We are going to talk about shopping, and I am going to give you several helps specifically related to the shopping experience and how to save, but first, a story…
This weekend I was sick. Nothing major. A little sinus infection. I was uncomfortable, but I was really fine. In a way, it was a blessing because being sick in my house means a couple of things.
#1- I am forced to rest.
#2- My husband goes on a insane cleaning spree (assisted by the children).
So, I get relaxation while everyone else does the work to keep the house going. As we all know, this would never happen if I wasn’t sick.
Anyway, since I wasn’t feeling my best, I pretty much was only capable of playing around on the internet, and I kept coming back to look at my pretty little blog. I love this thing! It’s my favorite new toy, and I am constantly looking for ways to improve it or the social media sites that come with it. That being said, my brain was in a fog, so I wasn’t able to actually do anything productive that was more complicated than pinning a pin or checking out my stats. On Sunday, I even stayed home from church. Being a little lonely and downtrodden, I checked on the blog in the afternoon to see how the stats were doing. I figured it would be an encouragement. It was. The previous Sunday, 4 people checked out my blog. This was pretty good because I don’t post on Sunday (so there was nothing new) and it was the first Sunday after the first “real” week of blogging. At least someone was continuously checking out the site. This week, I was hoping for more, and I was gratified to see 28 people came to visit. That’s more than 6x the number of people from the previous Sunday.
Woo Hoo! That’s exponential growth 😉
Then, the most curious thing happened. I watched the bar started rising. It didn’t stop rising all day. In fact, it’s still moving! Before this Sunday, my biggest day was 179 views. I was pretty excited about that. Yesterday’s total was 1,309.
I don’t even know what to say about that.
When I woke up this morning (at 5AM), we were in the 600s.
You people bless my soul 🙂
There was just one little thing that stressed me out a bit, and that was that everyone was looking at the “How I Feed My Family of 5 on $100 or LESS Every Month” series. That put the pressure on for today’s post.
I had been working on elements of this post, the next part of the series, since last Thursday when Rick got paid. Still, due to sickness, I haven’t really been able to complete any of the plans I put in motion the way I wanted to. You see, when I went shopping last week, I attempted to film my shopping experience so that you could come along with me while I shop. I figured that would help everyone who wasn’t able to take my grocery budgeting class or have me consult with them privately. I ran into a few snags. I wasn’t able to film myself in store. Apparently, grocery stores are uncomfortable with this practice. This limited what I was able to show you. Plus, as I was shopping, I realized that I had forgotten that I was supposed to pick up my son from work. This meant that I had to go change vehicles with my husband and pick up my son mid shopping trip, with cold things in my car in June. This made me a bit more hurried. Also, I ran into someone at the grocery store who I am determined to be a blessing to, which completely distracted me from my actual purpose. Let me say here, I love all of you who are following this blog, but if you are my friend and you have a measure of kindness in your soul, you will understand what I mean when I say that there are more important things than this blog and saving a couple of bucks on groceries. I went over budget, and I am OK with that. More than OK.
The end result of my crazy day was that the video is not exactly what I was hoping it would be. I will still share it so you can get somewhat of a look at what I go through when I go shopping. However, don’t expect miracles. It’s just a little something, you know. Here’s the video. If you get a moment, you can check it out.
Here is a picture of my receipts:
You can click the image for a clearer picture. Notice that I spent a grand total of $67.27. The highlighted items on the receipt are the items that will go into the “Giving” category of our budget. The “Giving” total was $11.43. Those items never entered my home. This makes my actual bi-weekly grocery total $55.84. Not where I wanted it to be, but perfectly respectable. I often go a dollar or two over for the first paycheck of the month because I know I can streamline on the back end. I did have my full $100 in cash. This meant that I had the flexibility to give to someone I have a heart for and go a little over my bi-weekly budget. Frankly, if I did not have the cash in hand and I felt compelled to give, I would have broken out the bank card, but moving on. This leaves me $44.16 for the rest of the month. That’s totally do-able.
Here is our menu plan for the two weeks I was shopping for:
You will notice that Thursday, June 4th, we ate off of what was in the house. I wanted to film, so I had to wait an extra day to go shopping. This meant that there was nothing on the menu plan. We ate what we could find in house. I will also say that we have already gone a bit off plan. I was sick, remember. Saturday, I was not up to cooking. So, the family also ate a bit of what we had in house. Brian also bought me some Chinese food for lunch. He’s a good boy who loves his mama <3 Of course, I didn’t want to waste the good sausage, so we ate the Tuscan Soup, Salad, and Bread on Sunday. Sunday’s regularly scheduled meal, pizza, comes off the list. We will have this for a special lunch or a back-up dinner if I want something easy in the coming weeks. Remember. I said don’t go off plan. That means, don’t go buy something else. You are free to switch around what is already on the plan (and we often do for reasons like sickness).
I want to give you all full disclosure, but you know, it figures that everything goes haywire when I want to share the details.
C’est la vie
I will keep you posted on future grocery budget related events. You can also follow me on our Facebook page (please do!) to see what I am making every day. I usually post updates about dinner because my life if that exciting.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post…
I have a few tips here that will help you save when you go shopping and create a menu plan. These tips here to help you make the most of your grocery shopping experience.
Tip #1- Develop a Menu Plan
I put this on the list for those who are not doing it. Fail to plan, plan to fail. I don’t know who said that, but they are right. You have to have a plan if you are going to be on a budget this tight. It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you saw my video, you know that I write the days down sloppily in my notebook. Then, I fill in with what we have on hand based on what is on the menu (remember the menu I made in Part 2). But FIRST…
Tip #2- Consider Your Calendar!!!!!!!
