Hey, Planner Peeps!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes figuring out how to buy groceries and stay within a teeny, tiny budget can be really crazy. A few weeks ago, I posted on Instagram that I had gone to the grocery store that day and had a budget of $35 to spend for our groceries that week. I shared that I was mad, because I went over and had spent $36.39 (ugh, those bottle deposits get me every time here in Oregon!) and was beating myself up. But then I had a flashback to 5 years ago when I was first married and I had written down in my planner how bummed I was because we had spent over $100 that week in groceries for my husband and I. I love planners and planning, because they help me to be able to look back and see how much progress I’ve made and just how far I’ve come. It’s really inspiring and motivating!
However, I had so many people asking me how the heck I shop for two people on such a tiny budget, I knew I had to write a post about it to show you guys how I do this. But first, a few disclaimers:
– I am only shopping for two people. Not a family! Just my husband and I.
– Neither one of us are really picky eaters or have strict diets. We honestly both really just love food and are thankful to go to bed with full bellies at night. The $35 weeks are admittedly, not the healthiest weeks for us!
– This is not our grocery budget every single week. How our food budget operates is we take out cash for all our categories we tend to overspend in or need to reign in (food, gas, entertainment, pets, gifts, etc.). We take out $100 each week for food and toiletries. This $100 covers eating out, groceries, coffee runs (I work from home so this is vital for me, I HAVE to get out of the house!) toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, etc. So, this fluctuates each week. Some weeks we don’t eat out at all and the grocery budget is huge! (I tend to stock up on staples when this happens! Yahoo!) Other weeks we want to eat out with friends and family so we just deal with a tiny grocery budget. We are HUGE Dave Ramsey fans and this small budget will not last forever. In fact, once we are out of debt we plan on doubling (if not tripling) this category amount because we love to eat out and try new places. I can’t wait!
– Don’t compare yourself! We live in an area that has a decent cost of living and this is a sacrifice we are making temporarily while we pay down debt. Just because we get by on $35 a week on groceries sometimes, doesn’t mean you have to as well.
Ok, now! Lets do this.
Tip #1: Use what you have.
Scavenge your pantry for those odds and ends that are still edible, but might be collecting some dust! A can of black beans and some leftover tortilla chips? Grab a cheap bag of shredded cheese and some salsa and you’ve got nacho night! Don’t forget the freezer! Are there ribs from that BBQ from a few months ago that you forgot you threw in there? Leftover frozen veggies and those veggies in the fridge that are going bad soon that you can use to make a yummy stew? Rice that you can use for chicken stir fry? Get creative and keep it simple!
Tip #2: Check coupon sites before you go and shop the sales!
My all time favorite coupon sites are Krazy Coupon Lady and Money Saving Mom. Check these frequently before you go to a particular store (you can search deals by store, brand, etc nowadays! It’s awesome!) and see if they have any freebies or moneymakers that you can take advantage of! I’ve gotten free toothpaste, free floss, free paper towels, really cheap toilet paper, body wash, makeup, shampoo, conditioner and more from stacking a coupon with a sale that store is having. Toiletries can get really expensive and if you have the storage space, I highly recommend on stocking up when these good deals are happening! Even if you don’t need toiletries, check for food items too. You can start to get creative when you find out that Keebler crackers are only $0.50 that week! Also be sure to check meat prices. A few weeks ago the store had a great sale on chicken drumsticks for only $0.99 a pound. I was able to get 3 pounds of chicken for only $3! That might not seem like a big deal, but when your grocery budget is only $35, it totally is.
Tip #3: Shop at Fred Meyer/Kroger and get their “Woohoo” deals!
Yes, I know – you did not expect those store names! They have a reputation for having higher prices, however – they have incredible markdowns on the perimeter of the store! You’ll find these markdowns with the red and yellow “woohoo” sticker on it.
Wooooooohooooo! Great deal!
Check the produce section (especially bagged veggies and bagged salad), the deli area, the meat are and the dairy area specifically for these stickers! I make it a little bit of a game and try not to buy any Woohoo deal that’s over $1. Obviously, this quinoa was over a $1. So I do try to make exceptions for staples like this. Or, bagged cheese will be on sale for $1.50, of course I’ll make an exception for that because it’s a great deal and bagged cheese is a versatile food. I’ve gotten fresh salsa for $1 and all sorts of other fresh foods for very cheap doing this!
Tip #4: Scavenge the Manager’s Special Section @ Fred Meyer/Kroger
You’ll find these areas discreetly off to the side, but they often carry great deals! Our Fred Meyer has two. They always have one in the produce section that has bagged produce for $0.99. I’ve gotten a bag of apples, peppers, brussel sprouts and more for $0.99 a bag here. Often, the fruit or veggies are just a little bruised or have a spot on them, but they are still fully edible! The other area is in between the dairy section and meat section. On one side it contains the bread markdowns and the other side contains just general markdowns and woohoo deals in general. The general markdown side is where I got the Woohoo quinoa! Scope out these sections and you’ll see things to start getting creative and pulling together with recipes and such! Often, these sections are hidden. So don’t be afraid to ask an employee if they can point you in the right direction!
Here’s a video on me talking my head off about all this, with a few other tips!
I hope you found this helpful and that this gives you some hope. We have come a looooooooooong ways when it comes to reigning in our grocery budget and we are so excited to pay off all of our debt in the process!