This is the budgeting post where I admit what we spend at the grocery store. Usually, we're looking at around $150 per week for our family of three, spread across one large grocery shopping trip and then another one or two small supplemental trips when we realize that we are A) out of milk B) out of wine C) not in the mood for leftovers.
That means that the cost of cooking & eating food in our own home is second only to our mortgage payment in our household expenses. We're averaging 600 bucks a month at Hannaford. That seems like a lot, no?
Our money-saving plan in the food department began this past fall, when we put ourselves on an eat-in plan with a small weekly allowance to be spent at our discretion on splurge-y things like coffeeshops and weekend breakfasts out. We have done pretty well at forcing ourselves to cook at home more, but we haven't done much to limit our spending at the grocery store. We'll occasionally use coupons, but we almost never use the weekly flyer to guide our shopping choices, and we tend to buy brand name items instead of cheaper generic versions. Here are the things we're doing differently to help cut down on the outgoing line of our budget:
* Use the sale-guide flyer. It arrives in our mailbox every week. There is simply no excuse not to flip through and check out what things are on sale and plan our purchases around them.
* Plan leftovers. We're getting better at this, but we still could use some practice. Making a bigger dish (like chili) that can be stretched into another meal (like the base for a shepherd's pie) means less work in the kitchen and less strain on our wallet. A roasted chicken one night means potpie another night and the base for stock to make soup another night.
* Limit indulgent items. We buy one bottle of wine a week now, and one "treat" item to be our dessert for the week. If we drink or eat it all at the beginning of the week, tough luck.
* Go vegeterian once a week. A cheaper protein source is good for your body and will cut back on the grocery bill.
* Do the work of gathering coupons you'll actually use. I don't have any need for three packages of Dayquil, but I will sure as heck use every drop of my favorite toothpaste, so why not save a few cents when I can? Looking around for deals on the stuff you're going to buy anyway just makes sense.
* Waste not, want not. We have been guilty of overbuying produce, only to watch it wither away in the fridge because we forgot about it or simply couldn't keep up with the amount we purchased. Find a way to use the leftover spinach and remaining pinch of cheese, and you won't see the money you spent on groceries end up in the garbage or compost bin.
What other tips do you have for saving money at the grocery store? We always bring a list, so random purchases aren't usually a problem for us, but I know that's always a way experts recommend you can save money. Oh, and while we're on the subject of food, what's your favorite cheap dinner to make at home? We're major pasta people around here, so lasagna and spaghetti are always on the regular rotation and offer the added bonus of not breaking the bank.