Mission Accomplished! And I'm Proud!

Lowering my grocery budget is something that I've been known for. When I had younger children,  still only 3 kids, and I had plenty of time to spend in the kitchen, and very little money to spare, I got my grocery bill down to only $200 a month.

Of course, that didn't last long, because my kids got older, we had another mouth to feed, and prices went up. Also we went off gluten, so that also raised our grocery bills. They ended up going up to approximately $575 a month, but I worked on lowering them, some months got it as low as $485. I shared a lot about my monthly attempts to lower my grocery bill, including some months where I wrote an entire break down of what I bought each month, what I spent in each category, and what I'd do to try to lower it even more.

Then things got more complicated at home. Mike started working 12+ hour shifts, overnight, so he was gone 15 hours a day, and everything was on my shoulders. Fortunately our income went up as well, and then I switched out monthly grocery budget to $715 a month. Yes, I could have done less, but it was hard, having everything on me, also working part time, taking care of four kids including two special needs kids, and that also was the time where I was having the hardest time with my mental health issues. So having extra money to spend on shortcuts was good.

So since then, that has been what my monthly grocery budget has been.

Once Mike moved out in November of last year, I kept the budget the same. I was now a single mom on top of everything else, and working full time. I needed the cash for extras and conveniences that were expected.

On top of that, yes, I was feeding one less adult, but most of the time Mike was buying his own food beforehand. The amount I budgeted for groceries rarely included what Mike spent on stuff, since he never wanted to tell me how much his expenses were so I couldn't budget that in. And so Mike moving out didn't make that much of a difference to our grocery bills.

Then the fact that the kids started going to their dad twice a week also could have let me lower the grocery budget, but I was reluctant to do that, because I had so many stresses on my shoulders, and stressing about keeping the grocery budget down was just something else I didn't want to have to deal with.

However, at some point I noticed that most months I generally had extra money left in my grocery budget at the end of the month, somewhere from $50 to $170. I'd usually just roll this over to the next month's budget, so that I'd allocate a total of $715 for each month, including whatever was left from the previous month.

But this last month, I decided to see if I can tighten things a bit. I clearly was overbudgeting if I was left with extra money each month, but I was also scared. (Because of things I've been through in the past, extreme frugality stuff often triggers my anxiety and other stuff.) So I decided to do it as an experiment, and this month, instead of budgeting $715 for food, I'd only budget $570 (including what was left from the previous month's budget).

I wanted to see if I could do it without getting too stressed out, without my anxiety getting triggered, without feeling like I was depriving myself. And I did it!
Yes, the month of October ended, and I had $6.85 left in my grocery budget, even with the lower amount.
And I didn't feel deprived! My kids had everything they wanted and needed including extra treats! We had guests a whole bunch of times as well including crowds of 15+ people, and all within this budget. And I definitely bought short cut foods, and even some expensive foods. [This included a whole quarter of a lamb that I bought (but didn't use yet) on sale, since I really love lamb.] Oh, and this included lots of shopping at the corner grocery store, not having gone to the open air market other than one time for two things, and not going to distant cheaper grocery stores.

So this is one month down. Next month, I'm going to try it again, but making sure I have extra set aside just in case I see its not working and I need to budget more in. Every month is different, but I am so glad I was able to do this in a way that worked for me and my family.

Here's to budgeting groceries!

What is your monthly grocery bill? If you're a single parent, did your grocery bills change post separation/divorce? If so, in what way? Anyone else also get anxiety from needing on a tight budget?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Congratulations! You are inspirational. It is hard enough to budget when times are tough but with all the responsibilities you have it is even more impressive.

  2. First off, congratulations!

    Second, you make a lot of good points here. That our stress levels affect how much we spend on food (and of course other things), and so just saying, "Get that budget down," doesn't address the root problem. That frugality itself can cause stress. (Yep, that was me too.) And sometimes, we need to focus on getting our stress levels down, even if that means the budget has to be more flexible.
    Really a good post.

  3. Good job! You can do this and so much more!

  4. Good for you! And lamb - yum!

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