Family of 4 $200 a Month Grocery Budget - How We Do It

We have always been pretty frugal before my son was born spending anywhere from $120 - $150 a month for food, but since he came along with his and my health issues and I haven't been doing freezer cooking, our costs have gone up dramatically.  Now that I'm doing better, we are getting back to a lower food budget as I'm able to make more homemade foods.

This month we are going to see if we keep our food budget at $200 for our 4-week period that starts today.  It is possible but takes planning and a stocked pantry, which we do bi-yearly.  If you spend $500 a year on stocking your pantry, that only equals to about $42 a month and it saves you a LOT of money by buying in bulk!  There were a few stockpile items I had to buy this month and I don't count those towards my $200 monthly budget as they are part of our yearly $500 stock-up fund.

*My son is only 22 months old but he eats the same serving size as my 10-year old daughter at dinner!  He also eats a good amount during the day but we are still able to feed all 4 of us on $200.

Here are our meals for the next 4 weeks:

4 weekends = 4 casseroles: 2 Lasagnas and 2 Chicken Divans
4 Fridays = Homemade Pizza
4 x Pancakes with organic pure maple syrup
2 x Hamburgers with Fries
2 x Red Bean Sausage & Rice
3 x Beans & Rice
2 x Mac n' Cheese with Tuna and peas
2 x Spaghetti with Cheese Bread

You can see that the weekends are easily taken care of with 1 casserole per weekend.  I make the 4 casseroles and then freeze them and then put one in the oven on Saturday and that day's dinner and Sunday is already done, so no cooking on Sunday!  We have to eat a salad and a dessert to make the casserole last 2 meals but everyone is satisfied.

We love pizza and so we have it every Friday and I make my own crust and sauce and then we top it with mozzarella and pepperoni.  I've already made pizza sauce to last until January.

The rest of the meals are for Monday - Thursday, with Thursday usually being pancakes.  I purchased 64oz of organic pure maple syrup from Vermont a few months ago for only $30 and it will last us a long time!!

For the beans and rice, I make a huge pot of pintos and then freeze it in 4-cup portions, which makes it easy to thaw in warm water for dinner with rice!  Also, the red bean sausage meal is something I make a big pot of and freeze as well, I'm actually making enough for 4 meals but the other 2 meals will be for next month's cycle.

We only use 4 pounds of ground beef a month and 3 pounds of chicken a month, so I can buy the grass-fed beef since we don't use a lot of it.  2 pounds are for the 2 lasagnas and the other 2 pounds are for the 2 hamburger meals.  The chicken is used in the 2 chicken divan casseroles.  Other than the tuna and sausage, we only consume 7 pounds a meat a month by having it on weekends.  If we eat out, we usually get something with meat but we are trying to cut back on our entertainment/eating out budget!

Here is what I had to purchase that we didn't have on hand for this meal cycle:

Grocery Expenditures so far - $107.92
  • 2 pounds salad spring mix - $4.99 (I got lucky, it was Buy One Get One Free!)
  • 1 pound light sour cream - $1.89
  • 4 pounds cheddar cheese block - $9.98 (this was a good sale, so I stocked up, this may last us into next month)
  • 2 pounds unsalted butter - $4
  • 4.81 pounds Gala apples - $4.23
  • 2 pounds cottage cheese - $4.58
  • 3.12 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast - $9.30
  • 2 pounds mozzarella cheese - $6.47
  • 2 pounds polish sausage - $5.96
  • 12 string cheese pack - $3.35
  • 3 pounds mandarin oranges - $5.98 (my husband and daughter insist on eating these, I hate how high they have gotten!)
  • 80 oz. Frozen french fries - $3.18
  • 1.23 pounds peanuts - $1.94
  • 1 pound strawberries - $1.98
  • 3.33 pounds bananas - $1.86
  • 4 small avocados - $3.92
  • 3 pounds onions - $1.58
  • 30 oz. Whole-grain Goldfish - $6.48
  • Nabisco Chips Ahoy Reeses - $1.98 (craving!)
  • 1.3 pounds Tortilla chips - $2.99
  • 20 oz. Pretzels - $1.88
  • 13.25 oz. Whole-grain angel hair spaghetti - $1.28
  • 53 oz. Whole-grain pasta - $5.12
  • 1 pound Lasagna noodles - $1.42
  • 30 oz. Light mayonnaise - $2.60
  • 40 oz. canned tuna - $5.44
  • 47.3 oz. Unsweetened applesauce - $2.18
  • 14 oz. Canned artichokes - $2.18
  • 30 oz. Canned green beans - $1.36

Stock-Up Items - $27.01
  • 9 pounds Adam's natural peanut butter - $22.08
  • 32 oz. Lemon juice - $2.18
  • 8 oz Canola oil cooking spray - $1.97
  • 20 oz Mustard - 78 cents

What I have left to buy this month - $69.83
  • 4 pounds grass-fed beef - $20
  • Jam - $2.89 (I forgot to make ours this summer, but hopefully I can next week)
  • 18ct Organic eggs - $5
  • 2 gallons 1% Organic milk - $10.58
  • 2 gallons Organic whole milk - $10.58
  • 4 pounds organic yogurt - $5.98
  • 2 x frozen burritos - $4.80
  • Bananas & Apples - $10

I decided to start making my own bread again this month, hopefully I can get that done today so we don't have to buy bread!  I'm also going to make pita bread since my son loves it.  However, seeing what I've spent so far and then what I have to buy this month, I will still have $22.25 left to spend, so I could buy bread or maybe potato chips and ice cream because we get those cravings a lot!

Here are the rest of our meals:

Apple Tahini Toast
Eggs, Toast and jam

PBJ Sandwiches
Tuna melts
Bean tostados
Chicken BBQ "pizzas"

Snacks & Desserts
Carrots & Hummus
Pita Bread & Hummus
Chips & Salsa or nachos
Trail mix (peanuts, mini chocolate chips and raisins)
Granola bars
Fruit or smoothies
String cheese
PB and Apple
Cookies, muffins or brownies

What I'm making homemade this month:
  • Bread - loaf and pita bread
  • Pizza dough
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Hummus
  • Granola bars
  • Cookies, muffins and brownies
  • Jam