilty that I could not get our budget down that low. So silly how we are always comparing ourselves to others to see how we don’t measure up! We are money saving moms but first we are MOMS and we need to spend what we need to keep our kids and hubbies happy. Thank you for sharing and being real.

  • Katherine says:

    You have accomplished getting your husband interested in cooking and you have certainly earned your right to increase your grocery budget after all those years of living so frugally. You are in a position to show people the sweet reward of saving and delaying gratification for so many years. In my opinion food is one of the greatest pleasures of life and what a blessing to be able to share that with your family abundantly. Thanks for sharing with such honesty.

  • Sarah C says:

    I’m so glad you shared this about your family. While I think there can be a lot of financial benefit to couponing for food, I have found that most coupons are for processed food products. As a pregnant mother (breastfeeding right before that), I need a lot of protein in my diet. Protein is expensive and I have felt guilty as our food budget has gone up.

    I try to think about it in these terms…back in the “old days,” pioneer families were only trying to come up with enough to eat. That was the priority. I find that sometimes I get so focused on other financial priorities that I forget eating is pretty high on the list!

  • Tina says:

    I applaud your honesty and bravery, I know it was not easy to post this. You by no means disappoint the majority of your readers. I personally enjoy your blog and have actually shared many of your posts on my Face Book page to encourage all of my friends that are having a hard time making ends meet and also your recipes. I have learned so much about being more conscience in using what I have on hand, not buying things just because I have a coupon for it because it’s not a deal if I spend money I can’t afford to spare, not being a brand snob and not wasting the things I do have. I have been in a season in my life for almost a year, that your page has been a much needed guide and source of encouragement. I am so thankful you and your family have been blessed enough to increase your grocery budget. I wonder if anyone else caught the comment you made about trimming costs in another part of your budget that allowed you to better afford the grocery increase? Even if you didn’t, I am still impressed with your grocery budget! Feeding five people three meals a day plus snacks, all healthy mind you is truly impressive. Thanks again for your encouragement. Tina

  • Hannah says:

    I am so glad you wrote this! I have been struggling because we spend about what you just said you spend on groceries and have for some time. I was always so discouraged because I felt like if some people could spend $50/week and feed 5 people then I should be able to do it for 4 people. I kept telling my husband I didn’t know where to cut back. We eat primary whole foods and they cost much more that boxed stuff. I know I can’t compare what we do to what others do, but I was. So, thanks for being honest.

  • Challice says:

    I needed to read this. The first of the month is our budget time and I’ve been so downhearted about the increase in our grocery budget. We are a family of 6. We’re gluten-free, beef-free (to expensive) and my husband has such a restrictive diet to help with some health problems and add to the increase in prices lately, its just been SUPER hard to do $50 a week anymore. I wanted too. I really did. I wanted to be able to save money for a down payment on a larger home (currently we’re living in 770 sq ft. Not quite a basement 😉 but I feel some days like we’re busting the seams with all of us at home) but I just had to give that up for now. I wanted to do it. Even my husband was following your grocery lists each week to see how we could do it. I felt like a failure each month when we would meet or exceed our increase to $100 a week.
    So all taht to say, thank you for writing this! I feel like its not just me now. 🙂

  • Diana says:

    You know, if your site was called LowestPossibleGroceryBudget or if one of your life goals was “always spend the least amount possible on food,” THEN you might have a case to feel bad about raising your grocery budget 😉

    Honestly, this encouraged me so much! I’ve been reading here since before you bought your first house with cash, and I’ve often wondered if you ever raised the grocery budget from the original $40/week. I figured you had, since you rarely mentioned a figure any more, but wow! You sure kept it up for a long time! With the new number, though, I am so encouraged that although there are probably plenty of ways I could shave some off our grocery budget, I’m in the right ballpark.

    I often feel like there’s got to be some huge money-saving tactic I’m missing, but nearly every single article I read on saving money at the grocery store is just a repeat of strategies I use all the time (or have tried and don’t have time or access to right now).

    But if $130 is a number that’s working for your family well right now, that encourages me that I’m probably using our money wisely for the way we eat and not wasting it on some unknown budget-buster 😉

    Way to go, thanks for your bravery in publishing this, and here’s to all of us buying the best we can with the money we’ve been given and not feeling bad about it!

  • April says:

    No one is dissappointed. I spend probably $150 every two week, but I only have 2 small children who will only eat hot dogs and string cheese and fruit. And I buy the $5 expenive hot dogs guilt free because they are nitrate free and more healthy. And I’m pretty sure I have felt guilty every single grocery trip thinking of you only spending like $50 and me spending twice that. I’m pretty sure you made a whole bunch of ladies take a huge sigh of relief.
    What I want to know is why on earth Jesse was eating out every day for lunch before?? Was that not included in your grocery budget??

  • cheri thompson says:

    You have served us well (and paid your dues) Cyrstal, so no apology necessary but thanks for your transparency.

    You’re the Money Saving Mom so I’m sure they’ll be lots more savings opportunities.

    All God’s best!

  • Kami says:

    Good for you girl!!! I mean, keep the deals coming for us out there (like me), who still need to eat some spagheteeos… but good for you and your family! I won’t hate

  • Heather S. says:

    I think it is absolutely wonderful that you opened your heart to your followers.

    The only thing that is discouraging is all of the comments about your family finally eating healthy. In all honesty I looked down and shook my head at those comments. I don’t think you were eating unhealthy at all prior to this change. You ground your own wheat for goodness sake….your provided balanced, nutritious meals for your family. Whole wheat pancakes, scrambled eggs, and fruit for dinner? Sign me up! My kiddos think your breakfast cookies are to die for not to mention your sister’s chewy granola bars. I am not an organic snob….nor am I on some crazy eating trend…. but I do enjoy all of your previous healthy and balanced snacks and meal ideas.

    So thank you for all of your guidance, inspiration, encouragement and thoughtfulness through the years. I’m looking forward to following your blog on this new journey….should be exciting! Cheers!

  • Kris says:

    Crystal, I think you just taught me a lesson that it is okay to change things, and it is okay to try things, and I don’t have to think I have to be so perfect in this area. That’s tough for me. I struggle to get it just right. You mean it changes? Thank you for telling us about this season. It helps me hope.

  • Megan says:

    I also have a family with growing children who are active and they can eat a lot right now. It is amazing. So, I understand…and I like reading about the things you think are failures or may disappoint others because I just see that you are earnest and you are trying.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for sharing this! It makes me feel so much better about spending $100 to $130 a week for our family of 6.

  • Jennifer says:

    yay! I am so glad you posted this. Many times when I look at what some other bloggers buy for their weekly groceries and pride in how little they spend, I always shake my head. Some of the stuff (like sugary cereals, or mechanically processed meat) may be on sale but that’s just not something our family eats. Now if you have limited fund and that’s what you can afford, then yes, I can see that. But I often wish people would do more posts on healthier selections of food that they pick up! Thanks for sharing. What might work for you a few years ago, probably won’t work for you now. I love how you’re so honest 🙂

  • Letty says:

    Thank you for posting this!! We are also a family of five (though my kids are older than yours!) and our grocery budget is much more around your new range than the old one. You make me feel better! And thank you for throwing in how Amazon and free product samples help you out. Transparency and honestly always wins in my book!

  • Jennifer says:

    I like just about all your post and ideas on saving money, but I LOVE this post!! I gave up couponing when my first child was born. Recently we too have been switching our diet, ours to organic, better flours and oils, and clean animal proteins. It is more costly to eat better (to some degree), but we continue to look for ways to save while eating healthier. Thank you for posting this! Now I don’t feel so bad for having a “normal” grocery budget. 🙂

  • Vernetta Howell says:

    Great that your regard for your husband and family are a higher priority than what others think. You have my respect! You have much more to offer than just a $50 grocery budget! Be you! Love it!

  • Molly says:

    Thank you so much. It’s refreshing to read!

  • I suspect that this post will be highly encouraging to many of your readers. 🙂 I love how you were willing to make changes that benefited your family, but I understand how hard that can be! Thanks so much for sharing this honest post.

  • I’m so happy to read you’re allowing yourself to enjoy the success and money you’ve worked so hard to achieve! There’s no hypocrisy in any of this! You go, girl!!!

  • Need A Nap2 says:

    THANK you for your honesty! We do our best but have never had that low of a budget (after kids). 🙂

  • Catherine says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. I was mentally cheering you on to raise the food budget already! I appreciate your honesty, it is refreshing. It is encouraging to see the rewarding parts of trying to save money and being frugal . Let’s face it, it’s a lot of work!

  • Robin says:

    You have been such an inspiration to me to find what works best for my family in budget and life. Sometimes I think that the true dollar amount is not what is important but the purpose behind it. As you said you had adjusted other areas so you were not really increasing spending as a whole but just modifying the distribution. Thank you for another great article that showcases real life and how to work through changes as trivial as they may seem they are truly helpful.

  • Kristen Golson says:

    I usually don’t comment, but I love the honesty of this post! I’ve followed your blog for a long time, and got into couponing and playing the CVS “game” because of it. I was able to save a lot of money and buy “fun food” I normally wouldn’t buy because of coupons. A year ago we moved overseas, and all that has changed. I am astounded at our grocery budget, and of course there are no coupons either. I have to stop myself from feeling guilty and focus on the ways I CAN save. There are some stores that have a points system that I can make work, and I can make some items I would normally have bought cheaply at Aldi! What’s important is how we glorify God with our resources! Thanks for your honesty, and for your focus on living frugally with a purpose!

  • Jessica says:

    People change. They learn and grow and evolve. If you were in the same boat that you were when you started this whole thing I would be worried 🙂 A well rounded person knows when to adjust to better match her priorities. Bravo for working so hard to have the option to do so. The thing that impressed me the most was not that you increased your budget, but that you gave the power to hubby. Still working on that one over here

  • Lydia Joy Slater says:

    I have always loved your money saving tips and likely always will. I am happy that you were able to let go a bit here though, because health is more important than being frugal, unless you are depending on the frugality to survive. Still, I think its better to cut back on other things and eat good fresh wholesome food instead of fast and cheap:) -I am still in the learning phase of this one! Keep up the good work and thank you!

  • Tara C says:

    I have appreciated your candor over the years, and one thing I have seen in your posts is an effort not to judge those that make different decisions than you have made. I hope everyone extends the same courtesy to you. $130 is still a very low weekly budget for a family of 5. After all the years of frugal living and accomplishing so many amazing financial goals, increasing your budget to fit one of your family’s most basic of needs seems more than reasonable.

    One thing I have learned for myself is that, no matter how much money you save in your grocery budget, if the foods you are eating are not nourishing you properly, not giving you enough energy to go about your daily activities, or possibly even aggravating or causing health problems, then your low budget is not working for you.

    Good for you!

    • Tara C says:

      And I am sure someone has already said this, but it is nice for your readers to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. You lived frugally while you had to, so now you are in a place where you can make allowances like this. People need to know that a rice-and-beans diet doesn’t have to last forever.

  • Karyn says:

    Hi Crystal
    Thank you SO much for posting this. As a healthy eating family with 5 children, I have sometimes wondered what is wrong with me that I just can’t manage to even get near these crazy low grocery budgets – and I was wondering how you could manage with eating less cheap white flour, etc. THANK YOU. You continue to be such an inspiration to this “work in progress” in shrinking our grocery budget!

    • Sasha says:

      Karyn, I agree we have to remember it’s a work in progress. After entering my receipts this month I was horrified how much I’d been spending on groceries. We eat mostly organic whole foods, but I only have two small children. I don’t coupon as much as I used to as there aren’t as many coupons for whole foods, but I can still focus on sales. Focusing on someone else’s very low budget won’t motivate me instead I’m going to focus on cutting our budget by 10% each month. (I think I read that in a post a long time ago)

  • Julia Fletcher says:

    Hi, Crystal!
    I just want to say I love this site, come back to it so often, and in large part because you are willing to share your personal stories and what it looks like to go through different seasons of life. I think a great reason to be frugal is to allow people the freedom to focus on what they need to and/or feel is best. And I feel like this is a wonderful example of that, because all the things you are focusing on here, in my opinion, absolutely take precedence over having the lowet possible grocery budget. Most of all, I just want to say a huge thank you for what you share here, and the ways you encourage and inspire us all.

  • stacey says:

    I love this! I have followed your blog for several years, and have learned SO much from all of your posts! Your ideas helped my family through many tough times, and for that I am grateful. We are also now in a season of life where we are trying to incorporate more organic/whole foods into our meals, and are spending $100/week for a family of 3. I am really excited to see future posts with your thoughts on saving money/spending wisely on more nutritious options. ..even if you spend more than $50/week : )

  • Antonella says:

    This is why I read your blog: you are constantly evolving, always pursuing what’s best for you and your family. And this is a powerful message because there’s so much people stuck in commiserating and criticising, instead of working hard at bettering one’s life.
    Keep going! 🙂

  • Abby says:

    Funny, I was just wondering about this the other day!

    We’ve been wrestling with our grocery budget – I try to keep it around $100/week for our family of four, but that’s been harder and harder as prices go up and our kids grow and we try to eat more healthfully. I had a moment of “well, Crystal feeds her family of FIVE on half that …”

    You’ve been such an encouragement as we learned to get our finances on track, and it’s great to know that families CAN get by on less when needed. But it is also important to recognize that quality food is an investment in our health and well-being, and that’s never frivolous.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • allison says:

    Crystal, I so appreciate you….I first started following your blog when we were in a difficult season in life and unable to make ends meet. God blessed us through that time with the love and encouragement of His people…a season I will never forget. Today we live with that experience and a lot more financial freedom. Your transparency, encouragement, Godly Proverbs 31 character, and humility have spoken to my heart over the last 5 years…so whether you grocery budget is $50 or $200 God is using you!!!

  • Amie says:

    I think you should definitely do what is best for your family. I am one of your frugal, recipe-loving readers, and not one of your healthful, organic, homeschooling, readers so I will give you some feedback from that perspective. I do miss some of your posts about testing recipes and the healthier – giving up sugar, caffeine, etc. posts are not interesting to me so I don’t read as many of your posts as I used to. I still check your blog at least weekly and enjoy your sisters’ shopping trips and menu plans. I love their menus. My family has adopted some of these recipes into our rotation. I would lose interest if the blog became all about bettering oneself, but it think that you still have a great balance. Thank you for sharing all that you do. I think it takes a lot of courage to share so openly. 🙂

  • Cassandra says:

    When we scrimp and save in the present, we are planning for a time in the future when we don’t have to sacrifice so much. When you establish your savings and earn additional monies than what you previously earned, it is appropriate to change your budget! Budgets are fluid and changing, especially if you’re responsible. You’re responsible! Your budget has to allow for new experiences, and now your family is in need of a change. We, as humans are dynamic and changing, and as long as your income source can support your new budget, do what your family needs!

  • Kristen says:

    I think $130 for a family of 5 is very reasonable. With the increase price of groceries you all most have to increase. You also can’t put a price on your families health, good for your family for taking control! It’s so nice to see you are human, and real! We are a family of 5 and spend $80 week, this includes diapers and other household goods. However we raise our own beef, which cuts a lot of cost! I keep wanting to increase it to $90, but can’t give in to myself yet. Good for you for putting your family first. Everyone is going to have an opinion, but in the end the only people you have to worry about pleasing is God and your family.

  • Amanda says:

    I am thankful you made the increase! I am not earning crazy amount of Swagbucks or getting many freebies from companies. I am working with about $100 a week to cover things for 4 people and knowing how low your budget was made me feel inadequate at times! (That’s my own comparison issue I need to deal with.) Its good to know that in this world where food prices have been steadily climbing, I’m not the only one having to bump things up. 🙂

  • Tami says:

    Thank you! I was always so frustrated with myself because I can’t even get below $100. It made me feel like a failure that I wasn’t feeding my family on $50/week.

  • jane says:

    Thank you for sharing!! You have more than proved that you can live off a very, very, very small food budget if times get tough. After years of trying to make a tiny budget fit our family, I’ve come to terms that feeding my growing family mostly healthy protein (fish, chicken, lean beef), vegetables and fruit, $125 is where my grocery budget sits….NO MATTER WHAT! 🙂 I just keep telling myself that food is an expense that’s worth it!

  • Julie says:

    Oohhhh, your grocery budget is closer to mine now! Thank you for posting this! I’ve found when it comes to a low grocery budget, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Welcome to the club! 😀

  • Megan says:

    I get so disgusted with grocery prices every time I look at the sales ads or go to the grocery store. Thankfully, I had a garden this year to help with veggies, and we eat a lot of venison and fish, too. It’s ridiculous how much food costs. Good for you for finding some wiggle room. I hope to get to that point eventually, as well, where I’m not having to scrape and try my hardest to get as much as possible for my money. We make it on $40/week right now, but with grocery prices, I know my budget will need to increase soon, too.

  • I can understand how this was a hard decision, but a necessary one. We currently have a $180 monthly budget for my husband & myself & baby. BUT I am contemplating raising mine, too. My baby is just starting to eat solids – which I’m cooking. Plus, my husband wants to eat fruit & veggie smoothies for breakfast & lunch. Keeping my fridge & freezer stocked with produce is a new challenge! Plus, grocery prices are going up! Thank you for the reminder to do what is bet for my family…within my budget!

  • Robyn says:

    Grace, Crystal.

    I remember reading one of the “super low grocery budget” posts a long time ago, thinking…wow. I felt like I was doing well to keep our grocery budget at $600/ month. (Three active boys, a husband who works and eats at home most days, and a house full of “extra” kids most afternoons!)

    I was feeling like a failure as a frugal mom, and then I came across a comment by YOU, full of so much grace, talking about how each of us are in a different place in our families, and what works for one, may not work for another. And we all live in different places, where prices fluctuate. So we do the best we can and we don’t judge each other. 🙂

    Good advice, and I’m giving it right back to you! I’ve gone back to work full-time (in the school district), and I’m spending less time making food from scratch, but we’re still eating healthy food and the budget has not gone out the window. I value hospitality and having people over…especially my kids’ friends, who just want a place to hang out and visit (and eat!). Having a basement full of teenagers makes me happy, and spending some extra money on snacks for them is something I choose to do because I want to (and am grateful I can).

    I still use my frugal tricks…big bowls of popcorn and homemade cookies (I freeze the dough on the weekends)…but I don’t feel guilty for spending more in the checkout aisle. 🙂

    Blessings to you, sweet Crystal. Thank you for your wisdom. Watching you grow over the years blesses me in so many ways!

