How I Feed my Hungry Husband and Myself on $450 a Month……Usually

budget, couponing, saving money, Uncategorized / Thursday, May 29th, 2014

I was out for a run and listening to the Dave Ramsey show a couple of weeks ago and he was advising a caller about setting up a budget for his first household with him and his new wife. Dave mentioned budget items such as rent, utilities, and groceries, but then said that the average two person house will spend $500-$1000 on groceries and eating out a month. My first reaction was “OMG! That’s so much money!” (Well, actually I cursed out loud while running but let’s keep this PG). Don’t believe that number? Check out this You Need A Budget comment thread amd this very neat calculator from Mother Jones. Many people have separate grocery and eating out budgets and rolled together you can get a pretty big number, of course depending on where you live and the purchase choices you make.

In 2010 the USDA said that the average family of two between the ages of 19-50 have a grocery budget that ranges from $347.50 on a frugal plan, to $550.60 on a moderate plan, and $688.60 on a liberal plan. And let’s remember, food prices have increased over the past few years.

We would love to spend hundreds more a month on groceries and eating out (and my husband would eat steak daily and be a very happy man) but then we wouldn’t be able to pay other bills, much less try to dig our way out of debt! So we budget $450 a month for food money for the two of us. That is up from the $400 a month we had for a while but I got a raise and we struggle to keep inside our food budget each month so I increased it a bit.

Our $450 budget includes groceries, cleaning & household items, and eating out . And you know what, it’s a small budget. I coupon and shop sales, try not to buy a lot of pre-packaged or expensive items, but food costs a lot (especially for my always hungry husband). I often see food as a line item that I try to cut as much as possible because it is a variable (though necessary) expense. But because it is a necessary I also know that our budget for food can rise and fall depensing on needs and how much we are cooking at home, so we try to plan ahead to bring lunches and snacks with us and to cook at home as much as possible. We certainly are not perfect about keeping inside our food budget, but we try!

In order to try to make our checkbook balance we gave ourselves a tight grocery budget and we make it work. And to show how it works, I thought it would be a cool experiment to share with you all what we spent our food money on each month. Yes, you can eat healthy on a budget. Yes, you can still eat meat. Yes, stocking up when you have a coupon and an item is on sale is totally a smart shopping strategy. We are all looking for a way to stretch our dollars and saving on groceries is a great way to do it.

So here’s what we spent our food money on over the last month. We grocery shopped under budget and bought healthy foods, but added eatingh out expenses busted our budget last month. How does it compare to your grocery budget? Please share in the comments! I’m all for a little budget voyeurism.

Winn Dixie & Albertsons
Sara Lee wheat bread- $2.69 (on sale)
2 Butterball lunch meat @$4.59 – $1.00 coupon= $8.18
dry onion soup- $1.00
2% sharp cheddar cheese slices- $2.99 (on sale)
Colby jack cheese slices- $2.99 (sale)
Frozen spinach- $.88 (on sale)
8 Cadbury eggs- $.25 (on clearance) = $2.00
Tyson frozen chicken fajita strips- $6.99 (sale)
2 bunches of bananas- $1.48 ea= $2.94
Vidalia onions- $1.83
Diet Dr. Pepper 20oz- $1.59
Pot poast- $8.84 (on sale)
Red onion- $1.03
Sliced portabello mushrooms- $3.99
3 bags Green Giant sweet potato chips- $1.00 ea (on sale) – $.50 coupon= $2.50
2 bags Luxury shell pasta- $1.67 (BOGO on sale)
Skinnty Girl agave sweetener- $3.49
Aquafina Splash mixed berry drops- $3.29
2 2.5lb packages boneless skinless chicken breasts-$8.52 ea (on sale) = $17.04
Asparagus- $1.87 (on sale)
Gallon Skim Milk- $4.55
M&M chocolate bunny- $1.00 (clearance)
Bag of jellybeans- $.62 (clearance)
Newspaper- $2.00
2 dozen large eggs- $1.25 ea (sale) = $2.50
bag of Bugles- $1.50 (clearance)
Sunflower seeds- $1.00
Quick oats- $3.59
2 Chobani greek yogurt containers- $.88 (sale)- $1.76
2.5 lbs ground beef- $8.61 (sale)
Jenny-O turkey bacon- $3.49
Hillshire Farm turkey keilbasa- $3.49 (sale)
seedless red grapes- $8.17 (sale)
roma tomatoes- $.77
jalapeno pepper- $.04
5 lb flour- $2.49 (on sale)
Purevia stevia- $2.49
2 loafs Nature’s Own Whole Wheat Bread- $4.49 (bogo sale)
Quaker chocolate chip granola bars- $2.50 – $1 coupon= $1.50
Tic Tac- $1.29
Libby’s Pumpkin- $1.99
2 cans black beans- $.89 ea (sale)= $1.78
Worcestershire sauce- $1.69 (sale)
Mio- $3.00 (sale)- $1 coupon = $2.00
big bag of Mahatma rice- $4.99 (sale)
Triscuits- $2.50 (sale) – $1 coupon = $1.50
2 3pk chicken breasts- $10.98 (bogo sale)
2 beef roasts- $14.20 (bogo sale)
2 1lb Oscar Mayer smoked turkey lunchmeat- $4.99 (bogo sale)
Toufayan whole wheat pita bread- $1.00 (sale)
lowfat cottage cheese- $2.69
gallon skim milk- $4.65
18pk eggs- $2.89
Kraft shredded parmesean- $4.79
shredded cheese- $3.00 (sale)
colby jack cheese slices- $1.99 (sale)
beef ramen noodles 6pk- $1.00 (sale)
2 bags Luxury tri-color rotini- $.83 ea (BOGO sale)= $1.67
can tomato sauce- $.44
can whole kernel corn- $.68
4 cans black beans- $.68 ea (sale) = $2.80
2 cans diced tomatoes- $.68 ea = $1.36
can chili beans- $.70 (sale)
2 Crystal Light liquid- $3.99 ea – $2/2 store coupon -1 $1/1 manuf.  coupons= $3.98 for 2
2 packages Butterball turkey sausage- $2.50 ea (sale) – $1/2 coupon= $4.00 for 2
Sanitas tortilla chips- $2.00
3.2lb Ground beef value pack- $9.69 (sale)
gallon of skim milk- $4.65
18pk large eggs- $3.19
Pillsbury Pizza Crust- $2.79
Breakstone sour cream- $1.49 – $1 coupon= $.49
2 Kraft block cheese- $4.49 for 2 (bogo sale) – $2/2 coupon= $2.29 for 2
some other items I forgot to include because I threw away a receipt (drat!)
=$254.40 (includes tax)

