Having Trouble With $100 Weekly Grocery Budget

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Old 07-28-2011, 06:54 AM
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Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

My husband and I started combing through our bills and finally put everything on a spreadsheet and started a budget. We also set a goal to save to buy a nd car and pay cash for it. I have been using coupons for 2 years and haved saved a lot of money. I also have a decent stockpile of food and supplies. Now that I have reigned in my spending more and keeping every receipt I realize I spend more than I thought I was spending. So, we set a budget of $100.00 per week for 3 adults for groceries including everything (cleaning, bathroom supplies, etc.) My husband and daughter pack their lunch including snacks and drinks for each day. We eat at home for every breakfast and dinner. We go out to dinner once every two weeks. My struggle is with the $100 budget it seems like a stretch to get everything bought for this price. I don't see the good coupons we use to see and I don't see as many good food deals as I had in the past. What do you think, is $100 on target for 3 adults?
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:59 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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I spend $150 for 2 children and 2 adults. I'd think you could do it for $100/week for 3 adults if you really try to stock up on the meats, etc when they are on a good sale as well as other items. You may spend more than $100 those weeks there are great sales, but it will save you money in the long run. That is what I have been doing... stocking up when I can get stuff cheap. I just loaded up on Caprisun for $1/box which is cheap for me, and V8 Fruit Fusion for $1 to $1.50 per bottle which is 50% or better savings). Granted, I bought 30 bottles of juice so it blew my budget for the week, but it's better than paying $3+ per bottle next week.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:50 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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If budget is tight you may need to stop getting some of the convenience items and focus more on homemade items. Instead of buying baby carrots on sale for $1 a pound. Buy a 2 pound bag of regular carrots at aldis for 0.99. Peel them and bag them for lunches. Make up a large batch of breakfast burritos and freeze them in individual servings. Buy large containers of yogurt instead of the individual servings and portion them out into smaller cups for lunches. Make a large batch of lasagna, soup, spaghetti (whatever) and place them into individual containers for lunch. When you make supper always doulble the batch and use the leftovers for lunch, or save several nights worth and have a leftover buffet.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:59 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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If budget is tight you may need to stop getting some of the convenience items and focus more on homemade items. Instead of buying baby carrots on sale for $1 a pound. Buy a 2 pound bag of regular carrots at aldis for 0.99. Peel them and bag them for lunches. Make up a large batch of breakfast burritos and freeze them in individual servings. Buy large containers of yogurt instead of the individual servings and portion them out into smaller cups for lunches. Boil a dozen eggs and use them for snacks during the day. Make a large batch of lasagna, soup, spaghetti (whatever) and freeze them into two smaller portions for quick reheat for a fast family supper. When you make a family meal, doulble the batch and plan to use the leftovers for lunch the next day, or save up several nights worth and have a leftover buffet.

We typically spend about $300 a month for groceries (does not include cleaning or health/beauty) for a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids). We also typically spend $50 a month on dining out. We are also members of a crop share association which gets us fresh seasonal produce every week (included in my $300 monthly budget).

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Old 07-28-2011, 08:06 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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We have 4 adults plus DS who is going to school out of town (I still buy for him and when we visit we take it along). Up until last week we also had a 100lb Lab that got figured into the grocery bill. My normal weekly spending is about $50, some weeks more if there's a good meat sale, other weeks way less.

Do you have an established stockpile of basics as well as HBA? If not, then $100 may be tight for a few weeks. Once you've developed your stockpile, you'll wonder how on earth you ever thought $100 wouldn't be enough. The method that worked best for me in the beginning several years ago was to start out by taking a quick weekly inventory of what I had, and what I would HAVE to have to make meals out of it. For example, if I had pasta, sauce, veggies and bread, I could just add a small package of hamburger to it to make a meal, I already had all the other components. Do this to make a bare bones grocery list for that week, then use the rest of your weekly budget to start building your stockpile of basics and necessities that were the best deals for that week. The next week, you would start the process all over again, but remember that you used your extra money the week before for additional menu basics so you should need fewer of those particular items this week, and so on.

