SOS - Save on Shopping

By RAYT721 Latest Reply 2011-02-12 06:08:51 -0600
Started 2011-02-09 21:25:09 -0600

Have you ever had the experience(s) of arming yourself with grocery store sale ads, a strict list, a fist-full of coupons, and a menu plan only to go over budget by 50-60%? My wife and I had that experience recently by leaving the store with a $160 shopping receipt and a "what the hell" look on our face.

The key to sticking to budget is with planning. Normally, we will go through the sale fliers to find the sales and loss leader items. From there, we plan our weekly menu not only for main meals but for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and whatever food we need to buy. We recently took inventory of our freezer and pantry to know what we have which makes it easier to plan what we need. How could we possibly need $160 worth of food for two people??? I blamed it on the few $1 and $2 things not in the plan that made it to our shopping cart. But the reality was it was a combination of impulse buys and buying duplicates of things we had in the house that was "hidden."

We have lately found some new "fun" recipes to try and as exciting as that is, it is really important to use what we have, to freeze leftovers for future meals, to only buy things with coupons that we want/need not just because we have a coupon for it.

What are some of your tips that helps you stick to your food budget??? How do you shop and/or save???

Diabetic or not, we all need to cut costs but get the most from our health and wealth.

I am always looking for ideas and discussions on money matters so if you would help me and others, it would be appreciated.

33 replies

petals 2011-02-11 14:45:47 -0600 Report

I try to shop without my hubby!! I stick to my shopping list and he adds stuff through out the store. mainly junk food for him!! Then he wonders why it cost so much. The last time he was wondering about the cost, I sat down with him, showed him my shopping list and then went through the reciept with him and circled everything that he had added to the cart, added it all up and showed him how much more it cost to shop with him! Well,he was shocked!! He has gotten better, slowly , very slowly. lol

Pynetree 2011-02-11 10:26:54 -0600 Report

Yes, we too are finding it much worse on the wallet in the check-out line! We use lots of coupons, shop the sales, and BOGO items. My biggest tip to save…is sending my husband…he sticks to the list, follows the sales, loves using coupons, and NEVER impulse buys.
Sorry…I don't lend him out! ; )

lorna13 2011-02-10 17:16:34 -0600 Report

I experience this everytime I go to the store. I live on a very strict budget and it hurts every payday. I have signed up on several thrifty living sites that has helped in alot of ways. My favorite is they have several newsletters that cover food, recycling tips. and so much more. This winter really is bad because our garden didn't produce enough for canning, barely enough to get through the season. Too Hot. Now we are too cold. I hope spring is better. Planning on a HUGE garden this next spring.

lorna13 2011-02-11 21:22:55 -0600 Report

Added note: Got a little bit of bad news today. My son and his family has really been hit hard by this recession we are not in. lol Lost job, denied unemployement, but he is fighting it, just will take alittle longer. And wife is only working part time, and two little ones. Well, they are moving in the 1st of the month, ubtil they can get back on their feet. So there goes what little budget I did have. So if anyone out there has anymore great ideas to, as my aunt says, "Make the buffalo nickel poop," I would greatly appreciate it, and so would just about everyone else on this site.

mkhojh99 2011-02-11 22:45:10 -0600 Report

I am not sure the eara you live but we here in Sioux Falls have a coupkle churches that give food away…it has been an awesome thing for my family. For 7 months it was my parents me and my daughter and my brother and his 3 kids…I was laid off…so I worked labor ready which is a work tpoday pay today and went to free food giveaways…

lorna13 2011-02-11 23:12:41 -0600 Report

Thanks for the idea. We have several groups that do that, but they are very strict on what they think are needy. My husband and I tried when we had no insurance and all the money was going for meds. We didn't quilify for anything. But I will call on them again, with 6 in the household and only my husband working full-time, I hope they can help this go-round. My SSI check goes on his income, and daughter-n-law only gets 2 hours aday at the school she works at. So we are poor people. We weren't always, though. We were doing great when we worked in Arkansas, until the right to work law went into effect. We lost are jobs, and our company house. We moved back here to where husband's family was and been struggling ever since. I am not really complaining, it has been an interesting experience. Going from a hob-nobbing couple to ma and pa kettle. lol Actually, we have started calling each other ma and pa. lol It has been an eye opening experience, finding out that the stuff you just had to have don't even come into your mind anymore.

But I am starting to ramble and I really need to go web surfing to get a menu up that we all can afford to eat. Wish me luck!

RAYT721 2011-02-11 22:03:10 -0600 Report

I am sorry to hear of the news for your son and his family. What an awesome offer you have extended to them. Make sure to offer emotional as well as financial support to them because this is a tough time for each and every one of you. I will try to work out a few tips to share on ways to cut costs in certain areas to get the most from your money. Some may work. Some may not. I will work on a more eloquent post over the weekend so stay tuned.