  • Sandra says:

    so, basically you are telling us that your are a normal, growing family. Why would ANYBODY give you grief for wanting to feed your family? I’m actually relieved because I’ve been having a hard time with the grocery budget and was wondering “how the heck does she do it” cause I can’t do it.

  • Jennifer says:

    I think there comes a point in every families life when they raise the grocery budget. Especially if they are on a healthy eating journey. I have just raised mine again. We spend about $600-$800 a month on food for 6 people. Prices have increased in all areas here. I have 2 serious athletes and 2 teens. I will not be without fresh produce in the house. We buy most of our meat locally. We don’t eat all organic by any means, so sometimes I have a hard time justifying the cost of groceries. But then I go to the store and there is no way around buying food for the family. I can’t starve us to death, right? Either can you. I am still impressed with $130 a week for 5 of you!

  • Katherine says:

    Good for you! I look forward to the day when we can have the luxury of spending more on food (we are right around that $50 a week with three hungry kids also). I think good food is a smart place to spend more any ways.

  • Wow, I am so glad to see this post. For a long time I took hope that I could have as low of a grocery budget as you. I have three kids all about the same age as yours. I thought, if she can do it, so can I. I stopped using diaper costs as an excuse. I’ve never been able to get as low as your budgets though. We used to spend $300 a month on food, toiletries, and household staples. That is as low as I could ever make it. We moved to a new state a few years ago, and immediately the cost of groceries increased. Over the last few years, I’ve seen less good deals at the store. I also live in an area that has a lot of couponers. Finding the stuff in stock that would be free or almost free never happens now. It is always gone. Between higher food costs and couponers, my $300 budget had to increase to $550. I still struggle to meet that goal. Personally, I don’t see you increasing your budget in this area as a fail. Isn’t the whole thing about this blog to spend less than you make so you can save and be generous? As long as you are sticking with that, I don’t think anyone will blame you for raising this budget. Besides, I don’t know a person on earth that wouldn’t be happy that your husband is happy and that he is cooking so much. Seriously, what a blessing. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing Crystal! We are a family of 4. My girls are just 3 & 5 and we budget $100 per month for groceries, toiletries & household items. I would honestly like to spend more and buy some healthier options (organic, more fruit and veggies) but this works for now.

    Food is our livelihood and one of our biggest proponents for healthy living. You spend that money girl!

  • Celeste Fland says:

    I’ve been reading your site for years. I used to have a very, very strict grocery budget, but also a lot of health problems. For many reasons, we now spend 180-200 dollars a week feeding our family of five. It can be hard for me still, to know I could do it on 75 dollars a week, and have that money to save or donate or use for vacations. But we decided it as a family, and even when our monthly budget is very tight, my husband still says that this is too important to scrimp on. It is still comforting to know that should we ever have a reversal, that I can cut our grocery budget back down.

  • Michelle says:

    Hi, thank you for being courageous enough to make changes and post them. You should never be ashamed of making the best choices for your family. After sacrificing for so many years you deserve to reap the benefits! If not, what is the point? You are an inspiration to so many of us by just being you! Do not let any negative comments find their way into your heart.

  • MK says:

    Good for you! When we moved to a different part of the country a few months ago, we moved away from Aldi and my regular grocery stores. My husband earns more money now, and my work-from-home work means we’re putting a good chunk of change away each month…but still I resisted when he said we should raise our grocery budget rather than stress about it.

    Thank you for sharing this; it eased my heart about spending more money to feed my family. I’m so glad that you are able to enjoy this season of your life, because it’s truly an outgrowth of your hard work and dedication over the years. Congratulations!

    Also, I’m glad that you share your sister’s grocery shopping trips so that that low-budget inspiration still exists on this site. Just because that doesn’t come from you anymore doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as helpful and wanted as before. Thank you for continuing that feature.

  • Julie Crabb says:

    I applaud you for caring for your husband enough to hand it over to him and being courageous enough to post about it. “Money Saving” is indeed part of your moniker but so is “Mom”~that’s the family part and the two go hand in hand. As a single working mom of four, two of those teenagers, I’ll be honest that it could be intimidating at times to see your low grocery budget and wish that I could be as frugal! 🙂 I finally had to realize that time spent with my kids, and time to accomplish the things I needed to do significantly outweighed the cost of spending more for a boxed brownie mix vs. making one with coconut and almond flour. 🙂

    I appreciated your post about blogging, I’ve tossed it around for a few years, have a great name, and a few ideas, and finally took the leap this week to set one up. Thank you for your encouragement!

    • Jessica says:

      First of all, I’d like to say your budget is still low. I have family members that as a family of two spend well over $200 a week on food alone.

      Secondly, I remember reading a comment left by one of your readers one time that really resounded with me. It more or less said that they would rather spend more money on their groceries right now (to buy organic, whole-grain foods) than to pay for it later in health costs. That idea percolated in my mind for a while. I was at the time a novice to couponing. I was enjoying seeing the savings and I challenged myself “how low can I go?” The comment I read that day turned my way of thinking upside down. I started questioning what was the cost I was paying by purchasing boxed, processed dinners even if I was getting it free or almost free with coupons.

      I ultimately decided to cut my budgeting some slack and to purchase healthier foods when and where I can. It’s been about 3 or 4 years now and I still sometimes cringe when I see that I could buy the same produce item for significantly less than it’s organic counterpart. However, I also know that my family is healthier as a result of this choice.

      I’m grateful for your authenticity and bravery. I know that as a recovering people pleaser, it is nerve wracking to post this article knowing that there will be at least one person who will disagree with your decision. But I applaud you for this bravery. I will be honest that I initially started following your blog to find ways to save money but over the last few years I have really mostly kept up not because of money saving tips but rather because I enjoy these authentic posts, posts about your family- the challenges and joys, homeschooling, and most definitely the recipes 🙂

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Good for you! 🙂 So glad you shared this, and hopefully it encourages those of us who CAN spend a bit more as well as those who cannot at this season, but may be able to in the future. As I’ve followed your site for several years and evolved in my own views, our grocery budget has fluctuated a fair bit. We are spending more on groceries now than ever, but we are also eating better than ever too (lots of organic plus pastured meat, eggs, milk). It is a blessing to be able to do so, but I know that if for some reason I need to really cut our grocery budget in the future I have good know-how to be able to do so. A season for everything, right? 😉

    Thanks for continuing to speak into so many lives, Crystal!

  • Angie Marcum says:

    I have been an avid reader of your site for a lot of years now. Your content has always been great. I know you have to do what is best for your family and I do the best for my family to try to cut down as best as I can by shopping the sales, with coupons, using apps like Ibotta, Saving Star, plus I also use Swagbucks. I just think in today’s society it seems like the groceries tend to go up a little bit every time I go to the store. We have a family of 4, My husband and I, along with our 2 kids, high school male teenager and a middle school female almost teenager. They just seem to eat alot at this age, so my grocery bill seems higher than it has in the past. I also have a blog which is fairly new and you give me strength to not give up. I, also work part-time in my kids school plus I work on my blog part-time at this time. I do work on my blog more when we have our breaks like Fall Break, Summer Break, and Spring Break. We, also have other breaks, but do not have as much time on those break to work on it much. I do not want to completely ignore my family just to do blogging. I hope your week goes well and God Bless Your Family!!! Have A Great Day!

  • Judith says:

    Your family is growing and the lean years (Lord willing) are over. It is OK to change the grocery budget! Especially if your husband is on board. We did exactly the same thing when I started ebay business.

  • Heather says:

    I kind of figured you had already raised it, since you handed over the grocery tally posts to your sister.

    I think it’s great! What’s the point of sacrificing to save money (avoid debt) in the earlier years if you won’t let yourself enjoy the results of those sacrifices when the time comes? We’ve all heard the stories of rich misers who die with millions in the bank account, but were living in miserable circumstances refusing to spend.

    In general, if one’s income increases, I think the food budget should be one of the first things to go up.

  • Kristin says:

    Crystal, $50 per week is a VERY small budget for a family of five. If you look at the USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home budgets, your $130 per week budget is well below what they consider a “thrifty” budget for your family. And as many others have pointed out, the cost of food has risen dramatically in the last few years. Now that you have room in your budget, you should spend more. You earned it!

  • Karen T says:

    What is best for your family is what is best! I applaud your honesty. It is sometimes so difficult to speak the truth but people often see through the untruths anyway and you are now (in my eyes) more respectable and honorable for being brave and telling us. :). Don’t worry so much!

  • Amy says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I was wondering how you could get all of your groceries for so low. I have missed seeing your menus & shopping results, but I have enjoyed seeing your sister’s grocery shopping results & their weekly menus. Please continue to keep this blog real, so that it can be a benefit to those of us that are just regular stay at home moms trying to do what is best for our families.

  • Cristin says:

    Good job putting your family first! That is the most important thing. You can also consider your increased grocery budget as a way to decrease your medical spending in the future. Those costs add up much faster and at least some of them can be avoided by eating well and staying healthy.

  • Emily says:

    You go, Crystal! Thank you for being so honest and forthcoming! Mad props for letting go and putting your husband’s desires before your own. You’ve demonstrated the balancing act that marriage requires in a loving way. And for those of us with no wiggle room in our budget, you’ve given us an example of what to look forward to and that we DON’T have to feel guilty about it. It sounds like you’re getting to Dave Ramsey’s second “Live like no one else” stage of life. I applaud you! Keep loving your family! And doing what you know is right for them.

  • Marian says:

    So glad you made this change! It is totally worth it to spend money on good quality food. We buy very little processed food and buy as most of our produce, meat and dairy directly from local farmers. Sure, it may cost a little more, but we know and trust the people who grow our food. Better to pay the farmer than the doctor! I cringe to think of what you must have been eating for only $50 a week (unless you have a large garden and do a lot of preserving over the summer).

  • Sara K. says:

    I appreciate your transparency, Crystal. I know that many of your readers are on very tight budgets and low grocery costs are necessary. Having said that, my personal opinion is that if my budget allows for it, groceries is the first category to get a raise. As long as I know I am buying healthy, quality food for my family and doing what I can to save money, I am ok with that.

    I’m a single mom with one daughter and we spend between $150 and $200 every two weeks on food and other household supplies (I don’t separate out toiletries, toilet paper, cat food and cat litter from my food budget). That seems like a lot sometimes, but we are happier and eating healthier than we ever did before. We buy almost no processed foods, and we started getting milk and eggs delivered by a local farm. The farm also offers a produce box for $20 a week. I didn’t take that option this year, but I might next year.

    I know that I am blessed to be able to afford this (especially as a single mom), but for my own situation any extra money in the budget is better spent on fuel for our healthy lifestyle rather than on cable tv or *stuff*.

    And I think it is awesome that your husband has taken such an interest in cooking and trying out new recipes! It gives you a little break and allows him to pursue an interest that the whole family benefits from!

  • I’m happy for you!

  • Yes, I completely see this. I used to buy organic- 7 years ago when groceries cost a lot less and we only had two tiny children that ate like birds. My husband weighed 50 lbs. less and did not work out or eat strenuously like he does now.

    Now? We have more children who are in sports- and all over the yard- and are getting very tall! And one muscle man who truly understands the term ‘hangry’! Beans or soup for supper are extremely frustrating to him. And our marriage is more important than haggling over a few $.

    I do serve cheap foods- mostly whole foods from our garden and Aldi, but a few things that are not the most perfect, clean, brilliant foods. The question on any junk we eat today is: will we pay for it later in healthcare costs?

  • Lori says:

    I’d really like to see some of the healthier recipes on the blog. Often what I see are recipes laden with white flour and sugar or processed food products.

    • Beth says:

      I do love some of your recipes–everybody needs a good cookie now and then and that honey corn bread….drool. But I too would love to see more recipes in line with the way you’re currently eating.

      I’m always on the look out for new things to try. I was wondering if Meal Fit would offer your readers an additional sample week. They have one posted on their site and I mostly liked what I saw, but I kind of wanted a second week to make sure. Just throwing that out there 🙂

      Your authenticity is one big reason I’m a reader! Thank you

  • Patricia says:

    You don’t have to apologize for buying good healthy food for your growing family. Your families needs & financial situation has changed & because of your sacrifices early on you are able to now spend more to nourish your family. You still offer ways to save & that is why we follow you. I have always figured you can pay now for good quality food or pay the doctor later.

  • Amanda says:

    Don’t feel bad…family comes first! If you can afford to spend that money and eat healthy, go for it!

  • Cherie says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am constantly stressed that I spend too much because I read blogs that tell me I should be spending less. I KNOW I’m spending very little in relation to what I buy and for how many people, but the pressure that websites and blogs put on a reader to “keep it low” are everywhere. And sometimes impractical.

    I love reading your posts and how you handle things and it’s so refreshing to hear you say that the $50 wasn’t working for you anymore. And thank you for admitting that even the $50 included freebies and gift cards.

    I spend on average, $100 a week, we have 4 in our family including 7 and 1 yr old. We limit eating out to about twice a week, if any so 3 meals a day, 7 days a week for all of us. AND our grocery bill includes toiletries, paper products, medicine and food. We spend more some weeks because….it happens. But we eat healthy and enjoy what we eat.

    Thanks again for this website and for the honesty that comes from your blogs. I continue to enjoy reading about you and your family.

  • Janet says:

    Great article. I may have to check out meal fit. We are in a food rut over here.

    I understand your feelings in regards to raising your food budget. However for the size of your family – I still think your doing great. You have planted the seed for people to look at their food budget as a place to reevaluate what you are spending.

  • Amanda says:

    I think this is wonderful! In my opinion, your grocery budget will adjust when your needs and income do. As much as Dave Ramsey recommends a “beans and rice, rice and beans” menu plan, I think he and you have sacrificed and lived like no one else for years to now *really* “live like no else”. There’s no shame in enjoying the fruit of your labor and years of sacrifices!

  • Jill says:

    Your grocery budget is still low, in my opinion! Even if it wasn’t, your worth as a blogger and person is not defined by any set of numbers. Being authentic and relatable are some of your best qualities, and you have lots of best qualities. Thanks for all you do!

  • You sharing this post makes me feel so much better about my own family’s grocery budget! I suspected that you had raised yours since your sister is now doing the frugal grocery posts but I wasn’t sure how much you’d raised it by.

    How awesome that your husband wants to regularly cook healthy meals for your family, and how nice that, by letting him bless you how he wants to, you’re not taking the joy away from his blessing.

    And I think most of your readers will understand that you’re to the point, business-wise, where you can make more money blogging than what you could have saved if you’d spent that same amount of time clipping coupons.

  • Amy Lauren says:

    I think expanding your food budget is totally fine, and I admire you for having the courage to write this post about it. Sure, some people may not like it, but it’s your life and not theirs. My parents have made me feel bad for the amount I spend on healthier foods sometimes, but in the end… it is my money and no one elses.

    Eating healthier will save you in other ways, like medical bills and you will just feel better in general, so it’s worth it. I also run 35-40 mpw training for local races, and I have to fuel my body or I will get sick, feel lowsy, and won’t be able to run like I want to. Plus, groceries are priced differently in different cities, and here in Charleston, SC, they are definitely not cheap!

  • Shannon says:

    Sweet Crystal, you have no reason for a bit of shame. NOBODY can be superwoman in this area all the time–if you were, we wouldn’t be able to relate to you! 🙂 As far as I’m concerned, the point of frugality is that it creates financial “margin” for you so that when you have a need (or someone else has a need you want to meet) you have the means to do it. Your season of life dictates a perfectly reasonable budget increase. You can afford it, because of your years of caution. Enjoy it, and let your life be an example of how frugality really does pay off.

    (By the way, I relate. I was a frugal shopper for many years, but now, with three teenage boys in my house, my grocery bill is enormous! It’s just a season. It will be over in the blink of an eye. So I fork out big bucks for groceries, and you know what? When half the high school basketball team crowds around my table with heaping plates of food, and my kitchen fills up with the sound of their talking and laughing, it is worth EVERY PENNY.) 🙂

  • Tracy says:

    I really enjoyed your article. As much as I’ve tried, I still can not get our grocery budget below $130 a week. My husband is a former body builder, and we both go to the gym every day. Our daughter is also a gymnast, and the girl can eat. When you are working out, you’re burning a lot of calories, therefor, your body is going to require more fuel.We are generally pretty healthy eaters, and we buy little junk or processed foods, but we do buy good quality of food. I chalk up our high grocery bill to buying things like salmon, boneless skinless chicken breast, etc. We also have two growing kids that eat adult portions. Overall, I think we do pretty good budget wise considering we purchase food for 3 meals, 7 days a week. We home school, so we serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week long for around $130.00 a week. I also have 2 daycare kids that I feed that’s included in the budget.

    I think if you are going to raise your budget on anything, groceries would always get my vote. As they say, you can pay they doctor, or pay the farmer. You put good in, you get good out.

  • Ellen says:

    Great job doing what’s best for YOUR family! I think your budget is totally reasonable, and low compared to many families I know. DO NOT be ashamed of doing what’s best for your family and allowing yourself the “luxury” of spending more on healthy food for your family. You are reaping the rewards of years of sacrifice and hard work. You deserve every bite of that delicious, healthful food, and all the joy that comes with sharing those meals with your family. Congratulations on your successes!

  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you for your honesty. It is refreshing. I have to agree with another comment that stated that trying to reach the same or close to the same budget you have had for groceries has been intimidating. I’ve been able to decrease it with the help of ideas and recipes from this site, but not drop as low as I wanted. Thank you for truly keeping family first.

