What I Would Feed my Family on a Monthly Budget of $250

What I Would Feed my Family on a Monthly Budget of $250

6538024215 6649f 6b 803

Note: This post was written several years ago, and so the food prices are not current. I would guesstimate than in the almost three years since I wrote it, prices have gone up enough that I would need to spend closer to $350 a month to make this same bare-bones grocery budget and meal plan work. The meal ideas and especially the money-saving tips in the second post are all still completely relevant, but just keep in mind that prices are not as accurate as they were when I first wrote it.

*After you read this post, be sure to read the second post in this series, with thoughts on how I would improve upon this budget.*

I had way too much fun writing this post.

I hinted on Facebook last week that I was working on a post detailing what I would buy if I could only spend $250 a month for our family of 5 (we currently spend $450, although that does include some household goods/toiletries, which my $250 budget doesn’t).

My goal? To prove that you can still eat real, whole, nourishing foods even on a tight budget and while living in an expensive area.

A few caveats to help you explain what I’ve done here: 

  1. I used Canadian prices. I realize most of you live in the US. These prices should be encouraging, because they are generally more expensive than what you would pay in most US grocery stores.
  2. I did this based on an average, popular grocery store chain where I live (Extra Foods/Superstore). Not a discount chain, mind you, but just an average store with decent prices.
  3. I didn’t use all of the tricks that are usually a part of my repertoire. First, I wanted to see if I could do it with only careful planning and from-scratch cooking. No gardening, backyard chickens, food co-op, preserving, coupons, discounted/near-expiry items, shopping multiple stores for sales, etc. I didn’t even use my beloved produce market’s prices. I wanted this to relate to anyone.
  4. I didn’t include any food allergies or special substitutions, but I’ll address that a little bit in the next post.
  5. I did include eggs from a local hobby farm for $3 a dozen (these are the eggs I actually buy), as well as ground beef and beef bones from a local meat store that offers mostly grass-fed (grain-finished, but otherwise very clean meat) for reasonable prices. I considered using only grocery store meat offerings, but wanted to see if I could keep all of the meat sources (because it’s at the top of the food chain) a bit cleaner and most people could find a similar source of meat locally if they were to really look/ask around.

The gist of it is, anyone could eat like this. You don’t have to live on acreage, or have access to special stores, or be a master gardener or food preserver. You simply have to be willing to plan carefully, eat a bit less meat, and cook from scratch.
4761878982 9b 56e 53a 2f

Image by *clairity*

My $250 Budget Grocery Shopping List


  • Whole Grain Rolled Oats- 1 Kg ($2- sale x 2 = $4)
  • Organic Brown Rice Pasta- 2 454g packages ($2.79 x 2= $5.58)
  • Brown Basmati Rice 4.54 Kg (10 lbs) $12.99 (this would probably last two months)
  • Whole Wheat Flour 22 lbs $8.78


  • Full (whipping) Cream 1 L $4.13
  • Whole Organic Milk (not raw) $8.50 per gallon (x2) = $17
  • Cheddar Cheese 907 g $8.99
  • Mozzarella Cheese 907 g $8.99
  • Regular Salted Butter 1 lb $3.29 x 4 = $13.16
  • Sour Cream (full fat) 1 L $3.88


  • 20 lb Russet Potatoes (local) $8.98
  • 5 lb Ambrosia Apples (local) $4.98
  • 5 lbs Carrots $3.48
  • 1 Large Celery $1.98
  • 1 Large Green Cabbage $2.34
  • 1 Broccoli Bunch (3 smaller heads) $0.96 (sale)
  • 2 Field Cucumbers (local greenhouse) $0.98 each = $1.96
  • 10 lb Navel Oranges $5.96 (sale)
  • 3 lbs Yellow Onions $2.48
  • Large Bag Baby Spinach $3.48

5535637744 74e 739d 0b 7

Image by cookbookman17

Meat/Fish/Protein Sources

  • Dry Kidney Beans 450 g bag $2.58
  • Dry White Beans 450 g bag $2.28
  • Dry Pinto Beans 450 g bag $1.88
  • Dry Red Lentils 450 g $2.78
  • Canned Wild Pink Salmon 213 g $2 each x 4 = $8 (sale)
  • (Mostly) Grass-Fed Local Ground Beef 4 lbs x $2.50 ($10.00)
  • Whole Chicken (“free from” antibiotics, hormones, etc.) 1.93 kg (4.25 lbs)  $15.29
  • Eggs $3 per dozen x 5 = $15
  • Large Bag Local (Mostly) Grass Fed Beef Bones $5

Other Grocery

  • Organic Tamari Wheat-Free Sauce (like soy sauce) 296 ml $4.99
  • Natural Peanut Butter (no additives or sugar, but not organic) 750 g $5.19
  • Unpasteurized (but not local/high quality) honey  1 Kg. $6.00 x 2 = $12
  • Tomato Paste 13 oz. cans $1 x 2 = $2
  • Diced Canned Tomato 28 oz. cans $1 x 4= $4
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 L $8.99
  • Raisins 750g $4.28
  • Shredded Coconut 400g $3.38
  • Walnut Pieces 400 g $5.78
  • Bulk Flax Seed 500 g $1.20

Grand total = $237.17 

I’ve purposefully kept the budget under $250, in order to leave room for more miscellaneous purchases like bulk spices, baking soda, yeast, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, tea, etc. Ideally, I would want to leave more like a $20-$25 buffer to do that. If I was utilizing some of the techniques that I will talk about in the next post, I could have brought this number low enough to have that kind of a buffer.
5541249504 052aa 7a 886

Image by victoriachan

Meals That I Would Make:

Oatmeal with milk or cream and honey, homemade granola with homemade yogurt, muffins (use flax instead of eggs to stretch eggs farther, with variations like orange, apple cinnamon, or carrot raisin), pancakes with honey butter syrup, eggs with homemade toast, spinach cheese omelet, waffles with homemade orange syrup, toast with peanut butter, dutch baby pancake with apples, baked oatmeal.
*I would repeat some of these items over the course of the month.
Salmon melt on sourdough bread, orange or apple slices, carrot/celery/cucumber slices, leftover soups or other dinner meals, spinach salad with walnuts, raisins and apples, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, baked potatoes, fried rice with eggs and veggies, hard boiled eggs.
*Again, there would be repeats.
Chili (1/2 lb beef) x 2, pasta with tomato meat sauce (1/2 lb beef), soup once a week served with bread or biscuits- chicken rice, lentil veggie, Spud Special, bean soup, beef stew (use meat off boiled bones), spinach and salmon quiche, shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie, salmon patties with homemade fries and cooked carrots, Bierocks, lentil rice casserole with cheese on top and spinach salad, meatloaf (with added lentils and veggies to make meat stretch farther) with mashed potatoes, beans and rice, soft tacos (homemade tortillas) with bean/beef mixture, chicken and broccoli pasta casserole, veggie stir-fry with last 1/2 lb beef over rice, baked potato bar with broccoli cheese sauce, chicken stew, lentil dahl with homemade roti (Indian bread) and rice, leftover night, waffles for dinner.
*This is 24 dinners. Some of the vegetarian ones would be repeated, and there may easily be more than enough for one leftover night.
Would there be much extra? Nope. By the end of the month, I would be down to slim pickings and creative cooking. Employing more of the techniques I talk about next time would help me to purchase a greater quantity and variety of food to make the cooking a little easier.
What I Would Feed my Family on a Monthly Budget of $250

