Grocery shopping, couponing & budgeting

Back in early 1997 my grocery budget was $20 a week. After TheKid was born (in May 1997), there were many times I had less than $20 for food after diapers. We ate A LOT of hot dogs and baked potatoes. Plain.  My grocery budget is a little more substantial now. I still can’t IGNORE costs while filling the cart, but we’re hardly deprived. In fact, I honestly love grocery shopping and I can’t help but think it’s because I CAN.

Now I’ve discovered couponing. And it’s become a game to see how much I can save. Friday I got $106 worth of groceries for $52. I was excited about that but I also know that’s not really impressive in the world of couponing. I’m still a novice but one thing I focus on is not buying something we won’t use just because I can get it at a great price.  I have bought a few things that we WOULD use but I consider a non-necessity/luxury — as long as it’s $1.50 or less (the closer to free, the more likely I’ll pick it up). I love looking at my receipt and seeing the saved vs spent totals. I love knowing that we’re stocked up on non-perishable goods at rock bottom prices.

Last week I planned three out of five meals using only what I had already in the house. Our grocery expenses were next to nothing. And surprisingly, that was kinda cool. So starting in April, my goal is to stay under $300/month on food. I’ve set up a spreadsheet to track what I spend (and what I save).  I think $75 a week for five people is easily doable with a little planning. The challenge is to see how far under $300 I can get – without my family feeling deprived.

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