When I first started this post, I thought I'd just show you all how I make a menu each week to save money at the grocery store. Then I realized the process I actually go through before I walk into the store. It's not that grocery shopping is a difficult task, but preparing my list and checking it twice takes time and a little organization. We're all looking for ways to save money, stretch our budgets, and eat healthy. Organizing your shopping and menu planning is a big part of keeping more money in the bank. In researching this topic, I found out that the USDA has a spending chart floating around out there on the net. It categorizes food spending in households as "thrifty," "low cost," "moderate," and "liberal". You can find out about the USDA Food Plans here. For a family of 5 and the amount of money we spend each month, we are in the "thrifty" category. Actually, we are below thrifty, so we must be doing something right!
In part 1 of this post
, I went through each of my steps, and I promised you I'd go into detail for each step. Today, I'll be talking about knowing your budget, knowing your prices, and knowing your stores. So, here it is- Part 2. Let the savings saga begin! You excited?
1. Know Your Budget! Awwwe, the dreaded "B" word. You are either a person that loves a budget (like me!) or hates a budget (also like me when I want to buy something I didn't set money aside for). A family budget, household budget, personal budget, whatever you want to call it, it has to happen. Think of yourself as the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of your
company home, or at least the assistant (like me) to the CFO (Mr. Lewisville). My role as wife, mom, purchasing manager, etc has so much to do with the success of this family's financial well being. There's a lot of power (muahaha) and responsibility (ewww) that comes with these titles. Since I plan the menu, purchase the goods, and put on my chef's hat each night, the grocery budget is "my thing" in Lewisville.
Once a month, before the month begins, we spend all our money- on paper. Every penny is put into a category. We list tithing and savings first and live off the rest. Badaboom, Badabing! That's it. Well, that not it-it, but that's the gist. Housing, food, utilities, and transportation are next. Then it's all the other little things
that suck us dry that we have to pay.
If you don't know how to put a household budget together visit Crown Financial here
or Dave Ramsey here
. I use both of these sites often for reference and encouragement. It is possible to live on one
income with a growing family in an inflating economy; you just have to be a little disciplined, a lot organized, and "stop spending like you're in congress!" Love that quote from Dave Ramsey! Once you've done a household budget and have determined your grocery budget for the month, you know exactly how much you can spend at the grocery store. If you find that the recommended 12-15% of your total budget is a number that is to small or to large for your home, then work with a number that fits your family's needs but still remains faithful to your family budget.
2. Know your prices. This may take a little time but eventually you will know the lowest cost for your regularly purchased items. In my area right now I won't buy milk if it's over $2 a gallon (not organic but rbst free) or a pound of chicken breast if it's over $1.99 a pound. I know how much organic apples should cost ($2.99 for a 3lb bag) and I have a limit for what I'll spend on a pound of brown rice pasta. When I see the prices fall to "my" price, I buy for 2-4 weeks if I can freeze the item or stock it in my pantry. Some store will always have my price, and when I'm in the area of the store throughout the week, I'll pop in and get my items. My personal rule is I need to get at least 4 items from that store in order to make it worth my time.
Some experts suggest making a grocery log to get to know prices. A what-a-what? Get a notebook and write down the items you purchase most. When you go to the store, take your notebook, put the date at the top, and write down the prices next to each item. The next time you go to the store, start a new column with the date at the top again and write the prices down next to the item again. Do this for about a month or two comparing prices at the different stores you shop at. You may find you're paying to much, find the lowest sales price, or discover that certain items go on sale at the same time every month. That's when you want to stock up.
I've never had the patience to do this, but over the years, I've gotten to know my prices and that is essential.
A price log looks like this just with the dates at top. If you shop at one store and don't want to change that, log your items and dates anyway. You'll see when your items go on sale and when you should stalk up.
3. Gather your inserts and compare grocery store prices. You know what you're willing to pay for your groceries, so now it's time to see which store has your price. My grocery inserts come each week on Tuesday. New sales prices start on Wednesday (usually) and end the following Tuesday. Some stores like Sprouts have specials on Wednesdays where they combine the sales from last week's inserts and the new week's sales. I don't shop on Wednesdays but these little things are always good to know. On Thursday night, I look through the inserts, plan out a menu, and make my grocery list. I'll shop on Friday afternoon, hitting two grocery stores (usually) and Costco. It takes about two hours, but it's worth it. Like I said, we're below the USDA's "Thrifty" food plan budget. Plus, I see my grocery errands as part of my "job" at home. Mr. Lewisville gets up early every morning, irons his own clothes, and works hard for his family. I can certainly spend a few hours and take my troops to the grocery store. They love it...no not really, but we do it anyway.
So there's the budget and ground work to organizing your shopping. On Thursday I'll talk about menu planning and coupons. Oh coupons! I have a love/hate relationship with coupons too, but more of that later. Remember, if you're on a tight budget, hang in there. This blog is all about living beautifully while living frugally.
Blessings to you. See you Friday!