How To: Chop Down Your Grocery Bill (Theoretically)

I'm still working on this myself, so I can't promise that I've got everything covered. Plus, we haven't been particularly keeping track of how much we spend on groceries, so I can't even tell you how much I've cut down on already! (Though, if I had to guess, I'd estimate that our previous grocery spending was in the neighborhood of $300-$400 a month, if you include eating out and ordering in. And that DOESN'T include the money we give to S for Monkey's breakfasts, lunches, and snacks on work days. Yeesh!)

So basically, I've got some beginner tips, because I'm a beginner myself. Here's where I'm starting…

  1. Meal planning. This is the first step in my plan. If I plan our meals, at least one week at a time, I can make sure that I'm only buying what we need. It will help reduce "Oooh, onions! I can buy those and make… something…" and then I never use them, and they mold and contaminate the other things in the vegetable bowl.

  2. I've been using this site for a few different things. First, it has a grocery comparison list, which I've downloaded to my phone so I can see if $0.89 a can for re-fried beans is actually a good deal or not. They also have forums for each state that list local grocery (and other) deals and talk about how to best use coupons and sales. Some of the PYP admins also run grocery lists on another site, which brings me to the next item…

  3. list. I don't know how good the site is for most states, but mine has a good amount of grocery stores and is pretty reliable at getting the new ads up. I love love love this site, because if I'm looking for something specific (let's say... yogurt) I just load up the "ALL-IN-ONE" list and I can do a search in my browser for "Yoplait." Then I see which, if any, grocery store has the best price that week. It's also great for finding stuff to stock up on (toilet paper, pastas, beans, etc) and lists which coupons to use and where to find them. Click here to see a screenshot of what I found for Yoplait yogurt this week. (Sorry for not embedding the image, but in order to not bleed into the right column, I would have had to resize it too small to read!)

  4. Online is where I go first (and where a lot of the printables on the GrocerySmarts list are) but another great thing to try (though it is hit-and-miss…) is to just Google something like "CoverGirl printable coupon" or whatever you're looking for. Along the same lines is loading coupons onto your store card for a specific grocery store. I know Krogers does this, but it's usually for their store-brand, and Husband doesn't like it when I shop at Kroger stores, so I usually pass on this one. Though, if anyone knows a good way to keep track of loaded store coupons, I'm open for suggestions…

  5. Get the Sunday newspaper. This is a case of spend-some-save-more. I spent $60 on three Sunday papers a week for a year, and with all the coupons I get, I can save that amount many times over. Of course, I was able to find a really good deal… but I found that deal in the forum. I wish I had kept track of how much I've saved on my grocery budget, but getting the paper means I also get the 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupons, the 40% off craft store coupons, and $10 off any purchase JC Penney coupons—I'm sure I've saved more than $60 with all of those put together, and I've only been getting the paper for 4 months (and haven't been really utilizing the deal-shopping as I should be…).

  6. Food storage. Another spend-some-save-more in the long run. Three years ago, there was a fantastic sale on canned stewed tomatoes. We bought two flats of them, and we're still going through them. In fact, on Saturday I made chili using mostly things from our food storage: canned tomato sauce, tomato paste, canned corn, canned stewed tomatoes, and dried beans. I also had some onions that I bought and chopped up the previous week, so I only had to buy ground beef and a seasoning packet (because I failed at the flavors, among other things, the last time I tried making chili…) and made a huge batch of chili with tons of leftovers. And it's not just food… I found a fantastic sale on the brand of deodorant Husband uses, so I bought 10 of them—and won't have to buy deodorant for him for a while. In this case, we stock up on things when we have a little extra money and it helps to eliminate the "Crudpuppies! It's 11 PM and we're completely out of toilet paper and we only have $6.24 in the bank account!" Wal-Mart run. That one happened a lot when we were first married…

And that's all I've currently got. We're working on being more frugal, and so far (a week and a half in… haha) it's working decently and seems sustainable. We have to spend a bit more time cooking, but since one of the hardest things for us is figuring out what to cook, the meal planning is helping us cook at home instead of ordering Chinese or pizza or something. I'm planning a two-week shopping trip for Saturday, so this week I can go through the ads and my coupons and see what I can do. I also have grand plans (read: a good idea, but something that will likely not happen) to make my own Fiber One type bars. I love those things, and they're a great breakfast for me (to eat at my desk at work…), but equals out to about $3 a week, maybe $2 if they're on sale and I have a coupon. Not too much, but it'll add up. I might try something along the lines of this recipe, or I might keep looking for something under 180 calories per serving. If I find something good, I'll share!

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I'm a working, crafting, loving, baking, home improving Mamma, trying to make my corner of the world better. I also happen to write a lot about my little boy, because I think he's fantastically hilarious!


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