Our Current Real Food Budget

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Interested in our real-life grocery budget and healthy-eating goals? Here is what is working for our family right now.

real-food-budget-pin-graphic

We change our budget frequently to accomodate different health and budgeting goals. Saving money and eating healthy is a constant balancing act. In some seasons, we tighten the budget. In others, we stretch it a little more so we can eat better food.

Last year, we easily fed our family of 5 big eaters on whole, real food (some organic, but not a lot) on $90/week. Read more about Real Food Cheap here.

Right now, we are intensifying our healthy eating goals and changing the grocery budget to fit them. Chris is fully recovered from his 13th surgery, we’re both back in the gym hitting certain fitness and nutrition goals, and we’re trying to eat mostly organic meat (which is always a budget-buster).

So when I share our goals, meals, and numbers, remember this: saving money and eating healthy is not a competition. Every person has different needs based on their health needs, the stores and markets available to them, cost of living in their area, food allergies, and how much they are trying to save.

This is what works for our family right now, and depending on what life throws at us this year, we will probably change it in a few months.

Squash baked oatmeal

Current Food Goals

Here are our current nutrition goals:

  1. Fitness & Nutrition – certain macros, amount of protein, etc.
  2. Daily shakes/smoothies for several members of the family
  3. We eat mostly vegetarian before dinner
  4. Mostly organic meat
  5. Organic fruits and vegetables as we can
  6. I’m trying to fill half my plate with veggies at every meal
  7. Everyone else generally fills half their plate with veggies at lunch and dinner
  8. Lower gluten, dairy, corn, and eggs for different members of the family
  9. At dinner, I try to eat just protein and veggies
  10. Dessert once a week or maybe a small treat once a day (because somehow candy still ends up at our house through free kids’ events and such)

We are not legalistic about these goals. They are just general guidelines to help us eat well!

green smoothie with a strawberry

What We Eat

Following these goals, our meals look like this:

Breakfasts for the Kids:

  • Toasted Oatmeal
  • Simple Baked Oatmeal
  • Eggs, toast, fruit
  • Sourdough pancakes (weekend treat)
  • Cereal with almond milk from the scratch and dent section at Kroger

Our older two kids are 9 and 7, and we are transitioning to letting them make their own breakfasts.

Breakfast for Chris:

  • Smoothie
  • Granola bar
  • Sourdough pancakes (weekend treat)

Except for the pancakes on the weekend, he makes his own breakfasts.

Breakfast for Me:

  • Eggs, sautéed veggies, and some kind of starch (sweet potato, quinoa, or brown rice)
  • Soup (which I know is weird, but it works for me)
  • Sourdough pancakes (weekend treat)

Once a week, I try to prep the veggies and starch ahead of time, so breakfast is easy to throw together every morning.

View this post on Instagram

Breakfast sauté = mishmash of markdown veg (peppers, greens, onions, and mushrooms I think?), eggs, and hot sauce. I feel better when I eat lots of veggies, and once I get into the habit, I crave them. Having the veggies already cooked and in the fridge makes a big difference (because I also like cereal for breakfast too, so veggies need to be easy). . . . . If you want to see what we eat in real life while trying to save money and eat healthy, I created a few highlights on IG with our real life meal photos. Hopefully it will help you find practical ideas (and realize it’s okay to serve leftovers 3 days in a row)! . . . . ••••• Hot sauce on eggs and veggies or no? 🔥 . . . . #veggies #eggs #healthybreakfast

A post shared by Steph Jenkins • Save 💵 • Eat 🍎 (@cheapskatecook) on

Lunch

We are transitioning to letting the older kids make their own lunches, so they look different every day. We try to fill at least half our plate with veggies. In general, here is what everyone at home eats:

  • Snacky lunch (veggies, fruit, cheese, olives, bread, muffins, etc.)
  • Vegetable soup with a few crackers or tortilla chips
  • Cumin Beans or White Bean Chili
  • Salad
  • Leftover dinner

Chris takes care of his own lunches, either eating out at work or bringing something. After years of brown bagging his lunch, we decided to budget for more lunches out, and he generally sticks to sandwiches or salads.

chicken, yellow rice, and veggies

Dinner

This always depends on what we find on sale that week, how many nights we are away from home, and what we have lurking in the pantry and freezer.

In general, I create a meal plan based on:

  1. What we already have (rice, beans, pasta, chicken, beef, frozen veggies, condiments)
  2. What is on sale (sometimes planned ahead or found randomly on markdown at Kroger that week)
  3. What we are doing that day (will we be gone in the evening? Do I have time to cook or do we need to plan ahead?)

Right now, these meals are part of our regular rotation:

Once a week, I’ll make something more interesting or fun, but having this list on hand keeps me from wondering what in the world to make each week.

picadillo

Our Current Budget

While following these goals – sticking to organic meat and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, hitting our macros and accommodating some food sensitivities – our budget is $500/month.

This is not our smallest budget.

We could squeeze it tighter if we needed. After some experimenting last year, I learned that our family of 5 can get it down to $320/month if we don’t worry too much about organics, but still eat plenty of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and not much processed or boxed food.

Saving money and eating healthy is a constant balancing act between our knowledge about healthy eating and our real life needs and goals. Each family has to find what works for them. Right now, our goal is to eat more organics and pay more attention to our health and well-being.

In other seasons, we will crack down and focus more on saving money.

What About You?

What does your grocery budget look like right now? Are there areas you want to improve? Let me know in the comments!

If you need some budget-saving, healthy-eating inspiration, we share simple, frugal, real food menu plans every month for FREE in the Cheapskate Cooks’ 1-Min Email. Get the next one here.



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