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How I keep My $200 Grocery Budget

 

I think the question that I get the most as a couponer is “How much to you spend on groceries?”

For my family of 5, I spend on average $50 per week. This is just something that I started going by because it was all we could afford. This is different for everyone. My family doesn’t have a serious food aversions and we aren’t very picky with much items. So $50 per week is easy for us to achieve.  There are times that I go over. I’m not perfect, my boys are going through serious growth spurts and I am finding that I may need to up my grocery budget. But here are some tips that help me stay within my budget each month

:: Meatless meals. We try to have at least one meatless meal each week. homemade pizza with a variety of cheeses and veggies. You don’t realize how expensive it can be trying to plan a meat meal every day of the week!

:: Stick to the budget. 

:: Pick up items that you don’t find coupons for with store rewards. When I run low on items that I can’t really stockpile or are lacking of deals to stockpile, I use my store rewards. CVS allows you to purchase milk with ECBs. So I almost always use my rewards to pick up milk. (that is at least $7 saved per week) Also, bread and condiments as good items to pick up at the drugstores.

:: Use overage to your advantage. The only reason I shop at Walmart is to price match or use overage to pick up items like meat or produce. I usually take at least one trip per month to use overage to buy Chicken Breasts or bananas (my kids go through them like water!) This saves me about $10 per month. Yes, there are items that I only purchase because they were free with overage.  I donate them if I can’t use them.

:: Only buy what is on sale. I usually shoot for one meat item per week. If its Turkey that is on sale then we are eating Turkey that month. We have about 3 meats that we rotate during the month. We usually stick to Pork, Chicken and Turkey. We don’t buy Expensive Steaks at the grocery store. I purchase enough of each to freeze for at least 3 meals.

:: Eat from your stockpile. Once you have a good size Stockpile  you will notice that you will only be picking up meats or produce that work with the items in your stockpile. You will spend less on Condiments as well. Have a lot of Salad Dressing? Then find ways to marinate those in meats (if possible) . Tons of pasta in your stockpile? Then get creative with pasta! We have done this for awhile and I find myself getting more creative as a cook and finding  dishes that we really like because I decided to throw this in with that. 🙂

:: Make your weekly menu plan by what is in your stockpile and what is on sale. Many families sit down and plan a weekly menu based on what they WANT to eat each week. This is not preferable  method because you can end up purchasing items at their highest price that week. So sit down and plan your menu based on what is on sale and what you may have at home already.

If your family has special diets this may not be easy to achieve. If you really want to save money, you need to make a budget around what is reasonable for your family and most importantly, sticking to it.

 

 

 

  • Curtis says:

    Wow……great posting!!! 🙂

  • Alicia says:

    I agree! Thanks did sharing Josie!

  • andy hernandez says:

    great article but how do you handle lunches for work and eating out (fast food, eating out etc) is that a separate budget item for you or does it come out of the $50?

    • Josie says:

      Here is our budget:

      Groceries $200 per month (this includes diapers)
      Stockpile Fund: $8 per week (this includes any toiletries)
      Entertainment: $100 per month total ($50 for date nights) $50 for family nights (usually spread out over a couple of weeks)
      Allowance for my husband and I: $35 per month
      clothing: $80 per month–if necessary

  • Beth says:

    I would love to see more of your stockpile recipe ideas, and everyone else’s as well. Don’t really need detailed instructions, just ideas. Thanks

  • Nancy says:

    Thanks for sharing this! We have saved alot since I started following your blog..we are a 8 in our family so our grocery bill was going through the roof! I have used the CVS milk idea (using ecb’s) and combining with the real california milk coupons to slash our milk bill which was ridiculous! We were already planning meals based on what was on sale but adding the coupons makes a big difference! I really appreciate the coupon matching service! Thanks for all you do..

  • Elizarae says:

    I used to shop for meat on a weekly basis based on sales, but I got tired of being controlled by the sales and I really wanted to start stockpiling it. So, each month I’ll spend $20-$30 on stockpiling a large amount of ONE type of meat when it’s at a super low price. Last month I bought 10 lbs of ground beef at Kmart during a week where they had an awesome meal deal. Last week our local supermarket had boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.57/lb, so I bought 20 lbs. Next month I plan to replenish our pork stockpile. It seems like each type of meat goes on sale every 4-6 weeks, so rotating between buying meats has been very easy and we always have every type of meat on hand. For steaks and fish, I’ll use any catalinas I can get to buy those items so we can have a “nice” dinner once in a while too.

  • Becky says:

    I use to budget $600 for market and $200 for what I use to call Target (toiletries, etc) for a family of 5. My new budget for the last two months has been $400 for market and $150 for toiletries. Next month I’m going to try and budget lower.

  • alli says:

    Lentils and/or beans are a great asset to making meals go a long ways. You can buy in bulk at Winco for really cheap. Cook & run through the food processor and add to any meat dishes and you can’t taste them. It is filling and adds protein. For example I take 1 lb of ground turkey then add ground lentils, ground carrots, garlic, other seasonings and make a meatloaf. It makes enough to feed my family of 5 dinner and all 3 kids lunch the next day.

  • Mary says:

    @alli – And it’s healthier, too! 🙂

    Josie, thanks for sharing. I’m curious about your monthly budget for gasoline. That is, without a doubt, our biggest expense each month! Of course, every family is different with driving distances and fill-ups needed each week, but I’m wondering how you guys do it since you didn’t include it with the other stuff you listed. Do you have a separate cash envelope for your gas?

    • Noelle says:

      To help offset the cost of gas, try survery sites or sites like mypoints.com. My company frequently buys office supplies from office depot so I run the purchases through my mypoints.com account. So I get the points. I turn these points into gas cards and gift cards. Mogl is also a great way to earn cash back for dining.

  • rachel h. says:

    thanks so much! can you explain overage? i’m not familiar with this…is it only at walmart?

    • Josie says:

      Yes, this only works at Walmart. an Example: You find a product that is $1.50, you also have a coupon for the same product that is $2. When you use the coupon to buy the product, you get the item free plus $0.50 goes towards the rest of your order!

  • meryl says:

    @Elizarae – awesome- thank you Elizarae, Super info!!!

  • meryl says:

    @alli – LOVE this idea also Alli! Wow, what a great group of readers, thank you all so much for your creative ideas. And I agree- healthier, and I bet tastier too!!!

  • meryl says:

    @Mary – I’ve seen this advertised- Ralphs has their rewards with Shell? Of course I have not gotten around to doing yet….I also recycle and use the money I earn there at the grocery store so can move the $$ over to the gas budget. I try to save as much as I can in some areas to make up for the ones which are pretty fixed.

  • LILY says:

    WHEN THEY HAD THE P&G PROMOTION AT FOOD 4 LESS I ENDED UP GOING TO A FOOD 4 LESS AT RIVERSIDE I CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH ONE SINCE I HAD GOTTEN OFF THE FREEWAY BECAUSE OF TOO MUCH TRAFFIC AND WE WERE JUST DRIVING AROUND. BUT I REMEMBER THAT WHEN I PAID WITH COUPONS THEY WHERE NOT ADJUSTED DOWN THE OVERAGE WENT TO THE OTHER THINGS AND THEY USUALLY ADJUST IT AT THE FOOD 4 LESS IN PERRIS.

  • rachel h. says:

    thanks! very interesting. so do you go to walmart only to see if you could get overages? do you have any knowledge of getting any overage, or is it just luck? @Josie

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