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Go Back Forums > Food > Planning Ahead > Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping > Grocery Shopping

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Old 08-25-2002, 09:58 AM
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Question How do you organize your grocery list?

For years I've organized my list by sections: produce, pantry, freezer, fridge, nonfoods, and medicines. Since I lost my job back in December, I've become more focused on EXACTLY where my grocery money is going. Now I have a separate section for drinks (was suprised at what I was spending here) and office (stuff hubbie takes to work so he doesn't eat out every day). I also add Special Occasions when I need it (school parties, birthday dinners, etc.) Now I also assign a budget to each department, which I hadn't done before.

I mark the items I have coupons for (tripled up to 50 cents at two local stores). I've recently started a price book since now I have time to shop several stores. Used to do most comparison shopping by memory of prices. I write the price on the list next to the item. If I find a great deal on something (on sale) that isn't on the list, I add it with the price, so I can add as I go. Plus this helps with my new price book.

When I remarried, my grocery bill shot up to $200/wk. Got that down to $100/week consistently using monthly menu plans (people laugh, but it works). I have a pretty well stocked pantry and want to start quantity cooking and get my grocery bill under $80. Plan to use the $20/week savings toward Christmas since things will be tight this year.

Am wondering what works for all of you! The list I'm using saves me time at the store and helps me know where my money is going, but I thought maybe some of you experts might have some suggestions about how it can help me save money too! THX, Dawn
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Old 08-25-2002, 04:37 PM
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I'm impressed!

Congratulations on a great job on your grocery budget! I have to admit to not really sticking to a budget. We purchase in bulk the things we can get cheaper at Costco vs the grocery store (most meats, t.p., paper towels, etc) and I try to shop based on the sales in the grocery store. We have a pretty well stocked pantry, also and I bulk cook periodically - although, I usually do it to give meals to grandparents & so hubby has something quick to pull out of the freezer on his way out the door to work (he works rotating shift work, so every 3 weeks, he's at work during dinner time).

I generally spend around $100 / week (some weeks up to $120, some weeks as low as $50). We also spend between $100 - $200 every other month at Costco - depending on how much meat we need to buy.

I lost my job in November, and we've cut back on going out and spending on unnecessary things (dd doesn't HAVE to have something every time we go out - we still struggle with that from time to time). And, since I haven't been working, I haven't bought any new "work" clothes. My summer wardrobe pretty much came from Walmart this year (vs The Mall). I have worn sandals all summer and nobody notices if I wear the same pair of shorts 3 x in a week!

Good luck finding more ways to reduce your grocery bill!

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Old 08-25-2002, 04:39 PM
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Sounds like you've got a great system. I find what really hurts is those impulse purchases. Do you bake and cook from scratch? In most cases, that will save quite a bit of money. Do you have a freezer? If you buy a lot of meat, buying in bulk is helpful. Buy a family package of hamburger, and make sloppy joe meat, spaghetti sauce, or taco meat and freeze in portions.

For school snacks, I package peanut-butter crackers, snack mix, etc., in the snack-size bags, and put them in a jar so the kids can grab one and run.

Good luck!
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Old 08-26-2002, 08:17 AM
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Thanks for the feedback!

Rainequilts - Yes, I have a freezer. We have two fridges with freezers on top. The one in the kitchen is stocked with stuff to eat on a daily basis. The one in the garage is stocked with 'supplies' like meat, veggies, etc. that aren't for this week.

I don't bake much at all, and almost never from scratch. Bread's under $1 all the time here, I buy cake and brownie mix with triple coupons if they're under 50 cents, and biscuits come from a mix or can depending on which type of coupon deal I find.

I buy very little meat, and only cook meat about 3-4 times a week. I choose menus based on what's on sale or clearance. I try to buy ahead with meat and freeze it, but so far Im not using it to cook ahead too, which I plan to get started on soon. I haven't been buying family packs of meat, but I'll look into that, thanks.

Snacks are what kill my budget! I like the idea of preparing more things in advance. Never thought of the pb/crackers ahead of time!

Crowemommy - I usually rely on leftovers for dh to take to work. Making single size servings just for lunches is a great idea. My grocery bill is not EXACTLY $100 every week either, but I sure try to keep it there. At the end of the month, whatever extra I've spent, comes out of the last week's budget, so I come up even at the end of the month anyhow. Also, during school breaks when the kids are with their other parents (we're remarried), I really save! I use the money to stock up or to catch up, whichever is needed more!

