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Keeping down the grocery bill


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  #1  
December 7th, 2012, 03:42 PM
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So I was looking at our budget today - which let me tell you is quite depressing. I always write down things that look great on paper, but something always comes up and it never works out.

My husband pointed out that I like to adjust the grocery budget because I can. Things like the phone bill, car payment, insurance, etc are fixed. But the grocery bill I try to fit to our needs. So I usually put down $600 for the month. And apparently I spend quite a bit more than that, and the whole budget idea goes out the window. Now by "groceries" I mean all our food, plus diapers for one, cleaning products, and food and litter for four cats. So that adds a chunk.

Does anyone have tips on keeping the bill down? We already don't eat out, so that saves some. This year I am homeschooling and have to feed all four kids breakfast and lunch at home, so that has been a bit tougher (for ideas as well as planning and money.) I also pack a lunch for dh...so yeah, food for six, plus the pet stuff and household stuff. My current thought is that I am going to try to switch to going maybe once a week and stick to it. Right now I am always out of something so I make little trips all the time.
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  #2  
December 7th, 2012, 04:23 PM
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Just hang on there girl! Can't give you so much advice since were the same.. i think when it comes to kids food we don't like to make a budget.
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  #3  
December 7th, 2012, 08:03 PM
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I certainly am not super good with this either but for me I make my food budget expectations a little higher, that way I dont have alot of explaining after the spending. for example, I allow $800-$900 for food, and everything related to the grocery store ( toilet paper, paper towles, paper plates, cleaning supplies on and on...) However not every month I have to get all these things. So there is usually left over to add that keeps it going. ( dont know if I xplnd that well )

I like to go to costco to get only a specific things in bulk. Like paper towels, TP, green olives, some veggies ( only the ones we consume quickly or I can freeze ) tomato sauce..ect ect..
Also I usually always keep a running list at home to keep up with what I need to get. A list helps with time in the store and also helps keep you on budget.

I dont buy boxed meals, processed things, jar sauces, ect..I tend to make my own stuff ( that saves )
Maybe try meal planning a week in advance so you know exactly what you need for the week and that will avoid waste and over buying.
Anyhow...Im sure some other mammas got better ideas but thats all I could add for now...(its 7am lol)
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  #4  
December 7th, 2012, 08:28 PM
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This is a huge battle for me, and I realize now that I will always have to make smaller trips to the store cause there are some things I just can't buy enough of and store. Things like milk, bread, cheeses (we eat a lot of cheese), sometimes cereal. I just can't predict how much or little the kids will eat sometimes.

So some of the things I do, got lazy with have started up again.

Plan meals for 2 weeks. Make a list according to what you do have and what you don't have. I also make my grocery list according to the isles in the store, that means less of a chance to forget things.

Try to plan meals so that one day it's inexpensive. Things like soup and sandwiches, mac n cheese w/ hot dogs (not my favorite but the kids like it). Mac n cheese with tuna and peas. Then between those meals plan some nicer ones. You are less likely to feel 'deprived' that way.

Watch ad's. I tend to know what is cheaper where.

I have also had to start feeding breakfast and lunch. One prefers cereal everyday, 2 like sandwiches for breakfast, and Kailyn will eat whichever lol. Lunch is also simple, sandwiches and fruit, Ramen Noodles (mine could live off of that). Then there are days we don't have lunch. We have dunch, I have to cook early dinners cause of the husbands work schedule so we will eat lunch a little late, but dinner a little early. Hey, it works

There might be more, but that's what is coming to mind right now.
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  #5  
December 8th, 2012, 04:29 AM
acupofjoe's Avatar Proud mama of three!
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Ugh I should look at our grocery budget. We also say grocerys but it includes everything, I think we personally spend way to much. Every time we go to costco (once every two weeks) we drop at least 200$ there and that does not include what we buy at the regular grocery store. I think that is something I will write down and work out this weekend! I would like to get it down to 500$ total a month but I know that is probably not going to happen but I will shoot for that!

I do however try to save money by using coupons and buying things on sale. We dont have a whole lot of storage here but at our old house I would buy massive amounts of stuff when it was at a rock bottom price so I could stock up. I bought so much bbq sauce once we didnt have to buy anymore of it for two years but I got each bottle for like 50 cents a piece. Here I could never do that since there is just no room.
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  #6  
December 8th, 2012, 07:17 AM
sarahlorrain's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I save by using coupons and buying what's on sale or generic items as well. For example, we always buy the fruit that's on sale. So, in the winter it's usually oranges and apples and then of course bananas because they're so cheap anyway. It's just really hard to keep the grocery spending down when you are feeding 6+ people 3 meals a day!

We do go to church to eat dinner on Wednesdays. It's by donation, but I give $5 for all of us. That's probably not enough, but it's mostly to give me a break from cooking.
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  #7  
December 8th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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I was just thinking of asking something like this this morning.