Image by stevendpolo

Why I Chose These Foods

  • The meat is very minimal due to the cost of buying somewhat higher quality meat. So, I chose to go with the cuts that were the cheapest and would stretch the farthest (whole chicken, ground beef) and then also added beef bones. Between the whole chicken carcass and the bag of beef bones, there will be plenty of broth to have some at least once or twice a week, maybe more. This is important because bone broth helps to stretch out the amount of animal protein that is consumed (it has sort of a protein-sparing effect) and also offers valuable gelatin (for digestion) and plenty of minerals. The cooked chicken meat would be chopped and frozen in bags to be added to other dishes. The beef bones would also provide beef tallow (as well as some extra meat after being boiled), which can be easily rendered after making broth and saved for cooking purposes. It’s very nutritious and an extremely stable fat for high temperatures.
  • I kept the egg amount as high as I could (although our family would usually go through more like 7-8 dz in a month, not 5 dz). Eggs are such an amazing source of animal protein, good fatty acids (like omega-3) if they are from free-ranging hens, as well as other vitamins. They’re a nutritional powerhouse, but inexpensive in comparison to eating meat.
  • The cans of wild pink salmon are very important, as they would be the only source of seafood in our diet. Fatty fish like salmon provide crucial fatty acids, include DHA and EPA (SO important for pregnant mamas and developing children). We would also gain another varied source of animal protein, as well as minerals like calcium by crushing/eating the bones (which are so soft, they’re easy to crush and mix in- we never notice them and kids can easily chew them).
  • The butter is not organic, but it’s still a million times better than relying on any sort of vegetable oil or margarine. It’s still a stable fat, even if I would prefer a cleaner source of butter. This would be one of the first things that I would seek to get from grass-fed cows, because then it would contain Vit A and D and K, which are so important. Regular butter doesn’t contain these in high quantities (well, probably no K at all and little of A and D) because those cows aren’t on pasture eating fresh grass.
  • Olive oil is a nice all-purpose oil, and it is relatively inexpensive and readily available to anyone. But, one alternative to the butter/olive oil split I suggested is to buy a little less butter, a smaller amount of olive oil, and instead buy a jar of coconut oil with the extra money. Coconut oil is bursting with beneficial fatty acids that are very protective for the body, it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, and it is also stable at high temperatures.
  • I went for produce that was mostly seasonal as I write this (January). So I chose root/cold storage veggies (onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, cabbage) that are cheap in the winter, particularly nutritious and that store well. Both spinach and cabbage are particularly nutrient-dense. The broccoli and cucumbers add some variety and were both on sale. Apples are fairly cheap (at least where I live) in winter because they are grown locally and store well. Oranges are imported, but they are seasonal during the winter, and are usually cheapest between Dec-Feb. They’re also a nice source of vitamin C when you aren’t eating tons of fresh produce.
  • The large amount of whole wheat flour is intended for making all baked goods from scratch. Ideally, I would make a sourdough starter for baking sourdough bread, so that are breads were as frugal and nourishing as possible. You could also use it for homemade soaked muffins, pancakes or waffles, biscuits, tortillas, etc. It would be even more ideal to purchase wheat berries in bulk instead, so that you could grind your flour fresh. For those with a grain grinder, this is the best option and esp. if you have access to a food co-op of some sort, you can even get organic wheat berries for only a little bit more money.
  • The 2 gallons of organic milk would be turned into 1 gallon of homemade yogurt and 1 gallon of homemade kefir. This re-introduces good bacteria and enzymes that are lost in the pasteurization process. Ideally, raw milk is best, but I couldn’t afford to buy raw milk on a budget like this, so making kefir and yogurt with organic milk would be my best compromise solution.

What would you feed your family if you had to seriously cut back your budget? Which foods would be a priority and why?

Similar Posts


  1. Great post! I’m curious about your method for crushing salmon bones. Never tried it and not sure whether my kids would go for it. We buy the boneless cans when they are on sale and try to stock up. But they rarely have those sales around here.

    1. A friend gave me the tip to simply leave all bones and skin in when making salmon patties. Aside from the backbone/spinal bones, you would never know they are there once it’s cooked. You can’t feel or taste them. The spinal ones give a slight crunch, which I don’t mind, but hubby doesn’t like that so I pick those out.

      1. I usually just crush the spines with my fingers. They are pretty fragile and easy to crush and then you don’t even know they are there.

    2. When I make salmon patties: I gently rub the dark skin off and then take the bones out. The bones are so soft that they just crush in your fingers. Once they are basically a paste, I mix them into the rest of the meat. Super easy and you can’t see or taste them at all.

    3. I just use the back of a fork inside a bowl to crush the bones. It’s not a very fancy process. 🙂

      My kids don’t seem to notice the bones, since I use the salmon mostly in things like salmon melts or fried into salmon patties.

  2. this is my budget, and practically what we eat. we are a family of 8 and our budget is $600per month. we are able to get raw milk for $3 a gallon so we do have that. i also do not soak flour. and i use allot of frozen fruit and veggies a well.

    1. Where do you live Vicki? I want to live there;) Raw milk for $3…you are a lucky lady!

  3. There are no snacks listed in your very impressive budget above…I am a homeschooling mom of four so twice a day there are little mouths asking for something to get them to the next meal. I don’t like to feed them full of too many grains so our snacks end up being a lot of fruit, yogurt and cheese which is not cheap. Any ideas?

    1. I’ll talk more about snacks on Thursday, as that was a very popular question!

  4. I’m thoroughly impressed! I look forward to hearing more about dealing with food allergies. I just found out I’m allergic to wheat/gluten and dairy, along with a host of other foods, including peanuts, almonds, beef (!), and apples. I’m on an elimination diet now, so I have had to rework my entire meal plan and most of my go-to snacks (apples, trail mix, nut butters). I look forward to your next post. 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for this Stephanie! I am in Alberta, and most blogs that include grocery prices are so much lower than what I can find. This is really encouraging and helpful.

    1. I’m glad it was encouraging. I know what you mean about seeing lower grocery prices than what you actually have available to you!

  6. Fabulous post, Stephanie. 🙂 We go through wayyyyy more milk than that, especially with yogurt and kefir – but I don’t have access to raw milk here. I sometimes find that we spend more money on snacks than actual meals, but as Tara said, I don’t really see any snack foods up there. But the oats could be used for granola bars too, right?
    Looking forward to reading what else you write on the subject! 🙂 Great research, thank you!

    1. Oh yes, we go through way more milk, yogurt, etc. as well. Definitely double what I put in the post. But, this isn’t a “what we eat” post. It’s a “what we would eat if we had to” post. 🙂

      You’re also right that I didn’t include snack foods. I was definitely thinking of things like granola bars or other baked goods (extra muffins, tortillas with peanut butter and honey, etc.). Plus any oranges or apples that weren’t devoured with breakfasts (though there wouldn’t be many left), or walnuts/raisins, etc. I will talk a bit more about snack foods next time, but in reality, it would be hard to do lots of great snack foods on this budget. We’d mostly have to rely on baked items.

  7. WOW. I am so impressed and can’t wait to try to implement some of your ideas! We have backyard chickens and several veggie gardens, so that helps our budget. I think my biggest expense would be seafood–I’m trying to avoid meat (long story, but I buy it from a local animal welfare approved farmer for the rest of the family), so that might add cost. Still–excellent planning! Thanks so much for sharing this info!

  8. This is the kind of post I love! We are on about a $270/month budget, which includes toiletries and household items, for the two of us. Showing how you could make that work for a family of 5 is so impressive, and encourages me that I CAN do this. I like that you included some compromise choices, too. Sometime I feel guilty when I have to buy the lower quality butter, etc. It’s nice to know it’s not the absolute end of the world if I do that!

