Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Grocery Shopping Savings Story

I know that I have shared this before but I have had several readers over the last few months ask me questions about my weekly shopping so I thought I would pull "my story" from the archives and share it again and include updated figures in the budget section below. I hope that this helps answer those questions you may be having about my weekly shopping. If it doesn't, feel free to ask more questions and I will try to answer them.

Background: I have been married for 13 ½ years and for 13 years I have been a stay at home mom. I also home school my 5 children—ages 13yo-2 1/2yo. So far in our marriage, my hubby has had 7 different jobs along with four different times of unemployment (two times of unemployment were over 6 months). Usually the unemployment would come as a surprise to us, he would go into work one day and the manager calls him to tell him he can pack his belongings and go home. When those "surprises" have come we might not have much in our bank savings account BUT we have food on our shelves to last us at least a week (basically long enough to get our last paycheck and get filed for unemployment). Knowing that a "surprise" could come upon us again, I work at having a consistent stockpile.

Struggles: Hubby grew up eating lots of pre-packaged foods and I grew up eating from scratch and garden fresh cooking. Once we were married, I fell more into the pre-packaged food route along with very little from scratch foods to please hubby's way of eating. However, about 3 years ago, my hubby was diagnosed with high cholesterol with extremely high triglycerides along with high blood pressure. He has gotten his numbers down tremendously through medicines and me changing cooking and shopping habits. I am slowly (read ever so slowly!!) changing how I cook to more from scratch cooking rather than pre-packaged foods. However, I have to be careful as to how much I change and how many new things I cook or bake at once because I live with a bunch of picky eaters! Yes, I have picky eaters who only like certain veggies and not much in the way of fruit. I also have a bunch that doesn't like to eat beans or meatless meals! They like their protein in the form of meat! Aside from hubby's health problems and picky eaters, the other thing I have struggled with is not getting every deal I see "advertised". This struggle started when I started reading other blogs, I started thinking that maybe changing my method of grocery shopping and following other's ways would start saving me even more money. Well after 3 months of trying a "new way", I found that I didn't have any more room to put anything and I had spent way more than I had in the past! I had more items (shampoo, vitamins, toothpaste to name a few) than what we would be able to use in 6 months! My pantry was full! My linen closet was full! My freezers were full! One would think that would be a good thing—having a huge stockpile but when that stockpile is using money that you might have been able to use elsewhere or your marriage is suffering from it, it makes it not such a good deal and a waste of money. Once my hubby talked to me about our stockpile, I realized that I needed to stop getting every deal that I saw on the blogs or in the ads. I needed to get back to a method that worked well for my family not someone else's!

Monthly Method: Each week, I clip coupons for only the things I know we will use and keep them in a coupon organizer. I shop the weekly sales at 2 different stores and stock up on good deals using coupons. I also go to Aldi's or Save-A-Lot to pick up any other things that I might need that were not in the sales. Then the following day after updating my "food inventory", I make weekly menus for 3 meals and 2 snacks from what I have on hand in the pantry and freezer along with doing my version of once a month cooking. I have tried making a menu before I shop and it just doesn't work!! I usually will find some markdown meat or something else on sale rather than what I had planned. So I shop this week for what I am going to use next week or the following week for meals. I also shop in such a way where I am not paying full price(exception being milk & eggs) for anything. That is why to many people looking in my shopping trips look strange or unbalanced because there isn't any produce or meat on any given weekly shopping trip. Shopping this way has helped me during those weeks where the good deals are slim or just not there because I can work off of my stockpile. I also do a monthly shopping trip to Sam's club. My hubby only gets paid twice a month so I started doing a major shopping trip twice a month and then the other two weeks getting stockpile items and essentials to finish up meals for the week.

Budget: If someone were to ask me what is my monthly grocery budget, I would have to say that I do not have one at least one that is set in stone. Some months I only spend around $300 for food, paper products, toiletries, and cleaners while other months it can be close to $900. However, when I do year end averages, I find that my grocery/non-grocery category averages around $600/month for the year. That is a pretty good average considering that I am feeding seven people who love their meat and potatoes meals and the way that prices for groceries has increased over the last year. Also 4 of the 7 are growing boys who seem to have hollow legs to fill up for at each meal!

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Extraordinary Ordinary Life said...

I have read this before, but I always like to see your method of grocery shopping.

Snow White said...

thanks for sharing!