Monday, April 18, 2011

Trimming the Grocery Budget

I do envy the coupon people that are out there. The Krazy Koupon Ladies, and Extreme Couponing blow my mind. But it never really worked for us, I admit to not being as dedicated to it as some, but we don't buy processed or prepared foods, with a few exceptions, but as my friend Kayla can attest I don't have ketchup in my house.

When I got laid off after Brooks was born we knew that we had to cut our expenses and since we were spending about $1800 a month on food we knew that was a great and easy (or so we thought) place to start. That amount includes all food and beverages, my morning lattes, John's expensive beer, and of course our daily lunches out.

We had originally wanted to cut the food expenses down to $100 a week, but after 3 weeks we found out that this wasn't possible unless we really wanted a decline in quality. So we bumped that budget up to $125 a week. This line item includes groceries AND eating out. Oy!

It wasn't difficult at first since we were all home all the time, our garden was producing and we were spending very little. Then local fresh fruits and veggies started to dry up with the winter and our food costs increased. So we had to stop eating out almost all together until we figured out how to shop smarter.

One cost cutting measure was to cut back on our quantity of meat. The average adult is supposed to eat 3-6oz of meat at a meal. Most people eat 8-10oz, but at $7.99/lb for steak, if we wanted to eat it we had to cut it back, so we did. We allow ourselves to load up on veggies and grains, (mostly veggies), and a lot of meals will start with a salad. Cutting back for us was really a mind over matter principle. This also allowed for leftovers the next day, so we could enjoy the yumminess twice.

This is about the time we started planning our menus as well. Since we buy organic or grass fed meat it almost never goes on sale, so we can't plan our menus based on sale ads. So we got creative and had pseudo cooking contests to see who could get the price per serving on a meal down the farthest. So far we haven't gotten it under a dollar, but we're getting closer. I'm hoping if our garden yields more this year that we will.

The grocery store that we frequent, Wegmans, also has an iphone app as well as a great online site. This allows us to price shop before we get to the store. This saves me time and money. Because I don't go up and down every aisle I save time, and because I don't go up and down every aisle and buy crap I don't really need, I save money. Soon I want to really get into couponing though, I admit I am a HUGE sucker for a good deal. If I can get our grocery bill down more that means I can buy more standing rib roast or clothes. Umm....duh, sign me up.

Brooks eats what we do, but even if he didn't we would make his food. Not all of his meals are exactly what we eat either, so we had to incorporate his portion into our food bill. I know he's eating about $10 extra worth of food a week, but I don't really notice. I'm doubly grateful for a)not noticing and b) knowing that one day he will be eating $10 more worth of food an hour.

So what do you do to help on your grocery budget?

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