Grocery Shopping on a Budget

I promised you the results of my $200/month grocery shopping challenge. I received a gift of a $100 Fred Meyer gift card, which upped our budget to $300 (which we totally spent), so I thought I’d do this month, instead.

Yesterday was my first bi-monthly stop at the market & I picked up enough food to last for the next two weeks – all for $97.24. I am a grocery shopping genius!

  • I got all organic and/or local produce:
    • bananas (6)
    • broccoli (6 crowns)
    • bell peppers (2)
    • yellow onions (12)
    • roma tomatoes (8)
    • garlic (3)
    • salad mix
  • A whole organic chicken
  • Canned organic tomatoes (3 large)
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Black olives
  • Peanut butter (2, store brand, with added sugar; honestly I love sugary peanut butter, and although I used to buy the natural organic kinds, I still love Skippy best!)
  • Cheese (2 lbs)
  • Yogurt (10)
  • Wine (just one, unfortunately)
  • Soy milk (2)
  • Soy creamer
  • Organic eggs (1 dozen)
  • Special K cereal (it was on sale, so I got 2 boxes)
  • Lara bars (I got 3 to try out – I keep hearing people talk about them, so they will be a pre-gym snack this week…I’ll let you know what I think)
  • Yeast (we make our own bread)
  • Brown rice (2 bags – I usually get bulk, but this was on sale); and
  • Kitty Litter (20 lb box)

(not pictured – the kitty litter & the yeast; both of which I forgot. Also there was more broccoli before dinner last night.)

In the next two weeks, we’ll have a roast chicken (last time I was at the store, I got 10 lbs of potatoes for $2, so that will accompany the chicken), we’ll have chili (I have dry beans from last time, too), we’ll have enchilada casserole, we’ll have lots of sandwiches & salads (using leftover chicken, and the sandwich meat that I bought last time it was on sale & froze.

So – what’s my methodology? I grocery shop on Sundays (usually) because that’s the day that the new sales flier comes out – and the day that they’re actually likely to have the stuff on the sale flier in stock.

I make a list of the staples that we need (this week it was onions, garlic, peanut butter, eggs, soy milk, cereal & rice) and then go through the flier, looking for things that are on sale. At that point, I start to plan a menu.

I go online to coupons.com and to my local store & look for relevant coupons. If there’s a food I get a LOT (like Silk soymilk), I go to the website and sign up for special offers – and then sometimes they email me coupons. At least that’s what I’m hoping.

I’m not the best coupon user. I mostly just use my Fred Meyer coupons that I get quarterly.

I feel confident that I will be able to feed our family (of 2 humans, 3 cats) on $200 a month. Of course, we also have a $180/month eating out budget – so we spend roughly $180-400 on food total. If we had to, though, we could definitely spend WAAY less on eating out & probably survive on less than $300/month for food. I’m just hoping it doesn’t come to that.

I’ll keep you updated – let you know if we have to buy anything between now & the next planned trip in 2 weeks (we may need flour & catfood) – and how happy we are with the food we do have at the end of this 2-week period.

25 responses to “Grocery Shopping on a Budget

  1. Omy. You totally need to start couponing. I would be happy to share some of my arsenal with you. I am a coupon genius.

    Coupon genius + grocery genius = $100/month grocery budget. Sometimes if I’m feeling really risky, I’ll stock up on things that are super cheap, and then I won’t have to get groceries for 2 months (ya know…besides the freshies that you absolutely need of course). It’s fantastic.

    I spend next to nothing on groceries. I can’t remember the last time that I BOUGHT (like paid money for) a toothbrush, shampoo, toiletry, etc. Likewise for soup, condiments, etc. I have also been making out really well in the meat department lately.

    Its great fun…the whole walking out of the store after they have paid you the $1.25 that they owe you for taking these items off of their hands.

    Totally let me know if you want to talk coupons sometime!

    • dude – share your coupon genius, please! This is where I am stupid. I use a few coupons, but rarely have more than $5 or so worth. How do you find coupons for stuff you actually want to buy (all I ever find are coupons for soup & packaged foods; things I make myself)?

      I want coupons for cheese & milk & flour & raw materials.

