Back in February I posted Food Budgeting: Building Your Supply. In January I shared Food Budgeting: Menu Planning. Now that we've addressed planning your meals and what you need to have on hand to minimize extra trips to the store, let's talk about the fun part - shopping!
Believe it or not, I love to grocery shop. I don't even mind when the stores are crowded. I always shop with a list and I enjoy picking out produce, comparing prices on items, and planning what meals we'll enjoy as a result of a shopping expedition. My husband and I have been shopping together since we dated in college. We buy most of our groceries from three places: ShopRite (regional grocery chain), Costco, and the local farmer's market (indoor, open year-round).
Although I find Extreme Couponing on TLC very entertaining, I seldom use coupons. In my experience, coupons are typically for processed items like cereal, frozen desserts, boxed mixes, and cosmetics. I find very few coupons for fresh produce, raw meat, and pantry staples like flour. The one exception is that sometimes ShopRite or Costco offer coupons that are only valid in their stores (store coupons, not manufacturer's coupons). If these coupons are for items that I typically buy (milk, chicken, eggs, pork chops), I may use them.
I limit my shopping to a few stores because I feel comfortable with the layout and the stock of the stores. I know who has the best price on a gallon of 1% milk (Costco, usually), where to buy unusual produce in small quantities (farmer's market), and where to buy laundry detergent (ShopRite, $1.99). Since I'm only shopping for two and I'm a very active home cook, I buy whatever we want to eat, I just make sure we pay a great price. If we want sea scallops or New York strip, we buy it. We'd rather eat it at home than pay the huge markup to eat it at a restaurant.
I average less than $50 a week on food for two adults, including the
The biggest money drain is last-minute purchases. Make a list (preferably based on a weekly meal plan) and stick to it. As much as I enjoy shopping for food, I only hit the stores once a week. If I don't have a food item and it's not critical, I substitute another item until our next shopping day.
Where do you buy your food? Do you use coupons? How many of you end up making multiple trips to the store for forgotten items?