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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Making Sure They're Fed

image: stackedstonefarm.blogspot.com
I'm reworking how I view grocery shopping. With coupons, to really work great deals, it's a matter of stockpiling. That's super great and so fun, but it's tough when the kids are trying to make lunch and lunch meat didn't make the list the week before, so they're out of luck and then it ends up not just being lunch meat but item after item doesn't exist in the house. Things get a little stressful around here when you can't find what you need.

image: savingandgiving.net
I guess a big part of our problem here is that a stockpile has to consist of a heck of a lot of stuff in order to build up. If I buy six boxes of granola bars, you'd better believe they'll be gone within the week. Frustrating!

So, here's my new plan.....

image: hotcouponworld.com
I decided that every week I'm going to buy the very same things. I created a four-week menu from those items. No recipe is repeated, but if I buy meatballs, for example, one week I'll make sweet and sour meatballs, the next week it'll be spaghetti and meatballs, the next is meatball subs, and then the last week will be Swedish meatballs. See how it works? I make sure that I buy what we eat and that we eat what we buy.

image: in-this-economy.com
I created a master grocery list that will be used week after week, and tonight, I went to WinCo because it, pretty consistently, has the everyday lowest prices. I bought every item on the list and used absolutely no coupons. Yes, it just about killed me to know that I was spending full price as I put things in my cart, but I had to have a base line to work from.

When I got home, I tracked how much each item cost and the size and brand of what I purchased.

image: thenutritionpost.com
The result....I have found that I need to increase my grocery budget markedly. I already knew this, but I was betting each month on the fact that I'd use coupons and save quite a bit. I have saved a lot, but until I get ahead, it just isn't practical here.

image: markosweb.com
Here's how I'm going to get ahead.....Each week, when I get ready to go grocery shopping, I'm going to go to theobsessiveshopper.net. I'll click on my area and when it asks me to select my store, I'll take the "all in one" option. At the top of the list, I'll click "start." That will darken in (select) the entire list. I will also have my spreadsheet of prices open. As I cruise down the obsessive shopper list, I will compare the prices with those that I've recorded from WinCo. I'm only going to look at those items on my weekly grocery list. When I do find one of those items, and I see that it's got a lower price, I will click on it. This will make it lighter. When I'm all done, I click "shrink," and it will take only those items that I've clicked, and I will have a shopping list to print.

image: classycouponclipper.blogspot.com
Then it's a matter of locating the coupons for those items, and I'm on my way. The great thing is, if I don't want to have to run to every store in the area for those deals, I can just run to Walmart and do an "ad match." They will match the prices on most of the other store's advertised deals. Here's their policy.

I include this here because until fairly recently, the city I live in hasn't had a Walmart close enough to shop at on a frequent basis. Now, we have one that's a grocery store only, but considering that that's what I'm going there for, and considering this ad match policy, I can't complain. I had no idea that Walmart did this until my sister-in-law came into town and showed me the ropes. It was a very joyful thing!

image: northlandsnewscenter.com
So, here's the best part of all....Although I will have all of that money budgeted for groceries, my plan is to not use it. As I shop the other stores' sales and use coupons, I'll keep from spending what I have on hand. That money can then be used for something else, and if I HAVE to buy things at regular price, I can, and it won't be such a stressful situation on a week when I find I don't have the time to coupon.

If you have any desire to see my spreadsheet of prices or my monthly menu, I'm happy to share. Just let me know.


Tonya said...

Your freakin' amazing! I can't do the coupon thing. I can't do the awesome web sites that show me how to save money. They give me a headache. Unless maybe you could show me how to use them quickly and efficiently?!? So, I shop at Winco and just think to myself, "At least I'm spending less here than if I was shopping at New Saesons." And then I call it good. Saving money is a job in itself!!!

Alyson said...

I know this isn't your most recent post, but it popped up in the "you also might like" area. I was just reading an article today about how the average family of 4-6 should count on spending 11% of their budget on groceries. So a family making 75K per year would spend $500/month on groceries.

That wasn't even something I could laugh at, it was so not funny. Granted my family is twice the size, but I spend about $1000/month on groceries (which is well over 11% of our income) and that is with a menu plan, eating out never (average is not even once per month), and no snacks. It's unbelievable how much a big family consumes!

And we only spend $1000/month because I keep us tightly reined. If I bought a few luxury items—breakfast cereal, snacks, ingredients for desserts—I could add on another $200 or more without any effort at all.

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