Subscribe to our mailing list

Email Format
Close

Photo Credit

 

How do you feel about your grocery budget? Are you consistently over spending each month?

Perhaps it is time to evaluate your budget. If you are just starting to incorporate more real food into your diet, and you’re not sure how you will be able to afford the cost, I hope you can get a better idea from my experience.

Starting a Budget

I started doing research on real food back in January of 2012. While I implemented more real food into my diet in March and April, I didn’t really consider my grocery budget until May, when I was about $300 over. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Could we really afford real food using our Standard American Diet budget?

You see, I thought I would need to expand our grocery budget to afford real food. I mean, that’s why I was over spending…right? But that wasn’t the case. After I sat down and took a good look at our budget, I realized that if I just plan ahead more, we may be able to afford real food while spending the same amount as we did on the SAD (standard American Diet)!

I said, “we may be able” to afford real food at the same price, because we have only been on this budget for one month so far, but we stuck to it this month and I have high hopes for next month!!!

Steps to Create or Evaluate your Real Food Budget

I will show you my budget as an example, but I hope you can apply the principles I used to your own budget.

1. Determine how much money you have for groceries each month. Right now for my husband and I, we have $225/month for groceries. If money is tight for you now, start with a small amount, you just may be able to make it work. I really thought I would need to expand our grocery budget, but realized later that I could make $225/month work.

2. Determine which foods you feel are most important to incorporated into your family’s diet. When I started changing my diet, I added more good fats like raw butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and flax seed oil. Fermented Cod Liver Oil/ Butter Oil Blend is a must in our house.

Maybe determining the ratio of fats:protein:carbs in your diet will help you figure out on what foods to spend most of your money. I try to do 50:20:30, but often times the carbs end up being the higher ratio.

3. Create a meal plan. This will help you determine how much of each type of foods you will need to buy each month. I created a general meal plan for an entire month. For each meal I paired a specific protein with a specific carb, then add whatever vegetable I have on hand. So, now I know how much of each specific meats and carbs I need for the entire month. Exactly the information I need for my budget! You can also find weekly meal plans every Monday here at MAK and my specific meal plan will be posted on July 23!

4. Split your money into four categories: Dairy, Fruits & Vegetables, Meats, and Bulk Items. So, here is where you need to determine how much of each type of food you will eat every month.

The Breakdown

Below, is a breakdown of my categories and what I bought in June:

  • Dairy ($75)
    • 6 gallons of raw milk ($4/gal.) = $24
    • 7 dozen pastured eggs ($2.5/ doz.)  = $17.50
    • 4 pints raw cream ($4/pint) = $16
    • 2 pounds raw cheese ($5.25/lb.) = $10.50
    • 1 pound raw butter ($6.50/lb.) = $6.50
  • Meats ($80)
    • 6 lbs. organic whole chicken = $10
    • 5 lbs. organic liver and organ meats ($3/lb.) = $15
    • 8 lbs. Tilapia Central America farmed ($5/lb.) = $40
    • 3 lbs. grassfed, organic hamburger ($5.50/lb.) = $16.50
  • Fruits & Vegetables ($45)
    • organic onions
    • organic potatoes
    • organic lettuce
    • organic lemons
    • organic tomatoes
    • organic pears
    • organic oranges
    • organic grapefruit
    • organic celery
    • organic carrots
    • organic beets
    • organic avacados
    • 34oz. organic, non-gmo, californian olive oil ($8)
    • 17oz. Grade A, blueberry maple syrup ($8)
    • 10lb. white sugar, for water kefir ($7)
  • Bulk ($25)
    • Actually didn’t need anything this month, so I’ll save for next month.

Money saved by finding good deals can be saved to buy items in bulk!

I got a good deal on fish and chicken this month, so I decided to stock up. That way I can save the money next month towards buying beef in bulk, which I can get for $3.50/lb! I understand that some of you have to pay higher prices for the same foods, especially raw dairy, but I hope the principles I listed will help you determine your budget for your own situation.