It may take you a month or two, or it may take six or seven months, but you will gradually see your needs decreasing and your weekly grocery bill shrinking. Good luck!
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:10 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Thanks for the reply, I was wondering how I could stockpile at this rate. I do cook large meals and my husband takes leftovers for lunch and one night a week, usually Thursday we eat leftovers from previous meals to clean out the fridge. I have been going to Aldi's for fruits and vegetables. I don't buy frozen pizza or meals. I make all of our food from scratch (pancakes, entrees, casseroles, desserts etc.). I thought about trying to put together a weekly menu to see if that would help. I told my husband we would have to have 2 dinners per week without meat, he is not keen on the idea but he said he would try. That was a good idea on the yogurt. I have been buying Jello pudding for my daughter's snacks and this week I switched to Snack Pack pudding. I was able to stock up on beef tips (6 packs) at Harris Teeter this week along with 5 packs of Smithfield bacon and a bag of chicken breasts.
I am just amazed how much food costs. I consider us to be pretty simple people with simple eating habits, I just keep wondering how in the world people who do not coupon or follow the sales buy groceries. My husband says they go to food banks. It just seems scary sometimes.
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:11 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StLouisClipper View Post

Do you have an established stockpile of basics as well as HBA? If not, then $100 may be tight for a few weeks. Once you've developed your stockpile, you'll wonder how on earth you ever thought $100 wouldn't be enough. The method that worked best for me in the beginning several years ago was to start out by taking a quick weekly inventory of what I had, and what I would HAVE to have to make meals out of it. For example, if I had pasta, sauce, veggies and bread, I could just add a small package of hamburger to it to make a meal, I already had all the other components. Do this to make a bare bones grocery list for that week, then use the rest of your weekly budget to start building your stockpile of basics and necessities that were the best deals for that week. The next week, you would start the process all over again, but remember that you used your extra money the week before for additional menu basics so you should need fewer of those particular items this week, and so on.

It may take you a month or two, or it may take six or seven months, but you will gradually see your needs decreasing and your weekly grocery bill shrinking. Good luck!
I completely agree with all of this! When I first started really watching what I spent it was closer to $150/week. As I built my stockpile, I didn't see a very dramatic decrease in my spending and was discouraged. Now that my stockpile is healthy I spend about $75-$80/wk most weeks for two adults, two teenagers and a dog.
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:12 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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What has really helped me is to separate food from non-food.

I define food the same way the government does- if it can be bought with food stamps and/or does not incur sales tax, then it's food. In my state, that disincludes hot food (like those rotisserie chickens), but the point stands. The reason I do it this way is because the receipts are broken down into "Food Stampable" and "Taxable" categories and it makes categorizing based on receipts really easy.

I discovered that non-food items were chewing a hole through my grocery budget. Particularly non-food items that are consumable. Buying the occasional new butter dish or set of kitchen towels wasn't killing us, it was the toilet paper and dishsoap and razor blades and pet food and ziploc bags, that kind of stuff, the stuff that you use up rather than wear out.

So those are my three categories: Food, Non-Food Consumables, and Durable Goods (which includes shoes and clothing).

Food has been an easy one for me, since we buy meat, milk and eggs direct from the farm, garden and forage intensively, make our own breads and pasta, and do our own canning, freezing, and other preservation. We don't buy much at the regular grocery store. We go mostly to the restaurant supply store and order through friends of ours who own a restaurant, and, in season, go the farmer's market.

But Non-Food Consumables, I am a couponing nut there. I make a good portion of our cleaning and personal care products, but I won't buy dishsoap or oxyclean or bleach or magic erasers without Qs and a sale. I have stopped buying the paper and started ordering Q multiples when I come across a good sale. Even if I have to pay for expedited shipping, it's cheaper than the paper and I know I'm going to use what I'm getting.

Also, for us, personally, a strict weekly budget doesn't work. We shoot for a low overall average. This is year-to-year thing more so than a week-to-week thing, but this is the way we get our expenses the lowest. If we had to adhere to a budget, it would be monthly rather than weekly, since some weeks have a bunch of good sales and other weeks have none.