  • Jen says:

    This is so encouraging! I tried to believe I could spend less and beat myself up over it…..but honestly we DO have some wiggle room, and I want to feed my family well….lots of produce and quality protein, and organic whenever possible. Very little cheap processed food or non-healthy ‘fillers’. I know you’d agree that you want to maximize giving and being generous…..but I guess I’m coming to realize that feeding my boys well will serve them in the long run. We spend anywhere between 600-800/month for groceries+household items for 5….plus we host family usually 1-2 weekends a month.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I used to try and keep a $50/wk budget for my family of 4 up until last year. It worked for the most part though we were really spending around $150! when you add in my husband’s eating out near daily for breakfast & lunch and that’s not including school lunches & breakfasts (In the morning I have enough sense to make coffee you want breakfast that’s on you LOL). Have to keep in mind that $50 was for food, cleaning supplies and pet food.
    I started to get the kids eating breakfast at home (mostly because I found a ton of cereal on discount) and it stuck and it is of course cheaper than them eating at school but it did raise costs at home once that supply ran out. Kroger stopped doubling coupons… that really hurt! Then when I was diagnosed pre-diabetic we had to do a lot of changes around the home and my husband started losing weight with me and taking his breakfast and his lunch to work with him which of course raised grocery costs but lowered dining out costs but I wasn’t seeing that I was seeing that $50 I gave myself to work with and beating myself up because I was going over budget many weeks. Then with my diagnosis came my high cholesterol too. My husband and I both work out of the house (infact I’m going to have to rush after writing this) so we’ve always been a hamburger helper sort of family using 73/27 hamburger the cheapest you could find. We supplemented our meals with potatoes, breads and other carb loaded foods to feel ‘full’ while still being very cheap. In fact prior to this when I was trying to keep to that low budget I brought is down to 1 lb of meat for the 4 of us but always had something like rice (another carb loaded food) to help offset the small portions. So now with all this new medical stuff and seeing my mom suffer with diabetes we had to make dramatic changes with less carb loaded foods (start reading nutrition labels it’ll floor you!), changes in what we purchased so higher fiber foods, more fresh foods, lower fat foods… Just the switch to 90/10 hamburger killed the pocket book. Thankfully prior to this I realized the budget had to be raised as we were dealing with grumbling stomachs even prior to this. I Started with $200/mo… I went to $400/mo and now I hate to say it but we’re up to about $600/mo (again food/cleaning/pets) but we are eating more healthy, my husband and I have dropped a lot of weight and I’m keeping my health better in control.
    I guess the rambling point of this is that life changes around us our children grow, our health changes, our time and pace changes and we have to be willing to make the changes along with it and not let the money fully dictate every aspect of our lives especially not if it’s detrimental to our health!
    …. I’m scared to see how long this post is… I need more coffee & run out the door hope everyone has a wonderful day!

  • sarah says:

    Way to go Crystal! It takes great courage to let go of something you’ve had so much control over and make a big change. It sounds like you made a good choice for your family and showed great respect for and trust in your husband by making this change.

  • Heather says:

    This is so encouraging. As I get more into THM and try to make better choices for my family I’ve been discouraged by trying to keep low. It’s encouraging to know that others can’t keep it that low and still make the healthy changes.

  • Angie says:

    There is no need to apologize! People and situations are always changing.

    I initially started following your blog because of your low grocery budget and couponing tips. I have also changed. I was a ‘coupon queen’ for a few years, feeding my family cheaply. Then I started realizing that the food I could get cheap with coupons wasn’t always the best.

    Now, I mostly use coupons for beauty, personal care and household items. I buy whole foods to feed my family. We are also spending more for groceries, but a lot of that is because my sons are not little kids anymore. We are spending $160/week…that includes everything…food, dog food, toiletry items, household cleaners, laundry supplies and paper products. We also started buying 1/2 of a beef each year from a local farmer for our freezer. I think we are doing okay…we feed myself, my husband, two teenage boys and four dogs on that budget.

    Even with your new budget, you are doing great! And your family being happy and healthy is really important.

    I tend to be extremely frugal and my husband a little less so. There have been times in my marriage that I’ve had to ‘let go’ of things in the budget to make my husband happy. It’s always been so very worth it. I would have to say that he’s become a little more frugal due to my influence also. It’s all part of growing together as a couple. 🙂

    You haven’t disappointed me at all. Even though I’m not the ‘coupon queen’ anymore…and you don’t have a $50/week grocery budget, I still read your blog daily. Yes, still for the deals, but also for the tips about intentional living and time management.

    Thanks for all that you do!

    Angie

  • Heather says:

    All I have to say is go you!! You have to do what is best for your family.

    Knowing that your budget has gone actually makes me feel relieved. yes that is right Relieved not disappointed. You see I have always wanted a supper low grocery budget, but with my family it just isn’t possible, there are just to many thing to juggle in order to make things they will eat. My husband and I learned a long time ago that we were never going to have a supper low budget. We have learned what prices we can buy and stock up on and that is what works for us.

    You have to do what works for your family and stop looking at what other people are doing. Easier said then done, I know.

  • Lauren says:

    We spend $50/week on just my husband and I, and I’ve been feeling like it was low – I had no idea that’s what you spent for your entire family! I am gluten free and he is dairy allergic, so we cut ourselves a little slack, but $130 for a family is completely reasonable! I hope I’m able to be that frugal when we have children! You haven’t let ANYONE down. You had your lean years, and now you can relax a little!

  • Michelle says:

    I applaud you because in all honesty, it can make people like me feel like we are wasting money and are inferior because our grocery budget is $150 a week. I buy only grass fed animal products and organic produce and it is impossible, especially in the Denver area, to eat that way, feed a family of 4 and keeping it organic. So thank you for choosing your family and showing what a realistic food budget actually looks like when you’re not eating coupon food’s

  • Nancy says:

    If anyone says anything negative about you it is just coming from a place of jealousy. There is nothing wrong with working hard, making more money and then using that money to make a better life for you and your family.

    When I was a nanny and working 12-14 hours a day several days a week I could easily spend less than $100 a month on food. But now that I work in an office I need to provide 3 meals a day for myself so of course my budget had to increase (just like how Jesse is home now and needs to eat!) So I spend closer to $200 a month.

    Also, I’d like to mention that grocery item prices are all relative to where you live, $2.50 for a gallon of milk in one area might seem high to them, but I pay $4.19 a gallon and there is nothing I can do about it.

  • Jennifer says:

    I think this is great! So glad that you posted this! For your health, and the health of your family, groceries is not a place to cut corners when it comes to buying nutritious food. The long-term health benefits from choosing wisely what you put into your body will definitely pay off for you in health care costs and sickness. Also, what a great example to set for your children. Way to go!!

  • Georgia says:

    Aww, come on, Crystal! I can’t believe you’ve kept to such a low budget for so long just for our sakes. following you as I have from the beginning (or before the beginning… does PC count? ;)… I’ve been thinking for a long time that you’re doing a lot better financially now n surely your grocery budget would be at least $125 a week! (that’s what ours is, and we have 3 young kids).

    I’ve still continued to support your site when it comes to affiliate links, etc even though i know you’re no longer a “struggling blogger trying to make enough to feed your family” because I think you deserve it! many of us owe what we know about saving money to you. you’ve got a wonderful site that takes a team to maintain, and yes, you do have a growing family!

    anyway, my husband subscribes to the philosophy that it’s better to eat nutritiously now, and feed our kids well, than to pay for medical bills down the road. we eat lots of fresh fruit (I like to say my kids are fruit monsters, they love fruit so much!) and fruits do make up quite a chunk of our grocery budget. I think your grocery budget is reasonable and I can’t believe you’ve been doing $50 a week all this time!!!

  • Stefanie Gordon says:

    Good for you! A happy family is what it’s all about and sometimes you have to give in to make them happy. One of my tricks is stocking up on meats during the summer and fall when the stores are running sales especially around the summer holidays. We are getting our produce from our garden and friends gardens. We swap fruits and vegetables. Which leaves extra money in the budget to stock our freezer. Then when winter arrives and I have to purchase produce again I don’t have to worry about purchasing meats unless we run out of something.

  • That’s about what our budget is 🙂 High metabolism, growing kids and a healthy diet make it hard to go much under that. Thank you for sharing!

  • Ann says:

    I think you’re showing your readers one of the rewards that can be reaped from saving over time. That’s hope giving! I’ve never really followed your couponing strategy or concerned myself with how much you spend (our budget has always been higher and I’ve been ok with that), but I’ve faithfully followed your blog because it is inspiring and encouraging. That’s what you’re really marketing – HOPE.

    Plus, if you think about it, you kinda hired out a great deal of the grocery planning, shopping, and prep – I’d be DELIGHTED to hand that task over to my hubby if it only cost me $130/wk!!!

  • Sarah Hernandez says:

    If anything, this post makes you seem more real…to me at least.

  • I am so glad you posted this! Just a few days ago I commented on another savings post you made, only to receive a not-so-kind response telling my that it costs no more than normal to eat healthy. I would say since starting my pcos low-amylose diet, which includes many gluten-free options by monthly grocery bill has gone up by 1/3 at least. I say this with a caveat, though. I have noticed that my grocery bills are starting to stabilize with a few tricks. First, the processed foods, kits, etc. I purchased and can still purchase can be made into inexpensive lunches for my husband, which are frozen or put into the mini crock pot for him. Also, I am back to making healthier freezer meals, and as I not implement no meat Monday’s this has shaves $20.00 off of my monthly bill. In addition, I have noticed so many more deals on health products at non-box stores, like Winn-Dixie, and when I see a sale, like this past weekend for gluten-free pasta, I bought up the stock and now have one more thing off of my list. Finally, I now make homemade Greek Yogurt, dehydrate veggies for snacks, and though I no longer have a $30.00/week budget, I am inching closer to getting back to that basic! I applaud your honesty in this matter, for as a spouse who had to take on dietary constraints, it can make you feel guilty when on one hand you know the principles of savings, but on the other know the cost of an unhealthy life!

  • Amy S says:

    Thanks for being so honest, and no need to feel any guilt. You are so gracious to help so many of us save so much. You are an amazing Money Saving Mom. Keep up the good work, you bless us all

  • Sarah says:

    Crystal, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this post! While we were never in a position as lean as your law school years, my family’s one-income budget has definitely increased since I decided to stay at home almost eight years ago. While we still try to pay the lowest possible amount for the things we need, things I once spent time doing to save money are not as necessary now. I can use that time doing other things now, and I think that’s ok. We’ve also decided there are several things, like clothing, shoes, electronics and haircuts that are OK to invest more in now. We do these things minimally, but we’d rather have five great quality shirts that cost more instead of 15 shirts that cost $2 but we don’t love. I totally think as income increases you can allow more room in the budget for certain items and still give generously and live frugally. You’re just living and giving in different ways.

    Thanks again for the honesty. I can totally see why you were hesitant…ok, maybe terrified….to publish this post. You’ve earned more respect from me because of it! Thanks again for everything you do to encourage and challenge us as readers.

  • Shauna Read says:

    I am so happy for you that you made the sacrifices in the beginning to be able to have the wiggle room now. You are an example of exactly what you are sharing.
    I would love for Jesse to start sharing some of his meals that he is cooking and your family is loving!
    I am also loving having you back and the real posts we are getting from you about day to day life.

  • Susan says:

    Crystal, I find value in your blog, which is why i continue to visit even though we have very little in common other than the desire to be good stewards of our money.

    But I’ve never really understood why you choose to live your life in such a fishbowl. You don’t have to publicly defend your grocery budget in a lengthy blog post. You’ve worked hard for years to stay out of debt and increase your wealth, and you’ve been very successfully at it. There is nothing wrong with loosening up the purse strings and spending more on food than you used to when money was much tighter. It’s not like you’ve gone hog wild putting groceries and a meal-planning service on a credit card that you can’t pay off.

    • Rachel says:

      I would like to second this! You all have worked hard and shouldn’t have to defend your personal decisions.

      • shannon says:

        Isn’t this the perfect example of what Dave Ramsey says
        “to live like no one now so one day you can live like no one”
        or something similar to that?

        You all have worked hard and sacrificed a lot. God does not same money (making money) is evil, it is the love of money that you have to be careful with. Your income has increased but you all give so much more of it away now than you ever did. I don’t think anyone should ever feel guilty over how they spend their money, especially when they have the cash for it. We all have guilty pleasures…..

    • Leah says:

      Living life in a fishbowl is pretty much what it takes to run a successful blog. :/ Not that I think Crystal needs to justify any of her actions, but you really do have to be willing to write about your personal life if you want to attract these kinds of crowds to your blog, for the most part. People are just more interested in reading personal blog posts than just lists of tips and ideas, etc. (Look at how many people said that they had stopped reading MSM when she stepped away from writing the more personal blog posts, but came back enthusiastically when she announced that she was planning to start writing them again. )

      I’m not criticizing at all-just saying it’s the price you pay for running this sort of blog!

  • Kelly C. says:

    We have recently decided to eat healthier as well and have increased our grocery budget to $100 a week for five (with one infant). We owe it to our families to do what is best for them. While it shows your authenticity, don’t ever worry about us!

  • Jean says:

    I do understand the giving up control issue and it’s tough. We all follow different phases of life. When I was a young single Mom, coupons, deal shopping, and a tight grocery budget were essential because they were what I could control. That was that season of life, this is a different season with a $100 a week grocery budget for 2 people that I struggle to stick to. Money Saving Mom has become a wonderful forum for me where I pick up great ideas and have a little fun. Don’t ever give up the blog, you are an inspiration to many people who need to remember that sacrifices do pay off … eventually. I love Gretchen’s posts and the other guest posts you offer as well. Raise your budget, enjoy your life, love your husband and children and continue to inspire us all. Thank you for your years of work. ~ a long, long, long, time reader. 😉

  • Heather says:

    Dont feel bad one little bit!!!! I have followed your blog for years and appreciate all of your money saving tips! I have four children and spend at least $900 a month on groceries and that’s with shopping sales and couponing. As kiddos get bigger they consume sooooo much more food! And I refuse to buy junk for them to eat so consequently healthier food and produce just adds up quicker. Thank you for your honesty but dont stress out about it. Your now in a different season of your life and the truth is its a blessing from the Lord that you can afford to have a bigger budget while still being a good steward of it.

  • Kim says:

    There is nothing wrong with changing the budget to fit changes in family life! It’s a budget, not an unchanging law.

    Way to do right by your family. 🙂

  • Amy says:

    To me, you just became more real. Thanks.

  • Julia Moore says:

    I love all of your posts (and probably visit your site way to much in a day : ) ) You are a blessing to so many.

  • Kamila says:

    Good for you. Enjoy your meals!!

  • Amanda Purchon says:

    Thanks for writing this. We are a family of 6 living in South Florida and I feel like i am doing well when i spend $ 150.00 a week watching carefully what we buy. We have 2 teenage boys as part of our family of 6 plus a dog and a cat and i am happy with our spending.

  • I totally understand, Crystal! Due to my husband’s many allergies and sensitivities with food, we have very limited options for his diet and he has been on a six month rotation diet to try to help (only eat certain foods on certain days). This has tripled our grocery budget of $50/week and it has been hard on me to see the receipt totals each week, but I know it’s best for his health and for our family. We still keep our spending as low as possible, but what worked in the past just isn’t working for us now. And hopefully you’ll feel the benefits of your healthier eating with less expenses at the doctor? That’s what I’m hoping at least! 🙂

  • Honestly for us it is a balance! Save here and splurge a little there. You share amazing deals that help us all save. Your budget is a personal decision and to be honest it really is no one else’s business. You have chosen to share and if someone doesn’t like it then that is their problem. You cannot please everyone but putting your family before your blog readers opinions is a good choice in my opinion. Thank you for your continuous inspiration. <3

  • Sonya says:

    Spending more money on groceries is an investment in your families health. It is a blessing that you have the money to spend on quality foods. It would be unwise to not nourish your body with the best foods possible. I spend around $160 each week on groceries and household hold items. I easily spend $40 to $50 a week on produce. Last week I spent $9 on organic grapes that my 2 year old loves. As long as my family can afford to buy organic we will because I know it’s best for my families health.

  • Kristen says:

    I’ve done the same thing…we’re at an average of $150/week for our family of six. I used to be able to keep it at $50-$80, but we’ve got growing kids and we don’t HAVE to keep it that low anymore, so I decided to give myself some grace!

  • Renee says:

    I’ve read your blog for seven years and rarely made a comment but this time I have to. I applaud your decision to increase your grocery budget. In fact, I’d been hoping for a while that you had done that for your family. There is a season for living on a super low food budget but you aren’t in that season any more. I’m glad you see the value in making your husband happy and eating nutritious food.

  • Lor says:

    Thank you for being transparent and honest. It’s one of the many things I love about your blog. You inspire me in many ways and this is just one more area of putting my families health before money. Thank you!!

  • Stacy Dunn says:

    I completely understand! I followed you during the law school years. My husband happened to be in medical school and I was staying at home with my two little girls! I was desperate to save! At this point my husband is a 4th year resident, and has only one more year after this one to go! Through these tough years your help has caused our family to pay off all $100,000 of our school debt. We are completely debt free thanks to couponing and frugality! That is not common in the medical world. It typically takes years and years to do away with debt. Now that we are debt free and we are FINALLY starting to save, I have been watching our food bill go up, up, and up. I talked to my mother in law and she pointed out that our family has grown. We now have three girls 7, 5, and 2 and they eat A LOT more. Plus, groceries are getting more expensive. And we too have decided to choose healthier over cheaper in a lot of cases. But only in part because our debt is gone! If we were still drowning I would still be spending a couple hours a day on couponing, etc. and doing the pbjs every lunch meal, too. All of that to say, I’m with you! And you earned it! Give yourself a pat on the back Money Saving Mom!

  • Shelly says:

    Hey, you gotta do what’s best for your family! $50 is extremely low and I think it was time to raise it. 🙂 I currently try to spend $80 a week and that doesn’t include meat since we buy 1/2 a beef from my brother every winter. So if I’d be buying meat it would even be higher.

  • Jenny says:

    Thanks for sharing, Crystal. I have been reading your blog for years and have never been able to get my grocery budget anywhere close to yours. We budget $400 per month for my family of 4. This amount includes toiletries and household items as well as food. There are just some things that we are not willing to give up to lower our budget further – such as Charmin toilet paper. 🙂 You have to do what’s best for your family!! Their happiness is worth a lot!

  • Denise says:

    The thing about kids is that they grow up, they start eating adult food and they start eating more. Increasing your grocery budget was inevitable. Just wait mine just turned 12 and 14 and there are weeks where I guess wrong, they eat everything on the dinner table and we are cutting up apples because they are still hungry.
    I am impressed by the fact that you have been able to switch to the healthier eating.

  • You said it right in your post, ‘Family comes first’. You made a decision that was right for your family. Some people may agree, some people may disagree. You were honest in sharing your decision which is very brave in a public format! You and your husband have worked hard to get to where you are. Enjoy the season you are in!

  • A says:

    What a blessing to have your husband cook healthy meals for the whole family!

    Grocery budget is the first thing I’d raise when we are able to. It’s good to save but not good to live in a poverty mindset. Enjoy your extra wiggle room!! Blessings.

