Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saving on Groceries

As I've written before, I have been saving a TON on groceries lately. I've gone from spending $200/week to $100/week for a family of 6. (This does not include the kids lunches for school. It cuts down on a lot of stress to just let them buy their lunch and I'm not buying food that gets eaten before I get a chance to pack them.) Now that I'm playing my "Grocery Game", I'm having fun watching my savings grow!

Every time I see an article about how to save money shopping, I read it. I'm always looking for a good new tip. I usually don't learn anything new. Amy asked me if I had any tips on saving on grocery shopping and I thought, that's a great thing to blog about. I'll share what works for me, and you can share what works for you. I'm always looking for new ideas (other than doing the obvious like buying what's on sale and using coupons). Here's some of mine:

1.Bringing my calculator. This was my friend Dee's idea. I use a budget of $100 that I don't want to go over. If I get to the end of my shopping and I'm over, I have to put things back until I'm under $100. This is my "Grocery Game".

2.Not many snacks. I don't buy the kids favorite snacks much anymore. They really don't need them. I want them to eat better at meals. Snack should eaten just to tide you over until the next meal. If I buy cookies, they eat the whole box in one day. If I buy pretzels, they only eat them because they're hungry and can't wait until the next meal.

3.Using supplies sparingly. I count make-up and cleaning supplies in with my grocery budget. They are expensive! I use every last drop of make-up until it's all gone. I use every scrap of lotion. I try to hold off buying more until I absolutely have to. I use just a tiny bit of cleaners to clean. Cleaning supplies are my gold. Sometimes I dust using a damp cloth so I don't use too much furniture polish. I use just a quick spray in the bathroom. Did you know dish detergent works great for cleaning off soap scum? It's cheap, too.

4.No juice boxes, cans of pop, or fruit snack. I use to buy these and my kids just ate and drank them all up because they were there, not because they needed them. I only buy 1 container of apple juice a week and two liters of pop (once in a while). I want to kids to drink water if they're thirsty.

5.Cheap fruits and vegetables. Every week I buy the ones that are the cheapest, like lettuce, bananas, apples, carrots. I only buy apple cider when it's on sale. I buy more expensive fruits and vegetables when they're on sale, in season, or when they fit in my budget.

6.Eat leftovers. I REALLY eat leftover. If there's a piece of meat from dinner leftover, it's my husbands lunch for the next day. If there's leftover pork, I'll make BBQ pork sandwiches. I even eat the kids leftover breakfasts! I never buy anything special for myself for breakfast because there always seems to be some waffle pieces and orange juice sitting there when the kids go to school, usually just enough for me.

7.Have super cheap dinner nights. A few nights a week we eat REALLY cheap dinners. I'll make french toast sprinkles with cinnamon and applesauce, Kraft mac n cheese with peas, hamburgers on the grill (sometimes with bread as the bun).

8.Do without. Leslie said she does this, too. Sometimes, if I can, I just do without certain items so I can make it to my next shopping day. If I notice we're running low on milk, we might just have water with our dinner. You only need 3 servings a milk a day and one serving is 1 cup, a pretty small glass. My kids get their dairy from a lot of other things, too, like cheese. I'm sure they already get plenty of calcium.

9.Limiting food. Believe me, my family is hardly starving. I think there's nothing wrong with not letting the kids eat as much as they want at dinner. My husband looked at my little meatloaf I made once and said that was never going to be enough for all of us. I told him there would be plenty if we had no more that two slices each. Why should we eat until we're stuffed?

Now, you can't eat like this all the time. I love to cook. I bake a ton of Christmas cookies. I just try to offset the costs a little when I can. I have my favorites that I refuse to give up, but I like to think about Laura Ingalls and how she ate. They ate whatever they had, sometimes just molasses and bread. And Laura lived to a ripe old age! Hopefully you might be able to use one of my ideas about how I watch my grocery bills. Does anyone have any other ideas that work for you?


Tammy said...

You have some great ideas here. As far as the cleansers, most liquid cleansers I use, I dilute with water. They still work great and last much longer that way.

MAGIRK said...

Some really great ideas you have here. We do have a budget that I stick to quite well. DH is an accountant and a stickler on the money, although he leaves me in charge. So it makes me feel responsible, and I'm all about being dependable and trustworthy!

I admire you for doing what you can to save money. It's important! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter. :-)

Kila said...

You're doing a great job. I do many of those things, too. Thanks for the idea to use dishsoap on soap scum. I keep a spray bottle full of dishsoap & water all the time, and do a lot of cleaning with it.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

The best part is that the more frugal you are in your groceries the healthier you eat as a family.

I do all these things that you've mentioned and I also have price limits for things I buy. Like I never buy chicken breasts unless they are less than 1.99/lb. I never buy canned veggies unless they are less than 40 cents a can. I also have stock up prices so if an item is super cheap I buy a LOT of it to see me through until it goes on sale again.

Kitty said...

Yep, that's pretty much how we live and eat too. My grandma used to say everyone should live within their means and that's what we do. :-) x

Karen said...

I agree with Kitty. You just described our life. We're just so pared down to the minimums that it's hard to cut out anything else.

Amy said...

maria that is good info. i know i can do better. i guess i'll just start with baby steps!!! hopefully this year, i will start saving some money off my groceries, or lack there of. thanks again!

Karen said...

My husband suggested a few more that we practice regularly. Buy generic, and always stock up on bulk if you can. We shop scratch and dent when available as well.

suburbancorrespondent said...

Ha! My kids are so sick of hearing, "You know, that would have looked really good to Laura Ingalls during the Long Winter." And can you believe how little sweetener they used? Have you tried baked beans with only molasses? My kids wouldn't even eat it.

Amy said...

We have limited our grocery budget to $70 a month for a family of 4. One of the biggest benefits I've noticed is that we don't waste food. We used to forget about our leftovers until they went bad, and then throw them out. Not anymore.

Yarie said...

Good post! My little family of 3 used to spend $200-$300 a week on groceries...Wow. At the time it seemed ok but now we set a budget of $100. I shop a lot smarter now and use coupons as much as I can and sometimes end up at $85-95 which is great. One really good thing is I stopped buying laundry detergent and make my own thanks to Trent over at As for cleaning agents I use vinegar and water for almost everything and it works great. I also stopped buying single serve boxes of oatmeal and buy the big canister of plain and just seperate into serving size baggies and flavor them myself. I also use the oatmel in my food processor to make oatmeal flour to be used as pancake mix along with whole wheat flour, which I make ahead of time and freeze instead of buying frozen pancakes. This way is cheaper and healthier. I don't buy as many snacks anymore because I make pumkin muffins and freeze them (wrapped individually) as a cheap,easy and healthier option. By the way the pumpkin I use I got for free (about 6 HUGE ones) at the end of pumpkin season and just pureed them and stuck them in the freezer again in little ziplock bags of about 2 cups each.

Sorry for the long post but I thought it could be helpful to some of you out there.

Mommy of Four, I look forward to more money saving tips.