Thanks! Dawn
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Old 08-26-2002, 09:17 AM
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Yes, Dawn the "snack jar" has been helpful for our family. We use a big plastic jar that originally had pretzels in it. I buy snacks in bulk--pretzels, crackers, graham crackers--put them in small bags and fill it up. You can also put in the little boxes of raisins or whatever's popular at your house.

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Old 08-26-2002, 09:49 AM
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I actually went to the store and write down what each isle had. THen I came home and using WORD I created a Food Shopping list with headers to match the store.
It works great
Recipe Kitchen
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Old 08-26-2002, 05:51 PM
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I was at the grocery store #1 today and paid more attention to my shopping list than I usually do and made sure I stuck very closely to it!

Anyway, I paid alot of attention to the cost of "single serving" size snacks since dd is going to be in full-day kindergarten this year and she'll be taking a packed lunch most days. I can't believe how expensive they are! It seems so easy to buy the little packages of chips, pretzels, crackers etc but I can make up plenty of my own peanut butter crackers (thanks Rainequilts ) and small baggies with pretzels or chips in a baggie ahead of time so when it's time to pack lunch, I can just pull out a pre-made baggie just as quickly (or hubby can easily figure it out when I'm back to work).

Tomorrow, I'm on to grocery store #2 where they have the other items I need and are less expensive than g.s. #1.

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Old 09-02-2002, 12:06 PM
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Using a price book so I know when the price is right for stocking up has been a big help. Check out "price books and beyond at, and use the printable forms there. I recommend alphabetizing the pages, but some people do it by grocery aisle.

Bulk cooking and only shopping once a month except for perishables helps. The less time you spend in the store or in a restaurant, the less you'll spend.
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Old 09-02-2002, 01:29 PM
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Wow, you're right about the less time you spend in the store the less money you'll spend. I too shop once a month at Costco (meats, canned vegies, napkins, etc.) and then make quick trips to my 2 local grocerty stores (throughout the month) for fresh produce. I always use a list and try to get in and out as soon as possible. I started the price book but gave up on it since I go to three different stores throughout the month and it seemed too time consumming. Now what I do is write on the item itself the price I paid and the date I bought it. This helps me a little.

I also cook all cookies, brownies and desserts from scratch (I love to bake). I stay away from prepackaged, pre-made anything. I don't buy sodas instead I make a big pitcher of tea and natural lemonade & grapefruit juice (we have trees in our back yard). I also have cut down on paper towel purchases by buying white handtowels from Costco & encouraging their use instead. These cost-cutting measures help me keep my grocery bill down to less than $300/month.
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Old 09-02-2002, 06:41 PM
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I plan my meals around what is on sale at the grocery store. I have a freezer, but it is not so full that I don't know what is in there.
I buy my dry goods and paper products at a Bargain Grocery store where items are less than 1/2 the original cost. One particular item which we use a lot of, Hellman's Light Mayonnaise, is $.50 a qt. (regular price in SC $2.29 - $3.25). I buy milk, eggs, butter and cheese there, but don't like the meats, so buy that at the regular grocery store. We like the cooked, frozen shrimp, so I wait until they are buy one bag (2 lbs.) and get one free. This week, I got ground beef, chuck, for $.87 a lb. Chicken leg quarters were $.17 a lb. I know those are loss leaders, but it you go there to only buy those items, you are ahead.
I try to go to the grocery store when I have other errands to do, going to the grocery store last. In my van, I keep a large (120 qt.) cooler along with a smaller one to put the frozen and refrigerators items into until I get home as I live 8 miles from the grocery store.
The suggestions of making your own snack bags is good. I used to buy the big bag of potato chips and make my own small zip lock bags. It pleased my granddaughter who was in nursery school at that time.
Try using less ground beef in your recipes, adding more fillers (cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, bread cubes. oatmeal). Stop buying prepared foods, frozen meats in gravy, vegetables in sauce, lunch meats. Use leftovers from dinner for the next day lunches. Fresh meats and vegetables are so much healthier and so much cheaper. Take a suggestion from the Chinese Restaurants. If you notice, they use more vegetables in their dishes than meats, but they are still good.
The Interne has volumes of recipes. Look for new and interesting ones. Your family will be more willing to eat differently if you provide a wide variety.
May the Angels Watch Over You
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