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!