Feeding a family of four for $300/month + my tryst with the Do-si-dos

I am training for Tough Mudder and my first sprint triathlon.  I’ve had a hard time jump-starting my training because of fun evening activities so I decided to give morning workouts another chance.  Today was Day #1.  I woke up at 5:10am and I’d like to say I sprung out of bed ready to hit the treadmill.  Instead, it was a 40 minute negotiation with the alarm clock and myself before I finally got myself up and on the treadmill.  Best. Decision. Ever.

I felt so good I decided today was the day to showcase the Michael Kors dress I got on clearance for $18 (it was previously off-limits because it was a little too snug when I bought it).  The problem?  I couldn’t figure out the belt.  I spent a few minutes fidgeting before I enlisted Matt’s help.  We spent another 15 minutes fidgeting before we decided on this tying maneuver

(I also learned these kinds of pictures are more difficult to take than you’d think!  Maybe someday I will do a post dedicated to pictures gone wrong)

My excitement about my morning workout, the dress, and possibly signing up for a St. Patty’s Day run had me feeling pretty good when these showed up at my desk:

After lunch, this happened:

A few minutes after that, this happened:

At that point, I was just glad I didn’t eat the wrapper.  I have zero willpower against Do-si-dos.  Besides, it’s for the kids.  I didn’t feel too bad because Matt and I have been eating a lot healthier the past few months by eating at home and bringing our lunch to work more often.

Cooking at home more often has led us to coupon-clipping (normal people style, not extreme style).  While flipping through Kiplinger’s Personal Finance today, I found a nice story about Carol Scudere, an Ohio woman who started Budget-Meals.org.  Her non-profit teaches families how they can eat well inexpensively (no extreme couponing required).  Based on her experience in the food industry, she believes most families of four should be able to eat well for $300/month.  The basics that I have learned and that this organization promote are:

  • Buy what you need.  Don’t buy food just because it is on sale (unless it is a non-perishable item you know you’ll eat and you want to take advantage of the deal)
  • Look for in-season fruit and vegetables.  A good place to check is Aldi.  They carry in-season fruits and vegetables to keep their costs lower.
  • Plan your meals for the week and make a list
  • Stick to your grocery list
  • Know what is worth buying in bulk.  We know we’ll use black beans so we’ll buy those if we see them on sale, but we have a 20 year supply of pickles that was a waste of money.

Matt and I invest about 20 minutes each week into clipping coupons and another 15 minutes picking out our meals for the week.  We don’t clip coupons for unhealthy food we don’t want to eat to avoid the temptation.  Our coupons go in a file and we only take what we need for the week or really great deals that are going to expire.  This has resulted in a 15-20% savings in our grocery bill!  We know because Cub and Lunds put it right on their receipt 🙂

Additional resources for tips on how to slash your grocery bill:

  • Click here for the Kiplinger’s article.  The Budget-Meals.org website also contains links to good online coupon sources here.
  • Carrots ‘N’ Cake has a Grocery Shopping 101 series of blog posts.  Click here to see her series.

Happy saving!

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3 responses to “Feeding a family of four for $300/month + my tryst with the Do-si-dos

  1. A bunch of walmarts are coming with a grocery section now. They’re way cheaper than cub.

  2. I will have to check it out. I like Cub because they have good coupons that we pair with the manufacturer’s coupons. They also give coupons for Holiday gas. But we aren’t brand loyal to our grocery store – wherever we can get quality at the best price 🙂

  3. I’ve always wanted to do a tough mudder!!! Oooo thin Monte, but my ultimate weakness are Samoas. Oh lordy

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