Monday, October 11, 2010

How to Spend Less on Groceries!

So, today I had to do some grocery shopping.  This used to be a mindless task for me.  I sometimes made a list, and sometimes I went with NO list, wandering around the store and purchasing whatever looked good to me at the time.  Times, they have a-changed in the Bridges Household.  About a year ago, I started keeping track of my grocery receipts and found that, for our family of 3, I was sometimes spending as much (or sometimes MORE than) $500 a month on groceries.  And we went out to eat a few times a week, too!  Many of you with children know that they are EXPENSIVE.  Worth every penny, but once you have a day care expense of $600-$800 a month, you have to start finding ways to save.  Plus, as a part of all the school budget cuts, my husband's job was cut and he took a job that cost him about 1/3 of his salary.  That hurt.  And then came the furloughs... you heard me mention those yesterday.  But... things happen, and you have to find a way to deal. 

That's why I use the Southern Savers website.

This website is couponing and grocery deals for dummies.  Jenny, the creator, has all kinds of tutorials to help you get started and understand how couponing works.  Click here to find some of her video tutorials.

Now, I am still not able to go and buy a cart of groceries for $5.  But Southern Savers has helped me to DRASTICALLY cut our grocery bill.  How drastic?  I cut it in HALF.  I went from spending an average of $100 a week to $50 a week.  I will tell you that a shopping trip takes a lot more time and effort than it used to, but to me, it's worth it.

First, I have to menu-plan.  Today, this involved me checking the freezer to see what we actually had and thinking about what dinners could be created with those ingredients.  (This is the obvious part of the game plan.  We all do this, right?) 

As you can see, there is a serious organization problem going on here! 
Does anyone else's freezer look like this?
For example, today I pulled out a top-round roast, potatoes, onions, and celery.  Well, that's easy.  Add some carrots and you've got crock pot beef stew.  So carrots went on my list.  And lucky for me, they are on sale this week!

Then, I hit up the Southern Savers site to see what the grocery deals are that week. 

I shop at either Bi-Lo or Harris Teeter, depending on who has the best deals for that particular week.  For me, Bi-Lo won this week.  Now, the Southern Savers site has this great feature where Jenny lists all the items that are on sale AND the coupon match-ups.  She also has check-boxes so you can check off everything you want and then print your personalized list.  You can even add your own items to the list. 

Then, I go and find my coupons that I can use.  This week, I have several that will help bring down the total.  I clip and check my list before heading out. 

Then, we hit the stores.  Now, I am taking a chance today, because grocery stores change their deals on Wednesdays.  Today is Monday, so there's a chance that they may be out of some of the things on my list.  But I've got my little shopping helper with me, and we're enjoying some Mommy-Sadie time today.

So... how did I do? 

I usually aim to try and get my savings to equal what I spent.  I came pretty close today.  I saved $36 and spent $38.  I am pretty happy if I come in at under $50 a week. 

Basically, this has changed the way I shop.  I used to start with a menu and then shop for the ingredients, and whatever they cost was what I paid.  Now I plan our menus based on what is on sale or what I bought previously on sale.  It seems so simple... I don't know why it never occurred to me before!

So... how do you shop for groceries?  Do you coupon?  Leave me a comment with your ideas, thoughts, insights...


  1. Thanks Liz. I need to do this. I've been planning to for years. My friends from HS really do this and can get a whole cart for $5, like you mentioned these days. I need to stop being stupid. Thanks for plugging SS.

  2. Thanks for the comment. It was hard for me to get started and sometimes I get sick of clipping coupons. However, if you just do the printable coupons online and buy what's on sale vs. what you want, you can save a lot just by doing that, too. When I get burned out, I quit with the coupons and just shop using the weekly circular. That alone is half the battle.

  3. Wow, my method takes very little planning although I'm sure I spend much more money. I create an ongoing list as I realize a need for something...then I go buy it. If I need a lot, I go to Walmart or Sams, if I just need a few items, I go to Publix. I don't use coupons. I may play around with that site though now that you've peaked my interest. Thanks for sharing! : )


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