Just my 2c.
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:12 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Old 07-28-2011, 08:13 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhall View Post
Thanks for the reply, I was wondering how I could stockpile at this rate. I do cook large meals and my husband takes leftovers for lunch and one night a week, usually Thursday we eat leftovers from previous meals to clean out the fridge. I have been going to Aldi's for fruits and vegetables. I don't buy frozen pizza or meals. I make all of our food from scratch (pancakes, entrees, casseroles, desserts etc.). I thought about trying to put together a weekly menu to see if that would help. I told my husband we would have to have 2 dinners per week without meat, he is not keen on the idea but he said he would try. That was a good idea on the yogurt. I have been buying Jello pudding for my daughter's snacks and this week I switched to Snack Pack pudding. I was able to stock up on beef tips (6 packs) at Harris Teeter this week along with 5 packs of Smithfield bacon and a bag of chicken breasts.
I am just amazed how much food costs. I consider us to be pretty simple people with simple eating habits, I just keep wondering how in the world people who do not coupon or follow the sales buy groceries. My husband says they go to food banks. It just seems scary sometimes.
A weekly menu is a TREMENDOUS help. I plan around what I already have. I also try to eat meatless once a week or so. It's not bad.

I agree with you though...food costs really have risen dramatically!
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:17 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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We have 4 adults, a cat and a dog in my household. I usually spend between $50.00 to $75.00 a week (75.00 if I find good deals). I usually get most things at Aldis. I go to bi-lo, food lion, and look for marked down meats and closeout items. Very rarly do I buy name brand items unless there on closeout, marked down or have a really good coupon for the product. It can be done! If I had a $100.00 budget boy I will be in heaven . The budget that I have does include dog and cat food, cleaning supplies and paper products. I wish you the best on your goals!
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:27 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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I spend $100 per week on food, paper products, HB, etc. It's me and my DH and I babysit 1 grandchild everyday and 3 grandchildren on some days. I always have someone at my house eating. My house is the pit stop for our families. There is always iced tea and food here. I don't know how anyone only spends $50-$75 week on groceries. I have never been able to do this. We eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies. I shop at the bread outlets, cook from scratch, etc. I am still not able to get it down. There is no Aldi's here. I think you do a great job! And yes, grocery prices are going up, and the coupons lately have not been very good.
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:35 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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jhall, There are lots of helpful tips so far and I'll add a couple. When making any casseroles or soups/stews use half of the meat called for in the recipe. Add more veggies etc to make up for the volume of meat or add an extender to make it go farther. (Ex add a can of drained black beans to your regular amount of ground beef/turkey when making tacos, burritos or enchiladas). Read the archives in the frugal forums and there are lots of other ways to cut costs discussed there. You can do it!
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Old 07-28-2011, 09:08 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Thanks to you all, I had not thought of looking in the archives. I am going to try harder. I think back to the days when I only cleaned with a little Clorox bleach, comet and windex for all my cleaning needs. We just don't seem to get the great deals with H.T. triples anymore. Going forward I think I will have to revert to those practices. We really like fish, and it has just become a luxury over the past year. I am going to try next week to use a menu and see if that saves me some money also.
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Old 07-28-2011, 10:03 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhall View Post
Thanks for the reply, I was wondering how I could stockpile at this rate. I do cook large meals and my husband takes leftovers for lunch and one night a week, usually Thursday we eat leftovers from previous meals to clean out the fridge. I have been going to Aldi's for fruits and vegetables. I don't buy frozen pizza or meals. I make all of our food from scratch (pancakes, entrees, casseroles, desserts etc.). I thought about trying to put together a weekly menu to see if that would help. I told my husband we would have to have 2 dinners per week without meat, he is not keen on the idea but he said he would try. That was a good idea on the yogurt. I have been buying Jello pudding for my daughter's snacks and this week I switched to Snack Pack pudding. I was able to stock up on beef tips (6 packs) at Harris Teeter this week along with 5 packs of Smithfield bacon and a bag of chicken breasts.
I am just amazed how much food costs. I consider us to be pretty simple people with simple eating habits, I just keep wondering how in the world people who do not coupon or follow the sales buy groceries. My husband says they go to food banks. It just seems scary sometimes.
I have tried the "meatless Mondays" in our home and it was a no go for my husband. I have found that if I use less meat he does not seem to notice. For example for spaghetti, I will either use half a pound of burger or 2 jars or sauce and 1 pound of meat. If I have a recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts, I will usually use 2. Most recipes have sauce or other components to thicken it up, you can usually add veggies to make up the difference also.
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Old 07-28-2011, 10:08 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Quote:
Originally Posted by simba123 View Post
jhall, There are lots of helpful tips so far and I'll add a couple. When making any casseroles or soups/stews use half of the meat called for in the recipe. Add more veggies etc to make up for the volume of meat or add an extender to make it go farther. (Ex add a can of drained black beans to your regular amount of ground beef/turkey when making tacos, burritos or enchiladas). Read the archives in the frugal forums and there are lots of other ways to cut costs discussed there. You can do it!
I guess I should read everything before post, I pretty much posted the same thing
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Old 07-28-2011, 10:33 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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I have found several blogs that are really helpful in theses areas. simplemom, thereluctantentertainer, 5dollardinners, nestingplace, orgjunkie, and many more. These moms talk about saving money in all areas and have diy ideas for menus, decorating, entertaining and children's activities (& homeschooling). Once you have looked at these you will find links to many many more women who are really talented and creative in all areas of homemaking.
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:30 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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We try and stay between $50-$75 a week on our food budget, sometimes less, sometimes more if there is a good deal. We have 2 adults, and one child. Sometimes we had 3 adults this past 2 months, but mostly just 2. H&B items are good to stock up on, my stockpile will last us a good 2 years. Food items on the other hand, we've eaten down the stockpile I had, so sometime soon I'll be stocking up again.

