Grocery Budget Makeover: Check-in

Our families are doing great and using your tips to help reduce the grocery bill for April. As with any challenge, each family is finding what works for them and what doesn’t.

Susan’s update

Budget Week 2: $150

Amount Spent: $137.11

Summary: My total was higher this week because I purchased more meats for dinners this month. Trying to find time between work, kids school activities & housework to cook & make things from scratch is often difficult. Trying to schedule it in when I can!!

My Advice: Find time either one night a week or on the weekend to prep food. If you plan for one prep night this can help ease the dinnertime crunch. On the food prep night order pizza or take out. Also, since you have a few older children ask them to be in charge of a meal one or two nights a week. If they aren’t cooks you might be eating grilled cheese and a fruit salad, but it does take the pressure off you making dinner every single night and is cheaper than eating out. As for the meat, remember to stock up on sales to save money. If you end up buying meat when you “have” to it will cost you more money.

Hawk’s Update

Budget Week 2: $115

Amount Spent: $145

Summary: I went to the store too many times!  This week was a bust.  I tried to do too many things and make everything perfect this week… which didn’t work. The boys eat a lot of processed foods… this week I was trying to show them that you can make stuff that tastes just as good from scratch.  While I showed that, I also spent too much trying to do all their favourite foods from scratch.  I think I am going to try to slowly phase out the processed foods, instead of trying to do it all at once and making myself go crazy.  I don’t think a hot pocket is going to harm them, but making them from scratch harmed my budget.  I felt pretty crappy grocery wise this week, but I did save 18 dollars in coupons… largest amount I’ve saved in a while.  That said, I have a different plan of attack for this next week, and I hope it works out better.

My advice: You all might remember that Hawk’s family doubled in size right before the challenge began. Hawk now has two young boys to take care of and is trying to keep the grocery budget under control. I think Hawk has already figured out that the boys need a slow transition from a diet of highly processed foods, to one of from scratch cooking. These boys have just been put in an entirely different living situation and I think gradual change works best. Hawk can try to make some of their favorite foods from scratch, but instead of a hot pocket, why not make a grilled ham and cheese or pepperoni and cheese sandwich? I have to admit I’ve never had a hot pocket, but there might be some similar, less expensive foods that can be prepared for the boys without breaking the budget. Since Hawk is still working on the boys eating habits I would look for great deals/ coupons on some of these processed foods. Most people say that they don’t use coupons because all the food is so processed. Here is an opportunity to capitalize on some of the free or almost free packaged food for a while until the boys are use to eating home cooked meals.

Lauren’s Update

Budget Week 2: $115

Amount Spent: $115

Summary: No good meat sales to stock up on this week, I think I have missed some in the past that I didn’t realize were good deals because of the rising prices so I started the price book, progress is slow for now. Also I missed a lot of good coupon deals because I got sick of shopping so much. We had plenty of food but are running out of a lot of toiletries. I promise I didn’t make up the fact that we were dead on $115, I was very surprised by the even number too. So happy we were able to stick with what we budgeted, even including dining out one night.

My advice: You are on your way with a price book. Once you have finished your price book you will know what your “buy” price is for items like meat, cereal, dairy etc. Remember it is okay to stockpile a little (one month or two months worth of toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant) so you don’t end up at the store several times a week trying to get every deal. Perhaps you could schedule one day a week or one day every two weeks to shop for toiletries? If you have a small stockpile you will be able to buy what is on sale and pass on the items that aren’t because you still have some at home.

Comments

  1. dgsandbjsmom says:

    I have to admit that my price book is in my head. I have been finding it harder and harder to find coupons on non-processed food. Fresh fruit is killing our budget but we have been doing a lot of sandwiches for lunch and either mashed potatoes, rice or noodles for supper with a meat and vegetable.

  2. I am in the DC area and highly recommend using the coupon sales to your advantage. This week we are having a week of double up to 1.98 at our Harris Teeter stores and I will bulk up on items that have couons and are on sale. This week I will be getting lots o yogurt for free and not the sugary kind. Surf for site like the one I use. I use http://www.southernsavers.com. Good luck, BTW now that summer has arrived we will be doing a lot of BBQ pork in the slow cooker. I sometimes will get them as low as 99 cents a pound and then slow cook one for 24 hours and then day one have BBQ and then dy two of it use it for tacos and then for lunch another day. Good luck.

