Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Grocery "Limits"

Ok, I LOVE to grocery shop. It is a game and an event all rolled up in one. One of the first things I do online Tuesday mornings is look at the weekly grocery ads. Why? Because I'm an avid sale shopper. I have a budget - and I do my best to stay within it for everyday shopping. In order to do that and eat the foods we like, I need to have maximum prices that I will pay for items. Between sales, buying in season and coupons we average about $80/week for our family. Granted - baby's groceries at this point consist of a few items of produce - but that extra sweet potato, avocado, or banana hasn't broken the bank yet! I will eventually go into more depth on specific aspects, but when people ask me for the brief overview of how I feed a family of 3+ on this budget here is how it goes:

I know that I never need to spend more than

$1.80/lb. for boneless/skinless chicken breasts
$ .99 for a small jar of peanut butter
$ .99 for a jar of spaghetti sauce (can get cans we like for a little less on sale)
$1.50/lb for ground turkey/turkey sausage (can get as low as $1/pound once or twice a year)
$ .99/lb for ham for sandwiches
$2.00 a box for cereal

When the chicken breasts are on sale, I buy enough for about 4-6 weeks - the amount of time before they hit that low price again. That week - Chicken may be the only meat in my cart, but that's ok because there is a roast, hamburgers, ham, turkey and sausage in the freezer.

As a general rule - I never pay more than $2.00/lb for any meat for everyday use, or more than $1.00/lb for fruits/veggies. Yes, that means winter is a lot of apples, oranges, bananas and carrots, lots of carrots.

Coupons are great when I can match them with something on sale. Most often I'm able to do this with cereal. Last December, the store matched a competitors price for Chex cereal for $1.88/box. Our store had an in ad store coupon for $3 off 3 boxes and I had a manufacturers coupon (found online at for $1 off 2 boxes. So my 3 boxes of cereal cost a total of $1.64 or about $.55 each. Occasionally I've even been able to get a "free" item based on a sale/coupon combination.

I do realize that actual prices do vary by geographical area. I had sticker shock on meat/produce items when we were living in the Twin Cities a few years ago. Another thing to note is there are times when rules get broken. Special occasion dinners may call for a special treat that costs a bit more like maybe shrimp. Or, in the summer I have been known to splurge a bit on bing cherries or blueberries (when they hit their summer low prices) - especially if I'm getting a lot of our other produce from the garden.

I will also admit to not purchasing a lot of organic items. I do get local organic produce when available - but prefer to buy local and in season as my way of being "green".

Do you have a "great deal" you were able to find - or what is your "Maximum Price" or budget.


  1. I usually can get us fed for between 20-30 bucks a week. We buy ALOT of ground turkey and chicken drumsticks and eat alot of beans and rice, but we supplement it with good spices (my only splurge - I love Penzey's Spices!) and some good old fashioned know how. And leftovers either get frozen for later use or eaten for lunch. I hate to throw any food away.

  2. So true on the spices Kelley! I have really been working on throwing less food away - and we are using most everything these days - save the occasional "science experiment" that gets buried in the fridge.

  3. We use this concept, too, but we call it our "go-to price". Our go-to price for cereal is $2 a box, but we will be flexible if it is a particularly big package (we buy a lot of bagged cereal). We almost always buy whatever fruit is cheapest any given week. As a bonus, it tends to be what is in season and therefore tastiest! Bing cherries get special consideration for us, too, though. :) Our policy of sticking to go-to prices very firmly for unhealthy items like cookies, chips, or frozen pizza curbs the temptation to cave in quite effectively because we set those prices low...once-in-a-blue-moon low.

  4. Very true on the fruit Margaret - Love it in season. Thanks for jumping in - I appreciate your input! I know with cereal - if I don't have a good coupon/sale combo - store brand cornflakes are always an option.