We are a family of 11, soon to be 12, and we homeschool as well, so it's meals 3 times a day 7 days a week. It does add up. Quiet honestly, I agree with all the ladies suggestions above, but there is only so much we can cut.

We shop once every 10 days or so, but twice a week for milk, fruit, and bread. Last month, I kept track, we went through 75 lbs of fruit. No no matter how you slice it, it adds up. We can what fruit we can in the summer, but than our electricity bill goes up, so I think it is quite even and probably cheaper to just buy it at the store sadly.

We use generics, coupons, no box dinners (I do keep some of hand if Mama is sick, it's a quick meal), etc.

I wish I had some more options. If you watch reports, as a nation, our income buys less than it did 10 years ago, so that makes it harder. I feel like a magician every month paying bills and we don't eat out or go anywhere.

We try and do an inexpensive meal once a week as well. That seems to help, but I don't know how much.

We go through 12 boxes, depending on their size, of cereal a week and 10 gallons of milk. I tend to shop in spirts, when certain things on our sale, so it's hard to say what our budget is, kwim? Last week I picked up 72 lbs of butter, 32 lbs of brown sugar and 50 lbs of flour because it was a great deal for holiday baking, so that is tough to budget in. This week I won't have much to spend.

I would say we spend about $900 a month of food and tolietries. Pretty good for a family our size and making 3 meals a day, but it seems like my poor hubby has to work so hard for money that is gone so quick. Sorry for the pity parrty!

I will be watching to see what other suggestions you ladies have!
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  #8  
December 8th, 2012, 11:27 AM
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I found that meal planning does help a lot. I too, spend a lot on groceries, if I really really watch it I'm still spending $1200 a month. Excluding beef. The whole coupon thing doesn't work near as well up here, and the basics are expensive.
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  #9  
December 8th, 2012, 12:36 PM
Repti.Mom's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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See for the last year pretty much we haven't had a choice. We fit the budget in to what I get for WIC and food help. I also go to food pantries. Sometimes we have an extra $100 to spend on groceries. The last month we've been pretty good on food, but the month before we ate a lot of rice and noodles. I spend about $500 on food, I don't pay attention to how much wic adds up to, sorry, I should do that.
I all can say is carbs are my friend $ wise, but not waistline wise lol
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  #10  
December 8th, 2012, 04:25 PM
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I do coupons for some things, but it always seems like the coupons are for the boxed meals and junk OR they are for when you buy 2 or 3 of something.

I keep all snack foods, juice boxes, chips and anything the kids will just run through in a LOCKED trunk. I try to bake a lot of their treats instead of buying cookies, rice krispie treats, etc.

I try to do a cheap meal or two per week too. Mine like waffles or tuna noodles, grilled cheese and soup too.

Its hard to stick to a budget when you have to run to the store more than once a week. I try so hard not to pick up "extras" when I just need bread, milk, etc. I want an extra fridge to store milk and drinks to avoid those mid week trips.

Its also cheaper if I go by myself to the grocery store. If I do have to go I try to stop on my way home from work.
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  #11  
December 9th, 2012, 11:29 AM
Just_Marie's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I know we spend alot on groceries up here, everything costs more up here from produce to boxed anything to laundry soap. My goal is to meal plan for two weeks and probably go back to buying grocery cards on pay day. I did that last year, each pay day I'd buy two $400 cards to my grocery store and work hard to only use those two cards that month (not including diapers or beef). That really helped me alot
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  #12  
December 9th, 2012, 11:46 AM
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We get WIC too, and $130/month in food stamps. Between the two, we don't have to pay anything for food the first week of the month. Then we're on our own after that.

I also meal plan, and that helps because we aren't running to the store all the time, I can try to plan meals around what's on sale, etc. Our grocery sometimes has meal deals where you buy one item, and then get some other things for free. They aren't always something I want, but if they are, I'll buy them. This last week, one meal deal was buy a seasoned/marinated roast and get mashed potatoes, bag of baby carrots and a big can of baked beans for free. Then there was another one where you buy a package of sausage and get a box of Louisiana rice mix and refrigerated crescent rolls for free. The roast cost about $15 and the sausage cost about $5. I paired the potatoes, carrots, beans and rolls with the roast. It was yummy! Then, I'm going to make the sausage with the rice mix and I also bought a bag of frozen corn that cost about $1.50 to go with it. So, for around $21.50 I have two dinners for 6 people which I think is reasonable, especially since those meats weren't cheap.