  • Heidi says:

    I am glad you said something. I have actually been beating myself up trying to figure out how you kept your bill so low when mine is 200-250 a month for a family of 7. (5 boys all in sports and home schooled plus my hubby) I am glad to know that there were thing that helped you keep your bill low and that helps me out to know I’m probably spending a normal amount for our size family.

  • Lori says:

    Crystal,

    We all go through different stages in our lives and thankfully you and your husband are in a position where you can afford it. You should never apologize for doing what’s best for your family.

    I am trying to eat Paleo but it’s a struggle for me because of the cost and because I am seriously addicted to carbs. However, I have T2 Diabetes and know that if I improve my nutrition, it will help me tremendously in the long run.

    I read somewhere that you either pay the farmer or the doctor. I rather pay the farmer. 🙂

    • Rebecca says:

      I’ve never heard “pay the farmer or the doctor,” but I like it and I would definitely rather pay the farmer too. 🙂

  • Alaina says:

    Thank you! I think this post is a testament to the simple fact that life changes and you do what you need to do to roll with life changes. When you are in the middle of paying off debt or living lean during a hard time you eat the bare minimum of what you can afford. I think it is wonderful to say, we have no debt, we have had a low grocery budget, but now my family’s health and happiness come first and food is part of that.

    I am a huge proponent of spending quality money on quality food. I firmly believe that it will decrease medical bills and increase quality of life. Our country spend the least percentage of their income on food and we are also supremely unhealthy as compared to many of our European counterparts. I think the two are correlated.

    I think it is so important that you know life from the trenches…you know what it is like and how to eat as healthy as possible with as little money as possible. But I also think THIS post is important because it shows that healthy and happiness are also important, so spending more on the grocery budget to me is great as long as you can afford it. I’m so happy you have the extra wiggle room! Good for you for making this choice. I applaud you.

  • Jessica says:

    Thank you for being honest! My husband and I are also interested in eating healthy and keeping fit. I have struggled with feeling like a frugal failure because no matter how I try, I cannot stick to a grocery budget below $120 while feeding 5 active people healthy meals. We all need to make budget decisions based on our own families. We make sacrifices that other families wouldn’t consider in order to do what we feel is best for our family.

  • Jen says:

    So, I kinda feel like I’m not a failure anymore. I spend that amount weekly to find healthy filling food for my 3 boys and husband. They eat A LOT. To be frank, I feel like I can relate to you more knowing you’re just another mom trying to do what’s best.

    • Jen says:

      I’m a Jen with three boys too! They are young but I cannot believe sometimes how much they can pack in!! I’ve been thinking that I’ll need to go back to work soon just to pay for food!!

      I already commented but have to add that food prices have gone up enormously!! $50 five years ago (or even 2 years ago!!) would have gotten you a lot more food!! Meat, produce, dairy….sometimes 1.5-2x what I used to pay!

  • Rhonda says:

    I always wondered if you had changed your lifestyle as the money increased, or if you just tried to stay as frugal as the early days. I think that being frugal for frugal’s sake is no real reason to be frugal. You lived like no one else, now live like no one else!
    It takes a great deal of strength to let go of control. Good for you!

  • Rebecca says:

    As our kids have gotten older, we’ve had to raise our weekly grocery budget …it just happens because they eat more. We’re still paying waaaayyyy less than we would if I wasn’t couponing and shopping based on sales. 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    I think there are seasons in life and sometimes you have to skimp and other times you don’t! It is important to know “how” to feed your family for $40 a week so if the need arises they don’t go hungry. However, there is no shame in spending 2x, 3x or even 10x that amount if you can afford it! Life is short, you don’t always have to live in an extreme savings mode:) There is no set “rule” that says you are a bad person for spending more money on food than somebody else. Each family is different. My husband is not a spender and works hard, if he says he wants steak every night, if we have the money I will get it for him!!!!

  • Oh the life of a blogger and how we put expectations on ourselves. You haven’t let us down sweet Crystal!

    It’s definitely hard for a frugal girl to change her ways, isn’t it? I’ve been on a budget since I was 15 so I totally understand how hard it is to spend more money here or there within the budget.

    We’re also trying to eat healthier and I’ve had to spend more on groceries this past year than I’d care to admit. But, it’s worth it knowing that my family is eating more veggies and fruits!

  • JF says:

    This is why I admire you blogging because you really do care. On the other hand I’ve been reading your blog and waiting on this post because I could see you were making changes and those come with a need for a little more money.

    However why can’t you still be the moneysavingmom but have a $130 food budget for a family of 5. You are doing better financially; you earned it.

    Please don’t feel guilty for growing and changing. That is what makes this blog worth reading. If people give you grief for expanding your budget then maybe they need to find another blog to read.

    I too have been running numbers trying to be at $100 or less for my family’s food budget and you know what? It’s a waste of time and energy if an additional $30 makes for a happier family then I’ll find extra money or pull from other places to make it work.

    Keep pushing ahead and growing and doing what works best for you and your family.

  • Abra says:

    Crystal, I loved this post! I just wanted to stop in to remind you that you still help me save money in so many ways. I am ashamed to admit I never thought to look at the sale ad during a quick run through the grocery store (especially in my single years when I had more room in my budget. It was just wasteful!). You’ve helped me to see how planning my meals around sales is one of many ways I can save money. You’ve provided me with so much help in the area of goal-setting, which makes me more organized, which helps me save money. You have also taught me about freezer cooking, so I am able to look at a recipe to see if it might work to prepare part or all of it ahead of time. I could keep going…

    I can understand your apprehension about this post, but I am so glad you shared it. I understand how needs change as each family grows! Also, even though MealFit doesn’t work for our budget right now, I am going to sign-up for the giveaway and also downloaded the sample meal plan. At least I could try a few meals off of it. I am glad to know about it, too.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Laura says:

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve been wondering for years how you kept your budget so low . My reality is : family of four, mostly organics, including all household and toiletries, $250.00 a week. We eat at home every night and everyone brings lunch and snacks from home for work and school.

  • cwaltz says:

    I haven’t used the frugal blogs for “grocery advice” for several years. I’ve used them to figure out ways to attack organization and create a small extra stream of revenue through programs like swagbucks or through creating a change jar to help fund items like Christmas and vacation. The reality is that some items I read about on blogs have worked in our household and some haven’t. I don’t judge the authors of said blog if they don’t work FOR US. Every household is different and I don’t expect what works for others to work for us 100% of the time. Anyway even if someone disagrees with you I hope you realize it doesn’t necessarily mean they are judging you.

  • Sarah says:

    I love this! I always felt kind of jealous or angry whenever you talked about how little you spent on groceries. Our family of four couldn’t ever survive on less than $400 a month (we live in a higher priced area, and my husband is a food snob…) and it always made me feel guilty that we paid that much when you were paying less a month, but for an extra person to boot! I’m so glad you wrote this and look forward to more like it. 🙂

  • Jessica Menster says:

    Thank you for being honest! If anything, it made me feel better about how much I spend on groceries. I have a husband and 3 sons, ages 12, 10 and 8 and they eat constantly! Food is necessary to growing kids! You made me feel like our food budget is reasonable now! Before I felt a bit like I was spending too much and felt a bit bad about it- thank you for speaking what reality is to us larger families today!

  • CMiles says:

    Look – there is hope! 🙂 Frugality works – the idea of not FOREVER trying to squeeze blood from a rock is very encouraging. Thanks!

  • Kim Sullivan says:

    I love your transparency! Please don’t ever feel like you need to apologize about a decision you have made that puts your family first. Before anything else (blogger, business woman), you are a wife and mom and those callings far out weigh the judgement others may try to impose upon you. No matter what you choose to do in life, whatever decision you make as long as you feel as though God approves, then does anything else really matter? Your blog/site is such a blessing and I thank you for all you do!

  • Kelly says:

    You have always blogged about creating a budget and sticking to it within your means. You are still doing that! You should never feel guilty about making changes that is a benefit to your family!

  • Aly says:

    You made sacrifices early on so that you may reap those benefits now. That is inspiration and encouragement for those who may be starting out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with adjusting your budget. Food is our fuel! It’s important to feed that mighty husband and growing children. Rejoice in the blessing that you are able to increase your monthly food budget!

  • Hannah says:

    I’ve been following your blog for years now and you have more than earned the freedom to be guilt free. I have confidence you’ll embrace your new budget thresholds and make them work for your family just as you always have. 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I have been following your blog for a few years now, since my friend introduced me to couponing and more strategic shopping. I never got my grocery budget down to anywhere near as low as you. ever. And I was frustrated on occasion with the menu and grocery pictures, knowing that that wasn’t all you were eating – just what you were paying cash for. I swallowed that frustration though, because I benefit so much from your work on this blog, that I’m okay with you getting the return you do from companies, as you help me. This post though….Thank you. I feed my family healthfully, love trying new recipes, and my husband likes variety! I just want to shop wisely, and know that I am doing my job as Mom, and my grocery bill to feed two adults and 6 children doesn’t need to be a source of frustration or to create feelings of guilt in me, when I’m offering whole, unprocessed, filling, and delicious meals. You have not let me down – you have proven that you are a real family who needs real amounts of food to sustain life!

  • Tisha says:

    You stress yourself out too much. I think its a blessing to be able to increase your food budget. Not something to hide. I would have labeled it like, “We are finally able to afford more healthy foods! Yay! But I will continue to give thrifty advice and look for deals to stretch my money and yours” No biggie. I also would assume a family with an attorney in it is financially better off than most and nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone isn’t here to nitpick. I come for the deals and recipes. As a mom of six I like the info you provide. Quit beating yourself up!! Life is too short and God loves you!

  • Lori says:

    Thanks for your courage and honesty! We have all followed you, and know it IS POSSIBLE to stay below $50/wk if a person is in a dire situation. Those of us who have made it through the lean years need to lose the guilt of feeding our families well 😉 Dinner is such an important time to connect with each other that I try to make a big deal out of it as often as I can!

  • Carre says:

    You do not need to apologize! You sacrificed many years, you have been in the meal planning, prepping and shopping trenches! Watching you spend little to have more later is what we all need to see – remind us that we CAN live on a tiny grocery budget for a period of time in order to achieve our financial goals, yet let us know that it is not a forever journey. You’ve done well, and should reap the benefits of that now!

  • Ann says:

    The price of food has gone up significantly since you started this adventure! Your $130/week budget is STILL below the USDA “Thrifty” meal plan, and is something people can model after. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CostofFoodAug2014.pdf

  • Katherine says:

    I think the hard part as a reader is the sin of jealously and envy that can arise when reading your blog entries. I know there are times that I read your posts about how much money you and your husband make, your exercise regimes, budgets, no sugar, etc…and it feels like you have it all together and those goals are unattainable to me. I have chosen not to work and be a SAHM and my husband’s field is ministry – so my income is pretty fixed…unless I want to work (where I would loose money since we have no family in a nine hour radius to help). You are posting nothing wrong, you are free to spend your money how you want and not feel guilt — the readers who have an issue of feeling “let down” — is our own heart issues…and our own sin. It is a yucky feeling to be jealous – but one that needs to be taken to the cross and not out on you. I will continue to read your blog and work on my own heart in the process.

    • heather says:

      I felt the exact same way. I think it is wonderful that you are able to increase your grocery budget, but I can’t help wishing I was able to increase ours as well!! It seems like there is nothing left to cut and everything is getting more expensive. I will keep reading your blog, I love it and you seem like a genuinely sweet, caring person. One question- are you going to share any more shopping trips, recipes, etc… since your husband is now handling the groceries?

      • We’re tag-teaming on grocery shopping & cooking — as we’re doing in most areas of life! And yes, I plan to share our grocery shopping trips and menu plans again now that I worked up the courage to share about this pretty drastic change.

        And {hugs!} to you in this season. Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

        • Katherine says:

          I think that is the hard part…when we hear things like, “there is light at the end of the tunnel or in this season.” For some of us, the reality is this season is not changing (and costs do go up)…we have chosen to live differently based on ministry opportunities which will not produce more financially to our family. It is hard to see other who have a “rice and beans season knowing it will pass.” It is hard not compare to other people’s earthly treasures…and remember our treasures are stored up in heaven. Though, you have had great success with your business some of us aren’t in fields or opportunities like you and your husband. Like Heather said, you seem like a genuine person…it is just hard to hear about your financial success when others of us will stay in the “trenches.” It is learning to be content in the trenches; there is the room for growth in many of us.

          • That’s so true… and like you said, this is a choice you’ve made and you can have great contentment in that choice knowing that God is providing for you exactly what you need and will continue to do so.

            I’ve seen that over and over in my life the past two years as He’s asked me to step out in faith and do things that feel so overwhelming and impossible. I have to trust Him for my “daily bread” in a different sense — to give me the strength to do all that He has called me to, to give me the courage to step out of my comfort zone, to give me the enabling to do things that feel so far beyond what I’m capable of. He has been so faithful and when it feels impossible, I get to look to Him and see Him show up in amazing and supernatural ways.

            I am praying for encouragement for you tonight. Keep on, keepin’ on!

  • Alicia says:

    Crystal… people and families change 🙂 When I found your blog our family was going through some growing pains and you helped me through that, but guess what, I have wiggle room in our budget now! Guess where we are spending it, on healthy food. I had guilt too because I think I knew I could feed us all for less, but I do buy organic meats and organic produce now. I feel great, my family feels great. In the long run I hope our eating choices will help save money on health costs down the line ( praying for that) and that I have done the best to offer my husband, kids and myself a healthy lifestyle, we worked hard to get to a point where we could comfortably afford to do so! Thank you for being honest (that’s why I love your blog) and thank you for showing me in my years of need, the guidance that has helped us become the family we are today! 🙂 I feel blessed to have stumbled across your blog a few years back…

  • Christina says:

    Best. Post. Ever. Proud of you!! Xo

  • Lisa says:

    I have a hard time understanding how anyone who reads your site would judge you harshly for this. I think the whole reason most of us are here is to be able to do the best thing for our families, and it sounds like the reasons you needed to increase this line item of your budget were all great, healthy, and not frivolous, reasons (growing kids, more active husband, etc). Also, I don’t think its really fair to feel that you’ve increased your food budget by making your husbands lunches from home. I would consider how much money he was spending on buying it out every day and add that into what your grocery budge was. When you consider that money, you’re probably actually now saving money, by spending a little more at the grocery store to initially buy the food to make his lunches at home, but saving money out of pocket everyday (unless he was eating out on the company’s dime everyday?).

  • Cate R. says:

    Crystal, I know it must be a challenge to line up each new phase of your success with MSM with your real day-to-day life. I appreciate your obvious desire to be authentic. I think it’s good to live within your means, and you’ve done that and are doing that now. Just because your means have increased doesn’t make you phony. There are people everywhere out there struggling hard to make end meet, overcoming bad money management and even trying to get out of generational poverty. I think that while your struggles weren’t necessarily the worst, what makes you different is that you actually lived within your means which is basically unheard of at this time in our culture. Running up credit cards and taking out loans are very much the norm. People don’t want to live in financial reality, and in some ways it’s understandable, especially when they’ve never learned any different. But you actually dealt with the realities of a tiny budget in order to avoid being ensnared by debt, and I think it really paid off, not just financially, but in the lessons you have learned and you really own those lessons now. So keep keeping it real, girlfriend.

  • Mari says:

    LOL! You crack me up. Everyone’s lives change and circumstances change. What is right and works in one season of life may not in the next. In all honesty if someone gets upset with you who cares. Think about it you don’t have little kids anymore you have growing big kids. I’m sure everyone will be okay with it. If not don’t sweat it, life is too short.

  • Jessica says:

    I think you should also take into account how much food prices have increased since you first set your $50 budget. In the past few weeks food prices have gone up again. I am paying a good $20 more on the same groceries I was buying before. It’s frustrating, but like you said, you have to be realistic. I can also relate so much about trying to keep food in the house with growing children. Suddenly, I feel like I can’t keep enough food in the house! I appreciate this post, Crystal. Thank you.

  • Jessica says:

    I love your blog even more after reading this! I haven’t been able to come close to a $50/week budget in the last 4 years of trying for my family of 5. My kids will not eat rice, beans, or really anything out of the crockpot. Our family does eat clean which tends to cost more than processed foods that typically go on sale and have coupons circulating. We have been able to significantly cut our budget in other areas because of the tips you’ve offered over the years, and for that I am truly grateful.

  • Nikki says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have been following your site since I was a newlywed about 5 years ago and I have always loved your money saving ideas! My two kids under 2 have been diagnosed with numerous food allergies including corn which is in everything. I have recently wanted to change much of our diet to whole foods but I always feel guilty spending so much money. This article really helped me. I would love to see some of your new grocery buys and recipes. 🙂

    • I am so grateful it helped you! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with food allergies! 🙁

      And expect to see the menu plans and grocery shopping trips back again now we’ve decided on a new grocery budget and that I worked up the courage to post this. 🙂

      • Rachel Robinson says:

        I think this is a reality for a lot of us (spending more at the grocery store). It was always hard to see how little you spent on groceries and frankly, this makes it easier for me to relate to you. I’m sorry that other people will not feel that way.

        • Laura says:

          I feel the exact same way. Your new budget is more attainable for my family. 🙂 I’d love to hear how you make the most of that kind of budget.

          I also believe that the point of frugality is to spend your money intentionally — not to spend beyond your means, and not to spend it on the less-important things before you spend it on the more important things. That doesn’t eliminate the need to save money; it just changes the ways you do it.

        • Christy says:

          I coupon and am on a local couponing fb page. While I enjoy the deals I get by reading MSM and on the couponing fb page, I am nowhere near the extreme couponer as some of the other women. I have been following MSM for 5 years. At that time, I only had one child, age 2. I have never been able to get my grocery budget under $100 per week because we buy a lot of fresh produce (sometimes $50 worth in a week). Right now we are spending around $100 a week for groceries/ toiletries/etc. and about $200 a month at Sams and I have accepted it and am happy with it. I figure without couponing and shopping sales, I would be spending even more. I am not all organic or 100% healthy, but like to try to eat somewhat healthy and I don’t need to grab all the deals I see on my couponing fb page because we just won’t eat them (Hamburger Helper, sugary cereals, etc.).

  • Leah says:

    Our income has tripled since I started reading your blog, and while I appreciate the money saving tips, this post was what I needed. Our family of four is only spending $80/week including toiletries. My husband started juicing veggies each morning in lieu of making coffee and I am hard pressed to stay within budget! I’m going to give this category a raise!

