Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

WARNING: Extremely nerdy and boring blog below. Big spenders, please avert your eyes!

I know this seems a tad OCD (even for me) but it works and, if you are a nerd like I am, is actually kinda fun. It may also be a bit TMI, but I'm pretty open about stuff and love to share tips whenever possible. So if you don't care about this and if you are bored already, feel free to quit reading. For those of you left...

Ben and I have dived head first into the Penny Pinching World of Dave Ramsey and have started trying to save money wherever we can. One of the easiest areas for us to do this in is the grocery store. Because cooking is my favorite past time, I tend to try fancy recipes with expensive ingredients and insist on using fresh vegetables and herbs in all my meals. But with the rising cost of groceries, our supermarket bill has risen significantly in the past few months. Obviously, we can't help that gas prices are ridiculous and the price of groceries are going up in response, but I can be smart about how I shop.

After budgeting and "naming" every dollar we make (as Mr. Ramsey says to do) we found we were spending nearly $100 a week on groceries. That's $400 a month. I didn't realize that was high until I saw that Jon & Kate only spend $150/week for a family of 10! I mean come on people, it's just little ol' Ben and me, so if Kate can spend that little then so can I. I decreased our grocery budget to $150/every 2 weeks. I am proud to say that Saturday we made it out Wal-Mart's door spending only $133 for 14 days worth of groceries! We were able to painlessly cut $65 from our bill. We didn't even have to put anything back. We just payed attention to everything we bought and now we have an extra $130 month (without even clipping coupons yet)!

Money Saving Tips:
  1. Plan your meals! I cannot stress this enough. If you are still having trouble with this, please read my previous blog or feel free to email me for help. I really look forward to doing this every other week and would love to help our family get on a schedule too. If you are able to plan and know EXACTLY what you need when you are in the store, you will save valuable time and money.
  2. Choose meals based on ingredients. For instance, if I know I am going to make chili and will have lots of leftovers, I will plan to have chili topped baked potatoes on another night. Also, I mentioned I am a fan of fresh herbs. To make myself feel better about buying them, I will make sure to plan a few meals using the same herb. That way I don't buy a whole bunch of cilantro and only use 2 tablespoons of it and feel guilty for wasting the rest.
  3. Buy in bulk. We shop at Sam's for large bags of frozen items. They have great tilapia and salmon. They are also individually wrapped so they last for a long time in the freezer. We just pull out a couple of filet's the night before we need them and they are ready to cook and serve in a matter of minutes when I get home from work. We also buy the big 5 lb. packs of ground beef. It saves about .$20/lb. When I get home, I just divide it up into 1 lb servings and freeze in Ziploc baggies.
  4. Shop at Aldi. We buy canned foods, bread and milk there. The milk is $1.99/gallon and the bread is $.99 a loaf. Same thing we buy elsewhere, just cheaper. This alone saves us over $5, which might not seem like much, but it all adds up.
  5. Cut coupons. I did this when I first moved here and was living on a single gal's budget for the first time. It really saves a lot of money if you do it right. The key is not to buy something just because you have a coupon for it. I plan my meals around the coupons I have and only buy what I need. So what if that special new cranberry juice has a $1 off coupon for it? I don't like cranberry juice - no need to try it.
  6. Keep a tally of grocery prices as you shop. Last week we added up every single item on Ben's cell phone calculator as it went into the cart to make sure we stayed under budget. Now this is one of the things I warned might be a little too OCD for you. But it really helps. A) Because now we notice how much things cost and are able to recognize when the price goes up. B) We realize that we are nearing our budget total and are able to make sure we do not go over. Last week we stayed way under budget without even trying. I do dread the day that we have to put stuff back, but I also think it is important not to say, "Wow, we have $20 left. What do you want to get?"
A lot of these things may be "duh" tips for you. This whole budgeting thing is new to me and almost like learning a foreign language. So the more I figure it out, the more excited I get about it! Please feel free to write back with any money saving ideas that helps your family to save money.


Camron & Martina (Plus One) said...

I am proud of you. This blog is one after my own penny pinching heart!

{Amanda} said...

ok martha...this is fantastic!

seriously, i cannot believe you tally things up by the penny while shopping.

Where is Aldi again? I can't believe milk is only $1.99 a gallon.

::The Grizzles:: said...

Aldi is on Greensprings by Mazer - across from Publix. Remember that you need a quarter for the buggy, will need to bring your own bags and that they only accept debit cards and cash. But I think that is well worth the savings!

Melanieshea said...

I stumbled across your blog tonight from The Grizzles blog. I went to school with Camron Penter and just found their blog as well.
I LOVE your blog! I have been just going back reading older post.
We just started clipping coupons and watching our every penny and it is amazing what you can actually save!!!
I will be marking you as a Favorite;)

Melanieshea said...

I'm crazy...I am on YOUR blog...I meant I stumbled from the Penter's blog..;) lol