Grocery Budgeting- When Coupons Alone Don’t Cut It!


For us, it seems affordable grocery budgeting is a huge challenge!  We are a family of four, on one income and our household consists of; one picky-eater pre-schooler, one allergy sensitive toddler and two pets.  We choose to eat a balanced diet often consisting of meat, fresh fruits & vegetables.  We have unavoidable necessities (with a child under 2 years) such as whole milk and diapers, that increase the expense and continue to rise in cost.

Each week, I spend ample time going over our grocery list, making cuts where I can- but still the costs rise due to market increases.  I admit, I am not a huge advocate of coupons, though I use them where I can.  This for us is mainly paper goods, cereals and cleaning products* (when necessary- see #6.) Overall I found the time I was spending on clipping or downloading coupons was better spent elsewhere due to the fact that 1. Coupons usually encouraged me to buy additional processed foods or 2. Things I really didn’t need on my list anyways.

Below are grocery budgeting tips that I use with my family:

1. Buy in bulk!

  • We buy diapers on sale and stock up.  Using Target as an example, I will wait for a gift card promotion; pair it with manufacturer coupons, utilize my Red Card and the CartWheel app.  I can get free shipping with my Red Card (but if I want to take advantage of the CartWheel App, I must buy “in store”. Since we mostly use Pampers, I also benefit from the Pampers Rewards program.  This combination of savings, brought the cost down to below the store brand price per diaper.
  • We also buy larger “meat bundles” from our grocery store for a volume discount and stock up our deep freeze.  Family members have also invited us to go in on beef portion going direct to a farmer.
  • Check in to a local fruit/vegetable co-op!  Family members of ours do this and rave about it!

2. Ad Compare- I have 3 grocery store options in my city, browsing the competitor ads for 10 minutes each friday, regularly saves me more at the register than most coupons! AND I DON’T drive to more than one place!

3. Meal Planning- This is HUGE!  There are many mobile apps to help with this, but I just choose to write it down and base it off of circulars for that week.  BONUS! My favorite store has a printable “budget menu” on its website, mobile app and in-store for me! It gives me a meal plan and recipes based on that week’s sale items and cost is broken down per person!

4. Follow brands you do use.  With a child allergic to multiple foods, I am often in the health market section of the grocery store.  Our family loves Van’s Natural Food, Annie’s Home Grown and BOOM CHICKA POP! These brands are typically more expensive and are rarely advertised in the Sunday Paper.  I make sure follow them on Facebook to find out about current promotions and product news! If they have a savings offer, I am aware!

5. Take advantage of store rewards/program offers.  Our grocer, used to offer “Baby Bucks” and “Pet Bucks” for every $1 spent on baby or pet related items, you received a print-out. Once you accrued $150 in purchases. You would receive a store gift card.  Unfortunately, that has program has ended, but they now offer a gasoline rewards program and it covers ALL specially noted items for that week!

6. DIY and Re-use! 

  • Check out Pinterest for great recipes to make your own house hold cleaners for all purpose-cleaning, laundry, health & beauty EVEN baby wipes!  Better for you, more cost effective and less waste! 
  • I also purchased a set of anti-microbial towels and dramatically cut down on *paper usage!

Do you have any money saving tips for the grocery store to share?  I would love to hear them!

Jodi, in real life. Blogger at The noise of boys (in between diapers and laundry). Raising little boys, but truly being raised by her family.———————————————————————————————————————————————————————
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  1. Love love love the cartwheel app and red card!

  2. Tameka W says:

    Pinterest is wonderful for the DIY cleaners and stuff!

  3. I have found buying in bulk and meal planning to help but I still feel like groceries are what drains our budget.
    Angela @ Time with A & N

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