Do you like grocery shopping? How about menu planning? Do you end up eating out a lot? Or turning to convenience foods because there's "nothing to eat" in the house?
While I do enjoy grocery shopping (I don't get out much otherwise!), menu planning is not my thing. I tend to tackle that issue by keeping my cupboards stocked with basics and loading up on fresh fruit and veggies when they're in season. That means I usually have on hand several meals I *could* make, some fast and some .... not. I try to think about a few things I want to make during the week so I can be sure to pick up a key ingredient. For instance, coconut milk is in the curry recipe I shared a few weeks ago, so I make sure to get some when I want to make that.
I haven't perfected grocery shopping on a budget. It gets confusing sometimes when I buy craft supplies or diapers or pet food that throw off the budget but really aren't part of the grocery budget. I guess we need to work on that! But let's focus on what I have figured out, not on my failures, mmmkay?
So. Here is how I feed our family of 5 on $80 a week.
Ok, not quite that fast--a few qualifiers first:
- our children are 1, 3 and 5, not hungry teenagers
- we're mostly vegan but do eat (certain) eggs - no meat, milk or cheese which can be expensive. We also don't drink coffee or alcohol and try to avoid boxed meals, and highly processed foods like pastries, desserts, even store-bought breads. Here's a post with 7 typical suppers in our house.
- we eat at home most meals. I'd say we eat out about once a week.
- only my husband packs a lunch (no kiddos in school), and he gets leftovers.
- I order $75-100 worth of bulk foods about once every 2-3 months. This is where I get flours, cereals, dates and raisins, nuts and dried herbs.
Next we go to Walmart. Now I know some people prefer to not shop there for whatever reason, but the store in our town is a nice quality, clean store. The people are entertaining, for sure, but it's where I feel I can get the best deal for my money.
At Walmart I get specialty items like tofu (not pictured), eggs, coconut milk, molasses, some dry goods, pantry supplies as well as personal hygiene items.
If you're wondering why I don't clip coupons it's because it's not worth my time. Most items we buy aren't the typical ones that you find coupons for anyway. Besides that, it temps me to try new things and make purchases I don't typically have on my list. Once in a while it's fun to try something new, but tell me: If you took an hour of your time to find coupons, then "only" spent $10 to buy $20 of items you don't normally get, who just benefited? The store! Instead, I'll typically find something yummy on an end aisle when it's on sale anyway and limit myself to one or maybe two things per shopping trip. We're still trying new things or getting a treat but not excessively, and I didn't waste an hour looking for coupons!
Maybe that's just me.
I didn't intend for this post to be a rant against coupons--if you're a couponer, good for you! I'm glad you've found a system that works for your family!
Just so you know, I realize that not all areas have the above mentioned stores. When I lived in Nevada I shopped at Trader Joe's and Vons. When I lived in Northern California I shopped at Target and Safeway. The point is to try different stores until you find the one or two or three that seem to give you the most for your money! For example, my friend who lives here in Iowa prefers to shop at Target for groceries but uses her Target card so she gets 5% off her purchases. She feels it evens out the possible savings that she might receive by shopping at Walmart or elsewhere.
One more idea before I get on with my shopping today: give the dollar store a try! I've found great deals on things like soy milk. Who knew? It's also a great resource for party supplies, small toys for prizes (think potty training!), and snack foods like chips, crackers and drinks.
So what works for you? Did you find anything here helpful? Are you completely confused by some of the dietary choices our family makes? Let me know! I love your comments and questions and appreciate your time spent reading my blog and commenting!
Good luck on your next shopping trip!