Now that you’ve gotten through that excellent, grammatically correct title, I have a confession. Sharing our weekly budget has started to mess with me. I like approaching topics like this because I enjoy sharing what it costs to eat the meals we have on a regular basis and hearing how others make food budgets work. However, inevitably when discussing money, things get uncomfortable. I’ve gotten multiple emails from people asking what percentage of income should go towards food or what amount is reasonable to spend each month. This makes me squeamish because I am not a financial expert and it truly is so personal.
You see, food is my thing. I’d call myself a foodie, but the word is obnoxious. On the other hand, my best pair of black heels are from TARGET, 3 years ago. I have 1 pair of yoga pants (maternity) that I wash so often they are bound to disintegrate soon. My house isn’t decorated fancily. Our coffee table was a steal from Salvation Army and I LOVE IT. Hailey has a rotation of about 6 outfits. We don’t have cable. I’m 100% fine with all of this. I simply share it to highlight that FOOD is where I choose to invest my money. I really love delicious, simple, healthy food.
So here is where the problem came in…
If you look at my grocery haul from last week versus my grocery haul for this week, there are some differences.
Green tea and homemade Lara Balls
I’ve shared before that I don’t buy everything organic, but try to as often as possible, especially if it’s something Hailey will be eating. Meats and produce take precedent, but lately, with the budget, I’ve let the rest of it mostly fall by the wayside.
However, after a presentation I went to last weekend on personal health, I’m fired back up about the importance of the quality of food my family eats on a consistent basis. I truly view it as an investment in our health. I’m not aiming to be perfect or all organic 24/7 (I’ll still chow down on some pimento cheese on date night or greasy hash browns at Lake Norman Tavern), but I’ve refocused on the quality of items I bring into my home.
Love Grown’s new Super Oats with almond milk and frozen blueberries. Oranges on the side.
Since sharing the budget, I started buying the cheapest version of some items, like sour cream, to save $0.50. The purpose of our budget was to keep an accurate count on how much we need to set aside each month to eat the way we want to eat. It was not designed to have me buy the cheapest food possible, but rather to just make us aware of what we were spending. After all, knowledge is power. However, I realized I was competing with myself to shave off a few bucks and sacrificing quality to do so.
It left me feeling stressed and frustrated. Sometimes I was even a little snappy when David bought his $10 six pack of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA without consulting the budget first. But beer is his thing. He works his butt off. Shouldn’t he be able to have a nice beer if he wants one without me getting snippy? I think so.
Green leaf lettuce, brown rice, black beans, diced tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, jalapenos and cilantro.
I certainly still plan on sharing the rest of the month’s budget and things I’ve learned with you. However, please know I’m just sharing what works for us, not trying to dictate what others should do. I AM about learning how to save money while eating good food, like by using bulk bins. However, I’m not willing to sacrifice the quality of our food to save a few bucks.
Vanilla yogurt, granola, toasted coconut almonds (mmm!)
Thank you Blue Diamond for the surprise delivery!
Typical evening scene- almonds and wine and a mess.
I just felt like I wasn’t being completely honest. I believe in enjoying life and not stressing over every bite of food that goes into my mouth. However, I also believe in bringing high quality foods into my kitchen. I figure if we eat high quality foods MOST of the time, then the meals and treats out are just fine.
Lentil chili with sour cream and jalapenos (x2)
I no longer view going over the budget as failing. Who knows, I might still wind up under budget, but I don’t want to eat beans and rice all next week just so I can tell you guys that ‘I did it!’ That wouldn’t be honest.
Thanks Jenn for letting me hijack WIAW for a rambling budget discussion
How do you manage the quality/budget aspect of meal planning?
What do you tend to spend your money on?
I try to keep within my budget and just get things we “need” but it’s always hard for me. I take a list with me but usually that doesn’t help much. Target always gets me.
Everyone has priorities, and yours is family and the food you feed them.
