See the details of my $200 a month grocery shopping trips and learn the things that I do to save and live well on a low budget with my family of five!
Some of you have wondered where I get my printable coupons. Here are the main coupon sites that I use: Coupons.com, Smart Source, Red Plum, Ibotta and Fetch Rewards (use code GEOEG at sign-up for $2.00 in points!). Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are also great sources.
If you are new here and unfamiliar with my weekly What I Spent & Saved posts, it probably is helpful to understand a bit about how I shop. I do something called stockpile shopping. This simply means that when I see an item at rock bottom prices that I regularly use or know that I can use, I’ll buy several of it. This might seem kind of crazy, but it honestly saves me hundreds of dollars a year! Simply put, by buying 6 bags of frozen veggies when I can get them for $0.50/bag with a coupon and sale instead of paying the full price of $1.50, I save $6.00. This savings adds up pretty quickly! Want to know more about this kind of shopping? Up until recently, I blogged at Parents.com and one of my readers wrote a great post for me there about 5 Tips to Spend Less but Get More.
I also buy meats and veggies in bulk. The meat I either can or freeze and then obviously have it on hand whenever I need it. I buy large quantities of fruits and veggies when they are in season and I can get them at really great prices. By canning or freezing them, I save a lot and we are able to enjoy great produce for less cost all year long. I do still buy some fresh fruits and veggies too. In fact, every 7 to 10 days I go to our local farmer’s market and get several heads of lettuce so that we can enjoy salads at least 4 times a week.
I hope that helps you make sense of some of this. I realize at first glance it can look like we eat rather strangely but I think we really eat quite well! Of course, if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments! I’ll be more than happy to try to answer them.
I almost didn’t do any shopping this week! I looked at the Giant deals and there were none that I really felt were worth my time. And at first I didn’t plan to go to CVS either. But then I saw that I could get a good deal on diapers and since I had $10 Extra Bucks to use there, I figured I might as well go ahead and stop by. I also ended up going to Aldi too. I probably could have waited until this week, but I was driving right by and I didn’t have any of the children with me and since I was out of a couple of things, I decided to stop. Yes, I definitely enjoy grocery shopping! 🙂
Total Spent: $51.26
Total Saved with Coupons: $18.00
Total Saved with Sales: $10.50
Total Saved: $28.50
Saved with Coupons: $18.00
Saved with Sales: $10.50
Yay for more cheap diapers this week! After coupons and sales, I paid just $4.43 a pack for these. I didn’t need them that badly, but part of the way I save on diapers is to stock up like this when I can get them cheap. Paying just $4.43 a pack sure beats $8.99 or more a pack! I saw online that some people were getting $4/$20 diaper purchase coupons from CVS via email. I was hoping I’d get that lucky, but it didn’t happen. CVS used to send me lots of coupons like that and it definitely helped save a lot more! But the last 2 years they just decided they didn’t like me or something, because I never get them anymore. Maybe I should boycott them! 🙂 I really don’t think they’d notice though. Ha! Plus, I’d miss out on good deals too, so I guess it wouldn’t be worth it.
- 4 Huggies diapers $8.99 each
– used three $2.00 Huggies printable coupons
– used $2.00 Huggies coupons from Sunday newspaper coupon insert
– got back $0.25 via Ibotta (good on any diapers)
OTHER COUPONS USED:
- $10.00 in Extra Bucks coupons earned by purchasing items previously at CVS
- $10.00 Extra Bucks coupon for purchasing the Huggies (can be used on next purchase of any item)
My Aldi trips are usually to stock up on some of the basics that I need and then I typically look over their produce section to see what things are on special and often end up grabbing some of those as well. This week the only extra thing that I got was mushrooms. They were on sale for $0.69 and then just today I realized that I had a $0.25 Snap rebate that I could use on them as well! It’s not much, but I was happy to discover it.
I don’t know what kind of rice you use, but my sister-in-law introduced me to Basmati rice a couple of years ago and I love it! I’ve had a hard time using anything else since. I like that it isn’t enriched (which means that it has stuff added to it) and it just cooks up so nice and fluffy and has a wonderful taste. I usually get it at a local bulk food store, but I haven’t been by there recently and was almost out. So when I saw that Aldi now carries it, I decided to go ahead and get it there. I’m pretty sure it’s a tad more expensive, but sometimes that is just how it is. It’s definitely not worth the extra time and gas to run to the bulk food store just for that!
Update: I actually was making a casserole with rice for dinner and happened to have a bag of the Basmati rice from the bulk food store still. So I looked and it is actually $0.25/lb. more there than at Aldi! I guess I saved money after all! 🙂 And the Aldi rice even comes in a resealable bag that makes it super nice for storing, which is an added bonus.
