This was shared on a message board I am on sometimes. I thought I'd copy and paste this here as well. :)
Wow, I REALLY like this thread and am so thankful for each of your posts on this. While reading your posts I am imagining what region you live in and what grocery prices would be there. I hope more people chip in their plans on how they budget as well.
I budget between $550 to $600 per month. This includes all household items. That is, anything used IN the house. Our dog and chickens are outside so that's in a separate budget (about $30-$40 per month). Our budget includes all three meals and snacks for the nine of us. The children are ages 2-16. Hubby takes his lunch to work everyday as well.
I used to write out a menu but it just didn't work for me. I do still write out ideas for the week and then I write what we actually had on the calendar. I just started this a few weeks back and it's totally for our family! The reason I have to do it this way is that I'd write out a menu and then couldn't follow through for various reasons. For instance, I had baked two chickens on Saturday. We used to go through about 1 1/4 chickens and I'd have left 3/4 of another for another meal. This time we went through only one chicken and I had enough left to make chicken enchiladas yesterday and chicken and rice soup last night. If I had made out our menu I would have only planned for one two meals for those chickens instead of three. Also, on Friday we had leftover pizza sauce that I thought would have been all consumed but wasn't. So, unexpectedly I am going to be making spaghetti for lunch by adding some more ingredients to the leftover sauce. I would not have had this listed on our menu either. So in the end I would have had to change at least two meals in one week. That is actually just over a four day span. Tonight we are having roast. I could have some left over or could not. Sometimes our appetites are different. If we do have some left over it will go into a soup for tomorrow night. Still, I won't know until supper tonight. Smiley
A few things that are definites are pizza night on Fridays and James' lunch. He eats while going down the road almost every day and he prefers sandwiches as they are easy to eat while driving. So yesterday I prepared enough sandwiches and packed them into different containers for the week. So each morning I just have to pull them out along with whatever breakfast I make for him to take. Besides the pizza and James' lunch and ideas I sketch on a scrap piece of paper or the whiteboard we only know what we're having about a day in advance. Yesterday while making the last of the chicken dishes I was thinking of what to make today. So I laid out a beef roast. I figured we had had enough poultry for a little while. I write on our menu (in our case a calendar) what we ate all day and how much the total was for the day. If we hit under our budget over time it adds up and we might have enough to get something out or a special treat from the store. I like to see the total be under $12 a day for food.
I like the pantry method. That is where I keep all the basic supplies for our meal needs in the pantry. I check the sales ads each week to see if there are any items with rock bottom prices. If so I look in the pantry and access how much we need of that item and buy accordingly. If those items don't come up for sale then I buy most of our groceries at Aldi or Sam's Club. If the pantry runs very low then at tax refund time I hope to restock the pantry fully and start fresh for another year. It seems with our regular pantry items we can make most of what I see in recipes. Occasionally I need to buy a special item. That's always fun, to try new things!
The pantry method is described in the Tightwad Gazette and I feel is the very best way to supply for our needs.