04 April 2008

Frugal Grocery Shopping, Part One

I have a very meager grocery budget- about $50 a week for myself and my two children. I used to spend closer to $100 a week, but part of the YOFL was to try to spend $100 a week on groceries AND gas. However, with the recent increase in gas and grocery prices, I am considering raising my budget to $125.

I have sort of a grocery shopping routine. First I go through the flier for things on sale. For my local store, Stop and Shop, the best deals are usually on the front and back pages. I try to do this on a Thursday, because their sales start on Friday and they send out the following week's flier on Thursday, so I can make sure I don't buy anything that will be going on sale the following day.

Then I go through the flier and mark down any great deals (1.89/lb for chicken, for example). As you start to bargain shop, you get a better sense of what is a good deal. About every 6-8 week, my grocery store will put butter on sale for 1.89-1.99 a lb. Normally it's closer to 4.00, so this is a fantastic deal. I will buy as many as the limit allows, and freeze them. After I take note of the deals, I look for things that are on sale but I also have a coupon for, making them a good deal. I move those coupons to the front pocket of my coupon organizer (it looks sort of like this, but it's see-through) so I don't forget to use them.

Then I sort of plan out meals. I have the tendency to skip meals, so I usually plan less meals than there are days in the week. That way if I don't eat, or if we have a rough night and I just make grilled cheeses, or my dad stops over with a pizza, I don't throw out food. What we do eat every day is fruit. I used to pick whatever fruit I was in the mood for, and buy a couple of each. This inevitably led to rotten fruit, so now I count the number of days until my next trip, and only buy enough for that time. So, if I need 5 days worth of fruit, I'll buy a bunch of 5 bananas, 2 apples, an orange and a plum. I'll use the plum first, since it's not as hardy.

I also go shopping twice a week, because we can't get through a whole week without some produce going bad. I do a long list (regular shopping trip) on Thursday, and what I call the "short list" either on Sunday or Tuesday, because I don't have my kids at those times. I very rarely bring them, because bringing them usually results in spending $5-10 extra, and my kids are pretty good about not asking for things at the store! The short list consists of produce and anything we might desperately need, like milk.

So, that's it for now!

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