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Whole30 on a Budget: 7 Ways I’m Saving Money And Doing Whole30

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I posted a pic of me trying to fall in love with La Croix water and asked for advice.  While I received tons of great ideas I also got a lot of questions about how to do Whole30 on a budget.

I am 15 days in and here is what I have learned about staying Whole30 compliant AND saving some money.

1.  I started shopping at  ALDI.  For produce, organic meats and organic nuts, spices, eggs etc. ALDI has had the best prices by far.  It is a little out of the way for me but I make it buy about once a week.  You could also price match ALDI at  Walmart.

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2.  I still use the Buy Ahead Principle. When something you know you will use is on a great sale or/and you have a coupon stock up!  I stocked up on olive and coconut oil from Vitacost.com  before starting. They have  great prices, frequent sales and usually Free shipping on their brand.   (By the way if you are new to Vitacost and click thru this link you’ll get a free $10 credit!)

RXBar3.  I have price alerts set up on Amazon. Compliant Larabars and RX bars are about the Only way I have survived thus far.  So I set up a price alert for when they go on any kind of sale.

4.  I menu plan like a crazy woman It is a major step up from my former minimalist planning. Now all the produce and meat that makes its way into our house is planned for, so it does not go bad before I use it.

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5. I have scored some surprisingly Great deals on organic and natural meats at Target.  Who knew?  If I hit my target at just the right time they have marked down meats considerably.  Like today for example, organic grass fed beef for $4.99/lb.  It was on sale for $7.99, then they had $3 off coupons attached.

6.  I don’t buy everything organic. I buy what I can and what is on sale or close in price to non organic. If the organic alternative is not on sale or just too much I buy the best I can and don’t worry about it. 🙂

7.  I buy a lot less “stuff”.  Shopping just the outside aisles you buy a lot less other stuff. No creamer, no chips, no crackers, no cheese sticks, no yogurt, no honey, no tortillas…. you get the point. 🙂  This diet cuts out a lot of our regular items and that frees up some room in the budget.

This is how I am making Whole30 happen in our house.  If you are or have been on it what are you best money saving ideas? I would love to hear them!

Drought Increases Food Prices: Simple Tips to Help Your Grocery Budget

The last two nights I have actually watched the evening news I have seen stories on the current droughts and the predicted rise in food costs. The USDA predicts the drought to increase food prices by 3-4% in 2013.

We are likely to see a larger than normal price increase on milk, butter, beef, pork, chicken, pasta, soy milk, cheese, breakfast cereal, powdered milk, gluten-free products, pet food, vitamins, cooking oil, and frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables.

With that in mind here are a few thoughts on how to protect your  grocery budget. ( I think these are just good tips for frugal grocery shopping any time.  By doing these now you will be able to take the edge off prices increases.)

Make Room in Your Freezer

  • Buy fresh produce now when it goes on sale and freeze or can it so you do not have to buy as much next year.
  • Freeze some cheese. When you find a good deal on cheese and butter (or other dairy products) go ahead and buy some to freeze.
  • Buy beef and chicken now. It has become very expensive for ranchers to feed their herds so, it is likely we will see the price of beef, chicken and pork temporarily decline as ranchers sell off stock.

Use coupons and sales to stock up now.

I know many of you already do this but it would be good to start focusing on items that are most likely to increase in price.

  • Stock up on cereal, pasta and canned fruit and vegetables now. You should be able to find cereal for $1 or less, pasta for no more than $.50 per box and some good deals on canned food.
  • Popcorn is a favorite frugal snack around here- stock up now.
  • Stock up on wheat flour now. (It can be frozen too!)

Buy Local

  • Consider joining a CSA Program– your area may not be as affected by the drought and traditionally organic farms fare a little better in those conditions.
  • Plant your own garden!
  • Learn to can your own veggies! You can check out Canning Across America for tips and recipes, or look for a canning class in your area.

Get Out Your Cookbooks

  • Start cooking one or two vegetarian meals a week.
  •  Start making more of your family’s food from scratch, processed foods (which we all know are not as good for you)  will also increase in price in 2013. (Remember the Maple Pecan Breakfast Cookie Experiment?  Still one of my faves.)
  • Don’t waste food. Start menu planning and considering how to use leftovers.

Make Room in Your Budget

  • Start trying now to add a little more money to your monthly food budget. Either use it to stock up on or save it until you start seeing a rise in your monthly grocery spending. Either way reallocating a small amount to your budget now will help you be prepared.

