I have a vision for 100 days of real food on a budget. . . My first thought is, what is my budget? My second thought is, how do I separate daycare/business food from household food? My third thought is, what are my parameters?
To calculate budget, I’m considering these factors (after removing daycare costs)= a family of 7 on maximum SNAP benefits would receive $1,052 each month for groceries. Since I’m expecting, if we received benefits, we’d also qualify for WIC which provides approximately another $150-200 in a food package each month. I keep hearing stories about how SNAP recipients cannot afford to eat decent food. . . somehow, this doesn’t add up in my mind. Based on these figures, I’m going to set a goal of $1000/mo to feed our family of 7. I’m going to allocate an additional $300/month for daycare specific foods (reminder: I run a state certified in home childcare) and $100/month for household supplies/toiletries. In all that adds up to $1400/mo. Even without daycare, that’s a breakdown of $200/month for each person including supplies. Not unrealistic. Some foods from our household stash get shared with the daycare, there is just no way around that. None of the daycare foods get shared with my children because they don’t eat bread, cereal, juice, crackers, granola bars, etc. . . This breaks down to $33.33 per day or $4.76 per person per day.
Since we are already a little over a week into the month, and I’ve purchased all of our cleaning supplies and toiletries (hopefully), I’m going to reduce this months budget to $750, I will also calculate what I’ve spent on supplies and decide if the budget is exhausted. I will place that in a cash envelope and remove my debit card from my wallet. I am placing $250 in the gas budget (I put our gas budget on Costco cash cards). I will place $100 on the big van card, which has at least a week before it needs filled and $150 on the “small” vans (our 7 seater) card. Hubs drives across town for work, so he needs $50-60/week for gas.
So, that’s our budgeting parameters. On to the second question of how to separate daycare expenses. I will have a separate envelope for daycare items. I have it down to a science to find the best price per serving for daycare snacks. Some foods are easy to separate others (like fruit) not so much. . . we will see how things divide up this month and re-evaluate if I need to shift budget items or increase daycare budget to cover more items.
What are our food parameters? I’m not feeling like we can be 100% Paleo right now. . . due to pregnancy and major aversions and the kids activity level leaving them craving healthier carbs. These kids will happily devour 10 lbs of fruit in a day, but we just can’t afford that! So, in order to live within our budget I’ve decided we will make the following modifications (always subject to change if we feel this isn’t working for our health):
Breakfast: include 1/2 cup serving of soaked steal cut oats, soaked brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potato along with eggs and a piece of fruit.
Lunch: stick with the hard and fast list which includes: at least 2 veggies, only 1 fruit, a protein, 1-2 healthy fats, and possibly one approved “treat” if I have them made. My plan to control “treats” is to make a batch of a few items on the weekend (almond flour cookies, date bars, etc. . . ” and separate each into a bag in the freezer labeled by name. Then each child already has their allocated stash for the week.
Snacks: after school is veggies or fruit + protein (after eating any leftovers from the lunch box), any other time is open veggie tray.
Dinner: limit inclusion of gf pasta, rice, or potatoes to 2x weekly (sweet potatoes don’t count in this). Serve at least 50% veggies, add healthy fat to increase satiation.
Do I include the cost of chicken feed? We spend about $50/month on organic, soy free feed for our 13 hens. They provide us with 4-6 dozen eggs each week. Far cheaper than buying free range, organic eggs at the farmer’s market.
Budget Breakdown for the remainder of March in envelopes or cash cards:
$700 groceries (since I started this post, I finalized a co-op order for 50lbs of gluten free oats, so that reduces the remaining budget by $50. I also pre-ordered an organic CSA box for $25.00 but will pay for that in the next few days).
$225 daycare specific items
$250 gas on Costco cash cards
$140 misc. (I have a MFM specialist appointment next week that will probably consume most of this).