By Karen, CoolSavings employee and mom of 2
It’s all about saving money at the grocery store these days. Food prices continue to increase, whereas paychecks tend to stay the same. Can you feed your family nutritious, tasty meals on just $50 a week? I gave it a try for my family of four. Here are my results.
I planned a week’s menu before hitting the stores. I kept it simple by choosing healthy enough items that my family enjoys and that will fit into our busy school and work schedules. Here is that menu:
Breakfasts: Oatmeal, scrambled eggs and toast, pancakes, apples and bananas
Lunches: Sandwiches (PB&J, egg salad, tuna salad), canned tomato soup and pasta, macaroni & cheese
Snacks: Baby carrots, chopped celery, wheat thins, chocolate chip cookies, apples, bananas
Drinks: Fruit juice, milk
Once I had my menu, I created the corresponding shopping list and purchased the groceries at Wal-Mart Supercenter and Aldi. These are my usual stores of choice since they tend to have the best prices in the area. As always, having list in hand was very helpful, and I was determined not to spend extra money by veering off of it.
The Results: I did it!!! Well, almost. My total came to $51.18.
What did I do to keep the bill so low? First off, I’m not super brand loyal, so many of the items I purchased were store brands. (This goes unsaid -- I know I’m preaching to the choir here -- but if you’re determined to buy your brands of choice, try hard to find coupons for them as your savings will really add up!) Second off, the homemade chicken soup was a must on this menu (my son has been begging for it!), so I decided to buy a larger bag of frozen chicken breasts (for $5.99) and split them up into the two chicken-based meals for the week.
Is this process doable every week? Well, I’ll find out. With two ravenous, growing boys, I will likely run out of snacks before the week is up. I’m fortunate, however, to have plenty of additional (previously bought) snack items on hand. In addition, I usually also pick up paper goods and spray cleaners during these shopping trips, and there was really no way I could have squeezed these into the $50 budget. These would need a whole separate budget. (Next week’s challenge, maybe?)
Also note that spices, garlic, olive oil, taco sauce, rice, jelly, butter, and salad dressing were items I already had on hand, so I did not need to shop for those items or factor them in to my $50 budget. (Never, ever leave for the grocery store before taking close inventory of what ingredients are already in your pantry and fridge!)
Let’s run through a quick list of to-do’s for saving at the grocery store:
I was hoping to be able to tell you I’d had enough leftover cash in hand to have picked up a grande cup of Starbucks bold on the way home. Seeing as that wasn’t the case, I’ll have to try harder next trip! (I just knew those chocolate chip cookies were going to put me over the top!)
What do you do to save at the grocery store? Share your tips and experiences with other CoolSavings members on Facebook and on our Community page. Also be sure to check out CoolSavings’ Grocery page, which is full of printable and online coupons, along with more articles on saving money at the grocery store.