  • Donna says:

    A wonderful post to share. I had to do this adjustment when my daughter and granddaughters moved back in with us. Couldn’t feed the five of us on the same budget. Keep up the wonderful work of sharing with us. Love your blog.

  • Jessica says:

    I too used to be able to get away with $50 per week, but that was five years ago when we just had 1 child. Now we have 3 kids, ages 21 months, 4 years and almost 8 years old. My oldest is a picky eater. We go through 5 to 7 gallons of milk in a week and I don’t even drink it. My son loves fruit. My husband loves meat and cheese. Our average is currently $122 weekly for people food, toiletries, cleaning items, personal care and cat food/litter.

    Whereas I used to be able to get milk for $2 to 2.25 per gallon, now it is $3.28 per gallon, meaning I spend $17 to $24 per week on milk alone. Coffee has almost doubled in price. Bananas were $.42 per pound and are now $.53 per pound. Yogurt used to be $.40 per container (my husband is a Yoplait addict) and it is now $.50 per container. We don’t consume alcohol or pop but I have noticed those prices have increased as well.

    We do what we can- I buy some items in bulk, I cook from scratch, we eat seasonal produce, I clip coupons and on most items I’m not brand loyal.

    I look at it this way: pay now for healthy foods or pay the doctor later.

  • Christy says:

    I have increased our food budget as well. It’s just part of having three teenagers in the house and rising food costs.
    My husband enjoys cooking. As a homeschool family, I am now reaping major benefits from my husband’s hobby. All three of my children are excellent cooks. I think it’s mostly from their dad’s interest in cooking.
    Your husband’s hobby sounds like a very good investment in many ways! 🙂

  • Mary says:

    One of your captions is “Intentional Finance” I think that’s exactly what you are doing. No disappointment on this end, glad you are practicing what you are preaching. You definitely have “Lived like no one else”!

    **The one thing that really caught my eye is that you recognized that you were becoming a slave to your food budget not sure if due to pride or fear of chastisement. It was powerful to read that you recognized that and handed the food budget over to Jessie. Way to work with your hubbie !!!!

  • Kerri says:

    Yeah you – for being authentic & honest!

    My verse for the day – Obviously, I am not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (Gal 1:10)

  • Kris says:

    While I have always loved trying to take advantage of the deals you post, I knew my family could never manage to survive on same kind of grocery budget you & Gretchen have because I have 3 teenage boys that play sports year round and it just wouldn’t have met the needs of our family of 5. Now you are making changes to meet the needs of your family of 5. You always say what works for one family may not be the best for another. Listen to your own words, and give yourself the grace you afford everyone else. You should be proud and enjoy this season of healthy eating with no worries!

    • Laura says:

      “Listen to your own words, and give yourself the grace you afford everyone else.”

      I have such a hard time with this myself. I think it’s a perfectionist thing. 🙂

  • Shirley says:

    I applaud your being real.
    I am now a grandmother ( albeit a young looking 63 year old), but we married very young and later were in the military and survived on $10.00 weekly for groceries. We did not have parents to rescue us and I learned to cook and plan to survive. We would buy a chuck roast and it was roast for two nights and soup for the other night.
    We are near retirement and eat healthily with lots of fruits and veggies. My husband’s job and good health require us to be thoughtful about how we eat.
    I have always cooked even though I would like to retire from that, but good tasting food is fresh so I am committed to my taste buds.
    I remember when I had to loosen up a bit as our family changed requiring eating out more with sports events and lessons. It was necessary, and a very good lesson for me to be a little more spontaneous. Now as we are older we still manage finances carefull and have also realized if we eat out too often we become bored with our choices.

    • Christy says:

      I am realizing that as my child is getting serious about baseball. I freezer cook, but I also work full time. We’ve been creative and brought picnic dinners to the picnic tables at the ball fields before practice, but there are some nights that depending upon my meetings after school, practice time, my church commitments, etc. that we just have to break down and grab semi-fast food. We just do what we can and do the best we can (freezer meals and picnics when it works).

  • Val says:

    Food budget? What’s a food budget? We just do the best we can with what the Lord provides. Life is about seasons. One day your kiddos will be grown and gone. You will be buying groceries for just the two of you. Then your bill will be cheaper. Suddenly, you will have an occasional house full of kids and grandkids and your grocery bill will skyrocket. Life is about enjoying your family, no matter the cost. I’ve never seen a tombstone that said, “she saved money with coupons”.

  • Shaylin says:

    I am so glad you posted this! We live in the “land of no doubles”, have very few choices in stores, and have a pretty high grocery budget. Although it works for us,I have to say it was always discouraging to see others making it on so much less.
    You are still helping people to budget and meal plan and sharing the best deals you can find, so honestly it should be none of our business what you personally spend!

  • Lori says:

    I love that you are admitting to going up with your budget, it makes me feel better about going up with mine. I used to try to stick to a $50 a week budget, but having 2 kids in diapers and trying to eat healthier (no processed food) I’m up to $75. And even at that there is so much I have to stay no to, I love reading your blog because you keep it real. Thanks!

  • Annie Kate says:

    Good for you, Crystal! Family comes first, not some ideals that used to work but are no longer necessary. Great post.

  • Andrea C says:

    Bravo! I think there are plenty of good reasons to increase a family’s grocery budget. Although my own family has been on a very tight budget for years, as time passes, I feel less and less inclined to put a product in my shopping cart that might have a low cost (or be free with a coupon) if that product is terrible for my health. I struggled to be okay with raising our budget, but eventually felt okay with the idea if it meant purchasing healthier items. Sometimes we save and save for so long that we forget to enjoy the fruits of our labors!

  • Debbie says:

    Crystal,
    Thank you for this post! Coming from a totally different perspective than being disappointed, I will say that I am so relieved!
    Trying to live up to you and all the other super bloggers who can feed a family larger than mine, on about 1/3 of what I spend, was really starting to make me feel like a failure.
    At least now, I feel like I can relate to what you’re doing.
    I appreciate tips for saving money, but I think groceries are an area worth investing in.
    So thanks for joining the moms out there who are trying to save and still eat!

  • Jennifer says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. The cost of living is higher than what it was just a few years ago! My family also has increased our grocery budget due to the bottomless pits of a teenage son and two preteen girls. I always look forward to reading your posts no matter what you raise your budget to!

  • Sheryl says:

    Thank you for this post! For years I’ve lived under this weight that I must find more ways to reduce our grocery budget for our family of six (because of all those ladies out there who are rock-stars at it). We buy very few processed items and real food is important to us. Your budget is very similar to ours and so now I’m going to give myself permission to stop banging my head on the table wondering how to lower our budget. Again, thank you!

  • Jaime says:

    This post does not disappoint me but makes me feel more FREE! It makes me feel like it is okay if I am not a perfectly frugal person at all times in every season in every area of budget. Phew! That is exhausting! I think it is beautiful to make compromises in marriage and make choices to honor and submit to your husband’s desires instead of being a slave to your principles. Thank you for being real and keep following His spirit above all else….

  • Connie says:

    I just second all the above posts!!
    Do what is right for you and your family in which ever season you are in and ignore the negative comments.

  • Becky says:

    Crystal, I really appreciate you writing this post and many of the others you’ve posted recently about how you continue to try to grow, change, and learn as a person. To anyone outside looking in, I’m in a great financial position with a sizable amount of savings and no consumer debt. But I’ve got myself on a very tight budget so that I can aggressively pay off my mortgage and max out retirement accounts on my single income. Any raises or extra money automatically goes towards one or the other. However, both of those are very long term goals. Even if I manage to pay off my 30 year mortgage in 11 years as planned, that is still 9 years away! 🙂 In a way, it’s even harder for me to justify any loosening of purse strings because I wouldn’t be “doing it for my family” – it’s just me. And somehow spending extra on myself always feels quite selfish and wasteful. However, recently I have been questioning my diet and struggling with whether or not I could improve the quality of food I eat and how that would impact my budget overall. I have some serious and chronic health issues, and the more I read, the more it makes sense that making some dietary changes could really help. While I don’t eat junk now, I do cook from scratch using more wheat, dairy, and “inexpensive staples” than perhaps I should for someone with my symptoms. You’ve encouraged me to rethink my strategy and reconsider how I can re-arrange my budget to still achieve my long term goals, but also not try to put my health on hold until I retire. Thank you for sharing the changes you are making and the thought process behind it.

  • Nichole says:

    I love your blog even more when you post authentic, honest, relatable things. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing about your meal planning.

  • Lora Jenkins says:

    Please don’t feel guilty for doing what you need to do for your family. We, (your loyal blog readers), want you and your family to be happy and healthy.

  • Mary Q says:

    I am blessed to have this website to refer to. It does give me saving ideas, coupons, special sales etc. This website also gives us ideas about things to make our lives better by sharing time saving recipes, how to cherish each other and celebrate with family and friends. We all just do our best and we should be proud of that. You inspire us and that is a great gift to each one of us. Thank you.

  • Jenny says:

    I love your blog and thank you for sharing your tips on saving money. I think it is great that your husband wants to help with the grocery shopping and cooking. At least you are eating at home and not eating out which is so expensive and usually not very healthy.

  • Tracy says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I don’t know how discouraged I’ve often felt about my average of a $150/wk grocery budget for our family of 8 ( going on 9) after reading the weekly grocery shopping/meal planning posts. Even though I know other people that are astonished that I make it work for this, and that my husband’s single income for our family more than amply provides for it. We also have food intolerances that can complicate things and make them more expensive. In fact I’ve recently considered increasing our budget so that I feel a little less stressed about it and also have the ability to share more with others. So I appreciate your honesty. I think you’re doing a great job! And I have very much enjoyed so many things about your blog. God bless!

  • Katie says:

    These are my favorite posts of yours! You have no reason to defend your grocery budget :). You are still a frugal role model, you still live below your means and you still set an incredible example to all of us. Keep up the good work!

  • Ann Mullen says:

    $130 for a family of 5 is great. Not disappointed in your new meal plan decisions. In looking into the Paleo diet and mealfit I decided to google meal plans for Paleo diet. There are 100s of plans that are free. http://paleogrubs.com/paleo-diet-meal-plan is just one site I found.

  • beth says:

    I think your post was great, because it shows if you make it through the lean you will be able to have wiggle room later which is greatly encouraging if you are in the lean time. By you showing this it is another example of reaping rewards from hard work. All to often people want the wiggle room now and then get into debt trying to have what they think they deserve or need. Good principle!

  • Shannon says:

    Good for you!

  • Stephanie Fricke says:

    Like everyone else commenting here, I see no fault in your new grocery budget, the meal planning, or any other change you’ve made to make your family a better unit. It’s all about doing what you need to do to stay true to your family’s needs. And believe me, you aren’t the only one who’s food budget increased. I bet most of us have had increases over the past couple of years because, lets face it……………the cost of all things related to food has gone up! It stinks, for sure! But I just had to let that anger feeling go, and roll with it, still using store cards and coupons at every opportunity I can. It’s not like you have given it all to the wind and you just willy-nilly buy food. YOU can’t help the rise in the cost of foods. Keep on keepin’ on! Love you and love your blog!!!

  • Beth says:

    Thank you for posting this, Crystal! It gives me hope! I knew I could never get our weekly grocery budget down to $50 and as wrong as my thought pattern was, it made me give into defeat before even really trying. Now I am encouraged that I can lower the budget in a realistic way for our family. Thank you for writing it and having the courage to publish!

  • JOYce says:

    I’ve recently been reading older cookbooks by Ida Bailey Allen…including frugal(Money-Saving Cook Book, Budget Cook Book, Cooking Within Your Income, etc.). Your budget and meals before were so under what she considered low budget/healthy…possibly still.

    Like already mentioned…wait till your children are older(plus folks with jobs that are very physical in scope would starve on what you now budget). Hold onto your controlled food financing for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!

  • Lizzy says:

    If I had to put into one word why I love your blog more than any other of it’s type, it is that I TRUST your words–this post is even more proof of how honest and trustworthy, humble, you really are. Blessings!

  • cherie says:

    Why were you being frugal in the first place? To get yourself into a position where you could CHOOSE where your money went and earn more so you could make the best choices for your family.

    I’m so sorry you felt burdened by obligation to your readers. I’m so glad you have found your center and the priorities that matter most to you.

    We save so we can spent on what matters to us 🙂 Good for you.

  • Heather says:

    Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency. Now I feel much more normal with my real food budget of 130 a month for my family of 5.

  • Tracy says:

    No disappointment here! In fact, my first thought was “finally!!!” It’s great to hear from a frugality blogger who has a higher grocery budget. I have a very active husband who probably eats 4000+ calories a day. I have an 8 month old nursling and a 3 year old bottomless pit, and I’ve been pregnant or nursing or both for the past 4 years. We eat mostly clean and limit our carbs. Our grocery budget has never been $50 a month, even before kids.

    I have enjoyed witnessing your journey and your higher grocery budget is no exception. I have no doubt that you’re still scoring pretty good deals even with buying more expensive foods. I’m looking forward to learning even more from you 🙂

  • Charlene E says:

    Crystal,

    From all the comments I am sure you can tell all of your readers are happy for you. You are living the American dream and there is nothing wrong with that. The fact you are concerned for your readers only shows us all what genuine love you have for us. To now have a weekly budget of $130 is still pretty amazing considering what most upper middle class families are probably spending. My husband and I have tried to stick to an $80 a week budget, but we have no Aldi and no stores will double coupons in our area. I’m still working on the grocery University and it is helping. Almost every price you quote is higher where we live. Anyway… look at it like this…it’s an investment in your and your children’s lives to eat healthy and you will save on health care costs the rest of your life. Plus it is a temporary thing to pay extra for until you have many of the recipes and principles under your belt. Maybe the new section How I Saved Today will spur you on to even more ideas that can help your readers. Don’t leave us all….we need you. Char

  • Susan says:

    I know I am just echoing what a lot of the other readers have said, but I think its great that you have “come clean” with telling us about your increased grocery budget. I am a family of 4, no teenage boys and no food allergies, but I do prefer buying organic and natural things, and trying to cut way down on processed food, you know, basically all the things that coupons are made for, so I can easily spend $130 a week for groceries, including toiletries. I, too, could sometimes feel defeated reading your posts of how cheap your grocery trips and such were, but now I just really focus on seeing the percentage saved on my grocery store and drugstore receipts, and I pat myself on the back when I can get around 30-40% savings with sales and coupons.

  • Vanessa says:

    This post was a breath of fresh air for me! Thank you! I see the deals you (and your sisters) get and are often so jealous because I can’t keep my grocery budget that low. With the way prices have gone up over the past year, I’ve often wondered how in the world you keep your budget so low and still eat healthy! I typically spend about $75 a week for a family of 4 but have recently increased that to $100 a week as we’ve been trying to eat more organic produce and diary. Thank you for your honesty and transparency!

  • Ann says:

    You need to serve your dear family NOT us!

  • Beverly says:

    You increased your grocery budget monthly, but who knows how many thousands of dollars you will save over the years for your healthcare alone, including less dentist appointments! This is truly an investment and will pay off in the long run. Appreciate your honesty and still think 130 for a whole foods diet is impressive, especially for the day were living in

  • Rachelle says:

    I appreciate this post. We’re a family of 6 and try hard to keep our budget low but we eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. I see the posts about spending hardly anything a week and it just doesn’t seem realistic for a larger growing family. It’s actually refreshing to hear that it just wasn’t working well for you as your family got older and busier.

    • Amber says:

      Yes, I feel the same way. I could never figure out how a $50/week budget was ever possible. This new budget still seems pretty frugal, but more realistic.

    • Abbygail says:

      I sooo agree! We are a family of 5 with 3 extra during the week that I babysit and I sometimes feel guilty for spending $100/wk and wondering how others are spending so little on a mainly whole foods diet. Luckily my kids love fruits and veg and I know I shouldn’t feel bad about spending more to buy great food. Thanks Crystal for being honest and helping others get over their guilt!

  • Kerri Dahlgren says:

    Thanks so much for being honest and authentic! I just had a conversation with my husband after returning from the grocery store that I feel like I’m overspending on groceries! I get this failure feeling almost every week I shop even though we are eating healthy foods. I don’t waste money on juice, processed foods, junk foods, or lots of snacks. I usually make snacks from scratch and we drink water. My husband was wondering why I was beating myself up over the grocery budget. We use cash only, so if I go over I take from other envelopes and never really go over the amount of cash we’ve withdrawn for the monthly spending. I realized that it might be because I knew you and your sister only spent about $40-50 per week on groceries and here I was spending almost $100 a week. It had me feeling like I wasn’t doing good enough saving money, even though I shop sales and use coupons when I can. I am not upset or disappointed with you! I am so thankful you shared this! Now I feel relief! Though my husband’s salary has increased, I wasn’t increasing our monthly grocery money and we are not even close to the 10-15% that Dave Ramsey or others suggest spending of monthly income. Thanks so much! Here my husband was encouraging me by telling me I am doing a good job shopping and saving money but keeping us healthy is what is important. Now I feel much better about our grocery budget! Thank you!!!

    • Bridget says:

      I felt exactly the same way! Especially this last month, when we had to cut our grocery budget to $60 a week because of a bunch of emergencies that hit us all at once. I was sending my 13-year-old son to bed hungry almost every night, and kept wondering why I couldn’t do this when Crystal was feeding her family completely on even less!

  • Mary says:

    I applaud you for your honesty and integrity. The cost of food has risen significantly and to take a step towards a healthier lifestyle while still sticking to a budget is something that readers like myself respect. Thanks for sharing this service. I am seriously considering trying it for my family.

  • michelle says:

    Good for you!!

  • Jen says:

    I think that it’s great that you were able to wiggle your budget and have a happier husband in the process. I’m pretty new here and I would love to be spending even $130 a week. My husband and I both work full time so time doesn’t always allow us to cook from scratch. With 2 teen age boys and my brother living here, we are feeding what amounts to 5 adults and one child. We have been eating healthier and that is definitely inflating my budget. I am just starting to meal plan and we do use the crock pot a good bit. I am saving to get a freezer as I definitely think that freezer cooking would help us as we do have a few weekend days free each month. I just want you to know that I love your blog and all your tips and don’t think you are a hypocrite at all – we could never feed everyone here on $50 per week. I think I spend close to that on bread, milk and produce. I would love more tips on saving on organic foods.

