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The $50 Grocery Budget

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 |
I have been bad at budgets my whole life. I have really been trying to turn over a new leaf especially now that my husband is saving to go back to school and we have a little family. It seems to be a priority all of a sudden. Once I put my mind to it I became pretty good at it. I always thought of it as a game. Mmy family of 4 is able to spend $50 a week easily on everything we need to eat healthy and still build up a food storage. I think a family of 5 and maybe even 6 could use this budget. I have two boys in diapers and one using formula, so I imagine people that aren't in that situation could spend less.
During my first 3-4 months of using coupons I was in my "stock up phase."
I spent $50 for my pantry type items (aisles 1-17).
Then I took an additional $10-$20 for fresh food items( milk, eggs, cheese, bread, fruits, vegetables). Typically my fresh food item were the things that I needed to make my meals "realistic" healthy. Now, that it is summer time your budget could possibly be even less if you planted a garden.

After my stock-up phase it was so easy to spend only $50 for EVERYTHING.
$30 goes to replacing what I have used in my pantry whether it's food, cleaning supplies or cosmetic items.
$20 goes to buying the fresh food items and whatever I need to make healthy meals for my family.
If your new the She Shops Smart your probably thinking there is no way you could spend $50 on stock-up items. You would use all that food in one week. Well, think about it this way, when Kraft dressing goes on sale for $1.50 and your coupon is good for $1.50 off 1 that makes it FREE. If you had one coupon for every person in your home, in my case 4, that means I end up with 4 free bottles of Kraft dressing. That will easily last me until it goes on sale again in 3-4 months. Or what if Capri Suns ended up costing you .50 and you could buy 8 boxes of them. You are spending way less and building up a food storage all at the same time. Next time things go on sale for those rock bottom prices you will just continue to replace what you have used.
It seriously works like magic too. I remember being on my last zip lock bag and thinking I hope they go on sale soon, and sure enough they went on sale that very next week!

I honestly could spend $30-$40 a week, but I am trying so hard to build up my long term food storage that I spend the entire $50 budget. I hope that in a few months I have my food storage and I can cut my budget to even less than $50.

How to Budget in Diapers:
The most frequent question I get is about getting diapers for less. I have a few tips:
1) WALGREENS and RITEAID when they offer RR deals and rebate checks on their diapers
2) Using a coupon, even for only $1.50, is better than no coupon at all.
3) Know your prices. Decide that by the highest price per diaper you would pay.
4) Compare the price per diaper to the Costco comparison entry on my blog to see which is the better price.
5) Honestly, a lot of weeks when I buy diapers I am just using a measly $1.50/1 coupon, but I figure I am under $50 and still building a food storage, so no matter what I paid full price for it's okay, because the most important thing to me is to be under $50.

Be Flexible:
One other thing I like to keep in mind when I say $50 is that you need to stay flexible. Some weeks you might see that a TON of what you use is on sale. BUY it if you know you are going to need it. Don't not buy it because you'll spend over $50. The next week only spend $40 instead of $50, or if you need to spend $100 in one week and take the next week off. In the long run if you don't buy it you will spend more on it in the future when it is not on sale do it. When all is said and done at the end of the month as long as you stayed in your budget who cares if you spend $100 one week, none the next, $25 in week 3 and $75 during week 4.

Have Fun with it:
Saving money is a TON of fun. You'll find yourself sharing your new hobby with everyone you know. You may even find yourself getting excited to go grocery shopping. Just remember it's not always the most important thing. It's okay if you don't use a coupon on EVERYTHING. It's okay if you didn't get that FREE bottle of ketchup, but the lady in front of you did. You are still saving money in the easiest way possible. Always keep in perspective that you are cutting your grocery budget by 50-70%.


Anonymous said...

I wanted to make a comment... I have been doing your program for about 5 months now and Its been fun. I have a family of 5 which 3 are boys and eat all the time. I used to spend $600 hundred on my food budget, and cut it down to $500 hundred. I was really frustrated at this because I wanted to see the saving that you had. But I have told myself that $100 is great and I am working hard to save another $100, even if it only $25 dollars at a time. I think we all need to remember that each family is differant and our needs are not like yours, so to be happy with what we do save!

Catherine said...

To the first poster: that is awesome that you're down to spending $500 a month, especially with three hungry boys! Wow!!! And just think, with the $100 savings, that's $1200 a year extra in your pocket. I've been doing this for less than a month with a family of 5 also, so your story encourages me. Thanks for sharing.

Mitchell Family said...

Catherine- I love that you are such a great reader of this blog. You will be able to save money and I always appreciate getting your comments and e-mails.

Mitchell Family said...

You nailed that right on the head 1st commenter! Every penny in the big picture of things ia an extra penny you didn't have. Every family is different and we do need to just be satisfied knowing that we are still saving money we weren't before.

liza said...

You can save your money on grocery shopping by using grocery coupon at and get big discount offers on your evrery purchase.

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