    1. I think it’s important not to feel guilty for making compromise choices when you have to due to budget constraints. Our food quality has gradually gone up over the years, but only as we have been able to slowly raise our budget. When I was at home with our first baby in the early years of our marriage, at one point our budget was as low as $150 for our family of 3, including toiletries and most household items. It was hard, I had to make lots of compromises and be very creative, and I didn’t know nearly as much as I do know about making a budget stretch in a healthy way, but we still made it and I don’t feel guilty for the things that we ate. We did what we had to do, as you are doing what you have to do. Just do the very best you can with what you have, and then rest in that. 🙂

      1. I think that is the hard part- when you just don’t have a ton to spend on groceries and have to “do what you have to do”. It is hard for me to curb my jealousy when I see others in the store with a whole cart of purely organic food, while I still have to buy organic sparingly.

        Love this post! Lots of great ideas and inspiration!

        1. We’ve been in that boat, too– even days where I was hungry and near tears because I had no idea what I could eat (I’m gluten & soy intolerant, was also dairy-intolerant early on in our marriage). But the Lord always provided and we’ve come a long way! Some of our greatest provisions came in the form of our gardens, our friends’ gardens, and friends who hunted and gave us the meat!

  9. Stephanie! This is awesome. I love how you just keep it real. This is something almost anyone can follow. This post probably took you a long time to compose…thank you for all of your hard work and great information. Can’t wait to see the follow-up:)

  10. I love this and applaud you for meeting your goal. I too spend about $400, but for only two people. My husband and I were just talking about how we can still eat organic and spend less. I’m definitely going to be taking your advice and see if I can do it! 😀 Thank you!

  11. Very nice list, we do about $350 a month on groceries (includes toiletries) But, we buy our meat by the beef quarter or whole chickens, and a whole pig. We keep everything including bones and fat for rendering. We have a few chickens.
    I am impressed that you can go a whole month on a pound of butter, we typically go through 4 lbs in a month. Between toast, and cooking and baking. We use more. But I can see if we cut out the sweets we could get by with less. My hubby and kids also drink milk. So we use more there. Very nice list though.
    I will be taking some notes though as our budget is getting tighter by the day.

    1. Oh, no. Not 1 lb! We also go through 4 lbs. Maybe I didn’t make it clear, but it’s supposed to be 4 x 1lb packages. We like our butter, too. 🙂

  12. I was in shock at the organic milk prices! Just standard organic milk here(Florida) is about $5.79-$5.99. I was also in shock about the grass fed beef prices. Grass fed beef here is at the lowest for ground beef $5-$6 per lb. We are a family of 5 as well. I generally spend about $500 a month, which includes eating GF and raw dairy products. I have to agree with the previous commentors about the lack of milk. When we eat yogurt and granola for breakfast we go through a quart for breakfast…and they can eat more than that but I generally tell them to get an apple or banana if they are still hungry. I normally make a gallon of yogurt a week. I am going to print this out and maybe try it for the month of Feb. to see just how on target it would be. If I do it I will document it and let you know how it goes.

    1. I’m not saying we wouldn’t want more dairy in our diets. We would, and in fact, we do. This is a make-believe budget/diet in that we don’t actually eat this frugally anymore. But this is what I would do to make it work, if I had to cut our budget down drastically. In reality, our family goes through more like a gallon per week of milk (or yogurt or kefir), not a half gallon. If we had to abide by this budget that I’ve created for the purposes of this post, we would end up eating more baked goods, oatmeal, etc. so that we weren’t relying nearly as heavily on dairy as we usually do.

  13. Awesome post. So thorough…and offers a lot of hope for folks on a tight budget trying to get out of debt or just survive…and be healthy at the same time. Your meals sound yummy too! : )

  14. Great post Stephanie! And very inspirational, considering I’m in your neck of the woods! There are two things I’m wondering about though. First, the cheese you listed; is that regular “grocery store” cheese? Most of the those kinds of cheeses I’ve checked all contain modified milk ingredients. So most of the time I buy imported cheeses from Costco that are not organic but sometimes raw and never contain anything modified. With the exception of the Gouda (see Healthy Home Economist post on this) that I now buy regularly, they are all extremely reasonably priced.

    The second thing I was wondering about was the canned tomato products. I’ve stopped buying tomatoes in cans because of the leaching problem. So what I buy instead is the Passata from Italy in glass jars (1 liter bottles) which I consider to be very cheap at under $3 per bottle. This I can find easily at Whole Foods, and I don’t know if it’s available in regular stores, although it might be.

    Since your posts (think it was last year?) on buying food for a family on a budget and my comments about how I spend around $1200 a month for our family of 3 (all adults with two big eaters, plus 2 dogs!), I’ve managed to drastically reduce our grocery bill (haven’t figured up just how much yet but I know it’s far less). I used to shop down south, but don’t find myself doing this much anymore because of the time and hassle involved. Nowadays I save by shopping mainly at….gasp….Whole Foods! I always buy food on sale, and I often find that many of their (but not all, mind you) prices are lower than the other grocery stores around here (Save-On, Choices, etc.). I used to really shop around, but I found that the more stores I go to, the more money I spend! I also shop at Costco about once a month, buying things like rice, nuts (but not their almonds anymore), maple syrup (not ideal but it certainly is affordable and we like it on oatmeal and pancakes from time to time), balsamic vinegar, white vinegar for cleaning and laundry, vegetables like cauliflower, onions, sometimes hothouse bell peppers (although I do try to buy in season, mostly), tomatoes and cucumbers when in season (they are also hothouse grown, but this year I hope to grow my own), sometimes eggplant, and avocados. I also purchase hydrogen peroxide, Clear Care for contacts, and baking soda for cleaning only (for baking I buy the natural one). We stop by T & T for a few items like various seaweeds, bonito fish flakes, and vegetables like daikon, broccoli, cabbage, and more.

    I stopped buying organic butter because up here, it’s simply too costly and as I mentioned, we don’t make trips down to the States that often anymore. So I buy a local brand that seems better than others; at least it has no ingredients besides cream and salt (or just cream), and this alone saves a lot.

    Anyway, it’s really a full-time job isn’t it, just figuring out what to buy for a family and trying to do it all within a budget! I’m really terrible with budgets but I am getting better, little by little. Your posts have helped a lot!

    1. Sounds like you’ve made so many good changes with your budget!

      And yes, you’re definitely right about the cheese quality. I am just referring to regular cheese, and it’s not my ideal. Of course, this entire budget/menu isn’t my ideal… as evidenced by the fact that our family actually spends almost $200 more than this per month, so that we can buy more high quality foods and I don’t have to be quite as conscious of how I pinch my pennies.

      Unfortunately, better cheese just costs more money. My preference is to buy natural, un-dyed, raw cheese which I get in the US through my co-op. Sometimes I also buy deli cheeses like the ones that you are referring to. On a super tight budget like this, they wouldn’t be affordable. But, one thing that I have done at times to afford those nice deli cheese is to buy them on 50% off from a local store that marks them down when they’re near expiry, and of course, cheese lasts far beyond its expiry date.

      And the tomato sauce that you mentioned does sound like a reasonable alternative. It would still cost a bit more than what I mentioned, and in a $250 budget, even a few dollars makes a big deal. But for those with a bit more wiggle room, that’s a great alternative. Personally, I like to buy fresh tomatoes in season and can them instead, to avoid using too many cans in my kitchen.

  15. Wonderful post! Thank you! I can’t believe it never dawned on me to crush the salmon bones…

  16. I found this very interesting, though families do seem to vary a lot as far as snacking and dairy consumption goes. It seems that dairy is very reasonable up in Canada while dry beans are much higher. I wonder if that’s due to the climate being better for growing things here?

    Although our family are not huge snackers, the kids do seem to need at least one afternoon snack, and as someone above mentioned, I try to not make that something with grains. Usually cheese, yogurt, or fruit. That certainly adds to our costs here.

