Monday, March 12, 2012

$50 a Week Challenge

Starting at the beginning of the year I gave myself a $50 a week grocery budget.  I felt, after reading others testimonials and blogs, that this was reasonable for a family of three.  Easier said than done.  My love of cooking and salty snacks can really tack onto a grocery bill as the week goes on, so I said no more...time to trim the fat. 
It's been a struggle.  I've gone over budget twice in nine weeks.  It's forced me to get creative, use what I have, coupon, scour the sales papers and to re-evaluate what's important.  Sticking to a budget has had one unexpected benefit; I'm healthier.  I've lost 4 lbs since this started and the scale is dropping consistently.  When the fattening junk food isn't in the house you can't eat it!  I'm also making fewer trips to the store (and saving gas in the process).  Whereas I used to run to the store 4-5 times in a week I now go 2-3 times and one of those is typically to just get milk for my daughter.
So, how can you save money on your grocery bill?  I'm so glad you asked.  Below I'm highlighting some of my money saving techniques.  In later weeks we'll examine some of these ideas a little closer.
  1. Set a budget and keep it realistic.
  2. Think about why your will make it more important to you.
  3. Decide what' important to you.  Odds are you won't fit everything you want into your new budget.  Would you rather get the convenient lunch meat at a higher price or roast some yourself for half the cost?
  4. Notice the prices.  Sounds simple huh?  Notice the unit price...that's what really counts.  Don't put anything in your cart before asking yourself 'Is this a good deal?'  If it's not maybe it can wait until you can get a good deal on it
  5. Buy on sale and store it.  Items such as pasta sauce, pasta, frozen pizza, vacuum sealed cheeses, crackers etc...have long shelf lives.  Buy what you'll use in 2-3 months and store it.
  6. Use the store circulars or money saving websites.  The circulars can help you compare prices and plan your trip.  I really like money saving websites like Southern Savers to help me find the best deals...they do the work and you get the benefits!
  7. Use coupons and promotions.  Admittedly I use coupons more for toiletries than groceries, but I have saved a substantial amount on groceries as well. 
  8. Plant a garden or use your farmer's market.  I froze at least 20lbs of peppers, tomatoes, garlic, blueberries, strawberries, peaches and more from the summers bounty.  This has saved me money and time.  I always BUY LOCAL if I can. 
That's it.  Yes I've given up a few luxuries.  Do I miss them?  Not really.

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