I usually shop once a week for groceries, so planning for a two-week trip was a little tricky for me. I actually ended up purchasing food for more than half the month, which is why it took over half my food budget. The only things I should have to purchase before my next shopping trip on the 16th are another 2 gallons of skim milk, and probably another seven 2-liters of diet soda for Jeff. (Actually, I need to add to that list plastic wrap and cinnamon; I discovered I was out of those two things this morning when I made my disastrous cinnamon rolls. More about that later).
In the past, I've gone to the grocery store without a menu plan (and often without a shopping list), so I usually ended up just wandering down each aisle, grabbing things that caught my eye that I thought I might be able to use. Unfortunately, that usually ended up costing me more than I wanted to spend, and I often didn't have all the ingredients I needed when I did want to make an actual meal.
So this time it took me longer than usual to write up my shopping list since I was going to be shopping specifically for two weeks of meals; but I finally pulled it together and was able to leave for town—a 20 minute drive—after Jeff returned from his dentist appointment around 10:30 Friday morning. I decided for my sanity's sake that I'd shop sans kids, so I left them at home with Jeff. After this last week of homeschooling, I felt like I really needed the break, even if it was only to go grocery shopping (not one of my favorite things to do.)
I first went to Mrs. Baird's Bread Outlet where I purchased seven loaves of wheat bread, two loaves of honey berry wheat bread, two packages of whole wheat English muffins, and a loaf of rye. I was able to buy all of that for only $11.28, which is why I absolutely love shopping there—and yes, if you were wondering, that bread will last us probably only two weeks.
When we buy a lot of bread at one time, we put one loaf in the bread box, one in the fridge, and then freeze all the rest. Then we rotate the bread as it is used so the "day-old" bread doesn't go bad before we get to it. We eat a lot of bread in our house, so a loaf often lasts only a day or a day and half.
After the bread store I went to Wal-Mart where I did the rest of my shopping. I usually can't stand shopping at Wal-Mart because it's always so busy, the aisles are messy, there are never enough cashiers on duty, and the employees are generally rude. So I was totally amazed that there was actually an empty lane when I was ready to check out—I mean, you can't imagine my surprise! And I was again amazed that the cashier was also very nice; he didn't hesitate to get me a second cart into which I could put my bagged groceries since I had so many.
My total cost at Wal-Mart was $212.94, and believe it or not, I did make it out of the store with only one cart. Because I had to drive for 20 minutes to get home (meaning my frozen food had been out of the freezer for close to an hour by the time I got home), I put the meat away immediately after unloading the car, so those items are missing from the picture.
And check out the receipt! Can you read that? 99 items!
I purchased all my meat for the month (5 pounds ground beef, and 6 pounds of boneless-skinless chicken), as well as a lot of the food we'll need for Yo-Yo meals throughout the month. (Yo-Yo means "You're On Your Own," which is what we call the meals the each family member prepares for themselves when I don't make a family lunch/dinner. This usually ranges from sandwiches to pasta and anywhere in between). I may have to stock up again before the end of the month on these "grazing" meals since I have never really kept track of how long that kind of food lasts. But I think we're pretty set for at least two weeks.
I did pick up a few extra items that weren't on my list—namely six jars of peanut butter—because it was on sale for only $1.34 a jar. We go through peanut butter really quickly, so I can never have too much on hand. The only non-food items I bought were paper towels and 2 quarts of weed killer.
I spent a little time online when I was preparing my list and printed off some coupons that I knew I could use on this trip. These are the items I was able to get free (or practically free) by using coupons.
I usually buy a lot of generic items, so I often don't use many coupons, but I did manage to save over $11 using just seven coupons on this trip. So that little bit of time online saved—or earned depending on how you look at it—$11. That's pretty good pay for only a few minutes of work if I say so myself.
The way I wrote out my shopping list was yet another thing that made this trip different for me. Normally, if I made a list at all, I would write out my shopping list on a blank sheet of paper. But this time I adapted a master grocery list I found online, adjusting it for our own food needs, and used it to make up my list. I found it worked out pretty well, but it could still use some more adjusting to make it better fit the store layout. If I had the list laid out better, it might have keep me from missing certain items in the store. I found that I had to backtrack several times during my trip yesterday because I had overlooked an item on my list.
I had an added budget bonus on the way home from the store. I drove by my Mary Kay lady's house to pick up some foundation, and she ended up giving me a $4 discount on the makeup because I had cash! How cool is that?
So with the makeup purchase, the bread store, Wal-Mart (and a quick trip to our local grocery store the day before my big shopping trip to pick up milk for Jeff's coffee), we have so far spent $239.84 of our $450 budget.
My next big shopping trip in town will be on the 16th of the month. As I said, I'll have to pick up a couple more gallons of milk and some more soda before then, but our local grocery store is just down to street, so we'll end up just buying the food from there if we don't make it back into town before the 16th. Our local grocery is more expensive than Wal-Mart, but since it costs us over $4 just to drive into town, paying a little more at our local store is a fair trade-off.