So much like my household.
I pay enormous amounts monthly to feed my family. It is by far the largest bill we have monthly, and I am ok with that.
I don’t think quality needs to be sacrificed to live on a budget. Nor does everything have to be organic to be quality. A budget might mean buying non-organic oranges and bananas and store brand organic cream cheese. Some people’s budget require no sacrifices. I think you are correct in saying a budget
Is personal and should be what your family thinks necessary. I think you can still use some helpful budgeting tips people have given. I think the biggest way to not sacrifice quality is shopping the sales ad, buying in bulk, and stocking up on items when they are on sale (not too much though). I think meal planning is huge to staying on busget. I also try to have a meatless night. we have a lot of beef as my daughter is allergic to chicken and we have a ton of beef from a farm. Before we got the cow, which gave us about 10-12 steak cuts, we honestly only had steak when going out to a nice dinner a couple times a year and usually once or twice at home. We usually save most seafood for eating out and only occasionally at home. I wish I could find a way to fit more wild salmon into our budget. Our biggest expenditure other than our mortgage is food. I like to spend my
Personal money on coffee:)
Brittany Dixon says
Haha, I’ll bet you aren’t the only one who likes to splurge on a nice coffee!
I agree that organic isn’t the end-all-be-all definition of healthy. I think I meant to say that I’m comfortable investing more in our food and wanted to relive myself of the guilt I felt for doing so. I feel like I go a pretty good job of not spending extravagantly and utilizing money-saving techniques (just like you, I love throwing in some meatless meals!) and enjoy hearing others’ suggestions. I wish we had a big freezer because I’d LOVE to go in on a cow like you mentioned. I’ve been offered a cow share, but sadly would have no place to put it.
Thanks for weighing in!
I really have enjoyed your budgeting/meal planning series! It has helPed me to meal plan better. I agree that you should never feel guilty for feeding your family quality food. I think you do an excellent job of utilizing meal planning to save money! If you are interested in buying local meats, I would really consider the cost of a deep freeze. My husband got a buck this year so we invested in the deep freeze for that. Then we also got the great deal on the cow. It is great for stocking up on frozen veggies and fruit when on sale and also for freezing our garden produce and our blackberries we grow! We always eat the strawberries and raspberries beforE we can freeze them!
Food is the biggest spend in our household. I order groceries online and since baby girl started BLW 3 months ago, organic ingredients are the big ticket items on my list, and I’ve noticed the difference in our shopping bill. I try not to fret if I overspend, so long as we’re eating well/healthy.
I think you are smart to point out that everyone chooses to spend their money and prioritize it differently and it really isn’t anyone’s business how another family chooses to do that. While I try to buy a lot of non-processed foods for our family I’ll admit that in some categories the cheaper option wins out sometimes. In our 5 years of marriage we have had some financial ups and downs and I think it really makes you evaluate what the “important” things are to each person and what they would choose to spend their money on…and that is OK :)!
I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your grocery budget and shopping tips/priorities here. Yes, money is a touchy and personal subject, and every family has to choose where theirs is best spent – whether it be organic food, fancy kids’ clothes, or exotic vacations.
In that same vein, I would love to see a post (or maybe a vlog discussion) with some general tips about how you adjusted your family budget and lifestyle when you became a SAHM. I resigned from my teaching job to stay at home with our baby, and obviously, we’ve had I make some big adjustments. I’m always interested to hear how other moms have handled the transition – financially, emotionally, and otherwise.
Brittany Dixon says
That’s a great topic. I’ll have to look at going into detail on the subject! Thanks for the idea 🙂
I’d like to see more on that topic as well!
Love the idea, too. I am toying with the idea myself. Not even sure where to begin..
GREAT Topic!! My job has slowly come to an end over the last 6 months and we are currently making adjustments. I feel guilty as a SAHM not bringing in the income I did at one time therefore finding ways to save money are a priority.