In order for this to work, you need to know what is going on in the weeks to come. Some weeks my calendar is FILLED with events. This time, I only had one- our church’s Ladies Fellowship. I needed to know what I planned to make for that event, and what my family was going to have. Put your scheduled events on your menu plan before you plan meals.
Tip #3- Shop Your Storage First
Remember, I said to take an inventory before you go shopping (again, this can be found in Part 2). Go through all of your cabinets and make a mental or physical note of what you have on hand. You should also make a note of basics you need or want. If you check out the video, I spend most of it going through what I have on hand (and let me say I am sorry I didn’t take the time to clean first!). I wrote down the things I thought we needed to stock up on like rice, oatmeal, and chicken broth. I also wrote down the meal ideas I had based on what we had on hand. I didn’t write the actual meal on the menu until I went shopping. This was the part I really wanted you to see, but was unable to film. I tried, but it wasn’t possible. Instead, I will try to explain the process.
Tip #4- Make a List of What Items You Need to Complete What You Have
So, you have the backbone of a plan laid out, you have consulted your calendar, and you have checked out your storage. You should have a pretty good idea of a few things you can make based on what you already have. Add to your list the items you need to complete these meal. For instance, I had everything I needed to make a homemade potpie but cream of chicken soup. So, I added the soup to my list. If I wanted something, but I needed to buy several things, I might put a question mark next to it on the list. If I could find all of the ingredients cheap enough, great. If not, I would get what I could and plan that for the next menu.
Tip #5- Choose Stores Wisely
I don’t go to every store in the county. I go to two. My children are older now, but when they were younger, it would have been impossible to do more in one day, even though I have a list and am in and out of the stores quickly. I just don’t have time or gas money to waste going here and there. Generally, I go to our local discount grocery store first, the I go to Aldi for basics. Some days, when I need to stock up on meats, I go to another local store (Ingles, if you are in the area) then Aldi. On occasion, I will stop by Food Lion on the way home to check their deli meats, but only if I have extra funds and extra time. There have been times I have gone to the place where there are always low prices, but I normally don’t. Plan your route.
Tip #6- Look Online for Sales
Once you know where you are going, check online to see what is on sale. This should be a cursory glance. Don’t take all day. Just take a peek. You don’t want to miss out on a great bargain because you are in a hurry, and I almost always am. If you look too long, you will think of more things you “need” and this can break the budget. This week, I didn’t have to do that. Aldi does a really good job of keeping their prices stable, their sales are easy to identify, and their store is compact. I can take a peek at the sales as I dash past. The discount store doesn’t post online, so I just ran out the door without checking. If I was planning on going to Ingles, Food Lion, or anywhere else, I would check.
Tip #7- Fill in the Rest of Your Menu Plan According to Sales
When I made my plan, I had practically everything on hand. I purchased the extras I needed to complete my meal ideas. Then, if I had any days left over, I filled them in with sale items. This time, I had plenty, so I didn’t need to add too much. If I had two or three meals I needed to fill in, I would look at the meat first to see if there was a deal to be had. If not, I would buy whatever was cheapest to buy and build a meal around and that is what we would have. If it was chicken soup for two days, so be it. We eat what we can afford.
Tip #8- Leave Room In the Budget For Deals and Stocking
This will determine whether or not you can stay under budget. Some folks get a little extra money and buy snack items or comfort food. I stock up on necessities. Believe it or not, I only needed about $25 to complete this meal plan. The other $30 was for healthy extras (I found some great deals on produce), some other bargains (hot dog buns for 39 cents and hot dogs for 79 cents), and stocking up (ground beef and turkey, which are always good to have on hand). If I was limited, I didn’t have to buy them. There have been times when I only had $20, and I made it work. If you make a habit of stocking up and catching deals, you will be able to get by with very little, too.
Tip #9- Don’t Buy Your Children Things They Ask For
This tip is meant to help you all with little ones. When our children were little I always bought one treat when we went shopping.
I always told my children that there would be a treat afterwards, but it was a surprise that mommy would pick. If anyone ASKED for a treat, there would be NO treat. If anyone complained, there would be NO treat. NONE.
I NEVER give in.
I think our children are pretty well behaved, but that is because they know we mean what we say. When I say, if you ask for something, you won’t get anything, I mean it. NOTHING. No amount of crying will help. In fact, it will lead to some disciplinary action. Don’t get in the habit of buying what they ask for because they will learn to ask. Then, you will feel guilty when you can’t provide what they want. They will not learn to be grateful, they will not be as disciplined in the store, and you will blow your budget. It may sound a little harsh in the moment, but you have to understand that your role as mom requires you to see the bigger picture. There is more to developing good character than pleasing a child in the moment. It will also help you to develop character.
Our children are older now, but they still get a treat sometimes. The boys work and can get their own treats, and they spoil Briana to death with treats, so I don’t feel too bad when we I get something just for me and Rick. This week, it was a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food from the discount grocery for $1. I had a spoonful. Briana had a spoonful. Then, Rick ate the rest.
If any of you have suggestions in regards to keeping your husband from eating all the snacks, I am all ears!
Next time, we will be talking about how to make your groceries stretch.
NEW!!!!!!!!!! We make a video update every six months, and the new one is just out. Check it out to see us grocery shopping and take a peek at our bi-weekly grocery haul. Here’s the video-
You can also find the bi-weekly menu plan on the blog. Click HERE to check it out!
Can I answer any questions for you? Is there anything you do to save on your shopping trip? Be sure to comment down below. I look forward to hearing from you!