I was doing good last summer, when I was a couponing queen. But couponing was just way too time consuming to keep up during the school year this year. I kept falling behind and wasn't able to use my coupons effectively. When they weren't being used effectively, I was barely saving enough to cover my newspaper subscription costs. Also, I was trying to get away from processed food, so wasn't buying as much of the foods that were featured on coupons. For the hassle, it ceased to be worth it.
I threw in the towel on couponing, but the grocery budget took a huge hit because of it.
Now, the challenge is, can I get back on track with the grocery budget, without couponing?
I'm already at or near, my budget ceiling for July, so I can't put a new strategy in play this month, but I'm trying to get my game plan in place for next month.
We do have a deep freeze now, so I'm going to get back to buying good quantities of meat on sale so that I can freeze them. I also continue to try to wait and buy other items on sale. I don't have to abandon those practices just because I've abandoned couponing.
But, here's the new game plan. I don't know how effective it will be, but I'm going to give it a try for the month of August at least.
My grocery budget is $500 a month. That breaks down to $16 a day, assuming 30 days in the month and leaving $20 for paper and cleaning products. (That's a completely unrealistic number by the way. I'm sure we go through more than that on toilet paper alone. But I can only fix one area at a time, so I'm focusing on the food first.)
Let's pretend that we can do it on $16 a day. If I break that down by meals, it looks like this--
$2 per day for breakfast, or $14 per week
$3 per day for lunches, or $21 per week
$1 per day for snacks, or $7 per week
$10 per day for dinners, or $70 per week
However, we also spend at least $12 a week on milk, and maybe $6 a week for frozen juice concentrate. That's $18 a week that needs to come out of our weekly totals. So, here's how I'm adjusting that.
I do NOT cook seven dinners a week. We eat leftovers at least one night. That's $10 off my weekly total. Plus, some of the lunch and breakfast spending should include the milk and juice, so I'm going to shave some off of their totals. The adjusted numbers look like this:
Now, when I go to the grocery store, I'm going to organize my written list by meal category, and as I put items in my cart, write down the cost of the item. I have a homeschooling children whom I might just put in charge of keeping track of the totals for the categories. Behold the power of the homeschooling mom.
I'll set up a spreadsheet on my phone (I lose pieces of paper), to record the total spending for each category by week and month. That way I can at least see which items might be putting us over budget.
I'm hoping just being more conscious of how much I'm spending on different meals and snacks will help me to bring the grocery budget back into check.