Friday, July 25, 2008

What's your grocery budget?

So I am sitting here waiting for my vacuum to cool off, I'm trying to get the flour off the floor (hamster is still MIA, but I can't take the mess anymore). I picked up the August Woman's Day. Woohoo, cover says 184 Money saving ideas, right up my alley!

So I turn to the "Secrets of extreme grocery shoppers" article and dig in. I read the catchy first page and was hooked, so I turn to the second page and I am floored by the highlighted blurb. ~According to the USDA, the American family of four is now spending $10,933 a year on groceries - more than $911 a month.~ WHAT??? Where? WHo???

Even when hubby was working for the wholesale food restaurant distributor we weren't spending that on food a month. Maybe, half that, but we were buying more expensive meats. I don't know if we could eat that much in groceries a month.

Of course I kept reading, and found out I am an extreme shopper because I go to our local Aldi. Of course I do, the only thing they stock that I don't like or use is their brand of regular coffee. And that was fine until the last time we bought it there, tasted like grass. I could never remember to take it back, since their policy is double your money back, but I kept forgetting and hubby used it up. Their gourmet coffee has been just fine!

The best part is you don't really risk anything by trying their product because of their guarantee. It's not the easiest place to shop. You "rent" your cart for a quarter; bring your own bags, use boxes or buy theirs; and you bag everything. They usually only have a line or 2 open, so I try not to shop during busy times.

I usually buy store brands anyways, unless there is a sale & I have a coupon! The article says to think "outside the box" for things like milk. I know in our area the Aldi or Walmart have the best milk prices, unless someone is having a sale. The local gas station/convenient store if fine for emergencies, or if you ONLY need a couple things (gas is still $4.21 a gallon here and Aldi is 12 miles away). They chaged $3.89 the last time I bought milk there, Aldi was $2.79. So I save $1.10, easy enough!

I really like the "Grocery Share" idea, now I need to set up a group of people to do this with! The problem is I am the best shopper in my group! So basically the idea is you go to one store and buy the deals and the others in your group go to other stores and buy their deals; then meet up to exchange! The closest I've come to this was buying shampoo for my sister at CVS, it was a money maker after coupons and ECBs. She still thought I was a nut though...

I am also an extreme shopper because I match coupons to sales! The author even mentions Trent Hamm's (of The Simple Dollar) philosophy on waiting 4 weeks for sales after coupons are released. I've also found that there are usually good sales the same week coupons are released, especially at CVS.

Once a month cooking is mentioned. I personally use 30 Day Gourmet. They have a great planning software tool. I picked it up a couple years ago and use it regularly.

Make a menu and shop less frequently are also listed. I'd much rather shop once a week or every other. It cuts down on the impulse buying!

All in all I think I am a pretty extreme shopper. We hardly buy anything at "full price" or name brands. We garden to help out with the produce portion of our bill (I think we make out in the end, even with the expense of seeds, mulch, etc).

Oh yea, I'm probably extreme because I "Earned" the magazine subscription!!!

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