Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Frugal Mom Goes Shopping

Let me just say, right up front, that I hate paying full price for anything. That goes double for groceries. I'm certainly not the cheapest person out there, but I do like to save a buck. Why should I pay more than I have to?

When I was a kid, my mom held a series of low-paid jobs. We ate a lot of beans, soups made with turkey necks, and plenty of leftovers. I continue to cook this way. When it was just me and my husband, we spent about $250 a month at the grocery store, including paper and hygiene products. With the addition of our son, that jumped to about $400 a month including diapers.

In general, I shop in four stores. Most of our groceries come from Super Target, with others from Aldi, Dominick's (Safeway), and Sam's Club. I will rarely shop in Jewel (Albertson's) or Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's is too far away, and I have a harder time finding true deals at Jewel, so I only shop there if the deal is truly great.

At Aldi, I buy snack foods, cheese, milk, eggs, and some produce. Earlier this summer I got pints of strawberries for $.25. I bought 8, then halved and froze them for later use in smoothies and jam.

At Sam's I get butter for about $1.25 a pound, along with chicken wings, hamburger patties, bananas, and bulk baking supplies. Sometimes they have great deals on meat such as ground beef.

I buy most of our meat on sale at Dominick's. I never pay more than $2 a pound for meat. That means we don't eat a lot of steak or fish. Whenever I get a large package of something, I break it up into smaller packages and store in our freezer in the garage.

I also make use of coupons. There are two types I use: store coupons and manufacturer's coupons. Target lets you "stack" these coupons, using one store coupon and one manufacturer's coupon for each item. That's how I recently got free sticks of deodorant. Target offers store coupons three ways: mailed booklets of coupons, coupons that print with your receipt, and online coupons. There's a lot to say about coupons, so I'll save that for another post.

My goal is to provide my family with nutritious, filling food at the lowest price I can. I don't spend more than about two hours a week dealing with coupons and sales. I always make a list, and try not to go shopping more than twice a week. More than that and I spend more.

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