Welcome to the fifth installment of the Better Budget Challenge. This month, we’ll be focusing on improving our food spending.
When I went grocery shopping in college, I usually went two times or less per month. I was happy when the bill was around $100. It was usually more. I bought junk. Sometimes, I could cook with things I bought. But most of the time, it was convenience food. I didn’t plan my menus. I didn’t use coupons. I didn’t do a very good job at all.
But the worst part?
I didn’t even realize how bad I was at grocery shopping. I figured the way I was going about it was normal. (It might seem like a "normal" way to shop, but it’s not a good one!)
Besides those $100+ shopping trips, I was also eating a lot of fast food. I spent quite a bit each month just to feed myself. And, I wasn’t eating healthily. If I knew how to spend $30 per week on food during college, I would have graduated with a lot more money than I did. I would have eaten a lot better, too.
These days, I’m much better with my grocery shopping, but I still have some things to learn.
I hope that I can learn from you. Actually, I hope we can all learn from each other. Whether you’re a skilled grocery shopper or you’ve got a ways to go, won’t you join in?
Tell us about your grocery shopping, past and present. Here’s some questions that can guide you:
- In the past, how much did you spend on groceries? How many people did that feed? Did you plan a menu? Shop to stock your pantry? Use coupons? How did it go? Give us the scoop!
- How much did you spend on groceries in January? If you’re tracking your expenses (I hope you are!) you’ll know a real dollar amount. Share only if you’re comfortable doing so.
- How often do you go to the grocery these days? Once per week? Once per month? Several times per week? How long do your trips take? How long does the planning take?
- Do you plan a menu for the week? Do you stock your pantry, or buy only what you need? Do you buy extras of sale items? A hybrid of those methods? Something else? Do you shop at several stores? Use sites like the Grocery Game or Coupon Mom? What’s your method to grocery shopping now?
- Do you have a dollar amount that you try not to exceed each time you shop? Or do you cross your fingers and hope for the best? Are you OK with that dollar amount, or does it need work?
Now, tell us:
- Of your methods, what has worked well for you?
- What has been a horrible failure? Or, just not a great way for you to shop?
- What are you going to do THIS WEEK that will improve the way you go about gathering your groceries? Be specific.
Later (after I get some sleep) I’ll post some ways you can improve your grocery shopping. But for now, draw on what you know and what you know works for you.
Here’s some bloggers that are great with their grocery budgets. Crystal has been spending $35 or less on groceries for quite awhile. And check out Karen, who can pull off a successful $20/week for groceries when she’s gotta be an ultra-tightwad.
There are many bloggers out there that I’d really like to hear from on this topic. If you buy groceries…(everyone, right?) won’t you consider telling us your method and how it’s working for you?
I’m afraid of tagging people, because I don’t want to be pushy. There’s quite a few frugal bloggers out there that don’t talk about food or groceries very often. Still, I’d love to hear how y’all do it. So, I’m tagging a few in the hopes that you’ll jump in. (And if I didn’t tag you–jump in, anyway!)
Mind telling us, Mrs. Micah? Or Meredith at Merchant Ships? Or Lynnae at Being Frugal (BTW, Lynnae has a great post on how the Internet can help you save on your groceries.) How about you, Mrs. Hadias? And Angie at Thrifty Florida Mama?
I know you’re busy, but care to tell us how you do it, over there at Common Sense with Money? And Cathy at Chief Financial Officer? And the guys at Frugalize, and Paid Twice (we know how much you spend, but what’s your method, PT?) Orgjunkie, you plan your menus every week. How do you plan your shopping trips?
If you’ve already written about this topic, please share a link. If you haven’t, here’s an invitation to do so.
And, if you’d like to include a link below, please post on your blog, link to your specific blog post (not your homepage), and link back to this post, so that your readers can find it. Thanks! And, as always, I’ll include a roundup next weekend.
If you don’t have a blog, feel free to respond in the comments.