Shopping On Purpose
My sister-in-law (Hi Cass!) is not the first person to ask how we manage to feed our family of almost 10 on a limited food budget of $400 a month. And without using more than the random coupon here and there. This is actually a very frequently asked question. I guess it’s past time to write a couple blog posts outlining our grocery spending habits. What we’ve learned works, what we’ve learned doesn’t work…
I used to be a mad coupon gamer. It was a hobby and I got this weird sort of high when I saw my $115 grocery bill widdle down to just $10 after my coupons were handed over. Yeah, I have some serious couponing skillz. However, in this season of my life coupon clipping, sorting, and organizing has taken a back seat. I’m sure I’ll coupon again in the future – it’s fun – but right now I’m keeping a pretty low grocery bill without that stack of coupons I used to tote around with me.
Keeping a low grocery bill is not all that difficult after you learn a few tips. However, there are often tough decisions that need to be made and they vary from family to family and appetite to appetite. Over the next week or so I’ll give you some tips to help you get started in lowering your food budget. Take what works for your family, leave what doesn’t work behind. But don’t be afraid to make uncomfortable changes in your current grocery spending and eating habits if you’re ready for a serious change.
My first installment is all about Shopping On Purpose. I wrote this post a while back for a different blog but thought I’d edit it and share it with you here since shopping on purpose has put the largest dent in our food budget.
So, without further rambling – here we go.
Gone are my family’s days of grocery cart whimsy. Everything that is taken from the shelf and put in our basket has a specific purpose in our home. Each ingredient is meant for an already planned meal.
There’s nothing like a planned menu to keep a grocery shopping budget under control. Monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, it really doesn’t matter how you do it. Just the act of creating a menu, and shopping specifically for the items on that menu can make the biggest difference in your pocketbook.
I will say that we’ve found that weekly menus have saved our family the most money.
For those of you who don’t like couponing, searching sales flyers, and matching up deals, but still want to make the most of your money, meal planning might just be perfect for you!
And if you do coupon and search for sales, meal planning will most certainly stretch your grocery budget even further.
No only does the shopping on purpose system give every dollar in your wallet a name, causing you to spend them with intention, instead of the popular where’d-all-our-money-go whimsy, it also helps you get a good overall look at your grocery spending habits and helps you see where you can cut down, should you need to.
The steps to shopping on purpose are quite simple and not very time consuming. My 3 oldest are usually in charge of the weekly menu. They create the menu each Tuesday. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for seven days. I then take the menu, tweak it if necessary, and make a grocery list from it, being sure to check the pantry for stuff we might already have. Then Kait and I shop on Wednesday.
Everything for every meal is already purchased and stored for meal day.
Wait, though. This isn’t even the best part!
Nobody asks Mom, what’s for dinner? anymore! The menu is posted right on the fridge!
I can’t tell you how much more hair I have now since I stopped ripping it out over that one question.
Shopping on purpose in no way limits me from stockpiling. Stockpiling is a very important part of our grocery plan and I do my best to stock up at rock bottom prices whenever I they’re available.
In the next few grocery posts I’ll talk about calculators, pantry challenges, dealing with picky eaters, using discount grocers, the child’s role in the kitchen, and I’ll post a copy of our menu and grocery list for this week. This weeks menu is a little out of the norm for us because of the holidays and such but it’ll give you an idea of what we buy and cook on a weekly basis.
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