A few people have asked me how I am able to spend $50 or less at the grocery store each week. I certainly don't feel like I do anything exceptional, but I'll try to explain my basic plan.
*Note* Over Christmas break I went to The Dollar Tree and Big Lots and wrote down the size and cost of every product they have that we normally buy. I then matched the cost to what I pay at Kroger. Most products were cheaper at Big Lots or The Dollar Tree.
1. I make a menu. I try to use as much of what is already in the cabinet/freezer/fridge as possible. I plan only suppers because I usually take a salad, sandwich, or leftovers to school and Chris usually eats at his parents' house (Yes, he's an adult, but he gets to see his family everyday and it's free.). I try to make sure each meal has a meat, at least one vegetable, and a grain. I also enjoy cooking, so I try to make new recipes each week. Chris will throw in grilling or smoking some, also, especially on weekends.
2. I make my grocery list based on what I need for cooking that week and what we are out of around the house.
3. I match my list to the Kroger sales paper (If I have rice on the list and the Knorr rice mixes are 10/$1, I get that instead of my usual whole wheat rice. It may not be as healthy, but the difference is not that huge.).
4. I then match my list to my coupons (I have my coupons separated into manufacturer and Kroger.). On my list I put a star next to each item and write down how much off the coupon is (this is for step 7 and to make sure my receipt is right).
5. I match the Kroger sale prices of items on my list to The Dollar Tree and Big Lots prices (Granted I have been doing this only 2 weeks, but I went to 3 stores the first week, and 1 store the second. I imagine there will be few times I have to go to all 3).
6. I then prioritize my list into "Needs" and "Maybes" (One time pizza was on sale, I had a coupon, it would be nice to keep it in the freezer for weekend nights, but it was not a priority, so it went onto the "maybe" list.).
7. At the grocery store I write down the cost of each item I pick up. I add the items, tax, and subtract my coupons.
8. If there is money below my $50 budget I do one of two things - A. pick up items on my "maybe" list or B. check out the meat that is on sale (I like to keep our freezer stocked with fish, chicken, ground turkey or beef, and at least either a porkloin or pork chops. I do not buy any meat over $10. I also divide the meat up before freezing it. I divide a porkloin into 1/4s, I freeze 2 porkchops together, etc....).
Like I mentioned earlier, this is only the second week of this "experiment." There could be lots of problems with this plan that I haven't encountered yet. So far (even before I had this $50 plan I tried to keep it below $100) my trips have worked out where I do not need all of my staples (flour, sugar, rice, etc... and shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper, etc... and meat) all at the same time. This helps in being able to keep within my budget. Although it is time consuming (It takes about 45 min - 1 hour to complete steps 1 - 6.), I enjoy doing this. It feels good spending such little money, and I feel like I'm helping to get us closer to our very own house!