I would go to the food pantry here, but it is total crap. Every time I go almost everything I get is either moldy or out of date. It's ridiculous. I go back every few months to see if they've gotten any better, but they never do. My sister in law who lives in the next town over where I go grocery shopping offered to let me sign up with their food bank with her address so I could go to the food bank there since it's much nicer, but I just can't bring myself to lie to get free food, kwim?
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  #13  
December 9th, 2012, 12:08 PM
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Our food bank for our area is useful for some things. Its called FocusHope and we get formula for the baby, some juice, cereal, canned goods (usually something like sweet potatoes or garbanzo beans though) and either rice or macaroni noodles, oh and block cheese. Its off brands but its helpful. The ten cans of formula per month is very helpful!

Of course this is only for pregnant women, or parents with kids under 6 or seniors.
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  #14  
December 10th, 2012, 07:57 AM
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There are 4 food pantries a month here, then you can do Salvation army once a month with an appointment, and there is a small one every thursday. I don't go to that one much because the wait is horrible, and the hallway is small, and sometimes you have to wait outside. That one doesn't need any proof of anything, you don't even have to live in Sheboygan, could just drive here and go to it.

I like the one at St Mark, they give away good stuff including watson's sandwiches, pasta salad ect (Rob brings that stuff to work for lunches), and they have carts you can use, and an elevator so it's easy to go with kids.

I told Rob this, but sometimes I feel guilty going to the food pantry then going out and putting my stuff in a nice vehicle. Of course he always tells me I could be driving an unsafe vehicle (the windstar we used to have) that doesn't fit everyone. Plus the Vehicle is part of the reason we NEED the food pantries.

We get 470 in foodshare a month. It just dropped down another 100.00. I didn't want to say how much we get, but since someone else did I will too.
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  #15  
December 10th, 2012, 09:48 AM
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Yeah, we have an expensive vehicle and when and if I do go to the food pantry, I take dh's older car. Buying brand new cars was a dumb move. We got in the habit of buying new vehicles years ago and now we've finally realized that's stupid but now we have a gigantic car payment. The car is up for sale and as soon as we can get rid of it and buy an older car, we're going to. I hate being on government assistance, but at the same time, I'm not ashamed of it and we're working hard to get off of it.
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  #16  
December 11th, 2012, 01:51 PM
2pinks&ablue's Avatar Chantelle
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I budget $150/ week for groceries and I'm usually able to stick to it. I sit down and meal plan every week when the flyers come out, I also coupon when I can. Our butcher offers meat boxes too ( I think a lot of meat shops do). It's $80 but it usually has 2 packages of steak, 2 of chicken, 4 lbs of bacon, ahuge pkg of breakfast sausages, 2 packages of pork chops, and chicken nuggets or fish sticks.
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  #17  
December 13th, 2012, 06:57 AM
HalfDozen's Avatar Formerly Number5OnTheWay
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That meat box sounds pretty nice! I haven't heard of that before. I might have to look into it!!
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  #18  
December 13th, 2012, 07:43 AM
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Get rid of the four cats! Kiddin!

Keeping down the grocery bill is crucial as you can't really cut down the food resources. Perhaps you could buy seeds and grow backyard veggies, herbs and fruits. In couple of months time, you will be spending less for the ingredients.
That's all I can think about to help you.
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  #19  
December 13th, 2012, 09:07 AM
Kierasmom's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Make a meal plan/menu.

Make a grocery list to support your meal plan/menu.

Coupons are only beneficial if it's for products you already use.

Shop at bulk stores. Costco is my favorite.

Use store brands. I use Target brand for toilet paper, medicine, diapers, wipes, and other household goods. I think their brand is better than the name brand and I save money. I also have their red card(it's not a credit card) and save 5% on my bill every time. I've saved over $600 this year.

Don't eat boxed/processed food. It's not good for you anyway. I cook/bake everything I can from scratch. Takes more time, but it's MUCH healthier and cheaper.

Use the food plate, especially for kids. It teaches them how to eat properly, and leaves less room for being picky. I feed my kids using food plate guidelines and offer healthy snacks. Treats are occasional. Here is a link to the food plate...
ChooseMyPlate.gov

Keep a list of things you're running out of, and make planned trips to the store to save on gas.
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Last edited by Kierasmom; December 13th, 2012 at 09:11 AM.
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  #20  
December 13th, 2012, 03:06 PM
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We used to get by on $250/month for groceries until 2 months ago (we finally got approved for food stamps). I'm almost embarrassed to say how much we get in food stamps every month. It's more money than we know what to do with. Evidently, we were way further below poverty levels than we realized. Even though we have more money to put toward groceries every month, we pretty much still keep our bill around 300/month.

We mostly only drink water. We get juice every once in a while, always get milk, but never get sodas or anything like that.

Garden and can.

Buy fruits and veggies at farmer's market. We have a farmer's market that is huge and saves us a lot of money.

Meal plan, cook from scratch, and freeze meals. A frozen meal is just as awesome as a microwave meal.

Hunt. We eat deer meat mostly. If hunting was poor one year, we'd split the purchase of a cow with someone else in my extended family.
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