I mentioned in my Monday post that I have been thinking a lot about how to spend less money. Of course the obvious solution would to not spend any at all but hey, I have these people living in my house that seem to want to eat. Personally I could easily live off my fat stores but the kiddos haven't got any fat to speak of so...well...I guess I ought to feed them.
So I've been obsessing lately about how to feed this crew with the least amount spent. I've been reading The Tightwad Gazette, (actually it's The Tightwad Gazette III, borrowed from the library, but I am hankering to get the newer edition that includes I, II and III), visiting sites like The Grocery Cart Challenge, $5 Dinners and The Simple Dollar and taking inventory of my own stores and resources. And Tuesday I set about to make a list and a plan to spend as little as possible on a months worth of groceries.
I felt challenged by Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge to spend only $50 a week on groceries. From what I've read at her blog this is her goal every week.
Right off the bat my challenge is that I don't shop for groceries on weekly basis. As I mentioned before, in our small town we do not have access to discount grocery anything. In order to get to those stores I needs must travel an hour away. There I will find Costco, Winco, Dollar Tree (at least one that sells more than mac&cheese), and the Grocery Outlet.
My next challenge is that there are a few items that I insist on buying organic. Milk, apples, potatoes, carrots, salad greens all fall into that category.
So I decided I would shoot for about $75 a week. This amount, I decided, would include not only food but household and hygeine items as well.
I am happy to say...I came in at $291.44. Woo Hoo!!! And here is what most of it looks like.
I did not include the Food Saver or the Starbuck's coffee in the total above. One was a special purchase so that we don't waste things we buy in bulk and the other was...well...you know...ummm kinda like a necessary thing...sorta....you know...like medicine.
This isn't all of what I bought, what you don't see are things that needed to get into the freezer right away. But that there is what ya call a whole lotta food. Part of my strategy was to avoid as much convenience foods as possible. I'm trying to make it from scratch. Whatever "it" may be, like baked goods, beans and casserole type stuff. I also shopped the bulk aisle at Winco. For some reason I just thought it had a lot of candy over there. Imagine my surprise when I found everything from dog food to spelt flour tucked away in the corner of the store.
Where have I been?
Never mind, don't answer that.
I also went with a sort of spread sheet...well that may be too grand a term for it...I'm one of those people who has never really been able to effectively make a spread sheet. It was more like a price comparison chart. I made a list of most of my usually bought grocery items down the page and then across the top of the page the various stores. Then I took some receipts from the last couple of months and started filling in squares.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of what I'm talking about. I tried to fill in new price comparisons as I went along at the different stores. It was helpful in deciding if I was getting the best deal or not. I missed getting the best deal a couple of times because of specials but on the whole it was a good thing.
The best part of my day though was buying gas. Bet ya haven't heard that from anyone lately! Imagine my delight when I walked into Costco and saw this sign.
I couldn't understand why there wasn't dancing and celebrating right there in front of the sign. In my home town at the begining of the day the cheapest place in town was still $3.43 a gallon. Eighty cents cheaper in "the nearest large town"! Eighty cents people!!!!
And yes, my children were mortified that I was taking a picture of a gas price sign. I told them that they would just have one more story to tell their kids about their crazy mother.
So all in all, I felt it was a pretty successful day hunting down bargains. The real test now will be to see if I can avoid a trip to our local grocery stores for the next month. I have a feeling there may need to be an exception for produce...but we'll see. I do have plenty of frozen and canned stuff on hand.
And I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, but you know it is always more fun to hunt with other people. So I'm wondering, what sort of things are you doing to "tighten your belt"? What strategies and tools are you using?