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?