Okay, so I said earlier this week that as part of operation Penny Pincher I would grocery shop with only cash and....
I chickened out. I just wasn't brave enough to go to the grocery store with out my debit card, so I took it, but I made it a point to avoid impulse buys of ANY KIND, and I did. I only added a handful of items to my list as I remembered being low on things while cruising the aisles. I PROMISE the things I added to my list were all things that are requirements to culinary function in my house, namely, ketchup.
Have you ever noticed that some companies call it Ketchup, and some call it Catsup? Anyone have an answer as to why? Just wondering...
Sorry, random thought, (focus, focus, focus). Like I was saying, I managed to (for the most part) stick to my list. I used only a handful of coupons and managed to come out great, I think. At least, better than usual. Two weeks worth of groceries, paper goods, and of course, gourmet dog food for 6 people and 2 dogs is a lot of stuff. A large WalMart sized cart FULL. I managed to get out the door for $185.87 total. Including the $5 tip for my baggers. I do most of my shopping at the military Commissary and the baggers there do not get paid. They work only for tips. Since it is always part of my grocery shopping trip, I included it in my final price.
Proof of my trip:
The lady bagging my groceries today was impressed that I could feed six people for two weeks on that. It breaks down like this: $16 per person per week or a little over $2 a day per person. When I break it down like that I want to run up and down the cul-de-sac, waving my receipt, singing 'We Are The Champions" at the top of my lungs. But the neighbors already think I'm weird enough, no need to confirm their fears.
I did shop at Walgreens this week for a few household items (I'll go over that shopping trip in a future post) so my total did go over $200 for two weeks and we'll still have to buy milk between now and my next big trip. Even still, I think I did a bang up job this week. My ultimate goal is to get my total shopping below $100/week for everything. Slowly, I'm getting there. I figure I'm gonna attempt to potty train Moose as soon as he shows any signs of being ready. Being diaper free will help the overall grocery bill too.
A few things I did or noticed while I shopped today:
I watched unit prices to get the best overall price. I read that horrible tiny small print on the price labels on the shelf, or I busted out the calculator on my phone and figured it myself. This takes a little more time, but, because package size can vary from one vendor to another, it means I'm getting the most for my dollar, not just buying the cheapest one on the shelf. Sometimes I did buy the least expensive, sometimes I didn't because the least expensive was also the smallest.
I realized that even things that look the same size are actually not and things that look like they are larger than their buddies on the shelf are actually not. Take the juice for example...The large Juicy Juice container looked bigger on the shelf than the Mott's juice container but when I looked at the actual size of the products, the ounces were the same. The Juicy Juice was only about 5 cents more expensive, and if I hadn't read the label I would have assumed that the Juicy Juice was larger, making it the better buy, but it really wasn't. It is important not to just look at the package to see which one looks bigger, but to actually read the label and figure out the unit price to ensure you get the best deal. Cereal is another place you need to do this. Our store carries 4 different boxes of Cheerios. And the unit price varies from one box to the next.
I passed on some good deals that would have cost me more money in the long run. In trying to not spend much money and avoiding impulse buys, I passed up somethings that I might have normally fallen for. Our store had the Axe men's shower gel gift sets (1 reg. size Axe, 2 travel sizes and a scrubbie)on sale for 5.99. I had a coupon for $1.50 off the set which would have made it 4.49. That's actually a good price for what was there, but I held off to see what was in the soap aisle and ended up getting a better deal on a different brand. And my guys didn't need a scrubbie, their's are in good shape right now.
I need to clean out my pantry BEFORE I go shopping next time. I have made a habit of cleaning out my fridge before I go to the store. It makes it easier to know what I have and make room for all the new stuff I buy. I am now gonna have to start doing the same thing with my pantry. After I got home and cleaned it out, I realized there were three things I bought, that I did not need. Namely, ketchup. I knew the bottle in the fridge was low so I bought more...then I found a bottle hiding in the pantry.
While I was shopping, I kept a tally of what I was spending. And I really liked the way I did it...it worked well for me. My shopping list is divided into sections much like my grocery store. I have non-grocery (all my personal items as well as cleaners and paper goods), pantry (dry goods), deli (which isn't really deli, but it's the aisle where packaged lunch meat, bacon and sausage is found...hey, my list, my names), freezer (self-explanatory), dairy (again, duh), meat, and produce. As I grabbed something, I wrote down the price (rounded up to the dollar)next to the item on my list. When I finished a section, I totaled it up. This way I could see a running total of what I was spending. It was also interesting to see which sections grabbed the majority of my budget. Keeping track of what you spend, regardless of how you choose to do it, really does help keep you on track. After seeing my subtotal for non-grocery, it was easy to avoid buy extra in pantry which is where I tend to find extra stuff to buy. By the last section (produce) I was so excited that I had done so well that I wanted to keep doing well and not blow it. It kept my momentum up.
This trip was a huge success. I'm still not sure I'm confident enough to go Cash-only but I'll get there soon, I'm sure.
What tricks do you use to keep your grocery bill down?