Extreme Couponing Leads to Revisiting the Food Budget

BlogHer Original Post

Four months of extreme couponing have led me to revisit my grocery budget. Or maybe create a grocery budget is more accurate? We've never actually had a "budget" exactly. From time to time, we've talked about cutting back or we've talked about how much we're spending, but we've never actually sat down and decided $XXX.XX a week is how much we will spend -- period. I think it's time to give that a try.

food receipt

Credit Image: Dan4th on Flickr


Once we got past that first mini-crisis point, we didn't cut our normal week-over-week grocery spending very much, because we've been using that money to create the basic stockpile. However, we have significantly decreased our restaurant spending because we've got so much food in the house, it's harder to say, "There's nothing in the house, so let's order take out."

While I was thinking about this post, I decided to ask the folks over on the BlogHer Facebook page to share their thoughts on grocery shopping and budgets, and boy did they have a lot to say.

These are just a few of the comments about groceries and budgets. (You should really click that link to see the variety of responses in the thread. It's really interesting.)
  • Crystal Smith: We just spent a month collecting all of our receipts so we know what we are spending. It is slightly higher than what I expected, but not too much. I don't actually have a hard and fast budget but I do know what to avoid to keep the overall bill low.

  • Dana Damico: I once asked another mother of four - like me - how much she spent on groceries because I wanted to develop a budget. She told me $100 and I nearly fell to the floor because I spend nearly that much on fruit alone for my very hungry eaters.... For our family of six, we spend up to $300 a week. It's staggering, I know. I'd love to hear from other parents with similar-sized families how much they spend - and how, especially if it's much less than us.

  • Jessica Doll: we have a family of 3 and eat mostly free range / organic foods and only spend 100/week for breakfast lunch and dinner.

  • Mary Trejo Muniz I'm tired of spending so much at the grocery store that when I do go to the grocery store I shop without a basket. I only buy what I can hold with both hands. That way I only buy what is absolutely necessary. It works great and my arms get a work out.

A few folks from that discussion shared blog links, and I'd like to pass those along to you:

Interesting reading, right? Now here's what we've learned over the last four months about how and where and what we save with coupons and sales:

  • When we do our main grocery shopping at the Navy commissary, we consistently save 30% by using coupons.

  • When we do supplemental trips to local grocery stores, we consistently save 50% by using coupons and taking advantage of sales.

  • When we make regular trips to the drugstore, we consistently save 80% by using coupons and taking advantage of sales.

So looking at the possible savings and at our stockpile, I'd like to see if we can gut our regular weekly spending by 25% to start. Which means we should attempt spend no more than $120 per week. (I'll admit to feeling a wee bit of a blood pressure spike when I typed that ...)

That means I won't continue to stockpile products we already have a good stockpile of -- until we really begin to deplete that stockpile. (No juice, no pain reliever, no conditioner, no pasta, no pasta sauce, no sugar, etc. -- not even if it's super inexpensive.)

That means the bulk of our spending will go to meat, fresh produce, bread, and odds & ends we have never had a good stockpile for.

We'll also have to be very careful with impulse buys and any trips to Whole Foods. I might have to supplement this tiny budget so that someone (not me) can buy the Kombucha she's suddenly developed a taste for. (I blame YOU, @nakedjen.)

Can we do it? I'm sure we can. The question is will we do it... I'll keep you posted.

I'll be live Chattering/Tweeting my way through this week's TLC Extreme Couponing. Join me on Wednesday night, at 9:30 ET for the next episode.

I've added another set of tips to the Extreme Coupon Challenge in the Coupon Lovers Group.

Now tell me about your grocery budget. Do you know how much you spend every week? Are you struggling to stay within your budget? What happens if you go over-budget?

~Denise
BlogHer Community Manager
Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

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