    1. It’s interesting that you say dairy seems to be reasonable in Canada, because I don’t find it that way at all. I don’t know if the cheese prices looked cheaper than they really are actually much more expensive than in the US. 907g is about 2 lbs, and when I go shopping (at least in WA) I can easily get 2 lbs of cheese for more like $4-7, compared to $9. I know that many Americans can also buy organic milk for more like $4-7 per gallon. So I find Canadian dairy prices expensive. But perhaps it depends on which area of the US you’re comparing it to?

      And yes, the dried bean prices are expensive. I did all of my pricing at one store, and if I had done some price comparing at other stores, I may have been able to find bulk dry beans for a better price. Part of the problem is that many stores here only carry fairly small bags, although on Thursday I will talk about finding ways to buy things like bulk beans in larger quantities, which makes the savings much better.

      I’ll also talk more about affordable snack options in Thursdays post!

      1. 2 lbs of cheese for $4-7? Wow! I am in Arkansas, US and I’m doing good to get 1 lb of cheese for $7! I have found a source of raw milk cheese for $4.20 for 1/2 lb and that is what I am currently purchasing.

        1. And I’m in Oklahoma next door. I thought things were supposed to be less expensive here. 😛 Oh well, at least beans are cheaper here. 😀

      2. Your dairy prices seem quite comparable to what we pay at the military commissary where we shop, which I normally find to be much less expensive than the other stores in town (W-mart and a local chain). Maybe other states are less expensive in the US.

  17. I too am wondering about snacks. We’re a family of 6 1/2 and the kids seem constantly asking for a snack. Ideas?

    1. Debbie, I think that I will address snacks more in the next post, since several people have asked about it. You can look forward to that post on Thursday!

  18. This is amazing! Thank you so much for investing your time in this, it is much needed! I struggle with putting affordable, healthy food on our table each month. We may follow your guide exactly next month.

  19. Thank you for this!! We are trying to live on a grocery budget of $200 a month for the 3 of us….and as long as I plan well we mostly do it! I cook almost everything from scratch but we don’t buy any organic things or grass-fed beef, as the prices here seem much higher than what you have near you. I can’t wait for your next post to get more tips on how to make our budget stretch even farther (so I can hopefully integrate more organic options!).

    1. And my next post will definitely show more ways to integrate organics. I’m looking forward to posting it!

  20. Howdy! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  21. This post is excellent! I am sure it took quite a bit of time and effort on your part, so thank you!!! It is SO encouraging to know that I can feed my family whole foods for less than I feed them for now, especially since the time is coming where we will be adding more people and making less money. Thanks again!

  22. I loved this post! I need to get back to a budget. I have let it slip quit a bit. We are gluten free, dairy free and eat meat minimally. I find it is so hard to eat gluten free on a budget. Even if I was to make everything myself, the flours and xanthan gum are expensive. I can make a loaf of bread for $2.50-$3 or buy it for $3.99. It is a discount but not that much considering how much bread we eat. Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. I eat gluten free also, and am gradually moving away from bread in general. It’s just so expensive, and I don’t take the time to make it myself. Maybe you can find ways to eat other things when you would want bread. For sandwiches you can do lettuce wraps; put peanut butter on apples; eat eggs instead of toast for breakfast.

  23. Why not substitute pork for some of that beef? Pork chops have been on sale several times for $1.49/lb around here in the Denver, CO area…granted, they’re not organic, and who knows if they’re grass-fed.
    And tuna for some of the salmon? (Mackerel comes in larger-sized cans, and is also tasty prepared as fish cakes.)
    I’d also suggest black-eyed peas; they almost taste as if they had meat in them, and are an excellent combined protein with rice.
    A few green peppers would add flavor and color to some of these dishes.
    Otherwise, I am being picky, picky, picky — these are great suggestions! We’ve lived on a limited budget for food many times. My go-tos are chicken noodle soup, scrambled eggs served on ‘cheese guys’ (cheese melted on corn tortillas), green chili and (of course) pork chops with mushroom gravy. Brownies and chocolate chip cookies are Husband’s favorites, and easy to do.

    My own post may be of help, especially for stretching what you’ve got: http://cindybrick.blogspot.com/2012/01/saving-money-dozen-tips-that-add-up.html

    1. Cindy, our family doesn’t eat pork because we try to eat (loosely) according to the Biblical food laws. This means that we avoid pork, shell fish, and other meats that would be deemed “unclean”. I know that pork is more affordable and I do have local sources of cleaner pork than what you can find at the grocery store, but our family just chooses to avoid it anyways.

      And you’re right, there are lots of ways that this could be altered to still be affordable and have some great variety. The wonderful thing is that there really are easy ways to substitute within a budget like this. The suggestions you made would all be good ways to change things up!

      1. Very interesting article. I’m working on bringing our budget down from around $800 for a family of five….

        RE: pork…from Acts 10:
        12[The sheet] contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
        14“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
        15The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

        1. This is often taken out of context – the Lord is speaking to Peter regarding Gentiles vs. Jews, and whether or not Peter should be preaching the Gospel to Gentiles (as evidenced by the arrival of Cornelius’ men in the next few verses).

          We all have freedom in Christ, thankfully, and unless our choices cause another to fall into sin, we can cheerfully eat bacon (or not). 🙂

        2. And I would agree with Meg that we absolutely CAN eat pork or shrimp or anything else with complete spiritual freedom. We are not bound by the law. It is not a sin issue at all. If we are offered “unclean” meats when we are guests in someone’s home, we always eat them happily and gratefully and without guilt. We’ve simply chosen as a family that we think that the Lord had specific reasons why eating pork, shellfish and other unclean meats is not beneficial from a health standpoint (and you can find these scientifically, if you do some research- The Maker’s Diet is excellent on this topic, as is What The Bible Says About Healthy Living). Our decision is made on the basis that we figure He is a whole lot smarter than us, and we’d rather go along with these Biblical laws for our own protection, as yummy as pork may be. 🙂

  24. Forgot to mention this before — if you have a Sprouts or Sunflower Market store nearby, they’re outstanding sources for organic food at the lowest prices — and they have incredible produce. Blackberries are 77 cents a pint at Sprouts this week — blueberries, a buck!

  25. What would be a priority for us and why?

    For us it is the raw milk that costs $8 a gallon here. The kids drink 2 gal a week. I buy organic yogurt and kefir and butter from the store. I’ve made raw a few times, but it got crazy expensive. Both my kids get tummy issues when they drink regular store milk. But the do fine with raw milk and the store cultured products.

    Thanks for doing this! We usually spend at least $400 a month for a family of 4. But we can do better.

  26. This is really great! I am trying to lower our bills, but here in MT we have very few options for shopping, and it seems as though most things on your list are much more expensive here. I do get my eggs for $2.50 a doz delivered from a homeschooling families farm, so that is great. My biggest trouble is that I have a husband who won’t eat vegetables, most fruit, soup of any kind, or any whole grains!!! And so, the kids won’t either. I often make 2 or 3 different meals at each sitting, (something healthy and fresh for myself) and something else for the rest, with add-ons or changes for each person. There are very few things that all in my family like and will eat, and I usually end up making the concession and eating what they have, which is why I have gained 20+ lbs in the last 4 years! I have been told to fix a meal and make him eat it, but truthfully, he works two jobs so that I can homeschool our children, and I love and respect him too much to not give him a meal that he considers yummy! He deserves to eat what he enjoys. Any suggestions for me? I do keep our grocery bill at about 400-500 for 4 of us, two dogs and a cat,(which includes all household sundries, toiletries, and cleaning products) but mostly shop at Costco, Bountiful Basket, and put up my garden produce as best as possible. I am trying to go totally NO processed, but my family cannot/will not do that. I do make my own yogurt with regular milk from costco, but am a total failure at anything bread, because they will only eat Wonder white. Hubby tastes the grains in whole grain white even, and won’t eat it!! Please, help me!!!

