Friday, July 25, 2008

Food for Less

I found this MSN article on Money Saving Mom. Like her, I got a chuckle out of the story, though I don't think it was supposed to be funny. The premise was, could a family of four eat on $100 a week, all three meals. I had to laugh. Even though there's only 3 of us, I only spend $40-60 a week at the store, don't go every week, and we eat pretty much every meal at home or brown-bag it to work and day care.

Granted, when I shop, I shop for bargains and I stock up. Then I plan my menus based on my pantry, not on shopping each week at the store. This, I think, is the biggest reason we're able to save money. It's much better to buy stuff on sale than to pay full price.

It made me wonder what she normally ate for meals, since the meals she described seemed pretty typical to me. Also it made me wonder, who is more typical: her or us "frugal" types? Anyone want to weigh in on either side? And if there's interest (or maybe even if there isn't!) I'm thinking of relating my weekly or semi-weekly shopping excursions.


Georgiana said...

You do much better at the shopping than I do. Is that $40-$60 for food only, or does that include toiletries and paper products? I'm going to try harder =)

Jennifer Tiszai said...

You know, I get most of my toiletries for free or pretty cheap by using CVS's Extra Care Bucks. Usually cleaning stuff falls under this too.

So that just leaves TP, paper towels, and napkins at the store. And mostly I use coupons for those and get them when they are on sale and stock up.

These do tend to be the budget busters for me if I have to run out and get them.

One thing I learned several years ago is that grocery stores tend to put items on sale in a 12 week rotation. So if you can stock up on things you need in 12 week increments then you should be able to live off your stockpile and buy items only when they are on sale.

Georgiana said...

Here's another question then: do you find that buying paper products with coupons in 12 week rotations is cheaper than buying in bulk at like Sams Club? Usually I get all these things at Sams, but if it's cheaper the other way....

Jennifer Tiszai said...

You really have to check prices. When I used to go to Costco I found that I could always get soda and laundry detergent cheaper at the grocery store with sales and coupons.

But on other items, like staples that didn't go on sale much, if at all, I found Costco to be a good buy. I imagine Sam's Club is the same way. I'd keep track of what you're spending there and compare it to what you could get similar items for at the store on sale and with a coupon.

My other downfall with Costco was impulse buying because they have such cool stuff! (books, books, books!) Now the closest one is 60 miles away so I don't go there at all.

Really, a lot of it comes down to knowing your prices. Because even the grocery stores will advertise "sale" prices that really aren't that great.

Good for you for wading into the world of bargain shopping! Try Money Saving Mom's blog for some great links.