groceries including crackers, big ol’ thing of olive oil, cereal, popcorn, chips, dishwashing detergent, etc.- threw away receipt again
= $63.40

Smoothie King
Smoothie- $5.98

Dunkin Donuts
Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich- $4.02
Medium Iced Coffee- free with coupon

Little Caesars
Large Cheese Pizza and Cheesy Bread=$10.36 (includes tax)
Large Cheese Pizza- $5.45

Raising Cane’s
2 Box Combos with soda= $15.22

2 Sodas at the movies- $9.80
Popcorn (free with coupon)

Starbucks Grande Iced Coffee- $2.67

Chai Latte- $3.27

Taking my folks out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant= $113.10

$60 spent in cash at restaurants in the French Quarter and for delicious cajun food in Baton Rouge when my folks were visiting

Red Bull at Gas Station- $2.18

Popcorn, Dippin Dots, and hot dog at baseball game- $12.50

Sushi/Hibachi Dinner to celebrate friend’s graduation- $51.67

Auntie Anne’s pretzel- $3.70 (mmmmmmm……)

Five Guys- $10.77

Hello Sushi lunch date with hubby- $28.58

Grand Total: $687.07

So much for sharing how we stayed on budget last month! Grocery-wise, we were under budget at $317.80. We got healthy foods, meat, snacks, and essentials for the month and didn’t pay an arm and a leg at the store thanks to shopping sales and using coupons. I am getting back into couponing more recently and while I have used some this past month I know I can do better!

The real budget buster this month was eating out. My parents came into town last month and we went out to eat a lot to give them an opportunity to experience Louisiana’s culinary delights that I don’t know how to cook at home (at least not well): alligator po-boys, gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, boudin balls, blackened catfish, beignets, and other delicious treats.

We also attended a celebration dinner at a Hibachi restaurant for a friend who just graduated from LSU which was an added expense though worth it to celebrate her accomplishment!

The extra meals out really add up and are usually not so healthy, so we are planning to eat out way less next month and I am meal planning to make sure we have delicious, healthy, and cost-effective meals at home.

What is your family’s grocery/food budget? How did you do with sticking to your budget last month?

4 Replies to “How I Feed my Hungry Husband and Myself on $450 a Month……Usually”

  1. Do you have a kroger near you? One of the mystery shops you listed pays you $4 plus $9 in groceries if you shop them. I did 3 this weekend and got $27 in groceries plus $12 in fees, which is my weekly budget. We have a ton of Kroger stores near us. Plus, ask the meat department when they mark down their ground beef. A few weeks ago, I got 2lbs of ground beef for $.99 on clearance. I just froze it until I could cook it.

    1. Great tips Stephanie! I love mystery shopping at grocery stores for the free groceries. And I keep an eye out for those meat markdowns and sales too.

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