  2. You’re gonna share the coupon genius with all of us, right? Don’t make me come over there! LOL

    Okay I was wwwaaaayyyy impressed with the $200 a month total. Then I read your eating out budget. You guys are living right! My eating out budget these days? Zero dollars. Those pesky shrinks always want to get paid!!

    • My readers ask & I deliver – guest post from teh coupon genius.

      Before the architect got laid off, we were spending $800/month on food! My first step was to reduce that by half, and I’m hoping to keep reducing. We haven’t spent the full $200 on eating out – some of that extra money goes towards groceries, too.

      We’ll see what happens this month.

  3. Wow i am interested in the coupon genius as well. Please share what you find out if you want!!

    I use a lot of soy milk to make my oatmeal for breakfast, i will go to the silk website to see whats happening there!! Thanks for that tip!!

    I am all for saving as much as possible on food. It gets real expensive and real annoying too. Oh and the lara bars!! My absolute fave is the peanut butter cookie, literally 2 ingredients. Peanuts and dates. For some odd reason i have trouble finding that flavor but when i do i stock up.

    Let us know how you like the lara bars and what flavor you picked.

    • The architect & I use tons of soy milk – on our cereal, in our oatmeal, in our coffee. I’m hoping to get some great coupons from that.

  4. Wow, that is some serious booty!

  5. I think I spend as much money as you do on groceries – and I’m just me! But I don’t have anywhere near your eating out budget. I let myself eat out once a week – and I’m super cheap when I order! But that’s what dates are invented for, right?

    • We only eat out once a week, too, but the eating out budget (and I should have specified this), also covers liquor (beyond the bottle of wine I picked up because I had enough left over after getting everything else.

  6. Wow, way to go on your budget. I spend way to much on groceries. I really need to start being smarter about what and when I buy things, and using coupons. I could definitely use some coupon genius!

  7. You’re so good! I always think I am doing good at the store and get to the register and am shocked! I even make lists and such ahead of time. I’m gonna check out the coupons.

    • Before the architect got laid off, we probably spent $400-$500/month at the market, and I had that experience, too. Now that we’re on a fixed budget, I’m forced to make decisions between things that are desirable, instead of getting both.

      I also only take $100 cash to the market & spend that, so I have that limit to adhere to, and CAN’T spend more than that – it makes me really careful.

  8. Was that a Kroger logo I saw in the picture? That’s the store where the scooter-wine display incident occurred this morning! I hope your $100 shopping trip was less eventful than that…. 🙂

    • My store is Fred Meyer, but they carry the Kroger brand, and when Tillamook cheese isn’t on sale, I buy the store-brand!

      There was no wine-display destruction – which would have been sad (poor wine!) but funny! 🙂

  9. Wow! That is awesome. I need to learn from your awesome skills.

  10. I just found your blog through my google reader, and your “Were You Looking for Me?” section cracked me up!

    I love seeing how people grocery shop. I’m single and spend way too much on food. One of my goals is to seriously cut back on spending at the grocery store.

    • I feel good about my grocery spending, but wish we spent less on eating out. I just love eating out so much! No dishes! No worries! No kitchen fires (that I have to put out, anyway).

  11. excellent discipline on the grocery shopping. I need to do that…

    • It is so hard. But you have the “getting rid of stuff” discipline – which I definitely don’t have. Do you cave to sentimentality? The architect & I have a ‘tea for two’ set that we got for our wedding. But we’re not huge tea drinkers (I hardly ever drink tea, and he does, but is fine with a microwaved mug of water & a teabag), and I want to get rid of the tea set, because we are not using it. Nor will we ever use it. But he doesn’t want to, because it was a gift from friends. How would your vote go?

  12. That’s a lot of onions!
    But ummm… in other thoughts, looks good. 🙂

  13. you know my biggest spend item is Cereal!! How crazy!

  14. I found your site thru Elisabeth’s site. I would totally LOVE to hear her coupon genius, but reading about how you are shopping is inspiring me too. I have a family of 5 so I could really benefit from disciplined shopping. What I need to do is stop shopping daily. Total waste of time and money.

    I think I will make a list of my staples because I couldn’t even tell you what those are right now. That’s a good start, right?

    Also, I just started making our bread. Do you make yours out of rice flour? If so, could you share your recipe with me? That would rock.

    Thanks for sharing your own brand of genius.