Thursday, January 7, 2010

Excuse Me, Your Kitchen Seems to be Hemorrhaging Money

Did you go grocery shopping last week? How much did you spend, $100, $150, maybe even more? How did you feel when you paid the clerk? Did you think the price was fair? Did you swipe that debit card and feel good about it? Or did your heart beat a little harder for a second? Were you surprised by the total on the little screen? Does thinking about that total spark a little fury in your heart? It should. Would you like to know how much I spend per week on groceries?

$60. For a family of 5. Really.

Let’s do some math. $60 a week / 7 days = $8.57 a day. You know those television shows and cookbooks that market $10 meals? They got NOTHING on me. Try $2.85 a meal average. You’re reading that right, folks.

Now are you feeling a little furious over your grocery bill?

You’re probably asking yourself, HOW?? HOW DOES SHE DO THAT?? It’s quite simple really, I work at it. For seven years I have cut back and made changes and tried new techniques until I found what worked for my family. It took me about five years to figure out what works, but it’s been working for two years now.

I live by simple guidelines, which have allowed me to slash our weekly grocery budget from $100 a week for 2 people to $60 a week for 5 people, and we actually eat healthier and tastier foods
 than we did when we were first married.

1. PICK A BUDGET. Either pick a percentage of your take-home pay or 90% of the amount you spent last week. Each week, drop the budget by 10% until you reach a point where you really feel you can’t go any lower. I go further and split my total budget into different categories, but that is fodder for another posting.

2. SHOP TO STOCK YOUR KITCHEN, NOT TO COOK SPECIFIC MEALS! Almost every budgeting book I have ever read has advised you to plan your meals, then purchase only what you need to make those meals. That is utter nonsense. If you do that, you will not be able to take full advantage of sales or clearance items, you will eating very monotonous meals, and you will not be eating in season food. Which brings me to the next tip

3. BUY LOSS LEADERS ONLY! Every week, the local grocery stores send out ads, called loss-leaders by those in the know. These are full of items, especially meats and produce, that are in-season (and therefore plentiful) which the grocery store is selling at a DEEP discount as an incentive to get you in then door and waste money on the rest of the store, which is either regular price or in some cases, marked up. Stocking up on loss-leaders ensures a constant supply of quality food at low prices.

4. SHOP BALANCED: In another posting, I will go over my very scientific shopping list, but it is important to know now that if you buy balanced, you will eat balanced. Split your total budget into 5 catagories, MEAT, FRUIT, VEGETABLES, DAIRY, and PROCESSED or HALLS (the food on the shelves in the center of the store). Spend an equal amount of money in each category and you will find yourself always able to make balanced meals.

5. LEARN TO COOK: This should go without saying, but if you can cook things from scratch, you can spend less on processed foods and more effectively shop your pantry. It isn’t hard. The internet and the library both have wonderful tutorials and recipes available 24 hours a day for free. Utilize them.

6. STOP WASTING FOOD! You’d be surprised to find how much food is getting wasted in your kitchen. We’ll go over that more in detail later but for now, just make sure to use your freezer and move those leftovers to the front of the fridge so they don’t get overlooked.

Give these tips a try on your next shopping trip, and watch your bill drop. It just takes practice!

1 comment:

  1. I've got to know how you shop on $60 with a family of five. Could you provide an example receipt? I'd love to be able to do this!