Tuesday, March 28, 2017

$400/Month Grocery & Sundries Budget For Two

One of my ongoing goals is to get my grocery bill down.  Part of the reason I couldn't do this while I was on the road is because I didn't have a local address to have stuff shipped to.  Now that I'm settling down in one place it's the perfect time to get this going.

I regularly spend $600 to $800 per month on groceries.  I know this because I budget $500, but blow that before the middle of the month, and then use all my small checks for more groceries.  What I mean is, I get a big royalty payment from Amazon once a month, which is what I live on.  But I also get little payments from Google, Smashwords, and Audible starting on the 17th.

All of those 'little' checks, which range from $120-$400, go straight to the grocery store (and gas station to a lesser extent).  I always intend to have them go into my savings account but they never get there.

So here it is, my $400/month for two budget.  This is a Grocery and Sundries budget.  I often see sites saying 'Groceries for $200/month' and then they just go into how to save on your food bill.  For me groceries are EVERYTHING you buy at a grocery store.

Some notes: 
  • I need large amounts of carbonated water.  I am constantly fighting dehydration due to the lack of a large intestine. I can't give any scientific proof for what I'm about to say, but I can drink still water until my stomach is gurgling with it and I will still feel thirst and have the symptoms of dehydration (leg cramps, chapped lips, headaches).  With carbonated water I actually get hydration.  I really need it, and that's why it takes so much of the food budget.  There is no place where I can exchange Sodastream tanks here.
  • I make one meal a day that becomes both lunch at noon and dinner in the evening.  Cooking a big meal twice in a tiny RV kitchen, where water and grey water space is at a premium, was not feasible.  I've done it like this since we started full-timing and will continue since it's just easier for me and the dish washer.
  • The prunes are a mandatory must-have for my mom.
  • My mom is the only one who eats a breakfasty breakfast.  I wake up when it's time to make her lunch, so I eat lunch for breakfast.  (I stay up late writing.)
  • This budget is for 31 days, so it will be slightly less during shorter months.
  • Walmart.com has better prices than Amazon.com on many things and gives free shipping on most items once your total is over $35.  (For USA only, sorry).  I've linked to the exact products I intend to buy on Walmart.com or Amazon.com where applicable.  The stuff without links will be bought at local grocery stores.  Getting non-perishables online with free shipping is a great option, and often cheaper than in the stores.
  • You can't buy this all at once or the fresh stuff will spoil.  I'm probably going to plan to go shopping once a week, or every two weeks.  
  • I put my recipes at the end.
  • This budget is going to be less than what's stated because I allow for buying things many people already have handy.
Okay, sorry for all that blabbering.  Here it is:

Breakfast Foods
2 Drums of 42oz Oats  $4.96
4 Drums of 18oz Prunes  $15.76
4 Bunches of Bananas  $8.00
1 Tub of Folgers 30.5oz Coffee  $8.47
1 Coffee Creamer 16oz  $3.17 (My mom uses this to whiten her coffee)
2 Cans Evaporated Milk  $2.00 (This is what I use for my coffee)
1 Box 250 Packets Coffee Sweetener  $2.15

Breakfast Total -  $44.51

Lunch/Dinner Foods
14 Pounds of Chicken  $17.50
14 Pounds of Pork $21
5 Kielbasas $11.50
2 Dozen Eggs $4
1 Bag of Hamburger Patties $9
1 Package of Sandwich Meat $2.50
2 Packages of Hotdogs $4

8 Cans of Tuna  $5.92
1 Package of Flour Tortillas $1.58
1 Loaf of Wheat Bread $1
8 Packages of Ramen $1.50
10 Pounds of Rice $5.69
6 Boxes of Mac and Cheese $3.24
10 Cans of Pinto Beans $7
2 Cans Refried Beans $1.70
4 Cans of Green Beans $2.78
2 Cans of Bamboo $2
5 Cans of Peas $3.75
5 Small 8oz Cans of Tomato Sauce  $2.20
1 Jar Minced Garlic $1.98
1 Bottle Soy Sauce $1.88
2 Stir Fry Seasoning Packets $1.56
5 Fried Rice Seasoning Packets $4.90
1 Jar Goya Adobo Seasoning $1.82