- 2 potato chips $1.79 each
- Basmati rice $2.99
- saltines $0.89
- mushrooms $0.69
– got back $0.25 via Snap- an app that is no longer available (offer was good on any mushrooms)
- 2 sour cream $1.29 each
- 4 black beans $0.59 each
- cinnamon $0.99
- 2 taco seasoning mix $0.35 each
Plus 1 more gallon of milk and a 5 lb. block of Farmer’s cheese.
We usually get milk for a $2.00/gallon from a local farm. But last weekend we were at my in-laws and they were going to get milk from the farm where they buy it and so, since we were needing milk anyway, my husband thought he’d save time and just hop a ride with my dad-in-law and get milk for us too. Well, he didn’t realize that the farm they got to had just upped the price of milk to $3.50/gallon! Ouch! It’s still a bit cheaper than what we’d pay for milk at the store here, but quite a bit more than we would have paid had we bought it from our usual farm. It is organic though, so I guess that helps. 🙂
I also got a 5 lb. block of Farmer’s cheese too. A local Amish store had it on sale for $2.10/lb. and my mom-in-law offered to pick some up for me when she was there. I typically try not to pay more than $2.00/lb. for cheese, but this was so close and since it’s gotten harder and harder to find cheese at that price, I went ahead anyway.
One thing that we’ve done to save money on our grocery bill over the years is to limit the amount of cheese that we eat. Maybe that sounds kind of crazy to you, I don’t know. And it’s not that we don’t like cheese, because we all actually love it! It’s just that cheese can quickly get to be expensive. So in many recipes, I’ll reduce the amount of cheese that is called for and most of the time, we don’t miss it. Once in a while though, I’ll bomb it. 🙂 Although, after a while you kind of figure out how much you need to still make it good and cheesy without being super cheesy if that makes sense. We also don’t eat cheese by itself an awful lot, although we do that more than we used to. Honestly, when we were first married we almost never at cheese plain. We simply didn’t have room in our budget to do it! But over the 8 ½ years that we’ve been married, we’ve gradually started eating it more and more. Part of it is because our budget isn’t quite as tight as it had been when we were first married and well, part of it is because we probably have just gotten a little used to having it and now think we can’t do without it totally. 🙂
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i am new to your blog, and am enjoying your ideas for saving money! I am single, so I don’t have to buy as many groceries, and I love to stock up and save on sales. I’m not too good at couponing, but am not too old to learn :). I live in CA where prices are much higher but your saving tips work anywhere. Thanks for taking the time to teach us!
Your kind words of encouragement blessed me, Beth! Thank you! And you are right, no one is too old too learn to coupon. 🙂 I appreciate too that you realize that geographical areas can vary a lot, but the savings principles can still be applied. So many people get hung up on that and think that because their area is higher priced etc. they can’t save. No, you may not have a $200 grocery budget, and that’s okay! But I still think anyone can probably still do things to cut their grocery spending at least a little. Blessings!
Hi, I have been reading your blog. This is what I need. Just retired and have a budget of $600 a month for all our needs including medicines. I have never had to budget before and am at a loss. We have a 17 year old daughter who is in voice lessons. we get them paid by working as volunteers for different school programs. I need to get a weekly menu list and find out how to cook and eat for a lot less then we have been. Any assistance you can give would be greatly appreciated. I just don’t know where to start. We don’t get a Sunday paper or magazines so can’t clip coupons from them. Other suggestions. You sound like a winner.
Welcome, Jacki, happy to have you here! Oh, $600 a month is tough! I'm slowly working on a series of posts about how I make our $200/mo. grocery budget work. But it might be several weeks before I am ready to post it, so that doesn't really help you now, does it? :)
I think you might find this post about Tips for Beginning to Reduce Your Grocery Spending helpful. Also, if you have a smartphone, there are several money saving grocery apps that are great (check out this post for more info). You won't save a lot quickly by using them, but a little bit here and there that does add up. I especially like Saving Star's Freebie Friday offer. (Saving Star and Checkout 51 both can be used from your computer too, if you don't have a smartphone.)