  • Guest says:

    I appreciate your honesty and transparency. I remember writing a comment probably two years ago asking what you would change once you had achieved your financial goals. The reason is that we have high incomes yet love saving money but we aren’t interested in living off $50 grocery budgets when we can afford more. I’m actually super excited to see more posts about what saving money looks like moving forward.

  • Melanie E. says:

    Just remember – the name of your blog is Money Saving Mom, not Low Grocery Budget Mom. 😉

  • Reagan says:

    Never apologize for putting your family first! I pray that your readers don’t blame you for changing your budget, but if they do don’t stress about it! I love all your ideas, freebies, and money saving ideas-they are awesome! Thank you for all that you do for us!!!

  • sally smith says:

    Couldn’t you have come clean without the mealfit plug? It seems like there are more and more plugs these days!!! And I thought your husband brought his lunches to work – but now you said he ate out. I am getting really confused.

    • This actually started out as just a giveaway for MealFit, but then I started writing a review and I realized it was time to do the post on why we raised our grocery budget that has been rolling around and around in my head for quite some time. 🙂

      And yes, Jesse took his lunch to school/work for the first 7 years of our marriage. When he started his law firm, we kept trying to make sack lunches work for him, but it just wasn’t working well. (He was so busy at work and was on the road so much traveling to different court appointments and meetings that he often forgot to take his lunch with him when he left to go drive somewhere. So there were many days when he came home without eating anything all day long!) We finally decided we had the wiggle room in our budget to just add a budget category for him to eat out most every day. I talked about this a few different times on my blog, but I understand how I post often and it’s easy to miss posts or mentions in posts. *I* can’t always remember what I’ve posted or not posted, so I know it would be really hard to keep up with all the details as a reader. 🙂

      Thanks so much for commenting so I could clarify and thanks so much for being a reader here! Have a wonderful evening!

  • Alycia Cepeda says:

    I love that you put yourself out there to be authentic. You have worked hard for so many years to save money and trusted God to provide. He has and there is nothing wrong with enjoying life’s little gifts. Plus, it’s like you said, it’s food for your family and its healthy. Enjoy it! You should not feel guilty one bit!!!! I thank you for all your help in posting all your good information. God has used you in such a special way to speak to so many people. Keep it up 🙂

  • Charlene says:

    The other thing to keep in mind is that the price of food has gone up. It isn’t possible to buy the same amount or kind of food for $50 as you previously could… And as your kids grow… they will eat more. (Plus this Tennessee air encourages kids to eat lots!!I am glad you were able to experiment with raising your grocery budget. That must have been tough to turn it over to your hubby… Way to go with being honest with us and also doing what you need to do for your family. It’s fun reading about your adventures. I have learned a lot from you.

  • britt says:

    I am more excited to see this post than your post about feeding your family for less than what I pay when I fill my car tank full of gas. Thanks for the honesty I feel like I am not a complete failure at the grocery store now. 🙂

  • Zac Smallwood says:

    like Taylor Swift says, “the haters gonna hate.” I have recently taken over the budget and grocery shopping, so my wife can focus more on her schooling. I’m aiming for $100 a week for our family of seven. After two weeks, it looks like our month will be about $500. More than I wanted to spend, but less than what we had spent. Unfortunately, with all the concerns in America, I think family comes first is the most important after God.

  • becky says:

    I really enjoy your blog. You have no need to apologize! Budgets are not set in stone and changing them when possible and if needed to meet your family’s needs is important. As others have mentioned, it is refreshing to know that if I spend >$50/week on groceries, I’m still doing ok. Thank you for your blog!

  • Marsha says:

    I think $130 a week for a family of five is very realistic and still very low. Don’t be hard on yourself. Your blog still inspires your readers and gives many helpful hints, tips, coupons, and other ways to save money or gain rewards and freebies. Every little bit helps.

  • Karen says:

    I’m glad that you’ve been authentic about this. We live in the same area that you now live in, have 3 children, including a teenager. We eat a very healthy diet with lots of fresh produce and some more expensive foods, including many organic items. I find that most coupons aren’t for foods that I’m planning to purchase. I try to be a careful, wise shopper and buy meat and other items in bulk and shop sales. And, so our grocery budget is $140/week. And I’m perfectly fine with that, because we can and because we think it is worth it for our family’s health.

    • AJ says:

      Totally agree. This is good! I’d love to hear more about wise shopping while not sacrificing health. As long as you don’t stop sharing the goal setting, family priorities, etc. topics.

    • jess says:

      i could have written this almost word-for-word (minus the teen). We have 3 kids, eat healthy/whole foods (not all organic, but natural, minimally processed), and our budget is $140 a week. Even with that, i still feel like i cut it close and when i go to Sam’s Club, i spend even more.

      Crystal–i’ve never commented here before that i can remember, but i just wanted to say that i appreciate this post. After paying off our debt, our grocery budget was one of the 1st things that went up. Eating healthy/whole foods is HOPEFULLY preventative maintenence that will save us dr. bills down the line (obviously, we can’t be 100% certain about that..but it’s worth the try!) I 100% understand where you are coming from & I think it’s A WONDREFUL CHOICE!! Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Cynthia says:

    In my personal opinion I feel the increase to your food budget is a wise investment. Those with discretionary spending (myself included) are so ready and willing to invest our extra money in other areas but yet hesitate to spend extra money on something that will benefit us now and in the future. I started juicing/eating mostly raw foods at the beginning of the year and the money I have invested into has brought me such wonderful dividends as extra energy and weight loss. I realize for those whose budgets are already stretched to the max that this isn’t an option that is readily available to them. If you are just trying to get food on the table by all means this isn’t a judgement on how you spend your money. The toxic food environment we live in surely doesn’t help you either. When you can buy two bags of chips for the cost of a bag of apples. I wouldn’t be able to rationalize purchasing the apples either. But for those of us who can splurge on healthy food maybe see the extra money as an investment instead of a waste.

  • Becky says:

    You are an amazingly frugal person and your story of all you’ve sacrificed over the years is inspiring. Your ability to accomplish so much is astounding. I wish for you to take the 99% positive input and let go of the negative. Not worth your time! The proof is in your success! I want to comment back to the haters–but not worth my time either. Don’t give them any power! We know where your heart is and all you do is for God and your family. And to bless us, too!

  • heather c says:

    Oh yippee! So glad you shared this! Living in California I have to say I get a tad envious when you post some of your dollar stretching grocery shopping trips and tiny budgets. Food always cost so much more here (why I haven’t a clue!) and even though we grow a lot of our own food and I coupon and sale shop. I could in no way get by on $50 a week, not even close. Especially with so many boys in this house! :o) Thank you for sharing and making some of us who could never get our bills that low feel better that you too are a mere mortal. :o)

  • Raylene says:

    I more than tripled our grocery budget last year after we completely changed our diet to a combination of paleo and SCD- no gluten, lactose, sugar, anything remotely processed. We still get our meat for almost free with hunting, but I spend way more than other budgeters. It is hard to swallow, but I think we save in the long run with lower health costs and less sick time. With the advent of major health crisis in our family I no longer have the time or energy to coupon, plus they don’t offer coupons for the whole foods I must buy. Now I just have to shop for the best price and rely on many groceries from the mail. I’d say there is no shame, but I wish I could go back to my $100/month grocery budget!

  • Allyson Henley says:

    Great post! Thank you. I think lots of people are breathing huge sighs of relief! You are always such an inspiration. You have worked harder than probably anyone to have the freedom to raise any budget to whatever you want.

  • Anne Marie says:

    Please don’t feel guilty over this admission. I’d already assumed that your budget had increased. Your meals have changed from those you made in the early days of your blog, your kids are older, and food prices have drastically increased. Couple all that with the fact that you rarely post your own grocery trips any more, and I figured your budget had changed. No explanation needed, IMO. There’s absolutely no reason to feel any sense of guilt or even obligation to your readers to keep a particular grocery budget. Do what’s best for your own family. You’ve demonstrated over the years through your own life how to live well on less. Enjoy the fruits of your labors and don’t feel as if your entire life needs to be lived as an example to others. 🙂

  • jolene says:

    Love this post. You have really hit a positive cord with your readers, myself included. I would love to see more menus and grocery trips that are whole foods. We have tons of allergies, including oats, rice and beef. So I could never come close to your $50 budget per week. Fantastic job in keeping it real and still impressed with the new budget.

  • Stephanie Shelor says:

    Don’t apologize…as sad as it is food has gone up..and you are doing what’s best for your family and honoring your husband!!! I love your blog and your honesty!

  • Brittany says:

    I love that you posted this! I often think about what it be like when we aren’t able to continue our $25/wk budget when we start building our family. Sometimes it makes me sad. I love being able to sustain my husband and myself on so little. Then, I also think about how awesome it will be when we no longer NEED to budget so tightly and can afford “the finer things,” or as my husband calls it: “beer.” 😛

  • Claire says:

    I appreciate your honesty about this, but I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. When your household budget was limited, you found a way to grocery shop on a very low budget, and you taught your readers how to do it (although some readers, like me, never quite got the hang of it!). You still have posts from your sisters showing people how to shop that way. Since then, your family situation has changed, and you still live very frugally and show people how to prioritize their spending based on their budget and values. You’re doing an awesome job!

  • Caron C says:

    I don’t have a grocery budget. Should I? I find that most food coupons are for things I would never buy. I have a garden, belong to a meat share, pick and freeze fruit from local orchards. I plan a meal around the local farmstand and my freezer. I rarely go to a grocery store. I find that keeping out of one saves me money! Occasionally, I do like to go in and look fo marked down meat and bread.

  • SWalker says:

    This article was refreshing to read. You see I have been hard on myself because it seemed like you and others found ways to keep your grocery budget so low. But the truth was I wasn’t willing to sacrifice in areas that some are. What type of food and where it comes from is really important to me, but it is also really expensive. Thank you for sharing!

  • Mindy says:

    We started spending much more (about $600/month for 4) when we cut out processed foods. I make a lot from scratch, and of course lots of fresh produce. It costs more to eat healthy, but IMO it’s totally worth it. A gallon of organic whole milk is $5.97 here. That alone adds up! As your kids get bigger, your budget will need to increase more. Good job for letting go.

  • Mandy Griffith says:

    I appreciate your honesty so much. As much as I would love to have a low low budget, we have food allergy issues and know it is impossible for us. We eat a lot of fresh foods– veggies, fruit, etc. Nothing extravagant and do our best to save where we can. It is refreshing to see that we spend a reasonable amount.:)
    I think it is often easy as a homemaker to think that our self worth or value is tied up in who can spend the least at the store or get the most free store products. While we always use coupons where possible and try to be frugal as we can, we know that food is one area that we can’t cut any more corners and we want to eat healthy and the best we can because our health requires it and we see the benefits from it.
    Thanks for being a blessing!

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for this post-it was just what I needed to read! Like you, I have tried for the last few years to keep a low grocery budget and always prided myself in the way I was able to feed our family well by using coupons and shopping sales.

    That all changed this summer when my husband was unexpectedly diagnosed with a very serious version of autoimmune type 1 diabetes. Overnight, our way of eating had to drastically change because I wanted to support him and show our children we would get through this as a family. For the past several months I have watched our totals at the checkout increase and it has made me literally physically sick at times. I was doing the best I could to feed our family in a healthy way, but it was costing us. This post confirms that I’m doing the right thing and we will get through this. Thank you so much!

  • Kelly says:

    I am so glad you posted this because I have tried so hard to follow the couponing, shopping with sales, and stockpiling that everyone talks about and we are nowhere near the budget other people post about. We eat healthy, cook almost all of our own meals but because we are lactose intolerant our milk is $5 for not even a full gallon! We go through almost $20 a week in milk alone! There’s no way we could be at some of the numbers these people are at and it’s more discouraging than anything else! So I’m glad to see someone post about increasing their budget and eating healthy and how their family actually wants to eat! Thank you!

  • Bethany says:

    I’m so glad you posted on this. I’m single and just out of the nest, learning about budgeting from people like you. I really respect your honesty about lots of areas where I also struggle with perfectionism and pride.
    But also, it’s just me right now. This is the time to be scrimping and saving to try and get my house paid off and my next car funded, but it’s encouraging to know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. What’s the point of budgeting after all? Because as Dave Ramsey says, if you live like no one else, one day, you can live like no one else. Your post lets me know there’s hope out there that if I work hard at this now, there are worthwhile benefits coming down the road. So thanks for the peek a ahead! I’ll have some extra leeway someday and a family to care for and put first. That’s exciting!

  • Amber says:

    Thanks so much for this post! My husband and 2 kids were recently diagnosed with celiac disease. We went from eating whatever we wanted to a strict gluten free and dairy free diet! Grocery budget is insane as we are eating a lot more whole foods and trying to let the kids enjoy a few GF treats. There just aren’t as many coupons for GF foods!

  • Thank you for writing this post!!!! We have kept a $75/week grocery budget for a couple of years which includes feeding 4 people. My husband works is home for lunch every day which is such a nice luxury. Food prices have increased so much and our oldest son is now eating like a teenager (I kid you not) even though he is only 4.5. We have talked back and forth about raising the budget because it just doesn’t seem possible to keep it at $75 a week and be eating healthy. THanks for your honesty!!!

  • Dawn says:

    Thanks for the post. I have 2 teenagers and with a family of four there is no way $50 would ever work. I think $130 is even very thrifty. Especially if you are eating healthy meals. No matter what people say eating healthy is more expensive. When I watch “Extreme Couponing” I can’t believe all the crap they buy. I don’t care if it is free, I am not feeding my family all that processed garbage. I do enjoy your freezer meal post as I have used alot of them. My crockpots are my most used kitchen appliances. The Pizza dough recipe has become a staple in our house. We make pizza almost every friday night instead of ordering out. We also save by buying our beef and pork from the butcher and splitting a whole or half cow/pig with friends. All local and no added antibiotics/hormones.

  • Jennifer M. says:

    Glad to see that you are willing to omit that you needed to spend more. I think all of us have had to increase our grocery budget, because of the prices rising. We do have a big garden and fruit trees that help and we have canned a lot for the winter, but with my son having allergies, us wanting to eat healthy we spend about 300 dollars a month, so about 150 every two weeks, sometimes a little more. We have five kids and my husband and myself. We make a lot of things from scratch, but once in a while we have to buy something premade. We do occasionally order from Azure, but even that we are having to cut, as their prices are rising, and I can find a lot of their products elsewhere for a cheaper price. Don’t let it bother you. I knew one lady that had 9 kids and they ate very frugally, but still had to spend 1000’s a month to feed her family. I think they lived off a lot of rice and bean soups.

  • Christina H. says:

    Sometimes when I visit various frugal mom blogs, I feel like there is an unspoken competition going on, “Who can spend the least amount.” Budgeting and being frugal can’t be a competition. It has to be what works for your family. Different families have different budgets, schedules, dietary needs, priorities etc. If we can’t all share honestly, we can’t learn and get new ideas from one another. Thank you for sharing honestly.

  • kim says:

    Thank you, I am trying to watch our food budget to pay down credit card bills. I always wondered how you could do $50 a week. Family of four, I put aside $100 a week. It’s is hard with two teens, but i know it will pay off.
    It is also nice seeing my credit cards going down too!!!

  • Jen k. says:

    I have steadily increased our grocery spending over the years as I stopped buying from the inside of the store. People tell me that real food is expensive and it frustrates me. Yes, yes it is. I’m not high and mighty about it, I just do my thing. I’ve come to realize that they are saying the wrong thing. We shouldn’t be asking why real food is expensive, rather we should be asking why processed foods are so inexpensive.

    It’s a journey!

  • Michelle Clayton says:

    Crystal, cut yourself some slack. As you say not everyone is in the same season of life. Your family paid it’s toll on the pb&j’s. Your wonderful hubby deserves reward for his hard work too. As long as you remain true to the facts and show people what can be done and at what cost, you are doing your due diligence. I love all you do and appreciate you. ~much love God Bless

  • Kaitlyn says:

    I just love you Crystal! This is the cool thing about our call to stewardship…we have many areas that we are called to be stewards of. Our homes, children, finances, and our bodies! Sacrificing Health and wellness for the sake of your budget (when it can be helped) is imbalanced, I think….almost like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I think the coolest journey is in learning day by day how to strike a balance between all. It’s those undertones that I read in your blog that are encouraging to me. Thank you for baring your heart for your readers.

  • Cathy R. says:

    Thank you for explaining your increased grocery spending. I think it is awesome how you got to this place. You have done a great job in saving on groceries from the very beginning and you are still pointing out ways we can save money today on everything! It is a gift you have and I am so thankful you share your experiences with us. You keep it real and keep your growing families needs first. Kudos to you, and God bless you!

  • Chris says:

    Listen, when you’re 80 and look back on your life what will you be happy you did? Your family will be first in your thoughts and all the people who may ever have read your blog now will be just a distant, but pleasant, memory. Including yours truly.

    I think you did your readers a great favor by talking about when it’s necessary to increase your food budget. My college son is training to become a military officer after he graduates. He requires more protein than you could ever expect a family with younger children to eat. It’s realistic to increase your food budget as your family ages and become bigger eaters and that’s all there is to it. Being smart with money means you wisely budget in all areas of your life to balance out fluctuations in other areas when they arise.

  • christine says:

    I think $130/week to feed your growing family healthy food is something to be proud of! We are a family of four, and are trying very hard to eat all organic, locally grown food. Our budget averages about $750/month. We are members of a CSA, buy locally grown meat from a nearby ranch, and buy organic food in bulk at Costco. We are trying to lower our budget, but still, I want to eat the freshest, highest quality food I can find and would rather cut back in other areas (such as travel, clothes, eating out) so that we can eat well.
    There are no easy answers to this…
    Love your blog! Keep up the good work!!

