I stopped writing about my store savings for a while. I did this because I felt like I was only regurgitating what I had been told, rather then what I knew. It’s been a few months now and I have a better handle on things. When I started the envelope system I started it budgeting $100.00 per week on groceries. This did not work. Here is why. Lets take a four week month for example, I’ll break down in weeks about what I would buy.
Week 1: Chicken, ground beef, vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, tortillas
Week 2: Chicken, beef, pasta stuff, milk, veggies, laundry stuff
Week 3: Chicken, pork, ground beef, milk, veggies
Week 4: Beef, veggies, milk, eggs, bacon, veggies, snacks
Here is the problem with that. I was buying meat weekly. That was hard when meat wasn’t on sale, and harder if I needed meat and laundry soap in the same week. Then, the next week if meat was on sale, or I budgeted meals particularly well and I had leftover money I found that I was spending it on frivolous grocery items rather then necessities. So, rather then storing the left over money that week I would buy junk food, or other non necessity items.
So what I’ve been doing from now on is a big $200.00 grocery trip followed by three $40-$60.00 fill in trips. It is working so nice. The first week I spend hunting down sales on meat and other items. I drive to 3 or 4 stores to get meat on sale and stock up. I also try and plan this around other coupons or sales. For instance one week looked like this:
Safeway: $150.00 in groceries. However I transferred a prescription so I got a $35.00 gift card. Then with my club card and coupons I saved an additional $40.00 making the total cash out of pocked for $150.00 in groceries only $80.00!!!
Albertsons: Pork ribs & tenderloin on sale. I got 3 large packs of ribs and 4 tenderloins for $40.00. I also picked up avocados, tomatoes, and onions on sale.
On that trip I stocked up on orange juice, butter, veggies, rices, cereal, oreos, shampoo, and more. Since I had so much money left over I was able to go to Raleys and take advantage of their tri-tip sale. Tri-tip for $2.99 a pound. 17 Tri-tips later I was happy but not done. I still had a little money left over so I headed to Smiths. I have a Smiths (Kroger) card and each time I shop I get coupons. The week before I had gotten a coupon for Always pads, Cottonelle toilet paper, free tissue, and frozen veggies and foods. So I went online and scoured the Internet for additional coupons. I found one for Cottonelle, and Always. I got toilet paper for about $4.00 for a giant 12 pack and pads for free. Plus I got a free package of Kleenex ultra soft tissues. However while I was there I noticed that chicken was on sale. I got packs of chicken thighs for $1.65 each, so I grabbed five.
That week was a great week for groceries. With tax money I purchased a food saver so all of my meat was frozen nice and tight and safe.
The next two weeks I only had to fill in. A few fresh veggies, milk and eggs.
The fourth week I found chicken on sale again so I grabbed five more packs. I don’t care if I have $5.00 in my grocery budget, if meat is on sale I will find the money in another envelope and stock up, it’s just smart.
This week I had $43.00 total for groceries. Here is what I had on my list:
- Red wine vinegar
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- spam (shut up my husband needs it)
- hair gel
- bubble bath
Here is what I walked out with
- Kroger brand organic olive oil spray
- apples (3)
- onions (2)
- hair gel
- bubble bath
- spam (only 1)
I spent $41.00. Heres how. Last weeks Smiths coupons included a free Organic fresh Naturally preferred salad item. I chose to get a free spinach for $3.29. I knew that if I purchased the cooking spray I could hold off on the $11-$18.00 bottle of olive oil until my large budget shopping week. I could easily make meals with out vinegar for this week. I purchased the lettuce that was on sale this week. Instead of Johnsons bubble bath I went with a Kroger brand night time one that actually smelled yummier then the Johnsons. I picked a hair gel on sale. I grabbed only one can of spam instead of 3 and left it on the list to remind me to buy it again the week I do a big trip. I grabbed only a couple tomatoes. Onions were on sale so I grabbed two. Asparagus was on sale for $1.99 a pound which is excellent so I grabbed two bundles. I got the bananas because Codi saw them and wanted them and if he wants something he gets it since he never eats. I got the apples rather then the syrup because I knew I had a gazillion boxes of cereal at home so that would suffice for breakfast and apples would be a good snack.
I think the best part of stocking up meat wise is that I now know I can go at least 3 weeks or more with out purchasing meat. This makes me relax so much more knowing that I have wiggle room with my grocery budget now.
I also now keep a coupon book. It is a small notebook with a pocket in front. In the pocket is envelopes for each store. That way when I go to Smiths I automatically put my Smiths coupons in there. Then on a sheet of paper labeled Smiths I put what coupon is in there and it’s expiration date. In front of the envelopes are manufacturer coupons paper clipped together. I have about 10 Huggies coupons right now. They are paper clipped in order of earliest expiration to the one farthest away. I also list those on a sheet of paper. When I do my large shopping trip now I make lists based on each store, and put marks next to what I have a manufacturer coupon for so I can keep an eye out for sales. Every Wednesday I search the store circulars for coupons. Sunday I check the paper. Weekly if there is something I really need I go online. For instance I need laundry soap this week so I went to Gain’s website and found a coupon. I often visit Walmarts free section and ask for samples because samples always come with coupons. I don’t put more then an hour a week into couponing but sure saves me money.
To recap here is what I’ve learned.
- Don’t be afraid to adjust your budget. If it isn’t working find out why and redo it.
- Be open to adjusting your grocery list. If you see something on sale like meat or veggies figure out how you can adjust your list to accommodate that.
- COUPONS ARE YOUR FRIEND
- Go store brand on things that don’t matter (hair gel, bubble bath, etc)
- Don’t skimp on important things, no matter how much money you save single ply shitty toilet paper is never going to feel good when you wipe your ass!
- Stock up on meat, but that doesn’t mean use it all right away. I still buy meat. That way I have some saved for weeks I am short money. If I end up needing toilet paper, laundry soap, and diapers in the same week you bet your ass I have no money left for meat, I’m relieved knowing I have my little stock pile!
- Menu plan. I can’t tell you how important this is.
- Buy cheap sides. You can get really far with a bag of brown rice and a bag of potatoes. The possibilities are endless!
- Make your own. I made fresh blueberry cranberry muffins today and I didn’t spend a dime, it was all stuff on hand. Purchasing muffins or muffin mix would have cost me so much more then just making it from scratch, don’t be afraid to cook!
Tell me. What have you learned lately? Have you saved money shopping? Do you have any great tips?