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!
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?