Weekly Grocery Shop
Nov. 15, 2009 8:52 pm
Updated: Nov. 20, 2009 6:08 am
My boyfriend and I have been getting better and better at budgeting. I only work part time because I am a full time student, and though he has a full-time career with benefits and all that, he’s still paying back loans from college and is saving to buy a new car (even though he’s still in debt... yeah... still don’t really understand it, just glad we don’t have joint accounts lol). One area that we have been trying to cut back on is food – we’ve stopped going out or ordering in as much, and we’re working on getting our groceries down to less than $200 a month. When I first moved out, everyone’s advice for saving money was to stick to the grocery list – I was terrible at that for the first few months, and I managed to find excuses to buy tons of things I didn’t need (like, “oh, a huge, $15 box of goldfish crackers – they’ll probably all get eaten and they’re so cute, so I’ll get them”). But now that we shop every Sunday, rather than just when we need it, I find we’re actually saving money because we buy much less food every time, knowing that we’ll be back in a week.
My boyfriend works in the corporate office of a large grocery chain here, so we get 10% off all our groceries – I can’t even tell you how nice that is. However, the closest store of that chain is 15 minutes away from our apartment – we do a weekly shop there every week and then buy any forgotten items, or any emergency items at a more expensive store that’s just down the block.
The chain we shop at has coupons and flyers every week, so I look for good deals and add them to the list, even if I’m not making something with that in it – it’s nice to stock up when things are cheap. When we get to the grocery store, we look at the “coupon wall” at the front of the store and pull off things we might get (there’s very rarely a coupon for something that’s actually on our list, unfortunately, but again, cheap off-list items are allowed). Then we start shopping. We get all the main grocery items in the aisles first (cereal, canned veggies, frozen veggies, crackers, baking stuff, and so on), then we hit dairy. The dairy items are nearly the same every week – milk, eggs, and butter.
In the meat and produce departments we have a little bit of freedom, because we generally just go by what’s on sale (unless there is something specific I need for a recipe). We’ve actually cut down on meat quite a lot – I’ve made chicken once in the last two weeks, and we’ve had ground beef only once as well. We’re eating lots of fish, so I’m always glad to find new recipes for any kind of fish (especially salmon or tilapia!) – if you have any to share I’d really appreciate it! :) We like to keep lots of vegetables on hand but with only two of us it’s not very practical, so we try to get small amounts of everything: peppers (sweet and hot), green onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and lettuce – then we stock up mid-week at the expensive place down the street on a few other produce items.
So far, we’ve been so good about sticking to the list – while we’re shopping if there’s something one of us wants that isn’t on the list, we put it on there for the next week, and if by next week we realize it’s unnecessary it comes off the list. One thing we have started doing, however, is a weekly “splurge” item – each of us is allowed to choose one item under $3 that isn’t on the list. This week I bought flavoured cream cheese (it’s more expensive than the regular stuff and we only need one container at a time – but I splurged this week) and the BF bought canned oysters (and stunk up the living room with them – ew.) The week before I got a small jar of sweet pickles and the BF got a bag of candies. This is a really fun (you know, compared to how fun grocery shopping is) way to buy the unnecessary things.
So, this week our groceries cost $42, but the list was a little smaller than usual because there weren’t any “staples” on it – peanut butter, ketchup, and other “lasts forever” kinds of things. Just produce, dairy, and fish mainly – plus the splurge items :)
What would you buy with splurge items (or, more importantly for me, what are some good ideas I could get next week??)