Good post! Even better pictures! That salad looks yummy as well as the lentil chili. I am hungry for some jalapenos! Is this lentil chili the same recipe you have under your recipe tab?
Brittany Dixon says
It is! I recommend the toppings, though. The chili is good, but needs a little extra punch from the garnishes to make it really good 🙂
It is SO personal. And circumstantial — maybe someone has more time/less money, so hunting for the best deals is doable. Someone else may work a ton and have more money/less time, so efficiently getting healthy food is a priority, even if it’s a bit pricier. I try to disregard judgement from others and avoid casting my own judgements as well. When I get stressed about over-spending on workouts/food, I remind myself that there’s no better investment (except maybe college funds ;)). Thanks for sharing!
Food and budgeting are all so personal…….but I’m right there with you next to our mortgage our grocery bill is where we spend the most money. We don’t buy clothes, don’t have car or credit card payments, smallest cell phone plans possible (no smart phones here!) but I think nothing of spending $200 a week on groceries for a family of 4…….actually I take that back I do think about and am trying to bring it down, but like you’ve come to conclude I’m just not willing to sacrifice quality to save a few cents here or there when we have 2 kids involved.
But, my tangent aside I hope you know that it’s your brutal honesty in discussing topics like this and parenting that have quickly made you my go-to favorite blogger. I watched your vlog the other day about blogging about what your passionate about and how that will grow your readership, and it’s so clear how much you care about parenting, food and family. Reading your blog is a joy because of it.
Brittany Dixon says
Hi Maureen, thank you for weighing in and for such a genuine, thoughtful compliment. You really just made my day! I hesitate hitting ‘publish’ on some posts, but comments like yours make me want to keep doing it. Thank you so much.
I completely agree with Maureen. Your blog is also my new favorite because you are so honest and willing to share. It also helps that you are very entertaining 🙂 Keep up the great work. You will always, always, always have naysayers, but remember that the majority of us love what you share.
Agree with both Maureen and Emily. I always enjoy it your blog and love to look at the recipes and foods you make. They always look delicious and healthy. I hope you continue to be who you are and don’t let others bring you down because for every negative person, there MANY more people who enjoy you as you are. Thank you!
Neil Butterfield says
You sound like a lady after my own heart-good food rocks! I too spend a lot of my disposable cash on good food.
I’ve been noticing that a lot of the name brands marketed as “natural” have the exact same ingredients as the off brands that aren’t labeled as “natural”. BOTH of them are all natural, but I am sure a lot of people choose based on the package. Graet Value (Walmart brand) shredded cheese vs. Sargento all natural cheese is one example!
PS Love the wine bottle thrown into the middle of all of your stuff haha Looks like my house!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh yeah, I agree that branding doesn’t guarantee any kind of difference! Love reading labels to find out the real deal. Great point 🙂
Amy @ The Little Honey Bee says
What an awesome almond goodie box! I definitely have not been great at budgeting my grocery haul as of late. I have been splurging on summer fruits (organic when possible) and nut butters galore. And protein powder!
Amy @ Long Drive Journey says
I completely agree with this post. What’s the point in making budgets and saving money if you don’t feel like you can splurge on the things that are important to you? If buying organic food is important to you, then you should. It’s WONDERFUL that you put your monthly hauls and your food budgets on the blog, but at the end of the day, the way you spend your money is your decision.
My husband and I had our “budget committee meeting” last night and it went very smoothly! I get overwhelmed whenever I think about creating a “money plan” (I prefer the word “plan” over “budget” because we’re just telling our money where to go!) and your email yesterday gave me a good starting point, so thank you! We have put together a “money plan” for next month and I can’t wait to see how it pans out. I agree with you. Money can be a touchy subject. I shop at Publix and take advantage of their sales on produce and meats. Our biggest expense each month is daycare, which stinks but having good daycare is crucial! I happily write a check each Friday to our sitter who keeps our babies safe while we work 🙂
Brittany Dixon says
Oh I’m SO glad! And I really love your idea of calling it a money plan. It makes so much more sense. I’m totally going to start doing that 🙂
PS- I miss Publix! I used to love that store, but there isn’t one anywhere close to me.
