1. I'm picky about the food I purchase and from what I've heard you can't be (especially if you're a
mediocre couponer, which I'd be).
2. If it is really time consuming or requires me to go to a bunch of stores, I'm out. I HATE running
errands with the kids. When the weather's nice it's doable, but even then it's difficult for me.
Because of my stipulations, I buy the majority of my food at Costco. This makes a ton of sense for us, because we eat alot of the same things.
I also never go to the grocery store without a plan. A couple days before I shop I create a list of meals for the month, then I'll create my shopping list from that.
Here's my usual shopping list for Costco
Veggie Straws- not the individual packs
Kettle Chips- not the individual packs
Tortilla chips- the organic strips
Whole wheat bread- kirkland organic
Muir Glen organic fire rosted diced tomatoes
Shredded cheddar cheese- I store half in fridge and freeze half of it. Sometimes this is a bi-monthy purchase
Greek Yogurt- one container, not the individuals
Frozen chicken breasts
Frozen bare chicken tenders
Red peppers x2
Frozen vegetable medley
Romain lettuce heads
Apples- in season
Parmesan cheese- shredded
Wine- 2 bottles of Menage a Trois, 1 bottle of cheap white for cooking
100 % Maple syrup
Organic peanut butter
Frozen green beans
A helpful hint: I cut up my red peppers and mushrooms and freeze them. This ensures they'll make it through the month. If I need anything else I shop at Hyvee or Trader Joes. Usually the only items I have left are my squashs, a few red onions, sweet potatoes, garlic, stew meat or a roast, quinoa pasta, cabbage, and any random spices/ sauces I would need.
Fall and winter are my most expensive seasons, specifically November, December, January, and February. These months I have to budget $500 for groceries. This also covers any wine or beer I purchase, entertaining dinner guests, and supplying dishes for various holiday potlucks. To make this increase in our budget work, I pull $50 from our entertainment budget and remove my $50 "home decor/repair category." Usually we're so busy with family holiday events that there's little time to do anything in these two categories anyhow.
Come Spring and Summer I can reduce the amount to $400 and often spend no more than $350.
This happens, because I purchase the majority of my produce at farmer's markets and we typically eat more fresh and light- less meat, breads, etc.
I will say, we do not eat out very much. In fact, I only have $50 set aside for eating out and often that money is pulled into another category, so I need to make sure we have plenty of options at home.
Also, every couple of months, I have a week or two of "meals from the pantry." I do this to ensure we use what we have and aren't wasting money. Usually, I create soups or stews, breakfast items, and the occasional casserole from these pantry items.
The last tip to keep me on budget are crockpot meals. Crockpot meals seem to last longer and we're less likely to succumb to our exhaustion after a long day or busy weekend by eating out.
Here are some of our favorite crockpot meals:
Balsamic roast beef
Braised beef over pappardelle- I use stew meat (still frozen) and throw everything in crockpot on low for 6-8 hrs.
Italian chicken soup
Roasted corn chowder with cilantro lime chicken
New Mexican Stew with ground turkey and green chilies
Beef burritos- I use stew meat
I'm really happy with our grocery budget and plan. When we moved to a smaller budget, food was the one category I knew would be difficult to reduce. Thankfully, I was able to cut out other areas and keep our groceries reasonable.
Thanks for peering into my grocery plan. Good luck as you figure out what works best for you and your family!