The $500 month

Eating poorganically, couponing, and being cheapy-McGreepy are BACK ON, folks. This month I am going to try to return to a more poorganic diet and budget after seriously slacking over the summer. We are going to TRY to feed and diaper and consume all our consumables this month for $500. (eeek!Β  I’m a little scared.) I’m going to try to use good old fashioned cash money so that we don’t cheat. (Pray I don’t drop a $20 dollar bill on the ground. I’m seriously a total klutz. This could happen.)

Can we be poorganic on this amount? (REAL un-processed food, if not purely organic)

Can we stick to $500 TOTAL dollars for consumables, including food, paper goods, and toiletries?

Will Anika FINALLY be potty-trained so I can stop buying dratted Pull-ups?

These are the burning questions that I will be blogging about over the course of the next month.


Today I got $300 cash out and spent $76 at Costco and Ollies. I’ll try to tell you what I bought. Unless I say something was organic, it wasn’t.

  • Pull-ups $24
  • Clementines $7
  • Organic Honey $9
  • Dates $7 (Homemade Lara-bars in the fridge right now. Whoot-whoot! Burned out my twelve year old mini chop food processor. Thppt-thpppt!)
  • Raisins $8
  • Mini Cukes $4
  • Blueberries $4
  • 6 lbs bananas $2.80
  • Jalapeno Palmetto Cheese $4 (Um . . . um . . . I’m trying to think of a way to make this sound poorganic, but all I can think of is how yummy and cheesy it is.)
  • Natural Instincts Hair Dye $3

I don’t have a picture for today’s post. I’m sorry. If I’m going to be blogging every day, you really have to keep your expectations pretty low. I know I will. πŸ˜‰

I’d love you to answer in the comments if you didn’t participate in the Facebook discussion. How much does your family spend per month on consumables?

23 thoughts on “The $500 month

  1. I am so glad you are doing this! I have a child who is allergic to most processed foods and our grocery bills have gotten out of hand. I need to get us back in shape and reading how you are doing will help encourage me to do the same!

  2. not counting gas, right? if we work at it (don’t go out to eat, declare austerity measures), we keep it under $500.this is not counting gasoline, on which we spend close to $500 each month because we live int he middle of nowhere….i haven’t done the cash-in-the-envelope since college. might do it this month to hold myself more accountable.
    kendal recently posted…join the chicken circusMy Profile

    1. Right, not counting gas. Although my gas budget this month will have to be pretty low since the bottom of the barrel is already in sight two days after payday. πŸ˜‰ My husband is only paid once a month, so we budget everything on a month basis. Thankfully, he works .25 miles from our house and I already have practiced walking to the grocery, so we might be in okay shape after all. One day at a time . . .

  3. Thanks for doing this, those of us who live on a tighter budget than some appreciate your more realistic view. Some just can’t afford much organic, we can afford real food, but organic is tough…

  4. I found your blog through another blog. I need to try to keep our bill under $500 too, we’ve almost completely cut out processed foods now!

    We also have an Annika (2 n’s though) that I would love to stop wearing pull ups! She only wears them at night now though. πŸ™‚

    1. I’m glad you found me! I hope you’ll get some good tips and maybe our An(n)ika’s will get their acts together. πŸ™‚

  5. $375. Boo! I could easily spend $100 more, but hey, budgets are budgets. As long as I stay on top of ordering food from the proper places and cooking IT ALL from scratch, we’re good. It’s that occasional trip out or ‘treat’ that really makes it difficult…

    1. Shaye, does that include non-food consumables? You’re a family of 3, right? (Can you hear me trying to make myself feel better? ;))

  6. About $300 to $350 here, including non-food consumables. Most times less. We are about 98% process free, I make everything I can from scratch. We eat everything we can organic, our advantage in keeping our food bill down though, is that we grow a large garden, though this years is a bit smaller then usual… 60′ x 80′. We also purchase what we can’t grow, from local farmers or farmers markets, trying to keep it as local as possible for our best prices. i.e. veggies, this year we picked organic blueberries for $2.60 a pound and froze 50 lbs.throughout the month of June, we picked and froze 40 qts of wild blackberries, strawberries, etc.. all help curve the food bills..

    Just out of curiosity, its been awhile since I have had little ones being potty trained, do they not make quilted training panties anymore? None of my kids could ever wear disposables due to allergies, I notice you and many use night time pull ups. That takes a bite out of your budget?

    This does not include my husbands gas, with the price of gas and distance he has to travel to get to work, I budget $600 to $700 a month depending the gas prices. There are many times in the last couple years he is that he is only getting a 30 to 35 hr work week, so our food budget drops more…

    I am doing rain dances the last months.. the garden will be a very late harvest, its a slow grow, as we have only had one rain since May.

