My budget is $200/week, but I usually spend that for two weeks ($400ish) and then about $125-150 the third week and then $75-100 the last week of the month. This upcoming month, I'm going to try even lower since this has been a month of experimenting with things and I have sorted out how to get it lower and am still sorting out a few more things. I'm trying to cut out and substitute some of those things that stand out. I'm closer to $600/month than I am $800. But it really depends on sales and how much I'm willing to spend upfront to save more. I was working on building up my pantry and freezer, but then I didn't want to spend more this week, so decided, I should actually use up as much as I can and then start my pantry and freezer inventory again, so I know exactly how much I have and can forecast what I need. I caught myself twice "over-buying", but it was canned stuff, so no big deal. But I was unsure how many I actually had.
I've been slowly trying some new recipes, pricing them out and if they fall within my "rule" of under $10 for 6 people and feed at least two people the next day for lunch or dinner, then it gets added to my rotation. If it's closer to $7 and everyone likes it, I'll serve it once a week or once every other week. If it can be frozen ahead of time, it's going closer to the top of what I will make. That's my budget recipe thread that I'm working on.
I'm also trying to be mindful of what I'm making. Because there are some weeks that we have pasta twice which is not within my "rule". LOL My "rule" of menu planning is in the menu planning challenge and the rotation of how I want to balance things. There are worse things than pasta twice a week, but then I have to start considering wheat pasta. We have too many carbs! I'm also trying to use my crockpot more often which will help with the nights that two kids are home, two kids not home until later. The goal being no eating out which we've done really well with.
My budget includes shampoo, soap, toothpaste, trash bags, laundry detergent, etc. but doesn't include pet food/supplies. We have a dog and cat.
If you look at my list, we buy an incredible amount of cheese and snacks. I rarely cook with salt, so we don't get sodium there and if I use any canned soup, I use low sodium.
I do bake, but Aldi cookies are cheap! It's impossible to compete with that with cost and my time. BUT I can certainly decrease the amount of snacks and replace it with healthier options. Like my kids eat fruit snacks. I hate those things! I want to cut those, too. But I need to do it by adding something new, so they don't miss them.
They also eat chewy granola bars and now more nutri-grain bars and a ton of pretzels and tortilla chips. That's just so much sugar and salt. But they also eat a lot of yogurt, string cheese, raw veggies, applesauce, too and they almost always drink water. I cut juice this month, but should have bought some because like this week, I haven't bought fruit yet. I did buy one or two Hawaiian punch jugs (forget), but that was just to be different. We used to buy powdered drink mixes (I should say Crystal Light otherwise it sounds like Kool-Aid) and I haven't done that in a while.
I always plan a pancake, waffle, eggs or French toast night each week and in a month, I think I only did it once as a "dinner". That's not staying true to my plan. LOL So I am going to work on that, too. I've mentioned before that I would try to make my own pancake/waffle mix in bulk, but my gosh, for a box it's just a little over $1 at Save A Lot! I only have to add water! So it is hard to be motivated to make it from scratch. It's not as good, but it is really good enough. So for about $3.00 max (syrup too), I feed everyone and there's extra for the next day! With eggs at $.99 and if there's a sale on bacon ($1.88 this past month), it becomes a very cheap meal. So excluding a breakfast for dinner night is downright silly. Sometimes I buy whipped cream and strawberries, so homemade waffles aren't so boring. Still under $8 with extra waffles for the next day.
I very much enjoy reading the thrifty plan. I spend a lot of my free time reading about food. LOL It's kind of embarrassing in a way because I'm getting better and better on the costs of every little thing at the stores and now I know which stores.
But I still have quite a few things to keep working on. I think this month will be extremely helpful when my inventory lists are in place. My goal is to see how low I can go.
See? I could go on and on. LOL Also Gabe eats a lot of cookies at night. sigh