Do you ever come home from the grocery store and glare at the receipt? Then spy suspiciously at the amount of groceries you have acquired and think…that is all I got? Surely not!

Groceries are listed in the top 5 category of items where we will see drastic (or have already seen) drastic price increases for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

Many people are feeling the push and pull of the pocket book. I firmly believe that one of the easiest, and most expedient ways to save money is to get a handle on the monthly food budget.
To be blunt, that is just a pain, and requires a bit (but not too much) of work.
For many, the idea of cutting coupons and organizing a meal plan is right up there with getting a root canal. But hold on… there are many ways to save without being taken to the dentist.

Unfortunately, with our family, there are no options.
With seven big eaters – yes, even my five year old – and teen age boys that literally have to be cut off at the trough, meal planning and couponing are ways that I save thousands of dollars a year.
I know that there are other Grocery Guru’s that far surpass my expertise, in fact, they devote entire blogs to it, but sometimes the systems are confusing and take a while to master. Calling myself a Guru seems a little pompass, but it was the only alliteration that I could think of on the spur of the moment.
This is how one incredibly busy mom, who does not have the time to shop at four different grocery stores every week, or spend hours on line searching out all the very best scenarios (I wish I did:), averages $500/month on groceries/toiletries for a family of seven.
This does includes any fast food runs, Sam’s club purchases etc. This does not include special b-day dinners – which is the one time that our kids get to pick any restaurant that they want to eat at.

To better understand just how much food I can get for $500,
and visualize how much my guys can put away, we typically eat 3 large pizzas at one sitting. If 99 cent double cheeseburgers were ordered at the drive through, they would (if I let them – eat 3). I don’t, that’s gluttony, and horribly unhealthy, but the three boys easily eat 2 a piece and are still hungry.
And no, we don’t do drive through very much. During football season we go about once/week for the value menu which is a great way to tie them over in between games.

Over the next week, I am going to give you a peak into my weekly shopping experience (along with a post of the tags that I never got to….:)

To save huge amounts of money ( I am talking 50% on most of my transactions with the necessity of an override by the manager every time I shop), it all starts with this:
A little organization.
I have couponed for years with an obnoxious little coupon holder..if you have one…throw it away. Yes, I admit I have even stuck them in an envelope or in a side pocket of my purse. Do you know how many hours of my life I have wasted looking for that one coupon that I “knew” I had somewhere?
Well, except for today when I cut them out but hadn’t filed them in their sleeves yet….ugh!
Now stick around….you may have tried to cut coupons before and it’s just not for you. If you don’t need to save a few hundred dollars (minimum) a month on your grocery bill, I wouldn’t do it either. But, it’s not as much of a pain as it seems. Since I am the family manager, I love to figure out my per hour rate on my grocery shopping. Today, I saved $125. It took me one hour to shop and organize the coupons. I would consider that a great rate of return.
If that would be some nice pocket change, book mark me and visit often. Now to get you started on the right foot.
The first basic step…a coupon binder.
You have an unused binder somewhere, don’t you? How about some baseball card sleeves and a few empty page protectors?

That is all you need.
Now, go get the Sunday paper out of the garbage and grab those coupons. Yep, even the deodorant coupon that you thought you would never use.

I have my sections organized just like you might have in the grocery aisle. I have a separate page for things that I buy quite often with coupons. For instance, I have frozen foods, dairy, Pillsbury (yep, its own page), soups, cereals, snacks, toiletries and make- up (mainly for my CVS or Walgreens shopping), and a misc. page
For cereal and snacks, I have enough coupons for those sections that I give them two pages each and I have one Kellogg’s page, one GM cereal page etc. That is not a priority, but cereal is a priority in our house. And some of their favorite kinds are brand name ones. I will not buy brand name cereals unless I can get it for $1/box or less. I will talk about that more next post.
Then I have a few page protectors for the coupons that I cut, but haven’t filed.
No, all those coupons shouldn’t be in the front flap when you go to the store. It leads to the feeling that “it’s just not worth it.”
Five minutes of for thought goes a LONG WAY with couponing.
This is only 1/2 of the groceries that I purchased today for a total of $120 which includes meat, catfood, 6 boxes of cereal, 2o Pillsbury items (don’t ask), ….oh, I’ll leave the rest for the next post. To get a visual idea….two full carts full…$120.
Most of my freezer goods, as well as a few gallons of milk were already put away in our outside freezer. When I wanted my boys to bring them in for the blog picture they looked at me like I was crazy….yep, that would have been. I bypassed the picture and now I regret it. 🙂
A good portion of the meat budget was spent on 3 lbs of Johnsonville brats that my hubby picked out (do we hear a chuckle 🙂 “But honey, it’s such a good deal, isn’t it?
We had around 10 pounds of meat in this amount – deli turkey, ground beef, and brats.
We went shopping with all seven us…yes, we do this every Sunday after church. To put it in perspective, at LEAST $35 of that amount would not have been purchased if it was just me, because they just weren’t a very good deal. That is part of the learning process of shopping with kids, and trust me…they know what BOGO means…do you?
In the next post, I will list exactly what I bought and how I often get things for free or very close to it. When that happens, there is one word you need to know….stock pile. 🙂