Some of you expressed an interest in how I was able to go to the grocery store today and buy a month's worth of groceries for me and 2-5 kids on $216. I promised that I would explain, so here it is.
My first step was to make up a menu.
Keep in mind that I don't have all 5 kids with me all of the time. The older 3 spend half of their time at their father's house, so on those nights I generally don't plan meals - we either eat leftovers, or I make something small for the 3 of us who are here. I plan the meals for when we are all here. The kids also eat breakfast at school on some days, and also eat lunch there - so that cuts down on my meal planning a lot (until summer break).
Once I have the menu made up, I go through meal by meal and list out all of the ingredients on my grocery list. After I get the first draft of the list made, I go through the cupboards and cross off anything that I already have, and double-check to see if I need anything else. At that point I have my final grocery list.
I don't really do coupons. Our grocery store sends some out based on our purchases, and so I use those because they're actually for stuff that I use. But I don't have the time or the patience to do much more than that with coupons. Not to mention that I don't have the storage space for 873 cans of tuna or 47 cases of toilet paper. I buy what I need - period.
So....what did I buy?
Yes, there's a bottle of Mt. Dew and a king-sized Snickers up there at the top. We were hungry. And thirsty. But other than that, there is no junk food on there. I don't buy cookies and chips and crackers - I make all of our snacks from scratch. It's not that I think I'm SuperMom or anything like that - it's just cheaper. And while I'm (obviously) not a health food nut, if I make the stuff I at least know what's in it.
I splurged a little bit and got a 10 pound package of ground beef this time although we didn't really need that much - but it was on sale and this way we'll have it. I'll divide it up into 7-8 packages tonight and stick it in the freezer to use for meals throughout the month.
There's also not a ton of fresh produce on there - and there are a couple of reasons for that. To be completely honest, we don't eat as much as we should (although we are getting better about it). Also, where I now work I can get some produce and lots of dairy stuff at a slight discount AND it's super fresh - plus I don't have to have the cash for it because they just take our purchases out of our paychecks. So I will be getting more of that stuff throughout the month, but not in large quantities so that it will be fresh and not go to waste.
But as of right now, there is enough stuff in this house to make everything on that menu - plus some. So although I will have to get a few more things throughout the month, for the most part I am done grocery shopping for the next 4 weeks. I also plan to keep track of the little purchases that I make here and there and get a better idea of the total amount that I spend over these next 4 weeks, but I'm guessing that I can keep the total under $300.
PLEASE NOTE: Some of you know where I live, and/or where I shop. It's obvious that this is a Kroger store, but let's just leave it at that, ok? And I am NOT going to say where I work, so don't ask - and if you know, please don't say it. I hate to even have to bring this up, but I've had to do some filtering over the past couple of weeks so I thought I'd just mention it here. I know I put a lot of my life out here for everyone to see - but that doesn't mean that I want to give the wackos and nutjobs directions to my front door.