5 Bunches Fresh Cilantro $5
2 Bags of Onions $4
3 Bags of Potatoes 5lbs $3
4 Bags Spinach $6
4 Zucchinis $4
1 Head Lettuce $1
1 Pound of Tomatoes $1
1 Pound of Cheese $2.50
3 Cans Evaporated Milk $3
1 Box of Salted Butter $2.50
5 Bags Frozen Broccoli $7.50
5 Bags Frozen Brussel Sprouts $7.50
4 Bags Frozen Cauliflower $6
1 Drum of Corn Starch $1.18

Lunch/Dinner Total -  $174.18

1 Case of Still Water $2.95
3 12-Packs of Diet Soda $10
22 6-Packs of Sparkling Water $60.94

Beverage Total -  $73.89

Snacks/Other Food
1 Bag of Flour $1.74
1 Bag of Sugar $1.86
1 Box Powdered Milk $6.98
1 Bag Chocolate Chips $1.88
1 Bag Brown Sugar $1.98
1 Bottle Vanilla Extract $1.98
1 Drum of Baking Powder $1.82
1 Box of Baking Soda $.72
1 Box of Raisins $1.94
1 Bag of Apples $3.50
3 Jars of Jam $5.94

Snacks/Other Food Total - $30.34

Cleaning Supplies & Bathroom Stuff
36 Rolls of Cottonelle Toilet Paper $18.99
1 Feminine Hygiene (um...you know) $3.74
1 Box of Trash Bags  $4.44
1 Bottle of Laundry Detergent $5
1 Bottle of Dish Detergent $1
1 Toilet Cleaner $2
2 Rolls of Paper Towels $2
2 Bars of Soap $1.47
1 Set of Shampoo and Conditioner $4.98
1 Container of Disinfecting Wipes $2.27
1 Tube of Toothpaste $1.96
1 Thing of Hand Soap  $.98

Cleaning Supplies & Bathroom Stuff Total - $48.83

Cat Stuff
32 Cans of Wet Cat Food $14.72
1 Bag of Dry Cat Food $3.74
1 Tub of Cat Treats $7.24
2 Bags of Cat Litter $8.86

Cat Stuff Total - $34.56

GRAND TOTAL:   $406.31

I'm not too worried about being a little over because I have a lot of stuff on this list already.  For anyone who wandered here looking for an idea for a grocery budget I'm sure you have some stuff or may not need some of the stuff I need.  I'm sure we can all get this below $400.

Okay, so we have this big list of food.  How do I intend to use it?  I plan on making a few main dishes.  Here's what I'll do with the food:

Rice and Beans with Kielbasa
1 Kielbasa Cut up
1 Bunch Chopped Cilantro (cut off the stems)
2 Cans of Pinto Beans
1 Tablespoon Garlic
1 Diced Onion
1 Bag Frozen Broccoli
1 Teaspoon Adobo
1 Small Can Tomato Sauce
2 Cups Rice

Cook the rice in 4 cups of water in a rice cooker or boil in a pot with a lid that has a hole in it.  If you don't have a lid with a hole, then crack the lid a little on the edge of the pan so steam comes out.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to super low heat until the water is absorbed by the rice.

Brown the Kielbasa in a large skillet or wok and then set aside.  Dump your diced onion in the Kielbasa grease with the cilantro, garlic, broccoli, adobo, and a cup of water.  Simmer until the onion is translucent.  Add the beans and tomato sauce and bring back to a boil, stirring so it doesn't burn.  Turn off the heat and mix in the Kielbasa.  Combine with the rice and serve. I'll make this 5 days.