GabbyPA 2011-02-11 09:24:41 -0600 Report

Our garden was very poor last year also. We are working on our spring one now and keeping our fingers crossed. This is a good way to supplement our pantries.

lorna13 2011-02-11 21:06:12 -0600 Report

I think that the way prices are going up and up. That everyone should dabble at a garden. Even apartment dwellers can have a patio garden, especially with theses topsy turvies for hanging gardens, I have heard so much about. I don't know if they work but I am going to try one or two this year. If nothing else they will look like those hanging decorations I see all over the place. lol Question? Has anybody used them? And did they work for you? They have them for just about every type of vegetables now.

RAYT721 2011-02-11 21:14:33 -0600 Report

We have a upside down tomato garden (wood box) on our condo patio and the first year did well. This past year brought us maybe two tomatoes. Hope the upcoming Spring/Summer will bring us bushels (no pun intended) to be able to can and/or freeze the bounty. I figure it makes more sense to grow things that would normally cost more in the stores but our limited space in a condo doesn't give us much room. We have applied for space at a community garden. I hope to grow more than weeds this year.

lorna13 2011-02-11 21:58:44 -0600 Report

Good Luck! We have a community garden in our town, but we don't benifit from it. It is for the city slickers, not us country folks. It does pretty good most of the time, they have alot of people out there working it, and it shows. Last year thiers was the only garden around that really produced. Maybe I should get them to come to my place. lol

CaliKo 2011-02-10 16:15:16 -0600 Report

Hi Ray, This tip will depend on your lifestyle, and how easy it is for you to get to the grocery store. I like to make very small trips to a variety of grocery stores. I think about what I want for the next 2 or 3 days, usually while looking at ads to incorporate fresh items that are in season and on sale. I'll keep of list of staples I'm running low on, too, and pick these up, depending on which store I'm going to. I'm lucky enough to work in the heart of an area that has all sorts of grocery stores and markets, so I can easily make 2 or 3 trips during a week, picking up whatever fish that's on sale at the fish market, or a trip to Target if I need paper goods or they have blueberries on sale, maybe a trip to Sprouts if I need bulk items like oatmeal or nuts. I find I spend far less overall if I keep each trip down to one bag. I also make many meals from leftovers. If I have a leftover baked chicken breast, I may slice it up and use whatever veggies are on hand to make a stir-fry. Or cook veggies up into an omelette. That sort of thing. Soup or stew is good, too.
I'm with granniesophie, too, if my husband is with me its worse than having a kid along. I get to the check out and there's all sorts of (awful) things in the basket I never picked up!

CoRinaB 2011-02-10 09:39:38 -0600 Report

I usually stick to a shopping list. I go through all the grocery store ads and coupons, we plan a 1-2 week menu and take it from there. We go over our menu and through the cupboards, fridge and freezer, figure out what items we'll need. I go grocery shopping once a week, just so I don't have to lug too many bags in the car and then out of the car. I find it easier that way, for me at least. When shopping for deli meats, which I don't do very often, I only buy what's on sale as they can be quite costly. When I buy meats, I usually get the family pack and divide them up when I get home. My boyfriend and I am are huge fans of those steam in the bag frozen vegetables, so when they are on sale, I really stock up on them.
But in reality, as stated in previous replies, grocery prices are rising. I've noticed that and that does put a cramp in things.

veggie1962 2011-02-10 09:12:54 -0600 Report

Hi Ray,

I think this is a great topic. I try to save money on groceries by shopping in the "bulk" section of natural food co-ops. The advantages are that the foods there are generally unprocessed so they are better for you and you can buy as much or as little as you need. In general, the prices are better than buying an equal amt of a packaged product. Plus, I have found that the freshness of the bulk foods is better and therefore often has a better taste. Found that out when I was desperate and purchased a can of sesame seed butter instead of getting it bulk (both versions were the same brand). I was wondering if the canned version was "bad". It just didn't taste as good as the bulk stuff.

You've got some great ideas going and I wish you success in your quest to save food $$$$

GabbyPA 2011-02-10 08:59:21 -0600 Report

I tell's not that you didn't save money. It's that the prices are going up so much! A pound of lunch meat that I usually buy (store brand) has gone from $3.50 a pound to almost $5 in about two months. A lot of my staples have gone up about 25% in the last year. I keep close tabs on those prices and they are killing me...not what I buy. We have eliminated a lot of the snack foods I used to get for quick lunches and my crock pot is getting a work out these days to make the tougher meats more tender.

I have since relegated myself to Sam's Club. I usually buy for the whole month from them except for produce. I tell you...I spent $500 this month for 4 adults and a dog. I usually can get out of there for $300. Plus I have to go to the regular grocer, with my coupons in hand and bo-go's on the list and still spent another $100.

I tell you, I am going to start shooting the squirrels in my garden and serving them up in stew.

