I’m a Grocery Store Saving Super Star!

I’m on a mission to save money in any way we can.  We’ve already eliminated our monthly gym membership ($106) and said ‘sayonara’ to our cable ($86).  Looking at the last few months of our spending trends on mint.com I came to the realization that we were spending a TON of money on food – both groceries and eating out.  Mint is pretty cool in the aspect that I can define custom categories to help me track spending in a way that makes sense to me.

I’m using their standard ‘Grocery’ category but have also added three custom categories under their Food & Dining umbrella to further help us track spending:  F&D – Kris, F&D – Ben, and F&D – Us.  In March we spent $853 in our Food & Dining category.  Only $427 (50%) was spent on grocery items.  The rest was made up from us eating out.  That was the first category to get worked on.  I didn’t budget us $400+ a month to eat out – where is it coming from??

We’re trying to make dinners that are conducive to being packed as lunches (enchiladas, cabbage roll casserole, you get the idea).  That allows us to have a pretty good dinner on a weekend AND have at least 2 days worth of lunches to boot.  I’ve been making pudding and packaging it in to-go containers so that’s working out well, too.  I’m tricking Ben by sneaking in a serving of calcium, reducing the waste we put in the environment by skipping the puddin’ cups, and  saving a crapload of money on that kinda stuff.

The second part I wanted to whack down was our actual grocery spending.  Ben and I are two people – how are we consuming $427 in groceries a  month in addition to the $427 we’re eating out?  I’ve made it my mission to see just how low I can get our grocery bill while building up a stockpile of items that we can live off while I’m out on maternity leave and my paychecks are a little leaner than usual. Last week I saved $44.17, or 30% of the total bill.  This week I saved $34.15, or 33% of our total bill.  It’s become something of a game to see how big of a percentage off our bill I can save.

So, how am I doing it?

  1. I picked the right store – Meijer – over its local competition.  Meijer doubles coupons up to 99 cents, has low overall prices, and they also price match what other stores show in their weekly ads.
  2. I peruse the weekly ads on Friday night / Saturday morning to prepare for a Saturday afternoon trip.  I grab a piece of notebook paper and quickly jot down what’s on sale where (ie – Kroger has Wheat Thins for $1/box, Giant Eagle has cereal on sale for $1.99/box) making sure that I only write down stuff we’ll actually eat/use.
  3. I go through my stack of coupons to see if I can save any additional money on what I’m already buying.  I don’t cut out the coupons until I actually am going to use them – it’s much easier than carrying around a box or envelope of slippery loose coupons.
  4. I figure out what we’re going to have for meals for the week based on what’s on sale, what’s in the freezer / pantry, and oddly enough – what the weather will be.  It’s tough to schedule a grill night when it’s going to rain all week.
  5. When I’m at the store I grab a cart *and* one of the small shopping baskets.  I put the basket on the bottom of the cart – my price match items go in there so I can easily separate them from the rest of my purchases.  Believe me, the cashier LOVES me for this.
  6. I also make sure to have the coupons that I’m going to use all ready before I get in line to make things go faster.

Believe it or not, but it actually takes me only 20 minutes to half an hour more to get all this done over what I was doing before.  I’m hoping to save over 40% this week at the store 🙂

Let me know if you decide to try any of these tips and how much you save.  You’d be surprised how quickly it adds up.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DarcKnyt
    Apr 16, 2009 @ 22:22:27

    Nice job! You’re a real mistress of savings!

    Workin’ on it. The cost of daycare has me scrimping and saving wherever I can.


  2. DarcsFalcon
    Apr 16, 2009 @ 23:14:47

    You are a savin’ maven!


    Know what else might help you with that eating out category? Give yourselves each a weekly allowance. Say, I dunno, let’s just use $20 for an example. No extra running to the ATM or using the debit card, you get $20 mad money for lunches and stuff. If you spend it all, you’re done. If you have extra, it goes into your wallet to add to the next week or whatever. I think the debit cards make it too easy to overspend and lose track of where it goes.

    There are a few categories where I’m going to start using cash envelopes instead of just having it hang out in my account – gas, grocery, house, and fun $. This way only being able to spend what we have on hand will make it a lot easier. Thanks for the suggestion!


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