I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this post for a while, but when I was asked on Formspring about being a stay-at-home mom and maintaining a budget, I thought it was about time.

Living on one income means living on a budget. It’s not about how much we have, it’s about how far we can stretch it. How much we can do with what comes in every month in terms of our lives. There are of course non-negotiable expenses. Bills that have to be paid each month. But after that, we need to do our best with what’s left: food, home, savings.

I’ll admit, we haven’t been doing as well as we could be. We’re fine, but we’re not saving like we should be. And this is the time in our lives to do it! We recently sat down and decided, enough — it was time to get serious about where our money was going. We sat down and looked at what was coming in and what was going out, or more specifically, where it was going out to.

And the number one biggest expense? Food.

Between running to the store whenever, lunches on the go and multiple — multiple — trips to Starbucks and the like, we were spending far more than necessary and it was a wake up call.

So I hatched a plan: in order to get serious about our food budget, I was going to be honest about it here. On the blog. On the internet. I’m setting a monthly limit and am going to hold myself accountable on these pages. Both for me, and also for anyone else looking to do the same for their budget.

Here’s my plan for spending:

* Each month I will set a $400 food budget. I know this may sound high to some (or low to others), but based on what we were spending, I think this is an attainable goal. My long-term goal is to spend less than $400, but I feel this is a good start for us. This $400 includes groceries and home supplies/toiletries.

* Coffee purchases will be made from an account which requires us to use 10 debits a month to maintain a high interest rate return. We have to make 10 purchases, so they might as well be small. That allows us for on average two a week, making it more of a treat and less of a “need”.

*Each week I will go through the grocery circulars that come in the mail and plan my shopping list around them. I will make meal plans. I will use coupons when available and in addition, shop at local farmers’ markets.

Here’s my plan for staying accountable/helping others hoping to do the same for their budget:

* Once a week, I will share a recipe I made while cooking on a budget. I will do this while continuing to eat fresh produce and meat, organic whenever possible. (We don’t eat a lot of processed food now, and I see no reason to start just to save money. I believe you CAN eat healthy and deliciously on a budget!)

* I will break down that recipe dollar for dollar, sharing with you the total dollar amount per serving.

* At the end of the month, I will share my total spending for the month; both with my successes and my stumbles. I will share tips I have learned and invite others to do the same. If you would like to join me on this journey, you can share your successes and stumbles at the end of the month too.

I firmly believe it’s not about doing without, it’s about doing MORE with what you HAVE. Whatever your budget, there are ways to make it stretch and that’s a good thing, no matter how many zeros are in your paycheck.

I’m excited about this journey and I hope you’ll find it interesting/helpful as well!