- WE. EAT. TOO. MUCH. Like, A LOT too much. I guarantee that some of you will look at my menu and shopping list and say "There's no way we could live off of that. No wonder she doesn't spend much on groceries." Why? Why can't I live off of that? Why can't you? Will you die if you don't eat meat at every meal? Will your soul shrivel and starve if you don't have a plate so large and overflowing that you fit all of your daily calorie intake in at one time? I promise ya'll, I love cake and convenience just as much as the next person. My menus are mostly homemade, but I give in to temptation and will buy a bag of chicken fingers and french fries or plan a meal of hot dogs and mac n' cheese occasionally. We eat cereal, pancakes, or waffles for breakfast. Leftovers for lunch. On the weekends, my husband and I love to find good-to-eat, bad-for-your butt food in the most off-the-wall places. We can do that because I am planning my meals and portions ahead of time. We save now so we can splurge later.
- We eat the wrong things. Ready-made foods have more sodium, more filler, and less nutritional value than home-made food, in addition to being more expensive. Even "cheat" food that is partially homemade and partially ready-made (e.g. canned biscuits in chicken and homemade broth for chicken and dumplings) is healthier and more economical than fully-prepped food. Use beans to supplement your beef in burgers and taco meat. Use ground turkey instead of ground beef. EAT MORE VEGETABLES.
- We don't drink enough water. Like, WAY not enough water. I mentioned in yesterday's post that we tend to eat to fill the container we are. That is a biologically wrong behavior. We aren't cavemen, not knowing where or when we will get to eat next. For the most part, there will be another meal soon. We plan our day and events around it, so the way we should eat is not "until I feel full, cuz I never know when I'll get to eat again", but "until I don't feel hungry and can make it to the next meal." This means you need to slow down and listen to your body as you eat. I'm not a little woman. I love food and have always struggled to find a way to control my food instead of it controlling me. I am also chronically dehydrated. It just does not occur to me to drink anything unless someone offers it to me, not even when I eat a meal. A lot of times, I'll confuse thirsty with hungry and start snacking. I won't feel satisfied after the snack, but that is the habit I had built. When I stopped buying a lot of snack foods and pre-made dinners and upped my water intake, my urge to snack decreased significantly and it suddenly became easier to control my weight and my budget. Leanne Brown mentions is "Good and Cheap" that buying drinks is a waste of money. She is absolutely right. Your body and budget do not need Coke and Milo's to survive.
I went shopping yesterday!
Step 1: Plan a menu
Step 2: Create a ingredient list
Step 3: Search for each ingredient in your local ads
Note that this step is most helpful when you know base prices for the items on sale at the stores you shop at most (mine are Aldi, Publix, and Walmart). I cover this in my workshop and include a page to get you started in the Sensible Savings and Rational Rewards Booklet. Knowledge is power and money.
Great, now you have all of this information about prices, what should you do with it? Write it down, of course. If you are already going to that particular store where the item is on sale anyway, then buy the item there. Otherwise, just price match it at Walmart. Personally, I do my best to not buy ANYTHING from Walmart without a price match or coupon attached.
Step 4: Check your coupons
Step 5: Check your rebate apps
Step 6: Crunch the numbers
Is it kind of hard to imagine putting it all together, just reading it on the screen? Here's my shopping list drawn up in excel, with all of the calculations I've used. Keep in mind that I have done more work on this sheet than I usually do so that you can have a good, thorough example.You may notice that I told you I spent $135 on groceries, but that the total on the bottom of my sheet says $101.29. That's not a mistake. In my personal shopping, I already had some things on hand, which would have lowered the cost. I also bought doubles of some things and added some personal items that I wanted that raised the cost. In order to give you the best example possible of how you can shop for your family, I omitted some things that most people have on hand (flour and sugar) and added back some things I already had that may have made the example misleading (like the $7.39 fish).
Here you can see that for most items, I compared the price across some combination of Walmart, Aldi, and Publix. If there is another store mentioned, I have price matched it at Walmart. If it is something that I already have in my pantry but you may not, I have struck through it to reflect that. The lowest unit cost for each item, I've highlighted in yellow. Final numbers are on the last slide at the bottom.
Just a quick note: Remember that Publix doubles coupons up to 50 cents, so when you are performing your calculations to compare prices, make sure that you account for the fact that your coupon may be worth twice as much at Publix as it is at Walmart.