I take a somewhat different approach when grocery shopping. I do coupon but very little. It’s not that I don’t want to save money, I am pretty frugal after all; it’s just that the items I buy are generally not something that you would find a coupon for. I like to make a lot of things from scratch which saves much more money than buying convenience foods with coupons. AND while I am not a health food nut by any means (give me a box of chocolate covered cherries and I will be SO happy) I do like to buy as whole a food as possible.
I do just about all of my grocery shopping at Market Basket here in NH. I have another grocery store MUCH closer to me however the prices there are so high I simply don’t feel that I can shop there on a regular basis so I use it as a convenience store from time to time or only buy what is on sale.
My method of shopping revolves around the weekly specials and the no name brand products. It’s taken me a bit of time to find what I like and what I do not when it comes to no name brand items. Most of the products are made by the same companies that make your favorites anyway so branch out and try the store brand in most cases they are less expensive than the name brand even with a coupon.
Every week I plan my grocery trip and make my list according to what is on sale. I have been able to build up a supply of food that I keep in the pantry and our chest freezer in order to do this. Otherwise this week pork chops are on sale but most of the other meats are pretty high SO I will buy five packages of pork chops knowing that at home I have chicken, hamburger, sausages etc. I realize that you may not have as much storage as I do but most freezers will fit quite a bit of meats if you package them right. I tend to buy bigger packages than I need and then separate them into portions. It’s only my husband and I now so I wrap each chop in plastic and then put them all in one big freezer bag. For us this works because then if one of us wants a pork chop and the other a chicken breast it’s easy to accomplish. When the girls were here I portioned according to what I would need for one meal; I think you get the idea. Most stores on about a six week sales cycle. Once you start thinking this way you will see the pattern over time. When chops, cereal, and tuna go on sale I buy quite a few of those items and know they will be back on sale in six weeks and do the same thing at that time.
I have been going to Market Basket for so long that I actually make my list in the order of the store because I know what is in each aisle. As I said I buy whole foods, milk, butter, eggs (well now we have chickens so I don’t buy eggs any longer), flour, oil, flour, sugar, paper goods (all no name brand), cleaning products (I do make some of my own as well), and bread (I do my make my own bread when I can). When I get to the frozen aisle I usually only buy vegetables frozen. It depends again on what is on sale that is fresh and looks in good shape. In the summer months we have our own garden and very rarely buy vegetables at all. I do from time to time get convenience items in the freezer section for specific occasions but I really do hate to spend that money! So for instance on Thursday night daughter number one is in a play and we all are attending, I need to have her there at such and such a time and I get home from work less than half an hour before that. We need something really quick to eat and get out the door so I’ll get that pizza that my daughter can throw in the oven for us before I get home. I’m not wonder woman after all and while I’d love to be able to tell you that I always thought ahead and stuck something in the crock pot that morning but that would not be true. Life is hectic and a lot gets thrown your way. As my daughters got older I did ask them to help with dinner. I’d get the chicken all seasoned, put it in the roaster pan and stick in the frig. All she had to do was stick it in the oven at the right temperature at the right time. I was actually very luck because my husband then switched to first shift and would be home at 4:00 and would cook dinner.
Having your significant other in on the money savings plan is actually pretty important. Disagreeing on money and chores has long been the break up of many a marriage. My husband and I from the very beginning took the attitude that if both of us are working than both of us are also sharing in the chores at home. When the girls were little I stayed home and ran an in home day care so I did all the chores. Now my husband is retired and I work so he does the majority of the chores.