As I've shared before, I was trying to feed my family of four for under $200. We did okay at first, but then I found that our food storage was going down and not being replenished. So I increased our monthly grocery budget to $250 a month.
Truth be told.....I'm struggling. A lot.
I have found that for the $200-$250 budget to really work, I need to do the coupon thing. It does help, but not on everything. I've tried using the Grocery Smarts website, but haven't spent much time figuring it all out. Another thing to add to my to do list. **and another sigh**
But today we're not going to dwell on my failures as a grocery shopper. Instead, we are going to focus on a few little tips that make it easier to cook dinner and hopefully less expensive. Because I'm such a positive person and all.
First of all, I shop the ads whenever possible. When I find certain products on a really good sale, I try to stock up. Especially things like meat. It's not such a great idea for fresh fruits or veggies. Because of the aforementioned "going bad in the fridge" reason. Also, cereal is a great item to stock up on. You can frequently combine a coupon with a great sale price and pay less than $2.00 a box. And it's a lot harder for cereal to go bad. I have managed to do that, but it's more of a challenge.
This next tip isn't so much of a money saver as it is a time saver. When ground beef goes on sale, it's often for a large package. Sometimes it's called a "chub". Which makes me laugh and make jokes at the ground beef's expense. One option is to divide it raw, assuming that it comes in a format that makes this reasonable. OR you can cook it all up at once. I then divide it into freezer bags in one pound (or so) divisions. The wonderful thing about this is that when it's time for dinner, I just pull some out of the freezer, run the bag under warm water until it loosens and pop it into a frying pan. Frozen. I add the seasoning and some water and it defrosts, "cooks" and seasons all at once. It's a huge time saver and makes dinner time so much easier. Which is nice because by dinner, I'm tired and the kids are tired and a fast dinner is the only thing that will save us from the deliciously enticing drive thru. Or a breakdown.
The one thing that has really helped me to become more aware of our grocery budget and how quickly it's depleting is by using cash. You have probably all heard of the envelope method for budgeting and, although I don't think it's very realistic for your entire budget, it has worked well for our grocery budget. We've also used it for the eating out budget and entertainment budget.
I also make a pretty specific list and stick to it. That's the hardest part. Learning to stick to the list. Which is hard when you've had a rough week and you really need some sort of food related coping mechanism. Not that I ever do that....ahem......
I also hear that avoiding Costco at all costs is really good for the budget as well. Thankfully, I don't have a Costco card and only go when I coerce my sister into taking me so I can get clothes for my girls. And mango salsa.
Now, my bloggy friends, it's your turn. Clearly, I'm needing some of your tips for staying on a budget. Or fun stories about completely blowing your grocery budget. Or you can just tell me I'm pretty. I'm not too picky.