Real Food Budget Breakdown

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Let me be honest.

Brutally honest.

Friend to friend honest.

I really hate budgets.

I’ve been putting this post off for as a long as possible. Brownies, green juice, and meal planning are so much more exciting than calculating receipts.

I’ll admit, I’ve been doing everything in my power to avoid this meeting. The meeting where I calculate my receipts, deeply consider my success and failure, and make a practical plan for February. With a cup of coffee in one hand and a big green juice in the other, I’m taking a deep breath and finally conquering this post.

Let’s all remember, I’m not perfect. I’m just a gal on a mission. A mission to get my out-of-control, real food budget manageable. You can read more about that mission here.

My family food budget for four humans plus two dogs and eight laying chickens is $800 a month. For some that number may seem huge for others very small. For our family it’s just right.

The Shopping

One of the goals this month was to limit the amount of places I shopped. I now shop four main sources: local health food store, farmer’s market, Costco, and a local food co-op.

The Stats

Here’s how I spent my January real food budget:

Costco: $180

canned organic tomatoes, organic tomato paste, frozen organic strawberries, organic sugar, organic quinoa, lots of Kerrygold butter, Kerrygold cheese, mozzarella cheese, canned tuna, Irish beer (my husband's one treat)


Farmer's Market: $300

organic local produce, 4 dozen pastured eggs (our chickens are only laying 3 eggs a day with the cold weather), fresh sourdough bread, grass-fed beef

Health Food Store: $311

dry goods (pasta, dry beans, nuts and seeds, grains), fresh organic fruit, grass-fed yogurt, local low-temp pasteurized milk and cream (our co-op took the month of January off, so raw milk wasn't available), raw cheese, olive oil, vinegars, spices, 2 pastured whole chickens, beef bones


Misc: $138

Deposit for 1/4 grass-fed cow: $100. Amazon Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (6 count): $22. Bakery cheesecake (Dustin's birthday): $16

The Grand Total

For the month of January, I spent $929.

I know, I broke my budget.

Remember, my first statement about hating budgets?

The good news: This is a big improvement. Yes, I’m $129 off budget, but at least it’s only $129. Remember the numbers from December and the previous months? If you’re interested, you can read more here.

The bad news: I’m $129 over budget.

My local co-op starts back up this week which means I need to budget for raw milk ($9/gallon) and cream ($11/ quart). I simply don’t enjoy milk when the cream is removed, my reason for buying cream separately.

The Plan

Real food isn’t cheap. I struggle to get the very best on our table without breaking the budget. And every month I break it. I’m confident with fine-tuning there must be a way. A way to make real food work, without compromising the budget.


My strategies for February:

1. Cash: No more plastic. I’m going traditional with the envelope system and cash. Knowing I don’t have the reserves which come from a credit or debit card, I believe the cautious, frugally-minded Kristin will be making an appearance this February.

2. Meal planning: I’m back to planning our meals. Planning meals over a two week period was one of the best budgeting secrets I ever found. In fact, at one point, I was planning monthly. Overachiever. Knowing exactly what I needed for a full two weeks was incredibly helpful. Every last mushroom, lettuce leaf, and slice of cheese were diligently used. You can find the Real Food Meal Plan Kit here.

3. Shop the pantry: I’m blessed to have a large pantry and it’s usually full of delicious grains, a few canned goods, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, and other real food essentials. Before meal planning, I plan to shop my pantry. There are many meals I can frugally make by using the great ingredients already in my possession. My pantry is going to feel the love this February.

How about you?

How was your real food spending in January?

I’d love to hear your real food budget stories.

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  1. says: Kari

    Wow! I think you did great with the amount of organics you purchased! It all looks super yummy and good for you, too! Thank you for your honesty and you gave me some ideas with the foods you purchase. What is it about he Kerrygold cheese and butter that people like? I’ve never had it. Is it a holiday item only?

  2. I love your honesty and how you’re sharing your successes and set-backs. Cause you are right, it’s tough keeping the budget reeled in – especially as a food blogger and having that creative spirit! You are doing great. I am with you on budgets, it’s not that free spirit kinda thing, but a necessary part of keeping the lights on. 🙂

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Thank you so much, Kelly. I really struggled with coming out with the truth of how much I spent, but I know I’m not alone. I think so many struggle with the grocery budget, but don’t want to compromise the good food either. I’m really excited to watch the progress I’m making every month. Thank you for the encouraging words :).

  3. says: Missbigsky 1994

    Your on your way with putting more thought into what you buy and eat. I found that when I cut sugar out of our diet and that also includes sugar sub. not only did I save on groceries but save on Medical Bills. Family felt happier and had more energy. Blisss in Montana

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Thanks. We believe in honey and maple syrup and use sugar for making Kombucha. I’ve seen a huge decrease in our grocery bill since switching to ingredients vs. buying “food”. Pastured meat and raw dairy are our biggest expenses, but I’m confident I’ll be able to bring this budget to $800. Thanks for the comment and following along :).

  4. says: MennoGirl

    Depending on your climate, location of windows and space, you might be able to do some trays of organic greens or try sprouting. Growing sprouts is super easy and they are so good in stir-frys or fresh. I love your plans and recipes. Keep up the good work!

  5. says: Julie Berry

    In your shopping budget I didn’t see paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.),beauty products (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, etc.). Where do those items fit in?

  6. says: Natasha

    Your real food budget looks a lot like mines. We are a family of six and we had to adjust our budget from $800 to $926 per month recently. I know when people hear how much we spend on food per month they always give that really thats a budget look but its what works for us. I always host big family dinners and have a constant stream ofother people children inour house so I have recently started to include all of this into our food budget. Your doing a great job and I enjoyed reading your blog for tips. Like now I’m going to start shopping at Costco, I never thought about them for organic foodand always avoid them. Long winded comment but thanks fo your posts.

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hi Natasha, Glad to know I’m not the only one :). It’s certainly a challenge every month to spend less, but still bring in great quality food. I know in the end it’s so worth it. Thank you for sharing :).

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