Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One income & a family of six, please.

I love looking at bloggers weekly menus and budget tips, I like to know how other big families make it work. My husband is our sole provider, and is on a weekly pay schedule. I grocery shop every week because of that pay schedule so a budget is crucial.

In the past 4 months I have cut our grocery budget down by $50 a week, which is $200 a month and that's big savings. I do this by shopping from the local grocery store ads each week, stocking up on 2 weeks worth of those items and then menu planning from that. Last week for example, Best Buy had chicken thighs and drumsticks on sale for .99 lb, pork shoulder roast on sale for $1.59lb, sandwich rolls 4 for $1, neufchatel cheese and Parmesan cheese on sale as well. I spent $32.50 on my grocery trip there. Those 2 packages of chicken I broke down into freezer bags of 5 pieces each (Mason was at his dads so 5 pieces is perfect for us), which landed me 4 bags of chicken in my freezer. I made a chicken casserole with one bag of the chicken thighs, the other 3 are still in my freezer. The pork shoulder made 4 meals, the pulled pork sandwiches I made the first night I made it, the carnitas tacos we ate with the leftovers and the huge bag of the remainder in my freezer which is enough for 2 meals. The neufchatel cheese and parm I used to make a low fat alfredo sauce which we served over whole wheat linguine that was on sale at Walmart for $1 and I served it with steamed veggies and whole wheat bread.  From that $32.50 grocery bill, I still have 3 bags of chicken in my freezer as well as a big bag of "The Pioneer Woman's Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork". By shopping the sales ad, I saved money, plus was able to push into my next weeks budget and making this week very easy shopping because I only have 2 nights I need to buy for and we are doing spaghetti and beef stroganoff, which are inexpensive very kid friendly meals. Also I go through my pantry to see what I have in there to make sure I am utilizing what I already have purchased. Right now have lots of oatmeal in my pantry, as well as multi-grain pancake mix (F&E) lots of peanut butter, black beans green beans, quinoa, soup and cold cereal & baking items.

Breakfasts: (for the kids, I usually eat an egg with piece of toast for breakfast and sometimes oatmeal)
eggs & toast (mother in law has laying hens so free eggs)
multi-grain pancakes with honey (F&E has their pancake mix on sale every other week)
cold cereal with milk (Frosted Mini Wheats are our fav)
oatmeal with Raisins
and then I do a repeat of one of the above for 2 days

Lunches: (this is for the kids, I usually eat soup or a tuna sandwich for lunch)
peanut butter & jelly with apple slices (F&E strawberry jam is HFCS free and kids love it)
cheese quesadillas with carrot slices (I use whole wheat tortillas for them)
whole wheat pitas & hummus  with carrots & broccoli for dipping
stella pastina (star pasta soup, broth, carrots, star shaped pasta with mozz cheese on top)
and then I repeat these throughout the week
after church lunch- PW's Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Sandwiches

wednesday- baked panko chicken drumsticks with garlic red potatoes and green beans
thursday- carnitas tacos (PW's Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork)
friday- cream of mushroom chicken bake with brown rice
saturday- spaghetti with garlic bread and salad
sunday- beef stroganoff with green beans & whole wheat rolls
monday-buttermilk fried chicken drumsticks with mashed potatoes & corn <-----Joe's request
tuesday- quinoa & black beans (recipe found here...need something light after the previous meal lol)

I have about $70 in grocery items I need, and about $30 in household items needed.
I plan to get as much of this at fresh & easy because I have a $10 off of $50 coupon. I know most of these items maybe cheaper at Walmart but I drive a suburban so with a $10 off coupon I will use twice so $20 off in coupons and the gas I would be saving from not making an extra trip to Hanford, it's a better deal. So if I buy everything but the stroganoff meat at F&E that is an estimated $100, minus the $20 off in coupons, and the 5 bucks at savemart (F&E doesn't sell it), I will have purchased everything we need for a week for $85. Next week I will need diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies so my budget will be closer to $100. So figure every other week at $85 and every other week at $100, I am spending around $425 a month for our family of 6 for groceries and household supplies and my goal is to be under $450. I think that is pretty awesome. I know I could tighten it even more but we are good where it is right now.

Another way I save money is that we use cloth diapers for Betsey. Rowan is in disposables but I buy Walmart's brand and they work fine for him and are incredibly cheap like $3 for 18. I also buy a lot of our toiletry items at CVS or Walgreens and use their savings card program, but since I have the coupon at F&E this week, I'll probably just get my items there. I haven't gotten the ad for Best Buy yet, so if they have a good deal on something I might go there and stock up for next weeks groceries plus I am looking for things on sale for my Christmas Eve dinner.

People always ask me how do you handle and afford 4 kids. I honestly really enjoy my big family, my kids are fun and they bring me so much joy and love. I would probably have 6 if it wasn't for the cesareans. Do I have bad days where I am easily frustrated, tired and spent? you bet! But the good days outweigh the bad days hands down.  Expenses? We budget everything. Groceries, bills, fun money, everything. Every dollar has it's place. For the kids clothes, I shop mostly at Target. Their mix & match tables are awesome. Mason is on the other side of the aisle now, but he likes the Shawn White stuff there. Also, me and my girlfriends with children of similar ages clothes swap when our kids grow out of things. Rowan just scored 3 bags of cute winter clothes so we do a mix of new and free thrifting :)  and I always get compliments on how cute my kids are dressed so don't knock second hand clothing, its great. We normally buy Van's for the kids. They last awhile, my husband is a big fan of them and they are worth the $35 a pair. Most importantly, a major change in attitude and prioritizing what is of value in your life makes a huge difference. My focus isn't keeping up with the Jones', it's on raising my family & providing for them in a way that pleases my Lord. My attitude used to not be that way, and I have struggled with being grateful with what I have in the past. I am in a place of contentment right now with what God has provided for us and I try to do my best to stretch it, save it & have fun with it.


Mrs. Cheerio said...

Great post! We are also a one-income family, and use a budget to help get out of school loan debts. It is so hard for me to live under the constrains of a budget sometimes, because I always feel like we "have" to have this or that... It's hard work, but I think you're doing great!

Meal planning and menus have really helped our family and I think we'll continue to do them. :)

Mikkele Suzanne said...

best buy serves food?

Nichole Contente said...

mikkele- yea different one, best buy is a locally owned grocery store in lemoore & hanford

Eva said...

this post was great! we are only expecting our first child, but I will be a stay-at-home mom, and even before getting pregnant I have been trying to learn how to proporly budget, as we're trying to pay off debt. :)