Confessions of a Real Life Grocery-Shop-Aholic

I have a little bit of a confession. I am a serious grocery-shop-aholic. I’m not sure what it is exactly. Maybe I just really like spending money and grocery shopping gives me a regular and completely legitimate excuse. Maybe it’s the thrill of finding a good deal, or maybe it’s the fact that grocery shopping brings me one stop closer to one of my other passions: spending time in the kitchen.

Whatever it is, though, I am 100% sure that getting my grocery shopping habits under control is vital to getting out of debt.

So, we just finished reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, we cut up our credit card, we created a budget, and, cash in hand, I made my first venture to the grocery store as a woman with a plan. Now don’t get me wrong: I have made lists in the past. I have used coupons here or there, and I’ve tried to buy things on sale as often as possible. But this week marks the first week I will be shopping with no excuses in my back pocket for why I should splurge a little here or stray off my list a little there. Plans fail for lack of vision, and my vision is to pay off $15,000 of debt by the end of September 2012!

My grocery budget for my family of 3 is $115 a month, which at first sounded pretty outrageous, until I read about Jessica Fisher at Life As Mom who at one point had a $100 budget to feed 7. Whoa. Ok, I can do this.

Groceries

Here are a few of the ways I hope to accomplish this:

1.)  I am going to buy as many groceries as I can at Aldi. I remember as a kid driving with my mom thirty minutes just so shop at Aldi, but I haven’t really been since  running my own household. I found some great, know-before-you-go tips for shopping at Aldi provided by Andrea over at The Savings Lifestyle.

2.)  I am going to clip, clip, clip coupons. Besides things I get in a mail, I’ve found some really good coupons to print or load directly onto local grocery store’s loyalty card: the Kroger Plus Card. I use Coupons.com and Shortcuts.com frequently, along with checking my local stores’ websites for special store coupons.

3.)  I am going to start scanning sales at local grocery stores and then pairing sales with coupons. A couple of people have already done a lot of the work for me by posting lists of store deals along with coupon match-ups on their blogs each week. I visit The Savings Lifestyle before hitting up Kroger, and Money Saving Mom before Target or Wal Mart. They also post for Meijer and several of the big drug stores.

4.)  Using my list of coupons and sales (and a pretty good idea of what I already have in my pantry and freezer), I am going to start making a list of meals-breakfast, lunch, and dinner- for the week so that a.) I don’t have any more, “Oh my gosh its 5pm, what are we doing for dinner??” moments, and b.) I don’t have to make unnecessary trips to the store to pay full retail for ingredients I don’t have on-hand.

5.)  I am going to stick to the plan!

Anybody have any other good tips or advice for keeping that grocery budget in check?

**For an update on my successes (and failures), check out my grocery budget post from My Budget Boot Camp.**

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6 thoughts on “Confessions of a Real Life Grocery-Shop-Aholic

  1. I use http://www.southernsavers.com for my grocery store coupon/sale match ups. The site is very thorough; She covers drugstores and about 16 grocery stores. I regularly save at least 70% off our household shopping using her site! I think the best way to keep costs down is to make a list and stick to it, and even more, know your stores sale prices (lowest price during the sale cycle). When we first started budgeting our grocery bill, we literally cut it in half by doing those two things. That was before I discovered coupons!

    Also, to help with that 5 o’clock panic, have you tried freezer cooking (aka once a month cooking, bulk cooking)?

    • Cooking with coupons-

      Thanks so much for the website. I’ll have to check it out while Olivia is napping! 🙂

      So far I’ve been able to save about 40-50% on our grocery bill, but I hope that as I learn more about couponing and how the sales cycles work I can increase the savings even more. I have an excel spreadsheet I log all my prices in… do you have any good suggestions for tracking sales prices?

      And about freezer cooking- I REALLY need to start doing that. Even just by doubling my meals and freezing half. I follow a few other blogs that talk about once a month cooking all the time, but just have never put it to practice.

  2. I used the free excel price book when I first started out, it really helped me see the trend in prices. You can download it at http://www.uncommonwaytowealth.com/excel-finance-spreadsheets/grocery-savings-spreadsheet-price-book/ You will have to give your email address and they will email you a link to download the file, or purchase the advanced version (regular worked just fine imo).

    I also use a per trip savings tracker at http://thecouponproject.com/downloads/savings-tracker so if you have a weekly or monthly budget you can see how much you have spent and how much you have saved. If you are stockpiling with coupons, you may not actually see savings for a a month or two. But once your pantry is stocked, thats when you typically can see the fruit of your labor.

    Southern Savers also has a grocery price list http://southernsavers.com/learn which shows the typical sale prices for common items.
    It may take a little while to get the hang of tracking prices of the things you normally buy. I would suggest trying to create a shopping list from the weekly ads posted on southern savers (note that she only lists items from the weekly ad that are 40% or more) or your local grocer. You saving 50% now is a great thing! Every week is not the same, some weeks you spend more, some less.

    The freezer cooking is awesome! I know you will love it just try it! One thing you could do is invite a friend or family member to join you in a cooking day, always great to have support and good conversation. I am desperately trying to get my mother in law to try freezer cooking (shes sooo busy and has no time to cook) so she is going to come over next week and we are going to double up my regular recipes so she can take some home too.

    I hope this information helps you and your family. If you try the freezer cooking I’d love to know how it turned out for you!

    • Thanks for the tips. I love the grocery price list too. I know what a good sale is for a few items I buy, but a lot of the time I have no idea. I definitely need to start tracking things!

      Now I’m wondering who I can get to do some freezer cooking with soon. 🙂 I have started cooking double meals when I know the meal will freeze well, and this weekend I made a double batch of cookies so we will have some dessert handy when a week hits that is just crazy. Mike and I have a bit of a sweet tooth, I have to admit.

      Good luck next week!

  3. Pingback: My Budget Boot Camp Day 13: The Grocery Bill « The Debt Free Family

  4. Pingback: Stuff I’ve Gotten for FREE Using Coupons « The Debt Free Family

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