New here and I need your secrets!

Avatar for coloradomom2b
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
New here and I need your secrets!
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Sun, 07-18-2010 - 4:19pm

Hello - I'm a newbie. I thought I'd introduce myself. I was a teacher until June. I am now a SAHM and will be homeschooling my 8 year old son. I figured that summer would be a good time to get my budget in order and try to save money. My first order of business was to cut the grocery budget. My goal was $400 a month for groceries, cleaning supplies and toiletries. In June, I spent over $600. In July so far, I've spent $350 and I have 2 weeks left to buy food! (I pretty sure I can keep July under $500, but I'm really hoping for closer to $400) HELP! What do you do to get your grocery bills down to a reasonable level? There are 4 people in our family: me, my husband. a 1 year old and an 8 year old. It's not unreasonable to think that I can keep it under $400 or $500 is it? What do you or do you not purchase in order to keep your grocery budget reasonable?
PS - there are no discount grocery stores nearby, although I can find one about 30-45 minutes away. I'm trying to decide if it's worth the gas money to get there.

Thanks in advance!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2005
Sun, 07-18-2010 - 6:37pm

Hi Tamie! You'll find some awesome resources here.
What helps me keep my grocery bill down is to meal plan. I check my pantry, freezer and fridge first and then check out our sales flyers and plan around that. Do you just have a regular grocery store and not a Wal Mart or whatever near by?

I think the things that help me out the most are: making a menu plan, making a grocery list (and sticking to it!) and buying my groceries with cash. Then I can't go over.

Hope that helps! I'm sure others will jump in as well!

Oh, also check online for coupons you can print and take to the store. There are tons of websites with printable coupons.


Jill


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Jill

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-31-2007
Sun, 07-18-2010 - 6:41pm

Hello and welcome!

I'm sure you will glean plenty of tips on this board.

The biggest thing I can suggest is to eat seasonally and locally. This will help your food bill (especially seasonally). Also look at your grocery fliers and try to plan meals based on what you have and the loss leaders for the week. The other thing is to exercise self-control. For example is that snack food or beverage a necessity or a want? The same goes for the extra box of cereal, rice, pasta, etc. Buy what you are actually going to use instead of over-buying. The last tip I have is to cut your meat consumption - eat the correct portion size (think a deck of cards) and suppliment with salads, other veggies, and rice/lentils/cous cous/pasta.

Nice to "meet" you!

KC



iVillage Member
Registered: 07-26-1997
Sun, 07-18-2010 - 8:17pm
You can cut coupons out of the paper. Shop by the stores weekly flyer. I will check weekly what is on sale. They might say soda at a sale price. Then I might have coupon for the brand on sale. So I get a extra discount. Shopping on double coupon days is good also. To bad you said no discount stores near you. I go to Aldi's. Sometimes I get good deals at Walmart Supercenter. Not sure you have one of them near you. Plan your menus. Me have cut the portions of meat back. Filling in with more sides like potatoes and veggies that are cheaper. Or adding a slice a bread to each plate as a filler. Don't go shopping when your hungry. You buy things you can do without. Make a list. Buy only what is on the list. For a while I wasn't keeping tabs on what I had on hand. I just kept buying. So now I make a list after seeing what I still have on hand. So I don't buy to much of anything.

 

Avatar for tkesler
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 07-18-2010 - 8:21pm

Hi and welcome.


For me, the biggest way that we save money is to first plan what we are going to eat. We plan breakfasts, snacks, lunches and suppers. From there, we decide what we can make from scratch that would actually save us money.


For beverages, we only drink milk (at Lunch and Supper) and water the rest of the time. Sometimes I make a pitcher of Ice Tea or a pot of coffee. But that is it. No juices or sodas here.


By planning ahead, your find that you can eat very well for less money.

siiy 2009


IF YOU ARE DISTRESSED BY ANYTHING EXTERNAL, THE PAIN IS NOT DUE TO THE THING ITSELF, BUT TO YOUR ESTIMATE OF IT. AND THIS YOU HAVE THE POWER TO REVOKE AT ANY MOMENT --Marcus Aurelius


Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.
- Francesca Reigler







siiy 2009

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-20-2006
Mon, 07-19-2010 - 12:18am

I read somewhere (actually several places) that the less often you shop, the less you spend. So, I go shopping every two weeks for groceries. I try really hard not to run back at other times. I think $400 is a reasonable amt. to spend. I think you can eat well (including meat on most nights) at that amount. Of course, it depends upon where you live.

Create solutions might include hunting (if you're into that kind of thing), eating vegetarian once or more per week, making casseroles where you can use less of expensive items and still make it stretch, couponing, checking out frugal living blogs or books from the library on the topic, and limiting food choices for your kids (you can have a banana or some popcorn-since they're both cheap and filling, they won't be hungry as quickly).

I think the summer can be tricky because people are more active and if you live in the south like us, going and being outside is a limited option because it's so uncomfortable.

GOOD LUCK! It get easier over time.