    1. Wow, Sara! That sounds so hard. Have you heard of the book Deceptively Delicious? I haven’t actually used it, but it has recipes where you sneak veggies into other recipes. It sounds like your family may not be fooled, though.

  27. Doesn’t the raw milk you buy have the cream tha that could be scooped off the top and made into butter?

    1. If you could afford raw milk on a tight budget like this, then yes. Where I live, it isn’t readily available or very affordable. But for those who can get it cheap (and I know that many people can), you could definitely skim your cream to make butter!

  28. This post was so timely for me…and HELPFUL!!! LOVE IT… I am going to use your list for shopping this week and see how my local Sprouts and Stater Bros compares to your prices…I am looking for a local source for raw milk and pastured eggs that is now outrageous and I am thinking that I need to join Azure Standard…

    Thanks again for this post. I appreciate all o fate work you put in to it and it will be a huge help to me!!!


  29. I have really worked on cutting back our grocery budget for the new year in an effort to get out of debt since I am no longer teaching and my husband is retired. I have started back to doing a monthly menu – I used to do this when my children were little and I was a divorced mom just starting in the teaching profession (not a lot of money)! However, as the money got a little more abundant the menu plan went out the window. Now, with limited funds again, I have gone back to the menu’s and I have gone from close to $900.00 a month to $350.00 this month! Please feel free to check out my blog for my menu’s and recipes -http://cdm-arewethereyet.blogspot.com/2012/01/another-week-of-menus.html.

  30. This was actually a very encouraging post. I currently spend around $400 a month, which is really up from in the past. But I am feeding a family of six, we are wheat-free mostly. I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t as frugal as I had been in the past and that there were really areas that I was spending too much. But I looked at your budget and although I do spend considerably more, the areas that I am spending more are the produce, dairy and meat. We are also do not eat as many starches or grains as we had in the past, which I had been using as fillers to fill us up. I realized that my budget is realistic and I am spending my money on the things that I want to eat.
    Thanks for your help.

  31. Great ides, any thought on how to do this following the GAPS diet. I am finding it rather challenging. I am lucky enough to be in S Cal where I can find just about anything, but the cost of organic and grass fed beef is still pricey and I have a hard time getting creative with recipes! Thanks

  32. Like one poster said, we are a family of two … with two dogs. Our budget is $250/mo. My question is about flour. Do they sell 22# bags in your area or how is that divided up? There aren’t any stores around here that sell it in bags larger than 5# and they are about $4/ea.

  33. echoing so much of the comments made already – thanks for this. Rare to find a reasonable budget. This isn’t considered “tight” by many…but “normal.” 🙂

  34. Just curious since I live in the same neck of the woods of you.. Where donyou locally get the items you specified were local?

    Thanks! Love the post. Very encouraging as I always read fellow bloggers real food budgets: and cannot line up our budget to theirs due to the expensive food costs in the lowermainland. I cannot find a raw milk source so have to use organic milk as a substitute. I worked in a butcher shop for many years and just can’t trusted non-locally raised meat. We are raising our own cows with a cow share on our property to ensure healthy clean meat.

    Again really apperciate your local blog.

    1. From my experience, it tells you how on the flax package. If I remember right, it involves soaking it. I didn’t care for the results, but I’m picky. : )

  35. You rock! Thanks for putting all this time and effort into helping us learn how to eat better and spend less. Something I need to work on FOR SURE!

  36. I just want to say I truly appreciate the time and effort that went into this post. The thing I think we struggle with both in our budget and in sticking with real foods is our snacks. I admit I’m not good at planning ahead in this area and am looking forward to you addressing this. Thank you so much!

  37. This is a great post, thank you!
    We have lived on a very tight budget. We did not have snacks (yes you can live with out them if necessary).

  38. Great post Stephanie! We have been eating real food for a couple of years now, but I have been going way over budget lately with a six year old boy going through a growth spurt,two hungry little girls, and me being 8 months pregnant and ravishing hungry, lol. This is a good start for me, but what about snacks?? Snacks are vital in our house! 🙂

  39. I am really curious about your views of pork consumption. This is the first I have ever heard of a Christian, today, attempting to follow that rule. (I’m sure many do, just haven’t heard of them.) My son is allergic to milk, egg, and peanut. Meat and beans are his source of protein. I am thankful for all meats I can use. Would love to hear your reasoning on that issue.

    1. Our family is also does not eat pork for the reasons Stephanie mentioned.

      We believe that although we are not bound by the law as in the Old Testament, God gave those laws for a reason. Many are health related and as time goes on science has discovered the rationale behind many laws (ie. washing hands, dealing with mold, etc) and I believe in time we will learn more. So for that reason we try to follow the law as God gave the Israelites, not as a salvation issue, but as a health issue.

  40. I love this! My grocery budget is actually $210 (US) and I shop once a month with $150 of that budget. My list looks rather similar to yours with adjustments for different needs in our family (food allergies, etc.).

  41. Fantastic post. While we’ve been a bit sloppy with our spending lately, we try to keep out grocery budget to $250 a month (not including toiletries) for our family of 5..We do live in a cheaper area, but since it’s rural, we don’t have a lot of choices as to where we buy the food, and our local grocery store doesn’t carry any no name brands. It’s also nice to see another Canadian blog! Makes it seem possible, even without all the fantastic coupons the US seems to have. (If I can find a coupon for 50c off of something, I’m amazed lol). Thanks for the great tips and recipes!

  42. I’m in Canada, Saskatchwan, and our prices are almost the same, although we play a bit more for farm eggs (3.75, and that’s the cheapest I could find) and oats, and ground beef (organic pastured etc) Where do you get your raw milk Stephanie? I’ve found a cow share in BC that will ship to us but it works out to $22 a gallon . Not too bad as there is only my hubby, myself and a 4 month old, but it will get really expensive when we have more little ones!!

    1. In this post, the example I’m using isn’t raw milk, but simply pasteurized organic milk from a regular store. We used to buy from the same cow share in BC that you are talking about (I think), and would have paid $18 a gallon. This worked for us for a little while, but as our kids grew and we were needing more and more milk, we just couldn’t handle the cost. Now, we drive across the US border and stock up on raw milk for the same price that we pay for organic in Canada. We drink what we can fresh and freeze the rest. It’s not my ideal, but it’s the best we’ve been able to do for now.

  43. Stephanie, I was so interested in your grocery list that I went to Whole Foods and priced it out totally organic. Even without buying bulk it only came to $388! That’s pretty good, considering, and I bet if you were to order dry goods bulk organic, it would save a lot more. Our monthly grocery bill is pretty obscene, but we make it a priority to buy everything organic, so I guess the secret is to cut down on variety and stick with a planned menu. Thanks!

  44. Well, this was a very informative and thought provoking post! Glad to know this is a “what you would eat if you had to” budget, as we probably spend more like $450 a month on our family of 5! But I am also looking into possibly going in with a couple friends for a grain mill, and finding somewhere to buy the berries (other than super expensive bulk barn!). Any recommendations for a good mill, burr vs. stone?

    Also curious about the cheese – I hadn’t really thought about modified milk ingredients, or even to look for it! What does this mean for my no frills store bought cheese?!?!

    Thank you for taking all this time and effort to put this together! I have loved this, especially since we are in Canada (Ontario!!). And I am so looking forward to the next post :0)

  45. wow! Nice job! It proves that you can get healthy on a small budget. I look forward to reading more…..

  46. Thank you for this post! We’re looking at a likely drastic cut in income in the next year, and I’ve been worried sick that we won’t be able to eat as well. This has put my fears to rest! We’ve always had a “budget” that I knew was high (ridiculously so, for eating mostly at home) so the idea of being on a “do or die” budget seemed super stressful. I’m thinking a test run is in order. 🙂 Thank you!

