I Am NOT An Extreme Couponer!

 It is my pleasure to introduce you to my friend Crystal (fun coincidence, huh?). She is the queen of deals. Recently at a party she was telling a group of us how she bought ALL of her groceries for $50 or less PER WEEK! I couldn’t believe it. So, I asked her to write about it and share with all of us how she does it. Please give her a warm welcome so she’ll come back and share more of her money saving secrets.

image via wikipedia

image via wikipedia

You won’t find my garage stock-piled with canned food to last the next five years. Nor will you see a deep freezer stuffed to the brim. I am simply a frugal mom and wife looking to fill my 1×7 ft pantry and single fridge with healthy food for my family. What’s so special about me you ask?  Well, I buy groceries (including paper products, cleaning and beauty supplies) for under $50 each week!

How?  It’s all strategy!

1.  Set a Grocery Budget (and stick to it)
Average your family’s grocery expenses from the past 6 weeks.  Now, commit to reducing that number by 50% over the next 6 weeks. For my family, we began with $125/ week nearly six years ago. After learning the “Grocery Game,” we have successfully reduced our budget to $50/ week. My motto is.. “The amount of money you spend is more important than the amount of money you save!”

2.  Collect Coupons
Couponing Is Awesome! You can easily cut your weekly expenses by a third from simply collecting coupon circulars in each week’s Sunday newspaper. Heed this warning, you have to collect about a month’s worth of coupons before fully maximizing your savings. Do you really think Harris Teeter is going to put ketchup on sale the same week a coupon is released- I think not. But, two weeks after the coupon- you better believe it!

3.  Shop the Sales Ads and Make a List
I typically shop at two grocery stores each week depending on where the best deals are. You can bet I will hit Harris Teeter each week because they double coupons up to 99 cents every day. Pair that with a good Buy-One-Get-One sale, and you have yourself two bags of yogurt covered raisins for free!  Recently, I have been shopping WalMart for produce and any other items needed to complete our weekly menu. Their store policy is to price match any advertised deal. Thus, I collect the ads, find the best prices, and take all of those to WalMart for a one-stop, lowest price grocery trip.  This is where you have to exercise your strongest will-power and resist the urge to pick up those items your family wants. If it’s not a planned item, skip it and make room for it on next week’s list.

4.  Make a Meal Plan
After shopping the sales ads and inspecting my pantry and freezer, I select which items will fit into our weekly budget. From there, I plan breakfast and lunch options for the week and a set menu for all dinners. I post the menu to hold us accountable to our plan and to avoid last-minute fast-food stops. This week’s menu included (plus more)…

Breakfast:
grapefruit
oatmeal
whole grain homemade muffins

Lunch:
roast beef and cheese sandwiches
clementines
organic mac-n- cheese
carrot sticks and cucumber slices
hummus

Dinner:
homemade beef vegetable soup (two meals worth)
turkey sausage, egg white, and cheese casserole
faux-fried chicken breast
meatball subs on whole grain rolls
shrimp cocktail
Hebrew National hot dogs

All of that my friends, plus snacks, sides and milk, for a whopping grand total of $48.32. A little higher than a typical week because I stocked up on cheap boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Plus, I added items to my pantry, bought toilet paper and even managed to sneak in a new body wash for my husband. Miracle, no. Smart shopping, yes!

Crystal is a smart shopping wife and mom who strives to feed her family fresh, healthy food on a junk food budget. A pearl-wearing southern girl born and bred, she aspires to be as crafty as Martha Stewart but often uses Betty Crocker shortcuts. Most importantly, she never pays full price for anything!

“Give a man a fish, he will be fed for one day.  Teach a man to fish, he will be fed for a lifetime.”

Crystal Coltrain Dempsey
North Carolina Principal Fellow
North Carolina Teaching Fellow 2005
Honor Graduate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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