Some of you have expressed intrigue by the fact that I do bi-monthly grocery shopping.  We used to buy groceries weekly, or in some cases, a couple of times a week, but we seemed to be spending way too much on food.  We used to eat out all the time, too, which meant some of the groceries we bought would end up going bad and have to be tossed.

Not very wise on our parts.

After Princess Nagger was born, we decided we had to make some changes to our frivolous methods, and cut back on eating out – especially since we were going from a double income household to a single income household.

With four mouths to feed and all of them barely a year apart, my parents had to use some creativity when it came to the budget. They didn’t believe in credit cards, and only when they discovered they couldn’t have ‘good’ credit without one, they got a Sears card, but refused to get any other kind of credit card, because they didn’t like the idea of finance charges and interest.  I’ve pretty much adopted that same mentality and don’t own any credit cards myself.

My mom was creative with the grocery shopping – she would scour the weekly paper and pick out which stores she’d be going to (always on a Wednesday, since that’s when the sales would start) and map out her grocery list based on what items where at which store (on sale) so we’d get the perishables and frozen items last.

To this day I marvel at the patience my mom showed dragging all four of us brats kids shopping – especially when we were very young.  It was probably more hectic easier as we got older, because then we could have races in the aisles help push the cart and help unload the staggering amount of groceries when we got home.

They didn’t have Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s at that time, so she’d buy extra items that were on sale to stock up.  The pantry was always chock full of stuff, we never ran out of toilet paper, and my dad bought a chest freezer we kept in the garage so extra purchases of frozen items could effectively be stored.  They even went in with some friends of theirs and bought half a cow – so they’d have an endless supply of various cuts of beef in the freezer to cook at will.

I learned the creative ‘stocking up’ from my mom.  My pantry is chock full of stuff, my fridge is always well stocked, and we even have an upright freezer in the basement to store the extra frozen goodies.  I usually plan out what we’ll be eating for the two weeks – but not specific menus, just based on ingredients.  When it comes down to the actual thing to make, I’ll pore through my abundant cook books and see what sounds good.  Or interesting.  Or makes my mouth water.

I utilize the membership at BJ’s to buy in bulk – usually staples like toilet paper, paper towels, detergent, things like that.  But I do like their meat section, because their meats always look ultra fresh (unlike Wal*Mart – don’t get me started on their shady practices with meat, and we don’t have a butcher conveniently located in our area) and the price is better for certain things vs. the local grocery store we have nearby.  So I’ll buy meat in bulk, then separate it when I get home, double package it and freeze it for future use.

Fresh produce does really well in our fridge – it can last almost the full two weeks (if it’s not consumed sooner than that), but I do like the steam fresh vegetables from Green Giant – so I buy those in bulk at BJ’s to keep in the downstairs freezer so we can have steamed vegetables at anytime.  I’ll dig through the bagged salads (since I am trying to eat healthier) and pick out the ones that have a longer ‘fresh by’ date on them, just in case.  I’ve been known to practically climb into the dairy case to get the milk waaaaay in the back – because usually that’s where the ones are stashed that have a ‘best if used by’ of two weeks later.

I do buy the generic store brand of soup (unless I have a coupon that makes the name brand cheaper) – because really, Princess Nagger or Hovering Hubby aren’t going to know the difference when I heat it up and put it in their special soup bowls.  At least they haven’t yet.  Except Princess Nagger did catch me making her Chicken and Stars from the generic label, and insisted (afterwards) that she prefers Campbell’s.  As if she could really tell the difference.

I buy the ‘cream of’ versions to use in cooking different things (like an awesome fish recipe that uses cream of celery soup that I’ll have to post here soon because it is super easy and super delicious).  I’m not a big coupon user, but once in a while, I’ll go crazy with them.  Except I have to be careful, because sometimes I’ll end up buying something I don’t really need just because I have a coupon.

Sometimes we might run out of things before the next shopping day, but it’s usually not something important like toilet paper.  Hubby will go through his carton of ice cream within the first week, but understands he gets no more ice cream until the next shopping day.  I keep an eye on what’s running  low and what can wait until the next shopping day, and it seems to be working out well.  I try not to go over the grocery budget, but every once-in-a-while something will mysteriously land in my cart that wasn’t on the list.

But it all evens out – the next shopping excursion may fall below the budget because of sales.  Or coupons.  Since hubby is in charge of all the other bills, I like being in charge of the groceries (especially because when he was buying the groceries when Princess Nagger was first born, he was terrible at it and had to go a couple times a week because he always seemed to forget things) and it only makes sense since I’m also in charge of all the cooking, too (mostly because hubby doesn’t really know how to cook much).

How do you grocery shop?  Do you stock up on sale items and/or use coupons?  Have you cut back your grocery budget because of the economy?

This Budget Spin Cycle was brought to you in part by Jen, who is also a frugal shopper and Sprite’s Keeper.  Head on over and check out the other spinners – there might be some great cost-cutting tips you hadn’t yet thought of!

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  1. I used to throw out so much crap b/c I shpped too far in advance. Now, one or two days worth for dinner and that is it. I still toss a few veggies here and there but by and large I’m saving a lot more.

    I buy store brands but there are certain where I think the brand brand tastes better; ie: cheerios, heinz ketchup

  2. i cant grocery shop…i usually end up crying int eh corner because i cant find anything…but T does a good job…every other week.
    .-= brian would like you to read ..hookie =-.