  • Randi says:

    Crystal, I so appreciate your honesty and telling your readers what’s really going on in your family and how your budget just wasn’t working. When I first read this post I had mixed feelings…on one hand I was a little disappointed to see you increased your budget, because I thought I was doing something wrong when shopping and not being able to meet your $50/week budget. I thought you had some secret insider knowledge or something, but no matter how smart I shopped ( and trust me, I have probably dropped our grocery budget by 50%+ in the last year while feeding 2.5 more mouths), so I was feeling a little discouraged in myself, and well disappointed I guess at the situation…food is expensive. But NEVER disappointed in you or your teachings. Then my other feeling was: Wow, maybe I’m doing good grocery shopping after all spending $80-$100 a week. Either way, now I am feeling relieved. Relieved that your active family requires more food, relieved that I will probably be able to see how your food translates to 3 meals per day per person MUCH easier, and relieved that my budget is actually really good! Like your family, I have an active toddler, a working husband, I am training for a half and full marathon and we have a Live-in Nanny whose salary includes food and she also an avid runner…so $50/wk would pretty much cover milk (we each drink a different kind due to intolerances) and our 20 bananas a week (no joke)…it just wasn’t reasonable. So through this all, I believe you taught us all a great lesson – budgets need to be do-able, practical, and meet the needs. So I say, good for you for sharing with us all your experience and even explaining how you re-worked your budget with the free $90 you had to do it with. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (and I hope you read this even though I am post 43987293846 😉 )

  • gjohns says:

    We do what we can. sacrifices and others. we do not all have access to discounts like at Aldi (..ect) and other supermarkets. Creativity is the plan, as kids get bigger, they eat adult sized meals. No guilt to you. Our families change, their locations, their choices… We can only do so much. thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Kathy H. says:

    Amazing…..

  • Chelsea says:

    As a long time reader, I have to say, I am not the least bit disappointed with you. I appreciate how genuine you’ve been throughout your entire journey. For example- you never hid the fact that you were using swagbucks, Vita cost credit, etc to get groceries. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I love that you were so transparent about it instead of trying to hide it and pretend like you were doing everything on $50 a week.

    And the last line of your post? I love your heart through all of this. Just last week I told my husband that i can’t wait until we can raise our gocery budget because it is *so* hard and exhausting to get good deals nowadays. It is so discouraging when shelves are cleared and prices are rising. It’s been a huge struggle lately, and I look forward to the day when I we have more wiggle room in this area.

    Good for you for taking a stand!! I hope you’re enjoying the break in the kitchen and he experiments! 😉

  • Angela says:

    Our grocery budget is more than we would like ($400 per month) for my hubby and I and our 3-year-old son, but although we are working at trimming it wherever possible, we are also trying to eat healthy–plenty of protein and fresh vegies–and I make nearly everything from scratch. We have lived off MUCH less per month, but then it’s harder to eat so healthy and we both put on weight 🙁 Keeping with a reasonable budget is important, but the family being healthy and feeling good is sooooo important too!!!

  • Rebecca S. says:

    I really appreciate telling this. I have been feeling so guilty because I could not get my grocery budget down lower. My kids are growing and needing a lot more food. I think when we are giving our family what they need and not being wasteful we are doing what is best for our family. I am glad you put your family first before your blog. Thank you for all your help you have given me without even knowing me.

    Rebecca

  • Anna says:

    I don’t think you should feel at all guilty for changing your habits for the sake of your family’s health. There are lots of ways to save money (and you have great posts on all of them), but I think the food we eat is an area where it’s important and okay to make a regular investment. It amazes me how much money some people will spend on entertainment, clothes, and clutter they don’t need but spend hardly any money on unhealthy, refined, sugary food. Just because you’re spending a little more money in this area doesn’t mean you aren’t a saving expert anymore. To the contrary, it means you have to be even more frugal with the other parts of your budget. Congrats to you for setting your priorities!

  • Wendy says:

    Good for you! Your health and your families should be priority number 1. Everyone’s budget is different so you have to find what works for you.

  • Jennifer says:

    Frankly, I feel better knowing that you aren’t trying to stick to $50 a week. I just didn’t think that was realistic for a family with three growing children, unless you’re not buying milk and protein or you run your own farm and have all kinds of vegetables and fruits and eggs right outside your door.

    Grocery prices continue to skyrocket. You have to consider that food was considerably cheaper when you started keeping your budget to $50 a week.

    We’re paying over $5 a gallon for milk right now in Maine. And let me tell you, my husband and son can put away a gallon a day!! 🙂

  • You don’t have to apologize to anyone for the decisions you make, Crystal. 🙂 You have to do what is right for you and your family. Good for you for raising your budget!

    P.S. You certainly are NOT a fraud to have a blog called “moneysavingmom” along with a higher grocery budget. You have helped many, many women and moms save a lot of money over the past several years (including me), and have been a wonderful example of living frugally.

    And, anyone who is “upset or disappointed” in you should be ashamed of themselves for being judgemental, and not worth paying attention to.

  • Erin Terry says:

    I have always enjoyed your blog, and I think I am going to enjoy it even more! Health and nutrition is a top priority for my family. I am looking forward to reading your posts on your shopping trips and bulk orders.

  • Carolyn says:

    Dear Crystal,
    Thank you so much for writing this post. My family has also been on a “food journey” over the past 5 years and our eating habits have morphed in many ways. I used to be real proud of the facts that my husband and I could survive on $125 a month, and he always called me the “kitchen queen” for putting together meals for so little. I am encouraged by your post that although saving and being as frugal as possible is still a big priority, putting the health needs of your family comes first. I cringe sometimes at the store when I am spending more than I want to… simply because we are choosing a more healthy option. Thank you for your work here and your willingness to spend a bit more because your family is worth it. And… we would still love to hear about your menu plans and shopping trips….providing it is not contradicting anything with meal fit. Blessings, Carolyn

  • Mary says:

    I just finished reading your book for the second time. I hadn’t really gone on your website till now. I was curious about the woman behind the book. I was intrigued by your posts. This one really stood out to me. It saddens me that you would think people would judge you for doing something that is nearly impossible to do. You have 5 mouths to feed. You said in your book that your #1 priority is the Lord, #2your husband, and then #3 your children. Anyone who gets disappointed from you raising your budget is just not informed of who you are. From what I’ve read you’ve always put your family and God before your work. Feeding your family that requires more then $50 should not be an apology. You are not a hypocrite. The complete opposite actually. You meantioned again and again where your priorities lye. You’ve given women all around the world guidance on how to keep to a budget. That is what’s important. You showed all these women that it is possible to keep a budget that works for them. From what I’ve already read about you, it would only be hypocritical if you didn’t put your family before your work. You are an inspiration and it sadnens be that someone with so much compassion is so hard on herself. You did the right thing and I pray that your readers see that

  • Bethany says:

    So are you all eating Paleo now? I would LOVE to know this because we eat this way and I have STRUGGLED to get our groceries under $600/month for our family of 4. I already buy our almond, coconut, and other alternative flours from a bulk co-op, I get coconut milk and other things through Amazon, subscribe and save, and I don’t even do all organic meat and eggs like true Paleo enthusiasts recommend. Please continue to share tips. The only coupons I can find to use are the specific ones Kroger sends me since we buy no dairy or hardly any packaged things (I even make my own almond milk).

    • Stefka says:

      The struggle is real! When we did our first Whole30, I had to budget $775.

      We do not own a car, so we just buy everything from our co-op, so all organic. But saving $25 by hitching a ride to the suburb is just not worth it.

      Could you do a meat share?

  • Alison says:

    Thanks for this, I’ve never been able to get my budget so low and felt so bad about it at times but my husband does heavy labor as a farmer and eats all 3 meals at home. We also have 3 hungry kids. We eat gluten, dairy, soy free (mostly paleo) and live in a rural area without many grocery options. Fact is, it is expensive but I don’t have a choice, we have to eat like this or pay for high prescription drugs. I appreciate your honesty in this area. More people should value spending money on food for their health! You will never regret this decision!

    PS, you can get paleo meal plans from emeals and once a month meals too! 🙂

  • Christy says:

    Claire said exactly what I was thinking when I read this post (pointing out that her sisters have weekly posts here to show other family’s savings on groceries). I love the posts from Gretchen and Bridgette, but I’m also glad to read Crystal’s updated grocery budget because honestly it’s more where I am right now. I think Crystal does a great job of showing how Moms of all different walks of life can save money. There are some of us who do have to scrimp and save in the season we are in, and some of us who are now seeing the rewards of that scrimping and saving. Increasing the grocery budget because you are financially able and have a growing family that wants to focus on healthy eating should not bring so much guilt. 🙂 It has been hard for me to break free from the “save, save save” mantra of our own law school years and step into a world where we now have kids, want to eat healthier, and where our money doesn’t go as far. Thank you for this transparent post!

  • Jlee says:

    thanks for this post. thanks for your honesty. it makes me feel better b/c we do spend about $150/week for a family of 5 and it’s been impossible to bring it down. and i don’t want to compromise fresh foods and good food for the kids.

    • El says:

      I was feeling the same way – I felt that I was slacking because I was spending $150 a week for the four of us and wondered how in the world you were still at $50 a week! But, I have been cooking beans and whole grains from scratch more and menu planning more and have gotten my budget down to $100 a week sometimes which is a great triumph for me! Thank you so much for being real and current!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Our financial situation has changed rather dramatically over the 11 years that we’ve been married, thankfully for the better! When I started reading your blog, it was out of necessity. To make a long story short, 2 kids, 2 houses, 2 overseas assignments later, we are OK with our finances. But I still read your blog. To me, it’s about living within your means, whatever they may be. Even though I raised my grocery budget long ago, and even though technically I could pay full price for my toiletries, etc, living frugally continues to make sense. By not wasting money we can live well, save more, and give more. And since we never really know what lies ahead, saving is a necessity in times of plenty. Your commitment to debt-free living and making the most of what you have has paid off–enjoy your “wiggle room,” and think about how far you’ve come. That’s an inspiration to all your readers. We all know how hard you work, and we know it wasn’t handing to you on a silver platter, so take pride in the success you have EARNED.

  • Brandi says:

    This was a perfect post! I often feel bad because I can’t seem to get our grocery budget any lower, and I feel like that’s the one way I can make a difference for my family. But it honestly does cost more to eat healthily! So thank you for this.

    Oh, by the way, I’m a fellow Tennessean! 🙂

  • Shennandoah says:

    We’ve recently had to increase our family’s grocery budget too. We were on a $150-$200 a month grocery budget for a family of 4, but I now have to make more per meal as my children are growing. Also I wanted to add in more fresh fruits and veggies. I may be wrong but I feel that budgets are used to hold us accountable and give us a guideline for what we can afford. A budget shouldn’t be so controlling that is distracts us from the most important things in our lives.

  • Lynne says:

    Thank you for your honesty. Those who are struggling should gain hope that down the road they may gain wiggle room in their budgets. I have a little wiggle room now, but I am always encouraged by your blogs to continue making good choices in budgeting and planning.

  • ChrisM says:

    First of all STOP worrying about negative comments. You could post about spending 50.00 per month on your groceries and someone would come up with something negative to say! There will ALWAYS be critics. Let it go. It’s your blog. You do with it what you want. If you want to change it to a blog about flying unicorns, do it!!
    We come here for FREE and get to benefit from your hard work. We have no right to judge you or your blog.
    Your family is getting older so they are going to be eating more. Wait until they’re teenagers. You’ll turn around to put away the groceries only to find the bags empty. Plus, the cost of food is just skyrocketing. We all have to increase our grocery budgets just to keep up.

    Be you and never be ashamed of it. Make no excuses. No apologies.

    You do what is right for you family!

    I’ll enjoy your blog just the same. I appreciate the truth. Thanks for all of your hard work.

  • Kathy says:

    No need to apologize at all! I’m amazed that you could keep your budget that low in the first place. Food prices have skyrocketed. Every time I go to the grocery store I am shocked. The government says food has only gone up 2% in the last year…VERY hard to believe!! I am seeing single items go up by fifty cents to a dollar. If you want to eat healthy and stay away from the processed foods, I think it is worth it to spend a bit more:)

  • Jennifer says:

    I just have to agree with all the other posters… thank you for sharing this!

    I find this news very helpful and encouraging, because as I have made the transition to more healthy foods for my own family, I have found that there is no way around it: the grocery budget goes up.

    Yes, I could save more if I bought all the processed food that many coupons and sales seem targeted for. But, I have come to the point in my life where I don’t want to feed my kids corn dogs and Gogurt.

    It makes me angry that a healthier diet costs more, but that is the reality.
    A wise friend of mine shrugs her shoulders and says that she classifies a higher grocery bill under the heading of “health care costs”. I think she is right.

    And, OK- I admit it. I love to read posts about amazing grocery deals that people score with sales and coupons, but in the back of my mind I always think: is this *really* all they spend on groceries per week? I can easily spend $50 per week just on milk, fruit, eggs and veggies for my family. What on earth are these other people putting on the table night after night?

    So, thank you again. This post makes me feel better about my $120ish weekly budget.

  • Lauren says:

    I don’t think I have ever commented on any blog ever, but I have to tell you, I am so encouraged that you posted this! I live where you just moved to, and my budget for my family of 5 has been 125 and that is when I am diligent about cutting costs and meal planning – if I’m not then it costs more than that. We eat whole foods for the most part, I go to the farmer’s market, try to find deals, and cannot get it lower. I have actually just been so discouraged by all the posts about saving so much money and having such a low grocery budget that I have been meaning to unsubscribe, so this makes me feel so much better!

  • Jaime says:

    Crystal,
    YES. Good for you.

    Raising your grocery budget is not bending the rules of being frugal and managing your resources well. It actually goes hand-in-hand with it, I think.

    Because you have managed your resources well over the years, you and your family are able to make decisions that are beneficial and comfortable and in line with your goals. That’s wonderful. Healthy. Grace-filled.

  • Anna says:

    I am actually relieved. My hubby is a former bodybuilder and I have some food allergies and health issues that make us cook from scratch and eat really healthy and organic for most of what we buy. So I had just figured that there was no way that it would ever be possible to not have a huge grocery bill, particularly since they don’t tend to have coupons for what we buy. We also live in a remote area which means the prices are higher than other areas. It is encouraging to me to hear you all eat in a way that we already/have to eat with a budget that reflects that. And thank you for your honesty!

  • Becky N says:

    Crystal, thank you for posting this. I haven’t read all the replies, but of the ones I read, they seem universally positive, and I agree with those who are praising your honesty.

    I’m going to be really honest too in my comment about this. You are a very, very motivated woman who is an extraordinary high achiever. This is why you’ve been so successful, and your example is tremendously motivating. On the other hand, may I say that sometimes, I think your goals are almost too high for most women to be able to relate to.

    A grocery budget of $50 a week for five people is virtually impossible, as you’ve discovered — even with the coupons and other perks you mentioned that you receive as a high profile blogger. For most families, this is completely unattainable. It amounts to only about $1.43 per person/ per day for all meals and snacks! Even with all the tips I’ve learned from you over the years, I cannot even imagine how I could approach that price point. So although your determination and focus can be motivating, they can also be discouraging if they set a bar that I cannot ever hope to achieve.

    Another example might be books. You set a goal to read something like 150 books this year. That’s almost one book every two days! Even the most voracious readers among us might find that an exceptionally difficult goal. Even half that might be a big challenge for most of us, especially those who are young mothers and/or work outside the home! I honestly don’t know how you do it while home schooling three children and also running a blog, writing books, being a speaker, and all the other things you do. I know that you don’t always meet all of your goals, and you are very honest about that here. But you still are a pretty exceptional woman!

    I dont’ mean to be unkind. I’ve enjoyed your blog for several years now, have learned a great deal from you, and find your example to be tremendously motivating. But I just wanted to say that bringing some of your goals a little more down to earth might be a good thing, not something that you need to apologize for! It might take some of the pressure off of you, while also letting your readers feel a bit less intimidated. So I thank you for revising your grocery budget! You are an amazing woman and I’m glad to have found you!

  • Maryann says:

    Please don’t worry. Like others I am relieved to hear this. My husband and I have been eating less starch, more protein, more organic (when it’s not crazy expensive) and trying to get humanely raised meat when possible. This makes the bill higher than if we bought prepared foods and lots of starches. We can afford this at this time, and I figure, not eating a ton of processed food may help on health costs later. But you just never know; even the healthiest people can get hit by something unexpected.

    Anyway, I’m so glad to hear this, because on some of the other, older posts I see shopping trips with lots of things like granola bars, cereal bars, canned soup, etc., which have a lot of added sugar, salt and hydrogenated oils. So I was feeling discouraged that I was somehow decadent by not buying those things and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store instead. But hey,if it were that or not eat, of course I would eat them. We don’t have kids (met at 38, married at 40, so age-related fertility issues). So we have a lot more wiggle room in our budget than other readers.

    And think of the time you save by having your husband do some cooking and shopping. Time has value too.

  • Aseel says:

    It’s more realistic now . Also if you eat healthy you cut on doctor visits . Enjoy healthy life if you can its the best medicine for our bodies.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Nodding my head in agreement here with all of the wonderful comments! So glad you wrote this post Crystal! I appreciate your honesty and we have had to over triple our grocery budget in the last 7 years with the fact we are about to be a family of 5, I have gluten allergies, my youngest has food dye allergies, and I am exercising more! Great post, thanks again!

  • M. says:

    I try to stick to $50 per week for our family of 5 (kids 13, 11, & 7) but don’t beat myself up if I spend $75. I don’t see how $50 per week was realistic for your family if your husband was eating lunch out each day. Was that not included in your food budget? I’m sure he spent at least $30 per week on just lunch unless someone paid for him each day. Milk alone here is $4 per gallon and if I let each child choose one lunch per week from the school lunch menu, that’s $6 per week so only $40 left to spend on everything else??? Sometimes you just have to take care of your family and not worry about a number if that’s $50 per week or $200 per week.

  • Lisa says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of the positive comments here! I actually find this post very encouraging. We were living on a bare-minimum food budget for a few years, and when we finally raised it we raised it by 30%. It felt outlandish, but on our old budget we couldn’t invite anyone over to dinner, we couldn’t bring a meal to someone who needed one, we couldn’t buy a pizza on a night where I was sick or overwhelmed or the schedule got crazy. Having the extra took a lot of pressure off, and also came at a time when we went from 5 to 6 people, our kids were growing…it was sorely needed. Still, every once in a while I look at our new number and think (with guilt) “We could go back to the old number! I could make it work again!” Your post helps me feel that it’s okay to let go of the guilt, and just be grateful that we are able to afford as much as we are now. So thank you!

  • Bev says:

    I’m very glad that you are able to spend more that will make your family happier! We are a family of 4 living on $200 a month in food because right now we have to to reach our financial goals. I also know of many families that are larger than ours (one is a family of 10) that live on $250 a month because they don’t have enough money to spend more on food. They also grow vegetables and fruit and do mostly meatless meals.

    I do hope you will still share frugal recipes and other ideas for those of us that do not have the luxury of being able to spend more. That is the main purpose I read your blog – for the frugal side of it! However, don’t feel bad if you can’t, we are rejoicing either way in all that you have shared that have helped our family!