Love your realness here Brittany and I definitely go through some of the same struggles. I often find myself standing in front of the dairy section trying to decide, do I save a little and go with the non organic yogurt? Or feed my family the healthier option and spend a little more on the organic? Typically I go with the organic as I’ve decided that our overall health is better than going over budget 🙂 P.S. The coconut almonds are my favorite!
Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family says
I think the most important thing is to be true to you. You’d probably have a heart attack if you saw what we spent each week on food and it’s not all organic. I honestly don’t know how it adds up so fast? I need to work on that myself haha since I go over our grocery budget every.single.time.
char eats greens says
I think that it’s definitely key to give yourself high five for doing the best you can most of the time!! I think you’re doing an awesome job ;). We are trying to scale back on what we spend each week, but only because I think we overdo it. We just need to figure out, do we real need X this week, or will we be fine if it’s held off until next week. The answer is ALWAYS buy PB though 😉 haha
Great post!!! I’m always amazed by people who will go and drop $50 on beer and greasy food at a bar on a Friday night, yet they don’t seem to understand why I choose to spend $50 a week on organic items??
Brittany Dixon says
That’s a good point if people decide they want to get feisty about choices! 🙂
Brittany from CountingMyCupcakes says
I’m sorry for being one of those emails asking the percentage you spend on food :/ I understand how it’s different for everyone, so you can’t really compare. I can completely see why you don’t want to give numbers or specifics, but I also think the people asking you (including myself) are doing so because they feel like they can relate to you. Having never really set a budget before, I really just wanted some guidance and tips on where to start. And if it works for you, maybe, just maybe, it can work for me.
Our lifestyle may be a little different…I don’t have a 2 year old. It’s just Greg and me. We live in different cities, which means the costs of foods are going to be different. BUT, that being said, I also consider myself a “foodie” and love grocery shopping and eating out. It is where I enjoy spending money. I don’t shop for clothes too often (although Greg might disagree haha), our household goods – couches, rugs, etc. – are *not* new or cute, and we also got rid of cable to save even more. Again, these are just ways I relate to you and that’s why I ask more questions.
As always, I appreciate your honesty on these real life topics. Like I’ve read in so many other comments on this post already, that honesty is what keeps people coming back to read your blog. Keep it up!! 🙂 We love it!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh Brittany, I don’t mind the emails AT ALL! Promise. I just don’t have the ‘right’answers so don’t want to steer anyone in the wrong direction. I’m happy to talk about what works for me though.And I’m sad we live in different cities because I’d LOVE to live where you live… <3 Charleston <3
I’ve often compared a budget to a diet. You start off so excited and motivated and have it all planned out. Then life happens. A birthday party here. A wedding. A night with the girls. Then you realize that life is more than number crunching, whether it be dollars or calories. For us Type A’s budgeting and diets and calorie counting can be FUN (I LOVE budgeting), but there’s a thin line and you must tread lightly.
And I struggle with this. My organized side wants to keep a strict budget and then my “live and let live” side wants to just enjoy life sans number crunching . I’ve started countless budgets and countless diets and at the end of the day, and cliche as it may be in the blogger world: moderation is key.
Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) says
I could definitely work on buying more organic meats, but I’m waiting until David graduates in May, or at least until he’s working full time again. Quality is important! That’s why I do all my shopping at Whole Food’s. It can be expensive but we usually stay under $100/week and that feeds us breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinner, with maybe a six pack in there. Our six packs run about $6.99-$10.99.
David has a separate coffee budget because he’s suppppppeeeeerrrr into high grade coffee beans. That’s about $10-$15 for 12-16 oz PER week! It’s expensive, but it’s so good and you feel good about your purchase.
