Our Grocery Budget

In my circle of young married friends, the topic of grocery budget has come up many times.  We are all in the same boat…new to running a home, learning to cook, and trying to save money.  So I thought I would share the little I have learned over the past year on grocery shopping and budgeting.  CIMG9358 Coupons

There are some ladies who are miracle workers with these things.  I on the other hand am not that lucky.  I do clip coupons but only for things we buy on a regular basis.  In my early couponing days I found that I was buying things with coupons and on sale, for a great price, but it wasn’t necessarily something we needed.  I try to stick to our normal items as this saves me time and money as I was buying things we wouldn’t otherwise have considered buying in the first place.  I live in California and so I miss out on the whole double-triple coupon thing but I do have many lower priced stores like Wal-Mart and WinCo.  I have found that by simply buying store brand items I save more than the sale and coupon on a name brand item. 

For the coupons I do use, I have a coupon binder that I have it organized by category, along with calculator and pen to do calculations in order to find the best price.  Having such a binder is also a great conversation starter if you are looking to make friends (and meet other bloggers) at the store.  :)DSC_0429 Menu Planning

Probably the biggest money saver has been changing over to menu planning weekly.  Before I would stock up on the regular staples and whatever looked good.  I would make meals from whatever we had.  Now, I plan what we are going to eat for the week depending on what we already have.  I make our meals surrounded around those items so I am buying as little as possible, only buying things we really need.  The only problem with this is that if I plan incorrectly or we eat up too much of what I was relying on, sometimes there is not much food left in the house.  I am trying to get better at this as I spread out our snack food and other staples to have in the house for emergencies such as this (plus my husband comes home for lunch so I have to take that into consideration outside of our cooked meals we have together). 

I have been able to lower our grocery bill consistently over the past few months.  Right now our goal is $50 a week (for 2 people) and I am still trying to find ways to lower that.  Amongst my peers, this is really low, compared to some of the crazies out there feeding their family of 8 on $100 a month…I am not quite there yet. DSC_0410 Shopping Sales

Along with my weekly menu planning, I also plan what we will eat depending on what is on sale.  This usually pertains mostly to meat and produce.  Right now while there is so much great fruit in season, I usually buy two kinds, whatever is cheapest that week.  By shopping sales this also usually requires me to hit multiple stores in one day to get everything I need that week.  This is not as tedious as it may sound.  I go grocery shopping every week on the same day and hit each store from closest to furthest.  Plus I am usually only buying a handful of items (I do the majority of my shopping at WinCo) so getting in and out of the store relatively quick is easy for me to do.  CIMG8824 Eating Seasonally

As I mentioned above, buy eating seasonally, you are eating food at it’s cheapest.  We eat a lot of fresh produce over the summer and frozen in the winter.  This also goes for the type of food I cook.  Barbecues in the summer, casseroles in the winter.  CIMG0260 Healthy/Low Calorie vs. Inexpensive

The one area I don’t always go for low price is when it comes to health or calorie count.  For awhile I was trying to cut out meat at least once a week to save money.  And things like potatoes and bread are all relatively inexpensive.  The problem?  My waist line.  I have changed our eating habits to include 1/2 of our meal to be fruits and veggies, about 1/3 to be lean protein, and the rest to be carbs and starches.  This costs us more money but I find it worth it in maintaining our weight and staying healthy.  I also will buy certain items if there is a substantial difference in calorie count.  Things like light mayo and ground turkey are well worth the extra money in my opinion.  Plus, eating healthy will save you money in the long run.

What does your grocery shopping look like?



8 comments:

  1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who can't figure out how to get $200 worth of groceries for only $5 by using coupons :)

    My grocery shopping is similar to yours; I plan our meals and try to buy in season.

    It's so hard though, with three teenage boys (who all play football) in the house. They are constantly hungry!! Our grocery bill is usually $150 a week. I have definitely had to become more frugal with my choices instead of just buying what looks good.

    I try not to compare myself to those families of 8 who can eat for under $100 a month; it's too hard a goal for me to obtain (at least right now). A lot of them do things like buy half a cow at the beginning of the year in order to cut down on the high price of meat. While quite admirable, that is just not a possibility for us, although I'm sure all the boys would love the sight of all that meat :)

    Have a great day!

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  2. Good post, Ashley!! I need to get back on track with my meal planning b/c we haven't been great with that...

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  3. What a FUN post - I love learning how other's do their chores - especially when it comes to groceries! Thanks for the tips.

    Was wondering about your fabulous plates that you feature in your pictures?! May I ask where they are from? I must put them on my christmas list!

    Happy Monday!

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  4. Great post! I try to stick to about $125 per week or less for myself and my three kids. My granddaughter doesn't really eat that much yet. She's only 10 months old. :) I barely ever use coupons unless it's one of those checkout coupons for like $5 off my next shopping order. I buy only what's on sale (mostly, unless I really MUST have Miracle Whip or something and it's not on sale). I buy mostly store brand too. I have been trying to meal plan too around the sale ad. If I make a plan for the whole week and buy all the food, I am much less stressed and less tempted to just run to Taco Bell. I also try to meal plan around what I already have on hand, the less I have to buy, the better. :)

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  5. I try to do the coupon thing, but some weeks it just doesn't work. And I'm w/ you I don't want to buy a bunch of stuff that we don't need just b/c I get it cheap. It's usually not the healthiest stuff for you anyways.
    I am doing my studying so I can get a garden going next spring to save even more on our grocery budget and to get even more fresh foods in.
    I also need to figure out the whole meal planning thing. I don't know why I just don't get it. Life happens I will plan for a meal and then something comes up or I don't have everything for it so I end up cooking something else. I want to though :)

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  6. our goal is also $50 a week, for myself, my husband and my 21 month old daughter. we usally hit it but now my husband is unemployed and taking care of my daughter all day at home, so i need to figure out quick cheap lunches for them.

    i found that prepackaged stuff and soda are the worst values. a lean cuisine for $3 doesn't sound like an expensive lunch, when compared to a $5 or $6 value meal from McD's. But you can make a whole pot of beef spaghetti - 4 servings for $4 if you shop right (so only $1 per serving!). and we only buy a 12 pack of soda or a pound of coffee if it's under $4.

    sadly by not spending much weekly, you do miss the deals when you buy in bulk. like 4 for $10 for 12 packs of Coke, but only if you buy 4. or the deals you would find at a wholesale club like Sam's Club or Costco. We usually try to take on of these trips every other month and spend $50.

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  7. Your posts on frugality are like a breath of fresh air. Not only do you put it in perspective but you inspire me and give me ideas. I have been trying to live like this, and it is difficult, especially with my new found diet restrictions. Keep up the great posts.
    XO
    Katy

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  8. I read this post several months ago, but I keep coming back...

    When you say groceries, are you excluding supplies like trashbags, soap, or detergent?

    My husband and I are pretty frugal, but we made the decision early on that we really wouldn't budget our food too tightly. Fresh vegetables and fruits are so expensive.

    Anyway, I have a $100 a week budget, but that includes Bathroom & cleaning suppies + shampoo, soap, etc.

    I was just curious if you bought EVERYTHING for only $50, or if that is just food.

    Either way, it's amazing. :)

    You might like my friend Stacy's blog, google "Stacymakescents".

    She does coupon-clipping, money-saving classes here in TN.

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