Calling all grocery shopping pros

I NEED YOUR HELP!!!

My husband and I have been trying to stick to a budget and over the last month we've found that we spend WAY more than we thought we did on groceries.

I feel so out of ideas. I already take the weekly ads and sit down every week to plan out a weeks worth of menus and make a grocery shopping list accordingly. We don't eat any prepackaged foods. I make my husband's and child's lunches (for work and school). We don't eat out often. I always make our meals based on what meat is on sale that week. I don't use coupons because most of the stuff that takes a coupon is pre-packaged and boxed foods that we don't eat.

We have a food budget of $500 a month... that's just food. I thought that was generous, but it turns out we are half way through the month and I've already spent $350. I talked with my husband about it. He said he's willing to eat less meat and even eat less period. He thinks maybe we eat too much or maybe we just eat too much meat. This is huge coming from my man who is a very in-shape, active, muscular, meat and potatoes eating machine! I try to keep our menu varied so he doesn't get bored with what we eat. I also try to keep it healthy... we don't eat casseroles (which have a lot of creamed soups and such in them... I love casseroles though!), and we don't eat deep fried food.

Here's what our menus generally look like:

Breakfast:

cold cereal/milk or
oatmeal with raisins or
egg burrito or
eggs and toast or
eggs and potatoes

Lunch:

leftovers or
lunchmeat sandwiches or
peanut butter and jelly sands

Dinner:

A slow cooked, grilled or sauteed meat
A side of rice or potatoes
A side of green veggies or salad

Deserts:

I try to keep ice cream or make some cookies or a pie regularly available.

We snack a lot on cold cereal or fruit.



So that's how we eat.

Today I took an inventory of everything in my freezer, fridge and pantry. I came up with 10 pages of items and I was overwhelmed with all of the odds and ends of things I have yet don't know what to make with them. I decided that if I had an inventory at least I could refer to it to try and use what we have on hand to supplement my grocery shopping list and replace as necessary.

I would just love to hear any of your ideas, recipes, etc. to help me better budget groceries and meal planning for a family of four who eat as we do.

Do any of you have good vegetarian dish ideas?
What is your grocery budget like?
What do you do to keep it as low as you can?

Thanks!

Isaiah 51:3

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