As far as meatless meals, you can find a lot of good recipes online for no-meat meals. We have a couple non-meat meals weekly. As far as finding good deals with meat, I go to my local mini-mart and purchase it when they are discounted, then put a lot of it in the freezer. But I do budget myself when I go and shop for meat. I try and spend less than $30, and I do get some good deals. Just watch your grocery store deals. Stock up on your H&B items. One of the local stores around here has BOGO's when they do that, I tend to stock up. Like bread, and cheeses, and sometimes hot dogs. Most of the stuff that you can put in the freezer. Like they had Italian bread BOGO this week, so I went and got 4 loafs that will last us almost 4 weeks. They also had individual wrapped cheese 12 slices per pack at $1 a pack, so I grabbed about 5 of these and threw mos in the freezer.
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Old 07-30-2011, 07:24 PM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Another way to save is to use cash. I take out our grocery money at the beginning of every month. I plan a menu for about 3 weeks, and I usually plan it around what we have. If the last week rolls around and I'm out of grocery money I get creative in the kitchen. Cash and coupons have helped to bring our grocery budget down quite a bit. I also include any eating out in our budget. We have 3 adults, 2 kids, a parrot and 2 dogs in our family. This site has helped me to streamline my time spent shopping and knock down my oop at the cash register.
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Old 07-30-2011, 07:46 PM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Just an additional vote for the menu. I've recently tried this as a way of paring down my weekly budget because I was having a hard time with it as well. I've always had a basic, vague menu in my head when I was shopping but this time I wrote it all out.

I've found that if I go through what I have on hand and come up with 7 dinners I can make that are only missing bits and pieces and get that stuff only that I can often shave off quite a bit. I was honestly surprised... I think it's worth a shot. As an added bonus, it makes dinnertime much easier because I know exactly what I'm cooking every day and that I have everything I need. No more putzing through the pantry and fridge mulling over what would be good together

Oh, I should also add that I have a couple substitutions on my list in case something I was planning on for a meal needs something that is outrageously expensive. For example, big bundles of basil keep being on sale for a buck so I've been including it in a couple different meals (a pizza, pasta dish, fresh tomato salad, etc.) but if it was suddenly back up to $5 for that bundle, I'd hunt around for something else to put on the pizza & pasta.

After those are taken care of then I can focus the rest of my weekly budget & shopping energies on stocking up.
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Old 07-30-2011, 07:57 PM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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My husband just retired and I"m a little scared. I have 3 grown sons that live with me and 2 med size dogs. With 5 adults and 2 dogs I'm hoping to stick to $150 per week. My husbands getting his first "retirement" paycheck tomorrow and I can't wait to see exactly how much it is. I've been crunching the numbers and am anxious to see how it goes. So op, I know eaxctly how you feel. I feel in a similar situation, you have 3 adults for $100, I have 5 adults & 2 dogs for $150, I'm also worried if its enough and can I do it. Thank you Simba123, I'm going to check out those blogs. And thanks to everyone for the great tips.
OP-great thread and good luck!
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Old 07-30-2011, 08:14 PM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Household Help

Here are some suggestions I have read in books to help with your household. Search online for making cleaners with white vinegar, baking soda, and making homemade laundry detergent. There was a post on here for Laundry Detergent made by the Duggars. Use old towels, shirts, and socks for cleaning rags. Use newspaper to clean windows and mirrors. Use cloth napkins instead of paper towels. They are easy to wash.