  • Amber says:

    It’s a personal decision! Most people won’t ever have their grocery budget stick with $50 for a family. It’s awesome that it worked for you for a time, but life is always changing. My grocery budget is much higher than I thought it should be for awhile, but now I realize that groceries where I live aren’t cheap, we prefer organics, and I don’t want to buy most of the food I can get the best deals and coupons for. We shop the sales flyers, visit the manager’s specials, and visit a few different stores for the best value. We do enough to not waste money, but still eat really well. I’m glad your husband is happy and you are enjoying the meals. There is NOTHING wrong with spending money you have earned and actually have.

  • Em says:

    Ummm…wow…well, I am a single gal following a gluten-free, dairy-free diet (for the most part). I buy a lot of pre-packaged stuff, I almost never cook, and I clean with paper towels. And I eat out a lot. All that being said, I spent over $600 last month on food, toiletries, and household items. I think the more realistic number for me is around $400 for those categories combined each month, but last month included me buying stuff for a big party. So, either food is insanely expensive here, or I am not very frugal. Probably the latter 😉 Which is why I need this blog!!

  • Theresa says:

    What a great article! About a year ago, I changed up how our family ate and we also “more than doubled” our monthly grocery budget. It was a bit hard for me to continue to read the articles about keeping the budget so low when I knew for us, it was impossible w/o continuing to eat all processed and packaged foods. A decision that I don’t reget and you shouldn’t feel bad about! You are keeping your family healthy…something that is SO important! Thank you for sharing!

  • Rachael says:

    I so appreciate this. We are milk/soy free & I really believe in trying to get as much organic as possible & I have really been struggling w/ our $400/month for our family since grocery prices have skyrocketed in our area. I recently increased to $475 & I am SO, so much less stressed every month. It was completely worth it.

  • Eliz says:

    No apologies needed, glad you are doing what you need to do for your family Right Now. Our Right Nows change. You’ve done a great job sharing with us how we can make changes to fit each of our Right Nows. Each of our families are different. Keep up the good work!

  • Ashley says:

    We really want to eat more healthily, but we can’t afford more than $200/month. It’s really discouraging. Prices are going up, but our income isn’t.

  • Heather Speer says:

    I appreciate your transparency & honesty… it’s one of the things I love about your blog. This post was encouraging to me because we have been trying to eat more healthily but it is just more expensive & I always feel like a failure at a cheap grocery budget (I don’t spend much time shopping adds or couponing, we mostly shop Aldi). We’ve been realizing lately though that eating healthier is going to pay off too. Thanks for keeping it real! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I fully support your post and would never judge. But it also made me think, I find when I give my grocery budget a little wiggle room or am buying more fresh foods I also end up wasting more. Especially if you have a set meal plan you are following. Not sure if my point is clear. I hate to waste food. Have you noticed this and if not how are you working to make sure you are using everything up before it goes bad?

  • The final number spent isn’t everything. I get excited every time we increase our budget because I can buy more organic foods. Sometimes I need to go to a store that is convenient instead of somewhere cheaper, too. Props for being brave, Crystal!

  • Jessica says:

    I just read this and want to say Congratulations! We find it fine to spend $50 some weeks and other weeks we spend closer to $100. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be 200-300/week but it is more than beans and rice 🙂 We are all happier and healthier with good quality fruits, vegetables and dairy. I still refuse to buy meat if it’s not on sale but have no problem spending $5.00 on a half gallon of milk that my family loves and provides some valuable extra Omega-3’s in our diet.
    Enjoy the new recipes and having a husband willing to take over some of the cooking!

  • Emily C says:

    Boy howdy do I feel better. I would look at your and Gretchen’s budgets and menus (and plenty of other money-conscious moms’ menus and budgets) and think, “I can’t do it!”

    Simply because my family of five is different from everybody else’s! I thought I had already accepted it, but I admit seeing your post is a sigh of relief for me. It’s okay to be different.

  • I absolutely love this post. No apologies needed, you lived up to your own standards by owning up that you increased your budget. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to provide healthy and delicious meals for your family. 🙂

  • I’m so glad you wrote this post! Thanks for making yourself vulnerable in the effort to be authentic!

    I often let myself feel bad because our grocery budget is not $50 a week. I look around at the money saving blogs and beat myself up for not spending time cutting coupons and buying items at crazy low prices.

    Recently, I’ve been working on saving money on the things I can with little work and reminding myself that I’d rather eat healthier than be known for having a tiny grocery budget. So I’m trying to find balance by buying healthy foods for my family of 8 and sticking within a budget that is closer to $130 a week.

  • Jennifer says:

    The only thing I “think about you” after reading this is: Amen that Crystal is so honest (and real). So glad that you wrote this post and it just reconfirms how much I love this blog and watching it evolve (have been with you for over 6 years now). Enjoy! You guys have worked hard for everything you have, no one will fault you for reaping benefits, “splurging” and rewarding yourself. And if they do, so what!

  • Britney says:

    This post is a RELIEF!! My husband has been encouraging me for months to budget our grocery bill for $100 per week because he wants our family of 4 to cut processed foods and my kids favorite- fruit snacks- and eat more healthy and organic. I would get a little stressed because I felt like I should be able to spend less with coupons and deals according to the many blogs I read and I love saving money, but only a few times I was able to get under $100 thanks to to a few $5 Digiornos and breakfast for dinner (cereal, waffles or toast with, bacon & eggs), but if I can buy better foods for my family, I should. It makes no sense to chase a deal for something that isn’t the best for my family when (thank God) I can afford a better. I save money in multiple other areas of our lives. According to my husband food and good health is our first priority when it comes to budgets and spending.

  • Caroline says:

    Never apologize to anybody for wanting to feed your family a healthier diet! Even as a blogger that shares their life with their readers, it is REALLY nobody’s business but yours what goes on your dinner table. And if people find you a fake now or a phony, it’s sad for them that they just can’t be happy for someone else.

  • Diane H. says:

    Don’t feel guilty. There is a season for everything. You and your family are a walking testimony 🙂 Thank you for all you do for those of us are are still not yet wiggle free but working on it and those who just enjoy saving money!

  • Kenny says:

    I am new to this blog and found the post very interesting. The most important aspect to staying within a grocery shopping budget is not what you buy, but where you buy it and in what quantity. I happen to be in the food industry, so I know a bit about where one can find the best quality and prices. Hands down, the best branded selection and prices in the country are found at Walmart. The best private label prices and quality are found at Aldi, including their next extensive line of gluten free food. Aldi is the best of the best, because they are ruthless negotiators with suppliers and extremely diligent in verifying their own food quality. They don’t miss a thing. However, Walmart and Aldi are not the best for natural or organics. I always fill out my shopping list with fresh vegetables and fruit from Trader Joe’s. Even as a single man, I find it hard to stick to a budget when grocery shopping. My heart breaks for families trying to stay within a fixed budget. When in doubt, shop Aldi. (Note: I am not affiliated with any of these grocery chains.) Have a blessed day and thanks for reading my comments.

  • Anita Scheftner says:

    Good morning! I’m glad you posted this. I’m glad you are authentic. Our bills fluctuate, just like life..eating well is an investment in our health..and I’m so glad you two are doing this together! My late husband had heart issues and then later had esophageal cancer, so healthy eating was a priority. Of course, there were times we ate out and he splurged a bit with his food, but it’s so important to eat well. And a great example for your kids to see..as far as I’m concerned, I applaud you for being real, and not afraid to post it 🙂

  • Jackie says:

    I don’t know how you ever managed on $50/week!!!!! I am in Canada, so maybe our food costs more, but I spend a minimum of $500/month (last month was $675) on my two boys (13 and 14) who I have with me every other week and myself. I shop sales as much as I can (it’s hard working full-time to have the time to dedicate to getting the best deal on everything) and buy some things in bulk at Costco when it’s the best deal, but I’m to the point in my life where I don’t substitute what I really love (ie., expensive tea) for a cheaper version that I do not enjoy. I also try to weigh the cost of driving across town against the money I’m saving if I make it to the sale.

    So, I say kudos to you for sticking to such a meager budget at all. You have to do what’s best for you and your family. What would be a problem is if you preached to the choir but weren’t honest about what you actually do!!

    I do really enjoy your posts. Thanks!

  • Tiffany says:

    Hi Çrystal. This is only the second time I’ve replied to your posts. I feel that you and I have some similarities in personality and could feel your anxiety in this post. I wish we were friends in real life because I think we could be an encouragement to each other. I know you have been to me regarding my insecurities. It’s very hard for me to be vulnerable with others except my husband.

    I’ve always wondered how you managed to keep your grocery bill so low. And figured at some point you would have to raise it for 2 reasons. One grocery prices go up and your kiddos are going to grow up. My boys have required more food as they’ve aged and are so active. So thank you for for truthfulness regarding this. And I think it was great and very brave of you to let your husband take over the bill. Many blessing to you. Thank you for all you do to help us save $.

    • Christie Parker says:

      Good for you, Mama! Although misery loves company, those who truly care for you will be able to rejoice with you that the Lord has filled your empty basket.

  • Joni says:

    Hi Crystal, thank you so much for sharing this and everything on Money Saving Mom. I think this post will help people see that short term sacrifice will be worth it in the end. Thank you for being you and sharing so honestly.

  • Mandy says:

    I am a late comer to Money Saving Mom. However, after reading your blog for about a month I became determined to manage our grocery and eating out in a more frugal way. For the month of January we have done an eat-at-home challenge. Saturday I shopped for the final week. My husband is an accountant, and he has always said that our food spending is the hole in the bucket. Well, after he ran all the numbers on Saturday I was so excited. We averaged our spending for the previous 12 months and then compared that to this month’s spending. Not only did we save by not eating out, I also decreased our grocery spending. A savings of over $800! Can you believe that? Unbelievable!
    When I decided to take your advice and tackle our food budget I KNEW I would have to spend more than you did on groceries. I have 5 kiddos, 2 of which are teens. Honestly, its your strategies, recipes, and attitude that is most helpful. Some may get bogged down with the exact numbers, but most of us give you praise for your motivational support…we are not legalistic.
    Thank you so much for reaching out to women like me…I am grateful. Blessings to you and yours!

  • Becky says:

    I love you for writing this! For many people, $50 a month for groceries isn’t something that can even almost be done, so I admire how long you’ve been able to keep it up. We also had our lean graduate school years, but now that those days are over I can have a much larger food budget. I feel like we eat much more healthy now, so I feel that the extra expense is very justified. Don’t feel like you’re letting us down because there’s lots of other ways to be frugal other than with our grocery budget! Thanks for all of your efforts and work! 🙂

  • LB says:

    Eating healthy, growing kids, rising grocery costs…I am surprised it isn’t more than double!

  • Carly says:

    Thanks for being so honest about it! I have four boys and work outside the home three days a week so I just try to get the groceries home and cooked! I love your blog for its honesty and encouragement. Plans change as life does. 🙂

  • Maleah says:

    As far as I’m concerned, being a money saving mom has nothing to do with some arbitrary number. It seems that you are still using the same tools and strategies to remaining mindful about how much you spend. There is nothing fraudulent in that whatsoever. Not to mention that you are probably percentage-wise still much lower in your groceries than most.

  • Amanda D says:

    Thank you! For years of great tips that helped is get through our own lean times! I’ve always been frustrated by trying to eat healthy on a budget. We even try to grow some of our own veggies, with varied success, just to save some $$$. I can’t wait to see how you tackle this challenge!

  • Ann says:

    Good for you!!

  • Danielle says:

    I realize you wrote this quite some time ago, but I still wanted to comment and encourage you on a good decision, and also note that you went from your husband BUYING lunch regularly, to having to buy groceries instead. That alone had to cover a lot of the difference. I am struggling with our grocery situation at the moment. We COULD have a larger grocery budget, but we are trying to make this one work. So far it hasn’t been too bad, and it in some ways has gotten better every month. This month feels like a flop to me though, because I am now 9 months pregnant, and some days we broke budget so I wouldn’t have to cook. We had food in the house, we have the ingredients to make things, but my energy level has been all over, and so have my emotions, and I just haven’t had the stamina. I have been trying to get meals prepared for after the baby comes, and am stubbornly refusing to use any of it! We have 4 kids currently, and I homeschool, so some days this is extra hard. We have been trying to avoid convenience foods since we moved 8 months ago, and that means just about everything gets made from scratch. A part of me desperately wants to increase the budget, or go back to buying fast food frequently like we did before the move, but that is just not in the cards for us right now! I know that after the first couple of weeks after the baby comes that I will be able to get back into the swing of things, it’s just been a year of major adjustments….and I will agree, having growing kids can wreak havoc on a budget! They are ALWAYS hungry! Anyway, thanks for sharing this, I know it was hard for you. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break, and reassess our season in life!

  • Elissa says:

    I have also noticed our grocery budget increase over the years as our kids get bigger (we now have 3 active teens) plus we have been moving towards healthier food options which can cost more. It happens, and it’s OK! Actually, we are in Australia and there is no way we could survive on $50. I’m guessing the average grocery trip in our supermarkets and other markets would be about double what you are paying in the US, looking at your price breakdowns. We are sitting on a budget of about $250 a week at the moment, which I’m pretty happy with from a money perspective, and eating well is something we enjoy and prioritise. That budget still involves making a fair bit from scratch and having a meal plan to make the most of what we buy.

  • Robin says:

    Crystal- I just came across this post today. We had to increase our budget to about $110 a week when my boys starting eating like the teenagers they are! The number isn’t what is important- it’s the planning and purposeful budgeting. Your blog has been so helpful over the years to so many people and I can’t imaging people being disappointed with you for actually taking care of your family. Well done, you!! You are a huge encourager to so many people in so many areas. Thanks for your honesty!!

  • Hope says:

    I struggle with wanting to keep my grocery budget as low as possible as well. With growing kids and a huge emphasis on organic and whole foods over processed foods, in my house, I agree that this is a worthwhile increase. I believe that eating healthy keeps other costs lower because our bodies receive the proper nutrition they need. I appreciate your honesty and respect your decision. Thanks for all you do to help us keep our budgets low.

  • Tiffany Farfan says:

    I have no issue with you increasing your budget. I am the oldest of six and I remember watching my brother grow. He is 6′ ft and still supper skinny. But I have watched him gulf down almost a whole box of pizza on his own and I know he could if he wanted too (what I would do for that metabolism) and get hungry an hour later. MY family is very active and when you are active you need to eat more. As a family we ate out almost never but ate every two to three hours because usually we worked out. I’m sure it helps though that your husband is no longer having to buy lunches. When I left my job I watched some of my savings do amazing things because I no longer needed that 4 dollar salad 5 days a week. Plus drinks. I think what is important is that you just stick to a budget.

  • Jessica says:

    I never knew you were known for a low grocery budget… I hope this experience leads you to see other areas of your life clearer and you find new ways to tweak them, too.

  • Lisa says:

    No matter what you do , there will be haters and those whom give you praise. You discover what was best for YOU and your family. In the end they are all that matter. ( Well maybe your sanity too, but that is another post.)

  • Melissa says:

    Great!!!!!!

  • Dawn says:

    I remember when we first got married (1988).. we had to budget in baby’s diapers, and my brother in law lived with us and had a cat, and we had to buy the cat food and litter since he didn’t buy it. I remember buying one roll of Scott toilet tissue a week… it used to be sold by the roll back then LOL. (And my husband would “borrow” a roll here and there from his work place).

    Every week we’d buy 1 bag of no name brand salty snack (i remember it’s white packaging with black letters) and one 2 liter of cheapo soda (“fruit punch”, a flavor we both enjoyed)… the rest of the week we drank koolaid, and sometimes we didn’t even have sugar for that. We bought one gallon of milk a week, and didn’t drink much of it, because we had to make sure kiddo had enough. Quite a few lunches were “toasted cheese sandwiches”.

    Once a month, I’d ask “Do you think it’s ok if I bought this Cosmo magazine?” (which back then was maybe $3 a month).

    Thank goodness things got better for us over the course of 30 years, but back then, things sure were tight! Too bad there wasn’t the internet back then, with money-saving websites like this! (Then again, we probably couldn’t have afforded the internet, if it was invented lol)

  • Brenda Rider says:

    You have to do what works for your family. If others dont like it they know where the door is. Dont worry about it?

  • Karin Griffith says:

    HI Crystal! You are big inspiration to me. I started on a $75 a week grocery budget. We live in Northern California with no Kroger or Aldi. We are a family of 4 on one income and a very tight budget. I have a very picky 5 year old but we still make it work. I do get WIC but it doesn’t cover much. It took my bf a long time to get on board but he’s starting to come around. Also I miss your grocery shopping posts and hope you’ll start them up again.

  • Rae says:

    LONG time reader here and I find it so sad that people have to be judgemental to the point where you were nervous about posting this (I would have been too). You are doing what works for your family and that is great! I get judged by friends and family both ways. We are debt free and while we are stationed in Okinawa we are going to travel all over Asia. We get some grief over sharing the experiences because we are “lucky” to be able to do this. But the truth is, many of the people that “can’t afford” to do fun trips make the same or more they just nake different choices. My husband shaves his head (he was going bald anyway lol), I get my hair cut at a budget place every 1-2 years, and we cut our boys’ hair. That’s hundreds of dollars of savings per year right there (my husband would have to get weekly haircuts for his job). We haven’t had cable in many years, we order water when we go out, etc. I buy our clothes when they are on great clearance or when the thrift stores do a “stuff a bag” type sales. I coupon, my boys don’t eat a lot of meat (I am vegetarian but not for money reasons), we buy in season produce or buy frozen if not in season, etc. While we are out here we are not doing birthday gifts or parties (bithday boy still chooses a place to eat out) and minimal Christmas gifts. Our cars are not the newest or prettiest. The list goes on. I get criticism (often from the same people that like to complain how lycky we are) for “not living” whenever I talk about the ways we save money. While we definitely ARE blessed, travel and experiences are what we want to spend our money on so we scrimp for things we don’t care about as much which is a choice. It works for us though not traditional. Do I judge people that spend $200 every quarter getting their hair done or people that have a fancy car or pay for a maid? Nope (as long as they are not asking me for money for food/rent lol), because those things are what mean a lot to those people. You have worked so hard to live below your means to make it to this part where you CAN afford to make some changes or splurge on things and that is AWESOME. You chose something that is making your family healthier and happier. I am proud of you and think you are an amazing family.

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