Photo Credit 

Tips for saving money when buying real food

I’d liked to leave you with some tips on how to save money while buying real food:

  • It is not necessary to buy all organic fruit and vegetables. Look for my post next month to learn which fruits and vegetables you don’t need to buy organic and which one you do!
  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Seafood Watch Brochure which lists the best choices, good alternatives, and what seafoods to avoid.  You may have noticed that the tilapia I bought is on the good alternative list.
  • Tough times call for compromises. If you cannot afford the best food right now, you’re not a failure. This isn’t a competition; it’s life. Just buy the best you can afford, and thank God for what you can buy. I think we all feel like we could do better with our food choices if we just had a little more money, but more money isn’t the solution. I once heard someone say, “Money talks, but the only word it knows how to say is more.” More faith in God is what we need.
  • Buy in bulk and directly from farmers. I went on a farmer’s website recently and saw a note about their prices. It said the prices listed were for the farmer’s markets and that a lower price is available if you buy directly from the farm.
  • Eat a higher ratio of vegetables. I’m still working on this one.
  • Plant a garden. You can grow so much in a small space, so no excuses!

How do you save money on healthy foods? What healthy foods are a “must” in your family’s diet?

**This post is entered into Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.**

This is the writings of:

Beverly and her husband have been married for five years. She worked as an Electrical Engineer until 2011 when she was laid-off. With God’s guidance she determined to be a homemaker and started researching the best foods to eat. During her research she came across the WAPF and began to understand the importance of “real” food in her diet. She recently started blogging to share what she is learning on her “real” food journey. Check out her blog, Alive & Living for articles about living and eating the way God intended.

Like what you just read? Stay in touch with our newsletter!

Email Format

51 Comments

  1. Thanks for the ideas and tips! I like the idea of prioritizing and breaking down your budget into catergories. We are still trying to stay in budget. I am finding that with planning and determination we can make it happen, but we are still going over a little each month.

    Where do you find organic grass-fed beef for $5.50/lb???

    Reply

    • Kristy,

      I get my organic grass-fed beef from a local farm. Actually since then I have found a different farm that sells it for $4.10/lb! I believe the cost really depends on your location and perhaps how much you are willing to search for a better price. The best thing to do to save money on organic grass-fed beef is to buy in bulk like cow-pooling. Last year we split a cow between four families and the cost was $3.50/lb! A great way to start searching is to contact your local WAPF chapter leader. http://www.westonaprice.org/local-chapters/find-a-local-chapter

      Reply

  2. I’m super jealous about the raw milk. Where we live its $8 for half a gallon.

    Reply

    • $10 for a gal of raw milk and $5 for dozen of eggs:((( pastured chicken – $5-6 per pound….there is no way we can make it on $225 monthly budget…usually is more close to $500.

      Reply

      • I knew that I can get real food for good prices, but I didn’t realized how good I have it! Thanks for sharing, and I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful :)

        Reply

  3. Wow….in Australia, our prices are easily double or triple what you have stated for your dairy and meats (and we do not have raw) and I would easily spend $100/week on organic fruit and vegetables per week if I went all organic. How do you get 7 servings of fruit and vegetables/day for a family for such a minimal cost per month?!?!?!?!?! Where do your carbs factor in to your spending per month? Is that your bulk?

    Reply

    • Hi Corrie,

      I had been buying my organic fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market which became expensive, but then I found a little discount grocery store that sells some organic fruits and vegetables…and their prices are discount! I really couldn’t believe it the first time I was there. Who has ever heard of a discount store selling organic fruits and vegetables?!?! I hadn’t. Now there selection is never consistent, and some things maybe on the very ripe side, but that is how I buy organic on $45/month.

      And yes, I do buy my rice, beans, and wheat in bulk, so they’d be in the bulk category. I let my bulk money add up and then buy some about every 3 months. This would also include sweeteners, coconut oil, Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and any spices.

