Friday, April 27, 2012

How I Manage - Groceries

So, I guess I'll start this series with groceries, since we all eat, regardless of family size.  This post will show how my shopping habits have evolved since marriage...

First, I started using coupons at the age of 13 or 14.  My parents were divorced, I lived with my mom, and we had no money.  So every extra dime helped.  At about age 22, I got into refunding (nearly extinct, now), and began couponing "hard-core."  I told you I'm a list person, right?  Well...

When I married, I took great pride in the fact that I could shop once a month, spend $100, and we could eat all month, except for milk and bread.  Then, once I had my second child, I couldn't find the time or energy to do that monthly shopping, but still wanted to get the most for my money. 

This is when I created my "price list." Some folks call it a price book, but for me, it was a list.  A spreadsheet, to be precise, because I have always loved using the technology I have available.  Anyway, I sat down with my receipts, each time I shopped for groceries, and filled in the spreadsheet.  I had a column for the items, a column for the stores, a column for the size of item, and a column for notes.  I filled in price and size, while I still had the package.  Then I could see, at a glance, when standing in a store, whether or not this was truly my best price option.  At that time, we had Sam's Club, Aldi, Food Lion, Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter. 

As time went on, we got a couple of new options for stores, but my goal was still the same - feed as many people as possible with as little money as possible.  So I spent many hours clipping and filing coupons, scouring grocery ads, and actually shopping.  Our meals were based upon the sales at the grocery stores each week (meals will be another post), and I shopped weekly.  If there was a double-coupon event, I was faithful to be there.  I also believe in stockpiling.  No, I don't NEED 7 packages of toilet paper this week.  However, I DO plan to continue using toilet paper, therefore I will eventually use all of it, and it may not be 75 cents when I need it.  That's also another post - couponing...

Once we had 7 children, we were still living in our single-wide, and I was happy that I had a budget of $52/week for groceries (a budget is another on of those lists! A blog post will be forthcoming on the necessity of that).  A lot of things happened in our lives about 7 years ago.  We built a house.  And we welcomed the 8th pregnancy.  And I started doing research on diet and health.  I was a Pepsi addict - I always said that if I could get a Pepsi IV, I would.  And we ate what everyone else was eating - packaged foods, that were very often free with my coupons.  We ate canned vegetables, except for potatoes, and groceries were a tiny part of our budget.  After researching, those things were about to change.  I'll do a separate blog post about that...

With the change, came a change in shopping habits.  Our budget is still small, compared to some, and enormous, compared to others.  I spend between $400 and $600 a month on groceries.  Many times, the higher end is by choice (we had steak!), not by necessity.  If we have extra money for food, I splurge and buy a tenderloin to cut into chops or steaks.  Or I buy a bag of white cheddar natural cheese puffs for the children. We are home all day, every day, so we need breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts, seven days a week. So, we're averaging $150 for more than 200 meals each week...not so bad when you actually run the numbers.

I do still use coupons, and have had several people ask me to teach them - I have taken them to the grocery stores with me, and walked them through it.  Some "get" it, and others don't.  I don't use coupons like I used to, because we don't eat like we used to.  I still get some of the free or super cheap things, because it is fun, and I can give them away to friends who still eat them, or to the food pantry.

Mostly, I make a menu for the month, create a grocery list, and go shopping for the things we don't already have (another blog post).  And I make most everything we eat, from scratch (yet another blog post).

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions - I'd be happy to help.

8 comments:

  1. I love your little blog and can't wait to read more! You are already an encouragement to me and my dreams of having a large family!

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    1. How kind of you to say that :). I'm pleased to encourage anyone!

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  2. I have an amazing sister. Just saying. ;)

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    1. My sister is crazy. But I love her ;)

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  3. Thanks for these posts they are helping me out. I budget $125 a week for our family of 9, we live in tennessee.

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  4. Can't wait to read more blogs....I too use coupons but not a lot on food items unless they are free or really cheap. Our budget is $40.00 to $60.00 a week for a family of 4 but it seems hard to me to find variety with our income.

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    1. The variety will come with planning. I'll try to explain that in my meal planning post :)

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  5. Love it Mary-Belle. I can always learn something from you! Can't wait to read the next blog.

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