  47. We also are Christians who refrain from pork/seafood and while i see some surprise in the comments- it is a common theme- afterall if God says they were not made for our consumption why insist on it!!

    I appreciated this post- we are trying to tighten our food budget as well and i’m often looking for healthy ways to do so. We are lucky to have a lot of wild meat this year – but am still looking to cut corners in order to finance things like virgin coconut oil at $30/jar and other supplements we’re trying to take.

    One thing i’m doing is water kefir rather than milk- it is costing me virtually nothing (a bit of brown sugar/raw organic cane sugar and spring water that i buy in bulk and a couple lemons a month) and I’m convinced it has the same benefits as milk kefir.

    Thanks for the post- it is greatly appreciated!

  48. I’m curious what your kids snack on during the day. We go through about 5 lbs of apples a week and that’s when I limit my two kids. There are other things on your list I don’t buy, but what do you do when your kids have the munchies? We supplement with lots of fruit and veggies, but what does this meal plan include?

  49. I am so excited I found your blog!!! I love, love, love it!! It’s so exciting to find other bloggers that have such similer lifestyles to ours. Keep on blogging, girl…you rock!

  50. I am also curious to see what your children snack on during the day. I feel a large portion of our grocery bill goes to snacks for the kiddos. Any suggestions???

    P.S. I love your blog! I am so excited when I see a new post in my inbox 🙂 Keep up the amazing work!

  51. I am glad you did this, it was incredibly helpful. My husband recently lost his job and so our grocery budget is inconsistent, and actually about $200/month with the four of us, give or take (mostly take). I read your actual budget the other day and was greatly discourage (what am I going to feed my children! *panic*). But this encourages me to take charge, and maybe make a trip out of town to a trader joes…our local, small whole food store is outrageously expensive and allows me to buy only a couple of staples.

  52. Nice post Stephanie and seem pretty consistent with how we eat though no canned salmon. It’s on the list for next time we go shopping though!

  53. Great job, Steph. 🙂 Makes me super thankful for what we’ve been blessed with. As I said on FB, ours is about $20-25 US per week right now, and that’s heavily supplemented with produce we’ve traded for, backyard eggs, and raw milk from our own goats. I sat down and went thru our budget after reading this (and as my husband is looking at a loss of employment), and for our family of 5, soon to be 6, the cheapest we would be able to do is $175 per month, and that’s still moderately relying on all the bulk stores I have now (ie: no initial outlay of money). We would actually be cutting out all meat but 2 whole pastured chickens per month, 2 lbs of grassfed beef, and 4 cans of wild salmon. Lots of nutrient-rich stock, but not much meat – soup bones are $3-4 cheaper than meat per pound.

    1. Wow. Can I just applaud you please!?? So many others would have given up, said “I can’t do it!” and turned to more processed sources and government aid. (Not to say that it’s bad to use government aid or a food bank) I would ask if there is a program like WIC in your area that makes staple foods like dried beans, milk, juice etc. available. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it might help stretch and you could make yogurt & ice cream (a treat!) from the milk, and use the juice to flavor kefir & sweeten things in baking… the beans would come in handiest, I think. Anyway, just a thought! And seriously, good job!!

      1. Thanks, Christina. We actually have done government aid before (Food Stamps) while my husband was in school. It makes it even more difficult later on, to know that we could get “free food” simply by asking for it. But other than the quantity of meat, our diet hasn’t really changed much by not using food stamps. I personally think it’s God’s way of showing us greater blessing, by not relying on anything other than what He has given (well, at least that’s what I tell myself. 😉 )

  54. Thanks for the post! I’ve pretty much already cut out most grains and snacks out of our budget now. We drink raw milk, but it’s only about $5 a gallon here, and both my kids are allergic to milk, so we don’t buy that much of it. We do water kefir too, and my kids drink A TON of it, a couple gallons a week. We spend about $450 a month on groceries, including cleaning supplies and toiletries, but we eat out virtually never.

    The food choices seem way too slim for our family, though. I have two kids, and we easily go through 10-15 lbs of eggs a month and way, way, way more produce. My youngest has allergies and is doing GAPS right now (basically grain-free, dairy-free, starch-free), so I have to have lots of meat and produce because that’s like all he can have.

    1. And I could never do a budget like this on anything like GAPS. Without the grains to make it cheaper and more filling, it would be practically impossible. When we’ve done GAPS, we’ve actually had to up our budget in order to buy extra meat and produce.

      I should also say that I would definitely want to have more meat and produce than what is in this budget/meal plan. This is what I would do if I really had to cut things down and economize, but regularly our family goes through SO much more fresh produce (as well as preserved produce) than this, as well as several dozen more eggs (probably about 8 dz total) and more meat as well.

      1. I’m glad to see you addressed this. I was nodding at your menu but then realizing that we go through a 5lb bag of organic apples every 2 days (I have 4 kids under 6). We prob spend $200 just on produce every month. Or more. That’s why we’re planting a huge garden this year!

  55. I love this! Thanks for the list and suggestions. We do already eat this way, but it’s nice to see how others do it as well. I’m always looking for fresh ideas!

  56. So 250 is my actual budget but I am supposed to buy household items and diapers (until I can afford some good soap for my cloth ones) and there is no way my husband will eat lentils mixed into his ground beef. He wants to have steak once in a while too. And I have to pack him a huge lunch everyday because he works a hard physical job and needs energy. So I feel like I’m scraping the barrel and my goal over this next month is to really figure out the healthiest and cheapest way to do this. At this point I started just buying Aldis milk to make my yogurt because they say there is no hormones or antibiotics given to the cows. And I have been using Arnold bread products that my mom gets from her food pantry and shares with me. It I made my list as organized as yours is I’m sure we would do better.

    1. Hi Lori. I had t comment on your post. You have a very small budget to have to also buy diapers and household items. How many children do you have?
      I was wondering if it would be cheaper to purchase the good detergent for the cloth diapers than spend the money on diapers. Even if you have to spend $15-20 on it because it would probably last longer than the disposable diapers. Good luck!

    2. Make your own laundry soap! It is soo soo easy and safe to use on cloth diapers. There are lots of recipes on the web, and they are very inexpensive! I make a 5 gallon tub full for around $2.50. You do need to buy some of the supplies (washing soda and borax) in bulk, so perhaps going in with you mom or some friends to split the cost (total cost for all supplies for me was around $20 but I have enough supplies to make *years* worth of laundry soap and dish soap.)

      1. I use cloth diapers and I use a homemade recipe of borax+washing soda+sunlight laundry soap (in Canada – in the US I think they recommend Fels-Naptha).

  57. Thanks for putting this together! My husband and I are on a tight budget and our weekly food budget is about $70. I try to cook from scratch and make meatless dishes {or dishes where meat can be stretched}. My husband has frequently said, “I had no idea vegetarian meals could be so tasty.”

  58. Im moving in with you!! I would really like to hear more about coconut oil benefits and the water kefer I have tried to read up some on both but dont totally understand. I think the coconut oil would be good for my lupus and sjograns disease ,dryness etc as well as for the brain and heart . thanks g

    1. GLORIA- TOTALLY OFF TOPIC – but have you been tested for LYME disease – from a tick borne illness speciality lab like Igenex ? The regular doctor tests are very innacurate. (igenex.com) Many, many autoimmune disease are misdiagnosed and a person often has lyme instead- it is seriously a silent epidemic. And if you have Lyme the best diet is a Paleo type diet- gluten (and sugar) FEEDS the lyme bacteria. Check out midwestlymefoundation.com and click on the symptom page for more info.Also coconut oil is a big part of a Paleo diet . As newly diagnosed lyme sufferers our grocery budget has skyrocketed by cutting out the “healthy whole grains” but our waistlines have markedly decreased in size so i guess its a trade off ?;)

  59. I tried to look through the comments, but didn’t see it answered…
    my goodness, where are you finding 22 lbs of Whole Wheat for $8.78? Where I buy in bulk, it is still $1/lb (i.e. 22 lbs = $22). Do you grind your own? Otherwise, where are you finding such a deal? Thanks so much for the breakdown 🙂

  60. So fun to read your ideas on this, Stephanie! 🙂 We eat a lot of these things on a regular basis… the only difference is that the amounts listed are about a 2-week supply for our family instead of 1 month. That said — I feel happy because we eat abundantly on about $500/month! 😀

  61. Now you’ve got the theory… I’d like to see you do it, and factor in the actual cost of all those “homemade” foods you listed that there are not ingredients listed for.