      Your dairy and meat sounds expensive! :( I am assuming you’re talking about grass-fed beef. Is the price of conventionally raised beef a lot less?

      Reply

      • Hi Beverly,

        So prices here are as follows:
        1 x 4 pound organic chicken (not commonly found) is about $25 (a free-range one is about $13)
        1 pound of regular grain fed beef mince is about $6 (obviously more for organic/grass fed)
        For 1 gallon of organic unhomogenised milk (which is seasonal – we can’t get raw anywhere is Oz) is $12
        Free range eggs are $6/dozen (organic is $9-$11/dozen)

        And I live in Melbourne, a built up city where there are lots of options! I can only imagine what these products would cost in the country areas. Organic fruit and vegetables here are ridiculously priced and unaffordable for most households in Australia.
        How do you buy nuts and seeds with that budget? Our nuts here are $20-$35 for 2 pounds of most nuts.
        Also any supplements, like cod liver oil etc are more than double the price of what you pay in the US. There are so many principles I wish to implement but it is literally unaffordable! 1 month of cod liver oil for my family would cost $75! 1 loaf of sourdough bread is $7. Half a pound of organic butter (not necessarily grass fed) is $6.50.
        All a bit overwhelming….I find the healthier I eat and the more aware of toxins in foods I become, the bigger my grocery bill becomes! Lol. Hopefully, this means it equates to a lower medical bill in the long run.
        Blessings,
        Corrie

        Reply

        • Hi Corrie,

          Thanks for the information…it is shocking to hear how much you have to pay to get real food in Australia! Do you have a place to start a garden? That could be a way to eat organic vegetables for a lower price, or you could make some good money if you sold them!
          I haven’t bought any nuts or seeds lately since they are a little expensive for my budget. I’ve found organic walnuts for $8.13/lb and organic pecans for $12.43/lb. I would need to add money to my bulk category if I decide to make nuts and seeds a regular part of our diet.
          $75 for cod liver oil! Yikes! I pay $42 for an 8oz bottle of Green Pastures FCLO/BO, and that lasts my husband and I about 3 months.
          Have you ever tried making you own sourdough bread? It is a great thing when you get the hang of it. Hopefully soon I’ll find the time to post my sourdough bread recipe on my website: AlivenLiving.com , but modernalternativemama.com has some info about sourdough as well.
          I know what you mean about being more aware of toxins in foods…refined sugar gives me an instant headache.
          Hopefully your efforts result in lower medical bills, and also feeling better overall!

          Reply

          • Hi Beverly,
            Thanks for your thoughts. Unfortunately, I am a black thumb when it comes to gardening, but I would like to change this one day! (I cannot even grow chives!) I also live in a rental without a lot of sunshine so it makes it hard to grow large quantities (or grow anything at all).
            I have considered bread making before…I really have an aversion to buying single purpose appliances though, but I will look at the link you mentioned to see if it is possible without a bread maker.
            Imagine the money I could save here in Oz by having some chooks for eggs and meat and a big vegie patch! I will keep dreaming!
            Blessings,
            Corrie

          • Hi Corrie,
            It is definitely possible to make sourdough bread without a bread maker :) The tricky part is remembering to feed your sourdough starter. I’ll see if I can get that post written sooner, since others have asked me about making sourdough bread as well. And yes, never stop dreaming :)

    • I don’t ever eat 7 servings of fruit & vegetables per day unless I somehow can’t get all the grassfed dairy products I want. My guess is that the nutrients in the grassfed milk, cheese, butter & cream give me a lot of what I need via the fresh grass the cows ate, because if I go without them or even just reduce the amounts, then I don’t feel nearly as good & I crave tons more fresh veggies & fruits all the time. We grow a huge garden, so we eat lots more fresh produce through the summer & not much through the winter except mainly homemade sauerkraut & potatoes & squash from the previous summer’s garden.