These tips are basically what I saw my grandma and mom do as I was growing up on a Midwestern farm. I wish now I had paid more attention while they were canning , freezing, baking and preserving. I could not do any of that now.  I am, however, an expert on picking vegetables, shucking corn, snapping beans and coring apples. So if anyone wants to team up…..

What are your best tips for keeping your food budget the same when prices rise?

Going Organic- Start Here

Margaret over at Blue Frog Creations recently did a post on the top 12 foods to eat organic. She says that by choosing organic for these foods, you can reduce the amount of pesticides you ingest by 80%.

She also does a great job of giving local advice on hoe to buy these without totally blowing your grocery budget. If  prefer organic or are at all considering the switch I would highly recommend reading her post!

Budgeting Your Spending in 2010

I have received numerous questions about how I set my budget, stick to a budget, and just how to budget… so, here are the basics of how I budget. It is not too complicated which may make some of you excited and may be disappointing to others.

Grocery Budget

How did I set a budget? THE HUSBAND and I came up with a goal then we tried to meet it for a few months. Our number was a little ambitious, we made some adjustments and after a few months we settled in on $400/month. That is just what works for our family right now.

How do I stay on budget? This is a pretty low tech system. I have five envelopes. The beginning of each month I put $100 in 4 of the envelopes and I know I have $100 to spend that week. This includes food, toiletries, diapers, cleaning supplies, dog food, over the counter meds, etc. (Usually when the money is gone I am done spending that week. Occasionally something will come up and I need to borrow from another envelope.)
The fifth envelope is for left over money. Once in a while I will have some money left over that goes to the fifth envelope and is used to cover gaps in longer months, stockpile or whatever else I need.

Overall Household Budget

THE HUSBAND bears most of the burden for tracking the overall budget of our house.  He loves his super detailed excel spreadsheet and working through all of the numbers. I am so thankful for that- I dread tasks like that.  If you already have a budget and are looking for ways to track it you could design your own spreadsheet or use something like this  Excel Savings Tracker which you can download and use for free thanks to The Coupon Project or the free budget software here .

If you do not have a budget read on-

Setting a budget– I’ll keep it simple

Tell all of your money where to go at the beginning of each month.

1. Write down how much money you have to spend exactly how much income you will have that month.
2.Make a list of all your expenses. Your giving, bills, debts etc.
3. Pay each one of them on paper.
4. Look at the money you have left and assign that money a category. For us this includes entertainment/eating out money, money for gifts or other things we will need that month and we have an extra envelope with a little money in it in case we blow our budget or just need to splurge- a little.

That is a quick overview of how we budget. The basic idea is you spend only the money you have and you decide each month how to spend it.
If you are really wanting to get on a budget, get out of debt (which is why we started budgeting a few years ago) or just get spending under control I highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey. Believe me, when THE HUSBAND introduced this years ago I was less than enthusiastic. However, after a while on the system I can say it has been a major blessing in our life. The planning and saving has helped through some very lean times and just being on the same page with finances makes things a lot easier.

What about you- Do you budget? Are you planning to start a budget this year? Do you have any budgeting secrets we need to know? What are your financial goals?

How Does your Grocery Budget Compare?

groceriesThanks to Tiffany, Honey and  Emily an interesting discussion about grocery budgets started in the comments after my Weekly Menu post. I thought it would be fun to continue it and get more input!

What is your grocery budget? What does it include? Does it include eating out? Do you eat out?

Let me begin by saying the grocery budget is still an evolving thing around here. Each family is different with unique tastes and needs. So, the point of this discussion is not to make anyone feel bad rather to help us all figure out if our budget is in line with our families needs. And to encourage each other with ideas if our grocery budget needs a little tweaking!

What is my budget? I am consistently down to under $100/week.  My goal is $75 and a few times I have come in at about $60.  It still always seems to even out to about $400/month.

What does it include? Pretty much anything consumable I bring into the house: Food, diapers, cleaning supplies, toiletries, over the counter meds, paper goods, etc.

Does it include dining out? NO. We do eat out some. Like I said in the post, any food I do not have to make always tastes better to me! I am a firm believer that an occasional meal out helps moms keep their sanity, and that is priceless. :0)  We budget $50/month for dining out.

The ladies also mentioned a helpful link. The USDA a chart with nation wide averages on grocery budgets. It has budgeting at four levels based on food preparations. If you scroll to the bottom of the page there are links that describe each level. The averages are national so you will have to account for where we live. They seemed a little high to me but, check them out and let me know what you think.

Also, how are you doing on your budget? What does it include? Any great tips to help others starting out or trying to get their budgets down a little?