In order to be economically efficient, at the end of every month, I write down and budget as much of the food and products we intend on buying for the upcoming month. This is so we can remain on budget and so I can know where we can spend or save more as emergencies come up. I've gotten pretty efficient at this. So efficient that I told my husband how many pounds of peanut butter we buy a month and he about died! Here are the magic numbers to feed our family of five:
25 dozen free-ranged eggs
30 lbs of apples
30 lbs of bananas
10 lbs of spinach
4 lbs of cheese
8 lbs of almonds
5 lbs of raisins
11 lbs of frozen wild blueberries
3 lbs of frozen raspberries
25 lbs of carrots
42 lbs of free-ranged chicken, grass-fed beef and 2.5lbs of free-ranged bacon
Of course this doesn't include our other fresh or frozen vegetables, milks, fruits or miscellaneous food items, but it does account for the bulk of what we buy. Knowing exactly what we need for the month helps me to not only stay within our tight budget, but it helps me to have diversity. It may sound funny to say that I have diversity when I buy a lot of the same items every month, but most people actually eat the same things every week and just don't realize it. When I read a recipe or a fruit or vegetable comes into season, it offers me opportunities to try new meals with the foods we love. We rotate between certain favorite meals, but are always trying new recipes as well.
Most people could not tell you exactly how much they spend on groceries a month. In addition, they could not tell you exactly what they buy every month. If you do not have a plan on what you are going to buy or how much you are allotted to spend, not only do you run the risk of overspending, but worse - overspending on foods you should not be buying! Whether it be an impulse buy or an item on sale, it does not mean you need to get it!
My favorite part about knowing what to buy is that I know exactly what we are eating, and that to me is worth paying the price of taking the time to budget every month. It's fun to show the kids how much we spend at each store and making sure we make our goals together. Their favorite part is being able to buy an extra pomegranate or organic fruit leather when we find we have a little extra room to play with the budget! As much as a budget can sometimes seem restricting, in the end, we have found it has brought us not only financial freedom, but better health as well. Take care and have fun budgeting!