CaliKo 2011-02-10 16:15:37 -0600 Report

Go with rabbits. They make better stew :-)

GabbyPA 2011-02-11 09:26:19 -0600 Report

LOL, actually we are going to try rabbits this year. Should be interesting, since we are in the city limits. But we figure if we keep them to just a couple of breeders, we will have enough to eat and share. And yes, more meat that the scrawny Florida squirrels.

lorna13 2011-02-11 21:11:07 -0600 Report

Check with city hall. Most places don't concider a rabbit to be on the list of no-no animals in city. being in a cage and all. But BE VERY CAREFULL, they carry a disease that is harmful to humans. Make sure the rabbit you get has been checked out before you buy. Then after dinner is cooked call me. I love rabbit anyway shape or form. Yum!

GabbyPA 2011-02-12 06:08:51 -0600 Report

That was one of our first calls and bunnies are not allowed...even as pets. So we will have to be creative about it. I like rabbit too, I started teaching myself to cook it so I would know what to do with it if we raised some. I have a nice recipe for braised rabbit with is good.

granniesophie 2011-02-10 06:43:26 -0600 Report

My biggest money saver is not taking the boyfriend with me when I shop! He's a huge impulse buyer, and he doesn't get that we live across the street from the store and can go buy more when we run out!
I also have to shop for 2 types of eating-mine, around the perimeter of the store mostly, no coupons for that (why is that anyway??) and some other stuff, and his, all the sugar laden, processed and bad for you stuff that he wants.
I cook meals for both of us probably 4 times a week, when I work out the other 3 days, he eats whatever crap he wants to. Thats our new agreement, and it seems to be making him happy-go figure!
And food prices have definately been rising, so its hard to figure a budget anyway-what cost this amount two weeks ago, now costs this amount today! Has anyone else noticed that?

GabbyPA 2011-02-10 09:02:04 -0600 Report

The failing dollar is causing the rise in commodities. Gas, food,'s all going up. I saw on the news the other day that many companies that have been holding prices down are going to start to pass the increases in raw goods on to the customers. They have been holding it off, but cannot suffer the losses any more. It is going to get scary.

kdroberts 2011-02-10 09:45:19 -0600 Report

That will change though if the dollar keeps low. If the currency is low on a wold scale then the cost savings of importing goods isn't there any more so more domestically manufactured goods will hit the streets which will a) add more jobs, b) grow the economy, c) raise the average take home pay and d) help lower prices across the board. It takes a while but it's a cycle that happens in every country.

GabbyPA 2011-02-11 09:28:11 -0600 Report

I am soooo ready for it to start happening. We are working on getting an empty city lot to be converted to a community garden. Harder than I thought it would be to get the support, but we are working on it.

kdroberts 2011-02-11 09:41:57 -0600 Report

Do you have a botanical garden around where you live? If so, have you tried contacting them? They usually have big influence and are often more than happy to help both in terms of setting up, getting people involved and ongoing financial, tools/seeds/etc and product distribution should you want to sell stuff.

GabbyPA 2011-02-11 09:51:13 -0600 Report

I'm afraid that what we grow around here are horses and butterflies. Our nearest botanical garden has been turned into an amusement park. Sad, but true. That is a good idea though and we do have a Master Gardener program, so maybe I should talk to them. Thanks for the idea. I went to the local market and asked a lot of the vendors there if they would be interested and I only got one positive response. I was surprised at that. Most just want to sell stuff, they don't want to grow it.

kdroberts 2011-02-11 09:57:40 -0600 Report

You probably already know but there is a national organization for community gardens, the American Community Garden Association. They may be able to put you in touch with people.

GabbyPA 2011-02-11 09:59:06 -0600 Report

No, I didn't know...thank you. KD, how do you find so much space in your brain to remember all these things? I just bookmarked their site and then sent them an email. Appreciate it!!

lorna13 2011-02-10 17:25:25 -0600 Report

That is what my economy class, I am taking on-line says, but it sounds good on paper, but in real life it stinks. Especially when you are already tapped when buying meds and diabetic supplies. Right now those are covered but everyday I worry about husband being laid off. We just take it one day at a time. I guess that is what we all have to do.

re1ndeer 2011-02-09 22:47:30 -0600 Report

Hi RAY721, The way we stick to our food budget is to make a shopping list after seeing all the ads in the local newspapers and fliers we get through the mail.

Occasionally we buy the not on the list items . We will look at each other in the store and say, "Do you think we need this?" and 9 out of 10 times we say No.

We normally buy in bulk. We buy our staples in bulk also. We re-bag or box the items we buy. We will buy our meats cut them down and freeze them.
We do the same with vegetables that can be blanched and frozen. This way we only go shopping once or twice a month (unless we run out of something, then it's a quick run to the store for that item.)

When the weather is warmer, I garden and try, to have my own fresh vegetables, so there is money saving there. Vegetables that I don't grow for lack of space I purchase from farmers markets during the growing season.

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