Mashed Potato Mofongo With Chicken
2 Pounds Peeled Potatoes
2 Pounds Chicken
Half a Can of Evaporated Milk
Green beans

Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish that doesn't use potatoes...but that's what's cheap and available, so we're using it.  Make mashed potatoes using evaporated milk instead of regular...because it's cheaper than regular milk and never goes bad.  Cook the chicken after seasoning it well with the Adobo.  Shape the mashed potatoes into a bowl and put the chicken on top.  Serve with canned green beans. I'll make this four days.

Chicken or Pork Fried Rice
2 Pounds Chicken or Pork, Cubed
1 Can of Peas
1 Diced Onion
2 Eggs
1 Packet of Fried Rice Seasoning
3 Cups Cooked Rice

For this one you follow the instructions on the packet.  I add in the onion and peas regardless if it says to or not.  Make sure to saute the onions before adding in anything else.  I'll make this 5 days.

Loco Moco With Spinach
This is a bowl of cooked rice, topped with cooked spinach, topped with a cooked hamburger patty, topped with a fried egg, topped with brown gravy.  For the gravy: dissolve a heaping table spoon of cornstarch in a cup of water.  Add some broth base and soy sauce and boil until it thickens.  I'll make this two days.

Tuna Macaroni and Cheese
This is boxed macaroni and cheese with canned tuna and cooked broccoli added in.  I'll make this five days.

Chicken or Pork Stirfry
Cubed Pork or Chicken
Stir Fry Packet
Follow the directions on the packet using the zucchini, bamboo, and onion as your vegetables.  Serve with rice.  I'll make this two days.

Sandwich Day
This is what the bread, cheese, lettuce, tomato and lunch meat is for.  You should expect to have four meals be sandwiches for two people (8 meals total).  They don't have to be on the same day.  Have it with cooked and buttered cauliflower.   I'll make this two days.

Ramen Stew
Two packages of Ramen with sliced chicken or pork and brussel sprouts.  I'll make this four days.

Smear a tortilla with refried beans and shredded cheese.  Add in a grilled hotdog or two.  Fold up the tortilla like a burrito and heat it in a pan.  It's a hotdog burrito.  What, you want something better?  This is eating cheap people.  (Salsa or a hot sauce packet from Taco Bell makes this delish.)  Have it with cooked and buttered cauliflower.  I'll make this two days.

Add up all those days and this is lunch and dinner for 31 days.  (Eating the same thing for both lunch and dinner, as I said before.)

For breakfast:  Get a yogurt maker and use the powdered milk to make your own yogurt.  For yogurt starter you just buy a plain tub of yogurt and add a little in to each cup.  Once you start your own you can technically use your own yogurt as starter, but I find it grows thin after a while.  You may need to keep one tub of yogurt in the machine for two yogurt-making sessions in order to get a culture thick enough to make starter with.  Mix a forth of a cup of oats with a cup of yogurt, add sliced banana and/or jam, stir it up, and then put it in the fridge overnight.  My mom will have it with prunes in the morning.

For snacks and treats:    All that flour, sugar, and baking stuff is to make Homemade Chocolate Chip cookies and Homemade Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  Then you'll also have Homemade yogurt with the jam.  With all this stuff in the house there's never a reason to jones for something sweet and run to the convenience store.  Make your own sweets.  And also have an apple every once in a while. 



  1. Nice lists, helpful ideas that can customize as needed.

  2. Do you use the Walmart app? It has a feature built into it called Savings Catcher. Its in the middle of the home page (has a little green pig as its icon). If you open it you can scan any walmart receipt that is not older than 7 days. It will compare the prices of what you bought to the competitor stores in that location. If you paid more at Walmart than the competitor offers it then they give you a rebate. You can cash in the rebate anytime you wish. I've scanned several and have about $6 in rebates. I can ask for it all back at anytime. They issue it back on a walmart gift card..... Anyway its another opportunity to try and save a few bucks and it costs you nothing to do it. Food for thought (pun intended). Have a good one!

  3. Hope you and your sweet mother are both doing well, can't wait for the next season:-)
    By the way, bought your book "Ten steps..." on Amazon. It is great!