April


mom to Maggie and Andrew

April

mom to Maggie and Andrew

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2007
Mon, 07-19-2010 - 10:14am

wow. i am in the same boat as you. Its soooooo hard!! The main thing is keeping with it ! I do sooo good for soo long, then i go nuts!! lol


The main thing that helped me was to


1) Make a list and stick to it. period


2) Plan out some meals (you dont have to start planning out break,lunch,dinner, 7 days a week--lol start small) plan out like 3-4 dinners for the week, and shop accordingly.


3) Take out @ the beginning of the month 8-10% of your TAKEHOME pay in CASH, and that is the only $ you can spend on groceries/toiletries. Period.


pregnancy calendar
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-21-2003
Mon, 07-19-2010 - 10:24am
Welcome to the board! You've gotten some great tips, so I don't really have anything new to add. I guess my #1 tip would also be the menu planning.
Kelly



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 07-19-2010 - 11:35am

Hi and thanks for joining us!

I think keeping a price book is a really good idea. If you aren't familiar with the idea, basically a price book is a record of the lowest price on an item that you buy regularly. By recording it, or at least knowing it, you can stock up when the item hits that price. If you buy most of your food at it's lowest price, you've gone a long way towards cutting your bill overall. In your price book, you can even keep track of when things go on sale. For example, ham always goes on sale at Easter or whatever. When I buy jars of spaghetti sauce, I never pay more than $.99 per jar. I know it goes on sale at least once a year, usually in August when there's a ton of tomatoes, and that's when I buy enough jars to last us until the next sale. So the 2 for $5.00 sale doesn't even attract my attention because I know it's not a good deal for me. If you know the rock bottom price, you can save big. You can also use your cell phone to help you keep track of prices in the list feature.

There's more on the price book idea in "The Tightwad Gazette" books, which are an awesome read btw. I have always gotten so much inspiration from them.

The cash idea is excellent. Nothing keeps you more on track than cash.

I also agree with the idea of limiting milk - although I would say three glasses a day for kids. I have a friend whose kids each drink 1-2 glasses of milk, in addition to the adults, at each meal and then also whenever they want. With four kids and two adults, she goes through a minimum of a gallon per meal! Her kids are obese. There's just no reason to drink that much milk unless medically necessary. So that's at least $9.00 per day just in milk - $270 per month?????? That's a lot of money. Water and tea and some lemonade I think are great.

I do at least one meatless meal. Usually I do a soup and salad and bread. But I also do manicotti, ravioli, grilled cheese, fruit and cottage cheese in the summer, breakfast, or a quiche, baked potato bar, grilled veggies on pitas with feta, burritos, tostadas, cheese pizza....lots of things to make with no meat. And speaking of meat, it's always great if you can stretch it out somehow. We've been eating buffalo, which is soooo good. But a buffalo burger has 43 grams of protein per patty, so I don't need a whole patty for me - it's too much. So you could cut yours in half and share with the one year old, and save one patty for another meal. Do that three times and you'd have enough meat for one more meal. We tend to get in the idea that men need more meat so we cook all four patties or whatever, but really, one serving per meal and lots of veggies are how we should be eating for health.

That's also the same concept you can use for leftover veggies. That last bit of corn in the bowl, the carrots and onions that remain from the roast....save all of that in a container in the fridge. Designate a container in the freezer for those last little bits of veggies or meat that aren't enough for a serving. By putting that little bit in the freezer each night instead of throwing it away, in a week or so you will have enough for "free" soup chock full of nutritious veggies.

So there's a few ideas to get you started. Wish they were all mine, but frugality is usually old, old stuff. Enjoy!

Laura




iVillage Member
Registered: 08-05-2007
Tue, 07-20-2010 - 10:27pm

I ditto the suggestion to get the Tightwad Gazette books from your library although I have worn out a copy.

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Avatar for coloradomom2b
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 07-21-2010 - 9:26am

Thanks for the tips, ladies! I do make a list because it makes my life easier. LOL! I have a WalMart about 20 minutes away, and I go there once a month for items that I know are cheaper than the regular store. Weekly I go to Kroger for fresh produce, milk, etc.

I'm a vegetarian, and when we were first married, my husband was fine with vegetarian meals. Once we had kids, though, he started looking at the same meals and saying things like, "This would be good with meat in it." So, I serve meat every night. Sigh. I've started cutting back on the amount of meat in most recipes like casseroles (I've been cutting it in half), and we talked last night about having some meatless meals to save money. Hopefully he will be Ok with that. I'm going to start out with one a week and see what happens.

I force my family to eat leftovers for lunches and at least one dinner a week. I hate waste too! If I have to throw out food, I am not happy!

I did decide to inventory the freezer - thanks to whoever suggested that!

I checked into the Angel Food ministries, and there is one nearby. There is another program in town that is similar. I might try it if necessary. I'm concerned that there will be a lot of things we won't eat (and since I hate waste....).

I need to get better at planning meals from flyers and printing coupons, and I'll need to pick up the Tightwad Gazette books. \

I appreciate the tips! :)

Tamie

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