    Katrina, by the way, great blog…. πŸ™‚

    1. We do use cloth diapers/pull-ups sometimes, but she is required to wear Pull-ups for her pre-school until she is potty trained, so we do have to buy them. As for gardening, sigh. It’s just a work in progress I guess. Someday, I’ll get there. πŸ™‚

      1. Gotcha! I have found recently that when I go to the grocery stores website, I find coupons that the store offers for items that give a bigger discount then some of the local clipped papers coupons. Also, the product company has online coupons. Also, there is always a number or website on a product that you purchase, there are many times when I call or go to their website to tell them how often I use their product or how much I love their product, I receive Free or $1 off or higher coupons in the mail… πŸ™‚ Just want to share that with you. .. every bit helps. Companies love to hear from the consumer. πŸ™‚

        The garden is always work in progress. Though we have one every year, it all depends on weather, we have a huge drought this year, everything is stunted and a slow grow, but I know our good Lord will open the skies up soon and bless us with some growing rains. πŸ™‚

        You are a fantastic mom, it’s so awesome that you open your heart and home to all on your blog! πŸ™‚

  7. I just found your blog, and I’m enjoying it. I’m looking forward to this series. We have 3 kids as well (9, 7, 4 yo). I can easily spend $700-800, but I’m trying to be more mindful about my spending so we can save money. We have two kids with multiple food allergies, which keeps costs up. Of course, that doesn’t explain all of the trips to Target, and all of the fast food that appears on our statement each month!

    1. I know! I think my best bet for keeping costs down is to avoid the store entirely. When I did no spending week during Summer of 7, I was astonished how easy it was to save. πŸ™‚

  8. Oh I’m so glad to see your posts! I was *trying* to keep it to $300 for 7 of us, including gas. (Are you laughing?) We’ve cut out paper towels, use cloth diapers (I HATED going back to this after the convenience of NOT having to wash more clothes – did I mention there are 7 of us??!) and are even considering the re-usable cotton squares for potty – for all of us. I know you can use them for #2, but I’m just not ready for that. I have been working my butt off to save a few pennies and sell what we can. Then I get tired, overwhelmed and after scrimping and saving and putting pennies down on our credit card debt – then we go out to eat. The kitchen’s a mess – there are no more easy convenience foods in the pantry, starting from scratch at 7pm is overwhelming with 2 babies and three big kids and just being exhausted at the end of the day. yeah, I know – proper planning. πŸ™ I’ve erased nearly 2 grand this month, only to put it all back on with eating out and my husband’s birthday. My guilt is not leaving enough room in the chair for both of us to sit here. We’ll get back on track today though, and today I “give up my husband” to work for up to 6 days a week. We have a one-year goal of being out of debt – except the house. $100,000. (That would mean also cashing out my retirement of 35g.) I’ll be working on making lara bars and whatever else. Part of my splurging includes buying a dehydrator and a mandolin. For inexpensive meals though – oatmeal (with add-ins such as fruit, or raisins etc) NOT in the box, but bought in bulk and an egg for breakfast (protein and filling) homemade bread and peanut butter and jelly or egg salad for lunches, and beans and rice etc at least once/week. That helps keep the grocery budget down. It’s that darn eating out that erases all our good work.

  9. We spend $600 a month for everything when I include the 1/4 side of beef for the year and divide it out over the months. I shop at 4 stores-Costco, Whole Foods, Walmart and Schnucks(local). We don’t eat out and I cook everynight and take leftovers the next day. We have two toddlers one potty trained (but occasional pullup) and one not. I do menu plan for one month and shop only once for the whole month. I might go once more for some fresh fruit but usually not.

    1. I used to be much better about menu planning for the month, but I’ve gotten lazy over the summer. I’m sitting down to do it again RIGHT now, so you’ve inspired me. πŸ™‚

  10. So did you get a Costco membership? I recently read something about being able to shop there without a membership–if you have someone who can buy you a Costco gift card, then I think you can shop there, just showing the gift card when you go in. We’ll have to share with each other what we find to be our best buys at Costco, although I think things can vary by location.

  11. Sorry, Judy – I like Ghiradelli chocolate chips better. About the same price at Wal-Mart. I went to a restaurant and had the most amazing cole slaw – owner gave me some of the ingredients. Coconut cream, pineapple, lime juice, cilantro – NO mayo. I tried to duplicate at home, but used coconut milk (thought of this when I saw your can in the photo) because the cream has lots of sugar. Not quite the same coconut flavor, but pretty good. By the way, Trader Joe has jarred coconut oil (extra virgin) for $5.99. I just discovered that extra virgin can be used at higher heat and has more of a pronounced coconut flavor than the kind I’ve been using. Great for popcorn!!!

    1. Susan, Vitacost has great organic coconut oil for the best price I’ve found AND I can get you a $10 off coupon. Let me know if you’re interested.

  12. Wow this post really resonated with people! Our average this year has been $600 per month on consumables and $700 if we eat out alot. Hitting $500 is really important to me because we still have hospital bills from the summer to pay off and I desperately want to be dept free as soon as possible! My entire weekend has been spent making various bean dishes, soaking, cooking, etc. to prepare for quicker meals during the week and thus reduce any temptation to eat out!
    Rachel M. recently posted…Finding God in strange placesMy Profile

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