I’m on a mission this year: spend $80 or less per week on groceries for my family of four! After reconciling all our expenses for 2009, all the while remembering the splurges during a special family celebration and replenishing of food storage, I realized I could and would do better in 2010. With the skills I’ve obtained, and the deals on some web sites I’ve discovered, “I hereby pledge to lower my food budget this year!”
I just finished reading through a blog of an eating experiment done in September 2008: $1/per person per day (just a couple, no kids, just food for the day). It was interesting, but even the couple who did it admit that they had no real reason for doing it, other than to see what it would be like. (Their blog led to discussion about socio-economic issues — remember this was fall of 2008 — and global economies.) But it did get me thinking — again — about our abundance and eating patterns. This led to a decision to start showing you what I actually do with our food budget. I get some fabulous grocery deals, and use them (see my Weekly Dinner Deal posts). But recently some readers asked how their low weekly budget can handle a dinner with friends, or a holiday barbecue. Maybe I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s second nature, but it’s really quite easy to live frugally while still enjoying friends and such. So look for more detail. Now, for this week‘s spending:
BagNSave: I made a few trips to BnS this week, first to take advantage of last week’s sale prices before they expired on Tuesday, then a good trip for this week’s deals, and finally one last trip for more deals after printing more coupons. Here’s what I got in the way of food:bananas 1.03 Our Fam soft cream cheese w/vegs marked down to 1.69, which will last a long time Marzetti salad dressing 1.49 – $1 coupon = .49 Ronzoni pasta 1.39 x 2 – $1 = 2/1.78 or .89 each Ronzoni pasta 1.39 – .75 = .64 Johnsonville Italian sausages 2.50 – .55 = 1.95 3 boxes Our Fam breakfast cereal (let #2 pick them) 3/5.07 – $3 = 3/2.07 or .69 each 2 packages of Kraft shredded cheese and 3 Kraft chunk cheese 3/$5 – $5/5 = 5/3.34 or .67 each Our Fam burger buns .49 Our Fam hot dog (brat) buns .49 5# “Klondike Rose” potatoes 3.99 — these look interesting! Johnsonville bratwurst 2.50 – .55 = 1.95
Total for food: $19.87NoFrills: I did some price matching here, and while some of it was for Labor Day, some is going to Project Hope, and some will be used down the road. What I got: 3 8-ox Our Fam cream cheese (1/3 fat) .98 each = 2.94 Quaker instant oatmeal 2 @ 1.98 – $1 x 2 = 1.96 or .98 each Roberts lite sour cream 16 oz .98 – .35 = .63 Totino’s pizza rolls 4 x .69 – .50/2 and .40/2 = 1.86 or .47 each — These are the last of the junk I’m going to feed my kids as snacks. Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad .99 x 4 – .50/2 x 2 = 2.96 or .74 each 2 frozen chopped spinach @ .88 = 1.76 1.75# green cabbage @ .38/# = .67
Total for food: $13.67
SuperSaver: I had to go for the steak deal! I found other great deals, too. Okay, so it seems like I bought some unnecessary things here. But stay tuned, because we will enjoy them while staying in a very reasonable budget. Gaze upon the savings:2.5# sirloin steaks, cut into 4-ounce portions 7.50 or $3/# or .75 each precut portion 1.19# valencia oranges @ .98/# = 1.17 2.23 # bananas @ .48 = 1.07 (we eat a lot of bananas) green onions .48 Dannon 6-oz yogurts on quick sale .20 each = $1 — Eew! I passed on the expired ones! Roberts lemonade .78 Best Choice whipped topping .78 Best Choice half gallon ice cream 3 x .98 = 2.94 Blue Bunny Star Bars 1.97 x 2 – $1 x 2 = 1.94 or .97 each box
Total for food: $17.64
Aldi: Two trips, one quick, one to fill in on weekly items. (And CHOCOLATE.) Food expenses:Romaine hearts 2.49 oat bran bread 1.19 olive oil 3.29 lime .25 CHOCOLATE 1.29 — Hey! I hadn’t bought this in a while. 4 milks @ 1.79 = 7.16 apples 2.89 salt .33 2.5# boneless, skinless chicken breasts 2.88
Total for food: $21.77
Baker’s: It was a foray back into Baker’s this week. I hope to find better deals next week. What I got this week:Orville Redenbacher/M&Ms almonds: 1.99 + 2.50 – $1.25 = 3.24 — a splurge for movie night whole wheat sub buns bakery markdown .99 Ritz pretzel crackers 2.75 – $1 = 1.75
Total for food: 5.93
SuperTarget: I find great bargains on two trips to Target. But I’m noticing much of them are on highly processed foods. While I give much of this kind of thing to Project Hope, I’ve decided to wean our family of it. More for the food pantry! Grocery spending at this store this week:Pepperidge Farm cookies 2.50 – $1 insert coupon = 1.50 Bumble Bee tuna salad w/crackers kit 1.02 x 2 – $1/2 insert coupon = .52 each Starkist tuna pouch .89 – .50 insert coupon = .39 Black & Bleu burger 4-pack 3.99 – $2 package coupon = .50/burger 3.5# Gold N Plump thighs 5.99 – $3 package coupon = .85/# Gold N Plump 2-packs marinated chicken breasts 2/$4 – package coupons $1×2 = $1 each Pictsweet frozen chopped onion/celery/carrot mix .79 each Alexia frozen fries 1.74 – $1 printable = .74 Blue Bunny ice cream sandwiches packages $2 – $1 printables = $1 each Sara Lee chocolate swirl pound cake 1.74 Butterball Everyday Roast turkey breast roll 1.42# x 3.99/# = 5.67 – 1.50 MQ = 4.17 = 2.94/# (going to slice for sandwiches, and this price beats deli!) Vlasic pickles 1.82 (lower than the sale price at NF) – .55 MQ = 1.27 JennieO turkey breakfast sausages .78 clearance Jimmy Dean breakfast items clearanced to 1.95 – $1 MQ = .95 (for a special treat breakfast) Red Baron pan pizzas price cut to 3.33 – $1 MQ = 2.33 Morningstar Farms Asian burgers 1.67 clearance – $1 MQ = .67 for four burgers
Total for food: $41.11
Also, this week I was given some Cheerios for FREE! Thank you, Coupon Dawn, for sharing your extras. We kept one box and the others went to Project Hope.
This week for just food I spent $119.99 — about $40 over budget, or half-again! This puts me at $221.13 under budget for the year! Without the trips to SuperTarget, I would have spent just $78.88, which is just below my budget. My concept of budget, of course, is that I carry both underage and overage to the next week. This is what allows me to spend $40 over budget this week. Look, I’m still below my YTD budget. So don’t say, “YIKES!” so quickly — you’ll see how this all plays out. (Remember those weeks when I only spent $50?)
So my goal for next week is to really reduce my shopping. That’s going to happen naturally, given what’s on our schedules. The focus will be on produce, milk and stuff we run out of (which shouldn’t be a whole lot). But I am going to show you how to put these bargains into real life use.