We seem to have very similar philosophies and habits when it comes to grocery shopping. Every once in a while, I’ll feel guilty about my spending and buy the cheaper (non-organic) versions of foods, but then read or see something that makes me realize that the little bit of extra money spent towards healthy, organic options is truly worth it. No, we’re not 100% organic all the time, and I don’t stress about it when I’m at a restaurant or at someone else’s house, but I try to make sure most of what we eat at home is really good quality.
Great post overall! Your blog is very honest and refreshing….I too have one pair of yoga pants that are maternity too 🙂
We budget $100 a week, but that’s for OUR family and what works for us. We also try to buy organic but within our budget. People need to evaluate their priorities and decide what will work for their family. I believe in buying good food too!
Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers says
Budgets are tough! I’m saving a good bit of $$$ being pregnant by not buying fun craft beers. However, I think I eat about 25% more food. Ehhhh… it happens. 🙂
Matt @ The Athlete's Plate says
I spend WAY too much money on groceries. I don’t really have a budget for it since I don’t eat out that often. Health is my priority and I’m a total foodie, so I don’t feel too guilty.
Brittany Dixon says
Love your attitude Matt! I think I need to stop feeling guilty for the choices I make and believe in. Thanks!
Great insights 🙂
Because of a tight budget, I find that we are often having to leave more quality and organic options for the lower priced option. Groceries where i am in the east coast (even compared to bigger cities) are expensive…and beer/wine is too… A good six pack of beer here is $16-20. In order to make sure we have lots of veggies, yogurt, grains, and meats/proteinm, I often have to go for the “non-organic” stuff. Of course I buy local when I can (but honestly not often the most affortable). Reading health/food blogs can be discouraging sometimes because we tend to compare oursleves. However, I feel that a budget and meal plan helps getting the most of our groceries. We buy as much “whole foods” as possible and make things like Mayo and jams, hummus, etc and at least I know what I put in it. I always read labels and try to have the best option for my buck.
Until I can grow my garden and afford more organic options, I’ll do my best !
Brittany Dixon says
Oh Eve, you sound like you probably know how to meal plan better than I do! I guess I want to clarify that I don’t think food has to be organic to be quality. Since our budget allows for it, I do try to buy it when I can, but by NO means to I think all food must be organic. Keep up the good work and I would have to try not to faint if I saw a six pack for $20. Ridiculous! Thanks for the comment 🙂
Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) says
I don’t really budget for grocery shopping … I just buy whatever I want and I’m sure I spend quite a bit (I’ve never kept track), but quality food is important, and I don’t want to restrict myself. If I want a certain food, I buy it.
nicole @ making good choices says
I love your posts around budgeting. It’s made me look more carefully at what I buy and how much I spend. It is difficult because like you I try to focus on quality foods. I’m going to try to get to Costco to stock up on organic meats to help bring down price.
Tina @ Best Body Fitness says
Love this post! I feel the same way about budgeting. We do it to help stay within reason, but I will always choose what I think is best for my family and then adjust costs in the budget as necessary for that. Great, great topic and love hearing your perspective. Coming from a fellow no-cable person and Target shoe owner too. 😉
Brittany Dixon says
Thanks for weighing in!! And Target shoes are surprisingly comfortable, aren’t they?? No complaints here 😉
Danica @ It's Progression says
This is exactly how I feel about our food budget, too. When it comes to our (significantly smaller) eating-out budget, then yes, I’m very picky about coming in under that. BUT when it comes to the food we’re bringing into the house and eating most of the time, we’re willing to go over budget if we *have to* rather than buy cheaper food that isn’t as good for our health. I can absolutely see where you’re coming from! And for the record, I’m still just loving every post about your food budgeting!
i think you should read this, it was in Scientific American, known for high quality and trustworthy publications (although I realize this is a blog, but I’m sure it was thoroughly reviewed by editors):