      Reply

  4. Wow, location really does make a huge difference. Here in MA I’m looking at $9/gal for raw milk and I have to drive an hour away for it. I can get grass fed beef locally the next town over but it is 5.99/lb just for ground beef. Steaks are way more! I would have to buy half a cow to get a better price of $4.50/lb. I wish I could get away with spending $225/mo for groceries. Since trying to eliminate grains and dairy here, and buying mostly organic… Our (2 aduts, 8, 5, 3, and 1y/o) grocery budget is now hovering around $300/wk, yes a week! I was able to get by on $150/wk when I was buying mostly pre-packaged meals (most of which have no nutritional value). I just keep telling myself that the money I’m spending now is an investment for our future health. But there are many days that I wish I didn’t know what I do know about our food so I could go back to my old budget…lol

    Reply

    • Hi Jes,

      Building your family’s health is definitely something to sacrifice for, but I know what you mean, wishing that you didn’t know about real food…lol. But with that knowledge we can live life more fully, God-willing, having greater health than ever before! Some would say that in the long run, you are actually saving money due to the medical bills that you didn’t have to pay.

      Reply

  5. I would love to know how you made that feed a family. It doesn’t look like enough to feed a family for 2 weeks, let alone a month. How many people do you have again? Maybe that’s the diff…

    Reply

  6. Wow! I have been doing the same work as you, trying to buy real food on a one income family budget. We have been making meal plans as well and setting a spending limit per week. I’ve noticed that when I go by month I over spend. I have found that this is because I am trying to stock up more when I am trying to shop less often. Unfortunately for me our grocery prices are WAY higher! Where are you from?? I am in Ohio, USA. Ugh. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply

    • Hi Lindsey,

      I am in Pennsylvania, USA, not very far away from you :) I get all of my beef and dairy from local Amish farmers. Buying on a per month basis just takes some more planning for me beforehand or else we end up eating cooked carrots for a couple of days…lol. The main reason I do per month is to save money on gas, but that doesn’t always work out if I decide later that I want to make a specific dish.

      Reply

  7. Hi, is it really possible to get 6 pounds of organic chicken for $10? i don’t think i can even come close to that

    Reply

    • Hi Mary,

      Yes it is possible. I get it at the outlet store of an organic poultry processing plant. It was a whole chicken, so not all of the 6lbs. was meat, sorry for not making that clear. You can buy a whole organic chicken there that is missing a wing or leg for $1.70/lb!

      Reply

      • oh my, i wish there was such a plant by me. you did make it clear that it is whole chickens, but I still can’t do that unless there is a bogo or some other sale like that. Congratulations!

        Reply

      • Not to mention the broth you get with the bones!!

        Reply

      • @Beverly – I know this is an old post, but your comment regarding a wing/leg missing from the chicken scared me… why would anything be missing from the chicken? If the company is going to process the chicken, I’m sure they would cut up the whole thing. I know you said the chicken plant is organic, and I’m completely new to all of this, but could these chickens have LIVED without a wing/leg??? Could they be some of the chickens that are GMO, or fed hormones, or kept in crowded quarters, where something has caused that piece to be missing? It just makes me a little nervous!!!

        Reply

        • Hi Amber,

          The company told me that the chicken was just cut wrong during processing, and that nothing was wrong with the bird before. So, nothing to freak out about. They are organic, free range, antibiotic free chickens. I do make sure of everything I buy, and I was definitely not nervous about buying that chicken.

          Reply

  8. Thanks for this post. I went way over my grocery budget last month and have worked really hard this month to stick to it. I live in Ohio as well and buying from the Amish helps me stick to my budget too. Thanks for the encouragement and the tips!

    Reply

  9. Thanks – any tips on gardening in REALLY small spaces? As in, we are moving into a house next month that is essentially a glorified condo. We’re renters and there are no fences and I’m not even sure what “counts” as our yard, so likely I can’t plant anything IN the ground. But I we’ll have a decent-sized deck and I was thinking to get a planter (something like 2×3′ or maybe just a little bigger) and just plant a few things. What things grow well in really tight quarters? I was thinking to just maybe do an herb garden – rosemary, thyme, oregano…??

