The other day I saw a friend post on Facebook that she sits down once a week with her husband and they come up with a menu for the week. They decide which meals to fix and then they go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. They thought that it controlled their grocery budget and they didn’t buy that much. I have mixed emotions about this strategy. I don’t buy my groceries that way. First I buy any fresh items for the week, like milk, produce, etc. Then I sit down and go through the store ads for the stores I like to shop at. I do look at the other stores ads just to see if there is the “unbeatable” sale that I can’t live without. I go through these ads and look for the rock bottom price on things that we use on a daily or weekly basis. I then stock my shelves with these items. I have approximately 30 cans of Libbys Naturals vegetables stockpiled from 3 different sales and I used coupons on top of the sales. I ended up paying 25¢ a can. I know some people would think why would you want to spend so much on something that is going to sit on your shelves for awhile? Well, at my local store, those cans retail for around $1 each, that is a 75 percent savings! I do like the fact that they can sit there until I need them and I also like that they are a quick veggie when you don’t have the time to steam some for dinner.
I also like to figure out what we are going to have for dinner a day ahead of time. If we are going to be busy I have to think of something quick to have. Sometimes our schedules change from day to day, so I can’t plan a week ahead of time for these changes.
I like the fact that I do have a stocked pantry with items that I paid the lowest price for. When you shop for items that are specifically for meals that you have planned, you are paying full prices. Today I just went to my favorite store and bought two bags of frozen vegetables for a grand total of $0. I put those beautiful bags in my cart and when I came home put them in my chest freezer until I will need them. They were on sale for $1. I found printable coupons the other day for this brand so I printed them off and stashed them in my coupon stash. The next day the store ad came out and voila! I knew that I would score free veggies! If I had already planned my menu and grocery list for the week, I would have not had that on the list so I probably would have missed it.
The only thing good that I can say about shopping the way my friend does is if you plan your menu for the week around what is on sale then you would be saving money. You wouldn’t be planning a specific meal first, you would be planning a meal from what is on sale. The down side is meat sometimes hits rock bottom prices around specific times of the year, aka holidays. Burger hits rock bottom prices in the summertime. Hams go on sale the cheapest at Christmas and Easter time. The same goes with turkey. Remember those cans of vegetables I mentioned earlier? Those were bought around Thanksgiving. Every year Libbys puts out coupons for canned veggies around Thanksgiving. I try to stock up on the kinds I don’t grow in my garden. That way I have a variety to choose from when I plan my meals. By having a stocked pantry, I can mentally go through what we have on hand to plan my meals. If I decide to have a pasta dish, I can go right to my shelves and find the whole wheat pasta that I purchased for next to nothing and the spaghetti sauce that I canned last summer. I then can go to my freezer and get a pound package of deer burger that we ground ourselves or a pound package of hamburger that I seperated when it was on sale. I can add some onions that either came from my garden or that I bought on sale. I had everything on hand that I either bought cheaply or canned ahead of time for a nutritious meal. I am sure that if I went to the store right now and purchased everything that I would need for that meal, it would cost me more than what I paid for everything that I already have here.
I hope that everyone that reads this can comment on what works for them when shopping for their groceries. I would like to hear how others do with their budgets. Grocery prices have been going through the roof lately and any help is always appreciated. Whether using coupons, or shopping at discount stores, how do you save money on your groceries? Do you plan a menu, or do you shop like I do? I want to hear everyone’s ideas.