Thursday, September 09, 2010

How I Do It: Grocery Budget at $125/week for Family of 5 Plus 7 Pets

A reader asked how I managed to average about $125/week for a family of five with four cats and three dogs.

Well, dear reader, I cook and bake mostly from scratch. I have found it to be more filling than store-bought foods. I make our own desserts - cakes, cookies (this recipe is good!), brownies. In the Winter, I make a big container of homemade hot cocoa mix. I make muffins, quick breads, pizza, lasagne, burritos, etc.

I take inexpensive cuts of meats and marinate them or cook them in the crockpot until they are so tender you can cut them with a fork. I prepare simple meals using very basic ingerdients like hamburger, rice, potatoes, pastas, and beans. I buy frozen/canned vegetables. I buy in bulk when I can - canned goods, flour, white/brown sugar, cooking oil, chocolate chips, cocoa

I shop the sales and use coupons on some products. We use generic brands if it's cheaper. I have a Reward Card that I use, also. Pet foods usually have coupons and sales. It's great to combine the two to get the most savings. Or try buying bags of pet food at a feed store/co-op. Here we can get a 40# bag of dog food for $18!

I also like to find substitutes that work well. When I make Po'Boys, instead of using those expensive sub rolls, I substitute with hot dogs buns. Bread is bread, after all! Hot dogs buns are nearly $2 cheaper than those rolls. I also like to use them to make garlic bread to go with pasta dishes. Just butter, sprikle with galic salt and bake until golden. Yum - yum!

It may take some time to reduce your grocery budget, but it can be done! The more you work in your kitchen and experiment, the more money you can save as your cooking/baking skills expand. Don't be afraid to try new things and be creative!


Laurie said...

Dear Tracy,
Excellent advice!
I find in a way it's kinda fun seeing what I can make from very little.
You have 7 pets ~ really? :)
We have another black cat that has been hanging around outside our house. I call him Mr. Peabody, but I refuse to let him inside! I do feed him though:)

Oh, and thanks for your comment on my last post. I always fear when I write that kind of stuff people will think I'm weird. Well, I already know I'm weird!
And...your new profile photo is adorable!

sarah said...

I've tried doing this kind of thing. Baking doesn't really work when there are just two of us, except for muffins which we can freeze - otherwise, we eat far too many cookies "so they don't go stale"! ;-)

I've also tried things like making my own pizza - it costs about $2.50 to buy a store bought one, but about $7 to buy all the ingredients to make it myself!

The worst thing here is meat, it is so expensive - oh and dairy products, which is ridiculous as we live in a dairy farming country! $7 for a block of cheese!!

But I am slowly getting there. I'm nowhere near as clever as you though. And I only have one little dog (and a bird) but she costs enough!! I've told my dd we simply can't afford any more pets! Sheesh, they're more expensive to run than children! ;-)

Tracy said...

Yes, I really do have seven pets, Laurie!

We have four cats: Kitty, Clover, Zoe and CryBaby.

We also have three dogs: Gracie, Mr. Cheeky, and Zeus.

The girls are always trying to talk us into getting rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, chickens and ducks......

But we are getting NO MORE! Seven is enough, IMHO. :)

Storybook Woods said...

So true Tracy, I feed us on $100 a week for 4, only abunny. But it is all on cook from scratch xoxo Clarice

Tammy N said...

You go gal!! {{{high fives}}}

April said...

Thanks Tracy. I am going to give it a shot cooking more from scratch. We are vegetarians, so the meat is out for us. Why is produce SO expensive?? And we use organic when we can which is a nightmare for the pocket book.. $6/gallon for milk! And with 3 kids, we go through a LOT of it!

Thanks for the tips!!

Lyn said...

I cook from scratch due to health, but it really does taste so much better I think. All the things you make sound delicious, and I'm sure that really helps your family's food budget.