I just read Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home. She raised a family with 9 children and had great tips for cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and other things commonly found around the house. I must say her daughter sells cleaning products with her name on it, but they were quite pricey at Target.

As for help with your food budget, I suggest you get a deep freezer if you do not have one. When you see sales, buy it and freeze it. There was a post on here I think called Frugal Freezer that had tips about freezing products. It helps to reduce your budget over time.

I agree it will take you some time to build a stockpile and your budget will be over for a month or so, but it will reduce over time. My weekly budget for a family of 7 is $120 plus $60 a month for household (cleaners, personal hygiene, etc.).

Your goals are attainable.

Last edited by character; 07-31-2011 at 01:16 PM. Reason: Meant a month value not a week.
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:59 AM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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For those who are going to try the menu planning (which I think is the most helpful) orgjunkie has menu plan Monday. Here there are links to a bazillion other blogs that post their menu plans.Lots of inspiration! Have fun!
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:03 PM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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Try making your own recipes for the items you are buying. Reuse leftovers for another meal. Never waste anything! Find recipes that do not cost a lot to make. Make koolaid Good luck!
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Old 08-08-2011, 02:22 PM

RE: Having trouble with $100 weekly grocery budget

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I think that amount is completely realistic. We've got 2 adults, 2 kids, a bunch of dogs, cats & birds plus livestock. Total budget for everything (food, clothing, household goods and animal feed) is $140-200 every 2 wks. depending on if there are killer sales going on and I want to stock up on a little extra like 2 yrs. worth of produce & beans at the farmers market every other summer. This last grocery trip on Saturday I spent $160 but that incl. school supplies plus a lot of dog food, cat litter & chicken feed. My goal is to spend less by using the tips I'm learning here. Here's the Cliff-notes version of how we keep the bills low:

Coupons coupons coupons, bartering, we can & freeze a lot, cook most things from scratch, and only eat out 2x a month. We never buy paper goods like napkins, paper towels, carpet powders or room fresheners, etc. Neither adult drinks alcohol anymore- it's a $$$ waster and empty calories. Same goes for soda- we never buy it. Milk usually comes raw from the dairy in 8 gallon vats. In the summer I make cheese, butter or yogurt. It's organic (but priced like store bought regular milk) so it ends up being cheaper in the long run even though it's a LOT more work.

We only drive into the city 2x a month instead of making last minute trips which tend to become impulse-shopping ordeals. It's also about 90 min. to get to town and gas isn't getting any cheaper! I don't like taking my family into the store because if I go in alone then I rarely deviate from my list. I'm always done in about 40 min., but my service dog & I hustle through the aisles so I don't have time to ly-gag & say, "Oh, we haven't had that in a while... I could make that." When my sweetie & kids are there, I'm exhausted and cranky afterwards from having to repeatedly say, "No, that's not in our budget this time," to a whining adult and 2 sniveling small humans while stuck in the store for about 2 hrs.

I make our refried beans w/ bulk beans bought from the produce stands (~$17) in the summer- we can also get 30# sacks of rice for $20 & 50# bags of onions for $5 if I haggle in Spanish for a combined price. Those will last us about 2 yrs, and we use them about 3 days a week. If it tastes good, my "meat&taters" sweetie doesn't care what I put in front of him. We've raised our own hogs & chickens so they fill up a deep freezer pretty fast (and we never have to buy eggs!), but you can buy 1/2 a hog or 1/4 of a cow from your local butcher and usually save quite a bundle that way. Unless the lunch meats & hot dogs are priced dirt-cheap like they were over the weekend, they don't come home with us. I definitely agree w/ the other commenters on cutting back the amount of meat you'd normally stick in a recipe if you don't want to eliminate it completely in a meal.

I don't wear make-up and we usually shop @ 2nd hand stores (the one in Fountain, CO has free clothing! I get a lot of stuff that still has the store tags on it too!), but skivvies and socks are always new. We don't do menus because I like to be spur of the moment- quick look through the pantries and something will pop out at me and say, "Cook me for dinner!" We also like seafood a lot, but it's just too darn expensive now :-(( It has to be one heck of a sale to warrant a purchase. Well, this ended up a lot longer than I intended and isn't quite the Cliff-notes version I intended. Good luck to you cutting back on your monthly grocery bills!

-- Jo
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