So, you know I’m not a frou-frou mom, but I am also not a coupon mom. Couponing has now become an art form – one that I seem unable to master. (I am still getting over the fact that coupon can be used a verb!) I cease to be amazed at the amount of money my coupon mom friends save at the grocery each week. I just can’t seem to do it. I exceeded my grocery budget by $30 this week. Since we operate mainly with cash (the envelope method), that meant that $30 had to come out of some other category. I went over last week, too. I feel like I consciously try to save on groceries, but in the end, it just never seems to work out.
Here are some things I do:
Check the weekly ads – I usually buy food at Kroger, so every week I check the Kroger ad in the paper and try to make my meal list based on what’s on sale that week.
Plan my meals – I make a list of meals that I’m going to cook for the week, then make my grocery list based on that.
Plan a grocery budget – I have an amount that I spend each week, and the cash method helps me stick to it (well, in theory!).
Cut coupons – Every Sunday, I faithfully cut coupons. Here’s my problem: coupons are for name-brand items, and usually store-brand items are cheaper even when you have a coupon for the name-brand. Also, a lot of coupons require you to buy 2 items to get money off, forcing you to spend more.
Buy off-brand – See above. I’ve found that most Kroger-brand items taste just as good as the name-brand. Love Kroger slice-and-bake chocolate chip cookies!
Load coupons to my Kroger card – You can do this at www.shortcuts.com, www.pgesaver.com, and www.kroger.com.
Shop with list and calculator – As I go through the store, I have my list in one hand an my calculator in the other (makes it hard to push the cart!). If I know I’m going to go over my budget, I see what I can eliminate. The problem is, sometimes I can’t justify eliminating things. I feed 3 people 3 meals a day. (My husband eats lunch, and sometimes breakfast, at school, but the rest of us typically take our lunches.) Plus my kids are snackers, so I do buy quite a bit of fruit, goldish, pretzels, fruit chews, etc. (But I buy the Kroger brand versions!)
Here’s what I don’t do:
Go to more than one store – I am a working mom. I value time with my family more than saving a few bucks by shopping at 3 different places each week.
Search shopping deal websites – You can go to websites like Southern Savers to find deals for all local stores. I find these sites a little overwhelming, and they always advocate shopping at different stores to get the best deals, which I just refuse to do.
Stockpile – Lots of people will use those buy-2-get-$1-off coupons to stock up on items that can sit in the pantry for a few weeks to be used later. I guess in the long run, you save money this way, but shopping on a budget doesn’t give much leeway for buying extras.
Readers, help me! I want a better relationship with my grocery receipt. I want to love it, I really do! But it usually leaves me feeling disappointed and angry. What can I do?
We started the “couponing” thing. At the beginning we went WAY overboard, buying unhealthy processed food that we don’t normally eat and probably spending more to save more. (Does that even make sense?)
Carlos has always liked marathon grocery store shopping – going to several different stores, but I’m with you. I think 2 stores would be my absolute limit. – Like Kroger and a budget store like Aldi or Save-a-lot.
Don’t feel guilty about not joining the couponing craze. I feel that a lot of times it causes people to buy things they normally wouldn’t buy, and most things you can get “deals” on are not healthy food items anyway.
Have you considered checking out Sam’s Club, BJ’s, or Costco?
They just opened up something called Aldi’s near me. If you don’t mind going off-brand, they look like a great way to save money, instead of (versus in addition to) the regular grocery store. A friend of mine has one near her and she likes it a lot. But they just opened and I haven’t been there yet, to give you a first-hand report.
Yes, we have Aldi’s here, and it is a way to save a lot. I would not buy their produce, but if you don’t mind buying off-brand for a lot of your staples, they have some great deals. Take a quarter for the shopping carts, and take your own bags! You can buy bags from them if you don’t have any. Let me know how it goes!
What is your budget for a family of 4? (sorry if nosey) But are you sure your grocery budget is realitic if you are consistently having touble staying within the budget? Not everyone has time to coupon and shop 2+ stores! Many people consider their budget for the month rather than the week for groceries because its true- buying 2 when they are BOGO is better than buying one at 1/2 price one week and full price 2 weeks later. If you cycle your menu that helps too. Taco shells and ground beef are on sale buy double and have them two Mondays in a row. Zatarains are on sale, buy two make two packages and with the leftovers make burritos for the freezer for lunchs.
$125 a week or $250 for 2 weeks. Sometimes I do shop for 2 weeks at a time. I have friends that spend $100 a week at the grocery on a family of 4 including paper products, cleaning products, etc. – Those types of things we buy from Target usually and have their own budget. Good ideas, thanks!
I agree completely that couponing can cause you to spend more in order to save more! They cancel each other out, don’t they? Actually, a friend suggested to me on fb that I go to Aldi first and buy whatever they have that is on my list, then go to Kroger. I think I can do that. 🙂
Oops! The above was in response to Courtney.
we don´t have coupons but I do some of the things on your list, like budgeting, go with my calculator and second brands, sometimes it helps, sometimes nothing helps LOL and I overspend
You could do Coupon Sense. It’s online and you get more than name brand items. Then, when you couple the coupon AND a sale…you can sometimes get things for free. My mom does it and a couple times she had such a great coupon and sale that the store paid her.
Lately Stephanie has been buying the groceries, but back when there were four of us, I would spend about $150 a week on groceries. I tended to do a few things. First, I almost never used coupons. I tended to carry some with me for the name brands I always buy (I just can’t do Kroger brand toilet paper), but unless you are one of those couponing geniuses, it makes little sense to plan your groceries based upon what coupons you have. Second, I go for the manager’s special meat and freeze it. This is one of the most expensive parts of the budget, so planning my meals around what’s cheap helps. Third, I planned cheap meals. Brown rice is a healthy side, and it costs about $0.50 per meal. Pair it with frozen stir fry veggies at $1.00/each, and you’ve just fed your family for about $2.50 (maybe $4.00 if you count the teriyaki sauce). Fourth, typically the bulkier item is cheaper in the long run, but not always. Pay attention to number of cents you are paying per ounce. For instance, one time Kroger was selling 1 gallon of milk for $3.00, but half gallons for $1.25.
That’s what I do, anyway. Good luck!
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