  3. i agree with dgsandbjsmom. i mostly keep my price book in my head but i would love to see a page of an established one. i started to keep an excel spreadsheet but it is hard to find time to update.

  4. I agree with Lauren. I have always kept my price book in my head too, but with the rising prices it is getting harder to gage. Also, with fresh foods and baking ingredients all in different sizes, I need to know the price per pound or ounce. Moving towards more whole foods is making the price book more relevant in my life.

  5. I have an excel spreadsheet with prices that I update and refer to when shopping. Increasingly, I am not able to match my price point on products anymore ~ meaning grocery store prices are rising, and I my stock-up prices are creeping up. I carry my grocery lists, weekly to-do list, and price excel sheets on a clipboard. The clipboard is easy to keep up with during the week and sits (without falling or crumpling) in the top part of the grocery cart.

  6. Southern Saver is a great resource for learning how to coupon. She is out of my area so I don’t have the same stores that she has but I have learned a lot from her. She has already put together a price book and also has a blank template for you to use if you want to put together your own book. Here is the link: http://www.southernsavers.com/2009/02/extreme-couponer-101-whats-a-good-price/

  7. They all seem to be doing great with the challenge. I have enjoyed reading about the adventure. 🙂

    My advice for Susan: Like HH suggested, do a food prep night one or two nights during the week, even if it is a Friday or Saturday night for the week ahead. One night for actual meal type food prep like meats, and veggies. When I do food prep night of meats and veggies, I will sometimes not actually cook all the meat that night but just make meal portions of meats and stick them in the freezer, like burgers I will pre-make them and slip wax paper or parchment paper between them and stick 8 or 9 in a freezer bag for a meal later down the road. And then another day for baked goods like quick breads, breakfast burritos or sandwiches and baked oatmeal. The baked goods can be put in the freezer so they don’t spoil for later consumption. Also I would work at using my crockpot for those really busy days. I have started things during the breakfast routine and the crockpot on low and it is ready for consumption at dinner time. 🙂

    My advice for Hawk: Definitely agree with HH in regards to going slowly in the switch from processed to from scratch. I found that there are a few processed foods that I just can’t make from scratch because of the cost of ingredients and time is significantly greater than just purchasing them at the store. So there are some things I will just purchased or not get at all and we live without. It sounds like you need to think in terms of simple meals and from scratch items rather then the complicated things.

    My advice for Lauren: With prices changing so much lately make sure that you are doing your price book in pencil. 🙂 I have my price book in my head now because I am to the point were I get the same type of items over and over again. 🙂 Also don’t beat yourself up too much about missing coupon deals or sales because the sales and coupons go through a rotation. The same items seem to go on sale and there be coupons for about every 5-6 weeks. Its okay to get sick of shopping! My cure for those times is step back and shop my pantry/stockpile first for my weekly menu and then just go to the store for the basics and then the few sale items I need to complete the weekly menu.

  8. I agree with a food prep night once a week. When i am cooking meat I like to double up on the portions and save 1/2 for another night, or I will cook up a variety of meats just once a week to be pulled later in the week for recipes. I also will double up on any grains I cook. I will cook a double batch of rice or quinoa. Then all I have to do is add my vegetables later. I have done a price book in the past but lately have been keeping mine in my head too, but with the briskly changing prices I think I have to keep one again.

  9. Some good advice I heard was to start dinner at breakfast – while you’re pulling out the cereal & milk for the kids to eat or scrambling the eggs or whatever, get out the hamburger for tonight’s tacos and brown/season it, chop the tomatoes, and tear up the lettuce; then when you’re cleaning up from breakfast you can put the pre-made ingredients in your fridge for later, and it’s less to do at night. I think that kind of doing-ahead is very smart, and I’m trying to do more of it in my life. 🙂

    Good luck to all the families! Sounds like you’re all on the right tracks, and doing well. 🙂 My best to you!

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