Monday, January 5, 2009

The quest to feed the family....

Now before all of you who have raised teenagers start in on me, let me just say this up front:

I know that it will only get worse as they grow.

Feeding a family on a budget is HARD. I really try to walk a fine line between all-local-all-organic-grown-by-hippies-food...and Burger King. My kids DO eat hot dogs, and I don't feel guilty about it. However, I make a pretty serious effort to also make plenty of meals that are healthy and well rounded, with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. We almost always have a nice sit-down Sunday dinner, and we have lots of fun making big breakfasts on the weekends. Sugary cereal is a fairly big treat - Kbear once told my girlfriend Laura that "My Mom buys cereal that tastes like NOTHING!" but I do hand out the occasional Nutragrain bar on the way out the door to school.

So yeah, I'm far from perfect. I'm like a cross between Rachel Ray and Ronald McDonald most of the time.

Now shopping for a family of five and making food stretch can be a serious challenge. Skippy and I looked at our bank account recently and realized that we were "thirty dollaring ourselves to death" by running to the store fourteen times a week for just a few things here and there. There was no plan. If we wanted to grill, I went and bought steaks. If we wanted soup, I went and bought all the ingredients. No chicken? No problem - I went to the store! And half of the time, I'd come home and realize that I had the fixings for half a dozen meals already at my disposal.

It was ridiculous.

Thus began my quest to pare down my grocery habit. It started with a cash budget - now every Sunday I go to the ATM and withdraw my cash for the week (a fixed amount that Skippy and I agreed on) and then I treat myself to a fancy coffee and I pick up a few Sunday papers.

Then I go home, drink my coffee, make my list, and cut coupons. I try to plan the week around things that I already have in the kitchen, and things that are sale through the store fliers and the list that I get off of The Grocery Game. ( - use me as a referral if you ever give it a shot) I have managed to accumulate quite a stockpile of kitchen staples and we have a chest freezer that is slowly filling up with meat when I can find good quality on sale.

So I make my list. And then I shop.

We've been doing this for about six months now. Of course there are exceptions to the budget - holiday dinners, birthday parties, etc but for the most part, we stick to the rules.

This last Sunday I scored big time and had my best coupon bonanza yet. I was doing the happy dance in the damn check out line and even the cashier gave me a high five.

In fact, I'm so excited, I'm going to tell you what I bought and what I spent.


1 six pack of Mott's All Natural Applesauce cups (had a coupon)

1 four pack of Dole diced pears for Banana's lunch (had a coupon)

2 bags of Tostitos Scoops to feed Skippy's salsa habit (had a coupon)

2 boxes of Quaker Simple Harvest Oatmeal (had coupons)

2 boxes of Captain Crunch - this is a BIG treat (had coupons)

2 boxes of Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal (had coupons)

4 boxes of Special K Red Berries for me (had coupons, thank you Laura!)

1 bag of Chewy Chips Ahoy for lunches (had a coupon)

5 cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup (had a coupon)

5 cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup (had a coupon)

1 bottle of Triaminic Children's medicine (free with soup, plus had a coupon)

One bag of Ore Ida French Fries (on sale)

2 gallons of 1% milk (on sale)

1 container of cottage cheese (on sale)

1 loaf of whole wheat white bread (on sale)

1 Package of all beef hot dogs (on sale)

1 Pot Roast (on sale)

1 Small package of chicken breasts (on sale)

2 pounds of bananas

and 2 and 1/2 pounds of organic gala apples

Now keep in mind that this stuff will be added to things I have already at home that were also bought on sale - it's not like we're all eating nothing but tomato soup all week - when you combine my purchases with things I already have, we'll have at least one soup and grilled cheese night, one leftover night, one meatless night, and at least four other "good" dinners.

So before any type of savings (club card, coupons, promotions, etc) my total would have come to one hundred and twelve dollars and eighteen cents.

After my Safeway card, my coupons, and two in-store promotions, I spent thirty eight dollars and and ninety five cents.

I flippin' rock. Some healthy stuff, some treats. And not a box of Hamburger Helper to be seen!


kat said...

hard-core ame! i think the safeway checker could tell my walgreens gal a little about being pleased on the customer's behalf :-)

hellolittlepeepers said...

I am so not organized enough to do that. Oddly enough when I worked full time I was...Guess how I used my down time at work. I NEED to get that organized. Do you have a lot of space to store food? I bet I could get a shelf or two in the garage for canned goods. Do you use the recipe search on where you enter the ingredients you have and it comes up with a recipe for you?

hellolittlepeepers said...

By the way, did you get the points for the grocerygame when i signed up? I paid for a month or so. Do you think that site is the key to your success?