    1. It’s not just theory. Our family used to eat this way and I made pretty much everything, although we currently spend more than this. In my follow up post, I explain various ways that I would further cut expenses and purchase more food and more of those extra unlisted ingredients.

      It would be an awesome experiment to go back and actually do this all over again and share the specifics, but with baby #4 arriving any day, I think I’m going to give myself a pass. 🙂

  62. SO nice to read a Canadian blog. I find the budget sheets from american bloggers discouraging, because food expenses are so much higher here, and the coupons aren’t nearly as good. THANKYOU for taking the time to do this. I do make most of our food from scratch already, but am looking for ways to organize my budget and grocery list – and to save. Wishing you a healthy pregnancy! Thanks again.


    1. It’s funny, I’ve actually found that a lot of food is WAY cheaper in Canada than in the US. My husband and I moved to Baltimore from Ottawa in August, and we’re really struggling to make ends meet on his grad student stipend. There are some things that are definitely cheaper (milk and cheese, plus some meat), but produce and grains are more than twice what I used to pay back home. I actually brought back a whole bunch of stuff after Christmas (I checked to make sure I could cross the border with it first) because food is so expensive here.

      1. Interesting. It must really depend on the area that you live in. When I go across the border to WA, things are much cheaper, and when I read prices from the midwest, I can’t believe how cheap things are. But I’m sure there are exceptions to this, but I’m sorry you have to live in one of those exceptions! 🙁

        1. I rarely find meat that inexpensive in Dallas, TX. I’m working on finding local, sustainable sources, but I doubt that will decrease my expenses. We really struggle with our grocery spending, blowing our budget excessively every month, even though I cook almost everything from scratch. Good summary though. I’ll keep working on our extravagance!

  63. Great article!
    We have always “amazed our friends”(lol) at how small of a grocery budget we get by on for the size of our family. Our family is shrinking now, down to 4 kids and 2 parents (including 2 teen boys)… they count for 1 extra, right? I keep trying to hover the grocery budget around 200/week. I have wanted to set some stores aside to help others or for “a rainy day”… or for those prep purposes we can’t all just throw thousands of dollars at. I have been working on what I think is a reasonable list of basics and longer lasting foods. Many of the things on this list are on my list! You’ve given me renewed encouragement to try to put some things back AND be able to still get what we need for now.
    We don’t like the feel of empty cupboards at the end of each week, but sometimes it happens, however “eating out the cupboards” has lead to some interesting new recipes and elicited creativity in the kitchen. …not to mention some better attitudes toward food, not as part of our entertainment, but sustenance and nutrition, and enough is enough… be thankful always.

    Also… making your own detergent IS a money saver! We all have certain things in our budgets which others don’t see as important. That is where simple discernment and prioritization come in. We had 2 children in college, earlier this year, and the needs of the household changed… we have to go with the flow and regularly re-evaluate what items are priority, what can wait, what can be done a different way(cheaper), and what may need done away with.


  64. We have a family of 4 and our monthly budget it between $75-100 a month. That being said everything is made from scratch. The only fresh produce we eat is what is in season. The rest is canned (at home) or frozen (at home) Realistically we could probably eat for a couple of months without going to the grocery store. We have our own eggs, can get milk locally (in 2 months we will have our own milk), our freezers are stocked with beef, chicken, and rabbit raised by ourselves. In the summer our budget is cut down to almost nothing because we have so many fresh items to choose from. If I had an extra $100 a month to shop with I would be stocking up even more. I try to keep at least 20 lbs of sugar and 30 lbs of flour on hand at all times. Watch for seasonal sales and match up with coupons where available. Buy in bulk, don’t shop at the mainstream grocery stores. Even if you have to drive a little bit out of your way it is sometimes worth it.

    1. How do you store your bulk items like sugar and flour- for freshness and to keep pests at bay?

    2. How do you store your bulk items like flour and sugar – for freshness and to keep pests at bay? I have a deep freeze and one fridge, along with very little pantry space or other storage space and have been trying to figure out if I can fit another fridge (even though I don’t want to use up that energy).

      1. I use food grade 5 gal plastic buckets to store my flour/sugar/rice. There’s a place called Firehouse Subs that sells them (previously used for pickles) for $2 each and the money goes to charity. Then they are well sealed so nothing can get in them (but make sure your kids close them completely!). I just keep them lined up right outside the kitchen door (mud room area)…they also double as a stool for shoe tying 🙂

      2. Throw a few bay leaves in the bucket of flour or containers of grains or cereal – they deter bugs and are easy to pull out so they don’t end up in your baking!!!

  65. Very interesting. For our family, fresh produce is more important than saving money, so it wouldn’t work for us. We easily go through $65 of produce weekly. I like that you laid it all out in an easy to understand and implement format. Good job!

  66. I actually only have about $250 a month for food. This is for a family of four (1 adult, and 3 kids ages 14, 8, & almost 2, all boys.)

    I try to buy minimally processed foods. I also buy very little meat. I do not buy any junk food or drinks, except almond milk. I do not have any sugar in the house. But still we usually have to go to food pantry before month is up. Also my family will usually give us left overs and other things because they know money is so tight. I work 6 days a week, so can’t work anymore.

    It is so frustrating because real foods cost more than processed, spinach was $7.99 a pound at store the other day. Although I wish we could have salad daily, at those prices we can’t afford even the spinach.

    The worst thing is even though I cook most things from scratch, is I am not that great a cook. Last night I made a huge pot of rice and beans from scratch. It was gross. No one wanted to eat it. Also things that flavor food like spices, sauces, vinegars, and oils blow the budget.

    Also my oldest has sensory issues and although he will eat lots of fruits and veggies, he doesn’t eat mixed foods.
    And my youngest can not have any foods with dyes (so we don’t have them in the house.)

    I will say, that we have never gone hungry. God has provided for us every day. And I know how blessed we are. But at times I am frustrated that providing real, whole foods for my boys, and myself seems such a hard job.

    I hope to try some of your receipes soon. Thanks for your blog.

    It is very tight.

    1. Becky,
      Be encouraged that God is faithful and will continue to provide and even when it’s tight or not what you would prefer to have it it still so blessed. God is crazy in love with you and your precious kids. He will never leave you or forsake you..Rejoice my friend Rejoice. Maybe look into food co-ops in your area where you can serve a certain amount of time for a certain amount of food for your time. Or we have in in KS a program called Angelfood ministries, churches purchase food as a wholesaler and pass the savings on to the families in the community no income guidelines or anything just order your meal packs…its not perfect on the “whole, clean” food deal, but it is getting better as people say what they prefer it will continue to improve.

      Blessing to you and yours, Meghan


    I’m a mother of seven and am always interested in learning more about sticking to my grocery budget. Tough for a foodie like me! 🙂 However, I think, because we cook from scratch and always eat at home, that our food budget is less than most families we know–even those with far fewer children. But, we can always do better, right?

    What I’ve recently challenged myself to do is to start building my pantry and emergency food supply–while still sticking to my food budget. I’ve started blogging my efforts along with a friend who is on the same journey.

