I will let you in on a little secret. I almost never use coupons. The reason is that most coupons come out for things that the average person doesn't really need anyway. The exceptions I make are for cleaners, paper products, and pet supplies because many times I can get a better deal with a sale and a coupon than I can buying a store brand.
I have yet to see a coupon worth anything for food items. All the food item coupons tend to be for boxed dinners and other convenience food. Rule one on saving money on the grocery budget is to ditch the convenience foods. I am all for short cuts. Don't get me wrong. I don't bake my own bread (yet), I used jarred spaghetti sauce and canned beans. What I don't use are items such as hamburger helper and boxed cake mix. The exceptions include boxed mac and cheese which we have for lunch twice a month or so, and the occasional canned soup, which again I use for lunches. I don't do any real cooking for lunch, I admit. I am all about leftovers, sandwiches, and the occasional canned good.
In our family we have 2 adults, and 2 preteen girls. They eat the same amount we do, so lets just say I am feeding 4 adults. I grocery shop twice a month, with the very very occasional milk/bread trip in between. I try to make sure I get enough in one shot as one of the things I have learned is that the more often you shop, the more often you end up with the extras that you really don't need, and even $1-2 over several trips add up.
I went grocery shopping yesterday. I spent $145. That is for two weeks and includes dog food, medicine, paper products, hygeine products and cleaning products. The actual food portion of that bill is less than $100.
I shop at two stores. I start at Country Market (which may be a regional thing) for anything not food related because the second store, Aldi, does not impress me in any area except food. I try to stick to sales, and if I happen to see a sale on a food item that is cheaper than I normally pay at Aldi, I certainly buy it.
Before I leave the house, I make a menu for the amount of time I am shopping for. I include breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. I then make a list of everything I will need to meet that menu. I stick by this list. Things I do not buy: pop, snack foods such as fruit snacks and other garbage that won't actually do anything about hunger, juice. That cuts down a lot, plus the things I just mentioned are absolutely awful for your teeth. I will let the girls have pop if we go out, but I do not make a habit of buying it.
What kind of things are on the menu? Here are a few sample days.
Breakfast - homemade cinnamon rolls
Lunch - veggie fried rice (great use for leftover rice)
Dinner - Homemade pizza
Snack - Trail mix
Breakfast - Oatmeal
Lunch - Leftovers
Dinner - Italian sausage with bell peppers and onions over noodles
Snack - Banana
Breakfast - Corn Muffins
Lunch - PB&J, chips, fruit (apple, banana, grapes)
Dinner - Veggie fajitas
Snack - Crackers and cheese
Maybe my next post will be an entire menu.
We eat well, and with careful shopping it doesn't cost us a fortune. Over the next year I plan on working on making even more, and dropping the convenience items I do use in order to save even more money.