Even if you don't get the Sunday paper or magazines, if you have a printer, you can still find a lot of coupons. Now, obviously, you don't want to print coupons for things you don't use etc., but used carefully, they can be helpful! If you read the link above about reducing your grocery spending, I give you more tips on how to find a blog that does coupon match-ups. That will help you a lot! Oh, and to save money on ink, see if your printer has an ink saver mode. Also, you can print coupons in black and white and it's fine to print them on the clean side of used paper. Stores don't care what is on the back of the coupon as long as the front looks good! :)
A few more random tips that might be helpful:
1. Frozen veggies and fruit are often cheaper than fresh.
2. Reduce the amount of meat and cheese in casseroles and similar dishes to save money. Don't reduce it much, maybe by 1/4 lb. for meat and 1/2 c. for cheese. But in many dishes, you won't notice much of a difference.
3. Replace beans for some of the meat in Mexican style dishes. We actually prefer many of them that way and you are still getting protein, just less expensively!
4. If you have cell phones, look into getting a less expensive plan. If you don't use your phone a lot or don't use lots of data, I recommend Ting. If you use your phone a lot, do an internet search- there are lots of great really inexpensive cell phone plans out there!
Hope some of those ideas help! Of course, if you follow along here, you'll hopefully continue to find more helpful tips too. And don't hesitate to ask me questions if you get confused about something. Sometimes it takes me a bit to reply, but I do my best to reply to emails and comments as soon as possible.
Thought I would let you know something that I just discovered about Extra Bucks! I was at CVS recently buying a few small items and thought I would use up my Extra Bucks since they were expiring soon. As I was handing over my Extra Bucks, I realized that one of them had already expired. I mentioned this to the cashier, and she said “Oh don’t worry, these things say they expire, but they actually don’t. We still take them.” WOW ..Now I don’t have to worry about trying to find a good sale on something before mine expire! Each CVS might be different on this policy, so it’d be good to ask before they expire (and not risk losing your Extra Bucks!)..but I think it’s worth checking into 🙂
Oh, good to know, Kait! I think it may be a store by store basis sort of thing. My sister lives in IN and several years ago she told me that she was able to use expired ones. I asked at my store and they said they can’t. But I should check again because you never know when policies like that will change and it sure would be nice to not have to worry so much about the expiration! Thanks for sharing!
My mom has been telling me how good Basmati rice tastes and I’ve had it a few times when visiting, but I didn’t think I could afford it. Now I know to check Aldi. Thanks! Speaking of Aldi, their $3.59 gallon of milk is still the best deal around here, hands down. The farmer’s market is importing organic mil from a creamery in Central PA but it’s a whopping $7 for a half gallon. We need a neighbor with a cow.
When we were first married, we ate cheese and crackers on Sunday nights as a snack. Oh, the good old days! Yeah, that doesn’t happen much anymore. I’m learning contentment with $3 a pound.
Hey, I also wanted to mention I’m really enjoying your posts with the menus and recipes. They’re a little extra-inspiring to me since we eat very similar meals in our household. Seeing you do it on even less is good motivation for me.
Yes, I was so excited to find the Basmati at Aldi. Hope you can find it too! It occurred to me this morning that it is possible it is one of those items that they have just occasionally, but I think it had a “permanent” sign, so I’m hoping it will be a regular product. Yes, if I have to buy milk, I like Aldi too. I’m pretty sure our price here in Pa is a bit more than that, but it’s still the lowest around. Plus, it doesn’t have RBHT and other growth hormones either, so it’s better than a lot of store bought milk. $7 for organic milk? Ouch! I would definitely be rationing that gold! Why wait for the neighbor, maybe you should get a cow yourself? 🙂
Yes, I love cheese and true story, sometimes my husband I will buy it as a little gift for each other because we both love it that much! I think $3/lb. is a good price actually for most areas. I’m kind of spoiled by the discount grocery store and even sometimes our little Amish bulk food stores.
Thanks so much for the feedback on the menu and recipe posts. I’ve been trying to decide if I wanted to keep doing the menus, so that is helpful! I think I probably will, although this summer when life gets a bit busier with canning and some family events I may take a little break.
We are getting a CVS soon and I’m excited since they seem to have good diaper deals. I’ve never had Batsami Rice. Thanks for the tip! I’m actually a rice cooking failure so I normally stick close to instant which I know is way more expensive. I can’t believe you can get Milk for those prices! That’s awesome! We eat cheese a lot and yes it’s expensive. I should try to reduce the amount I use in recipes.
Oh, I think you’ll love the CVS diaper deals, Missy! The biggest thing is using up the $10 Extra Bucks that you get at the end. But usually I don’t have too much trouble with that since they have several week expiration date. I hear you about being a rice cooking failure. 🙂 I used to struggle too! But for some reason, the Basmati has always cooked up really nicely for me and gets perfectly done every single time! Yes, those milk prices have me spoiled. And it’s raw milk too, which I love. As for the cheese, well, we all have our more expensive things we like, right? 🙂