    Your post is very inspirational!

  68. Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. I am noticing our CSA box is supplying most of our veggies this winter, so that would be almost half our budget. We have 7, so I guess that would be about a $350 budget; I am not sure I could do it!

    I know this is an “on paper” plan, but have you considered giving it a whirl?

    1. Well, we used to eat just like this all the time. So while this isn’t a plan we have followed recently, it’s extremely similar to ones that we used to follow a couple years ago (except that I accommodated the amounts based on our family’s current size). So, I know that it’s possible! 🙂

      And I think that with a family of 7, upping the budget to $350 sounds extremely reasonable.

  69. I really need to be on a budget like this but cannot imagine being able to make it happen! My 4 kids go through gallons of milk each month. Do you not serve milk to your kids at mealtime?

    1. No, I don’t serve milk at most mealtimes, though I wish I could. Where we live, raw milk is simply too expensive and so we get our dairy through a combination of some raw milk (over oatmeal, in smoothies, or sometimes by the glass), yogurt or kefir, raw cheese, and pastured butter. We get extra calcium and other nutrients through bone broth.

      Also, I have to note that this is an extremely penny-pinching budget for those who want to do the best they can on a very tight budget. We have eaten just like this in the past, but now that we have a larger budget, including more raw milk in the budget has been a priority. Now we go through more than 1 gallon per week, probably more like 2 gallons. We still don’t have milk with every meal, but the kids get it more often and I’m so glad that we can do that now.

  70. I followed this for my family this past winter and while I didn’t stick to it perfectly, our food budget was significantly lower than usual. Thank you!

    QUESTION, would you consider putting one of these together based on summer foods? Work for you, I know, but it would be SO helpful!

    1. I love hearing a success story! So glad that this worked for you! I’m taking some time off from writing this summer so that I can come back more refreshed for the fall, but I will keep it in mind if I feel inspired later this summer. 🙂

  71. We eat simply… salads, pasta with veggies, a little chicken, baked potatoes, veggie soup, beans and rice, omelets. But we get so tired of the same things, no variety. So thanks for the ideas!

  72. Thank you so much for this article! A friend just linked me to it, and I have to say…I am really impressed…I’ve read MANY posts and articles about eating on a budget, and I get so frustrated because we are trying to eat whole, real, unprocessed, truly healthy foods and healthy meats, and usually none of those things are addressed! We are currently on a budget of about $100 a week for a family of 6, so this was very incouraging! We do have a daughter with a milk allergy, so we do almond milk, and we currently can’t afford raw/organic milk…but I think that is going to be our next step. Trying to find quality beef has been my biggest challenge lately. Anyways, I am so excited to have some more meal ideas (too bad my hubby won’t eat tuna or salmon!)

  73. When you are boiling the chicken carcass and beef bones for broth, if you add approx 1/4 cup white vinegar to the water while boiling, the vinegar will leech calcium from the bones, adding further nutrition to the broth. As it is cooked quiet a while, there should be no taste of the vinegar at the end.

  74. Great article, very helpful!! I have a question, you mentioned buying the wheat berries and grinding them into flour… I am wondering with so many different types of wheat berries available which kind would work for most recipes (tortillas, bread, muffins, etc.) or do you need a few types? Thanks!

    1. I would say hard white wheat berries. It has a milder flavor than hard red berries and has all the same nutrients. If you are primarily using the flour for baking cakes and cookies, then you could go with a soft white wheat berry as the texture is very light, fluffy and airy, but hard white wheat berries will still perform wonderfully for these baked goods as well.

      So for taste, texture and versatility, I would say the hard white wheat berries.

  75. Thank you for the article! It is really inspiring.
    This year hubby started working a day less per week, and we thought it best to actually make and stick to a proper budget. Our system is simple. We made a list of the cheapest basic products (well like you did) and we always buy those. We also made an estimate of how much food we eat per day (protein, carbs, fats, fruits and veggies) and per week, and when we shop we try to just keep to those quantities.
    The key to our planning was to give ourselves a 2 euro (living in Europe here) break(bonus) per day we could spend on anything we wanted/craved. As in next to the basic list we could buy anything worth 2 euro for that day. So if we want beef, that’s like 4 euro more expensive per kilo than chicken (basic), so it’s worth a 2 day bonus. This allows for variation, and for small luxuries every now and then.

  76. I would add a lot more fruit, first, and vegetables if I still had money. And I’d go over the $250 a bit to achieve that, per person. Three fruits a day per person would be my minimum. I would also add coffee, and bacon for Sunday. 🙂 The bacon would be the best I could afford, because as well as a treat on Sunday, I could use crumbled bits on top of soup, and I’d be keeping the fat for cooking.

  77. Mary you don’t need to put vinegar in with the soup bones, the calcium comes out anyway, and be sure to include all the little gristle bits and the skin, and cook long enough for those to break down for really jelled broth. Then you cool, and skim the fat off. If you’ve got good quality chicken you can use the fat in cooking.

  78. I love this! Thank you! But I have to ask – for lunches, where you list “orange or apple slices, carrot/celery/cucumber slices,…raisins and apples” – are those each their own “meal”? Like just fruit for lunch? or veggies? I don’t think my family would be filled on such a small item for lunch but wondering if you just eat really light on this budget?? TY!

    1. PS: I did a “mock shop” with Stop & Shop’s online Peapod.com (Connecitcut) and tried as much as possible to match items and quantities. My cart came out to $336. I think I did have to buy more quantities of some items to get equal or greater than your list but… just FYI as it’s been interesting to read comments about pricing in various parts of the country. And also I wonder about how much 1 year later has affected food prices! 🙂

  79. Hi – I noticed fresh garlic was not on your list, which has always been a valuable staple for me for enhancing the immune system as well as flavor in lieu of salt and other flavor options with minimal nutritional value.

    Also, I am wondering why this site is for the “Christian homemaker” – does it not apply to anyone regardless of religious beliefs? I would think food is the prime common ground for people of all beliefs to meet and share ideas.

  80. This is an excellent list.

    We feed a family of 5 on about $200 a month. We do have a good-sized garden and suburban orchard, which is a huge help. Plus it insures we eat organic produce and a lot of it. In summer it’s not uncommon for us to have a meal that is almost completely from our garden.

    I shop at a restaurant supply for most of my baking ingredients and large sacks of beans and whole grains. It’s like getting Costco prices without the membership fee (or the temptation to buy stuff we don’t really need).

    I keep a sourdough starter and try to use it every week (I have some sitting on the counter right now waiting for the fermentation to make 2 loaves). Sourdough is more effective at disabling phytic acid than baker’s yeast. Phytic acid is the substance that binds minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc, and prevents our bodies from absorbing them.

    Great list, and good exercise in brainstorming how to feed your family well, while living on less.

  81. This was a good post to get me thinking. My problem is allergies. My daughter is severely allergic to gluten – so the whole family has to go gluten-free to keep her safe. My baby seems to be allergic to dairy, soy, corn, eggs and bananas. I am trying to figure out what we can eat to keep our budget down. We do get WIC for the baby, but he can’t eat any of the baby foods they give us and neither can my daughter, but my boys (8, 10, 12) eat the baby food fruit jars as snacks 🙂 I have 5 children in all. I just started making my own yogurt using regular 2% WIC milk (that’s all that is allowed) and granola (gluten-free oats at about $3.35 pound). I want to switch to grassfed meat (baby reacts to normal corn fed meat), but the cheapest I can find here is more than $7/pound. I just found it for $4.99 on sale at a local store (the date was 6 months ago, but it was frozen), so I bought all eight pounds of it (that’s all they had). I am looking into buying a 1/4 or 1/2 cow as a possibly cheaper solution. You gave me a few good ideas though…

Comments are closed.