Feb 04 2008

Better Budget #5: Our grocery shopping methods


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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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:

  1. Of your methods, what has worked well for you?
  2. What has been a horrible failure? Or, just not a great way for you to shop?
  3. 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.

Posted under Uncategorized | 22 Comments »

22 Responses to “Better Budget #5: Our grocery shopping methods”

  1. I would be happy to share my grocery shopping routine with you! I probably won’t be able to post about it until Wed, Thurs, or Fri, but I’ll get to it! :)

  2. I posted last year on my shopping/couponing method:

    I’m keeping track of my total spending on my sidebar this year. Our household budget for food and household includes ALL expenditures, including birthdays, etc.
    Last month I went way over – partly because we had TWO people shopping. Also we had to buy 3 pairs of shoes (including an adult pair) and I only budgeted for one kid pair.

    Just like balancing the checkbook, the grocery budget works better when ONE person is in charge! LOL

    I just started CVS’ing about 3-4 weeks ago, so hopefully that will cause our budget to go down as well! And our 2 yo is potty training so we will save on diapers.

  3. Thanks, Lynnae! I know you’re going to be super busy this week with the Festival of Frugality and more.

  4. Here’s the link to a post I wrote about my wife’s frugal shopping:


  5. Thanks for including your link!

  6. I chose to actually pay a little over a $1 a week to use a program that tracks sales trends and coupons to get the lowest prices for us. I used to do it on my own, but with 3 kids…I finally decided I either had to give up coupon shopping because it was taking too much time, or pay the $ to use this program. It has worked out for us. I have run out of room because we are so stockpiled, and I am spending about $60-65 a week for a family of 5 while spending minimal time at home now. I print the list and then pull my coupons and go. I hope to get our expense down even lower now that I have found out about CVS and Walgreens in the last 2 weeks!!!

  7. Hey girl,
    I posted my Jan grocery spending the other day so I thought I would share it. Im in the middle of pakcing last min stuff to move this week finnaly!!! So I dont have time to write up a whole post on my budget savings stuffs… :-) But I am looking foward to reading everything everyone else posts!!!

    Have a great day!!!

  8. Kacie, I love this idea. I’m going to post about it on Wednesday. Can’t wait to see what others write. Thanks!

  9. Family of 7 here– including 3 teenagers. I do a monthly menu and go to Wal-Mart at the beginning of the month and buy the groceries/paper products/healthcare supplies that go with that menu. I spend right around $400. I budget another $300 for the rest of the month’s weekly trips for milk, juice and produce. I also take miscellaneous spending out of that $300– so it’s not all going for groceries. (For example, we were at a special revival service last week and my husband asked me to give $20 to the love offering. That $20 came out of my extra $300 that I have in the grocery envelope.)

    I wish I understood better how the Walgreens/CVS things works. I’ve tried to fish around on the internet, but I just don’t get it. Can you explain this to me?

  10. Sorry it took me so long to join in this week! This is a great challenge and I think this will be fun to check out everybody’s systems! Thanks!

    Take Care


  11. I love the challenge this week and it’s great seeing how everyone else does it….gives me some great ideas. We are still trying to get a handle on our grocery budget and get the hang of coupons. Unfortunately we don’t have a CVS and our stores around here don’t double coupons. But every little bit helps!


  12. I would write a post about this but I just did a week ago so I left that one for you on Mr Linky.

    I have never used Mr Linky before so I am branching out. :)

  13. Here is what I have learned in the last couple of months.


  14. I am so late finding this challenge but as soon as I post on the subject I will add my URL to Mr.Linky.

    Thanks for the challenge. I haven’t posted about grocery shopping in some time. You are taking me back to my blogging roots.

  15. http://proverbswife.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-i-save-on-my-grocery-bill.html

    Here is the link to my post. I feed 6 folks on $60.00 or less per week. See how I do it.

  1. 7 Trackback(s)

  2. Grocery Shopping Strategy | beingfrugal.net
  3. Mommy Gets PAID
  4. dear isobel money » Better Budget #5
  5. Keeping The Reins Tight…. » Better Budget Challenge: Week #5
  6. Better Budget Challenge #6: Trying something new with grocery shopping | Sense to Save
  7. BBC #5: Grocery roundup | Sense to Save
  8. Grocery Shopping: What Works for Me and Grocery Shopping: What Works for Me

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

Keep in Touch!
Like me on Facebook Follow Me on Twitter RSS Feed

Subscribe to my email updates:
  • Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Web Statistics