Monday, April 4, 2011

Grocery Budget Answer

I was asked a question in the comments section about my March grocery budget, so I figured I'd answer it for everyone as a post. Here is the question: How do you manage to stay so low with your budget? Is it because your pantry is so stocked? Or is it what you buy? And how you buy it? (in bulk, coupons, sales)

The short answer is : yes, yes and yes! First, it is not just my pantry that is so stocked, it is also my freezer. Due to the supply of food I have in those two places my grocery budget is only for things that we are out of, perishables, fresh items and to restock. The main savings happens with the meat. We buy our meats in bulk so I only buy meat a couple times a year (if that). Not having that expense in my monthly grocery budget makes a huge difference. I also have a lot of frozen produce from the summer and fall when things were much less expensive. As an example, I haven't bought bell peppers since last fall when I was getting them for prices like 8 for $2-3. Now they are $1.68 each, unless they are on sale for about $1 each. So having those things in my freezer has helped me save a bunch of money on a monthly basis! The pantry helps with saving for two reasons. 1. I've bought things for really low prices and stocked up, so I know that they were inexpensive from the start and now I have plenty on hand. 2. I go to the store much less often. I have enough to live off of between those two things to keep us from having to go to the store so often. 

Or is it what you buy? Yes, this too! As I've shared on here before I try (not always do, but try) to stay away from convenience items like frozen entrees, pre-cut fruit and vegetables, individually packaged snacks, etc. The other thing I make sure to buy FIRST is all the necessities. By that I mean, bread, milk, eggs, cheese and things that will make meals. I don't stock my grocery cart full of crackers, chips, snacks, cookies, pop and junk food and then not have anything left for the meals I need to fix. Now, I'm not saying I don't buy these things, because I do, I just make sure I have enough MEAL food and things I NEED to feed my family first and then get snacks & extras with what we have left. Finally, for ALL things I always buy the cheapest brand & cheapest unit price. The unit price is usually in a colored box (red, yellow or orange usually) somewhere on the price tag. The unit price is the price per ounces (or other measurement) and it is usually a cents amount written like this: 5.3 or 12.9, etc. So, I'll just give you an example (it will not necessary be correct math, just numbers I am making up to explain this). If you are buying yogurt and the price for one brand large tub (32 oz) is $2 and the same brand individual package containers is $2 for four (6oz each). The price is the same, but the unit price will not be. The unit price is figured by taking the price ($2) divided by the amount (32oz), for the large tub that would be 0.0625 (usually it would be displayed like this 6.25). The other container has a TOTAL of 24 oz, so that would be $2 divided by 24 is 0.0833 (displayed like this 8.3). Those two numbers will be displayed on the ticket price in the corner. I always look for the smallest UNIT price, not just the smallest price, because then I know I'm getting the cheapest price for the amount of food I'm buying. If it's not displayed for me or if I'm using a coupon, I'll do the math myself to see what the best value is. 

And how you buy it? (in bulk, coupons, sales)
Like I've said, I'm not a huge coupon-er, I just can't always make it worth my time and haven't mastered the 'art'. But I do love to price match to get the lowest price in town on things I'm buying. Again, it's WHAT I buy though too. Just because it's a good deal, doesn't mean you should buy it. And, buying bulk is my thing too. Not always in large packages, sometimes just buying A LOT of small packages when they are a fantastic deal. 

Hope that answers those questions! 


  1. Thanks Chelsea! That was really helpful!

  2. Good! :) I just make REAL food my priority and make sure we always have meal options. We don't have the 'fun' food house where all the teenagers want to eat! ;) That's okay though.


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