    Reply

  10. So jealous of the price you pay for raw milk! Here in southeast Florida, it goes for around $12/gallon! Free range eggs are at least $3/doz

    Reply

  11. this is an issue for me also – I am very thankful though that we raise our own beef, chickens & pigs – that helps ALOT!

    Reply

    • Hi SamW,

      I would love to raise our own beef, but we do not have enough land to support a cow :( We did raise some meat chickens and have layers which should start laying eggs any day now! I agree; it does help.

      Reply

  12. I actually really enjoyed reading this. I live in Kansas City and our grocery prices are pretty high and we don’t (as far as I’ve found) have many resources for raw dairy. Regular beef here goes for just about 4 dollars a pound, and regular chicken is about 3 to 4 dollars a pound. Grass fed is hard to come by, or I just haven’t found the sources! I’ve been feeling guilty that we’ve been spending too much on groceries, so we’ve knocked our budget down and I’m determined to make it work! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Hi Monica,

      I was also feeling guilty about spending too much on groceries, that was the motivation for this post :) . It wasn’t until I broke everything into categories that I could see where I was spending too much and modify my spending. Before doing this I always thought that a very detailed budget would cause me to feel more restricted, but it has actually empowered me by giving me more control in my spending.

      Reply

      • Monica- I live 1/2hr south of Kansas City. There are tons of places to get raw milk from $3-8gal with $4 being the average, free-range eggs $2-4dz $3 average and organic produce.
        Check out craiglsist.com, realmilk.com, and localharvest.com Ask around at the Farmer’s Markets for sources for Raw Milk and eggs. That is where I found raw Jersey milk at $4 gal.
        HyVee, Natures Pantry, some Price Choppers, Whole Foods (in Overland Park), Trader Joes ect…are all great places to find decently priced organic goods. There are also small local health food stores dotted all over the metro area.

        Reply

  13. Wow, those prices are incredible! Raw milk is illegal where I am (AR), chicken feed prices have skyrocketed so now pastured eggs are $3.5/doz, I buy raw cheese through Azure Standard, and I won’t even go into the meat prices around here. What a blessing you have in your food prices! Maybe hubby and I need to move to PA. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    Reply

  14. Hi Holly,

    After hearing all the responses about my good prices, I have become more appreciative of where I live. And if you do decided to move to PA, I will gladly show you all the places to get the best prices ;)

    Reply

  15. Like some of the other readers mentioned above, I’m amazed what you can get for your $225!! It really does make a difference where you are in the world, I guess. Here in Vancouver, Canada (we’re expats), everything costs an absolute FORTUNE and I’m not even talking about organic! We do go across the border to WA state to buy some things, including raw milk, but that still costs almost $9 gallon, and other prices there aren’t incredibly better than Vancouver, although they are still cheaper, especially for organics. I was hard put to feed our family of 3 adults on $600/month, and now our grocery budget has decreased even further so it will be even more challenging! I just wish good food was a bit more affordable in these parts :-( But, I’m glad to know there are still some places where real food doesn’t cost the earth!

    Reply

  16. [...] been talking about Real Food on a Budget here on Modern Alternative Kitchen the last couple of weeks, including sharing one [...]

    Reply

  17. Thanks for the post. I have a food budget but never broke each section down. We have $800 a month for 8 of us and I really need to cut it back.

    Reply

    • Hi Lori G.
      When I broke down my budget into sections it really opened my eyes to where I was spending too much. It helped me the most in getting my grocery spending under control!