  3. When my two older kids were growing up, I only grocery shopped every other week as well (because I only got paid every other week). It’s amazing how you can make stuff last when you take the trouble to plan.

    And those Steamfresh vegetables are the best thing since sliced bread. I love ’em.
    .-= Jan would like you to read ..Coconut Curry Fish =-.

  4. I go to the grocery store once a week. I make a list and am usually pretty good at sticking to it. I would love to go once a month but have problems keeping the produce fresh for that long. I have also found that if I stock up too much on something, my children will decide that they wont eat it anymore.
    .-= Anne would like you to read ..DUI, Canada and Mother’s Day, Check Out My Boots =-.

  5. We are on fixed incomes and keep the groceries within the budget. We usually go twice a month and last month we were actually $50 under budget on groceries.
    .-= Technobabe would like you to read ..Broken =-.

  6. I really need to inspect my Costco a lot more closely. We buy a majority of our meat there, most of it ground beef, chicken, and ground turkey since I don’t have a second freezer to store the bigger cuts of whatever else and real estate in my freezer is limited, but I need to start looking at the nonperishables more closely like canned fruit and veggies to see what kind of savings I can get. For instance, I found out that a gallon of milk at Costco is fifty cents cheaper than Walmart! Guess where we’re getting our milk from now on?
    You’re linked!
    .-= Sprite’s Keeper would like you to read ..Spin Cyce: Cutting Costs, Not Corners =-.

  7. We do Costco about every six to 8 weeks. We do buy in bulk and their meats are awesome. I go to the store for soda and milk when needed. Maybe once a month I will do a coupon shopping trip to our Ralph’s who doubles them!
    .-= Debby would like you to read ..POST IT NOTE TUESDAY =-.

  8. I just started this system. I used to go shopping every week, but read a book that suggested going monthly. That seemed too much of a stretch for me, so I opted for bi-monthly and so far it is working well for us. It seems easier to stay within budget and I save a lot of time, since I only have to go once every two weeks.

    One suggestion I read in the book that really works is that you can actually freeze milk. So, if you are worried about it going bad, you can throw it in the freezer. We have been doing this, because at times we go through it more slowly than I had anticipated. We waste a lot less milk now.

    Great spin!
    .-= Patty would like you to read ..My Mother’s Day gift to you =-.

  9. We usually shop weekly, but have to be careful about not buying too much or it goes to waste. I can’t seem to get my kids to go with me grocery shopping, and I really need the help. They tell me it’s cuz they hate grocery shopping, like I love it or something. lol It seems to me that as they get older, the less helpful they are and the messes they make get bigger and bigger. Ugh.
    .-= Raven would like you to read ..Oh So Random =-.

  10. I shop twice a week because like your Mom I go to different stores for different items, knowing some things are always cheaper in one than the other and vice versa. It is also easier I find with a toddler to do two shorter shopping trips than one really long one and less expensive as I need fewer “bribes”. I clip coupons and also signed up for both stores on line and get regular mailings with coupons for the products I buy the most.
    .-= Aging Mommy would like you to read ..Mothers Day – The Present Is Revealed =-.

  11. I generally shop once a week and almost always at Publix. Honestly, I don’t see how shopping twice a month vs. four times a month makes much of a difference in spending at all.
    I do sometimes cut coupons, but almost always forget to use them!

    Justine 😮 )

  12. Before I married my husband the Coupon King, I would go shopping every other week when I got paid. I had very little storage and couldn’t stock up. I also didn’t shop the ads and only went to one store.

    I moved and then got married – more storage and a spouse committed to coupons and shopping the ads. We save a ton of money and we have what I jokingly call the “basement grocery” – shelves fully stocked and toilet paper that has lasted well over a year.
    .-= QandleQueen would like you to read ..Cindy’s Happy Fruit Salad =-.

  13. We shop once a week but keep the budget low–my spin this week is all about how we shop for groceries. Not sure we could go two weeks at a time–I’m not that organized.
    .-= VandyJ would like you to read ..TYVM–Turbo Edition =-.

  14. Being that I only get payed once a month, we tend to do our shopping once a month. The problem is that my wife wants fresh vegetables and we never eat all of them right away. I have discovered that root vegetables last longer than others, so I try and go through leafy vegetables that wilt first, then go on to the root vegetables last.

    Thanks for your great shopping tips,
    .-= Christopher (AKA: CaJoh) would like you to read ..F2: Mother’s Day Dinner =-.

  15. It seems like you have a good system going there. I was on my way to having one too until this gluten free crap hit us. Now we buy on demand and everything costs an assload. It sucks.

  16. Yup. My shopping practices are much like yours. I hit BJ’s twice a month and load up on meat (also with an extra freezer downstairs). If things are on sale I stock right up. I know what is cheaper at WalMart and what to get at the grocery store.

    The only thing I go out frequently for is produce. We have an excellent market down the street with lots of locally grown stuff. Sometimes it is more money, but I feel so much better about buying local.
    .-= tulpen would like you to read ..Weekend. Busy. =-.

  17. I’m still learning from you, but I’m trying to achieve my goals. I certainly liked reading everything that is posted on your blog.Keep the information coming. I enjoyed it!

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