Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Saving Money on Groceries

Pinterst Test: Also seen on my Pinterest Tested By Krista Blog.

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half: Tips and Tricks

 When I saw this on Pinterst, I was quite intrigued. I am the first to admit that I despise going to the grocery store, I feel like that is all I do, and I hate spending money on cocoa pebbles and $10 worth of apples (and getting only 6!). So, I decided to give some of the suggestions a try in October.

First suggestion: Menu Planning.

Menu making is not a new concept for us. We used to make a monthly menu all the time. Then...I don't know...laziness happened? Menu planning is nice because nobody asks me, "What's for dinner" as they just have to check the menu. Nice. It is also nice in that the kids and the hubs can help determine was we have for meals during the month. 

I checked what we had on hand and what we needed, adding to the running grocery list leading up to my visit to the grocery store. I selected meals from Pinterest that we wanted to try as well as old family favorites. For example, this month we are trying a new homemade bread recipe, pasta recipe, chicken nugget recipe, while keeping with our previous taco night and home made pizza. I even through in a non cooking night (we get take out pizza 3 Fridays a month and that is usually the only time we eat out the entire month. Budget: $30!). Planning for the 31 days in October was a lot. Getting food for a family of 5 for 31 days seemed crazy to me. But, I will get to that. 

Okay, so after making a menu, writing my list (including price matching from other stores to Walmart), coupon clipping, I thought was ready. I really had no idea how to prepare for a month. It was really overwhelming. I knew I would be making a trip in mid month to get milk and some fresh fruit (Bread I get a bread store for $2 total twice a month).

The first month was last month, October. I visited Walmart for my main groceries. I know, nobody likes to shop there. I, as a Walmart Stockholder, am the first to admit that it is not my favorite place to shop for food, either. But, they are so much less expensive than any place else. Additionally, I write down on the top of my list the items I want that are less expensive at other stores, and they will price match! For example, honeycrisp apples were $2.67 a pound at Walmart but were $87 cents a pound at Aldi. Walmart matched Aldi's price. That is a huge savings considering I brought home 15 apples!! Anyway, I also went to Costco (but did not get much in October) and Chris got his shrimp from Bakers...all in one day. It was exhausting. But, when you think about it, I was done for the entire month! I can suffer for a morning into the afternoon if I only have to do it once a month.

By the second week of October, we were out of milk, fruit and really low on cereal. I had no idea how much cereal our family eats in a month. It is crazy! My kids want chocolate mini wheats, chocolate chex and honey nut cheerios for eating before school. Then on weekends, they can have cocoa puffs or cocoa pebbles and Chris has been eating frosted flakes (real healthy I know). Oh, and I eat oatmeal every morning. We spent a huge amount just in the cereal aisle! Anyway, I picked up milk, cereal, grapes and apples totally $44.

By the end of October, the urge to hit the store for something was gone, but so was most of our food. I'm sure we saved money in October only because I was horrible at estimating our needs. I did great with having food for main meals, but I ran out of essentials and breakfast food. We ate more fresh fruit and vegetables at the beginning of the month, moving to our frozen fruits and vegetables towards the end of the month. I found we wasted less food because we ate what we had instead of me running to the store all the time to find THE item each of us wanted. Every time I would run to the store in the past, I would end up spending $50 and at least 45 minutes of my time. 

Now we are on month 2. As I mentioned, we were out of EVERYTHING! I spend $490 between Walmart and Costco on November 1. I was exhausted! We do have a walk in pantry to fill, but we only have a side by side refrigerator/freezer. The freezer is filled to the max. Some of the items (such as shampoo, toilet paper, frozen pizzas, laundry detergent, tooth paste, soap) I do not buy every month. I am still on the learning curve as I do not how much of anything we use in a month. I do stock up when items are on sale, but some things I just can not stock up on.

I am HOPING that I am done for the month. Thanksgiving is still up in the air, but I put that in a different category anyway. $400 is our monthly grocery budget, so I went over by $90 so far in November. So, at this point I can not say I am saving much in the way of money. I am pretty sure, however, I was rarely close to the $400 budget before. I was probably over most months (Since I was putting half of the groceries on a rewards credit card, it was difficult to track the budget. I believe I am going to step away from the credit card just so I can better track my budget. And really, I do not see much in the way of rewards for how much I spend in groceries anyway).

Other places I save money:
* Price matching
* Coupons
* Buy generic wherever possible
* I buy limited amounts of snacks. Snacks like fruit snacks, are never in my house. They do not fill up the kids unless you count their teeth. I do buy triscuits and wheat thins (I'm trying generic this month) for cheese and crackers, I bought gold fish crackers for the kids on sale at Costco which is a rare treat, and Chris asked for Ho Ho's (seriously, he eats like a teenager! :) ). I really had one empty bin this month because one bin is full of the kids' Halloween Candy (so I did not any chocolate treats this month, which is generally a must have).

Results: I would recommend once a month shopping if you have the time in one day to do it. I would shop on a week day without kids if possible. I took Asher with me to Costco. It is just easier to shop alone, and I tend to spend less. It is an adjustment, as I felt like I was worthless not being able (or willing really) to run to the store for every little thing. But, we learn to live on what we have and use it up first. When it is gone, it is gone until next month. That is good and bad. I ran out of oatmeal and had to use the generic up. It was gross, but I choked it down. :)  Next, I will be posting our monthly menu (but we eat weird) to give you an idea what I am up against. I will keep you posted!

The blog this pin came from had other posts that I am looking forward to checking out in my free time. Oh, the life of a stay at home mom, right?! :)
Full pantry...and we still have room!

1 comment:

Courtney F said...

WOW! I am impressed! It's great you have a place to store all of that too. Yay!