      Reply

  18. Hi all,

    First off, this is a great resource for those of us trying to eat budget-friendly healthy food. I live on the Central Coast of California. Prices here make me wonder how I could ever eat my way and stay in line with the average budget. To buy half a cow here would average at 8.99/lb. Locally caught wild salmon is $20.99/lb. A serving of grass fed organic locally raised sirloin steak is around $20 (for a piece the size of my hand). I’m happy if my weekly food bill is under $200. We are a family of four, but our kids are just 5 and 3. I’m not sure what will happen to my bill when my son is 15! I watch sales, buy in bulk when I can, but never seem to get much under the $200 mark. And if I need to buy supplements or protein powder I’m usually around $250. Oh and this is after my 15% off discount I get by using a local’s discount card. Are there any online ordering sites you’ve found to buy frozen fish/meat/chicken or supplements? That is one resource I haven’t explored. Thanks for writing!

    Reply

  19. Hi :)
    I’ll be echoing many of the commentators views that your grocery budget REALLY depends on where you live. I’m in Canada, Northern Ontario…where we can’t buy raw milk anywhere (through the whole country!). We grow our own veggies and our own chickens for meat and eggs, and my husband hunts deer/moose and we catch fish as well. I still spend nearly 75-100$ per week in the grocery store (fruits – in season!, dairy, occasional breads, crackers, other meat {pork, beef, bacon}, baking supplies, rice, wheat and hygiene products). We’ve identified a local grass-fed beef source for 4.40$ per pound and pork for 2.10$ per pound…these are *good* prices for us. Our prices are very high!

    My comment is a bit of lamentations over the high cost of food (like many many others), a tad bit of jealousy that others have great prices (and happiness for you of course!!) and mostly realizing that I am where I am and I need to make it work for my family and not put my energy into complaining. Yes, my food costs may be higher than some, but I know my other costs are much smaller than many other peoples as well.

    Oh, your chicken prices…excruciatingly low! There is no way we could sell our chickens for that little…that doesn’t even pay for the purchase of the bird as a chick, let alone growing it. Which leads me to ask…preferences of organic vs local? I read your fish is from Central America, and I’m not sure where your veggies come from. Another MAK entry states local may be preferable….thoughts?

    Reply

    • Unfortunately, food prices vary greatly all over North America (but the US pays less per pound of food than almost any other country in the world)! I think with each purchase you have to weigh the option of organic vs. local. In some situations, it just makes more sense to buy locally instead of organically (more economical, easier access, better nutrition). It really depends on each person’s location and what their individual situation is…but yes, in some cases, local is a better choice than organic!

      Reply

    • Hi Tammy,
      My preference for my produce has been organic so far, but I am going to start looking for more local places to buy produce.
      As for the fish I mentioned…I was going by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Reccomendations, but this list only tells you if the source of the fish is sustainable or not, not if it is good for you to eat. So the fish I mentioned was actually not a good choice. They now have a Super Green List which tells you which fish are best to eat and are from sustainable sources! This list is great for determining what seafood to buy and which to not. They even have an app!

      Reply

  20. [...] Read more about the steps to create or evaluate your real food budget at Modern Alternative Kitchen: Real Food On A Budget [...]

    Reply

  21. [...] been talking about Real Food on a Budget here on Modern Alternative Kitchen the last couple of weeks, including sharing one [...]

    Reply

  22. I’m grateful for your post. It makes me realize I need to move to PA! ;) Just kidding, but it DOES make me realize a couple of things: 1 – I have it good where I am (i.e. access to lots of real food, space for chickens & a garden, & not having the highest prices around), and 2 – my striving for a budget a little lower than yours…well, there are reasons it didn’t work with prices being what they are in my neck of the woods. :) I also don’t know how you guys get by with one bottle of FCLO for only 3 months. I think I go through two or three times that amount just by myself, and then there’s my kiddo…anyhow, I really appreciate the idea of categories and your sharing your real-life experiences. Thank you! FYI – Where I live, fresh milk is $7/gal., pastured eggs $6/dozen, whole organic chickens are $4+ per pound & free-range are $3.49.lb., we can’t get raw cream but grassfed is just a little more than what you pay, can’t get raw butter but pay around $9-$10/lb. for grassfed butter (cheaper in bulk through Azure Standard), grassfed ground beef $6/lb. and half a cow is also about $6/lb.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top